Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For a True Story Part II: Movies

Now on to movies based on true stories that I have seen and loved so far.

Extraordinary Measures (2010)


This details the Crowley family’s journey to save their two sick children from the fatal genetic Pompe disease. At the time, there was no cure so the Crowley’s took a chance and were able to create a biotech company and ultimately a cure for those who suffer from Pompe. See also the book by the family “Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy”.

127 Hours (2010)


 Based on the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” this is Aaron Ralston’s journey to save his life after he gets trapped between boulders in Blue John Canyon in Utah. This is one of those amazing stories of survival that will make you question what depths you would go to, to save your life when you are stuck in an impossible position and no one is looking for you. James Franco is brilliant as Aaron and makes you stay put rooting for his survival.

Conviction (2010)


This is truly an amazing true story. Again it explores the power of transformation when one person goes to extraordinary lengths for another. When Betty Anne Waters’ brother Kenny goes to jail for murder, she believes he was wrongly convicted. To prove his innocence, she spends years obtaining her GED, bachelor and masters degrees, and then law school all while raising her two sons.

You Don’t Know Jack (2010)


Al Pacino plays the infamous Jack Kevorkian and tells the story of how he came to fight tirelessly for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. 

The King’s Speech (2010)


Gives you a behind-the-scenes feeling of what it might have been like for King George VI of Britain to conquer his stammer after unexpectedly rising to power. It is a gripping tale. Since the royal wedding is over, at least we can still get a peek inside what it takes to run Buckingham Palace. Colin Firth won an Oscar for it in 2011 and admits he has had a problem kicking the stammer learned for the role.

The Blind Side (2009)


Virtually abandoned by his birth mother, a teenage Michael Oher is living on the streets, sleeping in his school’s gym, and going to the laundromat every night to wash out his only t-shirt. That is until he meets the Tuohy family, who generously take him in and give him the encouragement and advantages that lead him to graduate high school, go on to college, and then get drafted into the NFL in 2009. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her portrayal as the matriarch of the family. This heartwarming tale makes me wish I had the money to help some of the many children in this world who need a loving home.  Or, that I could get adopted by the Tuohys.

Changeling (2008)


 I am not a fan of Angelina Jolie under normal circumstances. Quite frankly, I think she is a home wrecker and has B-list talent. But, this film is her shining moment. She plays Christine Collins whose son goes missing in California in 1928. Several months later, the LAPD attempts to convince Christine that her son has been found and sends her alleged child home to her. Her attempts to get justice and find her real son, against in the backdrop of a corrupt police department will leave you breathless.

Milk (2008)


Takes place in one of my favorite cities: San Francisco. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected public official in California when he was chosen to be on the Board of Supervisors in 1977. This story shows the passionate way Harvey lived his life, the causes he worked for, and the price he paid for it. Sean Penn is a genius in this film.

Frost/Nixon (2008)


A depiction of the televised interviews between TV personality David Frost and former President Richard Nixon. In real life these interviews took place shortly after President Nixon left office and David Frost tries to get the President to apologize for lying to the American people during Watergate. It was a moment in time that changed both of these men and their futures.

Into the Wild (2007)


You may think this is similar to 127 Hours but the man in this movie, Christopher McCandless, is attempting to escape the life he knows, not return to it. After graduating college, he gives away all his worldly possessions to make a life living off the land as his family tries to find him. Based on the book of the same name.

A Mighty Heart (2007)


This is the tale of what happened to Daniel Pearl and his pregnant wife Mariane when he is tricked and kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 while reporting for the Wall Street Journal.

Walk the Line (2005)


Before he was the “man in black” he was J.R. Cash. This film shows his upbringing, musical career and how he met and married his soul mate June Carter Cash. It wasn’t an easy road but this film proves anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Something the Lord Made (2004)


If this story doesn’t have you bawling, nothing will. I love the title because it so accurately describes both the story, progress, and talent of its subject, Vivien Thomas. Vivien partners up with Dr. Alfred Blalock to cure “blue babies” and their medical advances changed the way we all live.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)


Tells the story of John Nash who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia while trying to achieve his goals and ultimately won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

The Hurricane (1999)


Wrongfully convicted Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter spends twenty years in prison for murders he did not commit.  Despite the celebrity  fanfare, including a song Bob Dylan wrote about him, his case goes nowhere.  That is until three Canadians and one young American boy come along and believe in him enough to fight for justice. Based on the booksLazarus and the Hurricane” and “The Sixteenth Round.”  

 Schindler’s List (1993)


Where do I begin? Oskar Schindler was not a good man all of his life, but the choices he makes during the Holocaust end up making him worthy of sainthood. Oskar used his factory as a front and saved thousands of Jews from death in the concentration camps.

Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)


Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon play a set of brave and desperate parents trying to figure out how to save their son’s life. He is suffering from adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), which isa rare, inherited disorder that leads to progressive brain damage, failure of the adrenal glands and eventually death.”

A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992)



This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Meredith Baxter (aka Mrs. Keaton on TV’s Family Ties) portrays Betty Broderick, a woman who has been left by her husband for a younger woman after having put him through medical and law school, and raising their four children. To add insult to injury, his power and status in the community as well as the drawn out divorce and legal battle, ends badly for her ex-husband and his new bride. No matter how many times I watch this I still root for her. This made-for-TV film was released in two parts, so be sure to watch "Her Final Fury: Betty Broderick, The Last Chapter."

Mommie Dearest (1981)


“No wire hangers!” is the most memorable line from this movie to me. It still scares me half to death.  This story is written by the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford, who tells of the abuse (both physical and mental), she and her brother sustained at the hands of their millionaire movie-making mother. Stories like this confirm my belief you should have to pass some sort of an evaluation to become a parent.

Grey Gardens (1975/2009)


This HBO movie is based on the 1975 documentary of a co-dependent mother and daughter, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale “Big Edie” and Edith Bouvier Beale “Little Edie”.  They lived their lives in their rundown East Hampton home with only each other to fill their world. Despite help from their famous relative, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the pair remained in their squalor home. This documentary had made the story of "Big and Little Edie" a cult classic. The dark side of their lives intrigued many but the documentary was also able to bring to light their charming personalities. You will walk away questioning your own relationships and definitely have a song or two stuck in your head. Both incarnations are a must-see.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073076/ 

The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)


Again we are going to San Francisco in this movie, to my ultimate favorite destination of all time, Alcatraz!!. This is the story of one of its most famous inmates, Robert Straus, a convicted murderer who discovered a passion for birds while in solitary confinement. His experiments led to some treatments that are still used today.

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)


You might think you know what this story is about but you really don’t.  This movie does an incredible job at conveying what it was like to live cramped in a tiny apartment where no one could move or speak all day, constantly afraid of being found and send to a concentration camp. I loved the beginning and ending. Even though you know what is going to happen, there is still a lot of heart and soul you will find appealing.

Check back tomorrow, For a True Story Part III: Television Show!!

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