Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Father-Son Relationships


It's Thursday, so that means it's time for Thursday Movie Picks!  I love the theme this week, as it's a theme that hits very close to home for me and is one that often stirs in me something very primal.  I find a deep connection to films on the subject, and narrowing down my three films was hard, but I decided to go with three different types of films to cover the subject.

And the theme of the week is:



Like I said, this hits close to home for me.  I instinctively wanted to list Finding Nemo again, but I'm determined not to list the same film twice, so I went a different route.  So, I selected three different types of films to base themselves on father-son relationships; one genre Blockbuster, one foreign drama and one experimental mind-fuck.

Frequency

It may seem weird, but this was honestly the first film that I thought of when I read the theme for the week.  I remember seeing this in the theater and being so moved by it.  Granted, I was 15 and my idea of what makes a great film was...different, but the fact remains that as a portrait of a father-son relationship and the bond, love and need for a father in a son's life, this kind of hits all the right spots.  Dennis Quaid and Jesus Christ turn in really honest performances, and that 'tug every heartstring humanly possible' finale gets me every time.

The Return

If you haven't seen this movie, RUN TO IT!  The Return is, without question, one of my favorite films of the aughts.  It's a tragic look at the effect that a father's attentiveness can have on a child, and the terrible reality that by the time we realize what we have, it is often far too late.  I'm going to stop typing before I start crying.

The Tree of Life

After all is said and done, all the dinosaurs have been killed and Jessica Chastain has talked aimlessly to the wind, The Tree of Life is about the effect that fathers have on their sons.  That's what it boils down to, and that's what we're left pondering the most.  Sure, to some this may feel like it's about pretty much nothing at all, but the swirling depictions of life starting and pushing forward play elegantly into Malick's idea that sons become fathers as life repeats itself.  It's not his strongest work, but it is probably his most thought-provoking. 

40 comments:

  1. I tried so hard not to repeat movies either, but I did in some of my later ones. (I have these pre written through May) It's hard! Anyways, great picks. I hated Tree of Life, but it really fits here. I will be looking into The Return.

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    1. OMG, The Return is SOOOOOOOO good! I think you'd love it!

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  2. I distinctly remember Brad Pitt's father character being a very authoritarian one haven't seen it since the year it was released so it isn't fresh in my mind. I'll sprint like Usain Bolt to The Return, it sounds like a special film.

    Third time I've seen Frequency pop up, hadn't even heard of it until today.

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    1. OMG, sprint!

      That's funny that Frequency is so popular. It was the first film that popped into my mind, and it is very much a film about fathers and sons, but I really figured that it would have been forgotten about by everybody :-P

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    2. I think it's because the Frequency fits this week perfectly and many of us have seen it. I remember it was on movie channels quite a bit in the 2000s.
      It's been probably a decade since I saw The Return...and I think I remember there was an accident in the end.

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    3. UGH, that end is so...UGH!!!

      Tragic yet beautiful yet TRAGIC!

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  3. Haven't watched any films, but The Return seems interesting

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    1. The Return is such a brutal and beautiful film. I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it!

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  4. I haven't thought about Frequency for years but it's perfect for the theme. I liked but I don't think I've watched it since I saw it in the theatre. I've been putting off Tree of Life, Malick is usually a challenge for me to sit through and a few friends told me it was endless. But I liked Days of Heaven and Badlands so I'll get to it. Never heard of The Return but you're passion for it is clear so I'll check it out.

    I ran into the same problem of so many choices for the theme and whittled down from about twenty but I had to include a fourth because it fit so well.

    East of Eden (1955)-Extraordinarily good version of the second half of the Steinbeck classic novel which was a reworking of the Cain and Abel biblical story. James Dean plays oldest son Caleb in this film of sibling rivalry for a father's love turned toxic by the father's obtuseness. Dean is riveting (in his best performance) as the conflicted Cal hungry for love yet pushing everyone away. Raymond Massey is strong as the misguided and righteous father. Richard Davalos is fine as Aron but he doesn't stand a chance against Dean's force of personality. The real standout in support is Oscar winner Jo Van Fleet as the cruel madam/mother Kate. Tautly directed by Kazan even in the quieter moments this pulls you right along. If you have the chance catch the Jane Seymour miniseries of the entire book, it has its faults but her performance in it is sublime.

    A Hole in the Head (1959)-Frank Sinatra stars as the widowed dad of a young son, a feckless dreamer running a hotel with many colorful inhabitants in Miami Beach. While Frank chases one pipe dream after another his young son keeps everything on a even keel but their bond never wavers. As one character says Frank is a little boy in a 41 year old body while his son Ally is already a grown up at 11. Cute comedy directed by Frank Capra with a great cast, Edward G. Robinson plays Sinatra's brother (okay that one's a stretch), Thelma Ritter Edward G.'s wife, Carolyn Jones a mad free spirit and Eleanor Parker the lonely widow he meets. Sinatra sings one of his most famous songs, the Oscar winning High Hopes, which was written specifically for this film.

    The Courtship of Eddie's Father-Gentle story of the sometime rocky love between a boy and his recently widowed father. Some of the standards are different since the film is over 50 years old but the simple story of a son and a father learning to accept each other is timeless. Shirley Jones is lovely as the sensible neighbor Eddie thinks is the perfect match for his dad and Stella Stevens wonderful in her small role, a vastly underrated actress. This was adapted in the late sixties into a very good TV series with Bill Bixby in the lead and Oscar winner Miyoshi Umeki as housekeeper Mrs. Livingston.

    Honorable Mention-I Never Sang for My Father-Scenes of warm camaraderie intermingle with those of lacerating hatred in this story of a son's struggle for his hard and unyielding father's approval. Harsh, realistic view of a fractured relationship is highlighted by powerful performances by Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas, both Oscar nominated. A sad film but one worth watching.

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    1. I Never Sang for My Father was on my initial list, and I bumped it for The Tree of Life because I was trying to do the whole 'one blockbuster, one drama, one mindfuck' thing. I really love Hackman's performance in that movie...so moving.

      I haven't seen any of the others on your list!!!

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    2. I'd love to hear what you make of East of Eden and Dean's performance in it. Perhaps because the hype for his work in Rebel Without a Cause is so huge when I saw it I was less blown away than I expected to be. He was very good in it but I suppose I thought it would be galvanizing. Then I watched Eden and was just knocked out by him. It could have been helped by the fact that it's my favorite book and Cal such a complex character but he found so much in him and is so raw and compelling.

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    3. I've yet to read it, but I intend to. One of my best friends swears by it, saying it was the most powerful book she's read. I'll weigh in on both once I get to them. I own the movie...just haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

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  5. Frequency was the very first film I thought of for this one, too! Love it so much. The Tree of Life is so heartstoppingly beautiful that I can forgive it a lot - I also think it's Brad Pitt's best performance. I have heard a lot about The Return, so I must seek it out.

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    1. Pitt is brilliant in The Tree of Life...the ensemble as a whole is just fantastic.

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  6. Nice picks! I swear, I never thought of Frequency, and I love that movie. Haven't seen it in years. Very Field of Dreams, actually. It even has a nice baseball subplot.

    Tree of Life is beautiful. We've discussed Malick before and this is the one that started to really piss me off. The end especially. I sort of wish he had focused his aim on the 50s era father/son stuff for the whole runtime, honestly.

    I've never seen The Return.

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    1. Yes, we've discussed Malick, and quite frankly I'm with you on this one. It's cluttered, and Malick gets in his own way with all this thoughts and ideas.

      I need to rewatch Field of Dreams, if for nothing else the sheer fact that you love it so much.

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  7. I'll put The Return on my list! My post is gonna be up shortly, LOVE that we share a movie here Drew, you'll find out which one :)

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    1. I'll be by to check your list out soon!

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  8. I haven't seen any of these yet. Tree of Life has been on my list for a while. It sounds quite unusual. I've heard it described as "a movie that isn't a movie." I love your graphic, by the way.

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    1. The Tree of Life is one of those love/hate kinds of films, and I know a lot of people who think it's brilliant. I find it lacking, but it raises a lot of ideas and it is breathtaking to look at.

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    2. The nice thing about watching a Malik film is that whether you like it or not, you're sure to see something that's visually stunning. :-)

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    3. This is a true statement :-D

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  9. I never heard of The Return but scared to watch it because it sounds like a very sad film. I tried to watch Tree of Life but I felt like I needed a hit of LSD to get through it. I loved Frequency. I caught it on TV one day and was pleasantly surprised by it. I like the other-worldly effect but at its heart is a father and son relationship. I enjoyed The Bicycle Thieves-it truly shows how much this man is trying to keep a job and how his son loves him. Road to Perdition is a favourite of mine and my hubby's. This man does all he can to keep his son safe. My 3rd would be Second Hand Lions. This is with Robert Duvall, Michael Caine and Haley Joel Osment. They are raising this boy and teaching him life lessons which may be against the ordinary but i enjoyed this unknown film

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    1. The Return is heartbreaking...but so good!

      I love The Bicycle Thieves...great movie, powerful...and Road to Perdition is also a really great pick. I haven't see Second Hand Lions.

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    2. I think I made a boo boo with Second Hand Lions as one of them is the grandfather so that one doesn't count...bummer. So my 3rd would be The Royal Tennenbaums-a bad dad but a funny movie

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    3. LOVE The Royal Tenenbaums, and Hackman is genius in it!

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  10. I haven't seen a single one of these, but The Return sounds really sad. Like just based off of what you typed, I can already imagine the way it plays out. :(

    I kept trying to make myself watch The Tree of Life before The Oscars came around the time it was released, but I just couldn't do it. Brad Pitt has always been so "meh" to me. It looks beautifully shot though. Had I been a bigger fan of Chastain at the time, I probably would have watched it.

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    1. The Return is extremely sad...UGH...I feel like I keep repeating myself, but I'm serious...WATCH IT!!!

      The Tree of Life is a hard one. It's just...you're either going to love it or hate it...I kind of hate it, but I respect it, to a degree. I don't know...I can see what it could have been, but it's just not. Pitt, though, is wonderful in the film.

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  11. For some reason I just never bothered with Frequency. Maybe one day. I am one of those Tree of Life haters. It would have greatly benefited from focusing on the 50s era stuff the entire time instead of going all the way back to the beginning of time. The Return sounds really interesting. I definitely want to check that one out.

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    1. Frequency came out when I was like 15...and it was a huge hit with my circle of friends...so I saw it like 4 times in the theater :-P

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  12. Alright!! More love for The Frequency! A very, very underrated film.

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    1. Now I feel like I need to watch it again :-P

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    2. lol I had that EXACT same thought when writing about it - "I want to watch this again right now!"

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    3. It's so weird...I put this down thinking that it would be one of those 'yeah, that's so bad it's kind of good' inclusions...and that everyone would kind of hate it...but all the love has me really wanting to rewatch, and love it all over again!

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  13. Another three films yet to see added to the watch list

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    1. YAY! Happy to have raised awareness. That's why I love these Thursday Movie Picks!

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  14. Great work man! I really need to watch Frequency.

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    1. I have a feeling I need to rewatch it too :-P

      From what I remember, it's a well made, rather senseless film, but it has heart!

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