(Air Date: Week Of 9/27/95)
"How To Make An American Quilt" is one of those splendidly acted movies in which women sit around being WOMEN in capital letters. Which means that they sit around talking about men. Of course they're so much more than that as the movie takes hours to show us. But by and large, the message of this PG-13 film doesn't stray too far from the stated theme of Paul Verhoeven's "Showgirls", rated NC-17. "We need to accept that we are just animals who are running around doing one thing rather effectively, and that is to procreate."
Winona Ryder comes to spend a summer with her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) & great aunt Glady Joe (Anne Bancroft). The two women are part of a quilting circle along with Maya Angelou, Kate Nelligan, Jean Simmons, Lois Smith & Alfre Woodard. All seven decide to make a wedding quilt for Winona while she finishes her thesis & decides whether or not she will marry Sam, her boyfriend. (Dermot Mulroney). There's plenty of time for swimming & fooling around with a cute neighbor who grows strawberries in his garden.
There's also time to hear that her grandmother once had a fling with Glady Joe's husband while Grandpa lay dying. And that Jean Simmon's husband slept with Kate Nelligan and everyone else in town, since artists Do Things Like That. And that Lois Smith used to be a great diver with a stunning figure until her geologist husband walked out & left her alone with their kids forever. And that Mom wants to remarry Dad after years of saying rotten things about him. Since life is, after all, like that, Winona makes a life choice entirely consistent with the Motion Picture Production Code of 1934-69.
Yeah, they do make them like that anymore and "How To Make An American Quilt" is proof. A. B. C. teen idols Jared Leto & Clare Danes make very brief appearances as Alfre Woodard's dad & the young Anne Bancroft. To see some of the finest actresses in the world all in one movie I'd watch a movie a helluva lot drearier than this one. That's about the best I can say about it, though.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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