Film Notes

Book takes a look at movie mothers


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Whether your favorite movie mom is Meryl Streep in "Mamma Mia!" or Beulah Bondi, who played Jimmy Stewart's mother in "It's a Wonderful Life" and three other films, writer Richard Corliss has you covered.

The Time movie critic has written a book, "Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (and a Few You Love to Hate)" in which he traces all sorts of moms on the big screen.

They range from heroic and eccentric showbiz moms to all-American variations, surrogates such as Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side," perennial moms who return in new versions of "Little Women" or "Anna Karenina" along with the sort of malevolent mom played by Angela Lansbury in "The Manchurian Candidate."

The foreword is written by famous mother-daughter duo Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. The older actress recounts working with Bette Davis on "The Catered Affair" about a mother pushing for her daughter to have a formal wedding reception the family cannot afford.

"She was fabulous -- powerful, yet helpful. Scary, too, because she was always helping to teach you how to properly act, and she made every point a strong one," Ms. Reynolds wrote, with the italics hers.

Ms. Fisher acknowledges writing "the mother of all mothers" in her screenplay, "Postcards From the Edge," and says some dialogue "was actually taken from my relationship with my mother, from our Actual Unedited Life. Go figure."

Mr. Corliss, who also penned "Talking Pictures" about Hollywood screenwriters and "Greta Garbo," correctly reports that in the past half-century, movie mothers have become an endangered species. Thor or Superman may have a mother -- or even two, one on a home planet and one on Earth -- but mother stories are consigned to foreign films or indies.

"In real life, mothers far outnumber superheroes or serial killers in this country -- but not on this country's multiplex screens," he writes, exploring why that is. Part of it is because the audience has evolved and many movies are aimed at young men, as a glance at the summer lineup proves.

Published by Simon & Schuster, in partnership with Turner Classic Movies, the book is $35 and filled with lots of photos of movie mothers and children.

3 premieres, 1 day

And you thought your work day was crazy. On May 28, actors Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt will participate in three premieres in three countries for their movie, "Edge of Tomorrow."

It stars Mr. Cruise as a character who relives the events of one day in an epic battle to save the world. Sounds like "Groundhog Day" but with much higher stakes.

The story begins as he arrives in London, which is where the event will launch with a 7 a.m. premiere and red carpet and 9 a.m. screening. The film then takes key characters to France, where they face an army of alien invaders, and the leads will follow suit with a 2 p.m. red carpet in Paris and screening at 4 p.m.

They will conclude the longest day with a 10 p.m. red carpet in New York and a screening at 11:59 p.m., the edge of tomorrow.

As they jet among the cities, Mr. Cruise, Ms. Blunt and director Doug Liman will interact with fans via social media, and those on the ground can network using #EOTLive.

The PG-13 movie, based on the novel "All You Need Is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, will open in theaters June 6 in 2-D, 3-D and IMAX.

BlackStar Film Festival

Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty will present the BlackStar Film Festival, Pittsburgh edition, from 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

The event will feature shorts and feature films, a marketplace by Ujamaa Collective and music by guest DJ Nate Da Phat Barber in the theater lobby. The festival originated in Philadelphia and is designed to illuminate the global black experience through films by and about people of African descent.

The lineup: 1 p.m., panel discussion about the state of black independent film; 2:45 p.m., "The Couple" Web series and Q&A with actress Numa Perrier; 4 p.m., African short films "Merkato," "Boneshaker" and "Sweet, Sweet Country" and Q&A with Sosena Solomon; 5:45 p.m., "Things Never Said" and Q&A with director-writer Charles Murray; and 8 to 11 p.m., "FunkJazz Kafe: Diary of a Decade (The Story of a Movement)" and Q&A with director-writer Jason Orr.

Festival pass is $15; individual events are $5 each. See kelly-strayhorn.org for more information.

A mightier meltdown

A short film shot in Lawrenceville and Bloomfield is being spun into a full feature, "Meltdown," with filming in June in Somerset and Venango counties along with Pittsburgh.

The zombie comedy follows three men and a woman, played by Robert McMurray, Seth Gontkovic, Jake Mulliken and Alicia Marie Marcucci, as they meet for drinks on the eve of the 29th birthday of one of the group. The rest of the world, though, is soon inhabited by murderous flesh-eaters.

The Pittsburgh branch of RAW, an international arts organization for artists by artists, honored Mr. Mulliken and Lucky4Productions for his short in late 2013.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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