25 June 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Sibling Relationships

"He ain't heavy, he's my brother." - The Hollies

Since I don't have a brother (I have a younger sister), I find it hard to believe how easily my mind went to brother-brother relationships. Maybe it's because I don't have one. I never really thought about wanting one. My sister is awesome!

Anyway, my picks this week are sort of all over the place, but they all share that strain we all know if we have siblings, the difficulties of getting along with (and even understanding) the closest family member we have.

So, here we are, another edition of Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. This week it's an All in the Family Edition: Sibling Relationships.

Here are my picks:

The Godfather, Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

"I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart." - Michael Corleone

The Godfather, Part II has to be the best sequel ever made, right? I mean, where the first movie is an epic look at the glory days of the Sicilian mafia, this one is an epic look at the diverging power of time and how the world of the mafia evolved. There is so much going on in this film, but its most lasting, iconic image is the one above. When the evil in Michael continues to emerge upon his finding out that his own kid brother Fredo (the great John Cazale) has betrayed him, and he says that line above and then kisses him hard on the mouth. The fate of this relationship is perhaps the most tragic element of this immense tragedy.

Twins (Ivan Reitman, 1988)

"Oh, obviously! The moment I sat down I thought I was looking into a mirror." - Vincent Benedict

When I was young, probably 7 or 8, I was staying down at my Aunt Nancy's house in Dalton, GA. I remember distinctly, at that time, how everyone loved Arnold Schwarzenegger. Terminator 2 was like the one movie I so wanted to watch, but my Mom wouldn't let me. Aunt Nancy had Twins on VHS tape. She said, "This one has a nicer Arnold in it. Let's watch this one." She put it on, and I loved it. I loved it so much she gave me that tape, a tape I cherished for years. I seriously must have watched this movie a hundred times. It has elements of the Buddy Movie, the Road Movie, and the Crime Comedy, but is, in the end, a charming, funny story of two brothers figuring out how to be brothers.

A River Runs Through It (Robert Redford, 1992)

"Long ago, when I was a young man, my father said to me, 'Norman, you like to write stories.' And I said, 'Yes. I do.' Then he said, 'Someday, when you're ready, you might tell our family story. Only then you will understand what happened and why." - Norman Maclean (from his memoir A River Runs Through It)

The way Robert Redford's voiceover narration sells Norman Maclean's simple, yet filled-with-love, prose is what makes this film a masterpiece. This movie is literally about brothers and the river that bound them. Maclean (Craig Sheffer) is a real guy, a writer and English professor at The University of Chicago, who grew up in Montana in the early 1900s under the tutelage of a stern Presbyterian minister and fly-fisherman (Tom Skerritt). He's the prodigal son, the dependable one, the one who left Montana for Dartmouth, then came back without much direction. His younger brother Paul (Brad Pitt) is the hometown pretty boy, a newspaper man, a bit of a rabble rouser, a gambler and lover of that good Prohibited mountain hooch. The first part of the film follows them as boys into their adolescence and then reconnects them as young men in the mid-1920s, where one fateful summer will ultimately decide their futures.

"I am haunted by waters." - Norman Maclean

TV Bonus Picks (for my sister)

Friends (David Crane and Marta Kaufman, 1994-2004)

For the best of Monica and Ross as siblings, see Season 5, Epiosde 15: "The One With the Girl Who Hits Joey" and Season 6, Episode 9: "The One Where Ross Got High."

The Sopranos (David Chase, 1999-2007)

For one of the best TV moments ever and one of the most touching moments between always-fighting Tony and Janice Soprano, see Season 2, Episode 12: "Knights in White Satin Armor." Man, I miss James Gandolfini. Such a sad loss. 


  1. Ross and Monica's relationship is so weird yet awesome at the same time, definitely one of my favorite TV siblings. I haven't seen your other picks; I've been meaning to watch The Godfather II and should get to it.

    1. The Godfather I and II are essential. Part III...not so much...but it should be seen by any who love the saga.

      I agree...weird yet awesome.

  2. LOL at Twins. It's been so long since I've seen that one. I've never see A River Runs Through it, and I feel like I probably should have already. Great picks!

    1. Haha! Twins is a classic and very near and dear to me. Need to watch it soon. It's actually been way to long. Please see A River Runs Through It. It's seriously is a masterpiece. So beautifully shot and scored and acted. I love it!

  3. I'm pretty sure that Ross was Monica's first ever kiss. I love Friends. So much fun.

    I toyed with picking The Godfather Part II that scene you mentioned is just perfect film making.

    1. Yeah. I think you're right. That show is so damn funny.

      Yes! That scene in II is amazing.

    2. Haha! True story. See The One Where the Stripper Cries! Season 10. Danny DeVito guest stars in it.

  4. TWINS! LOL. Love it!

    I need to see A River Runs Through It. Like, yesterday.

    Ross and Monica are my favorite. "I SAW WHAT YOU WERE DOING TO MY SISTER!!!!" "Hey, Ross, what's up, bro?" And the dance. OMG THE DANCE.

    As to your Godfather Part II assertion, I haven't seen it so I cannot judge, but all I have to say to challenge that statement is: The Empire Strikes Back. BOOM. (I SMELL BLOGATHON! HINT HINT!)

    1. Haha! Thanks. Such a classic.

      Yes. You do. Please see it. It is one of my all-time favorite movies. The book is great too.

      That episode of Friends is so great!

      Does that hint mean you're gonna cook it up. Or should I?

  5. OMG! I love that you went with Friends as a bonus because, like, that's such a perfect 'sibling' relationship. I wish I had that with any of my siblings. I have four sisters, and the only one that I like lives STATES away.

    Love all three of your film selections too...and of course The Sopranos...that relationship is volatile, and it reminded me a lot of my relationship with my younger sister in that...well...Tony should have put a hit out on her :-P

    Fucking love that show so much.

    1. The Monica/Ross relationship is one of my favorite things about Friends. That really sucks you don't get along with your sisters. Growing up, my sister and I often hated each other, but we are like best friends now. It actually helps that she lives 1,300 miles away. It makes the times we have together so much more special and fun.

      Yeah. I guess even Tony Soprano wouldn't go as low as to off his sister. Amanda and I are re-watching The Sopranos right now. Janice is such a bitch!! Great show!

  6. I've never seen an episode of The Sopranos but all your others are terrific picks, the Friends on is so apt. A River Runs Through It is one of my choices too. It was the first one I thought of, such a beautiful looking film and perfect for the theme, and the only one that came to mind that was two brothers. All my others deal with the sister dynamic. There's so many I ended up with extras that I just couldn't leave off. This week was so easy compared to last week because like you I'm not a big animation fan but I had to stop myself at five!! Here's what I ended up with:

    A River Runs Through It (1992)-Set in a wide open Montana near the turn of the last century two brothers, Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer, bond with each other and their minister father while fly-fishing. The film follows the brothers separate paths and is full of visual splendor. This pushed Brad Pitt over the top into full-fledged stardom. You're so right about Redford's narration really adding that extra touch to fill out the film.

    An Unremarkable Life (1989)-Two elderly sisters, Frances (Patricia Neal) a friendly and sweet self-described maiden lady school teacher and Evelyn (Shelley Winters) a bitter, prejudiced widow have shared a home for 20 years. Having settled into a rhythm of memories and companionship with Evelyn the dominant, or more accurately domineering, decision maker their life is in a steady pattern until Frances meets kindly Asian mechanic, Max (Mako). They slowly fall in love which sends Evelyn, already resentful of Max’s ethnicity, into a combative tailspin and she sets out to end the relationship regardless of her sister’s happiness. Finally a confrontation between the sisters reveals long suppressed resentments and a degree of understanding.

    This Is My Love (1954)-Linda Darnell's ironically named Vida Dove (peaceful life) is living anything but. Lonely and full of bitterness at having to live with her sister, Faith Domergue and brother-in-law the cruel, wheelchair bound Dan Duryea, Linda's former flame. Shackled to them and tortured by him she is desperate for any way out. Enter handsome Rick Jason and a possible escape until he gets a look at Faith, also seeking an escape from the viperish Dan, pitting sister against sister and setting the stage for unimaginable tragedy. Obscure, well made, tightly paced noir painted in the blackest shades but filmed in lurid Technicolor with a couple of great performances by Linda Darnell and Dan Duryea. Very hard to find but worth the effort.

    Honorable Mentions:
    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)-Blanche Hudson, once a great film star until she was crippled in a car accident, lives in her decaying Hollywood mansion with her slatternly alcoholic sister, former child star “Baby Jane” Hudson who is now her caregiver. Theirs has always been a tenuous relationship which ruptures when Blanche decides to sell the house and have Jane institutionalized, something that should have happened years prior. Jane finds out her plans and starts a campaign of fear and punishment that escalates to extreme proportions. A huge hit in its day which reinvigorated Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s careers. A study of siblings broken by ambition and resentment. Both actresses are very good but Davis is quite brilliant.

    In This Our Life (1942)-Bette Davis stars as Stanley Timberlake a selfish impulsive schemer who dumps her fiancée and runs off with her sister Roy’s (Olivia de Havilland) doctor husband. After marrying she emasculates him, eventually driving him to suicide. Returning home she finds her fiancée has now fallen in love with Roy and they plan to wed. Jealous and spiteful Stanley tries to steal him back, in the process becoming involved in a hit and run accident which she attempts to let a protégée of the family take the rap for. As Stanley Bette is at her hellcat best tossing off lines like “What I want I go after-and get!” Olivia as Roy Timberlake is more docile but does proclaim “I’m going to be hard-just as hard as she is!” Good soapy fun.

    1. A River Runs Through It is certainly a beautiful film. I fell in love with it at a very early age. I love Robert Redford's voice.

      The rest of your picks are unfamiliar to me save Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? That is a great movie. Bette Davis is killer in that one. My Mom made me watch it when I was a kid, and I loved it. I have to see Is This Our LIfe. I fell in love with both Davis and de Havilland when I did the Twice a Best Actress panel with Drew. Both actresses are just incredible.

      Thanks so much for sharing your picks here.

    2. In This Our Life and Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte make a good double feature since they both star the duo and their roles are somewhat reversed. I'm a big fan of both actresses as well.

  7. I like how your bonus picks opened it up to tv. My favourite tv sibling relationships are in Six Feet Under.

    1. I LOVE Six Feet Under. LOVE IT! My wife and I just finished re-watching it (my third time), and it is just so amazing. I love the dynamics of the Fisher kids, especially the Claire/Nate relationship. So great!

  8. Great picks! Of course I love the bonuses.

    Don't forget the Gellar Cup!