Growing up in Norway “The Summer Cinema” was always something we looked forward to. As a child this meant Summer films on TV every single night. When I became a little older I started watching the “Summer Night Cinema” which was a selection of non-commercial films shown after midnight on TV. These films were often foreign films like for example Bollywood movies or French movies. There would be a different theme every year.
I absolutely love films that are a bit artsy and non-commercial, meaning they are made to tell a story and not to make money. So even though I now no longer live in Norway I have continued the “Summer Cinema” tradition myself.
Here are three movies that have touched me deeply this year.
The Florida Project: The Florida Project is an American Indie film from 2017 directed by Sean Baker. The film is about a young single mother who lives at a motel with her six year old daughter Moonee(played by the incredible Brooklynn Prince). This little family is trying desperately to make ends meet which often results in rather “creative” solutions. The film is first and foremost about little Moonee and how she sees the world. It is her story being told, and even though her situation is difficult and awakens pity in people she is not an unhappy child. Rather the opposite. The movie is about the magic of childhood and the resilience of children. It is also, I would say, a critical comment on the American society, discreetly pinpointed by the contrast of Disney World situated right next to the shabby, but beautifully colorful motel. It is a powerful film in its contrasts, but mostly because of the amazingly talented Brooklynn Prince who is an absolute delight to watch. I highly recommend this film! I just have to mention that there is a lot of swearing in this film, which I normally hate, but in this movie it is understandable.
“Maudie” is a Canadian/Irish biographical film from 2016 directed by Aisling Walsh starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke. The story (which is a true story) is about the life of Nova Scotia based folk artist Maud Lewis. Maud has struggled all her life with severe arthritis making her physically handicapped, and she is treated by her family as someone who can’t take care of themselves. Seeing her much like a child she is patronized and handed over from family member to family member like a burden. One day Maud sees an advertisement for a house maid and as the only applicant for the job she moves in with the ill tempered loner Everett Lewis. The relation starts badly, and again Maud is patronized and treated like a child. But as long as she does her job Everett lets her do the one thing she loves: paint. Maud paints on the walls, on the table, on the entrance door, anywhere there is a clear surface. This leads to her being discovered by Sandra, a rich lady from New York, who encourages Maud and agents her art. In the meantime the relationship between Maud and Everett develops and they end up marrying. Soon, it is Everett who takes over the household chores while Maud paints. “Maudie” is a beautiful quiet movie about people being different but making the difference into something beautiful. It is about doing art for art’s sake, not for fame and money, simply because it is fun and joyful. It is definitely a reminder to all of us who are creative to not lose sight of what is important, that art does not change simply because someone else gives it value, art comes from love, the love of making it. I obviously highly recommend this beautiful film.
“Please stand by” is an American Indie film from 2017 starring Dakota Fanning, directed by Ben Lewin. This gorgeous movie is about 21 year old Wendy who have what is medically known as autism. Wendy is, like most people with autism, brilliant and creative. She just struggles a bit with emotions, with how to express them and recognize them. One of her favorite role models is Spock from Star Trek. And when a contest is announced encouraging Star Trek fans to write a script for the beloved series, Wendy immediately starts writing.
But when the deadline approaches no one is willing to help Wendy deliver her script so she escapes from the facility where she lives and sets out on a journey, only accompanied by her dog Pete, to Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles. “Please Stand by” is a beautiful film about seeing the world a little differently, perhaps even a bit more magically, but still wanting to be accepted and to be given the freedom to be oneself and have autonomy over one’s own life. It challenges the way society looks at people who are different, proving to us that different is not lesser or inadequate, sometimes even more colorful and meaningful. It is also a film about sisterhood and friendship and love. The ending scene touched my heart deeply and I of course highly recommend this gorgeous film.
So there it is, my three summer film recommendations! I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did. Let us all make a decision to give more love to films made, not to make money, but to tell important stories, stories with the courage to challenge and inspire us.
Happy viewing! 💖🍿📽😊