Because of the enhanced community quarantine, some of us may be away from our mothers but on this Mother’s Day, we have never been closer, talking on Zoom and sharing content via streaming. Share your Mother’s Day by celebrating the best content you can read, watch and stream, thanks to Super:
The definitive Filipino movie about motherhood, Vilma Santos is an OFW who labors from away to make sure her children are provided for but returns to find them indifferent strangers. Directed by Rory Quintos and written by the one and only Ricky Lee, not only is “Anak” a tour de force for Santos as the heartbroken but determined Josie, but also for Claudine Barretto as Carla and Baron Geisler as Michael.
“Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa” by Lualhati Bautista (1988)
Lualhati Bautista’s critically acclaimed novel is one of the great works of Filipino literature. This is the tale of Lea, the working mother who has her own thoughts and doesn’t worry about speaking her mind in a society with antiquated expectations of women. As she tries to raise her precocious kids and find herself, Lea is all of our mothers. This novel was adapted into a great film in 1998 by Chito S. Roño with Vilma Santos as Lea.
“Batang PX” (1997)
A portrait of Filipino motherhood from a different angle, “Batang PX” tackles all that a mother goes through for her son, even domestic violence and abandonment. Directed and written by Jose Javier Reyes, “Batang PX” is Tessie (the best Zsa Zsa Padilla performance ever) as she strives to provide a life for herself and her son Amboy (a similarly excellent Patrick Garcia) who had been abandoned by his American serviceman father. Not only must Tessie and Amboy learn to keep getting along but everything is turned upside down when Michael returns to the Philippines. “Batang PX” is as thoughtful as it is bittersweet.
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison (1987)
Set during the American Civil War, “Beloved” was inspired by the true story of Margaret Garner who killed her child while escaping slavery rather than allow her to be returned to Kentucky. In. the novel, the Garner persona is a character named Sethe. Morrison’s novel won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and stands as one of the greatest of American novels, and surely a powerful work tackling motherhood, slavery and African-American history. Oprah Winfrey produced and starred in a 1998 feature film adaptation.
“The Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells (1996)
Sidda Walker is a stage director who is profiled in the New York Times and refers to her drama queen mother Vivi as having been a “tap-dancing child abuser,” leading to a serious rift in their family. But Vivi’s group of friends, the titular Ya-ya Sisterhood—Teensy, Necie and Caro— come to the rescue with an important scrapbook and a look into Vivi’s past disappointments. This best-selling novel was adapted into a 2002 movie starring Sandra Bullock as Sidda and Ellen Bustryn as Vivi.
“Freaky Friday” (2003)
Interestingly enough, the story behind “Freaky Friday” goes all the way back to 1882 but its best-known book form is the 1972 kids’ novel by Mary Rodgers. There has been a total of five adaptations of “Freaky Friday” (not including sequels and stage plays), but the most famous one is certainly the 2003 movie adaptation by Disney starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. Curtis’ Tess Coleman and Lohan’s Anna switch bodies and have to live each other’s lives for an unknown period of time. This funny worldwide hit also featured winning performances by Curtis and peak Lohan.
“Gilmore Girls” (2000)
There has never been a mother-daughter relationship like that of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel), and none since. Amy Sherman-Palladino’s brain child, set in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, showed the uber-close relationship between Lorelai, who had gotten pregnant in high school and the genius but introverted Rory who is growing up with strict grandparents and offbeat neighbors. This is a coming-of-age story of both Lorelai and Rory as they tackle single motherhood, high school, college and independence, all highlighted by Palladino’s distinctive dialogue. “Gilmore Girls” ran for seven seasons, and even received a revival a decade later, with a 10-episode season from Netflix.
“The Joy Luck Club” (1993)
Perhaps the greatest mother’s movie ever made, Wayne Wang’s masterpiece, based on the seminal 1989 Amy Tan novel, features two generations of four pairs Chinese mothers and daughters as they bicker and discover things about each other. The titular club began in China in 1949 with four women playing mah-jong and the movie is about what happens to them after that, albeit in a non-linear manner. How far will a mother go for her child? What if the child does not know this? Ming Na Wen gives her career-best performance as June, but really “Joy” is a story for Waverly, Rose, Lena, Suyuan, An-mei, Lindo and Betty. The Tan novel is fantastic but the adaptation is perfect. Lavishly filmed, gorgeously acted and utterly memorable, “Joy” is a generational family tale like no other.
“The Last Time I Saw Mother” by Arlene Chai (1997)
When Caridad in Sydney receives a letter from her mother asking her to come home to Manila, she doesn’t quite know what to think as they don’t correspond. But when she returns to a place she barely remembers, she is confronted by a secret from the war years that stuns her. This book has been described as a Filipino “Joy Luck Club.” Told in four voices, “Last Time” is a lyrical, powerful debut novel from Filipino-Chinese-Australian writer Chai.
I’m not crying, you’re crying: This portrait of the complication of kids switching from a biological mother to their new younger stepmother is made indelible by the warm but real feel and the performances of the two leads, Susan Sarandon as stay-at-home mom Jackie and photographer Julia Roberts as Isabel. Viewers will find themselves taking sides and then melting inside when “Stepmom” reaches its five-handkerchief conclusion. Directed by Chris Columbus, “Stepmom” also stars Ed Harris and Jena Malone.