Robert here w/ Distant Relatives, exploring the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.
The final Oscar campaign push for The Descendants painted it in the grand tradition of much Oscar-loved domestic dramas like Ordinary People or Kramer vs. Kramer. Okay, good enough for me. Let's compare. Particularly, for me, I like the Kramer vs. Kramer contrast, since both films follow the "absentee mom and fallable but ultimately well-meaning dad" narrative that seemed to really build steam in pop culture after Kramer vs. Kramer hit it big.
Consider it a kind-of anti-screwball comedy genre, not necessarily a response to men exiting the workforce, but to taking on roles that a quickly changing society had traditionally considered to be for women. At their best, such films could suggest that any gender-based definitions and divisions of spousal and parenting duties were ridiculous, cultural and social construct that need no longer apply. At their worst they featured the zany consequences of macho men taking on tasks that required them to be caring and nurturing... you know like women's work (I can't imagine a demographic or orientaton of people that films like this wouldn't offend in some way).
Both Kramer vs Kramer and The Descendants fall clearly into the better half of this equation. But there are other traps of which they skirt the edges. Consider, that the majority of films, then and now are made by men and for men... [Continue]