Well now that this blog is just a monthly Best Picture newsletter – happy end of May! I celebrated by watching a classic of divorce cinema and making “Banana Split Dessert” (split, get it? ….I’m sorry.)
Had I seen this one before?
Nope. I knew the basic premise and that it gave both Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman their first Oscars.
Top 3 Observations on this viewing?
- The kid (Justin Henry) deserved an Oscar for sad-slouching alone. He steals every scene he is in, but without ever getting cloying or overly practiced like a bad kid actor can. He was even good at being a nervous performer in the Halloween pageant scene.
2. There was a joke going around the internet last awards season about how this and Marriage Story exist in the “Divorce Cinematic Universe” and having now watched them both there is some poignant truth to it. What I take away from both, and especially the cruelty of the courtroom interrogation scenes, is that the legal system is a very cruel way to determine emotional guilt and innocence (if that even exists.) It forces people to make villains of each other and that’s very hard to watch.
3. The ending of this movie (spoilers for a 40 year old film I guess) where Meryl, having won, changes her mind and then just gets in an elevator to go tell the kid, makes no sense to me and felt super abrupt and frustrating.
What did it beat? Did it deserve to win?
All That Jazz – I love this deranged movie so, so much
Apocalypse Now – I’ve never seen it all the way through, but obviously a classic.
Breaking Away – How fun that this got a Best Picture nod!
Norma Rae – A classic, of course.
Wow, what a stacked year. I’m sure the critical consensus is probably that Apocalypse Now is the standout here, but I love that the quiet family drama could win. My personal award would go to Fosse’s fever dream though.
Bechdel test pass?
Nope. There are 3 named women, but we only see 2 of them talk once – in the courtroom, about Dustin Hoffman’s character. And even then, it’s not really a conversation so much as Jane Alexander (whom I love and is great in this) talking at Meryl.
On the overall question of whether I think this movie is sexist, its more complicated. I think that by casting Meryl Streep, Robert Benton gave the mother character a full, if flawed, humanity. And by depicting Hoffman’s struggle to hold a high powered hob and be a present parent, the movie highlights the struggles many feminists were trying to bring forward, but it doesn’t really acknowledge that what he was able to do (talk his way into a job day of) wouldn’t have been quite as available to most women at the time.
Anyway – they did split up – and that kid sure did like ice cream – so here’s my recipe. It tastes good, but you need to let it soften a bit to eat easily.
- 3.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2/3 cup butter, melted
- 4 to 5 medium bananas
- 1 carton of Neapolitan ice cream (Note: A block carton is best, but quarantine Bronx market needs must, and I used a circular Edy’s carton which was a little unwieldy but worked fine)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl, mixing until crumbs are evenly coated
- Press into a 15×10 (or simiarly sized) pan
- Slice bananas width-wise and layer over crust
- Cut open ice cream carton and slice into even sections, placing them over bananas until an even layer is formed
- Sprinkle with nuts
- Cover with foil and place in freezer
- In a large saucepan melt the chocolate chips and butter
- Stir until smooth
- Pour over the ice cream and then return to freezer
- In a large bowl whip cream until stiff peaks form
- Spread over chocolate layer and replace in freezer
- Remove from 15 minutes (at least) before serving