Here's a secret: I'm a bit of a nerd. I like looking things up, doing a bit of research, some outside reading, if you will. So this winter, I've been happy to run across several movies that make me think, mmm... I should learn more about that! So here's my list, for your reading, viewing and researching pleasure:
Pain and Gain
Didn't see that one coming, did ya? Now, to be honest, this was not an intellectual film pick. Matt likes Marky-Mark and I have a bit of a thing for Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson (who doesn't?). So this movie was a no-brainer. And no, I did not start researching steroid use and female body building (I like having breasts, thankyouverymuch). But four little words had me diving to the computer after watching this: Based. On. Actual. Events. If you've seen this movie, you know how absurd that sounds. If not, here's a recap: 3 Miami bodybuilders decide that, given their perfect physical forms, they really deserve more than the menial lives they live. So they decide to kidnap a rich gym-goer, steal all his money and assets, and live the lives of their dreams. And they do - for a while, at least. Here's a recent interview with some of the real life victims (2 of the bodybuilders are on death row).
Saving Mr. Banks
This was a really great movie, and one I'm so glad to have seen given my childhood love for the Mary Poppins movie. I have never read the books, so knew next to nothing of the story of Mary's creator - and Walt Disney's quest to convince her to let him make the movie version. The movie tells the story of author P.L. Travers - her troubled childhood in Australia, her imaginative (and alcoholic) father, and the tenacity with which she guarded the world of Mary Poppins. Here's some shockers not included in the movie: Travers, portrayed as kind of an Old Maid in the movie, is reported to have had several bisexual affairs. She also had an adopted son, who she selected from a poor family. The boy had a twin-a fact Travers knew, but never revealed to him - and the twins met randomly in London pub as young adults. That may explain why she tells Disney in the film she has no one who cares if she's gone. Here's some of the juicy tidbits the movie leaves out, and here's a great NPR interview with star Emma Thompson, who plays Travers.
Everyone's talking about what a disappointment this movie was (if US Weekly give you a bad review, you're really in trouble). Yes, any movie with that kind of star power should really be able to do justice to this bad-ass story. Basically, a bunch of art historians and curators joined the military in WWII in order to retrieve stolen masterpieces from the Nazis. I mean, this should have been Clooney as Indiana Jones and Matt Damon as Short Round. Instead, it ... wasn't. Regardless, I loved learning more about this fascinating story - and seeing a bunch of pieces I recognized from AP Art History. Plus, this is a story that is still panning out. The NY Times published this article on the ongoing saga of finding rightful owners of art found in Nazi caches.
And if you'd rather NOT think after watching a movie, and just need some good romantic fare for V-Day, check out this infographic from misadventuresmag (a production of Davidson grads - woot!)