Movies are entertainment first, but we often look to be affected and see something that will make us think when we screen a film. It’s not all about laughs, after all. Now playing on satellite TV are numerous affecting films. Here are the five best.
1. Notes on a Scandal. Cate Blanchett has plenty of problems in this film, but it isn’t until she runs into Judi Dench that things get really testy. Having witnessed more than a minor indiscretion between Blanchett and a 15 year-old student, Dench tries her hand at a little blackmail. Of course, no money is ever asked for or offered. The blackmail in question is more emotional, and nearly sexual at one point. It’s hard to say who pulls off the more impressive performance, but these are two professionals at their best. See this film uncut on HBO’s HD networks.
2. The Wrestler. Mickey Rourke brought a lot of baggage with him to this performance, and it seems like that was exactly what director Darren Aronofsky had in mind. The Hollywood star turned dark horse outsider eats up his character with relish. Though it must have been painful to portray a has-been so similar to what he had become, Rourke showed uncompromising courage. The Golden Globe was his, but the Oscar went to the pesky Sean Penn for his role in Milk. They say Hollywood is a vengeful place, and you might conjecture that Rourke’s Oscar denial is the perfect example. See this film on premium satellite TV networks like Showtime.
3. The Deer Hunter. Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken all pull off terrific performances in one of the most affecting movies you will ever see. Vietnam did more than a little damage to America, and this film takes a look at a small town it ravages. See The Deer Hunter on Turner Classic Movies in HD.
4. Dead Man Walking. Of all the impossibly professional performances in the brilliant career of Sean Penn, this film may feature his best work to date. He is always convincing, but the portrayal of a killer awaiting his execution was a challenge few could have mastered. Finding religion and doing some heavy soul-searching with the help of Susan Sarandon, Penn manages to make this rather ugly character a sympathetic one – the toughest thing for an actor to do.
5. Volver. Another one of Pedro Almodovar’s masterpieces finds Penelope Cruz in a tough spot – namely with a sexually abusive, incestuous husband dead in her lap. Treating this killing and the offense itself with a clear eye, Almodovar does once again what other filmmakers only try to do: let the story tell itself. But he is only getting warmed up. The story that follows is a heart-wrenching meditation on family, local roots, infidelity, lies and resurrections. If you haven’t seen this film, check out a showing soon on one of the satellite TV premium networks.