XFINITY On Demand: Leonard Maltin Recommends ‘The Joy Luck Club’ and ‘White Oleander’

by | March 22, 2012 at 1:24 AM | Leonard Maltin's On Demand Picks, The Movies, TV News, Xfinity On Demand

Film critic Leonard Maltin. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Movies enable us to experience a wide range of emotions vicariously. Here are two movies about mothers and daughters that I think anyone can relate to.

“THE JOY LUCK CLUB”

The Joy Luck Club” is a beautiful rendition of the best-selling book by Amy Tan. The title refers to a group of four elderly women who gather every week to play mah jongg. They don’t often talk about their experiences as young women in China, so their Americanized daughters don’t know or appreciate what they’ve gone through. As the movie opens, Ming-Na Wen, whom you may know from her long run on television’s “E.R.,” is about to leave San Francisco for her first trip to the old country. This is the springboard for a series of vignettes from the past. Life is harsh for women in China during the 1930s and 40s. They have no rights, and often have no say about the path they must travel. Compare this to the daughters who are assimilated Americans, with little patience for the customs of the old world. Ming-na Wen, Tamlyn Tomita, Lauren Tom, and Rosalind Chao play the younger women whose relationships with their mothers are often strained—because they haven’t found that elusive common ground. Better have a box of tissues handy when you watch this film, sensitively directed by Wayne Wang. Use xfinityTV.com to purchase “The Joy Luck Club” on your TV.

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“WHITE OLEANDER”

Some moms make life easy for us and others provide more of a challenge, like the colorful but dangerous woman played by Michelle Pfeiffer in “White Oleander,” based on the best-selling book by Janet Fitch. The story is told from her daughter’s point of view, and as with so many things in life, how you see these events has a lot to do with your perspective. Alison Lohman plays the teenage daughter who knows her mother is unusual—but isn’t prepared for what happens after Pfeiffer poisons her latest lover. Mom is given a life sentence in prison, and that means Lohman will be sent to one foster home after another, searching in vain for someone who will be a stabilizing influence. Lohman periodically visits her mother, and tries to put on a good face. Her experiences with would-be parents Renee Zellweger and Robin Wright Penn are difficult at best, heartbreaking at worst. The one quality she tries to maintain through all these trials is her mother’s unbreakable spirit.  Use xfinityTV.com to purchase “White Oleander” on your TV.

Meaty stories about indomitable women don’t come along every day. But they certainly make a strong impression.

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Note: These picks, which start at $0.99, may not be available in all areas. SEE MORE OF LEONARD MALTIN’S PICKS HERE.