Here are a few secular choices for your pre-Lenten viewing pleasure. You can't go wrong with any of these recommendations; I would say that none of these films are appropriate for the littles. Save them for when the kids go to sleep!
1. Rope- Choosing my favorite Hitchcock movie is like trying to choose my favorite child. Rear Window is also superb as are The Man who Knew Too Much, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. But I am naming Rope as my favorite today. The stage direction, costuming, casting, music, theme- all are perfection. And Jimmy Stewart doesn't make one misstep. Watch it with your favorite pro-choicer.
2. Minority Report- I love novels about the future that is basically already here (Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World, Children of Men), realistic, sort-of-depressing science fiction. Minority Report fits the bill. Sitting in highway traffic, I dream of the transportation system in place in this movie. The special effects work really well here.
3. The Man Who Knew Too Little- Most comedies just make me smile. This one with Bill Murray has me laughing loudly and needing to stifle myself; I don't want to wake up the kids. I prefer this movie over What About Bob (can't get over the house exploding).
4. Enemy of the State or The Fugitive for semi-mindless action- It is a rare action movie that I will watch again. Both of these fit the bill for a relaxing no-brainer that isn't completely brainless. Does that make any sense at all?
5. Cinema Paradiso- a movie about movie lovers, this Italian film is abashedly over-the-top romantic. It certainly met my needs during college for a melancholic movie about love and loss. He does not get the girl.
6. Au Revoir Les Enfants- This is an autobiographical movie based on the director's life in Nazi-occupied France. The main character befriends a Jewish boy who is being hidden at the boarding school by the headmaster, a monk. Beautiful cinematography and music; bring your tissues.
7. Children of Heaven- This Iranian movie is about a sister and a brother who share one pair of shoes between the two of them. It is more about relationships than poverty, but the normalcy of poverty is a part of it. The brother enters a race and tries to win second place; the second place prize is a pair of shoes.
Looking at this list, I notice that there are very few girl-power roles. It is what it is- this is the list I am coming up with at this time of the year. I am looking forward to the newest Jane Eyre. That should be an enjoyable escape to 'Olde England' while sitting on the couch, waiting for a kid to squawk. Here are some bonus movies that I really enjoy and can watch again:
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, Memento, Moulin Rouge (any Baz L.- of course Australia is my least favorite), A Room with a View, Up (all Pixar- Toy Story movies are my least favorite), new Narnia movies- even the old ones (don't judge me), Jean de Florette, The Count of Monte Cristo, Enchanted April, Henry V (Branagh's version- yes, he is an egoist, but he makes great films), any 'old' musical (Sound of Music, State Fair, just no Carousel) almost any Austen adaption, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (my grandfather was in it)...I guess I could go on and on...