Bad Boys for Life
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If you think that the fact that there are only two characters in the story, that it only has one place where the drama occurs, that is one hr 1/2 long, it will make for a boring movie, you will be wrong and miss out on two great performances! These two female actors are so powerful in their acting, you forget it is acting! One of my favorite movies along with a sister movie with Richard Dreyfuss; Whose life is it anyway? They seem to be stored in a Hollywood closet and key forgotten because of the subject matter I am sure, because the acting and stories are class A. You never see re-runs on tv, ever, of those two movies.
Undeniably one of the best adaptations ever and so well executed by two amazing actresses. The score is so poignant and appropriate and drives the emotion of the audience.
Translating a great play for the screen is not always easy. That is painfully true here. This screenplay still feels like it was intended for the stage -- and no matter how skilled both Bancroft and Spacek are -- the lines they are given simply require both actors to play it all too big for the screen. I do not see how it is possible to lay the blame on these two artists. Ultimately, the blame must rest with the director and Marsha Norman who simply did not do enough to turn her play into a film.
Anne Bancroft and Sissy Spacek not receiving an Oscar nomination for their performances is without a doubt one of the biggest injustices in the History of Cinema, since they give their very best in this harrowing, emotionally devastating adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning play.
Not too many movies move me like this one did. Both actresses did a perfect job in their roles. It was so simple yet so deep, and it made me want to cry at the end.
The acting was great, it was a very heartfelt movie.
Incredible story and performance, especially by Sissy Spacek.
It views like a play, which it was, and a great one at that. Although Spacek's character seems overly interested in making sure her mother is okay after she dies making it seem like she is still invested in life, the acting here is marvelous. The dialogue is delivered naturally and if you've forgotten what truly excellent acting looks like, look no further. Spacek and Anne Bancroft (how I miss her) are that good. Treat yourself.
'night, Mother (Tom Moore, 1986)
[originally posted 18Jun2001]
Having just finished reading Marsha Norman's wonderful Pulitzer-winning play, I figured I'd check out the movie. I'm still trying to decide whether it was a mistake or not. The first five minutes made me think so-for one thing, I knew I was in for trouble when I saw "produced by Aaron Spelling," and for another, the syrupy, bucolic music (supplied by TV music guru David Shire, who's about a half-step above Yanni on the subtlety scale) makes a mockery of the play's subject matter: a late-thirtysomething divorcee, Jessie (Sissy Spacek) tells her mother (Anne Bancroft) that she's going to kill herself in a few hours, and the two of them go back and forth about the decision while reliving memories and having heart-to-hearts about various topics. The play is notable for being one of the first, and still one of the only, level-headed looks at suicide in American literature, and after that first bit is out of the way (it actually continues on about fifteen minutes after the opening credits, and none of it's in the play), we get down to the brass tacks of Ms. Norman's contest of wills between a woman who's tired of life and a mother who's too scared to be tired of life. And it's fantastic. Spacek and Bancroft both play their roles to the hilt, and while the dialogue isn't quite as intense in the film as it is in the play (cameras being what they are, the characters are allowed to move about the house, where the play takes place almost completely in two rooms), it still works extremely well. And then comes the end of the play... and David Shire works his magic once again, wrecking the film's effect. (The movie also emphasizes one line I managed to pass over in the play, during Bancroft's last speech, that's just plain bad, and one wonders why Norman, who adapted her own play for the screen, allowed it to remain.)
Fast forward through the first twenty minutes (up to where Spacek asks Bancroft where the gun is, which opens the play) and stop at the last line of the play ("Loretta? Let me speak to Dawson, honey.") and you've got a decent adaptation of an excellent play. ***