Tag Archives: father daughter movies

One More Time

960Christopher Walken in the role he was born to play: a lady-killing crooner. Paul’s on his fifth, maybe sixth, maybe seventh wife. He’s one of (maybe even THE, depending who’s version of his Wikipedia page you believe) most romantic singers of all time, but his star’s been fading of late. It’s not quite the kind of album kids are buying these days, and when he’s asked to open for The Flaming Lips, it’s ironically. He’s living in the slums of The Hamptons for crumb’s sake!

But this is not (just) a movie about an aging artist. Paul is also a failed family man. He has hqdefaulttwo daughters – the dependable Corinne and the mess Jude (Amber Heard), who actually kind of takes after him. So of course they hate each other. He can’t resist giving her advice about her fledgling musical career, and she can’t help reminding him of the many ways he’s disappointed her. And the other sister mopes about hoping any of her soaring, impressing achievements will be noticed by someone, anyone.

giphyChristopher Walken is genius in this. You know you want to watch him sing and swing his little hips, so stop resisting. You must see him do this. The surprise is that Amber Heard is not awful. And believe me, I’d written her off as a floozy. And maybe this was just a fortuitous role for her, but she really seemed to have some substance. You know it pains me to admit that. Plus, her Walken impression is SNL-jeopardy-worthy, and I do mean that from the bottom of my heart.


p.s. To avoid confusion, Paul Giamatti was busy, so the role of agent\manager\lawyer will be played by Oliver Platt, who was perfectly serviceable in the role.


It took me a week to get through Youth, maybe more. Matt kept asking after me, like the movie was a virus I had to endure, to shake. He worried I was suffering, and with good reason: director Paolo Sorrentino’s previous work, The Great Beauty, was in fact a bit of a trial for me. Not that it wasn’t, weyouth-michael-caine-harvey-keitelll, a great beauty. It was. It was just also arduous and uppity.  Sorrentino’s directorial trademarks include “oblique storytelling” and “partially obscure plots.” Is Youth more accessible? Sure. It is. But don’t worry: it isn’t without pretension.

If The Great Beauty was a treatise on the passage of time, what, then, is Youth? A testament to what is past? A longing and desire for vitality? The acknowledgement of our life’s work?

Michael Caine plays a composer\conductor who has hung up his baton, and not even the Queen herself can convince him to pick it up again. Harvey Keitel plays a film maker who is struggling to write his last great script, his magnum opus, his definitive work. The two are on vacation together in the Swiss Alps, comparing ailments, bemoaning their status, ythruminating over mistakes, agonizing over decisions. Rachel Weisz plays daughter to Caine (and daughter-in-law to Keitel) – one who is freshly dumped, causing pain and anger to resurface. This makes for an actor’s showcase of emoting, but not much in the way of plot. Nothing happens: elderly naked people walk by, slowly, as slowly as the memories being recounted, like lazy clouds in a clear sky.

It is beautiful to look at. Caine proves that though his character may be ready to embrace retirement, he, the actor, is not. He’s brilliant, and he’s imagesCA754B8Win good company. The best. But a collection of reminiscing characters does not a movie make. The latent aspect of the film began to feel claustrophobic to me. It’s like visiting your Gran at her retirement home: sure she’s a fascinating woman and you love her and want to pay your respects but OHMYFUCKINGGODGETMEOUTOFHERE.

You know what they say: Youth is wasted on the young.


Father-Daughter Movies

TMPFathers and daughters, a topic rife with the opportunity for Hallmark sap, hard to get right, but so rewarding when it strikes just the right chord. Thanks to Wandering Through the Shelves for hosting another great Thursday Movie Picks theme, from two guys who are neither fathers nor daughters, and one fatherless daughter…because who better to judge?



lethalweaponLethal Weapon – awarded to the whole series as a body of work. These movies are up-and-down but they are fun stupid films that keep adding more and more extraneous characters as sequelitis sets in. Luckily for me this week, Murtagh has a daughter that factors into the secondary drama of almost every movie, from possible love interest for Riggs in the first one, condom ad star in one of the middle ones, and baby mama to Chris Rock in the last one! And possibly more that I have forgotten. So on the list they all go just to be safe.

Taken – Liam Neeson’s tough old guy shtick started right here as far as I can tell, as the tough old dad of a coed “taken” by European gangsters. And like Liam says in the most awesome phone call ever made to a kidnapper, he uses his skills to track down all involved and kill them good. Spoiler alert: it seems that except for saving his daughter’s life he really hasn’t been a good father, but luckily there are sequels where as far as I know he saves her again, or saves his wife, or something. As usual, they should have stopped after the first one but instead really ran this concept into the ground and made me not care at all anymore.

Star Wars – so we don’t actually know at this point that Leia is Darth Vader’s daughter, and I’m pretty sure George Lucas did not have that plan or even the idea at any point when making this movie. As far as I can remember, though, this movie is the only one of the original 3 films in which this father and daughter “team” share a few scenes, so that’s why it makes the list over Return of the Jedi (where Leia actually learns who’s her daddy). Plus it’s such a classic movie! Even the terrible prequels couldn’t ruin it for me. So it makes the list. Can you tell I struggled this week?


Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner- Back in December, I wrote a post describing Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracey)’s conflict with his own values. He raised his daughter (Katharine Houghton) right- no race is superior to another and anyone who thought they were was foolish and ignorant. Matt realizes he may have done a little too good a job when she brings home a charming black doctor played by the great Sidney Poitier whom she wants to marry. While this unexpected situatGuess who's Coming to Dinnerion may expose some hidden bigotry on Matt’s part, mostly he can’t help but admire his new son-in-law to be and mostly objects to the union because of the unimaginable challenges his daughter will surely be facing. Although he’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain, he eventually learns to let go and trust his daughter to be strong enough to face the world. The movie can’t help but show its age a little nearly fifty years later but not in the ways that count.

American Beauty- Lester and Jane Burnham (Kevin Spacey and Thora Birch)  aren’t as close as they used to be. In fact, she asks her boyfriend to kill her father in the first scene. Lester’s a little too busy with his middle-aged angst and Jane with her adolescent angst for the two to really connect and Lester only starts taking interest in her life when he develops an obsessive crush on her best friend. He may not deserve a World’s Best Dad mug but I love that his dying thoughts are of her and happy that she thinks she’s in love. Tragically, his last words to her are “You’d better watch yourself or you’re going to become a real bitch just like your mother”.

Kick-Ass- I have serious reservations about Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage)’s parenting style but, unlike Lester, at least he never forgets to tell his daughter (Chloe Moretz) that he loves her. It helps to have common interests. In this case, taking down the D’Amico family and enjoy the sweet taste of bloody revenge with their hot chocolate. Big DKick-Assaddy has turned Hit Girl into one foul-mouthed ass-kicking 11 year-old who knows how to take a shot to the chest.  Marcus may feel that Big Daddy owed his father a childhood but at least he died leaving his daughter the two most important things: the ability to take care of herself and the knowledge that her Daddy loves her.


The Descendants – This movie is so emotionally loaded and frought, it shreds me to pieces to watch it. Matt’s wife has just been fatally injured in a boat accident. She’s in a coma, waiting to die, while Matt runs around picking up all the pieces. Two really big pieces are his darling daughters who Matt bewilderingly tries to care for though he identifies only as the “back-up parent, the understudy”. The older daughter initially seems to be pretty hostile toward her father, but we soon see she’s really just covering for a secret she’s keeping from him. Turns out coma wife has been unfaithful. So Matt’s already confused and complicated relationships with his daughters become even more so, leaning on the elder for support and understanding, while trying desperately to shield the younger from the ugly truth about her mother as they all struggle to say goodbye amid the complications of anger and blame. Meanwhile, there’s another father-daughter relationship at play: that of coma wife, and her own dear dad, who copes with grief by putting his daughter on a pedestal and lashing out at all others, blaming not just Matt, but his own granddaughters, for his daughter’s not-quite-perfect life. It’s frustrating for we, the viewers, who know that his daughter is far from blameless, and even more difficult for Matt and the oldest daughter who manage to keep the truth to themselves in a show of compassion, allowing him to kiss his little girl goodbye with only the tenderest of feelings.

Crash – You may remember there are a kajillion intersecting plot lines in this movie, most involving some kind of racial prejudice, but I’ll always be thankful to this movie for introducing me to Michael Pena. He plays Daniel, a locksmith who gets cut absolutely no slack by any of his customers because he’s Hispanic, and this makes the white folk (like Sandra Bullock) jumpy. Even the Persian shop owner gives him hell, misunderstanding a bit about a broken door that needs to be replaced, assuming that the locksmith is trying to screw him over. After a hard day’s work, he goes home to a rough neighbourhood where his crazy-cute daughter is hiding under her bed, frightened by the gunfire overheard. He soothes her with a story about an invisible, impenetrable cloak that will keep her safe. When the Persian shop is re-vandalized, the owner gets himself a gun and blames the guy on the work order. He shows up at Daniel’s house and opens fire – just as the little girl jumps into her father’s arms. For a very long moment we – and they – fear that the girl has been shot, but actually, she has saved the day with her heroic magic cape. Okay, not actually true. The real saving grace? Another daughter – the Persian’s – who protected her father the only way she knew how – by loading his gun with blanks.

Beasts of the Southern Wild – Not a straight forward relationship by any means, it’s still clear that father Wink and daughter Hushpuppy have a relationship central to this story. His treatment of her sometimes seems neglectful, even brutal, but is actually pretty typical within the context of their fictional community where children are encouraged to roam free among the livestock and wildlife. In fact, her father’s occasional disappearances seem to be related to his ill-health more than his disinterest. His ways are rough, but he’s really just preparing her for a time when he’s no longer around, and she seeks his approval by being strong and independant – at the tender age of 6. When the big storm comes, he’s there, with a pair of water wings and a shotgun that he fires at the clouds, trying to chase them away and make his daughter feel better. When Wink’s time is almost up, he tries to find her a safe place to go, but she insists on returning to his side, witnessing his remaining heartbeats.

My father-daughter picks IN OUTER SPACE can be found here.

Father-Daughter Relationships in OUTER SPACE!

Two weeks ago, it was cop week, and we talked about our favouritest police movies through the ages, and I talked about the surprising number of cop movies I came across that took place in – well, not space, but the future, which is practically the same thing. I wouldn’t have guessed that, exploring movies featuring father-daughter relationships, I would come across as many, if not more, that take place in space (not even just the future, but honest to god outer space!).

Deep Impact – The lesser-known of the two asteroids-are-going-to-kill-us movies released in the late 90s. Morgan Freeman plays the president, telling his people that a comet is probably going to kill them all, but they’re doing their darndest to prevent it, fingers crossed! The movie follows deepimpact14435a few different story lines, but for the purpose of our theme, I’m focused on the reporter played by Tea Leoni, and her father, newly married to a woman just two years her senior. It’s clear this relationship has been strained at best for years. She’s closer to her mother, but with the asteroid bearing down on them, her mother takes a bunch of pills and bows out. Tea Leoni shares that she “feels like an orphan” – with her father. To his face. But he comes back at her with photos of their happier times and though she’s too angry with him to admit it, they do awaken memories for her. So she gives up her seat to safety and instead meets the end of the world with her father, his arms clutched tightly around her as the big wave hits. Her last word, “Daddy.” This movie made me wonder about death and regret. Did her mother’s death make her crave reconciliation with her father? Or was it staring her own death in the face that gave her the courage to forgive?

Armageddon – Harry (Bruce Willis) and Grace (Liv Tyler) Stamper have a weird relationship. She’s grown up under his watchful and protective eye on an oil tanker surrounded by dirty men. Harry is struggling to think of his baby girl as a woman though it’s clear she’s been the more mature of the two for years. Though they don’t always see eye to eye (particularly when it comes to her armageddon-movie-bruce-willis-and-liv-tylerboyfriend AJ – he takes a ‘no one’s good enough for my daughter’ attitude, and backs it up with a shotgun), he’s all she has and he promises to come back safely. Cue the blubbering when he inevitably does not come back – sacrifices himself, in fact, so that her boyfriend may live, and go on to marry his beloved daughter. Bruce used pictures of his own daughters to provoke the necessary emotions during their tearful goodbye scene, and of course Liv’s real-life dad Steven is crooning away on the soundtrack – no dry eye left behind.

Interstellar – This movie gives us a two for one deal in terms of fathers and daughters. First off, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) decides to take on a multi-year mission to outer space to save the world, but try explaining that to his 10 year old daughter Murph, who can only hear goodbye. Because of the weird passage of time in space, she’ll be a grown woman when he comes back – if he comes back at all.

Meanwhile, NASA director Brand (Michael Caine) is also sending his own daughter Amelia (Anne hathaway) on the mission. It goes wrong pretty much right out of the gate; 3 hours on a planet’s interstellar-new-poster-wallpapersurface costs 21 years on Earth, which means her aged father is now dead, and Murph is now a grown woman (Jessica Chastain), and the heir-apparent at NASA. They discover that Caine never thought these missions would succeed – he was only trying to perpetuate mankind by sending embryos out into space. But as “luck” would have it, Cooper gets to sacrifice himself in order to save Ann Hathaway, but instead of dying he finds himself in 5-dimensional space, which allows him to use gravity to communicate with his 10 year old daughter. He sends a message that his future grown daughter Jessica Chastain will use to make the mission succeed after all. Thrown back through the manhole, he wakes up on the humanity-saving space station made possible by his daughter, a hundred year old woman who has lived just long enough to say goodbye to her dad, who hasn’t aged a day.


Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a Hollywood actor ensconced at the Chateau Marmont Hotel. He’s between movies so his days are filled with booze and women and fast cars and while that sounds kinda hot, it’s really a metaphor for how empty his life is, but that’s okay, because for now it’s just enough to stave off the kind of boredom that makes us turn inward and draw some uncomfortable conclusions about ourselves. So far, Johnny has remained introspection-free and what passes for happy. Good enough.

And then his 11 year old daughter shows up. Cleo (Elle Fanning) inexplicably grows fond of him, and her persistent sweetness eventually jostles him out of his ennui. To his MV5BMTkxNDAxNjY4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTQxMzQ3Mw@@._V1_surprise, alien, paternal feelings start to surface. Not only does he care for his daughter, he wants to be better for her. It’s a bit of a wake-up call. But then she goes off to summer camp and finding himself alone again, Johnny isn’t sure who he has become, or if he can sustain any of the positive changes. But we have reason to hope.

It’s a little hard to sympathize with Johnny’s privileged moping, so for me, the movie really gets juicy with Cleo’s arrival, which grounds him and helps him to redefine both happiness and success. Director Sofia Coppola tackled themes of success and isolation in other movies too, but this time she’s doing it from the male perspective, where depression looks a lot like hedonism, minus the enjoyment.

Cleo is a clever child and an interesting character. In some ways, it is she who parents and nurtures him, and we get the sense that she probably understands more about what’s gone wrong with his life than he does. But she’s still young and can’t help but look up to him, troubling as that may be. Fanning and Dorff have some pretty charming chemistry together. It’s very telling how the film only feels alive when she’s on screen with him. When she’s gone, it’s not just her father who misses her. She leaves a void.

Coppola is particularly qualified to provide this less-than-savoury look at celebrity. Johnny is working, but he’s not doing his craft, he’s doing the annoying, soul-crushing stuff like press and publicity. Anyone else might appreciate the free vacation to Italy, but for him, Venice is just another obligation. Sure this might be a bit of a retread for Coppola, but there’s a sweet melancholy to this film, at times almost hypnotic, plus her classic eye for detail and style – irresistible, really.