Avalon (1990)

The third of Barry Levinson’s Baltimore films is also the most ambitious, tracing the arc of a Russian immigrant family from 1914 into the 1960s. It’s a tumultuous arc that’s punctuated by Thanksgiving dinners—get-togethers that are fraught with generational hostility and growing pains. It’s an ebullient film, but the course of the holiday celebrations allows Levinson to make a strong critical statement about modern life—as the years press on, the family dissipates and fragments, and the ever-present television slowly takes pride of place, edging out conversation and family intimacy. Armin Mueller-Stahl, Aidan Quinn, and Elijah Wood make up the three levels of fathers and sons.


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