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When this movie ended, everyone in the audience just sat there for a few minutes, trying to pull ourselves back together. As we filed out, still blubbering, the theatre manager said she’d seen it three or four times and fell apart at each viewing. 

“Under the Same Moon” is the story of Carlito, a Mexican boy who will do anything to be reunited with his mother, who is working in the U.S. It’s a classic hero’s-journey tale, but it also puts a beautifully-drawn human face on the immigration issue. My friend Carol and I are both working on novels that touch on the issue of immigration in some way, so we had the perfect excuse to play hooky.

From the perspective of writing craft, it’s my favorite kind of story. It features classic archetypes–the plucky, unstoppable kid you can’t help but root for, the cranky guy with a heart of gold, various mentors, allies and enemies along the way. In the best possible way, this movie doesn’t care what you think of the immigration issue. It just presents this one situation, knowing you’ll draw your own conclusions. I bet there are reviewers out there who despise this movie, the way there are critics who despise commercial fiction. Some people are so uncomfortable with genuine sentiment that they can’t possibly be fair about a film like this.

There is a class of movies I tend to file under “Films every American Should See.” There aren’t very many of them. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few–“Hoop Dreams,” “Glory,” “Apollo 13,” “The Color Purple,” and “October Sky” come to mind. “Under the Same Moon” belongs on that list. Go see this movie. It’ll stick with you for a long time, guaranteed.

Wishing everyone a joyous Cinco de Mayo!

 

Here are some of my personal favorites. Some would be real longshots for an Oscar, but in my perfect world, a few of the honorees would be…

The Wizard of Oz. AKA the most watchable movie ever made. Best Picture.

The Shawshank Redemption. A masterpiece of emotional restraint, storytelling, and acting by the entire cast. If you can keep from floating away on a raft of tears in the end, you’re made of stone.

Harold and Maude. My favorite screen romance, and surely the winner for Best Soundtrack and Best Song.

Last of the Mohicans. Okay, I lied. This is my favorite screen romance. Best Score by a mile. So much better than the novel, you’ll forget there ever was a novel.

Lady JaneLady Jane. Best tragic romance, with Cary Elwes looking so handsome you’ll melt on the floor. Best costumes, for sure.

Terminator. Second-best tragic romance, and Michael Biehn will own your soul.

Breaking Away. This is one of those movies I can’t help but watch every time it shows up on TV–a classic story of a young man figuring out who he is and where he belongs. Bonus points for the opera score.

Blazing Saddles. What can I say? I’m in charge here. This movie is so stupidly funny it deserves something.

Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing take the prize for Best Collaboration by a Now-Divorced Couple–Kenneth Branagh and the incomparable Emma Thompson.

Hoop Dreams. A movie every person in America should see, along with Apollo 13.

Sense and Sensibility. The only feature film that does justice to Jane Austen.

Amadeus. This probably won an Oscar for something, surely. A flawless depiction of genius and passion.

So there you are. Just a few overlooked faves. How about you?

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