In The Netherlands there is a film festival of sorts. It is now an annual event, where 10 cities will show 5 new films in one day at the largest chain of cinemas. The first film starts at 10:30am and the final film ends at 11pm. Five films in one day. What makes this so appealing is that none of the films have opened here yet and some are not coming for many months, so to see these films now and all on the same day, is a treat. You do get a break between each film and there are two meal breaks. You sit in the same seat the whole day, so it sort of feels like you are on a really big airplane, as you are with the same people all day. But I must say, this was a lot of fun. This is the second time we have done this, and we plan on doing it again next year. Here are the films we saw, in the order that they were shown.

WHAT MAISIE KNEW  This was the film that had the least amount of hype and it was quite impressive. This is the story of a young girl named Maisie who has parents who fight a lot and then separate. The custody arrangements are sloppy and painful and Maisie gets caught in the middle. Ironically, the new partners of her parents are the better parents for Maisie. The cast is excellent, the biggest name in this film is Julianne Moore, but the true star is the girl who plays Maisie, Onata Aprile.

ALL IS LOST  This is a very unusual film as there is only one person on film and that is Robert Redford. And he only says one word on film. Redford is alone at sea when his sail boat is damaged and he has to survive on his own. I completely believed Redford as this sailor who is determined to live, and I am not sure how many actors could have pulled this off. This is a great adventure movie that keeps you wondering if he will make it (as we know, not all movies have happy endings).

THE BUTLER  This was the film I have been wanting to see for a long time. I had read all the press and the reviews coming from America and was very eager to take in this story and film. All I can say is that it did not disappoint. The two stars, Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, are so good and so real, you see them struggle, age and love through the years and you completely believe in them. Not only is the cast fantastic but the way the film was constructed and filmed was quite impressive. So many times films are made to just entertain us and that is a wonderful thing. There are other times, where a film can tell a story that opens our hearts and really makes us think…this is that kind of film. This is a film that just steps into your life and takes hold, for many different reasons. Only two times in this long day, did the audience applaud at the end, and for THE BUTLER they applauded loudly.

THE WAY WAY BACK   Fourteen year old Duncan is forced to spend his summer with his mother, her jerk of a boyfriend and his grumpy daughter. The good news is that it is at the beach and near a water park. Duncan’s summer is saved by the new friends he makes at the water park and he even finds some new confidence in himself. This is a very funny film and also a good story about growing up around adults that can disappoint you. It is very clever and the cast is outstanding: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph. This was the second time the audience applauded and it was well deserved.

FRUITVALE STATION   This is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old young man who was killed by the metro police in 2009 in Oakland, California. The film shows us a young man, who is not perfect, but who loved his family and was trying to turn his life around. We share his last day on earth and it ends with that horrible event at the train station. Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer are just excellent in this very raw and riveting film. This won the Grand Jury Prize in Sundance.

All in all, this was a great day. I saw five great American films and they all had their individual strengths. It was interesting to watch these films with a Dutch audience. This country has had their issues, but they never had segregation here. To watch THE BUTLER with over 500 Dutch people, was very interesting and I am sure that there were scenes that were confusing and shocking to them. But you know what? Those same scenes were shocking to me too. I hope that anyone watching this movie will be disgusted, ashamed and saddened by this part of history. I would be really worried if we weren’t.

Bonus trivia—Not only did Octavia Spencer star in FRUITVALE STATION, but she was one of its producers. She had to get investors for this independent film, and one of them was Kathryn Stockett, the author of THE HELP. Spencer and Stockett have been friends for many years, and in fact, the character of Minnie (in THE HELP) was written with Octavia Spencer in mind.

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  • Aledys Ver  On October 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Five films! What a treat! I haven’t seen any of those films and they all sound interesting. I hope I get a chance to see them at some point here in Z.!

  • Jean Langley  On October 3, 2013 at 3:06 am

    I just saw What Maisie Knew on the library DVD. I loved the little girl and hope to see more of her. Can’t wait to see the other movies, but I don’t think I could do a marathon like you did!

  • krunn7  On October 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I haven’t seen The Butler yet but did read that Obama said wryly, “Oprah REALLY Can act.” It seems to be surprising folk that she can act.

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