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This film is based on Anton Chekhov? play, Uncle Vanya (see literature annotation). It started out as an acting exercise and the actors worked on it for five years before the actual filming was done. The film is set in a crumbling Times Square theater, where the actors perform with no costumes and very few props. Andre Gregory plays himself, the play's director.
The story centers on a provincial Russian family whose lives are all upset when an aging professor retires to their country estate, bringing along his beautiful young wife, Elena (Julianne Moore). The result is that he is dissatisfied and people are brought together who are bored and in love with people who can? love them back. Astrov, the family doctor (Larry Pine) who falls in love with the young wife, is more interested in ecology than in medicine.
The beautiful Polish student, Marie Sklodowska (1867-1934) (Greer Garson), is the only woman graduate student studying physics in Paris. She attracts the attention of her kindly professor by fainting in class. A father of two daughters, the professor realizes that she is both brilliant and poverty-stricken. He offers her a paid research project, and, without revealing her sex, arranges for her to occupy space in the laboratory of absent-minded Professor Pierre Curie (1859-1906) (Walter Pidgeon).
At first, Curie is annoyed by her presence, but he soon realizes that she is immensely gifted. When she decides to leave Paris (and physics) after standing first at her graduation, Curie is horrified and clumsily proposes marriage to stop her. Their union will be based on respect, reason, and physics, he claims, and she accepts. With his support, she embarks on an obsessive project to isolate what, she realizes, must be an unknown element in the compound pitchblende--a substance that emanates rays like light.
Four years of intense labor with few resources, inadequate facilities, incidental child-bearing, the threat of cancer, and many disappointments lead to the isolation of a minute quantity of radium in 1898. The Curies share the 1903 Nobel prize in physics with Henri Becquerel. Their future seems assured, but tragedy soon strikes: the distracted Pierre is run over by a horse-drawn cab and dies instantly.
Madame's grief is powerful, but she recalls her husband's prophetic words and returns to work. In the final scene, the elderly Madame Curie, now twice Nobel laureate (1911 chemistry), delivers an inspirational lecture on the promise of science to help "mankind" by curing and preventing disease, famine, and war.
The title refers to the lineage of women who form the unusual community surrounding the central character’s life in the decades following World War II. When we first meet Antonia (Willeke Van Ammelrooy), she is an elderly Dutch woman announcing to herself that today is the day she will die, and when the film concludes, indeed, she does. However, what transpires in-between presents a rich story of birth, death, disability, love, hatred, and, above all, a tenacious sense of nurturing regeneration in spite of harsh and difficult obstacles.
Audiences are swept into a pastoral epic filled with the pathos and joy of human life. In the unfolding flashback, Antonia and her teen-aged daughter, Danielle (El Dottermans), return to her rural birth setting on the day her own mother dies, and where she will become the life force for her daughter and, eventually, for the entire village.
Two women running a large farm seems at first daunting, but we discover that Antonia is a farmer in what might be called a feminist sense: she cares for everything that grows. Not only do her crops thrive under prudent management, but so do the vulnerable, infirm and damaged figures who are brought into her garden and house for recovery.
For example, Loony Lips, an awkward Ichabod Crane of a boy, tortured as the village idiot, is rescued by Antonia to become a productive member of the farm; later, he and DeeDee, Farmer Daan’s sexually abused and mentally limited daughter, who has similarly been rescued by Antonia and Danielle, fall in love and are married. For all of their shortcomings, the couple’s shy approach to one another, and joys for the simple provenance offered by Antonia as their protector, provide an emblem of the nurturing powers in the female household. Audiences squirm with delight as they watch these discarded members of society flourish with embarrassing innocence.
We watch Danielle’s transformation from adolescence to womanhood and find nothing alarming or disconcerting about her lesbianism and her decision to become pregnant without benefit of marriage. Antonia, always acceptant of life’s realities, continues to care for Danielle’s needs by providing emotional and intellectual support in the search for an appropriate man to father the child.
Much later, Danielle’s child is raped by DeeDee’s brother, who had also been raping DeeDee, prior to her rescue from her father’s malevolent and abusive household. Justice is swift. Antonia, magnificent in her outrage, sweeps across the farm and into the village pub where the males are gathered. With rifle pointed at the rapist’s head, she orders him out of town. [Her form of justice is less brutal than that of Danielle, who, having witnessed the rape of DeeDee by the same man, thrusts a pitchfork into his groin.]
Antonia’s farm grows and expands with new life. Seasons come and go, bringing death and rebirth. Happiness and tragedy exist side by side, as exemplified by the opposing viewpoints of Antonia’s positive spirit, and the pessimistic outlook held by Antonia’s life-long friend, Crooked Finger (Mil Seghers), the melancholic, Nietzche-quoting philosopher, who finds life impossible and unbearable. Whether we are watching Antonia’s mother die, or the Catholic Mad Madonna howling at the moon when she should be loving the Protestant man separated from her by the floor in the building they share, or feeling the appreciation of Farmer Daan’s wife’s for Antonia’s strengths--strengths that she herself does not possess--we are woven in the magic of a remarkably simple and yet complex fabric.
This is a film story in which non-professional actors play themselves. It concerns six old women and their bus driver, a middle-aged woman (Michelle Sweeney), who, when their bus breaks down, are stranded in an isolated countryside. In the two days that follow, they find shelter in an abandoned and derelict house, conspire to find food, and learn about each other and themselves through personal disclosure and storytelling.
Before meeting any of the women, the audience hears their child-like chatter and laughter as they emerge from a deep fog cover into the sunshine. Clearly the women are old, but viewers soon regard them as sisters at recess giggling at the novelty of their unexpected adventure, happy to be in good company. When they reach a dilapidated and deserted house, it offers no amenities: no beds, no electricity, no water, no food. Each woman approaches the situation in a different way, but there is a buoyancy and resourcefulness about them in spite of some possible apprehensions concerning rescue and survival.
Any notion that this is a group of interchangeable old women is quickly dispelled. Separate stories unfold against spectacular scenery and humble shelter, as they try to fix the bus, catch fish with pantyhose, hunt for frogs, collect hay for mattresses, paint, laugh, sing, and sigh. In contrast to the current portrait, additional glimpses of the women are provided by superimposed photographic montages or snapshots of each character when she was younger.
One woman (Mary Meigs) is a lesbian, another a nun, another a survivor of stroke. Some are braver than others, and some have moments in their past that, when alluded to, are profoundly moving. One, we believe, is especially vulnerable and ready to die. Another, Cissy (Cissy Meddings), makes us laugh out loud; stooped and stroke-addled, she is full of life and silliness, while enduring the quiet pain of a partially explained isolation from her son and grandchildren, only the facial expression and eyes letting on. Catherine (Catherine Roche) the nun, who will make the long walk for eventual rescue, brings a serenity to the group, while a good-natured and extremely resourceful Mohawk elder (Alice Diabo) demonstrates both strength in the face of adversity and unhappiness in recollections of her marriage.
Their outer bodies belie the inner sense of being. Except for one woman who wears a wig to cover her thinning hair, none of the characters are concerned about their appearances. We may see them as old, but their actions and spirit suggest playfulness, creative energy, and wisdom. Their options may be gone or diminished, but they think of themselves as ongoing persons with much more to say and do.
Except to say that the women survive the ordeal, there are no resounding triumphs. Viewers, possibly the strangers referenced in the film’s title, gather with the good company of old women to learn about life and themselves, especially the vitality and worth of persons frequently isolated from mainstream society. For a brief time, a new society gathers and sifts experience for mutual benefit. We know about the darkness to follow and wonder what their lives will be when they are found, when this moment has passed.
This 1979 Academy Award winning documentary takes us into the lives of the Wohl family. Featured in this film are Philip ("Philly") Wohl, retarded since birth and now in his early 50's, and the family members who care for him: his sister, Frances, and parents, Max and Pearl. The film-maker is Philip's cousin, Ira Wohl, who provides the narrative structure for the film and was moved to document the struggle of aging parents to care for their aging and homebound son.
Ira Wohl's goal was to convince Philly's family that Philly needed to become a part of the community by moving to a group home before his parents became incapable of caring for him. In fact, during the three years of filming Max dies. And eight months after the filming and Philly's successful move to a group home, Pearl dies.
Summary:Virginia (Olivia de Havilland) marries Robert (Mark Stevens), but she soon becomes profoundly disturbed and her caring husband sends her to a psychiatric hospital. Using Freudian techniques combined with physical modalities of electroshock and isolation, her psychiatrist (Leo Genn) leads her to overcome her amnesia and to understand that her illness is the result of unresolved yet misplaced feelings of guilt over a boyfriend and her father. Just before Virginia is happily restored to Robert, the asylum patients are gathered together at a hospital party where they sing of their yearning for home.
Bud (Marlon Brando), a lieutenant in battle during World War II, is shot in the spine by enemy fire. A former college football star, he is now paraplegic. When the film opens, Bud has been in a veteran's rehabilitation unit for a year, flat on his back, bitter and depressed, with no will to help himself or to allow his former fiancee, Ellen (Teresa Wright) to resume their relationship. Ellen persists, enlisting the help of Dr. Brock (Everett Sloane), the rehab unit physician, who arranges for her to visit Bud.
Brock, a no-nonsense-tell-it-like-it-is doctor, hopes that the visit will finally motivate Bud to participate more actively in his own rehabilitation. He moves Bud into a ward with others like himself, where Norm (Jack Webb) and the other paraplegic veterans ("The Men") have developed a sardonic camaraderie; they don't allow Bud to wallow in self-pity.
Ellen convinces Bud that she still loves him and with her support and that of his fellow paraplegic vets, he progresses and does well. With some trepidation, and against the advice of Ellen's parents, Bud agrees to marry Ellen. The wedding and coming-home don't go smoothly--Bud loses his balance while trying to stand through the ceremony, and Ellen, stricken by the realization of what she has committed to, regrets the marriage. Bud runs off, returning to the hospital. In the end, Bud is forced to leave the sheltering cocoon of the hospital and decides to give his marriage another try; Ellen has reconfirmed her love for him and welcomes him back.
A depressed housewife, Eve White (Joanne Woodward), is brought by her husband (David Wayne) to consult a psychiatrist (Lee J. Cobb) because her behavior has been strange. Although she denies it, she has purchased uncharacteristically seductive clothing and has been singing and dancing in bars.
Her surprised doctor is soon confronted with a different but equally inadequate personality, the sexy Eve Black. He recognizes the case as an example of the rare condition, multiple personality disorder, and embarks on a course of psychotherapy in search of the woman's missing memories.
Eve's unhealthy marriage disintegrates when she chooses to remain in therapy rather than move away with her violent husband. Psychotherapy helps her to the repressed memory of an instance of childhood abuse: being forced by her mother to kiss the corpse of a dead relative. A third personality, that of intelligent, insightful Jane, slowly emerges to replace the other two. Jane establishes a new life with a loving man.
A film characterized as comedy/drama, The Wedding Banquet is a sensitive, tender, and sometimes humorous portrayal of a family "situation" illuminating cultural, generational, and sexuality conflicts. Wai Tung (Winston Chao) is a successful Taiwanese-American whose parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gao (Sihung Lung and Ah-Leh Gua) are determined to orchestrate a suitable match for Wai Tung from their home in Taiwan.
Little do they know of Wai Tung’s long-term relationship with Simon (Mitchel Lichtenstein), but Wai Tung is able to play the reluctant recipient of his parents’ matchmaking because of the thousands of miles separating them. When they announce that they are coming for a visit, Wai Tung and Simon must not only hide their relationship (Simon becomes Wai Tung’s landlord-roommate), but Wai Tung decides that he is going to fake an engagement to Wei Wei (May Chin), a struggling artist who is one of his Taiwanese tenants (he’s a landlord himself), because she is about to be deported. It seems to be a perfect solution.
When the Gaos arrive they are shocked, disappointed, and embarrassed that Wai Tung and Wei Wei are not going to have a huge wedding banquet but have opted to get married in a civil ceremony with no guests except for them and Simon (still playing the landlord-roommate). After the wedding the group goes to dinner where one of Mr. Gao’s former army colleagues offers to host a "proper" wedding banquet for the newlyweds. Mr. and Mrs. Gao are ecstatic; Wai Tung, Wei Wei, and Simon are caught in a web by now and agree to continue the charade until the Gaos return to Taiwan. The wedding banquet takes place, and it is an opulent affair. In their drunken state, Wei Wei and Wai Tung make love in their "honeymoon" suite.
Not surprisingly, Wei Wei becomes pregnant. As the story unfolds, Simon becomes angrier and angrier; Mr. and Mrs. Gao stick around far longer than is expected because of Mr. Gao’s illness; Wei Wei decides to have an abortion, and backs out; and Mr. Gao witnesses (and hears) a blowout between Simon and Wai Tung, (no one was aware of his rudimentary English skills), and now knows that they are lovers.
The story ends with Wai Tung, Simon, and Wei Wei deciding to keep the baby and all live together and share parenting. Wai Tung discloses his relationship with Simon to his mother (who begs him not to tell his father, who already knows!), and privately Mr. Gao lets Simon know that he "knows" and honors him as his son’s partner. Mr. and Mrs. Gao leave for Taiwan, sadly but with the knowledge of their son’s happiness and the prospect of a grandchild, all in confines of this very, very strange family that is, nonetheless, a family.