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Aug. 16, 2022

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Celebrate season with these 9 spring films

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Fall movies are a thing, winter movies are definitely a thing, but spring movies? Spring is a distinctive season, but it’s a little harder to pin down as a distinctive movie look. What is a spring movie, really, but a summer movie with a light sweater on? But I came up with three things that mean spring to me — cherry blossoms, baseball and hats — and found three lovely movies for each.

I’ve noted the subscription streaming services that include them below, but all can be rented from services like Vudu, Google Play, Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video.

Cherry blossoms

“Mary Poppins” (1964): The recent sequel was a delight, but there’s nothing like the original, with Julie Andrews being practically perfect and Dick Van Dyke doing the oddest Cockney accent you’ll ever hear. And, appropriately for a story set at number 17, Cherry Tree Lane, it’s filled with gorgeous pink clouds of cherry blossoms. You can’t watch it without feeling more chim-chim-che-ree. (Streaming on Disney+)

“Our Little Sister” (2016): Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda makes lovely, quiet movies about families. In this one, three 20-something sisters decide to take in their teenage half-sister, the daughter of their recently deceased father and his third wife. Seasons pass, and you can practically smell the perfume of the cherry blossoms when spring comes — a change as constant and comforting, this film tells us, as family.

“The Wind Rises” (2014): The blossoms here are of the animated variety, but are no less breathtaking. For a while, it looked like this moving film about a Japanese engineer and designer of planes might be the great Hayao Miyazaki’s last; now word comes that he is, in his 80s, working on a new film. This one, like all of his work, is nearly all hand-drawn; you’ll get happily lost in his endless skies and glorious flowers. (HBO Max)

Baseball

“A League of Their Own” (1992): Spring means the return of baseball. And it also means it’s time to re-watch Penny Marshall’s delightful ode to the first female professional baseball league, and to the fact that “there’s no crying in baseball.” Lots of great baseball action, and the cast is a joy. (Peacock)

“Sugar” (2008): This lovely film about a young Dominican baseball player’s version of the American dream didn’t get much attention when it played theaters; luckily, it’s never too late to discover it. Algenis Pérez Soto plays a 19-year-old pitcher known as Sugar who’s spotted one day by a baseball scout and quickly finds himself in Arizona for spring training and Iowa for a minor-league season. Filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden wonderfully capture that delicious thwack a baseball makes as it makes contact with a catcher’s mitt, as well as a young man’s quest for an ever-elusive goal. (HBO Max)

“Moneyball” (2011): A sports movie without a whole lot of sports in it, this breezy comedy is about men in backrooms debating player averages, and how one of those men (played by Jonah Hill) came up with a revolutionary way to build a baseball team. And it’s about how Brad Pitt, as a former baseball golden boy turned manager of the Oakland A’s, does that effortless movie-star thing that he does; the turf seems just a bit greener when he’s on screen. Sunny (particularly Pitt), funny and great fun. (Netflix, Hulu)

Hats

“Easter Parade” (1948): Oh, you didn’t think I was going to leave this one off, did you? Fred Astaire and Judy Garland co-starred, for the only time in their careers, in this film, billed on its original poster as “the happiest musical ever made.” Fred dances (and sings), Judy sings (and dances), and there are Easter hats galore marching down Fifth Avenue atop their proud wearers.

“Emma.” (2020): Despite director Autumn de Wilde’s first name, this stylish Jane Austen pastiche is in every way a spring movie, from the charming romance at its center to the delightful bonnets perched on the characters’ heads, as if they dropped down from hat heaven. Having played theaters just before the pandemic hit, it seems to stem from another, prettier time. Watching it just might make flowers grow.

“Enchanted April” (1991): It’s hard to believe that this ageless movie came out more than 30 years ago. Based on the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim (itself a perfect spring read), “Enchanted April” is about four women enduring a dreary winter in post-World War I England who save up for a spring vacation at a beautiful Italian villa, advertised as having multitudes of “wisteria and sunshine.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

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