Video Picks Archive
Reviews by Matt Heffernan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This week my picks are Tumbleweeds (1999 - ) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940 - ).
The first film this week was the very first film that I reviewed in 2000, but not until
this week has it come out on DVD. Janet McTeer stars as a woman who leaves her
fourth failed marriage in North Carolina, and heads out to California with her
daughter (Kimberly Brown) to start anew. However, she ends up falling into another
bad relationship, and her daughter can't convince her to break the pattern. While
very similar in premise to the earlier
Anywhere But Here, Tumbleweeds
presents a much deeper story with masterful direction by Gavin O'Connor (who also
plays McTeer's new boyfriend). Surprising nearly everybody in Hollywood, McTeer
won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy.
Not only was it a surprise that she beat Julia Roberts, Julianne Moore, Sharon Stone,
and Reese Witherspoon, but a nomination in the comedy category was unexpected.
While the film is often very humorous, McTeer's performance is worthy of --
and would fit in -- the most serious dramatic film.
Of course, the greatest family-on-the-highway film, the one that started the whole genre, was John Ford's brilliant adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Henry Fonda stars as the now-iconic character Tom Joad: an ex-convict who returns to his family's Oklahoma homestead, only to find them packing for California after the dust storms and depressed economy have destroyed their livelihood. The Joads pack all of their possessions and their extended family onto a converted Ford, and head out on Route 66. It was a contemporary tale when it was first told, but now it stands as one of the most vivid and engaging depictions of Western life during the Great Depression. Ford won a well-deserved Best Director Oscar, but the film itself lost Best Picture to Hitchcock's Rebecca. Jane Darwell also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for playing Ma Joad, while Fonda lost to James Stewart for The Philadelphia Story. It would take Fonda 41 years to get another nomination, and then win for On Golden Pond, but this is certainly his finest performance.
For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Guide to Star Ratings
Capsule Reviews © 2000 Matt Heffernan