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Thread: American Beauty

  1. #1
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    American Beauty

    In my somewhat imature opinion, American Beauty is the greatest film of all time. Now I'm not going to give you guys an essay on this, I'm new here and I'm not that confident in letting it all out, but there are several things in this movie that make it great alone. 1. the greatest peice of acting I've ever seen when Kevin Spacey plays Lester once he has reached spiritual fulfilment and a great cast all round 2. Great directing by Sam Mendes and ciniematography by that old guy who did Road to Perdition with him aswell. 3. very intelligent script. But... what I found so good about this film was its philosphy, how it seperates Lester and Carolyn to find happiness within themselves and also how the outcome for oth is incredibly different. Its anti materialistic views are also very interesting in this day and age where many people let wht they own own them

    I'm am very intersted in all of your opinions and also what country are all you lot from?

  2. #2
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    Well You Do Have the Oscar On Your Side

    "American Beauty" is indeed a beautiful, intense yet subtle movie. As such, its Best Picture and Best Actor and Best Director awards did represent something of a comment on the movie, especially when it beat out "The Insider" and Russell Crowe in a powerful indictment of the cigarette industry - perhaps there was some money passing beneath the scenes (we'll never know). I can't go so far to say that "American Beauty" is the best movie of all time, and most critics and most posters on this board would probably agree with me, but of course, it would be difficult for anyone to agree on THE best movie of all time. I have mine and it's not on anybody's list so far as I know - "Picnic at Hanging Rock."

  3. #3
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    Re: American Beauty

    Originally posted by oliver
    In my somewhat imature opinion, American Beauty is the greatest film of all time. I'm am very intersted in all of your opinions
    Immature only in that "all time" means 110 years of film history you would need to consider. I would say this is your favorite film. I like it a lot too. My take is that Lester is a rebel turned complacent by middle-age and capitalism (or consumerism to be more precise). He yearns after youth and truth. The characters played by Mr.Bentley and Ms. Birch anchor the film morally. Where Alan Ball's script disappoints is in creating two didactically conceived caricatures in Carolyn and her colonel neighbor. Not Annette Bening or Chris Cooper's fault. Their characters are designed to illustrate lessons. Am I glad American Beauty uses them to, among other things, make a connection between sexual frustration and gun ownership? You bet. My recommendation to fans of the film is Todd Solondz' Happiness, a more cynical but equally accomplished satire.

  4. #4
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    I loves American Beauty. Best of all-time? Not exactly. It has some flaws, but they are fairly minor. It deserved it's recognition, although I felt Dancer in the Dark was the best film of that year.

    My favorite scene: Annette confronts Kevin in the garage,
    he lights a doob and announces he's gonna "wail" on his muscles
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  5. #5
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    my favourite scene has to be when Carolyn comes home finding the Lester had bought himself his dream car and then they try to have sex, but Carolyn is more involved with the couch than with Lester.

  6. #6
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    American Beauty seemed the greatest thing ever when I first saw it--or the best movie of the year anyway. I've been seeing movies for many decades so I don't easily go as far out as you, Oliver, on anything new. But now Boys Don't Cry seems more memorable for its year. Annette Benning was good, Spacey was at his best--he's goine downhill rapidly since--and I liked Wes Bentley, but American Beauty just doesn't stick in my mind. This happens a lot. You think "Wow, that was great!" and then you begin to forget it. You see something else that seems boring as hell or just weird, and then you can't get it out of your mind. I didn't think Spider was so great--it's too soon to say but--days afterward it was clearly imbedded in my brain, so I realized it was a good movie, or at least it had a vision. But I'm not sure Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers aren't better.

    My official all time favorite (it's artificial to pick out any one from thousands and say it's the best) is Kurosawa's Ikiru. I don't think there's anybody of the stature of Kurosawa and Renoir working any more.

    Sam Mendes was a big letdown with Road to Perdition. It's a lifeless arty gangster movie too full of its own importance. Your mind will eventually file it away with old TV Untouchables episodes and won't know the difference between it and them.

  7. #7
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    My opinion: Paul Newman and Conrad Hall(RIP) make Road to Perdition a must-see, despite its shotcomings.
    Very wise to direct the youth to Kurosawa and Renoir, Chris. I wish Renoir's films were as available on top quality dvd as K's.

  8. #8
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    Ikiru, etc

    Ikiru is arguably Akira's best. I can't watch it anymore. It has seared my memory.
    It's such a downer for me-like Vagabond. The sadness that pervades the flick is so saturating. It took me a day or two to rebound- it made ME depressed.
    Have a bucket of ice cream handy and the CD player cued to "We're Here For a Good Time" after the film! Otherwise you'll be in a bitchy mood....
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  9. #9
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    Ikiru depressing?

    I don't quite agree about Ikiru. How can it be depressing to watch a cinematic masterpiece if you love films? To watch a great movie is exhilerating. I walked out of Boys Don't Cry in a happy mood because they had made such a good movie out of that material. It had lived up to expectations. In the case of Ikiru, besides the wonderful filmmaking technique, there are additional powerful reasons to be uplifted: because the story of Mr. Watanabe teaches us that one can make something of one's life; and also because the movie gives one a sense that the truth can come out, as the truth about Watanabe's determination and goodness comes out through the course of the funeral discussion. Johan, you were just having a bad week.

  10. #10
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    Don't get me wrong, I loved the experience of watching Ikiru for exactly the reasons you give- it is indeed a cinematic masterpiece. I'm not taking anything away from Kurosawa or the film. Quite the contrary- I've recommended this film to many people as REQUIRED VIEWING. It was just a tough sit for me. Just like Pasolini's The Gospel According to Matthew or Anger's The Magick Lantern Cycle- see them at all costs but be prepared to ENDURE.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  11. #11
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    IKIRU featuring Takashi Shimura

    This Kurosawa masterpiece is being released again in a new print and most significantly, with a brand new english translation (the translations in both the vhs and the import dvd are atrocious). It has already screened in NYC, Boston and D.C. Mr. Shimura stars as a widowed bureaucrat (Kanji Watanabe) who learns he has only months to give consequence to his life. He played the benevolent leader of the SEVEN SAMURAI and the woodcutter in RASHOMON (who restores our faith in humanity by adopting the abandoned baby). Takashi Shimura appeared in almost 20 Kurosawa films but it's his Mr. Watanabe I'll remember most fondly.

    IKIRU is a rich, muti-layered film that opens boldly with an x-ray of W's cancerous stomach. We join his journey of self-realization, after learning about his emotional estrangement from his family and the absurdity of his work. The latter is visualized in a parodic montage of citizens seeking government help, being shuttled from dept. to dept., and scenes of W and colleagues dwarfed by paper mountains.

    So many memorable scenes. Toyo, a vivacious young woman agrees to one last outing. They sit in a restaurant. W is desperate for answers and jealous of Toyo's youth and energy. She suggests a new job. Eventually he realizes the answer lies within the current job and within himself. W's face lights up in close up. He gets up and gingerly walks down the stairs as a large group congregates atop the stairs singing "happy birthday". We get the impression they are singing to W, who has indeed experienced a rebirth, but then the birthday girl enters the frame going up the stairs and the illusion is broken.

    There is a flashback of W running into a developer planning a commercial venture where W wants to build a park. The developer tries to intimadate W then turns around to show us a menacing scar on his cheek as he threatens to kill him. W is visibly amused by how insignificant the threat is to him now. Most won't forget the cop describing W as he rocks in the swing at night, gentle snow falling, singing softly to himself, content and realized. The camara approaches from the periphery, respectfully, as if afraid to break a spell.

    IKIRU's second part is told in flashbacks and concerns primarily how his family and friends react to his transformation and his death. How they attempt to make sense of W's actions and what can be learned from them. The film's conclusion is quite complex, providing both optimistic and pessimistic outcomes. For instance, W is able to find meaning, to impact his society in a positive manner, to leave a legacy. I am convinced he dies "satisfied". On the other hand, the son will carry a heavy burden, and people(and institutions) will stubbornly resist needed change.

  12. #12
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    American Beauty is an enjoyable attempt at Hollywood trying to make an independent film. While it was a decent movie, Blue Velvet, Happiness, and Far From Heaven were more effective at dealing with similar themes.

    It is probably one of the best movies of the year (1999?), but probably not of the decade (depends how big the list is) and certainly not of all time.

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