Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks - All In The Family Edition: Sibling Relationships

Written as part of the blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. You should join us - just pick three films that fit the week's theme and tell us about them!

This month's All In The Family edition of Thursday Movie Picks is all about movie siblings. I have such a love-hate relationship with my sister. But since siblings know each other better than anyone else, I think that's true of most siblings. It certainly is for the ones in my picks this week!

Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998) An antagonistic brother and sister (perfectly-cast Reese Witherspoon and never-better Tobey Maguire) end up being sent to the world of fictional '50s sitcom "Pleasantville", where everything is pleasant and breakfast consists of the largest stack of pancakes you've ever seen, eggs, sausage, bacon, AND a hamsteak. Topped, of course, with a generous portion of syrup (much to the carb-fearing Reese's chagrin). Unfortunately, although he knows the show backwards and forwards, she doesn't, and they end up changing the black & white world of the show to one of color. Stunning cinematography/visual effects and great performances from Joan Allen (Oscar-nominated for this role), William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels, and (of all people) Paul Walker make this one of my all-time favorites.

A League of Their Own (Penny Marshall, 1992) Dottie and Kit are siblings who grew up on a farm. Dottie is the perfect daughter while Kit is a bit more of a wild child/tomboy. They both play softball for a local team (Dottie's the catcher and Kit pitches), and when a scout comes around looking for girls to play baseball in the absence of men (it's in the middle of WWII), he wants Dottie, who refuses to go to tryouts without her kid sister. Of course, they both end up on the same team, which exacerbates their sibling rivalry even more. The whole cast of this film is stellar (Geena Davis and Lori Petty make a terrific sisterly duo, and even Jon Lovitz is bearable), but let's be honest: it's really the Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell show. From their first scene at tryouts as Noo Yawkers Mae and Doris, the movie is all theirs.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962) All hail the greatest (non-sibling) rivalry in Hollywood! Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are each superb in this gothic horror show about two  sisters confined to a house where Blanche (Crawford), a former movie star, is crippled and Jane (Davis) is a drunk who is trying to recapture her glory days as a child star. Far and away the most toxic sibling relationship ever put on film. (PS - If you haven't seen the parody British comic duo French & Saunders did of this, you should. It is DEAD ON, especially Jennifer Saunders's Crawford.)

BONUS PICK
The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1956) I didn't feel right picking this one because TECHNICALLY Moses and Rameses aren't biologically related, although they're raised like brothers. And then while writing this, I realized that even if they WERE biologically related, they wouldn't be brothers, they'd be cousins - Moses's mother being the Pharaoh's sister and all. But anyway, their sibling-esque rivalry informs their entire relationship in this grandest of grand epics, certainly one of the biggest films ever made, and still glorious today, almost 60 years later.

16 comments:

  1. oooh - I picked What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Great choice. I've the parody versions of The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs from French & Saunders but not Baby Jane. Liked both, very funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOVE the Exorcist parody but I haven't seen the Silence of the Lambs one.

      Delete
  2. Pleasantville is one of my all-time faves as well. Severely underrated in my opinion. Nobody every talks about it. It is absolutely "stunning." A League of Their Own I discussed recently with my Top Ten Baseball Movies post. Such a great movie. One of my best memories as a kid. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is another amazing one. My Mom showed me that one a long time ago and it will never leave me. Superb picks, man!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Pleasantville is underrated because it's a bit heavy-handed with the symbolism and themes, but I love it. Baby Jane truly is unforgettable.

      Delete
  3. LOVE all of your picks so much!! I picked Baby Jane too! I could watch Pleasantville once a week. Such a rich theme this week I could have picked dozens but I cut myself off at the three main and two bonus though I'm kicking myself for not including You Can Count on Me, I figured it would be everywhere and I haven't seen it yet! Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo are so perfect in it.

    Here's my lot..a bit have on the sister/sister bond. Didn't realize until I was done that my extras were a Bette Davis doubleheader:

    A River Runs Through It (1992)-Set in a wide open Montana near the turn of the last century two brothers, Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer, bond with each other and their minister father while fly-fishing. The film follows the brothers separate paths and is full of visual splendor. This pushed Brad Pitt over the top into full-fledged stardom.

    An Unremarkable Life (1989)-Two elderly sisters, Frances (Patricia Neal) a friendly and sweet self-described maiden lady school teacher and Evelyn (Shelley Winters) a bitter, prejudiced widow have shared a home for 20 years. Having settled into a rhythm of memories and companionship with Evelyn the dominant, or more accurately domineering, decision maker their life is in a steady pattern until Frances meets kindly Asian mechanic, Max (Mako). They slowly fall in love which sends Evelyn, already resentful of Max’s ethnicity, into a combative tailspin and she sets out to end the relationship regardless of her sister’s happiness. Finally a confrontation between the sisters reveals long suppressed resentments and a degree of understanding.

    This Is My Love (1954)-Linda Darnell's ironically named Vida Dove (peaceful life) is living anything but. Lonely and full of bitterness at having to live with her sister, Faith Domergue and brother-in-law the cruel, wheelchair bound Dan Duryea, Linda's former flame. Shackled to them and tortured by him she is desperate for any way out. Enter handsome Rick Jason and a possible escape until he gets a look at Faith, also seeking an escape from the viperish Dan, pitting sister against sister and setting the stage for unimaginable tragedy. Obscure, well made, tightly paced noir painted in the blackest shades but filmed in lurid Technicolor with a couple of great performances by Linda Darnell and Dan Duryea. Very hard to find but worth the effort.

    Honorable Mentions:
    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)-Blanche Hudson, once a great film star until she was crippled in a car accident, lives in her decaying Hollywood mansion with her slatternly alcoholic sister, former child star “Baby Jane” Hudson who is now her caregiver. Theirs has always been a tenuous relationship which ruptures when Blanche decides to sell the house and have Jane institutionalized, something that should have happened years prior. Jane finds out her plans and starts a campaign of fear and punishment that escalates to extreme proportions. A huge hit in its day which reinvigorated Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s careers. A study of siblings broken by ambition and resentment. Both actresses are very good but Davis is quite brilliant.

    In This Our Life (1942)-Bette Davis stars as Stanley Timberlake a selfish impulsive schemer who dumps her fiancée and runs off with her sister Roy’s (Olivia de Havilland) doctor husband. After marrying she emasculates him, eventually driving him to suicide. Returning home she finds her fiancée has now fallen in love with Roy and they plan to wed. Jealous and spiteful Stanley tries to steal him back, in the process becoming involved in a hit and run accident which she attempts to let a protégée of the family take the rap for. As Stanley Bette is at her hellcat best tossing off lines like “What I want I go after-and get!” Olivia as Roy Timberlake is more docile but does proclaim “I’m going to be hard-just as hard as she is!” Good soapy fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joel, I ALMOST picked You Can Count On Me. I wanted to a Laura Linney triple-header, but couldn't think of another one that I had seen with her after The Savages. Both those films are so great and she's just brilliant in both in completely different ways.

      I've not seen any of your picks (except obviously Baby Jane), but This Is My Love sounds INCREDIBLE, and I love the idea of Bette and Olivia as sisters (although that plot sounds awfully familiar...).

      Delete
    2. I'm a huge fan of the lovely Laura Linney, have been ever since the mini-series Tales of the City where she played Mary Ann Singleton beautifully. She's well respected but should be a bigger star. While I didn't much care for Savages overall she and Hoffman were both great and YCCOM is such a special film, especially if you have an opposite sex sibling like I do. We made a special trip to see it in the theatre together when it was released and saw many parts of our relationship reflected there. A trio of her sibling films would have been brilliant, once you mentioned it I thought of her heartbreaking vignette in Love, Actually where she deals with and is chained to her troubled brother. This week's theme just offers so many directions to go to.

      In This Our Life is a completely overcooked meller, that's not a knock at all, and has some very sorted subtext for a 40's film, the dynamic better Bette and Olivia is tense. It's a great contrast watch with their Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.

      This is My Love is AWESOME, Linda and Dan tear into each other in a highly entertaining fashion. I'm having a Linda Darnell heavy couple of weeks-she's the star of one of my picks next week..another of her best.

      I found this poster from the film to give you a small taste of what to expect if you can track the film down. I think it's a rights issue that's keeping it so elusive. :-(

      https://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/14/b70-7088

      Delete
  4. These are great picks! It's been so long since I've seen Pleasantville. It's nice to be reminded of that one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think I loved Pleasantville ever since I saw the trailer lol.

      Delete
  5. Pleasantville is just amazing...A League of Their Own is just amazing...What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is just amazing!!!!

    Great picks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh gosh all 3 are great choices! I forgot about the wonderful Pleasantville. The 10 Commandments I think does work because of Rameses and Nefretiri. They don't come out and say it but they are probably brother and sister.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH my God you're totally right about Rameses and Nefretiri!!!!!!! And isn't THAT one twisted sibling relationship!

      Delete
  7. I absolutely love Pleasantville and A League of Their Own. Great work!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I totally forget that A League of their own is a sibling movie! Damnit, it's my favorite film and I forget it.

    Wow, Ramases and Nefretiri huh? That's pretty twisted.

    ReplyDelete