Movies for Mom
January 2, 2004 7:46 AM   Subscribe

My mother is in her late sixties, and her kids just bought her a DVD player for her most recent birthday. Now she wants to know what movies we'd recommend she'd buy or rent. [More inside.]

So? What do you recommend from the past ten years (the time, roughly, over which she's been somewhat out-of-touch with film)?

Any genre is acceptable, preferably without any graphic rape or torture scenes. "Foreign" (for her, non-English-language) films should probably be excluded as well, unless they're dubbed. (Subtitles don't tend to work too well with her current ocular abilities.)
posted by *burp* to Media & Arts (23 answers total)
My (very) Irish Catholic mother went to see Waking Ned Devine with one of her nun friends and they both loved it. Great film.

No rape or torture but there is a scene featuring an old naked man riding a motorcycle.
posted by bondcliff at 8:02 AM on January 2, 2004

Finding Nemo, quite possibly one of the best movies ever for any age or sensibility....
posted by mhaw at 8:08 AM on January 2, 2004

My folks have been out of touch with film for a very long time and just started to go to the movies again. They are 64 and 75 so they match the demographic. They enjoyed About Schmidt and Secondhand Lions a lot, both of which should be on DVD or about to be.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 8:13 AM on January 2, 2004

Musicals are always great. From the last few years, Chicago and Moulin Rouge come to mind. There have been numerous other revivals and older movies on DVD (i.e. West Side Story) with bonus features and commentary tracks.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:17 AM on January 2, 2004

Using the "Movies My Own Parents Would Like" formula, I'd go with:

Seabiscuit - one of 2003's best.
Chicago - one of 2002's best.
Ocean's 11 - even as a remake, one of 2001's best
O Brother Where Art Thou - one of 2000's best.
American Beauty - 1999.
Shakespeare in Love -1998.
Titanic or As Good As It Gets or Good Will Hunting - 1997.
Jerry Maguire or The English Patient - 1996.
Apollo 13 or Mr Holland's Opus or Toy Story - 1995.
Forrest Gump or Four Weddings and A Funeral or Quiz Show - 1994.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:18 AM on January 2, 2004

And Finding Nemo for 2003, as well. Thanks, mhaw.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:22 AM on January 2, 2004

Well, it depends on what she likes, doesn't it? Back in her moviegoing days, was she, for example, a major Evil Dead fan?

Oh, right, probably not. But still, a little more info would be helpful.

That said, along the lines of Waking Ned Devine, there's The Dish, and Local Hero.

And don't forget the classics. I can personally attest that one of the very few benefits of getting older is an aspect of the "every day you make new friends" phenomenon: movies you saw long ago are once again brand new. There're great new remastered DVDs of films like Singing in the Rain, His Girl Friday, and Citizen Kane.
posted by mojohand at 8:29 AM on January 2, 2004

I always find it helpful to see a list of films someone likes in order to recommend new titles. Could you list 10 or so flicks from any period that you know she enjoys?

Also, since it's DVD, I don't think you should limit yourself to the past 10 years. She may have seen many classics, but the extras you can get with some dvds make them worth revisiting. For instance, for Christmas I got

Singing in the Rain (2 disc special edition with some great documentaries and extras on it).
The Third Man (beautifully cleaned up print and remastered soundtrack)
Paths of Glory (great print)
Citizen Kane (two disc special edition with great extras)

From the past 10 or so years, some of the films I would recommend for an older female would be

The Hours
Magnolia (available used in a double disc special edition)
Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her
The Pledge
Out of Sight
Lovely and Amazing
Get Shorty
The Insider
The Limey
Punch-Drunk Love
The Royal Tennenbaums
Waking the Dead
Tender Mercies
Lawless Heart
Sometimes Charlotte
Sling Blade
Six Degrees of Separation
Monster's Ball

erm, on preview, what mojohand said. :)
posted by dobbs at 8:36 AM on January 2, 2004

Oh, and don't forget the reissues of high-quality television: While a season of Buffy might not be her cup of tea (though you never know) the first seasons of both ER and The West Wing have recently been released for very good prices.
posted by mojohand at 8:37 AM on January 2, 2004

Though you mentioned foreign was not good unless dubbed (many dvds offer both subtitles and dubbed), you may find the english language films recommended in this previous askme thread useful. Most of them are foreign but there are non-foreigns scattered throughout.
posted by dobbs at 8:38 AM on January 2, 2004

This is kind of hard to do without knowing what genre she likes, but here goes.

My mom is a vibrant 70, and I've found she gets a great deal of enjoyment from DVD packages of films that were popular when she was young -- in some cases, films she remembered with fondness but thought she'd never see again. There are some superb packages of 'classic' films out there today - some I'd recommend that are both great films and show of the 'stuff' in DVD include Rear Window, North by Northwest, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Third Man, Casablanca, Sunset Boulevard, It Happened One Night, and Singin' in the Rain.

Other more 'modern' stuff - Amelie (mmm, but that's subtitled), Gosford Park, Chicken Run, Oceans 11, Shakespeare in Love, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The English Patient, The Thomas Crowne Affair, A Leauge of Their Own, A.I., The Green Mile, perhaps some Bond films?, Pleasantville or Blast from the Past, The Mummy, Howard's End .... I could go on but I won't.
posted by anastasiav at 8:42 AM on January 2, 2004

Without a shadow of a doubt:

"Straight Story" by David Lynch.
posted by Blue Stone at 8:46 AM on January 2, 2004

The Secret of Roan Inish seems to fit the bill.
posted by feelinglistless at 10:24 AM on January 2, 2004

Winged Migration (there's some text in it, but the film can be enjoyed without reading it).
posted by gluechunk at 10:29 AM on January 2, 2004

Here are a few of my oddball favorites, each with an interesting mix of style, humor, & drama:

Out of Sight (George Clooney & Jennifer Lopez)

Adaptation (Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper)

Saving Grace (2000, w/Brenda Blethyn & Craig Ferguson)
posted by Tubes at 11:29 AM on January 2, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks to all, already, for a great many fantastic suggestions. (I intentionally left out the suggestive "She tends to like this type of film" so as to keep the field as open as possible, but I realize that, in doing so, that kind of left my "suggestors" hamstrung.)

So... Lessee... I know she loved Chinatown, The French Connection, The Graduate, 12 Angry Men, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Citizen Kane, of course. Animal House. Big fan of the Rogers & Hammerstein musicals. The only somewhat "modern" film that I know she liked: Gridlock'd (which I probably only remember because I found it so strange that she liked it so much). I remember seeing Do The Right Thing with her, and she liked it, but didn't love it. Saw Bad Santa with her recently, and she said, essentially, "It had its moments."

She hated -- hated -- the second Austin Powers movie, but that's probably not saying much about her one way or the other.

As for TV, she's something of a fan of Law & Order and never understood how anybody could ever be into Everybody Loves Raymond. She loves to read mystery novels (and always has), and I think it's safe to say that her preferred genres in film are, most likely, comedies and actioners.
posted by *burp* at 12:31 PM on January 2, 2004

How about The Princess Bride? It's a classic.
posted by aine42 at 12:40 PM on January 2, 2004

I'd second the idea of classics and stars and movies she loved when she was younger (my mom is the same age)--Natalie Wood, Paul Newman (and other stars that hit big in the 50s-early 60s), musicals from the 50s and 60s, adult movies like the original Thomas Crown Affair--things like that. I'd also try to find out who her heart throbbed for back then. And if she liked the 70s filmmaker-ish movies like Chinatown and Graduate, I'd get more from those filmmakers. And throw in movies like Diner, and anything with Meryl Streep maybe.
posted by amberglow at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2004

I second "Saving Grace". My mom loves it. I know my mother would hate Punch-Drunk Love. Your Mother May Vary.
posted by keli at 1:12 PM on January 2, 2004

burp, you listed a bunch of movies I love. I would highly recommend she get Mockinbird on DVD as it has a 60+ minute documentary on the town where the book was based that in and of itself is worth the price of the disc. Citizen Kane and French Connection both have special edition discs worth checking out. Chinatown's extras are blah, as are the Graduate's (one of my five fave USA'n films).

Based on the titles you listed I'd say she'd like Miller's Crossing, The Pallbearer, Suture, Laws of Gravity, Spanking the Monkey, Nine Queens (though foreign), The Pledge, Parallax View, Being John Malkovich, The Dancer Upstairs, Salvador, Miracle Mile, Moonlight Mile, Homocide, The Edge, The Quiet American, City of Ghosts, and maybe Roger Dodger...

Also, though this may sound stupid, sit down with her and a disc with lots of extras and ensure she knows how to access features like different audio tracks, and submenus. My mother (61) had a dvd player for a year and didn't know that she could access some of the other stuff as she's technophobe. She told me she thought she couldn't access the extra features listed on the back of dvd cases because her player was a cheap end one. :)
posted by dobbs at 1:21 PM on January 2, 2004

Can't go wrong with noir/films from the 40s/50s.

Sunset Blvd.
The Third Man
The Big Heat
Double Indemnity
Night of the Hunter
Cape Fear
Touch of Evil
Citizen Kane
posted by corpse at 1:38 PM on January 2, 2004

I just got a call from my mother the other day telling me how much she enjoyed Bend It Like Beckham.

Singin' In The Rain (2-disc set kicks ass);
Casablanca (ditto);
The Spanish Prisoner;
The Player
posted by Vidiot at 1:59 PM on January 2, 2004

Movies that Have gone over well with my folks and/or in-laws:
Waking Ned Divine (again, I know)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Pianist
Bend it Like Beckham
Smoke Signals
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(subtitled, tho)
Lord of the Rings I & II
About Schmidt

posted by whatnot at 8:03 PM on January 2, 2004

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