Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Mother-Daughter Relationships


This one caught up with me.  I don't know why I didn't realize what day this was, but this week has kind of run away from me.  But it's Thursday, and that means another Thursday Movie Picks post! This week's theme is a near and dear one for me, and so I'm excited to play along.

The theme of the week is:



Well, I live with a woman who is a mother and who has bore me two daughters and so there is something truly special about a theme like this one.  I also have a mother who has bore four daughters and so I know how tumultuous these relationships can be.  Sweet and sour, ain't that the truth!  So, these are my picks for the theme; a little of both.

Imitation of Life
This was the first film I thought of because the mother/daughter dynamic is so strong here, so present, and so heartbreaking (OMG, that final scene), and Moore's performance is so strong, SO STRONG!  You can feel every ounce of her maternal concern, every single breaking heartstring as she strives for what's best for a young girl who is bound to explore her worst.

Stepmom
Loss is something we all have to face, but in the eyes (and hearts) of a child, loss can be entirely too overwhelming and can, in many ways, be extremely hard to process, especially if you are aware that the loss is coming.  Throw in a stepmother and you have a really rough patch for a young girl, but the love of a mother can shine through in just the right moment, reminding her that she is loved and love does go on.  That photo scene...I don't even want to think about it right now.

Brave
While Brave is not my favorite animated movie, princess movie or Pixar movie, and I was quite irritated with it's Oscar win over the far more deserving Wreck-It Ralph, there is something very special about this movie.  While most princess movies either kill off the parents or focus solely on the father/daughter relationship, Brave sits so beautifully in the pocket of mother/daughter and really fleshes it out in so many interesting ways.

40 comments:

  1. Imitation of Life. The TEARS. OMG THE TEARS. I can't even. Everyone always talks about Juanita Moore's performance, and with good reason, but Susan Kohner just slays me in that final scene. The movies are filled with great criers, but she just may be the most uncomfortably realistic on-screen crier of all time. It's such a primal, guttural howl of grief, completely devoid of anything resembling awareness or vanity that I can only commend her performance. And shed a few (read: BUCKETS of) tears myself.

    I love the mother-daughter relationship in Brave, too. And the character animation is so clever and funny. I think it may be the most underrated Pixar movie.

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    1. Kohner definitely nails her final scene...it's the rest of her performance I'm not entirely fond of. Moore, in my eyes, was possibly the best performance of the entire year...like...so beautiful!

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    2. She does go a bit over-the-top, but in my eyes it works. This is a melodrama, after all. I'm not saying I would give her the win, necessarily, but she certainly puts up a good fight!

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    3. Yeah, it's not a bad performance at all, and she has moments where she really nails it...it's just inconsistent, that's all. Like, I loathed her in the nightclub scene, but maybe I'm being harsh. I should watch it again (and I will before I wrap up my 1959 Fisti Awards).

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    4. True. Inconsistent is the right word to describe it. Her other big scene is almost sunk by the way she says "I'm white. White. WHITE!" But for me, she always somehow manages to overcome the awful decisions she makes by nailing the end of each scene she's in. And that final scene is more than enough to wipe out everything that came before.

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    5. It is a remarkable way to end a performance, for sure!

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  2. oooh, I like your choice of Brave (I picked it as well). I have to agree that the mother-daughter relationship is special and worthy of raising considering the genre is so male/father-son/father-daughter dominated. It was quite refreshing

    Haven't seen the other two, I think Imitation of life was mentioned on another blog so that certainly seems like one worth checking out.

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    1. Yes, you must see Imitation of Life...so melodramatic and full of ACTRESSING, but so well done and so worth watching (and crying) over.

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  3. Imitation of Life!! I adore that movie. The music, the clothes, the dropping diamonds over the credits! It's a dead heat between Juanita and Susan for best performance and of course Lana wins best dressed without even trying, that evening gown with matching mink trimmed cape is ridiculously luxurious. Not only is it an emotional workout it's highly quotable, "Sarah Jane Johnson put on your clothes and get out of this LOWDOWN DIVE!" As I said LOVE IT!

    I feel completely the reverse about Stepmom. I went under duress, my sister didn't want to go alone so paid for my ticket, and by the end I thought my teeth would rot out from all the sugary goo.

    I haven't seen Brave, not even sure I've heard of it before. You know I'm not an animation fan but I'm sure one of my nieces has it if they can stop watching Frozen for an hour and a half maybe I'll watch it with them!

    So many to choose from with this theme I could only get down to four and that was tough eliminating so many great films.

    Mine are:

    Gypsy (1962)-Musicalized version of Gypsy Rose Lee's youth, life in vaudeville and growing up on the road as part of her sister Baby June's act and her relationship with the biggest stage mother of them all, Mama Rose. Mama Rose is so consumed with ambition that her daughters are going to be stars that she's do almost anything and ride over anyone in her mad drive. Great music, terrific performances by Rosalind Russell as a megalomaniac of gigantic proportions and Natalie Wood as the at first complacent daughter who finally declares her independence.

    Mildred Pierce (1945)-Noirish study of a woman locked into a masochistic relationship with her grasping selfish daughter which drives her to the heights of success only to find emptiness and betrayal. Joan Crawford won an Oscar as the career woman whose slavish devotion to her pit viper of a daughter proves her undoing. Ann Blyth, Eve Arden (both Oscar nominated) Jack Carson (who should have been) and Zachary Scott lend excellent support.

    Stella Dallas (1937)-A story of the ultimate in motherly sacrifice. Stella, played by Barbara Stanwyck in an amazing performance, is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks-a loud, vulgar but loving woman who meets and falls for a man from the upper class. They marry, have a daughter and split up shortly after, the bulk of the film is devoted to the strong relationship of Stella and her daughter Laurel. Stanwyck's last scene is a piece of great movie acting.

    Honorable mention-Steel Magnolias (1989)-Equally headstrong mother (Sally Field) and daughter (Julia Roberts) butt heads through the years as the mother worries over the daughter's fragile health and the girl fights to live life on her own terms all the while surrounded by a close-knit group of woman friends who meet regularly at Truvy's beauty salon. Funny and sad just like life this has a strong message about the value of friendship and the mother/daughter bond.

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    1. I'm not a fan of Stepmom, at least I wouldn't say that...I don't hate it, but I'm a sucker for schmaltz and it makes me bawl, like, a lot.

      I haven't seen Stella Dallas, but I will eventually :-D

      Mildred Pierce is a great noir with really spectacular performances across the board! I wasn't a real big fan of Gypsy, to be honest, but Malden is top notch! Steel Magnolias is a guilty pleasure...it's not a good movie, but it's hard to dislike (although the juice scene is truly awful), but that funeral scene is just CRUSHING!!! Field is remarkable! Oscar robbed, for sure. Like...Julia Roberts? No. That movie is ALL ABOUT SALLY FIELD!

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    2. Some of the scene construction in Stella Dallas is a bit dated and creaky but Stanwyck makes up for any faults. Aside from My Reputation this was her favorite of her films. She fought to be cast, both the director and producer thought she was too young, and allowed her hair to be bleached for the part-the only time in her career she made that concession.

      This was her first Oscar nomination and she made the rare admission when she lost "that I was sorely disappointed, I really poured my blood into it." It shows on screen.

      I couldn't agree more about Sally Field, this is what should have won her that second Oscar.

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    3. I'm a huge Stanwyck fan, so I'll be seeking it out soon.

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  4. Can't argue with any of these. I re-watched Brave this week and found it just as sweet and I remembered. We should all get second chances like that!
    I also re-watched Imitation of Life and holy cow, that one never gets easy, does it?

    http://assholeswatchingmovies.com/

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    1. It really doesn't...Imitation is so hard to even remember!

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  5. Oh, Stepmom! I have a soft spot for that movie, despite it being so melodramatic. I've just always liked it. I recently watched Brave for the first time too. You're right, not the best one out there but it's so perfect for this category.

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    1. Yeah, Brave really fits the mold and it's rather special because of it. Stepmom isn't great, but it's hard to hate...you know...when you're crying so damn hard!

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  6. I love your choices! I have seen imitation of Life (both versions) and they are both riveting. I have not seen Brave. Stepmom is OK but it is a guilty pleasure to watch. I would pick Mildred Fierce, Um I mean Pierce:). It is such a great noir with the suffering (yeah, right) Joan Crawford). Ann Blyth is great as the nasty daughter. I would pick Mommie Dearest because it is so over the top camp and it is about Joan Crawford and her relationship with her daughter(adopted)...who would ever think Crawford would win Mother of the year(she did). I would pick Mamma Mia. She loves her daughter and they both sing and it has ABBA music-what's not to love:) Terms of Endearment is another film I would pick especially since Shirley Maclaine could not stand Debra Winger

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    1. I came SO CLOSE to picking Mommie Dearest!

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  7. I really liked Stepmom; I found it very moving. Brave is a great choice too; I almost picked it but went with another animated movie instead. :-) I haven't seen Imitation of Life yet. Great post!

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    1. I liked that you picked Bolt because the relationship is so well worked into the story without being THE story, and so it's often overlooked (I mean, I overlooked it too) so it's cool that you picked up on it and highlighted it!

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  8. The only movie I've seen of your list is Brave, which admittedly I enjoyed very much but I agree Wreck It Ralph would have been a better win at the Oscars.

    Mike's Cinema

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    1. Brave's win for me was such a letdown, not because I didn't like it (I did and still do) but because it's reviews were decent at best and it was up against 3 films with far better reviews and stronger narratives and much stronger critics' support. Wreck-It Ralph was the return of Disney, and so inspired. Frankenweenie was (and will always be) the only chance for Tim Burton to get an Oscar, and Paranorman (I have not seen this) was a HUGE critical success and raked in nearly every critics' win that year. Brave had nothing, until it won BAFTA...and then it was over, which felt so lazy.

      Oh look, it's Pixar...winning yet again.

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  9. Oh, Brave. That awkward moment when in the cinema full of kids you are the one which sobs the loudest

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    1. I've been there. My daughter and I were passing Kleenex's back and forth during Frozen.

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  10. As I mentioned on Daniel's page, my Mom used to always try to get me to watch Imitation of Life (her all-time favorite movie). I still haven't seen it. Big shame on me. I may do it soon. Or maybe do a big Blind Spot with it next year. I cried like a baby at the end of Stepmom. Really a solid movie. Brave didn't work for me at all. I have trouble with animated movies, as you will soon know well when we start in on these Oscar winners.

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    1. LOL, now I'm super excited about Four Ways a Best Picture!!!

      And you really should see Imitation of Life. FOR SHAME!!!

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  11. I've seen all 3 of these films and liked them... now you're making me cry.

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  12. Love Imitation of Life and Brave. Haven't seen Stepmom. Not sure how that happened. Great picks!

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    1. Oh, Stepmom is an easy one to have missed, despite it's supporters.

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  13. I only seen Brave and it was a powerful one! You know, generation gap but with stronger bond! Love it.

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    1. The message behind Brave is a very grounded and powerful one indeed.

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  14. I forgot about Stepmom! I'm not its biggest fan, but that movie was a tearjerker. Great picks!

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  15. It's an interesting one because my immediate thought is that father-son relationship movies probably dominate the parent-child relationship drama story - Road to Perdition, Big Fish, Field of Dreams for example. But mother-daughter films don't come about so regularly. The only one that comes to mind as being really good is Fincher's Panic Room with Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart.

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    1. Panic Room is a good one! It is a shame that the male perspective is so prominent, though. And honestly, it feels odd to say that considering that women are so often considered the dominant parent.

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  16. Love these! Imitation of Life is so great.

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    1. It really is kind of melodramatic perfection.

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