Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Episode Nine (Amélie / American Beauty)

Amélie (2001)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers: Guillaume Laurant (scenario), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (scenario), and 
Guillaume Laurant (dialogue)

Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus

It most likely won't have you rolling on the floor while clutching your sides, it probably won't bring tears to your eyes and it certainly won't leave you pondering its message and meaning. This film's aims are much smaller - desiring only to bring you a chuckle and a fuzzy feeling in your heart, and at this it surely succeeds. Sweet and stylish, exuding warmth and charm in every facet of its production, from the music to the acting and from the story to the cinematography. Show me the person who can sit through this without cracking a smile and I'll show you the perfect casting for the 347,843rd version of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Score: 9 / 10

American Beauty (1999)

Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Alan Ball
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch

Throughout the film I sense that we're teetering on the brink and one false move will send the entire thing crashing in on itself and failing utterly. Whether or not the film crosses that line is up for debate, but I feel it stays upright (though just barely). The main problem is that the characters in this black comedy / satire are written (mostly) as one-dimensional stereotypes and played as "phony" by the actors. Going in either direction is fine, but doubling up on the "phony" factor puts you dangerously close to unintentional self-parody at times. That said, Spacey is incredible to watch going through the ultimate mid-life crisis and Mendes directs like a seasoned pro in his debut.

Score: 7 / 10

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