Flying to London is easy: the British Air flight leaves Phoenix in the evening. You get your dinner, you watch a movie, you go to sleep. You wake up a few hours later and you’re almost there.
The 10-hour trip home, however, is not the same story. You leave about 2:30pm. You eat “lunch” at what is about 4:30 England time. You watch a movie. You watch a movie. You watch a movie. I actually watched four movies during my recent flight home. I’ve been so jetlagged all this week (and home alone because my husband stayed to visit friends in Scotland) that I’ve watched four more movies in the odd hours when I should have been sleeping.
When I saw Vicki Balint’s blog post on “Three movies in one weekend? Yep…” my competitive streak came out. So here you go, in the order I viewed them. The chick flick theme will become painfully clear — I was trying really hard to avoid movies I thought my husband would eventually want to watch with me.
Number 1: “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” starring Matthew McConaughy, Jennifer Garner and Michael Douglas. I know! Totally fluffy, uninspired redo of the overdone Scrooge theme. But I find it fun to watch McConaughy and Garner in almost anything they do. Maybe it’s the dimples.
Number 2: “Knowing.” Nicholas Cage stars in this sci-fi flick that starts out strong, with spooky but somewhere-in-the-realm-of-acceptable plausibility and then has you shaking your head in disbelief. I’m a sucker for stories about the supernatural, so I was all over this one until the end, when all I could think was, “Are you kidding me?!”
Number 3: “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Got about halfway through this one before I gave up out of sheer boredom. Poorly scripted, poorly acted, lots of gratuitous nudity, some really stomach-curdling “mama’s boy” scenes and no great insights (which is what I was seeking in the first place) about that period of history.
Number 4: “Is Anybody There?” starring Michael Caine. I will confess that this was the last one I watched on the flight home and I did nod off a couple of times (it was about 2am London time when I got to this movie). But I will rent it and watch it again. It’s a lovely story about an aging magician whose senility forces him into an elder care home operated by a compassionate mom, her conflicted husband and an initially resentful young son. Honest and endearing with no sugar coating.
Number 5: “Daughter from Danang.” Oh, my gosh. This one will rip your heart out. I found it by accident through the prompts on my Netflix account and it was waiting for me in the mail when I got home. It’s a PBS “American Experience” documentary about one of the Vietnam children airlifted out of the country and brought to the U.S., where she was adopted by a single mom in a conservative southern state who named her “Heidi” and told her to “never tell anyone where you were born.” That’s just a tiny piece of what is a compelling, painfully honest story that reunites Heidi (birth name “Hiep”) with her birth mom 22 years after the Vietnam War — to very surprising and unsettling results.
Number 6: “Miracle at St. Ana.” I tried twice to watch this one. I’m a huge fan of WWII stories and a strong want-to-believer of miracles. So maybe my expectations were too high. The visuals were stunning (and sometimes shocking) but I found the story rambling, disjointed, confusing and ultimately unsatisfying.
Number 7: “Seven Pounds,” starring Will Smith. I really wanted to see this one when it came out in theaters but never did. I think Will Smith is incredibly talented (and easy on the eyes) and the trailers for this film really piqued my curiosity. The extreme-self-sacrifice theme is a little hard to swallow and I’m sure my husband would have been rolling his eyes (or leaving the room to watch sports on the other TV) if he’d been watching it with me. But I loved the chemistry between the main characters (Ben/Tim) and Emily and I was definitely wiping my eyes at the end.
Number 8: “Nights in Rodanthe,” starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Okay, okay. Totally implausible premise, completely schmaltzy love story but a good lesson, nevertheless, that it’s never too late to find your passion. Hopefully you don’t have to break up your marriage to get there. And I really think they should have edited out the last scene and ended at the horses.