Tag Archives: family

The Descendants (2011)

I watched this the other day out of obligation: the Oscars are slowly approaching (which I am going home from college that weekend just to celebrate the occasion), there was slight conflict within my family about the movie, and I was simply curious.

I’ll say this once and won’t mention it again: George Clooney will always be Doug Ross to me. He’s the same in everything and despite his charm, no one can possibly argue me on that. But I don’t suppose the film wanted anyone different. Clooney‘s type casting character was ideal for this role, one that separated his emotions from the situation. This is either full of courage or cowardice, I’m not sure which.

I often associate my relationships with the characters with their relationships with one another. The family drama had very little visual emotion, so my reaction was no different.

I find that the argument here draws from what an audience is really looking for.

If you’re me, you look for that one character to pull for. There needs to be one person that reacts the same way you would, the same way so you can understand. Julie Speer, played by Judy Greer, was my favorite character because she was so caught in all this complicated emotion: her husband was cheating on her with a woman who is now a coma. Talk about conflicting emotions. She was frustrated, hurt, and stuck between hate and compassion. Finally, she is the first character in the whole movie to just scream about it. For me, it was kind of a nice release. I understood her emotion.

Other audiences pull for realism, another completely understood approach at watching a movie. Some viewers just like the characters to act as they would, by not lashing out every time things get tough. They put on a brave face to hold themselves together, which, now that I think of it, is just as honorable as lashing out all together.

I couldn’t see myself having any strong emotion about this movie. I couldn’t love a film that had this story line (though it is a plot that I have seen a thousand times before) and I couldn’t hate a film that was about a father rebuilding his relationship with his kids.

My favorite scene was the final one: with the slightly smaller family gathering together on a couch under one blanket, sharing ice cream. To me, this is was family is, and choosing to use this scene as the one to wrap it all up was the best decision they made.



The Joy Luck Club (1993)

This film was an incredibly moving and emotional story of eight women that cross cultural borders. There was a recurring theme of self-deprication in these women despite whether they were raised in China or in San Francisco.

Being that this was based on a book, the film’s ability to jump story lines and rotate perspectives was quite fluent. This could be really complicated for a lot of movies, but it was organized in such a way that made the audience draw the parallels between the mothers and daughters, as well as the culture gaps in general. Since they experienced emotionally and physically abusive relationships, and they suffered from having zero self-esteem, these women learned to be strong by depending on one another.

The level of resentment turns to loving support. There are reunions and partings and happy endings. A fascinating mix of stories – I definitely recommend it.

Ming-Na was Dr. Chen on ER – best part EVER.


Field of Dreams (1989)

Well, I fell asleep. Twice.

Kevin Costner. Dud.

While this wasn’t my favorite movie in the least, I can definitely understand why it’s a classic, and why many different kinds of people love to watch it.

The separation of generations is even brought up within the film, how fathers and sons cannot bond due to their very different eras. What’s reassuring in the end is that you can be a cranky old man from the golden age, you can be a baby boomer child of the sixties, or you can be just a little kid of the late 80s, you can still love baseball. I think that if this string that ties it all together were the love of Degas, ER, or Cadbury Mini Eggs rather than baseball, I might not have fallen asleep.

Regardless, baseball has forever been known as the classic American past-time. I’ve learned to appreciate sports in general for the simple reason that it brings people back outside, off their personal screens and up on their feet. In an ever changing world, the sports culture has always had the same ability to draw people together. The rules haven’t changed, but it still hasn’t lost it’s ability to create revenue. (This could also show how little I know about sports, so forgive me). But if I’m right, then I truly think that it’s something to be thankful for.

So many great aspects of the past, particularly in the 20th century, have started to lose enthusiasm. For example,the best example, going to the movie theatre, handwritten letters, reading a book and breaking the binding, or playing board games. Is it just because these were the things that were a part of my childhood, and I’m just growing up? I don’t think so, because kids nowadays aren’t dying to play with beanie babies like my sisters and I were.

And dare I say, in a world that I wasn’t even a part of, there seemed to be a common decency and politeness in people. Nowadays, every thought is a crime if not shared, there’s no propriety really anymore, or perhaps these old movies I’ve watched a million times have painted an ideal world for me to only dream of which to be a member. All I can do is hold on to those standards, realize what is great about the world today. And I’m not really this cynical, I know there are a great many things about my era. But what can I say, I’m old fashioned.

Oh yeah, Field of Dreams.. merr.


Ordinary People (1980)

So picture this: The Descendants. Except good.

That’s what this film was for me. A family grieving over the loss of a loved one. It’s about detachment, heartache, anxiety, guilt, and eventually the reconstruction of significant family relationships.

What’s the most interesting aspect of this film is the varying ways the characters handle loss. Conrad, the teenage son, is recovering from a suicide attempt that followed his brother’s death. He suffers greatly from survivors guilt, and due to this, he closes himself off from others, particularly his mother. She feels cold towards her son after his suicide attempt, and is portrayed as having loved the brother more than Conrad. This stirs many fights between mother and son, and the father is stuck in the middle. He also feels responsible for his surviving son’s mental state, which results in his siding with Conrad more often than not.

As these relationships unfold, they each take their own time and steps in finally reaching the day that they can be a family once again.

Timothy Hutton gave a spectacular performance, so raw and true.

I’ve added Donald Sutherland’s role as the father to my favorite characters list. He’s the character that didn’t reflect as much upon himself. At first he is criticized for giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Every other character was a prison in their own heart and mind, but soon he managed to break down many walls. I admire him for that. The ability to reach into the dark depths of a person and pull them out smoothly is something that many times seems impossible. He loved his son more than he could even express. For a long while, he didn’t know how to reach him. He didn’t know how to read his mind and see into his soul. Finally, tough love was just the task that needed to be done. Conrad and his father end the film in each others arms, relying on one another for survival in the dark and twisted world in which they live.

This was a fantastic movie. Directed by Robert Redford, and you know how much I love him, this film was extremely effective in minimal dialogue. In order for this to be successful, casting is everything. That’s why The Descendants didn’t work, and that’s why this one did. I truly recommend this film.


Paper Moon (1973)

Paper Moon is the story of a con-man who meets a young girl at her mother’s funeral. He somehow becomes responsible for transporting the girl to her aunt’s home in Missouri. Along the way, they team up and through their mischief eventually are on the run from the cops. Through their travels, and the speculation that he might be her father, (he was one of her mother’s boyfriends prior to her death) they develop a very endearing relationship filled with sarcasm and wise cracks.

They are played by real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neil. Unfortunately, me and my damn curiosity, I did some serious Wikipedia research and found that they were estranged shortly after the film was released. They remained apart for 25 years, both suffering from various issues ranging from drug abuse to child abuse. Apparently, Oprah recently reunited them for some special. That saddest part is, of course, is that one of these days I’ll be bored and I’ll find it and I’ll watch it and I’ll most likely ball my eyes out.

It was a very sweet, funny film. Five stars!

Paper Moon (1973)

Cheaper By the Dozen (1950)

Housesitting Day One: I got a bunch of 50s movies from Mediawave and I intend to finish this god forsaken decade. I cannot believe I’ve been on the 50s for almost three months.

Tonight’s first film was Cheaper By the Dozen, starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. It’s not quite the happy-go-lucky version we all love with Steve Martin, but rather it’s a little darker. Super spoiler alert – the father dies!

All in all, not great. It might actually be one of those rare situations that I prefer a 2000s version of a movie to its original release. Weird.

Cheaper By the Dozen (1950)