If anyone has (or somehow makes) the time to watch movies this term, the only genre on the agenda must surely be ‘feel-good’. This term often refers to lightweight offerings that provide a momentary, sentimental high that is soon dispelled and forgotten. So for full satisfaction it’s worth looking elsewhere, for films that leave behind an enduring sense of affirmation and pleasure (like Sir Philip Sidney’s distinction between true ‘delight’ and transient ‘laughter’ – now this counts as revision). They nourish, rather than just tickle, your soul. So here’s a list of offerings that will make you glad to be alive.
Perhaps the unlikeliest ‘feel-good’ movie around, Untouchable is the story of an aristocratic quadriplegic, Philippe, who hires an ex-convict, Driss, to be his full-time carer because he’s sick of pity. The pair live life to its fullest – hang-gliding, parachuting, and getting high. It is wonderfully life-affirming and hugely enjoyable to watch. And it’s in French, which always helps.
The award-winning Untouchable is based on a true story. Credit: YouTube
Die Hard (1988)
I doubt many of us will remember when there was only one Die Hard movie, and it feels like the legacy of the sequels is doing quite a good job of eradicating the memory of the original. But let us never forget how exhilarating, hilarious, ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining it was.
Easy A (2010)
Wait, what? A teen comedy that is genuinely funny, clever and interesting? That engages seriously with real issues and explores them in a sensitive way? That is an imaginative modern re-working of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel? That has a female character that actually has a character, and even tells jokes herself? No way!
Emma Stone is kind of great in Easy A. Credit: YouTube
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
I’m obsessed with this film for good reason. Despite being absolutely heart-breaking, its wonderfully satisfying in just how good it is: the story, the performances, the soundtrack, the scenery, the intelligence and complexity that make it so much more than a simple indictment of an intolerant past. You leave feeling that you have just witnessed something epic.
Batman Begins (2005)
Christopher Nolan turns a laughably camp not-superhero franchise into a dark exploration of good, evil, crime, order and justice. He was given millions of dollars to make a blockbuster and instead he made an art film. And it is brilliant – the best of the three that improves with each repeat viewing. One must just appreciate its existence.
Batman Begins is visually awesome. Credit: YouTube
Annie Hall (1977)
Despite somewhat renouncing rom-coms in my opening paragraph, I am hypocritically concluding my list with one, and here’s why. Woody Allen re-defines the genre as what its name suggests it should always be: romantic and comedic. It’s amazing how many fail to satisfy one, or sometimes both, of these requirements. The secret to Annie Hall’s success is, however, the distinction between, yet blending of, the two: the film is packed with hilarious jokes, but the central storyline is both romantic and rather serious. And it all culminates with the finest ending in cinema history.