Tuesday, June 05, 2007

10 great films on fathers

Something I wrote for the advance Fathers' Day issue of the Sunday Inquirer magazine (June 3, 2007).

Affliction. Paul Schrader's stunning exploration of family dysfunction, about a taciturn middle-aged man unable to move beyond the menacing shadow of his abusive, violent father. Nick Nolte and James Coburn act up a storm in this powerful drama.

Cape Fear. The Martin Scorsese remake starring Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis offers a harrowing picture of a family man trying to protect his wife and rebellious daughter from a vengeful psychopath. Terrific physical tension, as opposed to the more sinister, Hitchcockian original that starred Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum.

Dad. Heartfelt drama about a busy executive (Ted Danson) coming home to take care of sickly parents, while also sorting out tangled relations with his distant son (Ethan Hawke). Jack Lemmon as the patriarch is excellent, playing off beautifully with Danson, Hawke and Olympia Dukakis as his wife. Based on the acclaimed novel by William Wharton.

Father of the Bride. Steve Martin's ruefully funny turn as the befuddled father coming to terms with his daughter's impending wedding is the best reason to see this warm Disney remake. But if it's old-fashioned family nostalgia you want, check out the original movie with Spencer Tracy and a young, very beautiful Elizabeth Taylor as his daughter. The scene where he first sees her in a wedding dress remains a priceless shot.

The Godfather. Simply the best film there is on fathers and sons living with family legacies marked by pride and perdition. Benevolence, deceit, loyalty and tragedy come to the fore as the reluctant son (Al Pacino) ponders whether to take the reins of the shadowy empire his father (Marlon Brando) has left him. Epic, operatic, Francis Ford Coppola's film is both an ode to family and a dirge over the bloody lengths to which some would go to protect it.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Spencer Tracy’s last film has him playing an irascible WASP father who must learn to overcome his prejudices when his daughter comes home with a black man for a fiance. This movie tackles the issue of racism with cold logic, but the emotions run true thanks to the powerhouse cast, which includes Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton.

Kramer vs. Kramer. Meryl Streep leaves Dustin Hoffman to take care of their young son, then reappears to get the boy back. Robert Benton's exceptionally sensitive film (winner of five Oscars including the 1979 Best Picture) treats its subjects with sympathy and grace, allowing the material to transcend its contours as a simple child custody fight to one that examines the rigors of marriage, parenthood and careers in contemporary society.

Late Spring. Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu’s quiet, delicate tale of a widowed father trying to marry off his only daughter touches on many issues: guilt, dependence, obligation, conformity and tradition, social flux. The triumph of this film is how it looks at these complex realities of post-war Japanese society and frames the father-daughter dynamic with compassionate sobriety and exactitude. An unconditional masterpiece.

The Son's Room. A Cannes Film Festival winner, Nanni Moretti’s illuminating film traces the disintegration of an Italian middle-class family devastated by the accidental death of a young son. As the father tries to come to grips with the loss, the quotidian details of his family life emerge with poignant clarity and purposefulness, leading to the possibility of healing.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Gregory Peck embodies the stalwart goodness, decency and bravery of fathers in this classic film based on Harper Lee's novel. Playing a lawyer who defends a black man against a small town's virulent hatred, Peck's Atticus Finch offers his children lifelong lessons in quiet heroism and exemplary parenthood.

They asked only for 10 titles, but I could have added 10 more:

American Beauty. Kevin Spacey as a washed-up suburban dad on his way to unlikely redemption, directed with stylish flair by Sam Mendes.

The Champ. The classic three-hankie weeper, with Jon Voight as a broken boxer reconnecting with his terminally cute son (Ricky Schroeder).

Father and Son. From the Russian director Alexander Sokurov, a slow, meditative film on the unnerving complexities of paternal bonds.

The Incredibles. That rarity--a Disney cartoon that blends youthful sass with a darker undertow touching on mid-life malaise and other very real adult concerns.

In the Name of the Father. Terrific rapport between Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite as Irish victims of English injustice, in Jim Sheridan's angry film.

October Sky. Rousing true-life story about dreams coming true in a dead-end town, starring a pre-"Brokeback Mountain" Jake Gyllenhaal.

Ordinary People. Corrosive domestic drama from first-time director Robert Redford, with Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton all in top form.

Paper Moon. Real-life father-and-daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal's appealing crime caper, effervescently directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

Pelle the Conqueror. Achingly beautiful film from Sweden's Bille August, starring Max Von Sydow as a flinty, half-drunk father leading his brood through hardscabble times.

Ran. Akira Kurosawa's towering twilight achievement, based on Shakespeare's "King Lear." The last word in period magnificence.

Samurai Rebellion. Toshiro Mifune rising in splendid fury to defend his family's honor, from another Japanese master, Masaki Kobayashi.

You! What's your favorite Daddy Movie?


Anonymous said...

I would also have considered "Life is Beautiful" and "Pursuit of Happyness"

Anonymous said...

What? no Filipino titles?

the philosphical bastard said...

great father's day list. i'd probably end up watching Batman Begins on that day. How about Major Payne? Does anybody remember that? ahehehe. and, yeah, in Pursuit of Happyness :)

the spy in the sandwich said...

yup, gibbs. you forgot "the pursuit of happyness" :) also, "road to perdition" and "in the name of the father"

mauipacquiao said...

lino brocka's "ang tatay kong nanay" and 1996 oscar winner for foreign language film "kolya"

rina said...

i would have been surprised if "Dad" wasn't here. That movie had me bawling my eyes out. That hardly ever happens to me so it got me questioning whether i have father issues, ha ha.

the film wasn't about fathers, but the last scene of "Pride and Prejudice" with Keira Knightley and Donald Sutherland was very moving too.


Mine would have to be Disney's "The Lion King."

Gypsy said...

My favorite "father" film is Denzel's John Q. I am just so moved by the deep love he had for his son. It was quite a weepy one!

watson said...

Hmmm... I'm familiar with only a couple of films in the list. A Father's Day film for me would be... It's a Beautiful Life. A foreign film.

Jehzeel Laurente said...

i love those movies! hehe.. pero im not yet a father ha.. ^__^

jemme said...

teka.. di ko na inabutan ang mga palabas na yan ah.. hehehe

Jehzeel Laurente said...

pwede po kayang makipag link exchange po sayo? :)

gibbs cadiz said...

hi ANONYMOUS, thanks! yeah, life is beautiful--there's a good movie. didn't include pinoy titles as they deserve a separate list altogether. offhand, i'd say aguila, ang tatay kong nanay, saranggola, tinimbang ka ngunit kulang, kisapmata. more? :)

uh, major payne, PAO? hehe, didn't get to watch that ata. :)

hi IAN, in the name of the father is in my secondary list. but yeah, road to perdition--i likelikelike that movie! :)

MAUI, great addition in kolya! :) (see my separate local list above)

ey RINA, yep, dad was really touching, right? jack lemmon is a peerless actor for me; he doesn't seem to act so much as inhabit a role. i watched the film in vhs in college, and i was boohooing like crazy! :)

ey MISTERHUBS, yep, good one--'the lion king!' with liberal borrowing from hamlet, haha. :)

GYPSY, i found JOHN Q's premise rather gimmicky, but no doubt denzel and his son plucked our tear ducts to death, haha. :)

hey NICK/WATSON, yep, it's a beautiful life. that's different from life is beautiful, right? the italian holocaust movie? :)

hi JEMME, hehe, i encourage you to seek out these films and watch them. (you know where to look, right? hint: not at astrovision!) you'll agree with my list afterwards. :)

hi JEHZEEL, sure, link away! lemme know when am in your blogroll na and i'll return the favor. :)

Rody said...

baka masyado na kong matanda.. but what about "Lies My Father Told Me?" I've seen it about four times sa Quad cinema (yun ang tawag noon sa Glorietta 1 ngayon).

and then there's this australian film about a dad who's looking for a partner for his gay son before he dies-- forgot the title na.

and who would forget The Sound of Music-- Christopher Plummer as the military dad who softens upon meeting Maria?

aajao said...

i'm surprised wala sa list mo yung isa sa pinakagusto kong father-daughter film: I Am Sam. Hindi ko yata pagsasawaang panoorin yun.

Happy Father's Day sa lahat ng mga tatay! :)

Leah said...

I love the Father of the Bride series. What about Mrs. Doubtfire. That's great Daddy film too.

jaspercaesar said...

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I somehow liked Late Spring but I found the story of a chinese movie about a blind girl and a surrogate father more affecting. I wrote about it in my blog years ago. cheers.

JOSH said...

me too, hope to watch, if not all, most of these titles soon. :) A happy father's day to all r fathers!

jayclops said...

Wow. American Beauty is really one of my fave movies of all time but I never really paid much attention with the Lester Burnham father issue. His character there as a father was the most tumultuous. I guess I was so enmeshed with the dysfunctional family thing and it being an appropriate reflection of suburban America. Great!

Anyway, I think my father-child themes din sa Babel, like yung Japanese and Moroccan storyline, though whatever the intention was, i think na-drown because of it's ambition to be socio-politically relevant. Also, there's a good exploration on the father-and-son theme dun sa A Guide to Recognizing your Saints. There were also father and son themes in Thank you for Smoking and The Squid and the Whale, though it was not really the focus of both films.

Nice list! The one from Sokurov is interesting.

annamanila said...

I am thinking of what other movies to add. Sleepless in Seattle? I am Sam? Not really great stories but heart warming and memorable.

Hey Gibbs. Cool ka lang dyan ha. Will send you the Qs in a bit .. maybe tomorrow night. Theres not much that I could get from here (as yours is not a personal blog) so I really have to use my little stock knowledge and imagination. hehe

snglguy said...

My favorite would have to be, "Guess Who's Coming TO Dinner". The original film, and not the lame remake that starred Ashton whathisname...

Fendi said...

You have missed the movie of K Costner and E Wood. " The WAR"
Such a beautiful film!


dr tes said...

The daddy movie for me is still "life is beautiful" even in subtitles, you can understand the emotions. Andy garcia's "when a man loves a woman" is also a good daddy movie, as they say, to show your love to your kids, love their mother best.

sephthedreamer said...

So far my favorite dad movie is I Am Sam but it's not on your list.

Anyway, I haven't seen some of these movies. Thanks for the list, gibbs. Now I know which CDs to rent during Father's Day.

pat said...

how about road to perdition also by sam mendes. astig yun si sam mendes. shet.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi RODY, uh, haha, di ko ata napanood yan! :) that australian film, is that THE SUM OF US, starring russell crowe? :)

hey AAJAO, thanks for the comment! sorry po, di ko masyado gusto ang i am sam. okay na din, but not enough, hehe. though i really love the soundtrack, especially ben harper's take on strawberry fields forever. :)

LEAH, yeah, mrs doubtfire! :)

hey JASPERCAESAR, what's the title of the chinese movie? sounds interesting, i'll try to look for it. :)

JOSH, advance happy father's day to your dad! :)

hi JAYCLOPS, yep, i agree re the squid and the whale! also, the royal tenenbaums. :) sokurov's father and son is a great film to add to your collection. keep writing those fine reviews. :)

ey ANNAMANILA, what can i say? that was a great dinner last night. sa uulitin! :)

SNGLGUY, yey! that makes two of us. :)

hey FENDI, now that you've reminded me, yep that's a good movie. elijah wood was terrific as usual. there's an old movie that it referenced called 'shane.' :)

hi DR TES, yep, that's a good movie -- when a man loves a woman. harrowing and touching. its depiction of alcoholism was totally honest and without blinkers. :)

hi SEPH, haha, sorry about that, like ko din siya but not enough, as i said in a previous comment. hope you do get copies of the films (hint: they're not at astrovision). enjoy your movie marathon! :)

yes PAT, road to perdition! two-fold pa ang father-son angles dun: tom hanks and his son, and paul newman as the mafia don with daniel craig (yep, the new james bond) as his problematic heir. wonderful movie. :)

Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

does anyone remember this dark danny de vito movie? papa, the bear or something? i thought that is a good one because it's about father hunger.

Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

i mean it's just about fatherhood but something more focused. it's the first movie that made me think of my own father in that light.

watson said...

Bwahahaha! Life is Beautiful nga yata yun. Yeah I'm referring to the holocaust movie. I say it's one of my favorites but I can't get the title right. hehe. Happy weekend!

gibbs cadiz said...

hi BALDAGYI, first of all, what an interesting name you sport! haha, i wonder where you got it. re that danny de vito film, i'm sorry am not familiar with it. but it's good to know it had an effect on how you perceived your father. i'll go look for a copy of the film. :)

hey NICK/WATSON, i thought so, haha! ayos lang yan, basta me life tsaka beautiful, pasok na yan! :)

CokskiBlue said...

Man, I have to say Armageddon! Hehe. I dunno, I was bawling my eyes out watching that last Bruce Willis-Liv Tyler scene. It gets to me all. the. freakin'. time. Hehe.

JdelaCruz said...

Interesting that of all the people who cared to comment, only one mentioned "Ang Tatay Kong Nanay", to some critics one of the greatest Pinoy (forget *father*) movies of all time.

More interesting is that only one noticed there weren't any Pinoy films on the list at all.


PS What's the rationale for making a separate list for Pinoy father films? Just wondering.

PPS "Ang Tatay..." will be out on DVD soon from Cinefilipino according to an Inquirer article. Save up some dough and buy the original, kids.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi COY, kamusta naman, armageddon talaga? haha. that movie was entertaining, but more entertaining was jessica zafra's comment about it: seeing armageddon daw was like being shouted at for two hours, hehe. :)

hi JDELACRUZ, thanks for the comment and the tip re the tatay kong nanay dvd. unfortunately, i have very dim memories of the film. i know i saw it when i was very young, but i recall nothing of it now. and that goes as well for a few of the other pinoy titles i can think of. my reluctance to include pinoy films in this list at this point stems from my unfamiliarity with many of them, because i had seen them decades ago and now i'm no longer sure about their stories, their impact on me, how they are as movies per se. aguila, for instance; i saw it for the first and last time in sorsogon when i was in grade 5 or 6. i remember fernando poe jr. as the patriarch of a clan, but that's about it. i do consider it a tragedy that we've had very poor access to our local film heritage via home video, which practically kills any appreciation or familiarity new generations of filmgoers would have of these films. since i have only very vague memories of many pinoy father films (i doubt at this point if i can even come up with 10 titles), i thought it was prudent for me to do my research first--find a way to refresh my judgment about these movies--before i could write about, let alone rank, them. with all the foreign titles i mentioned in my list, however, it was easy for me to go back, watch them again and compare them with other movies i had in my initial shortlist; i have copies of all these titles in my dvd collection. too bad, really, that we don't have that luxury with filipino films. :)

JdelaCruz said...

Got it, Gibbs. It was just that with no qualification that the list was limited to foreign films, it somehow gave (me at least) the impression that no Pinoy film was good enough to make the grade. I'm not breaking your balls or anything. Just an input.

I absolutely agree that it's a tragedy, and a travesty if I may add. There are some patches of green in the wasteland though. You can find VCDs of good movies ("Batch 81", "Relasyon", "Bayaning 3rd World" etc) scouring the racks in Astrovision. There's also www.cinefilipino.com as I said. And there's CinemaOne on SkyCable. Over the years, I've caught "Ang Tatay..." there a couple of times, "Kisapmata" about three, and "Aguila" once. Like you, all I remember of "Aguila" before was that it was long -- and "Iduyan Mo" became an instant staple on Student Canteen's singing contest. God, I'm ancient.

Jehzeel Laurente said...

na link na po kita.. link mo na din po ako ha.. hehehe

gibbs cadiz said...

thanks, JDELACRUZ. yep, there are vcd copies of some vintage pinoy films, but god, the quality. kalunos-lunos, ika nga. my copy of burlesk queen is fairly unwatchable, but i slogged through it mainly because of the history attached to the film. haay. :)

hi JEHZEEL, ahehe, andami mong blogs e. which one dun ang ili-link ko, and which one has me as a link? :)

totomai said...

Hi Gibbs,

Nice list here. Wasnt able to watch some of them yet but Ill check them as soon as I can.

I like Billy Elliot. The story focused on Billy but his father played an important role in the film too. Great actor.

Another one film I can remember is a Japanese Film, Nobody Knows. It may not be a father movie but the child actor play the role as if he was the father to his other siblings.

THanks for sharing these films

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