Ten alternative movies for Mother's Day
Want to know the ten films you'd do best to avoid this Mother's Day? Read on.
1. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
From pink-laced over-the-hill socialites to scatty, tie dye-loving mung bean chefs, everyone feels – and loves – that faint whiff of madness which every mother exudes from her person. John Cassavetes used his 1974 film ‘A Woman Under the Influence’ to replicate and expand the aforementioned ‘faint whiff’ into something more like a lava-filled kamikaze blimp, with Gena Rowlands’ outwardly benevolent mother and housewife Mabel getting some much-needed downtime in the crazy house after husband Peter Falk comes home from a hard day’s work at the quarry to find her jabbering incoherently in the corner with the kids running around clothed in toilet paper. Aw mom, we still loves yis.
2. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
Poor Kaspar – straight out of the womb and into the naughty corner! Werner Herzog’s barmy film tells of a young man who appears from nowhere in 1882 Nuremberg clutching a note explaining that he has been held in solitary confinement since birth. Knowing nothing of the world save the dungeon that has until recently entombed him, Kaspar’s unpreparedness for the wall-to-wall hurricane of adulthood is singular, but his cosseted plight will nonetheless find currency with viewers whose hectoring, overbearing mothers make Medea look like Oprah and for whom Hauser’s prison cell would have represented an infinitely preferable surrogate to the purgatorial sandpit of childhood.
3.The Crying Game (1992)
Oh boy, have you backed the wrong horse with this one. Mum might make it through the grueling opening section where Stephen Rea’s IRA man and British soldier Forest Whitaker forge a grim and uneasy friendship during a hostage situation. She’s sure to wince as Forest takes a hot lead bath when the kidnapping goes sour, and Stephen’s subsequent immersion into the seamy underbelly of pre-Enlightenment Hoxton Square will probably find her pursing her lips for Middle England. But when Rea’s new ladyfriend lifts up her skirt and whips out a not-inconsiderable toffee hammer, mater will be in the kitchen with the kettle on before you can say 'two lumps please'.
4. Bellisima (1951)
If there’s one thing that every mother wants for their offspring, it’s to have them plonked in front of a movie camera and allowed to give a cutie-pie jig to a hoard of gormless power-lunchers. In what must be one of the loudest films ever made, Italian auteur Luchino Visconti directs the wonderful Anna Magnani as a doting-ain’t-the-word ‘mamma’ who pays the bills as a freelance nurse forced to scurry around Rome injecting myriad fatsos with insulin. She’ll do anything to get her cherubic (but sadly talentless) daughter Maria a plum role in a new movie being shot at the famous Cinecittà studios, even if it leads to a quick slap from the hubby.
5. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
In the eyes of his goof-off, beer bustin’ buddies, Steve Carrell’s Andy is the ultimate charity case, a nice guy who’s inability to seal the deal has left him stranded in Cherry Town without the coin to catch the sex-bus home. The boys’ ham-fisted attempts to get him laid provide the comedic punch but mum is taking a quite different message from the whole set-up; to her, this man-child has nimbly dodged the grasping harridans competing to replace mother and remained the simple boy begging to be clasped to her breast.
6. Scum (1979)
He’s a bit rough around the edges but mum loved Ray Winstone in ‘Robin of Sherwood’ so maybe she’ll be equally enthralled to see his star turn in another tale of male bonding among the criminal fraternity: alongside the tools and tear-ups, she seems impressed with the intelligent commentary on the self-perpetuating nature of brutality within the penal system. And mum is paying very close attention to the episodes of sweaty confrontation between the hormonal youngsters. Hang on... dad also seems very taken with that soiled VHS of ‘Caged Heat’ you gave him for Christmas. And there’s the short sharp shock – mum’s dreamy, far away look as the communal shower scene comes round again.
7. Nixon (1995)
‘Can you imagine what this man would be like had anyone ever loved him?’ ponders Paul Sorvino’s Henry Kissinger of Richard ‘Mama’s Boy’ Nixon in Oliver Stone’s protracted biopic of the thirty-seventh American president. In re-opening the nature-versus-nurture debate, the great statesman none-too-subtly hinted that the trigger for Tricky Dick’s increasingly demented obsession with molesting the entire nation stemmed from his tragically misdirected Oedipal mania. Thus, the blame for everything from Watergate to the Vietnam War is laid at the feet of Nixon’s – and by obvious extension, your – mother’s woeful maternal inadequacies. Nice going, ma!
8. Felicia's Journey (1999)
When knocked-up runaway Felicia meets Bob Hoskins’ avuncular Brummie pervert, mum may still be expecting a sweet road movie with a bit of May-to-December platonic romance thrown in. But Bob is nothing like that nice Bill Murray in that one in that Japanese hotel. Why is he always cooking along to videos of his dead TV chef mum, sliding his hands under the turkey’s skin, his button gaze fixed on mother’s cathode-ray visage? Why does he ask Felicia if her family knows her whereabouts and why is he smiling less and why... oh god... why is she entering the mother-shrine he calls home? And furthermore, why can’t you love your mum like he does? Look... he’d do anything for her.
9. Downfall (2004)
Of all the places in history you’d think to look for examples of maternal sympathy, Berlin ‘45 may not be your first port of call. But, if we are to believe the last-call-for-drinks madness of ‘Downfall’ – Oliver Hirschbiegel’s meticulously chronicled study of what was happening in Hitler’s bunker as the Nazi meat-grinder rolled to an embarrassing halt – then Mrs Goebbels (or ‘Herr Indoors’ as she was known) poisoned her kids in order to save them from the monster haranguing they would have been likely to get from the Russkies. Was it a callous and brutal act of multiple-infanticide or selfless maternal nurturing in its purest form? This is the day to decide.
10. Tokyo Story (1953)
Roll down the blinds, pack that pipe tobacco in nice and tight and strap yourself in for a bona fide Mother’s Day classic: Yasujiro Ozu’s 1953 magnum opus, ‘Tokyo Story’, is a film that – if a heart beats in your chest – should have you clinging to your mother’s billowing ankle skin and begging for forgiveness for years of neglect and mistreatment. When an elderly couple decide to head to the Japanese capital to visit their children (perhaps for one last time), they’re sad to be met with relative ambivalence, and reluctantly scuttle back from whence they came. Arguably the highbrow weepy to end them all.
11. Mother, Jugs and Speed (1976)
Joining ‘The Naked Lunch’ and ‘Three Men and a Little Lady’ on the ‘not-what-you-think’ pile, this ribald meditation on the pros and cons of private healthcare stars feisty Raquel Welch, cuddly Bill Cosby and that nice Harvey Keitel – the tattooed wang monster from 'The Piano' – who for once manages to keep his Linus in his pants for the full ninety minutes. What mother could ask for more?
Author: Adam Lee Davies, Paul Fairclough, David Jenkins
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