Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #210: Bad Parents

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is bad parents, and while my first thought was to include one movie each from Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford, and Loretta Young, I decided to go in a more conventional route and pick three movies in which the characters are bad parents. (I suppose I still could have used Mildred Pierce here, since Mildred obviously must have done something terribly wrong for Veda to turn out the way she did.)

Autumn Sonata (1978). Ingird Bergman plays a concert pianist who decides after becoming a widow for the second time, to visit one of her daughters (Liv Ullmann), who lives in a country parish in Norway with a Lutheran minister (Halvar Björk). The two haven't seen each other in years, and as the movie goes on, we learn why they haven't. Among Mom's sins are leaving her other daughter (Lena Nyman) in a facility with a debilitating neurological disorder, with the fit daughter ultimately having to be her caregiver. It goes on from there. It's a very well-made movie, but one that's difficult to watch.

Ordinary People (1980). Timothy Hutton plays the son in the family, who one day went for a boating excursion with his older brother; an accident left the brother dead and Hutton with a severe case of survivor's guilt to the point that he attempted suicide. He's back in school now, but things are still going wrong, so he sees a psychologist (Judd Hirsch). Ultimately, it turns out that Mom (Mary Tyler Moore) is extremely emotionally cold, and worse, loved the older son more than the younger one to the point that she pretty much can't forgive him for what's happened. Poor Donald Sutherland plays Dad, stuck between these two personalities trying to keep the family together.

Die! Die! My Darling! (1965). Stefanie Powers plays a young woman who is engaged for a second time to be married; sadly, her first fiancé died in a car crash. But she still feels an obligation to tell the mother of her first fiancé (Tallulah Bankhead) about the impending nuptials. Bankhead responds by holding Powers hostage and torturing her for supposedly causing her son's death; Bankhead's character also became a raging Jesus freak in the meantime. Powers knows what really happened to the son, however. Tallulah Bankhead is such a force that she all by herself makes this a fun, if over-the-top, movie.


joel65913 said...

LOVE these choices!!

Autumn Sonata is so complex and emotionally scarring but beautifully acted. Sad that Ingrid Bergman was felled so early by cancer but what a great swan song for her.

Ordinary People is another dark exploration of the soul but never less than gripping with top flight performances by everyone. How Donald Sutherland got passed over for a nomination I just don't understand.

Tallulah goes all out with Die! Die! My Darling. She's fantastic because as nutso as she is she's always in control. In Europe the film was called Fanatic a much better title but the producers saw a chance at some free name recognition on this side because of Tallulah's notoriety.

So many more choices to pick from this week than last making picking so much easier.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)-At the Korean War’s conclusion a group of American prisoners return home including Captain Marco (Frank Sinatra) and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) who though thoroughly disliked by the men is hailed by them as a hero for vague reasons. Upon his arrival Raymond is met by his mother Eleanor Iselin (a mesmerizing Angela Lansbury) a political dragon and completely soulless monster who has internecine plans and has had Raymond brainwashed as an unknowing assassin to accomplish them. Marco senses something foul is afoot and tries to intervene before it’s too late.

The Anniversary (1968)-Though widowed a decade ago Mrs. Taggart (Bette Davis) insists on her three sons and their families commemorating the event at the family mansion where she proceeds to shred their self-worth by taunting them with secrets she has discovered and savagely holds over them to hold them in her thrall. Bette as the one eyed Mrs. Taggart (she has designer eyepatches in colors matching her outfits!) has a whale of a time raising hell and chewing scenery right and left.

Matilda (1996)-Adaptation of Roald Dahl story of Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson), a brilliant young girl plagued by her crude, coarse often vicious father (Danny DeVito) and mother (Rhea Perlman). On top of that Matilda is also tormented by Agatha Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), the evil principal of her school, a terrifyingly strict bully. When Matilda realizes she has telekinetic powers the tables turn and she begins to defend her friends from Trunchbull's wrath and fight back against her unkind parents.

Wendell Ottley said...

I think I saw parts of Ordinary People when I was younger. Other than that, I completely struck out on your picks.

Birgit said...

I have yet to see the first 2 which I want to see but I love your choices! The 3rd one is a great choice and Tallulah is so great in this over the top