Today is Mother's Day. I hope you'll be recognizing that in some form or other. Mother's are certainly special people, for they are assigned essential duties in the world as they help bring forth and shape lives. Given this occasion, I have gathered a list of mother-approved movies. Though these flicks are not necessarily about mothers or the joys of parenthood, they are three of my mother's favorite movies and after all, she knows best.
Little Women (1949, G)
This is the third film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel. In New England, during the Civil War, we meet the four, modest March sisters. While they don't have much, they aspire to great things. The central focus is on the second-oldest sister, Josephine or "Jo" considering she's a bit of a tomboy. Throughout growing up, she is friends with the neighbor boy, Laurie, who happens to come from a family of high society and wealth. Eventually Laurie grows to love Jo and offers the thought of marriage. But with Jo's three other sisters in the picture, their father off in battle and her dreams of becoming a writer, she's uncertain of which direction she wants or needs her future to take.
Each bringing a different characteristic to the story, the little women (June Allyson, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, and Margaret O'Brien) explore themes of life, love, and family values in glorious Technicolor. You can watch it Wednesday at 8 p.m. on TCM.
Sense and Sensibility (1995, PG)
We move on from one classic piece of literature to another. Adapted from the work of Jane Austin, Sense and Sensibility is set in the Gregorian Era of Great Britain. Though this was Austin's first published work, it contains the same subjects that she would further write about and become known for: Proper young ladies setting out to find companionship and discovering love, romance, ethics and heartbreak.
The respected work is harmonized with upright talent, displaying performances by Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. Like its source material, the film is also remarkably written with thought-provoking dialogue. In fact, Emma Thompson, who plays the lead, penned the script and earned the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. This makes her the only actor to win an Oscar for both acting and writing. She had previously won as an actress for Howard's End (another of my mother's favorites). It's also worth mentioning that Sense and Sensibility marked the Hollywood directorial debut for Ang Lee, which may come as a surprise, considering Lee's work with the popular Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and more recently Life of Pi. Great expectations await on Netflix.
The Big Chill (1983, R)
No, this one doesn't find its core from a literary classic, but rather from the writer who brought us Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, which may come as a surprise as well. Lawrence Kasdan wrote this generation-defining movie about a group of baby-boomers who reunite after a college friend's funeral. They spend the duration of the movie in a South Carolina vacation house, reminiscing about their past, discussing their issues with adulthood, and playing hit records from their school days.
The cast and the soundtrack are what have to be highlighted here. The Big Chill is responsible for starting the big careers of Kevin Kline, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Glenn Close and Jo Beth Williams. Yes, it is quite an ensemble of actors. Their acting is underscored by music from big-name musicians like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Three Dog Night. Let The Big Chill warm you on Netflix.
(Reece Kelly, a native of East Liverpool, studied Film at Regent University. He can be reached at ReecesReviews@gmail.com)