Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Where Did All the Movies Go?

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

Tags: movies, The Secret Life of Bees,

My local theater must be going broke about now – I haven’t been to many movies in recent months. Quite a change for this film fanatic who used to boast about going to at least four movies in a weekend. A favorite memory is the Saturday I managed to see four movies. Of course, I can’t remember what they were, and I’m sure my body would never let me accomplish that feat again.

According to my calendar, I’ve been to five movies since August 31, and rented four others. That’s a new record for me, folks. And I’m having a bit of difficulty wrapping my mind around the fact.

The problem in recent months is a dearth of decent flicks. The word ‘decent’ is relative, of course. I’ve been prattling on about all these trailers I’ve seen and how excited I was to see this or that film. And I don’t really have any excuse for not seeing those films. I’ve just decided not to go to the theater. Whether it was a critic’s poor review, something else planned for the weekend, a good book or plenty on the DVR, or simply a desire to stay home, my trips to the movies have become few and far between.

Dakota Fanning grows up in The Secret Life of Bees.

Ah, I hear a question. What were the five movies that managed to capture my attention? TraitorRighteous Kill, Nights in RodantheThe Duchess and The Secret Life of Bees. I would recommend four of the five. (Skip Righteous Kill.) Take tissues for Rodanthe, The Duchess and Life of Bees.

I enjoyed the quiet and character-driven Secret Life of Bees. It stars Dakota Fanning, an excellent actress at any age, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo and Paul Bettany. The story, set in South Carolina in 1964, focuses on young Lily (Fanning), after she and Rosaleen (Hudson) run away from home. They end up on the doorstep of the Boatwright sisters. Eldest sister August (Latifah) manages a successful honey farm, cynical June (Keys) is a cellist and civil rights activist, and tender-hearted May (Okonedo, the heart of the film) tears up at the mention of anything sad. How these five women become a family, and what Lily learns about her mother, takes the moviegoer on a bittersweet journey of discovery and loss. The movie is well worth the viewing.

The Boatwright sisters' home in The Secret Life of Bees.

While I may not be going to many movies, a couple of blogs keep me up-to-date: The Movie Blog contains posts on upcoming releases, what’s going on in the industry and some reviews. Roger Ebert’s reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times are enlightening, as I tend to agree with him on most movies. Although, of course, he’s much more of an expert and a much better writer than I am. He also has a blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal, which I find extremely interesting and well written. Don’t skip reading the comments, too.

In Ebert’s words: “I started this blog in May, and it has enriched my life. I have been astonished by the high quality of the comments received. I have also been educated, amused, moved, corrected, encouraged.”

Talking movies is nearly as good as seeing one, in my opinion. Maybe reading about them has taken the place of viewing. I’ll let you know.