geezer cinema: film fatales #121: shiva baby (emma seligman, 2020)
music friday: billie eilish

terms of endearment (james l. brooks, 1983)

This is the third film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 7th annual challenge, and my third time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", and last year's at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21"). Week 3 is called "Two Old Queens Week":

With the Season Challenge, not only should we expand our horizons through watching new films, but viewing them in a whole new light. And the podcast Two Old Queens does just that with their search for the "Gayest Movie Ever Made". Though the way they determine this can get quite silly, comedians Mark Rennie and John Flynn always offer great insight and hilarious quips on how gay (or not) each film is. Definitely give the podcast a try once this week's film has been watched, you won't be disappointed.

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film discussed on the podcast Two Old Queens.

Terms of Endearment won five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay from Another Medium. This isn't one of those oddities where it's hard to imagine why a movie won Best Picture (think The Greatest Show on Earth or Driving Miss Daisy). Terms of Endearment is a good movie ... I'd probably call Under Fire the best picture of the year, but I know that's a quirky choice. Maybe The Right Stuff of the other Best Picture nominees. But I wouldn't watch Terms of Endearment thinking I was about to take in an all-time classic ... it's good-not-great. It's a bit too long, and your tolerance for heart-tugging moments might affect your appreciation of the film. Roger Ebert wrote that it "feels as much like life as any movie I can think of....This is a movie with bold emotional scenes and big laughs, and at the same time it's so firmly in control of its tone that we believe we are seeing real people," while Pauline Kael said "What's infuriating about it is its calculated humanity." I'm with Kael, as usual, but really, it's not that bad.

Brooks bounces back and forth between the stories of a mother (Shirley MacLaine) and daughter (Debra Winger), and it's not always the best way to tell their tales. The movie improves in the later stages, when the two narratives come together. The acting is excellent ... MacLaine and Jack Nicholson won Oscars, but Winger and John Lithgow also got nominations. The film's emotions may be calculated, but the actors make it feel real.

I'm not sure what made Terms of Endearment a topic for the Two Old Queens. I tried to listen to the podcast episode but couldn't get it to work. The description on the website says that "Its got the power of Shirley MacLaine and undeniable lesbian energy from Debra Winger, but is that enough to place TERMS OF ENDEARMENT amongst the top five of gayest movies ever?"

Other Challenge choices included Beau Travail and Point Break.


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