The world we live in is filled with cynicism and hate.
So many that believe in nothing. People that are
moving forward each day of their life without so
much as a progressive step.
They spend their day in the mine, chipping away at
the wall, not hoping to find gold, not looking for a
diamond... Just hoping that by swinging that pickax
they can pull down enough to pay the rent, take care
of medical and sock away enough for the future...
whatever that may be.
Have you made plans for retirement?
You don’t want to be doing whatever it is you are
doing for the rest of your life... right? Well, make
sure you invest in a wise plan to make the most out of
your twilight years.
The practicality of living life. The pickax may be a
pen, a keyboard or a telephone, but everyday we lift it
up, swing it back down, and file out only to return the
I go out a lot. Frequent favorite restaurants. And
often times I see families eating, couple eating. And
they do not speak. They spent an entire day and came
away with nothing to really talk about.
“Hey did you hear Warren Beatty may run for
Eat eat eat. The brief outbursts are about other
people, the tedium of work or how tired one may be.
I often wonder about these people. Does the
dysfunction stop just at the restaurant, or do they take
it home with them. Do they enter the house, wear paper
thin veiled smiles and snuggle only with their pillows.
Is there no romance or passion? What happened to
living life? And does this happen to everyone?
So many are so unhappy doing whatever it is that they
What got me thinking about these things?
Quite simply a remarkably brilliant film called
I don’t expect many will see it. It’s not the type of
film that becomes number one at the box office. It’s
not a real water cooler movie. But it’s easily one of
the best films of the year.
Moriarty and I were out combing the beach for babes.
You see, the dear professor has this fetish for having
his gray hairs plucked by nubile g-stringed gangly
legged dwarves... A weird fetish, I know, but evil
geniuses are eccentric you know.
Well, while driving Ocean in Santa Monica, I spotted
a seven foot tall Walrus handing out flyers of some
sort to rollerskaters along the beach.
Now, coming from Austin, the sight of a 7 ft Walrus
handing out flyers piques my interest something
fierce. I signal the old man to pull over, and I get out
to approach the Walrus.
“How do you do Mr Walrus?” I say cheerfully.
“A Har Har Har my friend A Har Har Har. You want
to see AMERICAN BEAUTY?”
Well... When a Walrus invites you to see a movie,
you do what the Walrus asks, cause I’ve seen what
angry Walruses can do... Just ask Patrick Wayne.
When I stepped back into Moriarty’s Stanley
Steamer, I noticed this peculiar bald spot in his
goatee, I turned and caught out of the corner of my
eye, a group of 3 gangly legged dwarves running off
with a handful of Moriarty’s salt-colored hairs.
Strange fellow he is.
Now I didn’t know much about this AMERICAN
BEAUTY movie. Didn’t know much at all.
I had retained the knowledge that it was a Kevin
Spacey film, but that was about it. I had written a
piece about how you folks could score free tickets to
the movie if you lived in one of about 50 towns, and
ya know... I’m proud as can be that I pointed those of
you that are scoring tickets to this movie, to this
You see, this is one of those impossible films to
market. You have a film that if you were to boil it
down to the basic plot elements would be about a
middle age man wanting to fuck a high school
cheerleader, a film that has a pot-dealing teen as a
hero, a film about dissatisfaction with normalcy. A
film with severe gay bashing. And sort of encourages
Not something you can really sell. But then, those are
just the surface levels of this incredibly complex story
that really... at it’s core... is about the beauty of life
Through all the ugly places it takes us, we come back
to something beautiful.... living your life.
At the start of this film every character is simply
going about the motions of life.
Go to work, go to school, start supper, eat supper,
watch television and go to sleep. Everyone is bored
with their lives and is asleep... but slowly they each
begin to wake up. Open their eyes, and see the
simple beauty of living their lives.
Now... it’s not a feel good film strange enough. It
isn’t a movie that makes you comfortable. Instead,
it’s a movie that right up front has Kevin Spacey
telling you that this is his town where he lived his
miserable little life, and that’s the miserable little
street he lived on, and this is the last year of his life.
Point blank they tell you LESTER IS GOING TO
Lester is going to die in this film. And at the
beginning of this movie, ya know... That might not be
a bad thing. But over the length of this movie his
character wakes up, becomes alive. Thrilled with
living, high on life and many other things. But... we
know he’s going to die. He told us so... at the very
start of the film.
It’s not a spoiler. It is the initial plug of the film.
You know this fact 3 minutes in. It would sort of be
like telling you that Glenn Close is in a coma in
Reversal of Fortune.
As a result, the entire time you see this soul reborn,
you know it is in it’s twilight hours of existence. It’s
the classic suspense device that Alfred Hitchcock
illustrated with two people sitting at a picnic table.
We can see the bomb ticking away underneath the
table, but they don’t know. They talk, they laugh,
they live not knowing death awaits them... just under
As a result the movie is a strong force for expressing
just how dear and precious life is. How we have to
make the most out of it. That we shouldn’t hold back
just for the ‘twilight’ years and play it safe. Today
might be the last day of your life. Find something
you love to do. If you can afford it, get that thing
you’ve always wanted. Make love with the person
you love. Don’t drone on another day.
In a way this is a look at the exact same issues of
BRAZIL. There was a girl, a dream girl... An ideal,
something that one wants. And as an excuse he uses
her to break out of the doldrum like existence he had pigeon-holed himself into.
In a way you can draw parallels to Bill Murray’s
character in RUSHMORE or Matthew Broderick in
ELECTION... but... Watching what Kevin Spacey
does in the role... well.. Remember when you thought
masturbation was just the best thing in the world?
Remember when you had your first bout of good sex?
Well... for me, Murray and Broderick are the
clenched fist, and Kevin Spacey is the best piece of
ass in town. His character of Lester is quite simply a
work of brilliance. And this is easily the best
performance I’ve seen thus far this year.
However, Kevin Spacey is not the only fantastic
performance in this movie. Annette Bening is... Well,
this is my favorite character I’ve seen her play thus
far. Her Caroline is a modern empowered woman,
and her portrayal is... scary. She has become the
property of her possessions and the slave of her own
expectations. There is an utterly heartbreaking scene
between her and Spacey towards the end on a sofa
that... Well, it’s the saddest look at a dysfunctional
marriage I think I have ever seen. Then her day
trying to sell a house... Well, the frustration and
aggravation. The continual self-affirmation. The way
she psyches herself up. Her breakdown. This
character is so completely realized and different from
anything I’ve seen Annette do that I was heartbroken
by what had become of what we know was a once
vibrant and living woman.
Their daughter played by Thora Birch... Well, she
is... and I know I sound redundant, but this really is a
great movie... wonderful in a role that reminded me
of the best work I’ve seen from Christina Ricci. I’m
used to her being Harrison Ford’s cute little daughter.
When the heck did she grow up, God I guess I’m
getting a bit older. She’s disillusioned, continually
brow-beaten and has the self-esteem of a potato under
the sink. She feels ugly and awkward. She has
reached that point where she needs someone to see
her as being beautiful because...
Her friend, Mena Suvari... you remember the girl
from AMERICAN PIE that was in Choir... who plays
the oh so cute and beautiful cheerleader that lights up
and ignites Kevin Spacey to live again. This is one of
the most frightening portraits of a young girl that has
completely fooled herself into a psychotic state of
self-importance. Her own importance is measured by
her desirability to others. If others want to fuck her...
well that means she’s beautiful. And of course there
is nothing worse than being plain.
My god it’s a sad statement. But wait... there are
other great characters.
The best, yet sickest, father / son relationship I’ve
seen in film in a good long while exists between Chris
Cooper and Wes Bentley. Chris Cooper plays a
retired military Colonel that is intolerant of any and
all other lifestyles. He wants his son to be a manly
man... Willing to fight back and kick ass. He simply
is not built for raising a son. He can’t accept
anything other than a younger version of himself...
and Wes is not that. He’s an artist, an aspiring
filmmaker. He’s looking and searching for the beauty
in life. Someone that studies life, be it through a
window or along a sidewalk. In a back alley or atop a
tree. He searches for beauty in the places people
avoid. I love his character, a survivor. A person who
simply exists and fights to survive. There is an
exchange in the car between his father and him,
where his father tells him not to pander to him like he
does to his mother... and folks. If his response
doesn’t just impress the hell out of you. Well...
Damn I’m sorry I recommended the movie to you, but
folks I was blown away.
This movie has all the power of a great personal film,
yet the ironic humor of the best black comedies. The
film walks a tightrope high above the tent floor
without so much as a net to catch the stars if they fall.
Noone falls. The movie is as solid as they come.
If what you seek in a film is great performances,
complex characters, and a plotline that does not do
what you think or want it to do... then this is a film up
Sam Mendes should be watched like a hawk. The
idea that this is a first film is scary. Sure he has a
background in theater, but this film is so boldly visual
and cinematic as well as being personal and crafted
that I was left gasping at some of the work I saw.
Also, the screenwriter Alan Ball should be followed.
This is a tight as hell, complex character driven film
that is not in any way typical or redundant. This is
the sort of filmmaking I wanted to see come from
DREAMWORKS. Unique personal visions given
life. It’s the dream I had when they announced the
formation of the company, and this is the first film
I’ve seen them deliver that completely lives up to
what I think a lot of people wanted to see come out of
The word is Steven outbid 3 independents to get this
script... Well done. Let’s see more of this sort of
work come from DreamWorks. Personal Visions
given the ability to flourish...
Let’s hope this isn’t the rare one that slips through the
cracks, but is rather the start of a trend of filmmaking
Go see this movie... There is not a single weak
performance or link. It’s beautiful.