Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Family Get-Together/Reunions


This is that special time of year when lots of us get to see family members we haven't seen since about this time last year. In a few cases, it's been a number of years since we laid eyes on some of these folks. We hang out we them for a day or two and even if we had tons of fun we're even happier for one of two things: when they leave our house, or when we leave theirs. I mean, we only see these people once a year for a reason, right?

Fittingly, the theme for this week's Thursday Movie Picks, hosted by the ever-wonderful Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, is Family Get-Togethers/Reunions. If you're like me, you know these things aren't always just sitting around telling lies over egg nog. Things can occasionally get a bit testy. In some families, thankfully not mine, things even get violent. Such is the case for the families involved in the movies I'm suggesting for you, today.

Four Brothers
(2005)
The Mercer Family
Occasionally, families have to come together because something tragic has happened. The Mercer brothers are one such brood. All of them were adopted by the same woman, had long since gone their separate ways, but are all back home due to the fact that mom has been murdered. What's left to do, but take to the streets looking for revenge on those that are responsible? It's just a fun action flick with a cast that would cost a whole lot more to pull together these days than it did a decade ago. Mark Wahlberg was clearly the headliner, but the rest of the troupe went on to bigger and better things. They include (in no particular order): Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tyrese Gibson, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Garrett Hedlund, and Sofia Vergara.


Warrior
(2011)
The Conlon Family
This clan has been estranged for years because dad Paddy, played amazingly by Nick Nolte, was an abusive alcoholic as a younger man. He ran out on his dying wife when his sons were very young. He took the younger Tommy (Tom Hardy), but left the older Brendan (Joel Edgerton). After years of not speaking to his dad, Tommy returns home from the Marines and reluctantly moves in with his dad because he needs a trainer for an upcoming mixed martial arts tournament with a five million dollar grand prize. Paddy has taken up sobriety and is trying to apologize to both of his sons, neither of whom really want to hear it. In fact, Brendan isn't speaking to either his brother or his father. It so happens that Brendan is also entering the same tournament. Their reunion takes place in and around the octagon. Trust me when I say it's an exhilarating experience.


You're Next
(2011)
The Davison Family
Whether they can stand to be in the same room with each other, or not, the Davisons are going to have their annual get-together at the house where mom and dad raised them all. This year, not only are mom and dad present, but so are all four of their adult-children and their significant others. For the mathematically impaired among us, that brings the total to ten. Argue, argue, bicker, bicker, then an arrow flies through the window, killing someone's boyfriend. Oh, I forgot to tell you this is a home invasion/slasher flick. Needless to say, the hosts and their guests start getting picked off...one by one. It's gleefully self-aware and gory along the way. It also features one of the best final girls of all time.

Bonus Pick


Return of the Jedi
(1983)
The Skywalker Family
I mean, everything else is Star Wars this week, so I may as well mention the franchise in some capacity. The entire original trilogy is about this family finding their way back to each other. This is the film where it finally happens. Sorta.





24 comments:

  1. Four Brothers I thought was alright. It's a decent film that had some nice moments as it doesn't need to be taken seriously. Warrior is fucking awesome.

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  2. Nice twist on Return of the Jedi. I love Four Brothers - such an underrated film. I actually bough the original Western it was based on too to watch - stil in its case though.

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    1. I've not seen the original to Four Brothers. Actually, I didn't even know it existed. I'll have to check that out.

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  3. Star Wars! lol

    I love how one of your picks involved a bunch of people getting murdered at said get together. It's been so long since I've seen Four Brothers. That's one I need to revisit.

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    1. Gotta include a little murder. I highly recommend that one to any horror fans. It's not at all scary, but dammit, it's fun.

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  4. LOL, Four Brothers! I remember seeing that in the theater. I haven't thought of it since.

    Hehe

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    1. I know it's not the most highly lauded, but I really like it.

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  5. LOL at You're Next. I REALLY want to see it.

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  6. Love that You're Next got in here. Got to see Four Brothers!

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  7. Love that you were able to pull Star Wars into the mix! Return of the Jedi is my least favorite of the original trilogy (that waving goodbye ending! Ugh!) but any of them are superior to any of the follow ups.

    It's a long time since I've seen Four Brothers but it's a good fit and nice and actiony. I so wanted to love Warrior, everybody in it was excellent and I didn't mind it while I was watching but it ultimately didn't jell for me. I've heard the title You're Next and had some vague idea that it was a slasher film but I didn't know the basic story. Inspired choice even if I don't think it's something I'd watch.

    I drew slightly outside the lines with my first pick but it was the first that I thought of and it IS a reunion and has a married couple among the participants. Here's what I came up with.

    The Last of Sheila (1973)-A year after his wife is, as one character so compassionately puts it, “bumped through the hedges” in a hit and run Hollywood director Clinton Green reunites, on his yacht in the Mediterranean, the group that was at his house party that night. A long time practical joker he insists they play a game where each is assigned a secret that the others must solve. Since the group is for the most part a bunch of opportunists and grabbers pleasantries are interwoven with insults but everything seems fine until a series of accidents start happening and the game turns deadly. Terrific puzzle of a picture with a sensational cast of stars from the seventies, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, Raquel Welch and James Mason among them, was written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins. Even the title is a clue!

    The Lion in Winter (1968)-It Christmas time 1183 and King Henry II has decided to let his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine out of her imprisonment for a family reunion with their three rapacious sons. At stake? The decision of succession and the fate of England. Acting fireworks provided by the whole cast but in particular Oscar winning work from Katharine Hepburn and should have been Oscar winning work by Peter O’Toole. When those two greats go head to head it’s wonderful to behold.

    Pocketful of Miracles (1961)-Apple Annie (Bette Davis) a boozy Broadway peddler during Prohibition is the good luck charm of gangster Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) and his gang, including right hand man Joy Boy (Peter Falk) and moll Queenie (Hope Lange). Annie, who runs her own organization of the denizens of the street, has for years been corresponding with her daughter Louise (Ann-Margret)-growing up in a convent in Spain thinking that her mother is a frail society matron. One day Annie receives a letter from Louise. She’s fallen in love and is engaged to a young Spanish count…also she’s on her way to visit with fiancée and his father in tow. Annie goes on a drunken binge but the Dude and his gang step in to try and turn this rough duckling into a queenly swan and make her reunion with Louise a face saving dream. The Capra corn is pretty high in his last feature but this has a gossamer charm with delightful performances from the entire cast, Falk was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar.

    Honorable Mention-Crimes of the Heart (1986)-Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek play a trio of quirky Southern sisters who reunite when the youngest sister Babe shoots her husband. Part joyful reunion part hashing out of old resentments this film, based on Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize winning play which she adapted, is stagy at times but wonderfully acted by the three leads.

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    1. The Lion in Winter and Crimes of the Heart have been on my radar for quite some time, but I haven't seen any of these. Hopefully, I will at least get to those two before too long.

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    2. I love all four of course but I can't recommend The Last of Sheila strongly enough. I've suggested it to tons of people and no one has ever come back and said they didn't like it. :-)

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    3. Cool. I'll see if I can get my hands on that one. Forgot to mention Jedi is my least fave of the original trilogy, too.

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  8. I almost picked 4 Brothers and the film it is based on, A John Wayne western called The Sons of Katie Elder which is excellent (co-stars Dean Martin). It is quite a good film and fun to see some up and comers like Sophia Vergera before she seemed to make her accent sound more like Charo. I have not seen the other 2 films and I think will stay away from the slasher film. Star Wars so fits this theme and I can't help but always giggle at the scene when Luke finally reveals his dad's face only to find out it is Uncle Fester. I saw that in the theatre when it came out and started to laugh.

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    1. Uncle Fester, lol. I saw it in a theater, but I was 12 so it was an emotional moment for me, lol.

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  9. Return of the Jedi is a fitting, really cool pick. Never crossed my mind. I almost watched Four Brothers once but watched something else instead, then sat on it, and ended up having to give the DVD back to the guy who leant it to me.

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    1. Check it out. Not the greatest movie ever, but it is fun.

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  10. Good one with Star Wars.
    You're Next! Such a good movie. I think I've picked it before for one of the family topics. And yes possibly the best final girl.

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