Ordinary People (1980) : Mary Tyler Moore’s character is the opposite of her TV personas and she really showed her chops as a dramatic actress. She plays the mother of a family who has lost the oldest son in a sailing accident. Her younger son (played by Timothy Hutton, who won Best Supporting Actor) was with his older brother when he drowned, so he tries to commit suicide and spends time in a psychiatric hospital. The father, (Donald Sutherland), seems bewildered, trying to keep his family from falling apart; the mother seems mad at her surviving son for surviving. She just doesn’t seem to love him at all; only cares about appearances and keeping everything “normal”. The surviving boy, Conrad, also sees a psychiatrist, (played by Judd Hirsch, also nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and he pretty much saves him, helping him realize that he has to forgive his mother in some very powerful scenes. When he tries to hug his mother, telling her he loves her, she doesn’t even return the hug. Later, when her husband is crying and telling her they All need counseling, she decides it’s easier to ditch them than to admit she has any imperfections. I cried. Side note: Elizabeth McGovern is in this movie, playing Conrad’s friend, and she is so pretty. She is currently playing Cora, Countess of Grantham, on Downton Abbey.
Next up was Chariots of Fire (1981): This is about 2 Brits who run fast. One is a Scottish Christian missionary running “for the glory of God” and the other is an English Jew trying to overcome prejudice. They both end up competing in the 1924 Olympics. Really, I don’t understand British accents very well and I don’t understand British universities at all. I guess I just don’t get British men, when you think of it; they seem very effeminate. And where are the women? Not that it matters… I was not impressed. In a year that brought us “On Golden Pond” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, I would not have voted for this one. The music, by Vangelis, was excellent.
What an unexpected pleasure it was watching Gandhi (1982)! I have read his autobiography and he was so good that he was boring. The movie is too long (191 minutes), but hardly boring as it packs in history, showing life-changing moments in Gandhi’s life from 1893, when he was thrown off of a train in South Africa for being “colored” to his assassination in 1948. I was fascinated watching the history of Indian independence and the subsequent partitioning of Pakistan in an attempt to stop the violence between Muslims and Hindus. Gandhi was not in agreement and felt all religions need to be recognized and respected in order for there to be peace. His ideas on religious tolerance resulted in his assassination. Ben Kingsley is wonderful as the Mahatma, but I wish he’d been more brown. You can bet I got in some reading whilst “watching” this movie.
Get out your hankies for Terms of Endearment (1983) . Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) have a close relationship with the usual mother-daughter arguments. Emma marries Flap right out of high school and the marriage goes badly. In the meantime, Aurora meets up with an aging alcoholic astronaut (Jack Nicholson) and the scenes where they are courting are great. However, Emma turns out to have a terminal disease (after having her 3rd child) and dies. Flap, her asshole husband, has been messing around on her and can’t even take his children, so Aurora and the astronaut end the picture prepared to raise them. That’s it in a nutshell, but I love the movie, even though I cry and cry. MacLaine and Nicholson both won Best Acting (his was for Supporting) that year.
We’re on to Amadeus tonight…!