Tuesday, March 29, 2011

1999: American Beauty

The Burnham family is falling apart.  Lester fantasizes about his teenage daughter's friend while his workaholic wife has an affair with her leading real estate competitor.  Their daughter is having a relationship with the new next-door neighbor, a drug-dealer who likes to videotape everything and has an abusive father.

For some reason, this movie has received tons of praise from critics, and is on most lists of the greatest films ever made.  I found it postively disgusting, with very little to recommend it.  The last five to ten minutes are by far the best part, but even that doesn't make up for the rest of the movie, which is mercifully short for a Best Picture Winner.  It's all about people doing whatever they want with no concern for consequences or how they are affecting others.  None of the characters are at all likeable or relateable, at least to me.  All they do is have sex, do drugs, and freak out because they hate their lives.  Maybe if they actually did something worthwhile their lives wouldn't be so pathetic, but that never seems to occur to them.

There are some very artsy camera shots that are kind of interesting for a while, but then they just get super cheesy.  Like the rose petals that float around whenever Kevin Spacey is fantasizing about the teenage girl.  That might be kind of intriguing, but it's overdone and gets really boring.  There are also some cool little plot twists, but they would be way  more effective if I actually cared about the characters.  I often found myself rolling my eyes at the screen, which is not something I often do when watching a movie, especially one with a reputation like this one has.  At the end, I was pleasantly surprised with how well-done that part was compared to the rest of the film, but I think I was more relieved that it was finally over.  How this movie beat The Sixth Sense I'll never know.  When I watched The Sixth Sense for the first time, I immediately had to re-watch it.  After seeing this movie for the first time, I never want to have to sit through it ever again.

Next up: Gladiator

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