OK, so this one isn’t strictly a classic–I mean, it’s not from the golden age of cinema, it’s from 1990. But it references the golden age of cinema, and also it’s an awesome movie, and one that’s been speaking to me a lot lately. I think it’s because Shirley Maclaine wears a head scarf in a scene at the end and has to paint her eyebrows back on. (In her case, it’s because of a car accident, not cancer.) But also, it’s about getting through a rough time and coming out on the other side of it, which also speaks to me.
Speaking of Shirley Maclaine, I love her. I don’t care if she thinks aliens are real or whatever, that woman can act. And nobody plays the overbearing mother like her. Her character is SO AWFUL and yet so lovable, it’s amazing. And she’s so awful for the reason that all of us moms are so awful–because it’s really really really hard for us to make the transition from parenting a helpless infant, to parenting an adult. Even though we have years and years to get used to the idea, we all have trouble taking a step back and watching our baby birds take flight. She also completely fucked up as a parent, and although she blew it bigger than I hope most of us ever will, she tried her best and she wanted the best for her daughter. We all try our best, and sometimes it isn’t good enough. How do we make it right when, not if, we make a mistake? Also, I love every time Shirley Maclaine talks about Mr. Mayer and the studio system, and when she performs “I’m Still Here.” It makes me want to stand up and cheer.
One of the things that makes this movie so relatable for me these days is how everyone tiptoes around Meryl Streep’s character after she comes out of rehab. I feel like that a lot since The Cancer. When you’re sick, or you’ve been sick, it makes people uncomfortable and it’s hard to talk about the sickness. I mean, everyone wants you to be well, wants to help you, but they don’t know how. And there’s a lot of talking about you to each other, that once in a while you get to overhear, but otherwise everyone is putting on a brave face about the illness, even you. I love how this movie captures that so perfectly, and how good it makes Meryl Streep’s character feel when someone talks to her straight, like Gene Hackman’s character at the end.
I’ve talked about this movie so seriously, but man is it funny too. Annette Bening’s character is hilarious, and the grandparents are fantastic. And who knew Meryl Streep could be so funny?
Given the themes, maybe this one isn’t so much about box wine…but definitely grab some popcorn and check out this film, and let me know what you think in the comments!