Heavy humanity

In this world, we all struggle and suffer. Obstacles rise, dreams fall, and desires we long for don’t always arrive like we wish them to. When coupling our stresses with the faults of the everyday world, there’s much that can weigh on us and no one is immune.

So what’s our appropriate response to hardship? As we shuffle off this mortal coil, we have a choice when dealing with conflict. Humans are complex creatures who have many different emotions buzzing through their hardwiring. Just as the characters do in the following cinematic suggestions, we must consciously decide which of those emotions will fuel our actions.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994, R). In an adaptation of one of Stephen King’s rare tales of realism, a wrongfully-condemned man aims to make his way through prison unfazed by the wickedness that dwells within its walls. While following Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) through his life sentence, we see him strive to maintain his humanity.

There are peaks and troughs during Andy’s stay at Shawshank prison. Guards and fellow inmates attack Andy, and he is subjected to month long trips to solitary confinement. On the other hand, Andy is able to orchestrate several inspiring moments due to his position of influence within the prison.

Overall, Andy is able to endure the troughs and enjoy the peaks by never losing his hope and patience. You can catch it at 6 tonight or several other times throughout the week, on AMC (of course it’ll be riddled with commercials).

Grand Canyon (1991, R). Lawrence Kasdan, the writer who brought us everything from Star Wars to The Big Chill, spun together this film of worldviews. It’s an earnest piece that analyzes this life through the eyes of several individuals living in Los Angeles. In the movie, such characters, played by Steve Martin, Danny Glover, and Mary McDonnell, make the statement “everything is supposed to be different than what it is.”

The primary focus is on a husband and father played by Kevin Kline who, after his car breaks down in a bad neighborhood, is almost jumped or worse. The event and others that follow, cause him to consider life and how to survive while improving it. The helpful measures he takes have a branching effect on the people he interacts with. Every character is called to make a decision based on their experiences: What to do with an abandoned baby, how to cope with unreciprocated love, and how much to invest to show gratitude. This one is available for streaming on Netflix

The Bicycle Thief or sometimes translated as the plural Bicycle Thieves (1948, NR) is a bleak movement from the Italian Neo-Realism era. It’s a simple story but in many ways, a painful ride. Unemployed father Antonio Ricci gets a break when he snags a job pasting posters around town. The one requirement: He must have a bicycle as transportation. Given the title of the film, the inevitable happens. Though he’s lacking in hope and direction, Ricci does all he can to scour the city, with his 10-year-old son, for the stolen bike.

Many themes appear in the course of the two’s journey. Mainly we feel the weight that Ricci bears because he cannot provide for his family. He must decide what image he will set for the young boy following at his heels. It may not always be the loss of a bicycle, but we can all relate to Ricci’s struggle and to his uncertainty about correctly handling it. You can catch this one on Netflix.

(Reece Kelly, a native of East Liverpool, studied Film at Regent University. He can be reached at ReecesReviews@gmail.com)