Friday, December 16, 2011

Just in Time for the Holidays: Movies About Parents

Two boys get into a fight. Their parents get together to calmly and rationally discuss the incident and devise some sort of mutually satisfactory remedy. That’s the premise of the movie Carnage (with Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster) set to open in “select theaters” tomorrow. (I hate it when they “selectively” open a movie.) But, as one might expect, the conflict escalates between the four, affluent parents during the uncomfortable face-off. Things get ugggg-ly. This is a film I’m putting on my “To Watch” list.

One new film (not yet released) which intrigues me yet I’m kind of hesitant to see because I’m afraid I’ll become a bawling mess is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about an 11-year-old boy whose father was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York City. While going through his dead father's belongings he finds a key and goes on a quest to find out what it opens. The boy, Oskar, and his dad (played by Tom Hanks) used to collaborate on “expeditions” around the city to encourage the boy to seek, to learn and to overcome fears. The key is the unifying metaphor. With Sandra Bullock playing Oskar’s grieving mother, I’m sure the film will be powerful, but I’d need to be in the right frame of mind to see it, and need to bring a giant box of tissues.

I’ve already seen the smart, funny, tear-jerker The Descendants, starring George Clooney -- who’s a distant father and husband and, after his wife has an accident and goes into a coma, learns that he didn’t really know his daughters or his wife at all – and I highly recommend it. (I wrote a column about the film’s question of whether we ever really know our parents or allow our parents to know us here.) Seeing Clooney as a slouchy, well meaning, confused middle-aged dad in loud, ugly Hawaiian shirts is worth the price of admission.
What films are you looking forward to seeing over the next few weeks?

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