American Beauty

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That Times review is written by someone who loves their own voice. They're writing just to have something to say.

I found this review on American Beauty on the internet, it's a much better annalist of what the film was really about.

American Beauty (Sam Mendes 1999)

It's all about obsession...

American Beauty, it's about obsession and how it manifest itself in different people. Carolyn (Annette Bening) has gone nuts over obsessing over the 'good life'. She has a $4000 couch with Italian silk fabric, and it's ugly! But she doesn't care, she's obsessed to have it in doing so she's forgotten the care free girl that she once was back in college.

Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is obsessed with breast augmentation, though they looked plenty big to me. She's been saving her money since she first started baby sitting, probably when she didn't even have any breast and now that's she grown she doesn't realize they've grown too. That's obsession.

Her friend Angela (Mena Suvari) is bonkers obsessed with not being ordinary. She goes to great links to make herself out as a bold, daring, sex crazed girl...and yet in the end she's a virgin who just talked real big.

Then there's the guy next door Ricky (Wes Bently) with the camera. OK he's obsessed with capturing moments of beauty on film. Even if it's a dead bird, he's obsessed to capture those fleeting moments and save them. That's why he has a wall of shelves in his room, for all those videos he's made and saved.

Then there's his dad the marine dude (Chris Cooper) he's obsessed with control and maybe obsessed with being or not being gay.

Well, what about Kevin Spacey, He doesn't seem obsessed, in fact he's utterly complaisant, a doormat with a vacant smile on his face. His highlight is jerking off in the shower. That's it, that's all he's got to look forward to. He's the only one who's not obsessed. Through his character we see how being true to one's inner self, is so much better than being obsessed about stuff that doesn't even matter.

Of course other people's obsessions effect him and that's why he's dead.

That Times review is written by someone who loves their own voice. They're writing just to have something to say.

I found this review on American Beauty on the internet, it's a much better annalist of what the film was really about.
I like this explanation. Simple and objective.

Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
There's only a couple handfuls of movies I like from the last 40 years and this would probably be in my Top 5.

Watch it and judge for yourself. I first saw it at 17, last saw it in my 30s.

One thing that makes this different is that there is not one likable character in the whole movie. You could nitpick this by mentioning the gay couple. Only because they're screen time is so short.

A solid 9/10 and my fave of 1999, a stellar year for film.

Who's the King, though?

I like this explanation. Simple and objective.
yeah right, simple & objective

Welcome to the human race...
I saw it once in what I think must have been my teens and thinking it was pretty good, but I revisited it when I was 30 and thought it was pretty insipid.

I am a fan of American Beauty
A review of a review

I have seen it many times, and own it on dvd.

I came across this review of American Beauty (Bottom of my post) I can just point out that it is a negative review. Now that is fine by me, people is free to have an opinion on a film. Good or Bad. That is actually one entertaining thing i do sometime, i go and check out Roger Eberts review of a film i have just seen.
Sometimes he has trashed films i really enjoyed. Some of his reviews are really funny to. High Lander The Quickening is one i think is a funny review. But i never got the feeling when reading his reviews, that he is trying to force his opinion on to me.

After reading the review of American Beauty, i just felt it was a bad review. The writer seems to be a respected one. Time write about her on their website that she was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in criticism in 2015.

Here is a copy of her opening of the review:

“In 2019, beating up on Sam Mendes’ multi-Oscar-winning American Beauty, released roughly 20 years ago this week, is so painfully easy that it seems unfair. The Best Picture winner has fallen largely out of fashion; it rarely appears on critics’ lists of favorite movies, and its memory seems to have faded for most moviegoers, too.”

This opening makes me wonder. Actually, i am provoked. Even before she has started on the actual review, she just casually points out that basically everyone thinks it is a bad film now.

But the strange thing is that after reading the full article, i feel she was almost more interested in pointing out that the people who enjoyed the film in 99, are dumb people. At least people who fell for cheap cinematic tricks. And of course she hated the film from the first time she saw it.

It is the first article i have read from Time, so i have no idea if they are a serious site. But it almost feels like she uses propaganda techniques.

-The negative American Beauty review:

-Roger Eberts Review of High Lander the Quickening:
Curious as to what exactly you think constitutes "propaganda techniques" here. In any case, I think it's fair to look at the films that instantly garnered reputations as classics upon initial release and sincerely ask if those reputations are still warranted after the initial hype has died down. It's important to note how the review goes on to question whether the screenwriter's talk of living in authentic life in truly reflected in the film itself and, if so, whether it's done so with a significant amount of depth or quality. The review ends up picking apart why it's ultimately not a deep enough film to truly deserve its reputation as some kind of insightful drama about the human condition (even the "simple and objective" review Citizen Rules quoted amounts to repeating a single theme in relation to each character, which is the exact kind of superficial analysis that Zacharek derides in the review and would look bad regardless of opinion).

I actually liked Lester when he finally became a man. But I can't think of many movies I love that had no characters I liked.
lmao what
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.

Welcome to the human race...
It has alot to do with how Stephanie Zacharek open this review. These two opening statements felt very cheap. Before she has even said a word about the film, she lays down some implications about what she thinks of this film. And not just her, but critics and most movie goers to.
And it just feels like a cheap technique to prep the reader for all the negative points she has made out later in the review.
If it's an anniversary piece, it makes sense to point out initial perspectives and how they may have changed (or not changed) over the past 20 years. In any case, I think this is inevitable with all Best Picture winners because that kind of award obviously begs the question as to whether or not it was the "best picture" that year (e.g. the previous year's winner, Shakespeare in Love now being mainly remembered as the film that undeservedly won over the much more popular Saving Private Ryan). I concede that it's hard to qualify what most moviegoers make of it these days (even Internet metrics like IMDb or RT are unreliable to some degree whether due to deliberate interference or simply not representing a sizeable cross-section of the population), but it's not inconceivable that there would be critics who did not give it acclaim either then or now (and even a cursory Google of other anniversary pieces of American Beauty indicate this sentiment was already in the air anyway). I mean, I was genuinely surprised when it turned up on this site's all-timer countdown a while back because I didn't think people had that much residual affection for it, but then again that could just be a matter of it having just the right number of points and votes.

- I did not paste in the point she made about the use of red elements in this film. The red door, flowers, blood splatter. These are elements she refers to as cheap cinematic techniques to come across as an artistic film. And she also referse to an interview with Ball, which is pasted in, in the first piece here:

She emphasizes to heavily on these elements in the film i feel. So this is basicaly the root of it all, why i was a little upset after reading this review. Because of all the cheap tricks she accuses Mendes of using in his film, she herself is using in her review. She hates American Beauty, and she uses cheap tricks, fals «facts» to get her point across.
Isn't this just a matter of showing your work, though? If you're going to criticise a film, you have to lead with examples taken from within the film itself and arguably from the film's creators (if you don't want to call Death of the Author, that is) as a means of determining the greater meaning of a film. I think it is fair to say that American Beauty does go broad with so much of its symbolism (not just the roses and use of red but also stuff like the plastic bag) and storytelling (the third-act mix-up that reads like something out of a sitcom).

This is what led me to use the term propaganda techniques. It just felt like the correct term to use, after reading the definition of what propaganda technique is, and how it can be used.
Now, the rest of my post is all parts from her review i pasted in. These are not the core elements she used that provoked me the most, but it is a good summary i feel to have them here.

«American Beauty was crafted in the most pristine and soulless way, manicured and buffed to bland tastefulness; it’s one of the most laughably square movies about the destructiveness of conformity ever made.

«Generally phenomenal actors give performances as tortured as sailors’ knots»

«Many critics adored American Beauty upon its release, and some surely stand by it today. But mostly, it appears to be one of those movies-with-a-message that people like, or say they like, because it seems like the right stance to take at the time.»

« Even when movies are not very good—despite how hard they may try to impress us with their labored artistry»

«Lester is in his early 40s and lives in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. But he’s not just asking himself “How did I get here?” He seems to be pushing for a way out.»

«He essentially quits the job from which he’s about to be fired anyway.»

«Still, Lester’s emptiness has no poetry, no matter how much Ball and Mendes hammer on the idea that their movie is all about the search for a meaningful life.»

« As a person who hated American Beauty upon its release, I can’t say whether people who loved it in 1999 will love it more or less today.»
I think you'd have to explain how each of these qualifies as propagandistic as opposed to merely argumentative. Much of this just reads like the kind of editorialising description one would expect from such a piece anyway. Only one of these comes across as markedly presumptuous (the one with the "movie with a message" line) and even then I question how effective that message is when you've got people in this thread saying they started to like Lester once he started "being a man".

An example that suited pretty good to the text in the review:
Bandwagon and "inevitable-victory" appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that "everyone else is taking."
Inevitable victory: invites those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain victory. Those already or at least partially on the bandwagon are reassured that staying aboard is their best course of action. (e.g., "The debate is over. Nearly everyone who matters agrees with me.")
I get the impression that it's more a matter of how there's not much debate to really be had about it one way or the other anymore due to its status as a film that's extremely stuck in 1999 and already seems quaint in its approach to the matter of existential discontent (hence why it got called a square film about non-conformity). Compare it to something like the same year's Fight Club that's also about an office drone breaking free of his dissatisfying "perfect" life but in a way that has proven more relevant in subsequent years as it focuses on a collective of angry young men as opposed to a single middle-aged burnout.

She opens the reviewin this way. She tells us that most people already agree with her,
« most people, critics» She bases her opinion in the review on half truths and assumptions.

Even though it can be both the truth and a lie, her opening statement that : the movie have faded for most moviegoers is at best a halftruth. In the same line she points out that it rearly appears on critics’ lists of favorit movies. This is probably the truth.
But if a film does not end up on critics top 50 list, maby even top 100, is that an indication that it bad film? What is she implying with her statement?
As noted, I agree that it's hard to properly quantity that one way or the other. I think the implication regarding critic lists is that they are better at qualifying its worth as a film (subjectively speaking, of course) - after all, just because mass audiences like a film does not guarantee that it is a great work of art either.

It is a little funny comparing the elements used in the text to different propaganda elements
On this we can agree.

I just want to know if this movie is good. I'm only 14, but the ONLY movies I'm not allowed to watch are Pulp Fiction and American Beauty. I have been able to watch ANY movie i wanted except for these two. My sister has convinced my mom that these are trash, yet they are both highly acclaimed. So, tell me about it. Like I said, I used the search function, but I didn't find a thread about this.

American Beauty is the single weirdest drama movie I've ever seen. I wouldn't play it for my 14-year-old. Definitely 17-18, but not 14. Hell, I saw it when I was 25 and... there's a lot about that movie that's just so... off.

Sorry I can't defend you. But I'd say wait on that and Pulp Fiction. Both kovies might have been really heavy hitters for me when I was your age. Didn't even see Pulp Fiction until my early 20's.

As you know, Pulp Fiction is practically unanimously acclaimed, but the wait is worth it. American Beauty is a case of mostly love but justified hate due to its absurd behavior.

Welcome to the human race...
OP is from 2003, I daresay there's no need to wait at this point.