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This is and will stay Hollywood's most criminally underrated movie about
life... and how to live with it.
No smart answers.
But every worth-while question gets its honest reflection.
Sometimes sentimental. Sometimes giving up on the unsolved future. Sometimes kissing the brow of the undeserving. Always scary and beautiful.
I know, not really a logical assessment, but if you saved yourself a fraction of your... well... 'innocense'..., a fraction of your desire for a solid horizon to look at, you will love this movie without a second consideration, and you'll need a LOT more time to explain that to yourself.
A very personal confession: The soundtrack makes me cry over what I've lost and gambled away for the prize of cynical safety. Nothing will come back. I am the child of black jokes. But 'Grand Canyon' reminds me of the ever-lasting loophole into hope.
This is the movie I will never be able to praise sensibly.
'Grand Canyon' will stay my guilty pleasure.
This is a truly beautiful movie. I had almost forgotten in my hard-boiled pride what that word means..., until I watched 'Grand Canyon'..., and had to watch it again... and again...
Perhaps you won't care for the social commentary, or the film makers point
of view (I myself am mystified at the insignificance' angle Kasdan seemed
to promote when clearly, the actions taken in the movie promote CERTAIN
significance. The ending confused me). However, there's absolutely no
denying the manner in which the story is presented; the magnificent
symbolism throughout; the threaded character arcs; visuals; dialogue is
absolute masterwork. I've watched the movie dozens of times, and I still
marvel at its perfection. There's not a moment, action, cut, or line that
doesn't have everything to do with the theme. Realistic human performances
from all the actors. Scene to scene it's woven fantastically.
I have a pretty level sap-meter. The buzzer never went off during this film. If you're a thinker (rather than a casual viewer) this movie delivers. Exponentially. Absolutely mesmerizing. (Do you have to agree with the message to appreciate the display? Who cares if it made you warm and fuzzy or not, was it interesting?)
Personally, the movie affected me significantly. In my top 5.
Note: The front-page reviewer clearly speaks from a flawed African American perception. What he may have failed to recognize, is, there was a hand shake. Not a hand - out. The spiritually dead white man', simply saw a man to respect, and admire. And he did something about it. The fact he was black had little, if anything, to do with it (color is simply used to draw the parallel. And the chasm. It's no accident the opening sequence shifts from black and white to color either). If you view the blacks in this movie as token' you may want to reassess YOUR angst. You may be seeing only black and white yourself, eh. Just a thought.
This highly underrated film is (to me) what good writing in a movie
should be all about. Kasdan takes the search for meaning in our lives and
lays it out for all to see and wonder at. The movie is about the divides
people create to insulate themselves from the violence and hatred and
bigotry of everyday life.
Along the way we are asked question after question about life. Davis (Steve Martin with a great beard) asks himself 'Is my making a violent movie (and by extension our enjoyment of it) causing the violence in society?' Claire asks "What kind of world throws away something as precious as a human life?' Mack is not immune as he asks 'Is it possible to pass beyond the bounds of race and (an even harder step) finance? These are of course not quoted from the film, but generalities. Others ask their questions too, and to be honest it raises more than it answers.
But that is the nature of life. We strive all our lives to find answers to questions we will never totally answer, and in certain cases have to make answers fit to our own needs and desires. As humans we thrive on questions we cannot answer. Some answers are real. Claire and Mack come to realize that even though they could take the easy road and let the state take the baby, their finding it placed the responsibility for her life in their hands. Some answers are not. Davis `Sees the Light' and decides not to make violent films, but the next day turns around and dismisses his epiphany as subordinate to his art.
We all seek answers. This movie does not answer them for; it simply reminds you to keep looking for the answers.
I'll keep this one quite short. I believe that this is an extraordinary movie. I see other reviewers who have commented to the effect that it's badly written, poorly shot, has a terrible soundtrack and, worse, that it's not real in its portrayal of life. OK, so it may not be quite believable for its whole length, but this movie carries a message of hope which some others seemed to have missed. Hope that it isn't too late to save people from the terrible things that go on in so many lives. Gangland violence is real, right? Is it right, no! This movie carries an important social message which the cynics may dislike but which nonetheless is to be praised, rather than denigrated. I have watched this movie with great enjoyment at least eight times, each time with equal enjoyment and each time with the feeling that maybe the world could be made better and is not beyond saving (well not until 2008 anyway). 9 out of 10 from me for this one. It's very nearly perfect in my view. JMV
On second viewing of this movie, I like it even more than the first time. It is full of nuances and a perception of life as being quite ordinary and often fearful but what lifts this movie to a height rarely realized is its focus on the little incidences in our lives to which we normally only offer the briefest of attention spans. Here the movie spins into the celebration of these incidences, the meeting of a tow truck driver and client, the jogger hearing a baby's cry from the bushes. The dialogue, acting, casting and direction are superb. No two by fours, no grand revelations. What I did observe was how true the characters were to their basic natures and how enhanced their lives became when these were celebrated. Kudos to all involved in this, we need more "Grand Canyons" in our lives. 9 out of 10.
One measurement for the greatness of a movie is, 'if it came on t.v.
right now, would you want to sit there and watch it again?' My answer for
the Grand Canyon is as powerful a "yes" as it would be for nearly any movie
I have ever seen. There are just so many powerful moments, such an
intelligent and moving story, such incredible performances.
It perfectly captures the confusion and violence that were so rampant in the early nineties. But it also dramatically affirms the capacity of individuals to love, think and care. In a slight way, the movie was of its time. It partly portrays society as a balloon about to burst. Because the country was in a recession, and so void of leadership, this was true of that time. But the movie is also timeless. I think it could honestly stand up against any movie that has ever been made, and it is the most overlooked film of all time.
I rarely review anything on the internet, but want to comment on this film.
I think Grand Canyon is entirely under-rated, and is in fact one of the
greatest American contemporary films. I have seen it many times, and am
amazed at Kasden's directorial and writing skills. I think most reviewers
don't understand it! I see very glib reviews about this film but seldom
indepth comment.I believe this film is about synchronicity,
life-purpose/meaning and the feeling of powerlessness and isolation of
people in a fast-moving culture where youth passes rapidly,transition is
constant, and big-brother is watching. Outstanding acting from all actors,
indepth characterizations and real-life dilemnas. I love the way "Simon" who
appears to be the "doubting Thomas" and only believes in "fate" without
purpose begins to understand human interconnection towards the end of the
film. Though I don't necessarily agree that "the problems of a few little
people don't matter a hill of beans" in relation to the majesty of the Grand
Canyon, I see Kasden's point that perspective on our lives is important!
I don't know much about Kasden but have tried to learn more. He seems to manage to insert his spiritual message in an entirely entertaining way in recent films: witness "French Kiss" and Mumford"...both of which deal cleverly with loss and reinventing ourselves. I suspect he wrote many of the Jedi and Yoda parts of the original Star Wars films --the Jedi philosophy seems consistent with his own. I am a student of Conscious Creation concepts and love films so am always happy to see how Mr. Kasden weaves his message into his latest films.
Thank you, Mr. Kasden and please keep creating!
I really liked this film when it was released, and I still do, because the storyline makes you feel hopeful about life in general, and people too...one of the things I like about the films of Lawrence Kasdan. In addition to the positive vibes from the film, there are other reasons to like Grand Canyon. For one thing, it has an outstanding cast...Kevin Kline and Danny Glover, for example. In my opinion, Crash, the highly acclaimed film that won the Oscar for best picture, was very similar to this film. The difference is that Grand Canyon leaves you feeling positive. Crash had the opposite effect with me; it was very dark. I would choose Grand Canyon over Crash any day.
"Grand Canyon" is the rare, fleeting example of a movie handled so truthfully from the start that the journey overwhelms the give-away ending. For a superb 137 minutes flashing by, directing, acting, and screenwriting hit a nearly flawless note. Sucking on this bottle for instant gratification, however, is contra-indicated. Grand Canyon does not leave home with a nursemaid. Those who lust for predictable Hollywood spin with contrived drama and only fantastic elements of human life will feel unsatisfied with Director and Screenwriter (with Meg Kasdan) Lawrence Kasdan's stubborn defiance of proper genre hygiene. Kasdan's visual poetry draws us in to a world of separate images, forcing potential connections to jack-knife through the mind. Yet Kasdan provides no answers, at least not quickly. The radomness deliberately provokes preconditioning that "everything happens for a reason in the movies". Nothing connects. Nothing makes sense in the formula way wished subconciously. After all, one sees movies to escape life, not to immerse in it. The viewer's frustration peaks and the introspective see Kasdan's point about life's overwhelming radomness. Grand Canyon's scenes unfold throughout L.A. and Kasdan brilliantly plays on everyday scenarios of commutes, dodgy neighborhoods, and family tension until familiarity and frustration forces the viewer to hold these images as their own. The tension of the film binds with our personal emotions about how alienating life can be, about how alone we really are. For those who evaluate their suspended belief on his terms, Kasdan has a rich reward. He spoons us our medication precisely when we need it and not when we think we do. Yet by now there is little desire to fast-forward. We are entering with a sort of intrinsic trust into Kasdan's world. He has established that to "get" his story we need every word, each nuance. Kasdan's pace does not disapoint but takes off as the relationships form. His cuts and dialogue sync perfectly to the state of his characters as they (and we) make the connections. Grand Canyon truly gallops just a step in front of its audience beckoning with analytical gestures into its emotional content. But just as his message of alienation seems drilled one too many times Kasdan lifts the man-hole cover off a new hole and declares alienation isn't really what he's talking about at all. The isolating radomness is exposed as a delicate lure that creates humanity and a sense of fragility in the viewer; an understanding of the shared poignancy of coming and going ultimately, alone. We see Kasdan is really speaking of how the life's randomness heightens the beauty of connections to others simply because life usually makes no sense and of the responsibility to light the candle for people simply because we grope in darkness ourselves. In a movie as abstractly symbolic and thought provoking as "Apocalypse Now", Kasdan creates what could be Apocalypse Now's alter ego, the gentle side. His characters unveil a chosen logic, a purposeful proactivity that seems heroic in their chaotic world. However, the superb acting eliminates the possibility that Grand Canyon is populated with two dimensional goody-two-shoes. In fact, it is not so much of a stretch to imagine these characters were ourselves in their situations, a refreshing twist from the standard "wannabe" Hollywood fantasy. Kasdan does not exude easy answers, but seems to nudge us, asking "what would you do?" as we realize how precisely his everyday, chaotic world mirrors our own and how many untapped choices might be right here with us the moment we finish watching his movie and begin our life.
"Grand Canyon" is a lot of things at once, but I found all of it completely fascinating. The characters and situations were realistic and the cast is flawless. You might find yourself crying at the movie - I did. It's a shame there was no audience for this movie, because I think it has a lot to say on several levels.
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