Monday, November 23, 2009

Mary's Review: American Beauty

Kevin Spacey needs to be hit

MY FRIEND PAT CALLED IT BEST ON "American Beauty" - I was discussing the film with him and trying to get the words out as to just what made this movie so infuriating. Then he called it. "It's a deep movie for shallow people", he said. He couldn't be more right.

Seriously. Is there anything worse than a film made by a glossy Hollywood union crew that truly believes that it will change the way you look at your life? That's the big sin committed in American Beauty. It's tagline, "Look Closer" is testament to how damn sure this movie is that it will "open your eyes", so to speak.

Kevin Spacey, Anette Bening and Thora Birch play the single most sarcastic family that has ever existed. Since I have a natural aversion to sarcasm, every second, every grating second of this movie irked me. Watching it is like talking to that friend who insists on being sharp in everything they say. If you asked them if they wanted to go to Disney World with you, they would answer, "No, I dont", with a blank grin on their face. Ugh. I hate people like that. And the sarcastic tone goes on, and on, and on...this family is terrible. Kevin Spacey is too smug, Annette Bening tries too hard to be a bitch, and Thora Birch is not appealing in any way, shape, or form, except in the case that you get along with semi-goth girls who hate everyone and everything.

Forget about this family for a minute. There is one character who takes the word "insufferable" and runs with it. That would be the character played by Wes Bently. I don't even remember his name. God dammit, he was the most horrible movie character ever created. The whole sarcasm thing is beat to death with this guy. I guess he's meant to be a sort of wise, young sage or something. His Dad is a Nazi, he sells pot, and he videotapes everything, and walks around with his stupid camera and his stupid skullcap.

This leads me to the famous plastic bag scene. Who wrote this peice of shit? My favourite director, Werner Herzog, has spoken of an "ecstatic truth", which he brings to his films. I believe that this plastic bag scene is an attempt at some ecstatic truth. This attempt fails. It's overexplained, it's got heartstring music in it, and it features Wes Bentley talking about how great plastic bags are. Thora Birch and Wes Bentley sit on the couch together and he tells her, "Sometimes I can't contain the beauty of the world...", as we watch the plastic bag get blown around by the wind. In a good film, the plastic bag would be filmed, but the explaination and flowery language would be gone. There's no need for it. The concept of the plastic bag being a small detail of beauty isn't a bad idea, but it becomes a greeting-card message when all fluffed up like that.

But I digress. This movie sucks. It didn't give me any new insight into my life, or other people's lives. It wanted to, but it tried way too hard. If you want an introspective, horrifying portrayal of an American family, I suggest renting the "homespun murder story", Fargo. And there's no sarcastic assholes in that movie, either.

I hate sarcasm.


(All opinions are those of Mary and Mary alone. Thank you.


PubbyPab said...

I almost totally agree with you about AB. It's quite possibly the most overrated movie of the last twenty years. And the Ricky (Wes Bentley) character is truly insufferable. However, I do find Thora Birch completely appealing in every way, shape and form that exists. And I'm not being sarcastic.

I thought "Fargo" was just okay, though. I'm surprised you liked it--the Coen Brothers wear their sarcasm like a badge of honor.

The Movie Mistress said...

I agree with you on the fact that it is not a very deep or profound movie, but I never thought it tried to be deep in the first place. I saw it as a dark comedy, poking fun at the obnoxious and sarcastic stereotypes presented in the modern American family. And you can't deny that the opening bit where Kevin Spacey is lying on the floor and asks if the audience wants to know how he died is a throwback to Sunset Boulevard, another expose on "what lies beneath" that's told in true black comedy fashion. I found this movie to be highly entertaining in its own strange way. Although, that might be because I have an undying love for Chris Cooper.