Upon returning home after my first semester of college, I could not help but look around my hometown and feel a sudden sense of lost time. I knew it was fairly common to feel this way, and I knew that most college students experience the same nostalgia as they enter the next stages of their lives. Nevertheless, it seemed as if my childhood had come and gone in a blur and that I was rapidly speeding toward adulthood without any ability to brake. Time flies -- especially when you are having fun during your first semester of college -- but we can easily find time leaving its marks not only on us but on the things we love around us. My favorite films, in particular, were getting old right along with me, as I soon realized. So if you are ever feeling old, you are not alone. These great films are celebrating some pretty astounding birthdays this year too.
Enchanted is not the best movie celebrating its 10th anniversary. 2007 also gave us Superbad, Juno, Zodiac, and, perhaps most notably, No Country For Old Men. But I start this list off with Enchanted simply for the sake of nostalgia. The film is a combination between animation and live-action and tells the tale of Giselle (Amy Adams), the happy-go-lucky soon-to-be princess of fantasy kingdom Andalasia. After getting pushed down a well by the evil witch Narissa (Susan Sarandon), Giselle finds herself in the bustling live-action world of New York City, where she meets and ultimately falls in love with Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a divorce lawyer and a single father. Trouble stirs in the city as the rest of Andalasia quickly comes after Giselle--first her fiancé prince, and then the witch Narissa, who sets a plan in motion to kill Giselle to make sure she never returns to Andalasia. Ultimately, Giselle is saved by true love’s kiss -- not from her prince, but rather from Robert, a regular guy surely does not belong in any fairytale. They end up living their "happily ever after" in the real world.
The movie/musical enthralled an entire generation of children--along with several adults--and I am sure many fondly recollect singing along with Amy Adams to her “How Do You Know” number in Central Park. 10 years later, the children who loved the film have mostly grown up, but if you watch the film again you will find that little has changed in Giselle and Robert’s love story.
Good Will Hunting
20 years ago, the world fell in love with Matt Damon in his debut role as Will Hunting, a self-taught genius whose intellect is rarely utilized as he spends his days drinking with pals and working as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Damon wrote the screenplay along with his childhood friend Ben Affleck, and the two took home the Oscar for Best Screenplay, solidifying their entry into the film industry. In the 20 years since the movie’s release, both Damon and Affleck have gone on to enjoy very successful careers. Robin Williams starred alongside Damon as Hunting’s therapist and mentor, Dr. Sean Maguire. As Hunting comes to learn, Sean struggles with his own inner demons, and as the film progresses the two help each other fight through the pain of their pasts. Williams won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
The story takes place in our very own home of Boston, Mass. -- and I guarantee, if you watch it again, you will easily notice and appreciate the various locations within the city where the movie was shot.
If you watch this movie anytime soon, do so not only to enjoy your enlightened sense of Boston, or for a young Matt Damon, or for the nostalgia of Robin Williams, but also as a reminder that even today the message still holds true: we could always do with a little bit of help from others, and we are never alone.
Damon was not the only blond-haired beauty who had a successful year in 1997. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s Titanic, a masterpiece film that documented a fictional love story aboard the Titanic. DiCaprio plays a poor artist who falls in love with Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), a first-class passenger who is unsatisfied with her arranged engagement. As the two experience the trials of a love forbidden by a division in social classes, the tragedy
DiCaprio and Winslet shared an electric onscreen romance. Few can forget the classic scene they share at the helm of the ship, Jack holding Rose up against the wind to experience a feeling of liberation she rarely enjoys in her stifling upper class life.
Though it celebrates its 20th year of circulation, Titanic will most likely survive the tests of time and live on as a powerful love story that will consistently pierce the hearts (and activate the tear ducts) of future audiences.
40 years ago, the very first Star Wars film was released, launching a film franchise that endures and captivates audiences still today. The original Star Wars, what would ultimately become Episode IV: A New Hope, introduced the world to the Rebel Alliance, a revolutionary force attempting to take down the evil Empire that ruled the galaxy. Rebel leader Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hides the plans to destroy the the Empire's massive space station of destruction, the Death Star, inside droids that ultimately end up in the hands of ordinary farmer boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). When Luke discovers Princess Leia’s message, he is led to ancient Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness), where he learns of the history of Jedi Knights, the powerful, supernatural energy known as the Force, and the fate of his own father, Anakin, who fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi. Skywalker’s life is then changed forever as the Force calls him back to fulfill his destiny of helping the Rebels. The three movies provide audiences with an eclectic cast of well-loved characters and an adventure tale that will last for ages to come.
After a trilogy of prequels in the 90s, the franchise came back to life in 2015 with The Force Awakens, a sequel that will last two additional episodes. In 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a film that serves as a link between Episodes I, II, and III and Episodes IV, V, and VI, was also released. Star Wars shocked audiences way back in 1977, and it still enthralls first-time viewers today. The original trilogy is a classic tale of good and evil, heroism, bravery, rebellion, and love, and it is a hard story to beat.
On December 27, Carrie Fisher passed away, sending the world into a state of mourning with another tragic 2016 loss. Her charisma and talent will be greatly missed.
And finally, in its 50th year, The Graduate reminds us that the future is never very far away -- and it never ceases to evoke the same sense of distress within all of us. A very young (and very attractive) Dustin Hoffman stars as Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate who engages in an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s law partner, over the summer as he avoids thinking about graduate school or future career plans. Ben ultimately ends the affair when he ends up falling for Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), who returns to school in Berkeley when she learns of the affair. A desperate Ben follows her to Berkeley, where he learns that Mrs. Robinson convinced her family that the affair was the not consensual and Ben had seduced her while she was drunk. When Ben tries to explain the truth to Elaine, Mrs. Robinson pulls her out of school, brings her home, and rushes her to marry a college fling. Ben races home and makes it to the wedding just in time to interrupt the service by crying out for Elaine behind the glass doors at the back. After a moment of hesitation, Elaine returns his cries and flees the church with him, escaping the clutches of her mother and hopping aboard a bus outside with Ben. The two collapse at the back of bus, grinning from ear to ear and elated about their success.
The Graduate is notably remembered for its final few shots -- the smiles fading from Ben and Elaine’s faces as the uncertainty of the future settles in. By capturing the few moments that come just after their “happily ever after” celebration, the film reflects the quandary that develops when the story goes on and life keeps moving. With a marvelous Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack, The Graduate is a film that all recent and upcoming college grads should watch or rewatch this year.