Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'The Family Stone' Open Thread

What did you think?

What did you think?


  1. Looks like they're short an Asian lesbian.
    I won't watch a picture without the proper diversity!

  2. Darn it!! I was hoping you wouldn't pick up on that oversight.

    Yeah, there is a bunch of syrupy social consciousness, enough to choke a pig. But beyond that, there was some good things in this one that I thought was worth sharing with my friends, despite the contrivance and morally superior posturing of the usual suspects.

  3. Well, I watched this show again last night and really enjoyed it. It struck me as a show about a parent's love for their children, their hopes for them, and the very key thing that they want them to know, which is that they love them. Sometimes that can be a hard thing to get across, and you worry about it. And you worry whether or not they will have what they need in life, and you hope that you have given them what was needed and helped them, so they can get along without you.

    I think when Cybil was speaking with her husband late one night about Everett, and he re-assures her that he would be alright..that they all would be alright, that was a great moment. There were a lot of really good moments in the film.

    The scene where Cybil gives her mother's ring to Everett, and she had a chance to talk to him about his not being able to make it better, that he couldn't fix things, and that was okay - that was a great moment as well. And the fun of watching the dad taking a firm grip to Ben's shoulder and leading him away while wishing him "Merry Christmas" ... oh, yeah. All the back and forth from the emotional moments of... parting really ... and the crazy things that people in families sometimes say and do, coming from a big family it was all really very fun for me.

    I know I am not really doing it justice, as I have got a bunch of things going on and have to run, but I hope if you watched it you enjoyed it.

    Take care.

  4. What a pretty movie, right from the start -- I truly love the kind of old Christmas postcards they used to do the titles. And the sets, the interiors so lovely, warm with either sunshine or lamplight -- well, I'm a pushover for beautiful old houses.

    And then all those pretty people!

    I thought the performances were great, especially Diane Keaton, who was amazing, and Sarah Jessica Parker (particularly since I think her character was written with some significant inconsistencies.) I might have to watch it a second time to decide about Dermot Mulroney, but I really liked Craig T. Nelson, and I loved Luke Wilson, whom I had never before seen play a character neither farcical nor otherwise bizarre.

    For all the love she shows her family, I couldn't warm to Sybil until we were let in on the pain and fear she is carrying, because of the cruelty she loosed on Meredith. She led the family emotionally, and her children followed her lead; first in refusing to ever give Meredith a chance after their first awkward moments, and later in willfully misunderstanding her. (Susannah was at least quietly neutral: Luke Wilson's Ben was wonderful as the one family member willing to challenge the demonization initiated by Amy and advanced by Sybil.)

    That dining room scene was a brilliant nightmare, full of missteps on one side and offended feelings on all the others, as exaggerated as they were opportunistic. Her boyfriend's family had no reason to perceive malice in Meredith other than the fiction they had created out of their hostility toward someone who didn't "fit" immediately. But everyone in that family was dealing with the pain and fear of anticipated loss, and that all demanded an outlet, a target, especially for Sybil, who needed to believe she was protecting her son.

    The bedroom scene between Sybil and Kelly told us so much about them in such a very few moments, and was as heart-breaking as it was beautiful.

    I loved the scene where Meredith hands out the gift she has brought everyone -- the picture of young, happy, very pregnant, Sybil -- not knowing why it means so much to them all. But it touches them, breaks down the barriers, and opens their hearts. (I thought Rachel McAdams/Amy's teary struggle to tell Meredith she's sorry was a really wonderful moment.) And, mercifully, it forces them to see her as a real person when her ultimate mortification comes as she turns Everett down -- when he's not proposing after all!

    (Of course, it doesn't hurt Sybil's new-found sympathy for Meredith to discover she won't be marrying Everett, that she won't be fixing him permanently in a life that he is just beginning to realize he doesn't want.)

    That final scene, Christmas-time a year later, was a lovely epilogue. Sybil is missed, dearly, but we see lives and loves happily sorted out, and Kelly's assurances to her, that they would all be alright, confirmed.

  5. Cathy!
    I was beginning to wonder why I never see Santa Claus and you at the same time.

    I'm trying to watch the film now. I've had a bit of a problem finding working sources with servers that don't take all day to load.

    I'll be back!

  6. OK. Saw it. In the spirit of Christmas, I wish you all a merry one. That is all I can say given my past experience in these matters. When I get to the re-education center, I will suggest this
    for holiday viewing.

  7. Hah! You don't get out of it that easily! By my calculations, it's your turn to pick a movie. The Christmas-y-er, the better! :)

  8. Hey, I picked The Bishop's Wife!

    I'll throw out Love Actually, if you force me.

  9. I do thank you, Jim, for reminding me about this
    movie and giving me a reason to see it. I do want to be exposed to as much as possible.

    Now explain to me how Claire Danes got top billing? ;-)

  10. Alphabetically. (It surprised me, too.)

  11. So, are you going to watch Love Actually?

  12. "For all the love she shows her family, I couldn't warm to Sybil until we were let in on the pain and fear she is carrying, because of the cruelty she loosed on Meredith. She led the family emotionally, and her children followed her lead; first in refusing to ever give Meredith a chance after their first awkward moments, and later in willfully misunderstanding her."

    I felt the same way, and after having seen it before was able to be far more gracious to the character Sybil. You do feel for Meredith as the outsider hoping to be well like by the family, but for the family the entire episode is far more charged because of the recurrence of the mother's cancer. In fact, when looking for a ring for Meredith, Thad is wondering why he is marrying this person, who he doesn't see as a match for Everett, and he asks Everett "Is this about Mom?", and Everett answers "Of course it's about Mom." Meredith is not a good match for Everett, and everyone can see it, even Everett. Ben can be kind to Meredith, and can see her differently because her relationship to Everett doesn't endanger anything important to him, and he has no problem's telling Everett what Everett seems to ignore "You don't love her, man." There were a lot of things about Meredith that made it difficult for the family to warm to her, not the least of which was her manner of going on at length about things that were of little interest to anyone but herself, which seemed grossly self interested but I think was in fact a nervous reaction. Ben's encouragement to her to 'relax' and 'Just stop. Stop trying' was very sound, as it hit at a central part of the problem, that and the fact that she just wasn't right for Everett.

    Ben wasn't going to end up wearing suites and ties for Meredith, he wasn't going to try to please her like Everett did. He was just going to go on being Ben, and he would encourage Meredith to just be Meredith, because that was the person that he really liked. And with meeting Julie Everett realized that he had in fact put things aside that were important to him, things like visiting that monastery which his meeting Meredith had caused him to miss. They looked like a good couple in the mirror, but that was outwardly more than inwardly. Sybil knew that, and more than anything wanted her son, the son that always tried so hard to do the right thing and to please people and be perfect, she wanted him to be happy, because she knew that she wouldn't be there to help him when things went rough for him, and she could see that they would.

    I loved Everett trying to track down Julie at the end, and her being unable to 'betray' her sister, even though she did really like Everett, and his quite reassurance that it wasn't too much.. all to find out that she had to leave him there. That was good. And then the bus stops and she asks him what plans he might have for New Years. I liked that. And the end, with Amy able to allow herself to be comfortable, and telling her Dad it was a pretty tree... I loved it. Thanks for watching it.