October 24, 2014

A lovely Juliette Binoche is one of the treats this weekend

What’s on your family’s movie menu this weekend?

How about a special lady who delivers the joys of chocolate to a small town in France? Or a famous actress who brings romantic joy to a bookshop owner? Perhaps a one-dimensional femme fatale who teases an all-too-human detective? Or a young woman who shows real determination in the Old West? These nourishing films are available this weekend on television.

For the residents of a French village, the arrival of a woman and her daughter contains more surprises than they could imagine in the delightful Chocolat from 2000. What should the locals think about her passion for chocolate? And what about the special powers she believes her candies contain? How should they react to the relaxed way she lives? And what about the strict morality that many follow? What can this town learn from this woman? Or should they fear her? With a delightful sense of time and place, director Lasse Hallstrom turns what could have been an overly sentimental comedy into a touching slice of humanity by favoring character over situation. The always-lovely Juliette Binoche is pitch-perfect as the woman determined to bring joy to her new neighbors and Judi Dench scores as a bitter woman who ultimately discovers inner peace. This special film, a surprise nominee for the Best Picture Oscar, broadcasts Saturday, July 13, at 10:30 a.m. on WE.

For locals in a popular section of London, the arrival of a famous movie actress from the United States brings more entanglements than they could foresee in the romantic favorite Notting Hill from 1999. What should they think of this woman the paparazzi follow who seeks quiet time with a reserved owner of a travel bookshop? Julia Roberts delivers one of her most engaging performances as a big time star who captivates the ever-so-humble Hugh Grant while turning over his predictable world. What makes the film fun is how director Roger Michell tinkers with Roberts’ public persona, capitalizes on Grant’s endless charm, and relies upon the strong supporting cast (including Hugh Bonneville, Rhys Ifans and James Dreyfus) to add texture. This ultimately re-watchable film, so delightful no matter how many times you see it, airs Sunday, July 14, at 4 p.m. on Lifetime.

For the cartoon characters who inhabit 1940s Los Angeles, the arrival of a seductive femme fatale makes the plight of the animated man all too human in Who Framed Roger Rabbit from 1988. With more than a slight homage to the decades of animated classics created in Hollywood, the film pokes fun at just about every cinema cliché, from the troubled hero to the over-confident detective to the tempting seductress, all told with tongue in cheek and respect for the craft of animation. No matter how many times you saw the film when first released, or on video in years since, a fresh look reveals how much fun director Roger Zemeckis has filling every frame with inside jokes. Kathleen Turner’s vocal performance as the seductive Jessica is extraordinary. Look for Roger Rabbit on Saturday at 7 p.m. on Cartoon.

And, for a strong young woman compelled to search for justice, the acclaimed remake of True Grit tells us as much about the character it celebrates as the movie Western it honors. Under the guidance of directors Ethan and Joel Coen, this remake of the 1969 version starring John Wayne, reaches beyond the framework of its source material to study how people survive in a time when simple rules don’t matter. While the original version focuses on the humorous dimensions of the story, this 2010 film searches for what motivates its complex characters to act in ways driven by their challenges. Jeff Bridges, a year after winning his Oscar for Crazy Heart, again demonstrates his magic when revealing the slow burn inside a quiet man. Check out True Grit on Friday at 7 p.m. on FX.

 

Serving nutritious movies can be as easy as turning on the television. And be sure, as you watch together, to share what you observe, question and consider. Watching movies together can prompt valuable family discussions.