I see a lot of movies, so when one lingers in my memory I count that as something special. Here are two such films that are playing this month.
“I AM SAM”
“I Am Sam” stars Sean Penn as Sam Dawson, who has the mind of an innocent child. He holds down a job at a local Starbucks and takes care of his daughter Lucy, played by Dakota Fanning, and named for one of his favorite Beatles songs. Lucy’s mother, a homeless woman, fled the minute she was born, but Sam and Lucy form a strong, loving family unit. Trouble begins to brew when the precocious 7-year-old girl exceeds her father’s capacity to learn. After an embarrassing incident, a social worker takes Lucy into custody, permitting Sam only two visits a week. Sam’s neighbor suggests he see a high-powered lawyer, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s all business, but he manages to wear down her resistance and she agrees to take his case pro bono. It isn’t going to be easy, but Sam and Lucy have one thing on their side: their utter devotion to each other. I love this film and everything about it. Director Jessie Nelson wrote the original screenplay with Kristine Nelson, and it’s wonderful, as are the performances. Use xfinityTV.com to purchase “I Am Sam” on your TV.
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“THE PAINTED VEIL”
“The Painted Veil” was a passion project for its stars, Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. Norton plays an utterly unglamorous bacteriologist who falls in love with Watts on sight and impulsively asks her to marry him. She does, mostly to get away from her overbearing mother. But when she has an affair, Norton decides to punish her by volunteering to help with an outbreak of cholera in China…and insisting that she come along. The Painted Veil is a physically beautiful film, shot on location in China, and filled with extraordinary sights that frame the story being told. The stars are surrounded by good actors, too, including Liev Schreiber, Diana Rigg, and Toby Jones. Greta Garbo starred in the first screen version of this story by W. Somerset Maugham but I daresay this is the best adaptation, a beautiful and moving film. Use xfinityTV.com to purchase “The Painted Veil” on your TV.
I don’t know how great actors commit themselves to challenging projects like I Am Sam and The Painted Veil, but I’m awfully glad they do. These movies have staying power.
Note: These picks, which start at $0.99, may not be available in all areas. SEE MORE OF LEONARD MALTIN’S PICKS HERE.