This weekend brings us the mother of all holidays, and what better way to spend some quality time with your mom than sitting down together for a movie? With that in mind, the Indiewire team decided to offer up both our ideal scenarios for mother-child cinematic sitdowns, and the opposite. Presenting the movies we'd most enjoy watching with our mothers, and the films we'd never subject that situation to:
Would Watch With His Mother: "Rosemary's Baby"
Roman Polanski's 1968 horror film may seem like an odd choice to want to view with your mom on her most special of days. After all, the plot of the film involves Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) being unwittingly impregnated with the Antichrist as a result of her husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), making a literal deal with the devil. Not exactly feel good stuff. Think about it, though, Rosemary is actually one of the most protective mothers you're bound to find in all of cinema. Once she realizes that her neighbors, played by Sidney Blackmer & Ruth Gordon (in an Oscar winning role), are part of a Satan-worshiping coven that have sinister plans for her unborn child, Rosemary goes on a mad sprint around Manhattan to evade them. Oh by way, she does while she's nine months pregnant and looks fit to burst. Anyone who can successfully evade (well, Rosemary is caught eventually) a group of Satanists by running around Midtown when they're nine months pregnant clearly cares about their kid. Don't forget the clincher, either (spoiler alert ahead for a 40 year old movie): when Rosemary finally gives birth to what she now knows is the spawn of Satan, she doesn't kill it!!! Even when she's standing over it a huge butcher knife!!! That right there is mother of the year material. Therefore, perfect film to watch with what is surely your own super-loving and overprotective mother.
Would Never Watch With His Mother: "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
My first thought after seeing Lynne Ramsay's "We Need to Talk About Kevin" was "I never want to watch this movie with my mother." I then saw the film a second time with my sister who immediately turned to me when it was over and basically reiterated my initial thoughts about viewing the film with our mom. The film focuses on the mother (Tilda Swinton) of the titular Kevin in the aftermath of a massacre which he commits at his high school. Difficult questions are raised about whether some children are, to use a well worn phrase, just born as "bad seeds." Perhaps even more disturbingly, and this is the reason that made me not want to see it with my own mom, the question is raised of what happens when a mother doesn't necessarily unconditionally love their child as much as society has made it seem they should. How culpable are they in how their children turn out in the long run, especially when they turn out like Kevin? No definitive answer is provided by the film in this disturbing example of whether nature vs. nurture determines what we become; it lets you have that debate internally. All I know is that it's not a debate I want to have when sitting next to my mother.
Would Watch With His Mother: "Secrets & Lies"
When I think of great movies about mothers, the first that always comes to mind is a cherished favorite, Mike Leigh's modern classic "Secrets and Lies." The ensemble drama centers around Cynthia, who has been a mother since her own mother's death left her in charge of her brother as a teenager. Then, the daughter she gave up for adoption as a teenager is seeking her out, leading to a cathartic, beautifully orchestrated climax. I don't know if my mother's ever seen it but I know she'd dig it. First of all, Mike Leigh loves mothers, and he creates better mother-child relationships than, arguably, any filmmaker alive. And anyway, if there's one thing I know about mothers, it's that they love tearjerkers, and this one is in the pantheon.
Would Never Watch With His Mother: "Myra Breckenridge"
I had two tickets to see "Myra Breckenridge" at Lincoln Center's Raquel Welsh retrospective a few months ago. Unfortunately, after I had bought the tickets, my mother announced that she'd be coming to the city for the weekend. I had never seen the movie, and I had heard it was risqué, but I figured that my mother has a good sense of humor, she'd enjoy herself. So I brought her along. Oh, man. Big mistake. Luckily, on the way out of Walter Reade Theater, my mother only had one thing to say: "I didn't get why all those young men were all in love with Mae West. That didn't make any sense at all." It was awkward enough to sit through the Old Glory strap-on rape scene with my mother without having to discuss it afterwards.