Fathers and sons don't always see eye-to-eye. In fact, some men have no relationship with their fathers...period, many by choice. These three are fathers that are there for their sons but not really there, you know? These are stories of emotionally distant men with second chances but only if father and son, and even if they don't know it, can trust in each other enough to work together.
It's the return of the All in the Family Edition of Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. This time biologically related fathers and sons.
Here are my picks this week:
"Back to the Future" (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
Every time I watch this movie, I feel closer to all the people out there who love movies. "Back to the Future" is the kind of movie that seemingly all people have in their grasp. It sort of binds us together, at least in my experience. As for the father-son aspect, it drives the film. First, you have Christopher Lloyd's famous, wild-eyed time machine inventor, "Doc" Brown, who is certainly a father figure to Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly. Then, you have Marty's biological father, the weakling and pushover, George McFly (the great Crispin Glover). When Marty is accidentally sent back to 1955, his presence there sets in motion a sequence of time altering events that may very well erase him from existence. What would it be like to give dating advice at 17 to your 17-year-old father? Just one of the many mind-blowing questions posed in this classic.
"Field of Dreams" (Phil Alden Robinson, 1989)
Every time I watch this movie, I feel nothing but warmth and joy. It moves me to tears every time. Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer, who never got over the falling out he had with his father, a former baseball player, years earlier. A voice asks him to build a baseball field in his corn. The journey this leads him on is one that will mean more than anything else in more ways than one. This is a beautiful story of faith and redemption and our connection to baseball. It's also beautiful to look at. In one scene, the camera follows a ball player, long dead, a ghost named "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, into a corn field from from above and follows the tops of the stalks to the horizon, day changes to dusk atop a sweeping, patriotically American movie score, and then two guys play catch. It's a sequence more memorable than just about any other for me.
Click here for my essay on this masterpiece, which was written last spring in honor of the new baseball season.
"25th Hour" (Spike Lee, 2002)
Every time I watch this movie, I feel changed. It all has to do with a father-son scene, featuring the hero, Monty Brogan (Edward Norton), a man on his way to serve seven years in prison, and his father, James (the great Brian Cox). It is one of the most poignant and perfect movie scenes ever crafted in a movie that constantly reinvents itself as you watch it (and with repeat viewings). Director Spike Lee was fully on his game with this one. As was screenwriter David Benioff (who would become the creator of HBO's "Game of Thrones"), who adapted his own book of the same name. Together they made both a devastating character study and a love letter to post 9/11 (circa 2002) New York and the people who live there. The supporting cast is incredible. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Barry Pepper. Rosario Dawson. Anna Paquin. One of my Top Ten of the 00s.