WHETHER there are one or two parents, raising a child is a daunting experience. Some parents use the way they were reared as a blueprint to raise their baby; others use their family members to assist them with their children. From my experiences I have witnessed such a wide variety of methods I cannot say one works better over another way. I have known some parents who worked diligently to shelter their children from everything they did not approve of in the world. Take for example slang words or as some refer to it as “swear” words. There was a couple who forbade their kids from ever uttering such words, to the point of checking every movie first before allowing them to watch it. When the children reached that age where all kids start to enforce their independence, they were ridiculed when they would tell one of their friends they said a “bad” word. SADLY I knew parents whose children grew up with the same prejudices their parents unwittingly displayed in front of their kids during their formative years. A method I have seen done successfully more times than not is exposing the child to most everything in life and explaining it. When these parents first heard their children say a slang word, they did not show anger or discomfort; the parents sat down and explained why saying such words would be hurtful and ugly. I have been impressed with the parents who take their children to volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters, exposing them to people and things their children may not experience in their local environment. Another thing I have noticed is the difference in children who were raised hearing their given language spoken properly to them instead of being talked to in “baby talk.” To me it seems these kids have an easier time articulating their feelings and thoughts. Being a fan of exposing a child to the world around them I feel I had a better understanding about the mother in this dramatic comedy. RAISING her son Jamie, played by Lucas Jade Zumann (Sinister 2, Chicago Fire-TV), without his father made Dorothea, played by Annette Bening (Rules Don’t Apply, Danny Collins), decide to expose her son to other points of view. Though they did not know it Julie, Abbie and William; played by Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Ginger & Rosa), Greta Gerwig (Mistress America, Maggie’s Plan) and Billy Crudup (Jackie, Big Fish); would all be contributing to Jamie’s journey to adulthood. This film festival winning movie’s story was set in southern California during the 1970s. I thought the acting was excellent with Annette making this one of her best roles. The script did not focus much on the character’s history, instead providing the viewer with snapshots of the characters’ current lives. One of the things about the story I appreciated the most was taking what was essentially a coming of age story and turning it into something new and different. In a way I found the story more authentic; in turn, I felt more connected to the characters. There were some scenes that did not work as well however, but nothing in a major way. I may not have agreed with everything Dorothea was doing in regards to raising her son, but I did walk away respecting her choices.
When one does not have the opportunity to form memories of someone, made-up ones have to suffice. The make-believe memories can be a kinder, gentler, more loving version of the real person. I have heard individuals carry on about someone they barely knew, painting the person in sweet coats of affection; whereas, my memories recall that person being somewhat mean and angry. Growing up there were some relatives I never got the chance to meet; I only had old photographs and other people’s stories to form any connection to the unknown family members. Whenever the mood struck, I would pull out these old photos and study the features and outfits of my relatives. There was one photograph where a bespectacled man dressed in a suit was standing with one foot up on what I thought was a big wooden block. He was holding up a violin as if he was giving it the once over before placing it on his shoulder to play. I would imagine he was practicing for a recital. He would perform in a garden, where the relatives would be seated all around as they listened to the rich deep notes of a concerto. Besides my imagination, any hearsay or tidbits about a relative I would incorporate into elaborate stories; turning some of them into heroes, gangsters, spies, or some other fanciful characters. Where my fake memories were about deceased people, there is a world of difference when the memories are based on someone who is still alive. INSPIRED by a true story, a letter written by John Lennon arrived 40 years late to singer/songwriter Danny Collins, played by Al Pacino (Righteous Kill, Scarface). Seeing the letter sparked Danny into seeking out Tom Donnelly, played by Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine, Chef), the son he never knew. This comedic drama was driven by its outstanding cast. Al was perfect for this role; he not only looked the part but I was convinced he was this aging singer who was well past his glory days. Besides him and Bobby there was Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind) as Frank Grubman and Annette Bening (Ruby Sparks, American Beauty) as Mary Sinclair. I thoroughly enjoyed the acting in this movie; it was believable and filled with great depth. Now I admit the script was somewhat predictable, besides being manipulative; but I did not care because I liked the way the story carried me throughout the film. There were even a couple of surprises along my journey. The dynamics between the characters were engaging; I was intrigued with their perceptions and memories. And after you see this picture I hope you too will have developed fond memories.
Once one gets past the awkwardness of puberty and the teen years, is there any reason to be embarrassed for something you had no control over? I am not talking about your hair accidentally being dyed a color not found in nature or tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. Instead I am referring to things like your birthplace, parents or current residence. I find it perplexing when someone is embarrassed to have visitors over to their perceived small, or some other negative adjective, apartment, because the guests live in a swanky or trendy place. Another example would be being ashamed of a parent’s lack of education. Maybe some of these comparisons could be considered a form of envy which I find distasteful. I had the same type of feeling for this comedy film. Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live-TV) played aspiring playwright Imogene. Struggling to become successful in New York City, she found herself in a predicament that required her to move back in with her mother Zelda, played by Annette Bening (Ruby Sparks, Running With Scissors). Things would not be the same due to two strangers Lee and George, played by Darren Criss (Glee-TV) and Matt Dillon (Crash, Wild Things), living in her mother’s house now. I have to tell you right from the start; this movie was not a comedy, it was a tragedy. This is not a compliment. To create a balance of drama and comedy, it takes work with a little finesse. The story was atrocious; none of the characters were likable. For the duration of this film I found maybe two or three things that were slightly amusing. One of them had Darren Criss’s character singing. Outside of that I have to say this film was icky. In an instance such as this; it would be totally understandable if the actors were embarrassed about their finished product, I know I was for them.
1 1/2 stars
Before I was born my mother was pregnant with a baby girl. I found out when I asked her why my two brothers were so much older than me. She told me about the miscarriage she had before me. I spent my youth imagining what life would have been like if I had a sister. There was a small part of me that always wondered if I would have even been conceived if that baby girl had been born. My mother would tell me numerous times that I was the only one planned. She talked about the nervousness she had all through her pregnancy with me up until I was delivered. Except for that one time, my mother never talked about that lost baby girl. There is such a special bond between a mother and her child; I cannot imagine how the loss changed my mother’s life. The relationship between a mother and child was explored in this stirring drama. Annette Bening (Ruby Sparks, Being Julia) played Karen, a single woman who had given up her baby for adoption over 30 years earlier. Naomi Watts (The Impossible, Eastern Promises) played Elizabeth, the grown up version of that baby. Kerry Washington (Django Unchained, Ray) was a married woman who could not conceive a baby. Each woman’s life was drastically altered by their circumstances. Not only was the acting outstanding from these three women, but everyone else was just as good. There was Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained, The Avengers) as grieving lawyer Paul and Jimmy Smits (The Jane Austen Book Club, Star Wars franchise) as Karen’s co-worker Paco. Each of the three stories was carefully crafted and directed, allowing for a continuous flow of feelings to permeate each scene. This movie provided a touching study on the effects a child can have on one’s life. If I had a sister, I wonder what she would have thought about this wonderful film.
3 1/4 stars — DVD