Showing posts with label American Beauty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label American Beauty. Show all posts

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Six of the Best... First Films

Some film directors are able to maintain success over several decades and get bums on seats or haul awards for almost every film. A select few are able to do both. Whether successful or not, every director has to start somewhere. Steven Spielberg started promisingly with Duel in 1971 and Martin Scorsese’s debut Who’s That Knocking at My Door has its charms but neither film set the world alight. Some director’s though burst onto the scene with critically acclaimed works in what is their debut feature. With often minimal experience, little support and tight budgets, several directors have created debut films which astound audiences and critics alike. Here are Six of the Best…

1. Quentin Tarantino – Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Although he had shot the amateur My Best Friend’s Birthday in the mid to late 1980s, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs was his first real feature. A dialogue driven heist movie, the film was a hit on its initial release and has since gained cult status. Many of the tropes that have come to define the director’s career are evident in the movie and a lot of people, including myself, still consider it amongst his best work. Its bold, violent approach set it apart from the action heavy thrillers of the time and an impeccably neat script not only impressed audiences but also the actor Harvey Keitel who liked it so much that he co-funded, produced and agreed to star in the movie. The direction is slightly more conventional than in his later work but is still recognisably ‘Tarantino’ with long, slow dialogue heavy scenes interspersed with frantic action and innovative camera movement. Reservoir Dogs was released independent of the major studios and as such it afforded the director the freedom rarely found in modern cinema to follow his ideas through to completion unmolested.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

American Beauty

The winner of five Oscars including Best Picture, American Beauty is a film that covers a lot of the problems of Middle America in just two hours. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is an average man in an average town, working an average job. Lester is married to the pushy, cold and career driven Carolyn (Annette Bening) and is in the midst of a mid life crisis which is heightened with an infatuation for his daughter Jane’s (Thora Birch) friend Angela (Mena Suvari).

I thought I’d seen the film years ago and remembered the stand out scenes but had forgotten an awful lot of the plot so ended up unsure if I had actually seen it. American Beauty is a fascinating film which cuts to the heart of the suburban American psyche, bringing up some uncomfortable ideas about sexuality, infidelity, violence, mental illness and incest. Despite a compelling story, some very good performances and fine direction I wasn’t always able to get totally on board with it.