Archive for November 14th, 2009

american 1

(USA 1999 121m) DVD1/2

Dead already

p  Bruce Cohen, Don Jinks  d  Sam Mendes  w  Alan Ball  ph  Conrad L.Hall  ed  Tariq Anwar, Christopher Greenbury  m  Thomas Newman  art  Naomi Shohan  ch  Paula Abdul

Kevin Spacey (Lester Burnham), Annette Bening (Carolyn Burnham), Wes Bentley (Ricky Fitts), Thora Birch (Jane Burnham), Mena Suvari (Angela Hayes), Chris Cooper (Col.Frank Fitts), Allison Janney (Mrs Barbara Fitts), Peter Gallagher (Buddy Kane), Sam Robards, Scott Bakula, Amber Smith,

When American Beauty was first released in 1999 it was hailed as an instant classic, a masterpiece for the ages and given all the clichéd verbal garlands you could wish to drape around it.  In truth, it sits a little uneasily on its shoulders, but at the same time, though it may have been slightly fortunate to win best picture for 1999 (Magnolia should have, but wasn’t even nominated), it is certainly the one film that truly encapsulates modern suburban family life in a nutshell.  It is also a film Billy Wilder would have loved. 

            Lester Burnham is dead we are told, so we know from the outset that we are viewing the film in flashback (a homage to Sunset Boulevard?).  We are shown his family; his go-getting near failure estate agent wife and his frumpy daughter who hates her breasts.  This is a family literally in name only.  At this point Lester decides he’s had enough, he quits his job, causes his wife to go off and have an affair with her rival, starts working at a fast food joint so as to have as “little responsibility as possible.”  Oh yes, and he starts fantasising about his daughter’s seemingly nymphomaniacal young friend. (more…)


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