Wednesday, September 10, 2014

F This Movie! - American Beauty

Patrick and Doug look closer.



Download this episode here. (78.4 MB)

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Also discussed this episode: Draft Day (2014), Blue Ruin (2014), Bellflower (2012), Pontypool (2008), Resolution (2012), Ghostbusters (1984)

44 comments:

  1. Pre listen to comment

    I love American Beauty.

    The story. The acting. The well defined Characters. The fantastic haunting Score. I look closer at this every 6 months or so and I still enjoy it every single time. You may not know what I mean. But you will one day. I promise...
    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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    1. i hope you comment again afterwards.

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  2. During Scary Movie month I'm having "chaybee-fest" (I use the term "fest" loosely; a bunch of people coming over to watch horror films from noon-midnight) and two of the films I'm showing are Pontypool and Resolution. I absolutely love those films. Glad you finally got around to watching Pontypool. Completely agree that you have to go along for the ride when the "Pontypool" happens, but I was one of those that was all in on the premise. I also think that McHattie commands the screen and is incredibly confident in his performance. I love that guy.

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    1. I really liked both of the lead performances, actually. I was more familiar with McHattie as an actor, but I really liked Lisa Houle, too. And I probably need to give Resolution another try, because on paper I should love it. Either way, I appreciated that both of them took a completely different approach to the horror movie. Not enough movies do.

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    2. Completely agree. Being that Horror is the genre I probably watch the most, I am always pleasantly surprised when I come across films such as those that really add something new to the genre.

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    3. That sound awesome Chaybee am I invited? (Says the Londoner)

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    4. Absolutely, Gabby! Sorry, didn't get this response till today.

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  3. Yea... I had a feeling this one wouldn't hold up. Alan ball is a really pretentious writer and while I loved a lot of six feet under it suffers from the same fake emotional depth problems as American Beauty. Just thinking about the bag in the wind scene makes me gag on screenwriter doucheyness. Great podcast guys.

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  4. Im back...

    Ok where do I start. Patrick mentioned he is going to get shot for F-ing this movie. Luckily they done sell guns in England. (Joke)
    What can I say but it still holds up for me. I look closer but i don't look too close. I Don't over analyse and maybe im better off for it? I'm sure you've heard before that being a critic makes you look too close sometimes and the magic gets lost in this process. This i think is the case here. Remember you both loved it originally.
    Every character has more to see and I don't think it is on the surface. I just think you know it well enough to see each persons arc clearly enough for it to seem so. I think you should of looked closer but not behind the curtain and under a microscope.
    The Patrick Bromley curve mentioned by Riske did not take effect here on me. Nice to see Doug still joining the party from Hell A as Bill hicks calls it. Great podcast guys but I still love the film.

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    1. Dennis have you re-read that rant? I understand when you love something and people you like & respect don't it can make you rant. Trust me I have done this. Take a breathe and say which themes or character developments affected you. Saying look closer but not too close as well as you critics analyse things too much isn't the way to get your point across (sorry I hope that I didn't come off like an arse there).

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    2. Hi Gabby
      I take no offence and enjoy yours and all points of views.
      I have reread my comment took straight after listening to the podcast. I did not think it was a rant though maybe it can be seen that way. I guess I was just trying to point out that maybe just maybe from a film critics perspective if you look too closely the magic the film had over Patrick and Doug originally does get watered down over time. I not being a critic have not looked this hard and the film really works for me still Maybe if I did It would take away what ever it is that works for me. If you look too hard at anything you love you will always find flaws. I in my not so eloquent way was commenting on the difference in viewing a movie as a critic and viewing the movie as a movie lover?
      Thanks for your input

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    3. Sorry I use the word rant all the time I only meant comment really! I am not sure it is about being a critic but when you come to talk about the movie for a longer period of time you do look at it differently. Many times this has made me love a movie more so it isn't always bad.

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    4. I would suggest that all (most?) movie critics are movie lovers, and that it might not be fair to make a distinction between the two. I know it's true of myself and Doug and everyone on this site -- readers and writers -- who approach every movie as movie lovers. It's just that we both had a different response to the film than we had 15 years ago and had to ask ourselves why.

      This isn't even directed at you, Dennis, as it's part of a larger ongoing concern. I've been dealing with it my whole life -- that when I don't like something, it's because I'm being too critical as if thinking about why I like or don't like something is a character flaw on my part. We should all be thinking about why we like/don't like things.

      Again, I'm glad you still like the movie! It's always more fun to like something than it is to not like something. We didn't go into the movie looking to pull it apart. We just had to report our honest reactions.

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    5. Great comments from both Patrick and Gabby. Fair comment about criticism Patrick. I can only agree. Were all movie lovers and I enjoy both your views. I will now stop sulking because you did not love a movie I do. Damn, Im a bit scared to watch it again though now Incase the Patrick Bromley curve kick in for me and it doesent work its magic next time. Maybe safer to not watch again ;)
      Its a bit like listening to the podcast which i love. Its always more fun when you don't agree with your guest. Its makes for better conversation. It would be a boring comments section if we all liked the same stuff.

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    6. Patrick stated it much better than I did so what he said! I agree Dennis it is great to hear differing opinions I'd still like to hear specifics of what you responded to in the film because I find it interesting to hear what others think of movies (especially people I like and I think everyone on this site is amazing, best place on the internet).

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    7. I can't agree more. Whats more amazing is the contributers and also the F heads are all so on the ball. Its a community of very intelligent and insightful people. I feel like I need to up my game just to comment here

      To give some specifics for Gabby. I connect with Lester's rebellion and enjoy his triumps. I feel the lonelyness of Jane and her joy when she finds someone. I like the silly plastic bag scene. I dont even know why? It just works for me. I guess im a bit sappy and enjoy to see people finding happiness in there own crazy world

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    8. Agreed. Thanks Dennis that's understanable sometimes we just connect to something. I need to re-watch it but when I do I will bare that in mind. I hear your point about seeing people find happiness. I am partial to a few rom coms, that many have called terrible, for that very reason!

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    9. Glad you commented again. Great comments all.
      love a movie or hate a movie, its the "Why" that is important. or. What Patrick said.

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  5. I'm going to be *that* guy, but get House of Cards out of the library. Not the current Netflix series, but the original BBC series starring Ian Richardson in a brilliant performance. It's a great collection of 3 miniseries and well worth your time.

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  6. I have to wonder if American Beauty is considered the worst Best Picture winner just because of the wealth of other great choices to be had in '99 that could have been nominated/won.

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    1. Especially since I can name 5 worse off the top of my head: Greatest Show on Earth, Gone With The Wind, Gladiator, Around The World In 80 Days, Dances With Wolves...

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  7. I hate this movie only because they carried about 10 copies of it when I worked at Blockbuster and I thought "that's not enough" and it wasn't! People asked me to check the drop box for American Beauty constantly. Did Dreamworks do some kind of weird video rollout as well?

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  8. Question for everyone: What should have won Best Picture that year?

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    1. The Mummy, of course.

      (Search your feelings... you know it to be true!)

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    2. Looking at the actual list of nominations, none of them, haha. I would nominate Being John Malkovich. At least that movie is creative and interesting and holds up today. Boys Don't Cry is another great choice. Magnolia is another. Then of course you've got The Matrix and Fight Club.

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    3. I gotta go with Magnolia. Personally, I think that film is brilliant on many levels. The score mixed with the pacing and cutting blows my mind. That movie crescendo's like 7-8 times and just when you think shit is about to hit the fan - well, you know what comes! "Yes, this happens."

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    4. El Gaith: If there was an award for Most Joy-Inducing Film of the Year, The Mummy is in a three-way tie with Toy Story 2 and Galaxy Quest. Such a great year even for spectacle movies.

      John Murphy: Looked up the nominees and was shocked that Magnolia and Three Kings weren't nominated and The Insider and The Green Mile were. Honestly - and it may be the mood I'm in - of the actual nominees, I may go with The Sixth Sense... which does and does not feel right to me.

      But if I had to pick a movie that most deserved it, I lean towards Three Kings.

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    5. I was shocked to read that The Sixth Sense was even nominated. I guess that movie was an even bigger deal back then than I remember.

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    6. I would say The Matrix or Magnolia if we can pick anything. If it's a movie that was nominated that year my personal favorites are The Insider and The Sixth Sense (which I feel is now somehow underrated because of the massive backlash it received when Shamylan sh*t the bed).

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    7. I will also say that either Being John Malkovich or Magnolia should have at least won Best Original Screenplay over American Beauty, both of which actually WERE nominated in that category.

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    8. Of the nominees: Tough choice, since none of them I consider classics, but probably The Sixth Sense.

      Real answer: Criminey, there's Magnolia, Malkovich, Three Kings, and Talented Mr. Ripley right there to choose from. I guess....crap, Magnolia. (Kind of fun to note Spike Jonze was involved in two of them.)

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    9. Doug made a great point about The Social Network being a perfect winner for that year for what it had to say about the time and culture at that point. I think Magnolia and The Matrix are able to do this in a way as well. I also think Boys Don't Cry does this in a very moving way. I am surprised that it didn't get nominated because they recognised the film by giving Hilary Swank the award. I remember being leant the film of American Beauty and being told how deep and meaningful it is. I then watched it and found it, as Patrick said, completly insincere. Great and interesting disscussion guys.

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    10. I think 2010 is another great example of a year like 1999. It may not have been as many, but there are several very good to great movies that came out that year (some of which weren't even nominated) and the academy goes with The King's Speech? What? The Social Network would have been a WAY better choice for that year.

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  9. Great podcast, guys. I really love your show. I feel extra special because you highlighted all of the reasons I hated this movie in 1999. And also my single biggest gripe against the movie is that the protagonist is killed over a "Three's Company Moment." Which is the same term I used in 1999.

    I also hated Annette Bening's 10 miles over the tip histrionics. And I really hated rubbing the audience's noses in pedophilia. The movie's saying, "See, you're filthy perverts for watching this." And my response is, whoa, Allan Ball and Sam Mendes, I paid my $9 to see the movie but you spent $90 million making it, who's the bigger perv?

    By the way, Annette Bening's greatest performance, and also her first is in The Grifters, a film noir classic. In the movie she's tough, sexy, duplicitous, hateful and loveable usually all in the same scene.

    Keep up the good work.

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  10. Great podcast guys and always awesome to hear from Doug.

    A few months back I asked you guys if I loved Magnolia for the "wrong reasons" - you were puzzled by what I meant by that. I think THIS is the perfect example of how a movie can be loved for the "wrong reasons" - a movie that uses style (and Spacey's affable charm specifically in this case) to trick you into thinking there's substance. I thought American Beauty was great back in '99 but, though I can still find a lot to enjoy about it and think it's watchable as hell, the last time I saw it I started seeing a lot of the problems you guys mention. Listening to this podcast really makes me want to watch it again, though I'm afraid it might even lose it's watchability factor (for me) the next time.

    Patrick - I also had a thing with my 25-year-old English teacher back in high school, that was kinda weirdly reciprocated and almost crossed the line. I'm scarred for life...by the fact that I didn't go for it. If only I'd been the stud I am now back then. She loved my short story (NOT a euphemism) horrible ending and all! Nyah!

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    1. My english teacher was a 50 year old matronly type hard nosed bitch.
      So, yes, 3 for 3 in the English teacher crush stakes.

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  11. Revisited The Matrix this week, so I may as well go full '99 and rewatch this. I remember adamantly defending American Beauty's lush symbolism and scathing deconstruction of middle-class ennui.

    In arguments with my dad.

    When I was fifteen.

    Yea. Let me get back to you.

    Also: The Matrix is looking DATED, fellas.

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  12. I'd say Crash is the worst Best Picture winner but then again, I am apparently a failure at life because I do not see every single thing in it through the prism of race.

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  13. Cool episode guys, and great to have a bit of Doug in my ears.

    I think ive only seen American Beauty once back in 99-00. I dont remember much of it, except that i didnt think it was worth of all the hype, but not that I thought it was bad or anything.

    Doubt ill be revisiting it time soon based on this epsiode, but there were a few moments where I thought the criticisms were actually exposing some "potentially" quite interesting ideas. i.e. the absent positive element of the characters seemed to be reflected in the dull boy character (dont remember the guys name) in the scenes they share, so he is like a blank slate/reverse mirror.

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  14. These comments did not go as I thought they would. I seem to be the outsider on this one. It's all good. If we all loved it this section would be boring. Nice to hear your thoughts Brad.

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  15. Guys - The Ghostbusters cartoon TV show (not the version based on the movie) was directly based on a 1975 live-action TV show that featured a talking ape. So the show and the name Ghostbusters came before any of the Dan Akroyd/Bill Murray stuff, which is why the animated version of the film had to be called The REAL Ghostbusters.

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  16. I hate to sound "I told you all so" about how empty and immature American Beauty turns out to be, but well, I felt really alone on that wagon when it first came out. The WRITING - so bad. I had the same feeling watching Juno (loved your review of that film, by the way).

    But I like what you say about Mena Suvari's character and I kind of want to see it again to see how much they might have had to sideline realness in a character to make way for all the snark and sarcasm. I liked one scene in American Beauty - mostly because it was a relief from watching all the previous scenes - when Annette Benning realizes she loves her husband at the end, before he dies (my memory of exactly what happened might be fuzzy here). But just like with Juno, I was kind of pissed off and didn't feel like that emotion of the end-scene was earned by rest of the movie. If that meaningful emotion at the end was truly important to them, there would have been more lead-up to it. So in my eyes it failed. I think they meant to be meaningful but they just got carried away with trying to be clever.

    Anyway. Even if I'm wrong, I appreciate your discussion which made me feel like at least there COULD be a discussion about this movie. Cheers! - Meredith

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