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Wonderful walk down memory lane
Tom12 January 2005
Although this film takes place 15 years before I was born, growing up in an ethnic family in the early 60's had changed very little.

My family is Greek, but this film will appeal to any ethnic group especially first or second generation Americans. Back then we all still gathered at one member's home for holidays and on Sundays. We all dressed up (and still do) for church and holiday gatherings. Watching little Elijah Wood with his bow tie reminded me of myself at that age.

Mr. Levinson through film, and Randy Newman through his haunting musical score did a magnificent job of recreating a world that has all but disappeared. A time when family was the center of our lives, children respected the adults and were expected to behave in a civilized manner, people didn't spend Sundays running all over town to football, soccer games etc, and the elder members of the family were revered instead of ignored or worse, placed in a home.

We, those of us in the post-war generation would to well to look at this film as a guideline for how to bring values back into our lives and realize that we all need to re-think our priorities.

If you want to relive your childhood for 2 1/2 hours laugh one minute and cry the next, I HIGHLY recommend this film
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A truly brilliant picture of the American Family
DTL6 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
AVALON which is the third leg of the Baltimore Trilogy was unfortunately overlooked at Oscar time in 1990. It is a truly brilliant film written and directed by Barry Levinson.

It is about the evolution of the storyteller. Sam the head of the family comes to America in 1914 on the Fourth of July. It was a time when family meant something and those that came here first sent money back so that other family members could join them in the land of hope. Sam is the the family storyteller. He tells the family history to the children in hopes that they will always remember where they came from. As the years go by the family moves away from Avalon, the neighborhood that they first came to and the family begins to change. They move apart and splinter and the new technology known as the television becomes the storyteller. Thanksgivings which are the unifying holiday throughout the story begin with the family waiting for all of the brothers to arrive before "they cut the turkey" and proceeds through smaller family groups sitting at TV stands watching television and ends finally when grandson Michael, with his son visits Sam in a nursing home where the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade plays silently on the televison in Sam's room.

As the film concludes Michael, who is the embodiment of Barry Levinson in the tradition of the storyteller shares his grandfather's story with his son.

All of this backed by Randy Newman's haunting score one of the most fitting ever written for a film.

This is a must see.
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Less-than-nostalgic slice of Americana
george.schmidt27 February 2003
AVALON (1990) **** Armin Mueller-Stahl, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Kevin Pollak, Joan Plowright, Lou Jacobi, Elijah Wood, Leo Fuchs. Barry Levinson's personal masterpiece, loosely autobiographical, on family values. Absolutely charming and at times poignant account of the Krachinsky clan, spanning four generations of the Baltimore based Jewish immigrants, and the effects of suburbia, television and the decline of the closeness of American families at large. Wonderful ensemble of talent with a steadily paced and absorbing calmness in tone. Stahl gives a sterling endeavor as does young Wood as his wide-eyed grandson. Loving valentine for all families perfectly realized. Great production design and cinematography.
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Looking back at the way we were
jmcsween9015 May 2001
The third of Barry Levinson's Baltimore trilogy (following ‘Diner' and ‘Tin Men') is a gentle and low key yet hugely impressive film that is a worthy successor to his enormously prosperous and Oscar winning ‘Rainman'. Although adopting the box office disaster strategy – ‘no stars just talent', Levinson manages to create a small yet thoroughly incisive look at the changing face of America and its values during an eventful period in its cultural history.

Set in the mid 1950's at the height of the post war economic boom and on the eve of Television's dominance of domestic life, ‘Avalon' looks closely and lovingly at the lives, loves and disasters of three generations of a Polish family in the New World. Opening with a magnificently shot flashback of Mueller-Stahl's arrival in America on July 4th some forty years earlier, the film develops a nostalgic yet never overtly sentimental approach to its subject matter and always keeps its story-line rooted firmly in reality.

Although the film has no specific plot or central character, the magnificent Mueller-Stahr emerges as the principal paternal figure trying to keep his increasingly disparate family of brothers, children, nephews, nieces and sundry together amidst the turning tides of cultural change. Joan Plowright plays his stubborn wife who has never learned to fully adapt to the lifestyles in the West, while his son Aidan Quinn is trying desperately to cash in on the American dream that brought his father to those shores in the first place.

A tale told with great colour, character and humour and populated with a huge assortment of human characters and memorable moments, 'Avalon' is a beautifully composed piece of American cinema.
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Thank you Barry Levinson!!!!!
ddicarlo-24 August 2000
Avalon is really a beautifully written story and Levinson's cast is excellent. This really is one of the better stories of the American experience. Actually I'd have to say it's the BEST story of the American experience ever brought to film. I say that knowing that it really is the urban Jewish-American experience and not one that is necessarily shared by other groups. I dont care for rigid definitions of the American experience because it can be a vastly differing one. Having said that though, I must still say that Avalon is a wonderful chronicling of an American immigrant family originaly from Eastern Europe who put down roots in the Avalon section of Baltimore. It is refreshing in that New York City is generally credited for this kind of narrative. So much so that it's easy to forget that ethnic communities sprang up in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco etc. Not just NYC. Through the narration of Sam Krichinsky we see his children and grandchildren grow up and he grow old. We are with him when his wife (Joan Plowright)passes away, When his son's business is destroyed by fire, when he argues with his oldest Brother and a great rift divides the Krichinskys forever. we hear his stories of this and that and always he returns to the 4th of July 1914 when he arrived in Baltimore for the first time. Levinson is fantastic as he films what is obviously an idealized representation seen only in Sam Krichinsky's "rose colored" memory of the event. There is so much poignance, sorrow, and love in "Avalon" and small details become deeply profound moments in the life of an elderly man struggling to remember the good times while the world moves on. The closing scene in which Sam's Grandson (now a father himself), with whom he has always had a close relationship, visits him in a nursing home. We know from Sam's state that the end cannot be far. Its a brief scene with little dialogue but it is AWESOME!!!! in the sublime way it conveys it's message. I choke up just thinking about that scene. See "Avalon"!!!
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A stirring tribute
Petunia-227 September 1999
It is heart-warming to read comments from those of you who do not even live in Baltimore and enjoyed the movie as much as we Baltimoreans did. What a stirring tribute to the city and to our immigrant grandparents.

My ancestors came from County Cork to Baltimore in the late 1800's. We too, grew up in rowhouses (retitled "townhomes" by realtors in the 1980's) nearby our cousins. Many scenes brought back wonderful memories: the kids playing in the "back alley," the marble steps of the rowhouses which my mother used to lovingly scrub, the "bee" incident, trips to the lake, Thanksgiving dinner with extended family members and tables to seat all the kids extending into the next room, etc., etc.

This could have been just another sappy movie but the actors were so immersed in their characters, I was swept away. Apparently, so were you.
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The best family film of the '90's, bar none!
BobLib7 October 1999
If you want a film that celebrates a way of life that's almost gone, that's well-acted in every department, and that gives you a major case of the warm fuzzies in a way the movies seem to have forgotten how to, Barry Levinson's "Avalon" is definitely it.

First, let's examine the cast: Armin Mueller-Stahl, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Elijah Wood (some ten years pre-"LOTR"), Joan Plowright and Lou Jacobi ("Time to make the donuts!") all give fine, understated performances. Mueller-Stahl, in particular, is the sort of gentle, old-world grandfather anyone might have wished for.

But, as I said earlier, what this film is mainly about is a loving salute to a way of life that's almost gone. As a second generation American growing up in New York, what strikes me about "Avalon" is how real it all is, especially if you grew up in this era, as I did. Young Michael Kaye might have been myself in many ways. And a recent family reunion brought this feeling all back again.

A Wonderful, warm movie. See it!
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Excellent ensemble cast and worthy script make this a must-see
Robert Reynolds26 December 2000
This film has much to recommend it-set design, cinematography and so on- but what makes it truly shine is a marvelous script and an ensemble cast that almost uniformly turn in excellent work. The characters live and breathe and fair jump off the screen at the audience. You come to care about them, even the ones you don't like. It's an entrancing, riveting journey through the 20th century as it was lived by one family. Don't miss this one. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll even be nice to that cousin you can't stand or your daughter's current boyfriend,who you swear is from Pluto! Most exceedingly highly recommended!!!
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A brilliant film...
Garys126619 May 1999
Levinson does a spectacular job in showing us the life of a man and his family after coming to America and the different ways his offspring grows up. This film also shows how values have changed from the time that Sam was a young man to when his son Jules was in the workforce (the father, Sam was a wallpaper hanger eking out a meager existence and his son, Jules was a well to do salesperson with a country club membership). The father (Sam) could not understand why his son wanted to golf or why golfing was necessary at one point in the movie. It also dealt with the issue of the family eventually moving to the suburbs and how Jules' mother commented that she could not any longer take the streetcar when they lived in the suburbs. This film also shows us how television has changed the face of America. For example, Thanksgiving in an earlier part of the movie was spent at a dinner table, before the television was invented, and after the family has television, Thanksgiving dinner was spent in front of the TV.

Not bad performance acting wise by the cast the cinematography is also spectacular especially when Sam arrives in America on July 4th, 1916.

Barry you have done a great job of reminding us that what makes this a great country is fact that we should never forget our families, our traditions or where we come from.
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American Paradise Lost
errata2821 May 2001
This film is a powerful depiction of the loss of innocence experienced by so many immigrants who came to this country, believing it was a veritable promised land. Slowly and subtly, Levinson shows how their once close families are pulled apart by the demands of the culture. From the flight of the middle class to the suburbs and the loss of traditional business values, the transformations our society underwent in the post-war period are captured here with masterful storytelling. Watch how television gradually becomes the center of the home, rather than the family table. The turkey scene, as funny as it is, is profound. The extended family is falling apart, as the geographical distance afforded by the automobile grows.

The acting is tremendous. The performances of Quinn, Perkins, Muehler-Stahl and Plowright are worth the purchase alone. But don't miss young Elijah Wood in his first major film role.

This movie is one to treasure and revisit year after year--how about at Thanksgiving... :)
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Avalon as a Story of Stories
tdent-119 April 2005
Barry Levinson set out to show that the extended family has expired; the nuclear family is dysfunctional and the cause of our urban, suburban, and exurban blight. Stories passed down from generations, the life blood of our ancestors, have ceased to exist, replaced by stories created from whole cloth by unknown writers sitting in sterile offices, working for substandard wages so they can support their families' television viewing habits and other distractions.

The wholesomeness of the extended family, so necessary in the Old World, is not functional in the New World. Families break up, separate, and find, upon reflection, that it is the individual relationships which give us joy, and joy is the operational word that describes this work - joy of the innocent child and later, the joy of being loved, cared for, and wanted.
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Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.
ms vid9 September 1999
How often may we have said that our own "dull" lives could never be made into a movie? Well, this beautiful film shows that the ordinary lives of an immigrant and his family ARE worth watching. Barry Levinson has helped me see the extraordinary in the ordinary. He has made me look at my own extended family with new eyes. All good films (and theatre and novels, etc.) help us experience and accept the humanness in all of us. Levinson certainly has that special magic touch in AVALON. He has simply, softly, and brilliantly connected us to the human family and its collective hopes and dreams, foibles, stumbles and successes. Bravo! Encore!
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A very fine drama, good plot and story (Solid 7 of 10)
filmbay21 July 2008
On paper, writer-director Barry Levinson's semi-autobiographical Avalon, which begins with the arrival of Polish Jew Sam Krichinsky (Armin Mueller- Stahl) in the Avalon area of Baltimore, Md., on July 4, 1914, and ends when he is in his dotage on another July 4 sometime in the sixties, is an intellectually crystalline epic about the demise of the extended family, the erosion of traditional American and European values, the growth of alienated suburban culture (organized around television) and the hegemony of materialism.

That's on paper. On screen, Avalon is unconscionably sloppy (the leaves of deciduous trees in Baltimore at Christmas are green on one block, yellow on another and non-existent on a third), structurally amorphous (the movie could end at any time or go on forever, which it seems to do), and gummily sentimental (grandparents and children are psychologically saintly). The lovely moments and fine performances in the picture can't redeem Levinson's technical carelessness - the editing is without rhythm, momentum, or even logic - nor can they compensate for Avalon's ethnographic toothlessness: imagine Mordecai Richler without the bite.

Levinson would have made Duddy Kravitz a mensch.

Avalon is more irritating than most ambitious failures because Levinson, winner of the best directing Oscar in 1988 for Rain Man, is wildly talented, and his two earlier semi-autobiographical films set in Baltimore, Diner and Tin Men, were twin peaks of Proustian purity. Structured lightly but soundly, in the esthetic version of aluminum, they vaulted over the twin valleys of bathos, sentimentality and nostalgia.

Avalon is a bridge made of lead.

But students of performance will want to see it for a quartet of reasons. The first is Armin Mueller-Stahl, the East German actor who came West in the late seventies and has not been within spitting distance of mediocrity since, whether as the tortured politician in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lola, the complex farmer in Angry Harvest or Jessica Lange's mysterious father in Music Box. As written, Avalon's Sam Krichinsky is fundamentally a grandchild's adoring projection of a grandfather, but Mueller-Stahl's Prussian blue eyes bespeak more depth than the character is permitted to articulate; when the script does become bluntly pedantic, Mueller-Stahl subtly softens the blows. Sadly, even this great actor is done in at the end when he is plastered with outrageously inept old-age makeup. He looks like nothing less than a blue-eyed, Teutonic E.T. about to sing a geriatric variation of Cabaret's Nazi hymn, Tomorrow Belongs to Me: Yesterday Vas Mine.

The second extraordinary actor is Joan Plowright, the British widow of Laurence Olivier; she plays Eva Krichinsky, Sam's Polish-American wife, with a flawless accent, as if she had not done Shakespeare, Chekhov, John Osborne or Peter Greenaway, all of whom she has, of course, enlivened. But technique aside, she follows Mueller-Stahl in toughening up the soft edges and in softening the rough edges of a character verging on caricature; while certainly Jewish, her meddling mother-cum-grandmother is no stage- bound Jewish mother.

The most fully dramatized conflict in Avalon involves the grandparents and their relationship to their son Jules and his wife Ann (and eventually to the young couple's children), all of whom live together. Aidan Quinn, as the cautious and contemplative Jules, and Elizabeth Perkins, as the fun-loving but responsible Ann, complete the foursome of exceptional performances: he infuses an introvert with exterior life and she captures the spirit of femininity in the fifties with eerie exactitude, as if Life had come to life (it's an asset that she looks like the Judy Garland of that period).

Four fabulous musicians, less than fabulous music for them to play: the resonant sequences (an on-going Thanksgiving argument, for example) are regularly intercut with comic schtick, the most egregious instance being the purchase of a television set - would people interested enough in TV to buy one not know that during the day there were no programs? The purchasers sit in front of the box, watch the test pattern, get disgusted, and leave it to the kids. It's a funny bit, but it's fraudulent, and it corrodes Avalon, which is trying to do something new, with the stuff of deja-vu. There are two lines delivered by Eva that express the irritation Avalon engenders: "How many times do we have to hear this story? We all heard it before." Benjamin MIller, Filmbay Editor
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Trailers misled me: waited 16 years to see it and wish I hadn't
FilmNutgm15 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS: I missed this film when it came out and eagerly taped it when it recently came on television. The trailers emphasized the nostalgic feel and I vaguely remembered it being a period piece about how modern life--especially television--splintered close family ties. What I didn't expect is the movie's journey to hyper-realism. When a film starts out like it's going to be in the same vein as, say, "A Christmas Story", I didn't expect it to end up like a documentary on the indignities of old age. Imagine every report on senility and its toll on everyone and you get an idea of the end. It isn't this movie's fault that the trailers portrayed it as one thing, and it was something else. It isn't the movie's fault that I just wasn't in the mood to see what's happening in real life in homes all over this country. If the movie does have a fault, it's that the director/writer, actors, and set designers, etc., were so good at setting the tone for a gentle trip down memory lane, it was just so jarring when realism intruded at the end. I think the same thing could have been accomplished by stopping at the "hypnotized by TV" holiday dinner--with a lot less scenes of heartbreaking decline. I know that wasn't what the filmmaker wanted to do, but it would have been a film I would have enjoyed seeing more. We should be depressed by what this story says about us; I just wasn't expecting a lesson on the topic when I taped this film. That's my fault, but so many people use the terms "feel-good" and "nostalgic" to describe this film, and I didn't feel good after watching and I consider nostalgia to be something that leaves you with a happy, positive feeling about the past. For all this film's fine acting and great set design, it did not leave me with anything but regrets--maybe that was the point.
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"I came to America in 1914....." That's all you gotta say!
MissyBaby12 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
How can I explain how much I loved this movie? I can't. I just can't. I love it so so much, I can't explain it.

I came across this movie by somewhat of an accident last year sometime. I did a Netflix search for "The Mists of Avalon." No "Mists of Avalon," but instead an Aiden Quinn movie called simply "Avalon." I pushed it aside and didn't give it a second thought.

5 months or so ago I was just browsing the same sight, once again, "Avalon" popped up. I watched the trailer, thought it looked good and put it on my queue list. It sat forever and ever, so I deleted it. Once again never giving it a second thought.

Then 2 months ago I became very interested in the actor Tom Wood (Noah Newman from The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals and the adult Michael from this film.) I, of course, went to Netflix and did a search for him. "Avalon," however did not show up on the list. I returned my attention to a list I had written with all of the movies he's made listed. I typed "Avalon" in the search box and sure enough, it was the same "Avalon." I immediately put it in the queue and bumped it up to the top spot.

A day or so later we received "Avalon" in the mail and I waisted no time in watching it. I was immediately in love with the characters and the way the family bonded together. My family is a lot like that, OK, we're not immigrants (oh somewhere down the line I'm sure we are, but that's not the point), we're not Jewish (we're in fact Missionary Baptists) and we don't live in a clump (ok, most of us do, but a few cousins and me and my parents live apart from the clump.). We have those conversations at the dinner table, we have those conversations at Thanksgiving, and Christmas and things like that.

I was so touched by the simplicity but emotional impact of the simple line "I came to America in 1914....." I couldn't help but burst into tears.

****SPOILERS**** My favorite scene had to be the scene where they had the family circle meeting at Gabriel's house and Eva kept saying it was "like a furnace in here!" And then without warning "An elephant just walked by the window." So funny the first time you see it.

And of course I had to love the last scene when Michael and his son Sam went to see Grandpa Sam. I was especially touched by this scene because that is the same shape my grandfather got into shortly before he passed away last year. I did cry and remembered all the times my parents dragged me to the nursing homes and hospitals to see him, and I began to miss him again.

So I guess the reason I loved this movie so much is because after seeing it the first time, Sam sort of brought my Grandpa back to me for a little while. The way he acted, the way he would take control of a situation, the way he told stories....Thank you Barry Levinson for that, even if no one else cares. You did a good thing for me.

The final moments of the film made me think of what I'd tell my kids when I'm older....Michael and Little Sam walking out of the nursing home and Michael beginning Sam's story and passing it down...."He came to America in 1914......"

Definitely watch this movie. Don't let it pass you by. It's amazing. Take my word for it.
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Excellent movie, one of those great rare films about immigrant families
Agent1022 April 2003
Avalon was one of those films you watch for the pure pleasure of it. It doesn't try to capture you with excitement, but it grips you with the subtleties that make up beautiful film making. Barry Levinson's run of films in the 1980s and this film certainly made this one of the best run of films for a director ever. Its too bad Levinson ruined that streak with Toys.
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It's a pretty good family home movie
SnoopyStyle2 October 2013
Barry Levinson has gathered a big ensemble cast of great actors including Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Kevin Pollak, and Joan Plowright.

It's a multi-generational story of an immigrant Polish Jewish family in Baltimore. It's Levinson's semi-autobiographical film. As such, it has some funny slice-of-life scenes like the whole family gathered up to see the first TV and the only thing on is the test screen. The family first finds success in selling TV. Eventually the extended family scatter to the winds.

It has the grand scale and the feel of the era. It has some great bits of family stories. There are great actors, and Levinson is in charge. All the pieces are in place. This should be a masterpiece, but it's not quite there. The story just go on and on and on. There really isn't any flow that ramps up to a climax. It's just a series of interesting family vignettes coming one after the other. It goes on too long.

This is essentially Levinson's home movie reshot onto the big screen. As such it is the best home movie in anybody's dusty attics. But like all those home movies, it probably means more for people who remember those times than those of us who were never there.
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a rich but sometimes too shallow period piece
Michael Neumann5 November 2010
The depth and complexity of Barry Levinson's tribute to America's Golden Age can be summed up by granddad Armin Mueller-Stahl's words of wisdom to the younger generation: "if you stop remembering, you forget". The writer director himself seems to have forgotten how memory is always prone to sentimental distortion, and his long, loving portrait of a family in transition (ostensibly Levinson's own extended family) plays like a lazy daydream of paradise lost. It's a far richer film than the first two chapters of his Baltimore trilogy, with a screenplay spanning three generations and most of the 20th century, but the dramatic scope comes at the expense of detail, and Levinson's explanation for the post-war decline of the American family is thus never able to reach beyond the most obvious culprits: television and suburban malaise. With help from an excellent ensemble cast the film is finally able to achieve the bittersweet mood it strives for, but only after burying some genuine emotion underneath too many visual flourishes and a lot of distracting big budget gloss.
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Great film about immigrant family
bhudgins64-853-28843724 September 2010
I have always liked this movie and am sorry it did not do as well as other Levinson films. It's obviously a Jewish family that is depicted although there are no specifically Jewish scenes, like lighting the candles or anything like that.

As the family becomes more Americanized they move away from the family circle center. The suburbs and TV become the two most alienating forces. Armin Mueller-Stahl, Joan Plowright and Elijah Wood were all great.I particularly liked Aiden Quinn as the father although he is obviously not Jewish.

I mention it as one of the Best American Movies about Immigrants on Associated Content.
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A glimpse into recent American history
numberone_123 March 2005
I have shown this movie in entry-level college geography classes, as it is first of all a fine film, but second because it so clearly illustrates concepts of acculturation, assimilation and the American "melting pot." The story certainly could be told, and re-told, from a number of other perspectives (i.e., another city, another ethnicity, even a different starting decade), but despite its length, Avalon captures so much of a way of life in our country that has eroded throughout time. College freshmen, on the whole, seem to really enjoy this film, and papers that I ask them to write on it have been thoughtful and provocative.

The story is multi-generational, and centers on an immigrant arriving in Baltimore, MD in the early 1900s. It then traces his life forward through the generations, all the while noting how the impact of being in a new country changes him and his descendants. The cast does a fine job, Levinson's direction is superb, but pay attention to subtle nuances! This is one of those films that I can pick up something different every time I watch it.

Highly recommended.
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we're getting farther and farther away from Avalon
ramona-729 March 1999
Avalon is one of those rare precious jewels that become more beautiful each time you view it. My family watches Avalon every Thanksgiving, and usually a few other times during the year as well. Every time we watch it, we discover new insights. I encourage all to take the time to experience this piece of priceless art.
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You cut the toikee?
fred-houpt5 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are several reasons I treasure this film. What lingers for me, because I play the piano, is Randy Newman's sentimental and delicate score. I noticed in a recent viewing that the editing placed the score in the background, which added subtle texture, whereas in the Pixar films he's done the soundtracks are more aggressively in your face (ears) so to speak. The haunting themes in Avalon I consider to be some of master Randy's finest, with only "Awakenings" topping the list.

I had not realized how much of a family film this was, with no violence or vulgarity anywhere and frankly we don't miss it. The film is filled with nuances of ethnic inflections that capture the mannerisms in which people of that era communicated with each other. Sometimes the body language alone even was more hilarious and important than the actual dialogue.

Having grown up in an environment not too far removed from the immigrant Polish Jewish one portrayed, I recognized many family dramas that were so familiar I could pick them out one by one. It is not that families don't eat at table and talk and squabble anymore. It is often the starting point in which they bring their heated conversations to a boil that has changed over the generations. Consider for example the focus on pooling family finances either as a yearly tithe towards favoured charities or the same channelling of resources to sponsor or subsidize the arrival of another relative stuck in Europe. Families today rarely have cause to consider their lives within this framework.

The film is honest, charming, funny, sad and warm, by turns nostalgic and also quite descriptive of how European immigrants worked from nothing into (sometimes) very successful living conditions and levels of wealth and affluence. The generation of immigrants (not just Jewish) that fled the turmoils of Europe almost without exception came with very meagre resources. Pushing their children and encouraging their grandchildren to work hard, keep focused and to excel the standards that they lived helped propel the higher levels of success and affluence. All of that drama is given a proper map in this film.

There are some very funny scenes in this film, none more touching than the famous turkey scene in which Lou Jacobi's character (and his wife) typically arrive late for a Thanksgiving Dinner, having travelled by car quite a distance, only to find that his younger brother has just cut the turkey. Outraged by this insult to his pride, screaming at his brother that he "cut the toikee" (accents included) and making a family fuss of huge over reaction, makes for very funny but recognizable stresses that many families I'm sure faced.

Another thing that caught my attention is that Levinson almost completely bleached out the reality that these were Polish Jews. You can find maybe one line where someone responds to a sentence with Yiddish phrase, but it is spoken so quickly that unless you are aware of it you'll miss it entirely. No one is depicted going to synagogue or consulting a Rabbi. I find that a bit odd, considering that even if coming to Baltimore in 1914, the Jews were at that point more obviously Jewish, many men still wearing traditional head coverings. The only obvious sign of this being Jewish people are the exaggerated Jewish accents.

Watch for very young Elijah Woods who is quite good for a little kid. The real stars give an understated performance, allowing the richness of the story to speak for itself. I love this film and could recommend it to those who need an uplifting family based drama. Excellent.
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Well....Interesting message....
angelshalz18 July 2008
Avalon is not really a movie that I would watch arbitrarily. Rather, it is a film I would like to see when I am in a patriotic or patient mood. It revolves around a traditional Irish family that tries to settle down in America and find promise in it's boundless opportunities. At times it was much too slow and sad, but the ending is extremely moving. The grandfather who may not be very influential on his son, becomes very close to his grandson. One of his favorite stories to tell this adventurous and open minded little boy is how he first came to America in 1914. This movie shows us how important family ties and traditions are, no matter what you do or where you go in life.
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The Layers are always present
futures-125 March 2008
"Avalon": I don't put a film into my TOP category with ease. I take it very seriously. Each time I see "Avalon" by Barry Levinson, I appreciate it, and him, more. This film has depth, humor, complexity, subtlety, sadness, resignation, joy… It is Family. For better and for worse, Family. The passage of Time, the scars we Inherit, Create, Share. Moments and Memories - precious commodities. A beautiful film that looks at five generations of Family, over a 60+ year span. It's a totally emotional film. The layers are always present. We see this family through the eyes of everyone, which is quite a feat. You get to know everyone. You see their point, then you see someone else's point, then you see what is happening and what may not be repaired. On it goes. And it makes you want to hold your family a little closer, and work a little harder at making it the center of Life, even when it seems impossible.
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