OT: Recommendations solicited

Hi, readers:

I’d like to ask you for recommendations of things you have enjoyed watching on DVD (tv, film, documentary) that you think my mother might like to watch or books you think she might enjoy reading.

As I’ve said before, Mrs. Servetus quite closely resembles Mrs. Thornton, except that she’s more devout.

My mother is 71, grew up in rural Wisconsin, and has lived only briefly elsewhere while my father was in the army. She has a high school diploma and has been married since she was 19. She worked until I was born, then was an SAHM until my brother was in his mid-20s, after which she took an office job. She currently is administrative assistant to the IT section of the company she works with and supports about 50 people. She likes volunteer work, crossword puzzles, crafts of all kinds, especially crocheting, picture puzzles with more than a thousand pieces, traditional hymns, sermons, romance novels without explicit anything, and mysteries or suspense books that are not very suspenseful. She also enjoys popular histories of events she has lived through and memoirs of public figures. Her political opinions are centrist GOP. She likes positive stories that include a message of redemption or self-improvement. DVD suggestions should not require subtitles, which for her includes British accents of any kind. Movies should not glorify non-traditional moralities or sexual practices; infidelity and / or extra-marital sex should be limited or take place only off-screen. Some violence is okay if the violence is committed in the pursuit of a worthy goal, as in a war story, but not heavy violence.

So basically I’m looking for book and DVD recommendations that involve traditional morality, happy endings, little suspense, no more than a medium amount of violence, no on-screen sex, and American actors speaking American standard English. And preferably available from the public library.

“Recent” movies I can think of that she has liked included My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Cars, The Blind Side, While You Were Sleeping, Toy Story, and Invictus. Older movies she likes include The Ten Commandments and Witness. She thinks Michael Douglas is sexy and has permission from my dad to cheat on him for one night only should Michael ever make her an offer.

Any and all recommendations that you think might fit some of these categories are gratefully accepted. Thanks in advance for your help.

~ by Servetus on June 21, 2012.

78 Responses to “OT: Recommendations solicited”

  1. I love “Shining Through” with Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith.

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    • Ooh, didn’t know of this one! Thanks!

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    • To expound, it is a story during World War II. Since your Mom is an administrative assistant, she will probably like that Melanie plays a sharp-minded secretary turned spy. One on-screen sex scene though, there is suspense but not over the top, and there is some violence of course. Sad at times, on a very personal level for Melanie’s character, but in the end heartwarming, I find anyway.

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      • yeah, the secretary who’s smarter than her boss is a sort of ongoing theme in my mom’s life, so this will be perfect.

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  2. The novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a lovely story about a widowed retired British Army officer who strikes up a frienship with an East Asian widow living in what he begins to realize is not as open-minded a town as he thought. It is charming, witty and sweet without being saccharine. My own dear mother passed away two years ago so I never had a chance to recommend this book to her, but I try not to miss the opportunity to pass this one along.
    Love your blog, by the way. So nice to hear the views of so many bright women!

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  3. Here are some movies that may fit the bill: Toy Story, Heidi (1993 with Jason Robards), Kate & Leopold, Hope Floats, Rear Window.

    Good luck!

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  4. Easy…Catherine Marshall’s “Christy” and the TV series, which was relatively short for all of the reasons she would/will like it..no sex, language, etc. Both are in about every library I’ve ever been in. “To Kill a Mockingbird”…book and movie both excellent. Same for “How Green Was My Valley”. Deborah Wiles’ book, “Love, Ruby Lavender” and the sequels. The movie “Serendipity”, I think? One sex scene kinda. Very not in your face. The book “Pioneer Women” by Joanna Stratten. Any Janette Oke’s books. “O Pioneer” tv movie…ok, someone else can chime in. I could go on forever. Oh would “What a Girl Wants” with Mr. Firth be too British? It’s technically half British half USA. Almost forgot “Parent Trap”…the last movie. OK, one more…”O Brother, Where Art Thou”. Next?

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    • I probably should have asked you first, NovemberBride — you’re the reader I have with the most similar taste, I bet. And as you hint I also should have said no taking the Lord’s name in vain in my description. These are perfect.

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  5. Since she likes Michael Douglas how about The American President and the two Romancing the Stone films, maybe Don’t Say A Word since she likes mysteries.

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  6. “Up,” which also happens to be one of Richard’s fav animated movies. It’s funny, it’s sweet, Pixar does a beautiful job and it teaches a good lesson along the way. There is a sad passage early on but it ends happily. Until I saw no English accents I had other suggestions, but I will let those pass.

    Oh,an old Ingrid Bergman movie, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.” Very inspirational story about a missionary in China during wartime–the accents are easy for me to understand, but then again, I can understand just about anyone speaking English.
    If I can think of anything else, I will share it.

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  7. I just want to intervene briefly to say, thanks you guys, especially for answering so promptly. i sat down to the keyboard in a serious funk and the fact that all these suggestions poured in immediately made a serious improvement in my mood.

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  8. Hey, I was sitting here doodling away on a blog piece and then headed for the shower. Great timing huh?! My funk is a tired funk. So the shower sounded like my best bet!! Hope she enjoys what you get her! “Romancing the Stone” would be a sure bet, I’ll bet…

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  9. How about anything from the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series? They’re pretty upbeat.

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  10. Goodness, Servetus – that is quite a tough set of parameters!

    What about Midnight in Paris?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1605783/

    I saw it on a plane but the PG-13 rating suggests they didn’t have to edit any content out. It’s a fairly gentle movie, starring mainly Americans, with a message and some of the characters are from recent history.

    Good luck with that quest!

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    • I like Midnight in Paris, too. I have watched it several times and I can’t really think of any bad language or other things she would likely find offensive. The Parisian scenery is just gorgeous and I love the soundtrack–Cole Porter and old jazz tunes. No violence, no nudity or sex scenes.

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    • Thanks — this is also something I want to see and the romance element is perfect.

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  11. Your mom might like my blog http://www.beverlyfarr.com which is all about celebrating the sweet romance. In it, I talk about books and movies that your mom would probably like. I do, however, love British accents, so there will be some things she won’t like.

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    • super, thanks. She doesn’t read blogs but thanks for reminding me of the resources. I’ll definitely be over there!

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  12. Hi: Has she seen “The painted veil” with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts?Many years ago I watched ( on VHS) “Ruby Cairo” with Anddie Macdonald and Liam Neeson ( and Viggo) that has an interesting idea. I Like “Witness” VERY much as well as “Sabrina” (both versions – “Roman Holiday” included of course), ” Working Girl” and “Green Card”. If she didn’t mind reading subtitltes – which I m afraid she does, I would of course recommend 2 Brazilian films : “Me, you Them”, and ” Central Station”, and the Argentinian “The son of the Bride”. “Old” films I’m afraid

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    • Oh, Working Girl. I saw that with her years ago, and although there is some extra marital sex / betrayal she did like it. I want to see that again! Thanks for all your suggestions.

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  13. Sorry, Servetus, but I don’t think I’ll be able to help here. My tastes aren’t anywhere near as ladylike as your mother’s seem to be – even if I’m 65! I don’t mind a bit of blood, guts and gore when it comes to books, so long as it’s not gratitious. Plus I’m a bit of an Anglophile. LOL. But there are some great suggestions above, many of which I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’m sure your mother will appreciate all your effort to find things to entertain her ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • She would laugh to hear herself described as ladylike, I think ๐Ÿ™‚

      I know that there’s a huge American market for just this kind of thing — the silent majority of people in the U.S. who don’t care for many of the themes of popular culture — I just don’t follow it.

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  14. I think your Mum might like”My life in runs with Nia Vardalos,Richard Dreyfuss and Alexis Georgovlis(*gulp*) or “Jet Lag” with Juliet Binoche and Jean Reno(love him)or”Only you”-Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey,JR(love him), “French kiss”-Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline(*gulp*Love him),”Six Days Seven Nights”-Anne Heche and Harrison Ford(Oh..how I loved him:))

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    • She likes Harrison Ford, too. And Dreyfuss made me think of “The Goodbye Girl” which she didn’t like but I loved ๐Ÿ™‚ Great suggestions.

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  15. How about Ride with the Devil, it’s a little known US Civil War drama which I really like, although it may push the boundaries of your requirements (due to being a war movie).

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  16. I would like to propose two films: “A Walk in the Clouds” with Keanu Reeves and “WALL-E”

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    • A Walk in the Clouds is perfect — traditional family, respectful lover — thanks for reminding me of this. Will check out Wall-E.

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  17. sabrina with Julia Ormond, You have got mail with Tom Hanks, Poirot series, miss maple series, Sherlock (new one for bbc), downtown Abbey, my fake fiancรฉ on Netflix, bread and tulips on Netflix. Books I suggest the N. 1 ladies detective agency series by McCall Smith, Hamish Macbeth series by MC Beaton, books by Kathy Fforde. Hope your mother has fun!,

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  18. Boy those are tough, especially leaving out British movies… but I have to put in a plug for “Amazing Grace.” I think she shouldn’t have too much trouble with the accents and the story of how the hymn was inspired, and the fight to outlaw the slave trade in England is top-notch! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  19. “The Lake House” with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock is quite sweet though you have to suspend belief and not think too much while watching it. What a pity your mum doesn’t like British accents. I think “Ladies in Lavender” with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith adn a cute German boy (Daniel Brรผhl) would be suitable for her.

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    • yeah, I don’t get it, exactly, because it didn’t use to be an issue, but she has a hearing aid now. Thanks.

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  20. If she likes Woody Allen, “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (very funny IMO) and “Radio Days'”(poignant and funny) are amongst my favourites. I’d recommend “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” by Allen too but that’s set in London so it’s out of the running I’m afraid! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  21. My book club just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (hope that’s right, the title is too darn long!). Very sweet with lots of funny characters, and a very quick read. Mom may enjoy it.

    I like that Mom has permission to cheat just in case Michael Douglas comes calling. DH and I have the same agreement for RA

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    • you’re right, that’s the perfect book (read it when it came out, and there’s not an offensive word in it).

      I think unfortunately for my mom that Michael Douglas’s prenup specifies some pretty awful penalties for infidelity. It’s worth asking, do I want him to pay Catherine Zeta-Jones millions of dollars to have sex with me? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  22. How great is this for you to search options for Mom!
    (I can’t get completely away from Brit things, sorry)
    . Charade (Audrey Hepburn & Cary Grant)
    . City of Joy (Patrick Swayze & Pauline Collins)
    . Lost in Austen (rather charming)
    . Is A Man for All Seasons too heavy?

    Endorse those suggestions for Guernsey Lit Society and Romancing the Stone! Great suggestions!

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    • Thanks fitzg. I’ve wanted to see Lost In Austen myself.

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      • Love “Lost in Austen,” so clever. Bummed the US version cuts out “Downtown” but at least I can see on You Tube. Wouldn’t it be fun if they did a “Lost in Gaskell”? To trade places with Margaret and run into Thornton and all the characters. Who would be a good actor to play Richard’s Thornton?

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        • I haven’t seen it — we have to think of actor to play Richard Armitage playing Thornton? That’s hard.

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  23. Your mom might like Elizabeth Peters’ cozy mystery series featuring intrepid Victorian archaeologist Amelia Peabody–the audio versions by Barbara Rosenblatt are superb. She could crochet while she listened.
    And Charlotte MacLeod’s mysteries, either the Peter Shandy ones (set at Balaclava Agricultural College, which is apparently populated by the descendants of Norse gods) or the ones featuring Boston Brahmin Sarah Kelling, are fantastic and funny.
    I second the suggestions for Charade, Romancing the Stone (plus its sequel) and The American President.
    Best of luck to you–you’ve already gotten so many great ideas! Hope your mom enjoys.

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    • I hadn’t thought of audiobooks — that’s actually a great idea. I loved those Amelia Peabody books.

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  24. Difficult. I guess it’s a classic: Roman Holiday.

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  25. Your Mother would like the love story between John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, Anna Seyton’s Katherine. Richard Armitage would be good as John of Gaunt too in the same mileu as Richard ll

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    • Let’s write Mr. Armitage a letter and suggest it to him! Seriously, thanks for the suggestion.

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    • Rarely do I have a favorite anything (other than male actor) but I will have to say Katherine is my favorite book. There’s a copy on my night stand at all times. And I’m also in full agreement that RA would make a great John of Gaunt. This book would make an excellent movie. It has romance, political intrigue, great characters like Geoffrey Chaucer — I could go on and on.

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  26. Sue me…I thought of a couple of other movies…Secondhand Lions and The Grass Harp. You can have me arrested..2 more popped up…Sommersby and Ever After. Yes, I have a life! ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually, Tangled also? I love that movie as do my granddaughters!!

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  27. @Gloria – SNAP! It was Anya Seton who set me on the path to reading medieval history! And Mr. A is the first actor since then who I have found perfect for Gaunt! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  28. “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, if not just for the haunting soundtrack.

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  29. I just read “the last time I saw you” by elizabeth berg and thought it was a charming book. the characters stuck with me after I read it. not too heavy, nice light summer read. Also finally read The Paris Wife about Hemmingway’s first wife.

    We Bought a Zoo was a tear jerker ( have your hankie on hand). Win Win was sweet. Sabrina with Audry Hepburn is another fav along with Roman Holiday. Really like Woody’s latest Midnight In Paris. I love love love PArks and Recreation the series in on NetFlicks — vry funny.

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  30. The Artist just came out on Blue Ray (I think)

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  31. […] bag of stupid G-rated romance novels from Goodwill. Borrowed from the library: twenty-five DVDs of films and a few real novels. Installed and troubleshot: an Internet router for wifi at home. Packed: enough crocheting supplies […]

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  32. Hey Servetus!

    I just broke open the last batch of DVDs I ordered from my last trip to the US and have to add ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ to the list!! I’d forgotten how original and funny it is! Also, I have ‘500 Days of Summer’, which I also found quirky and adorable. These movies may be more for you (to keep the spirits up). ๐Ÿ˜‰

    If you appreciate Ryan Gosling in ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ you should see ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ and then ‘Drive’ (although ‘Drive’ is probably not for your mom – although I’d be curious to hear your mother’s reaction to the topic of ‘Lars and the Real Girl’).

    Thinking of you. It’s stormy here in London – I think there’s flooding expected. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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    • will check them out — anything with Ryan Gosling in it has a long wait time, but it’s probably a good moment to reanimate my netflix account.

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