Three sweet recent films worth watching

By Caitlin Kelly

Life can feel so grim these days — an endless war in Ukraine. grocery and housing costs so high they leave you gasping in dismay, climate change…

We all need respite and comfort!

Three films I recently watched — two of them Oscar nominated for 2023 and one that won in its category — were such balm for the soul.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

sounds impossibly twee and saccharine and I studiously avoided it when it was in our local theater. I saw it on TV and was blown away with its low-key charm and humor and — how unlikely! — the presence of broadcaster Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes as one of its characters.

The plot is simple enough — a very small shell with (!?) one eye and shoes (!) and a very big heart finds his family suddenly all gone after the owners of the house they live in turn it into an Air B and B. The new resident, who is a real person and who is the maker of the film but also a main character in the film, gets to know Marcel and his grandmother Connie, whose bed (of course) is a powder compact and (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) speaks with a husky French accent. I won’t give it away but here’s a six minute clip.

The Elephant Whisperers

is a documentary about a married Indian couple and the two elephants they care for. It won the 2023 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Film and became the first Indian film to win an Oscar in that category. It is beautiful to watch. In Thailand I rode on an elephant’s neck , as the mahouts do, and it was one of my life’s happiest moments. Here’s the 2:40 trailer.

The Quiet Girl

is an Irish film mostly in Gaelic with subtitles, about a nine-year-old girl shipped off for the summer to live with a middle-aged distant cousin. It’s set in 1981, but feels like the 1960s, as Cait settles into her new life on a dairy farm, a quiet and lovely break from her abusive family and the latest screaming baby. Anyone who’s ever felt ignored by their family, or worse, and longed for an escape — and some true love — will recognize what a gift this long visit offers the girl.

In their own way, each film also addresses grief and the loss of a loved one.

Have you seen any of them?

What did you think?

7 thoughts on “Three sweet recent films worth watching

  1. I haven’t seen any of them, but I did see the stage version of Spirited Away filmed for movie audiences. And it was really cool seeing the movie I grew up with as a kid as a full-fledged stage production. I kind of hope they bring it Stateside, since it was so impressive.

  2. marcel was my surprise love of the year! I recently read about the elephant whisperers after their win and plan to see it. quiet girl on my library reserve list. so lovely have wonderful films again

  3. David Holzman

    I haven’t seen any of them. I got distracted in the middle of the first trailer, and haven’t finished it yet. Watched the second trailer, and I don’t think I got a sense of what that movie is like. However, if I do get a chance to see it, I will, as elephants are among the smartest creatures on the planet, and also probably among the nicest, partly because of their politics (and Jane Goodall agreed with me on this): The oldest female is automatically the group leader, which eliminates the possibility of the sort of back-stabbing H. sapiens do in their efforts to gain leadership. Elephants who have not been harmed tend to be very empathetic creatures.

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