Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Married Couples Movies


"Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva... So tweasure your wuv."
- The Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride

I have been married now for fifteen months. It still amazes me sometimes. I mean, I've been with my now wife, Amanda, for almost five years total, but I look at her sometimes, and I'm like I can't believe I'm somebody's husband.

I love the theme this week. Suggested by Wendell from Dell on Movies for Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks Meme, this is an exciting one to tackle. And a bit troubling. I couldn't decide how to mix-up my nearly ten original ideas. Which three should I go with? I decided on three vastly different movies that all feature a marriage as their driving force. All three of these marriages range from rocky, to say the least, all the way to downright scary.


Here they are, the first All in the Family Edition, my Thursday Movie Picks:

Coal Miner's Daughter (Michael Apted, 1980)


The Married Couple: Loretta and Doolittle Lynn

The Actors: Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones

This is another of my earliest movie memories. I watched this many times growing up, and it always stuck with me. And it's not Loretta Lynn's incredible music that drives this very musical film but her pretty much life-long relationship with her much older husband, Doo. Coal Miner's Daughter is one of the best biopics ever made. And I'm usually not a fan of them. Loretta Lynn grew up poor in Kentucky, one of eight children. At only fifteen, she married her husband, a rabble-rouser and moonshiner in his early twenties. The best of this story chronicles the early years of their marriage (and the age and experience difficulties) as they begin to raise a family, then continues as Doo helps Loretta find her voice, then, later, great fame. It's a full story of the ups-and-downs of life and marriage to the tune of 1960s country music. The work from Spacek and Jones is top-notch, and Spacek won the Best Actress Oscar for her work.

Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994)


The Married Couple: Mickey and Mallory Knox

The Actors: Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis

Oliver Stone's shockingly violent and fast-paced critique of modern society (circa 1993) is one of the most daringly unique mainstream movies ever made. At the center is the intense love between its heroes, a psychotic couple with darkly troubled pasts on a mass-murdering rampage across America. Just like Mickey and Mallory, the film exists in a world its own, as if it's inside the mind of the two killers. The "wedding" scene is incredibly memorable, blending Stone's constantly moving and oddly-angled camera with animated blood dripping into a river. "We got the road to hell in front of us," Mickey says. Taking the ideas set forth in movies like Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde and Terrence Malick's Badlands, Stone amps up the killer lovers idea for a more satirical effect in a time in our history when nobody could seem to do anything but bitch about violence in the media. He sure showed 'em.

Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)


The Married Couple: Nick and Amy Dunne

The Actors: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

Since this movie (one of the true best of 2014) got hosed by the Academy Awards, I figured why not give it some love here. Despite the craziness of its main characters, Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel is one of the truest accounts of modern relationships out there. I can't imagine there's anything close. I downplayed that aspect, for some reason, in my original review (which can be read here), but it is what this movie is about. It is a scarily extreme version of what happens when couples grow apart, while at the same time, it gives us a look at the televised exploitations of missing persons and murdering husbands people so often latch onto thanks to Nancy Grace-types, like this story's Ellen Abbott (Missy Pyle). Flynn's screenplay could not have found a better director than Fincher for this material. It's a procedural of a romance, as "Amazing" Amy loves her games and puzzles, and it contains unspeakable crimes in the name of love and revenge that no one but Flynn has imagined before. Gone Girl is a special film deserving of much more praise than it has gotten as far as this awards season is concerned.


12 comments:

  1. Excellent choice with Gone Girl! That definitely wins for most complicated marriage now. I'm one of the few that thinks Natural Born Killers is extremely overrated, but they're definitely a unique couple. And I've never seen Coal Miner's Daughter.

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    1. My feeling is more that Natural Born Killers has aged poorly as opposed to being overrated at this point. I'm an Oliver Stone junkie though. Gone Girl is THE MOVIE about marriage...now. Coal Miner's Daughter is the Gold Standard Biopic if you ask me.

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  2. YAY, Gone Girl strikes again! Love it. I also love that you chose two other films that don't feel 'about' marriage and yet they are so much about them. All three films are great choices (LOVE Coal Miners Daughter).

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    1. Yeah. I wondered if you'd go Gone Girl, too. Thanks, man. I really tried to focus in on movies that aren't so obviously about marriage. Coal Miner's Daughter is such a well made and acted movie.

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  3. I can't believe I've never seen Coal Miner's Daughter. Especially since I'm old enough to remember when it was released. Ha ha. I'll add it to my Netflix queue.

    Great picks, and I loved your eloquent, insightful comments on Natural Born Killers and Gone Girl -- you really nailed it. I think Gone Girl has a lot to say about relationships and marriage and how we tend to become attached to false images of each other and ourselves. I see it as sort of a dark satire.

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    1. Thank you so much! You are right on about Gone Girl. It is satire. The current relationship to the extreme.

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  4. Both Coal Miner's Daughter and Natural Born Killers are on my Watchlist - and star two of my favorite actresses, Sissy Spacek and Juliette Lewis!

    Gone Girl. The book was better. I don't think the movie ever really decided on its tone so it never really came together for me, but I liked it. Great performances across the board, though - I'm in LOVE with Missi Pyle's Ellen Abbott!

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    1. Get on 'em, man. Both great movies. I agree that Gone Girl is a better book, but, for me, it's not the tone. It's the lapses in character development early on. The book paints the backgrounds and motivations of the characters way better.

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  5. Excellent choice of Coal Miner's Daughter, I just caught some of it on TCM the other day and it still never occurred to me how well it would fit in here. Sissy and Tommy Lee have such a strong vibe going between them in the film. They're both superior actors anyway but they seemed to bolster each other in this.

    Haven't seen Natural Born Killers, it's not my cup of tea, and doubt that I ever will since Juliette Lewis is one of the few actresses I detest.

    Missed Gone Girl in the theatres much to my regret and I've tried to read as little as possible about it but will be catching up with it soon.

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    1. Exactly my thoughts on Coal Miner's Daughter. I haven't actually watched in years, but that's what I remember more than anything: the just perfect chemistry, good and bad, between Spacek and Jones through this whole movie.

      I'm not a huge Juliette Lewis fan myself, actually, but when cast in the right role, like she is here, she can be really good. I can understand how the movie itself would be unappealing to many.

      Yeah. Stay away from anything major spoiler-y. Gone Girl is all about its twists and turns. So great! So dark!

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  6. I haven't seen any of these movies but will see Gone Girl really soon and am especially looking forward to it since I've read the book.

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    1. Great book. Great movie. You shouldn't be disappointed.

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