This week is regional week. Here are a few of my favorite films set in the American South.
Remember the Titans, 2000
A film that redefined and opened up the sports film for the following decade, Titans does more than tell a story about football. It’s about courage in spite of fear and brotherhood forged through hardship. The sentimentality is prevalent throughout, but it is with a sincere heart. Denzel Washington is the hinging point to a film filled with marvelous acting, introducing us to a whole new crop of actors through the following decade (a very green Ryan Gosling for starters). A film whose deeper meaning focuses on a difficult theme (in this case, racism) but all the while remembering its family-related audience. It’s a an approach to storytelling themes that should be tackled far more often.
The Help, 2004
This story of the 1960’s civil rights movement seen through the point of the view of the black maids caught me by surprise. Less so in the dramatic richness of the film, but rather the immersive quality that this story consistently carried with it. Each actor with blazing intensity deftly brings this story to life in such a way that will be hard to turn away from (Viola Davis in particular). This is a great story of the South – where civil rights and the decency of human beings are brought to the forefront.
Forrest Gump, 1994 (CHECK LIST)
A film that continues to grow more enjoyable with age, join Forrest Gump’s journey through America’s recent history. From the war torn regions of Vietnam, to the origin of the yellow smiley face t-shirt, see how one man’s choices unknowingly shape history. With director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriter Eric Roth, and the acting talents of Sally Field, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright and Tom Hanks, this film packs a cinematic wallop. Surprising in its depth, with humor that will leave you in stitches, and a genuine Southern charm, Forrest Gump shows us that life is unexpected; and the least we can do is try. Because you never know what you’re going to get.