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Films about American Families

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Win Win is an unusual film in that it's about such a conventional American family.

So now I'm trying to think of others that are worth mentioning.

The Incredibles? Well, they're not exactly conventional, but under the comic book conventions, it's *about* being a family.

The Ice Storm? Okay, they're a conventional family, sorta. At least there's a mom, a dad, and kids.

American Beauty? Yikes.

What films that (forgive me) focus on a family stand out for you?


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The Best Years of Our Lives [Wyler]

A Woman Under the Influence [Cassavetes]

Make Way for Tomorrow [McCarey]

The Grapes of Wrath [Ford]

The Magnificent Ambersons [Welles]

Four Sons [Ford]

Meet Me in St. Louis [Minnelli]

Backyard and Time Indefinite [McElwee]

Paris, Texas [Wenders]

The Squid and the Whale [baumbach]

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Pieces of April

You Can Count On Me

My Kid Can Paint That

Friday Night Lights (TV)

Parenthood (TV)

Hoop Dreams


Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Mean Girls

Donnie Darko

Modern Family (TV)

It's a Wonderful Life

A Christmas Story

Little Miss Sunshine

Malcolm in the Middle (TV)

The Royal Tenenbaums

A History of Violence

Little Children

Not American, but worth mentioning:

Tokyo Story

After the Wedding

Stalker (mostly the end)


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Hmmm, off the top of my noggin...

Father of the Bride

The Lost Boys

All of the National Lampoon 'Vacation' movies

Lilo & Stitch

Gremlins

Sixteen Candles

The Birdcage

The Secret of NIMH

Where the Wild Things Are (broken family)

The Godfather

...and of course The Muppet Movie (a different kind of "family". "You have anyone like that, Hopper?")

Edited by KenPriebe

Ken A. Priebe

Author & Animator

Vancouver, BC

http://www.priebelieving.com/

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Crooklyn

Killer of Sheep

Junebug

Hannah and Her Sisters

The Royal Tenenbaums

The Squid and the Whale

I guess there's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but I don't think that one counts.

Edited by old wave

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Stepmom is another one, and The Simpsons Movie.

...and The Addams Family (plus Addams Family Values) :P

...and Close Encounters and ET have aspects of the 'broken family' theme.

...and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is about an American family, in a more twisted sense.


Ken A. Priebe

Author & Animator

Vancouver, BC

http://www.priebelieving.com/

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Men Don't Leave (Paul Brickman directed) is a terrific depiction of a grieving American family.

In America is my very favorite movie about a conventional family (also grieving, though with not quite the same focus as the above), though it is of course about an Irish family immigrating to New York City.

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Juno.

Whip It.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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The "Lost Boys" and "Hannah And Her Sisters" have already been mentioned; I'd like to add the film of "Parenthood", and also "Rabbit Hole": Dianne Wiest is the Kevin Bacon of family films for me!

Edited by David

"The core purpose of art is a survival mechanism, and the way it helps us survive is by making us attentive." Milton Glaser

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Mosquito Coast.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Tender Mercies

You Can't Take It With You

To Kill a Mockingbird ?


That's just how eye roll.

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Dianne Wiest is the Kevin Bacon of family films for me!

Ha! That reminds me: Edward Scissorhands sorta qualifies.

Footloose?

Purple Rose of Cairo?

Cops and Robbersons?

Synechdoce, NY?

Lets do a Dianne Wiest non-Academy Award film fest!


Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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So, now that we have this list, what do we do with it? Is it just another exercise in Internet list-making? Or can we draw some discussion from it?

Frankly, and meaning no offense to any of the nominators, I'm struck by how lackluster a collection of films this is. I had a Facebook discussion a week or two ago about the sex scene in Don't Look Now and made the point that it's my all-time favorite sex scene in a movie because it's an intimate and complicated moment (not to mention great sex) between a married couple. It's something we seldom see on screen because marriage is inherently less dramatic than the fantasy-satisfying stories that have always been the foundation of cinema. I suppose the same could be said of family life.

I was glad to see Nick's mention of Friday Night Lights (TV). Although that show occasionally veered off course, I'll always consider it one of TV's great accomplishments because of the Taylor family. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are so good at playing a couple who love and respect each other, who are friends and confidants, and who also occasionally hurt and frustrate each other. They're the only couple I've ever seen on TV or in a movie who remind me of my wife's and my relationship. Could we ever get a couple like that in an American movie, though? The reason their marriage is so fully realized is because we get to see them together for four or five minutes each episode over the long run of a series whose dramatic core is football and the many lives of a small Texas town. I love undramatic, conversation-focused films, but even I might not buy a ticket to a 100-minute movie called, Eric and Tammy Argue About Buying a Big House That They Can't Really Afford, and Then They Choose a Daycare (although those were two of my favorite story lines in the show).

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So, now that we have this list, what do we do with it? Is it just another exercise in Internet list-making? Or can we draw some discussion from it?

For what it's worth, my question was prompted by an upcoming discussion on the subject that's going to happen at The Kindlings Muse. I found myself underwhelmed by the short list of films that was recommended for discussion, and I thought, There must be a lot of films better than these.

Turns out that no, there really isn't.

But yeah, that's a problem. I've been so pleased to have two films this year that suggest marriages can be something better than a torment and a prison (Win Win, Another Year), but the idea that family life is actually a decent or desirable thing, portrayed either by a loving family or by one that's struggling for lack of love... that's hard to come by.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Back in 1977 there was a PBS series Six American Families which was excellent. And of course there is the other PBS series An American Family from the early 70s.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I was glad to see Nick's mention of Friday Night Lights (TV). Although that show occasionally veered off course, I'll always consider it one of TV's great accomplishments because of the Taylor family. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are so good at playing a couple who love and respect each other, who are friends and confidants, and who also occasionally hurt and frustrate each other. They're the only couple I've ever seen on TV or in a movie who remind me of my wife's and my relationship. Could we ever get a couple like that in an American movie, though? The reason their marriage is so fully realized is because we get to see them together for four or five minutes each episode over the long run of a series whose dramatic core is football and the many lives of a small Texas town. I love undramatic, conversation-focused films, but even I might not buy a ticket to a 100-minute movie called, Eric and Tammy Argue About Buying a Big House That They Can't Really Afford, and Then They Choose a Daycare (although those were two of my favorite story lines in the show).

One of the reasons why I haven't seen Don't Look Now is precisely because of that scene.

But as for FNL, it's the opposite of the Star Trek franchise. Only the odd seasons are worthwhile.

Wouldn't The Story of Us, qualify of the sort of film you suspect (even tho its ending was a cop-out)?


Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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I had a Facebook discussion a week or two ago about the sex scene in Don't Look Now and made the point that it's my all-time favorite sex scene in a movie because it's an intimate and complicated moment (not to mention great sex) between a married couple. It's something we seldom see on screen because marriage is inherently less dramatic than the fantasy-satisfying stories that have always been the foundation of cinema.

I'm of a similar mind on that scene. I remain somewhat uncomfortable with its explicitness, but the way that scene functions within DON'T LOOK NOW's narrative makes it the best cinematic depiction of marital sexual intimacy I've ever seen.

Edited by Ryan H.

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