Films on Happiness

Happy

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 15m. Happy takes viewers on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real-life stories and scientific interviews, the film explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 34m. Venerated documentarian Werner Herzog teams with director Dmitry Vasyukov for this observant look at life along the River Yenisei in northern Russia, where the industrious inhabitants of a rural village truly live off the land.

The Lady in Number 6:
Music Saved My Life

Documentary 2013 NR 38m. Czech pianist and holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer describes how music enabled her to survive one of the darkest chapters in human history. Wow….all I can say is wow! What a profound and uplifting film! Alice shares her views on how to live a long happy life using the tools available to everyone: music, laughter, love and unrelenting optimism. This powerfully inspirational video tells not only her amazing story of survival but how, throughout her life, she was able to be strong by choosing to be happy, even during times of great loss. Alice is probably more full of life than anyone ever after living through so much. Alice’s friends are as inspiring as she is. Three women who not only survived Nazi death camps, but did so with a positive attitude. Quite a testament to the human spirit, and how it can survive even indescribable horrors. The emphasis is on the eldest of the three, a consummate musician who at 109 is still playing, and smiling. Never has a film of 38 minutes better reflected the human power of supreme optimism and joy amid such great adversity. What a touching and inspiring documentary. Absolutely beautiful! A true inspiration that we all should take lessons from. We can learn a lot about how to live our own lives with joy, fulfillment, mental fortitude, and positivity from listening to and learning from Alice. She could teach all of us with the beauty of her spirit. She certainly helped me put some things in perspective. A great lesson for all generations. Wise words and beautiful music. So sad to learn she died 2/23/14. An amazing life. Really makes you think about your own. This won the 2013 Oscar for Best Short Documentary. A must-see film. Do not miss this one. Watch it, that’s all I can say. Watch it and be amazed, touched and enlivened.

Holes in My Shoes

Documentary 2006 NR 1hr30m. New Yorker Jack Beers, 94, defies the concept of aging in this documentary that chronicles his diverse achievements and infectious enthusiasm. Even though he looks his age, you would not be able to tell from the way he talks. It is wonderful to see someone that age still showing a zest for life. This is the life story of a man I would have liked to know. A man full of unfailing energy, and love of life. I began watching it wondering why he was being documented, and for each segment of his life, I would think, ahh this is who he is. But no, within a few more minutes of the story, my perception once more changed. This man is inspirational, so don’t let the slow first few minutes in the opening distract you from the real meat of the film. Jack Beers is simply one of the most wonderful men I have ever heard of. His life story, were one to tell it, would seem to be a bit over-the-top, sure-you-did kind of story. It seems outlandish. But it’s all true! It is an inspirational biography about an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. He is not being honored for his longevity but for the endless energy and love of life that this man and his actions so clearly depict.  We should all live this way. His father advised him, “No matter what you do in life, be the best at what you do.” Truly had tears in my eyes when Jack sang at the top of the Empire State Building at the end: “…and when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” We can all glean from Jack as he continued to find a reason to smile his way through life, in the good and bad times. We can all benefit from him! Great story, and told so beautifully by the man himself. He did live a Wonderful Life, overcoming all obstacles along the way. From beginning to end, I absolutely and totally loved, loved, loved this extraordinary man’s bio. Watched this documentary three times, then I joined my husband who watched it twice! The BEST documentary I have ever viewed. I highly recommend this one, I recommend to anyone, anywhere. Watch this, you won’t be sorry!  Wonderful story, wonderful man. (I see online that he passed on two years after this film was made.)

Fed Up

Documentary 2014 PG 90 minutes. The film focuses on the causes of obesity in the United States. It presents evidence showing that the large quantities of sugar in processed foods are an overlooked root of the problem. It points to the monied lobbying power of “Big Sugar” in blocking attempts to enact effective policies to address the issue. This eye-opening documentary examines the underlying causes behind the obesity epidemic, including the marketing strategies of major U.S. food producers. How did 60% of the country get so fat?  2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight, with 1 in 3 adults considered obese. Childhood obesity has become an ever-more serious medical issue in the United States. The film includes touching video self-portraits by young people who belong to the almost 17 percent of children and adolescents, ages 2 to 19, who are considered obese. The obese parents who raise obese children — why aren’t they in the least bit curious as to how they’ve become 300 pounders when their ancestors were all normal. This film is an expose of the food industry’s pedaling of sugar-rich junk food to kids and the epidemic of obesity that has resulted from it. It rightly points to the chief villain in our food choices–sugar–as addictive and toxic. Sugar is clearly added to food products that historically had none in an effort to elicit a crave factor, so you can’t stop eating them. See Full Review

Zorba the Greek

Drama 1964 NR 142 minutes.  Basil (Alan Bates), a young English writer, meets a free-spirited Greek peasant named Zorba (Anthony Quinn) on the island of Crete. While Zorba pursues a relationship with aging French courtesan Madame Hortense (Lila Kedrova, who won an Oscar for her role), Basil attempts to court a young widow. Along the way, he learns valuable life lessons from the earthy Zorba, who has an unquenchable joie de vivre. Nominated for seven Academy Awards.

Much Ado About Nothing

Comedy 1993 PG-13 111 minutes. Benedick and Beatrice are two marriage-phobic rivals in Florence, Italy, in this Shakespeare comedy whose lively plot involves complications, pranks and peerless wordplay. Hero and Claudio try to hook up the two B’s despite tenacious resistance.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Drama 1946 NR 132 minutes. It’s a wonderful film. Frank Capra’s inverted take on A Christmas Carol stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a good man who’s spent a lifetime giving up on his dreams in order to keep life in his small town humming. When a guardian angel named Clarence finds a despondent George poised to jump off a bridge, he shows George what life would’ve been like had he never been born.

A Christmas Carol

Drama 1984 PG 100 minutes. Oscar winner George C. Scott stars as penny-pinching miser Ebenezer Scrooge in this critically acclaimed television adaption of Charles Dickens’s holiday classic. After working into the wee hours on the night before Christmas, Scrooge returns home to find the ghost of his former associate (Frank Finlay) and the promise of visits from three more spirits. Will the dawn of a new day bring a new Scrooge? David Warner co-stars as Bob Cratchit.\

A Christmas Carol
(Scrooge)

Drama 1951 NR 86 minutes. Considered by many to be the classic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, this 1951 version stars Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, the callous miser visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Michael Hordern plays the spirit who successfully haunts the old man. Co-starring in this seamless sketch of Dickens’ England are Hermione Baddeley, Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison and a young Patrick Macnee.

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