An Unusual Movie Choice for Father’s Day

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Today I wanted to take a break from politics and war and think about parents, especially those — like mine — who weren’t exactly the best role models.

But first, here are three great new stories from the Atlantic.


‘He was my father’

At Daily we sometimes pull back at the end of the week from news and current events and suggest something for your leisure time. It’s Father’s Day weekend, and so I want to recommend to you one of my favorite movies, a meditation on generations and fatherhood and loyalty and duty, a warm and nostalgic look at families during a simpler time, starring two of America’s most beloved actors.

I’m talking, of course, about path to perdition.

If you haven’t seen it, path to perdition (based on the graphic novel of the same name and widely available for streaming) is a 2002 film about Irish gangsters in the 1930s. But it’s really about fathers and sons. A leg-wrecker of the mob named Mike Sullivan, played by a burly Tom Hanks, is fiercely loyal to his boss, John Rooney (played, in his last role, against the type and with the real Hibernian threat by Paul Newman); in fact, Sullivan and Rooney have a father-son relationship.

But Rooney already has a son, played by Daniel Craig, and that son is a murderous psychopath. (People wonder why I had a hard time accepting Craig as James Bond. It’s because I saw path to perdition first.) Without revealing too much, Sullivan and his own son, Michael, have to flee. It’s a father-son travel movie, except with machine guns and stone assassins.

You may find this an unusual recommendation. Have patience with me.

When Father’s Day arrives, I naturally think of my own father. I was never able to relate to all those Hallmark, Ward Cleaver card images. My father was a complicated man, which is what kids say when we mean, “He was terribly flawed in many ways, but he loved me.” He endured many sins and many shortcomings, but he had a consistent code of ethics in dealing with others and was known for it. He kept his word, paid his debts and treated others with respect. He was the kind of man who walked into a local bar and his peers called him Nick, but younger men unfailingly referred to him as “Mr. Nichols.” even our youngest neighbors called him “Mr. Nichols”, with great affection. (When he died, I sold his house to one of the kids who grew up with him.)

I think most of us had parents who weren’t perfect. Mine wasn’t, and yet it taught me important things: Do an honest day’s work. Love your country. Do the things you have to do, even if they are unpleasant. Never back down if you know you’re right. Be courteous in public.

He also taught me how to play and showed me how to spot someone trading from the bottom of a deck of cards.

He wasn’t the role model for a good husband or father, and he knew it. When I was in my 30s, he admitted to my mother that he thought I had grown up to be a better man than he was. That’s a hard thing to learn about his father, a source of pride and sadness. (I will have more to say about fathers and the men I met growing up in my Peacefield newsletter this weekend.)

what brings me back path to perdition. When Sullivan has to run away with Michael (played by a young Tyler Hoechlin), the son finally discovers what the father he idolizes really does for a living. He also discovers that Rooney – based on real-life Irish godfather John Patrick Looney – is not a kind grandfather, but a cold-blooded killer. These men (and this is a very masculine movie) are scoundrels, but they have a code, and their obedience to that code leads them to tragic choices.

The last line of the movie (again, without spoiling anything) is what ties it all to my own childhood memories. Young Michael recalls and says: “When people ask me if Michael Sullivan was a good man, or if there was nothing good about him, I always give the same answer. I just tell them: he was my father.”

That’s the most honest thing most of us can say about our parents. We love them, and they love us, and that’s enough.


today’s news
  1. The FDA has authorized the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months of age. If the CDC votes to recommend the vaccines this weekend, they could be available as early as next week.
  2. In a speech at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg today, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to the United States as a declining world power and claimed that Russia was forced to go to war with Ukraine.
  3. Stocks surged today after a busy week in which Wall Street entered a bear market and the Federal Reserve announced a big hike in interest rates.

dispatches

night reading
(Erick Carter)

Did the FBI steal nine tons of Civil War gold?

Chris Heath’s Story

The FBI was excited. This seemed evident in the statement the agency filed on March 9, 2018, asking the court for permission to dig up a Pennsylvania hillside in search of Civil War gold.

Read the full article.

More of the Atlantic


Cultural break
A blurry photograph of a man feeding a baby, with red, blue and yellow moon cutouts at the top
(Katie Martin / The Atlantic; Getty)

To read. Chris Bachelder’s novel Abbott waits turns parenting into art. Ulysses is the book that never stops changing, and Scott Hershovitz’s new book proposes that children really are the best philosophers.

Or check out one of these spectacular works, released in 2020, that you might have missed.

To see. keep up to date Barrya show that got even better as it moved away from comedy.

If you’re in the mood for a home movie night, pick something from our reviewer’s list of 2020 movies that will save your summer. And if you haven’t seen Top Gun: Maverick yet, what are you waiting for?

I hear. In our new podcast, how to start overpresenters talk about what it means to be “single at heart”.

Play our daily crossword.


That’s it for the week. We will be observing the Juneteenth holiday on Monday and will return on Tuesday. If you need something less dark for Father’s Day, I think you can watch it. Big Daddy, a movie (also widely available for streaming) that has surprising moments of heat and some laughs – along with a good 1990s soundtrack featuring Sheryl Crow, Shawn Mullins and Garbage, among others – despite being a mediocre Adam Sandler vehicle. . It’s not great, but at least it’s not smoking machine gun barrels hissing in the rain.

PS Want to know more about me and be able to reply directly to my emails? Sign up for Peacefield, my weekly newsletter.

– Tom

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.

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