The Last Supper (I) (1995)
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I feel that some of these then unknown actors (mainly Cameron Diaz and Bill Paxton) were overly dramatic in their roles but then again they were struggling to get recognized as actors. This was still before Bill Paxton would enjoy success in later films such as "Titanic" in 1997 and also "Twister" which he starred opposite Helen Hunt. Cameron Diaz came on the Hollywood map with "Something About Mary". Even like this, their dramatic acting is logical and believable. The leader of the group of friends is the most brainwashed of the bunch, nearly conducting himself as a cult leader. In a way, this movie looks at how a cult can function. Also this movie is a caution tale: there is possibility for evil in both the extreme conservatism and extreme liberalism. It seems quite appropriate a story for today's divided country. It's sad to say America is losing its democratic roots in favor of an elitist and partisan climate. I found to be a great and poignant movie.
It also has a brilliantly witty script, like a 90s Oscar Wilde or George B Shaw with more sharper bite. I thought the setup and the climax were particularly effective, especially at handling complex political questions with an easy-to watch and a very engaging approach(which I have to say IMHO is rare for American movies). A totally professional production all round. This is the way smart independent films should be, and it's a shame not all of them are this clever or perceptive.
Obviously not meant for all tastes, but if you're fairly open-minded and like intelligent dark satire, this is a real treat.
All that side, this is a wickedly funny movie and completely unpredictable. I love the intense scenes with the cop and when the liberals start to contemplate rather they should kill or not kill their dinner "guests." it's just great stuff!
Imagine, all these "tolerant" liberals sitting around judging people on what they say and starting to actually LIKE killing. Pretty soon they're killing because of the power of killing, not because they want to "rid the world of evil" -- which, ironically, they've become, since they're knocking off everyone and their mom, including the cop, who is just doing her job.
As the saying goes, "I can't tolerate intolerable people!"
And stay for the ending. It's a KILLER! Ron Perlman is GREAT.
Well, with these elements of symbolism aside, here is the concept of the film: A bunch of liberals inviting conservatives for communal dinners and killing them after the slightest disagreement! How many people here can honestly say they never thought of that? When the film opens, four of the friends are waiting for the last one (Pete) to arrive during a dark, stormy night. Meanwhile, they religiously watch a conservative political figure (Ron Perlman) on television like they usually do. When Pete finally arrives, he invites Zack (Bill Paxton) the trucker that gave him a ride to dinner. But during the feast, a political discussion starts burning up. Zack is a right-wing extremist who fought on Desert Storm ("Was that even a war? I always thought it was a Republican propaganda.") and thinks Hitler was right about many things. When the discussion turns into a series of puns exchanged between Luke and Zack, a violent struggle ensues with Zack eventually being stabbed in the back. Soon, the friends start reacting to the murder on their different ways. Paulie is in hysterics, Luke keeps his calm cold-blooded figure, and Jude remains sarcastic. ("People disappear all the time." "Especially in Iowa, we probably just saved him from an alien abduction.")
After covering up the body, the five apostles decide to repeat the process. Luke has an interesting concept: If you could go back in time and kill Hitler when he was a frustrated student, would you do it? And so begins the body count: Their guests usually consist of the kind of pathetic people one left-winger usually hates. One of them is a homophobe priest (Charles Durning) who affirms homosexuality is the disease and AIDS is the cure. Can you really blame these people for wanting to poison the fellow? This scene is incredibly well done, from the first-rate dialogue exchange from the students to Charles Durning's perfectly timed acting. Annabelle Girsh's hilarious death sentence just has to be seen. ("I think it's time for dessert.")
As the group continues to "make the world a better place," their victims start to become less and less threatening from a date rapist (Mark Harmon) to a spoiled teenager (Bryn Erin) who sues her school because they are making sexual education mandatory. Unfortunately, none of these scenes end up having the same dramatic (and comic) impact as the first two because they are unbelievably brief, leaving the audience gasping for more. The film soon endures the machine gun-editing technique of putting up about 30 scenes in six minutes set to a carefully-selected pop tune in order to sell the soundtrack.
There is a subplot involving the disappearance of a young girl who is being searched by the local police department headed by Sheriff Stanley (Nora Durnn) which look like they belong to a different and more serious movie. This is actually unusual since you would expect the goofier moments to come from an ex-SNL cast member. Or should you? The answer as to why these scenes are even in there comes much later on in the film. Frankly, Nora Durnn's scenes (Not counting the ones where she actually interacts with the students) could have all used some cuts.
Character interaction could cause another serious pet-peeve to audiences who relate to the people on-screen. The only character who seriously remains constant throughout the entire picture is Luke, while the others all seem to switch personalities. In one scene, Paulie is extremely against the killings while Judy is totally for it. But later on (In one of the film's funniest sequences) the actresses seem to switch roles. A hysterical Judy ends up screaming out that they shouldn't be killing people while Paulie coldly replies: "They are not people, they are people who hate!" The Pete character is seriously undeveloped while Marc is hardly any better.
The film does eventually pick up with the very last victim they choose, which I won't spoil. Not counting the suspenseful showdown, nothing really happens during the last 15 minutes but dialogue exchange in the dinner table bringing up usual liberal vs. conservative topics, and there is where the movie truly shines like it did with the beginning. It's a shame it had to end, really. Conservatives bashed this film as the ultimate proof that liberals run Hollywood, not realizing the film does defend them to one extent. It doesn't matter how "fun" the characters' concept seems to be, it's still sick and it goes against one of the major freedoms that liberals should be defending: The freedom of speech.
Out of the film's then-unknown lead actors, the only one that really made it to be a star is obviously Cameron Diaz. But no matter how underdeveloped the characterization is, all the actors are able to keep us entertaining. Courtney B. Vance and Ron Perlman seem to own the film during the last moments. As for the dinner-guests, they end up being more well-known cameos. Aside from Durning, Harmon, and Paxton, get ready to see Jason Alexander having a (short) blast as an anti-environmentalist businessman.
THE LAST SUPPER is still one strong freedom of speech defense argument well-directed by Stacey Tile who heads up an interesting young cast and a well-done premise. Had the film remained in the dinner table more often, it could have been easily one of my favorite black comedies. Now wouldn't this be interesting as an actual thriller?
The first level is that of a straightforward black comedy. Five liberal students, who think they have the answers to all the world's ills, have their comfortable world invaded by a redneck racist who is invited in for supper after coming to the aid of one of the students when he has car trouble. Naturally there is a clash of politics and, after a violent argument, the racist is accidentally killed. They decide to bury him in their garden instead of reporting the killing. What follows is a continuation of an earlier debate they had been having; would people be justified in murdering someone if they knew he was evil? Their answer is yes, and soon they are inviting other rightwingers for an evening of dinner, debate and death. On the first level the film is okay.
It is on the second, more cerebral level, that the film really succeeds. The great irony is that the liberals become intolerant, revealing the dangers of political correctness and the very real possibility of a left-wing police state in which alternative views are crushed in the name liberal values.
A good soundtrack, some sparkling cameos by the dinner guests, and a knockout performance by Ron Perlman as the conservative commentator make this largely overlooked comedy well worth a gander.
The story is about a few friends that are liberals at heart. They have their pretentious meals and drink their pretentious wine every night and talk about what is wrong with the world. Then Paxton comes into the picture and he changes everything.
This film didn't get a whole lot of attention when it came out, but now with Paxton's star clearly on the rise after Titanic and A Simple Plan and Cameron Diaz in the upper echelon of actresses, this film may appeal to more people. And you should do yourself a favour and make yourself one of those people. This is a great film. And besides the entertainment value, it really has something interesting to say. Deciding whether or not you agree with it is half the fun.
So in short, this is a movie about a group of lefties, who despite the lefty catchcry of tolerance, murder a bunch of people who hold differing opinions to them. Now dark humour can be funny, if accompanied with some humour to begin with. But this wasn't funny. Unless one finds the murders in themselves to be funny? It came across as being nothing more than the scriptwriters deepest fantasy, that he tried to turn into a lighthearted romp. Perhaps someone from the other end of the political spectrum should rewrite 'The Turner Diaries' as a dark and witty comedy. I wonder if there will be the same lack of outrage that accompanies the release of these kind of movies. Perhaps Mel Gibson might direct it? I hope you dear readers perceive that I'm being sarcastic...
Other problems in this movie are not as important. One is that half way through the movie becomes repetitive. The director shoots this part quickly, and with a tongue in cheek style, but it still comes across dull. The policewoman character is added to the story and is pointless and just used as a character builder and attitude change for one of the five.
All criticism aside, watch this movie. If it gets to the middle and you aren't sure you want to finish it, FAST FORWARD and watch the end. The speech given is perhaps one of the best political speeches I have heard in a film. The final 20 minutes is the 1 inch layer of icing on a partly damaged cake.
While ultimately this film tries to make you think about tolerating the opinion of the next person, it conducts its' lesson by creating conservative stereotypes as manifested by left-wingers. So if the roles had been reversed, liberals would be screaming about this film years later. But since the Hollywood community is controlled by left-wingers, you don't hear a peep out of anyone in that industry about the horrible personalities created by this film.
The sad thing is that the characters created in this film are really how Hollywood sees conservatives. Left-wingers actually create these people and truly believe that this is the way conservatives think and act. Of course, conservatives don't think and act as depicted in this film but left-wingers don't understand this point. This is the main reason why liberalism is a dying idealogy in the U.S. It's an idealogy that just doesn't get it. It creates enemies that don't exist and in fighting these imaginary enemies, their real opponents walk away the victor.
This might have been a good film if the "conservatives" in the film were real. That their opinions were those of real conservatives. But the problem would have been that the liberal characters would have been seen in a far worse light than just murderers; they would have been seen as irrational lunatics that can't see reason. And that's not what the director was trying to show. The idea was to show liberals as being well-intentioned yet mistaken in their methods.
If they had done the film correctly, conservatives would be invited to supper, they would have explained real-world thinking to the liberals, and the liberals would have killed the conservatives simply because they could not grasp what mainstream America already embraces as its' philosophy. But, again, this would have taken the film in too far of a supportive perspective of conservatives and that's certainly not acceptable to the producers of this poorly conceived tripe.
This just happened to be on HBO when I turned the channel and the description sounded interesting enough, and there were recognizable actors in it. Figured it might not be too bad.
The production values themselves seem relatively OK, its just the story and acting that is weak beyond belief. How they got any recognizable names into this stink fest is the real mystery here.
There is nothing to recommend about this movie - the characters are obnoxious and self-assured wannabe standup comedians. My friends and I sat stoney faced as one liner after failed one liner dropped limply from the 'clever and witty script'.
There were moments when character development threatened to appear, as some sort of depth was introduced to the 2D stars, only for it to vanish as if it had wandered in only by accident and didn't want to cause a fuss.
In fact, the characterisation was possibly the reason I hated this film so much. It seems the writers were too busy trying to show the friends enjoying each others' company so much that they forgot to include any reason why. As best I could tell, it seemed they all got together for the conversation/meal evenings purely so they could compete in witty banter and grin.
And for some reason there was an odd are-they-aren't-they sexual tension between the dark haired woman and the black guy that went nowhere and did nothing other than take up valuable story time. Which was probably the point - the entire film could have been condensed to a five minute short, and would have benefitted innumerably from the need to cut the chaff.
The almost final scene, in the kitchen (I won't give any details away, for those who want to see it.) was almost farcical, as the mood violently swung in directions I didn't think possible. The conclusion was obvious, inconclusive, unsatisfying and ultimately reflected the movie as a whole. I guess, in that sense, you could call it a success.
To sum up, this bites. A stellar cast and an intriguing premise result in the worst film of the nineties. Burn it. It must be stopped.
The plot is simple: five rather smug and pretentiously liberal graduate students in Iowa, the heartland of American conservatism, have a weekly ritual of inviting a guest to Sunday dinner so that they can have philosophical conversations about politics. Apparently meant to be self-indulgent and self-congratulating chatter more than real debate, the intellectual hour goes astray when an unexpected guest proves to be a far right lunatic who expresses his sympathy for Adolph Hitler. Before the dessert gets served, it is the guest who gets carved up and the new Sunday night ritual becomes supper and a homicide. After some superficial debate, the housemates decide that they would be doing the world a favor by disposing of potential Hitlers before they became real life Hitlers. It is liberal activism taken to its not-necessarily-logical extreme.
Their guest list (of cameo guest stars) begins with the lunatic war vet (Bill Paxton), a homophobic priest (Charles Durning), a male chauvinist (Mark Harmon) and an anti-environmentalist (Jason Alexander), but quickly degenerates to lesser villains (played by lesser actors) that include an anti-abortion activist, a librarian who dares to object to "The Catcher in the Rye" and a virginal teenage girl who doesn't approve of sex education in school. The checklist of villains (in rapidly declining order) is obviously meant to show how easily the power to destroy can become indiscriminate and, indeed, addictive.
The film has been deemed anti-conservative by some because the supposed heroes are lefties and their victims are from the right and, at least at first, espouse only the most extreme notions of conservatism. But the point is that the various dinner guests do not represent typical conservative thought, but are grotesque caricatures of right wingers. The war vet -- seen through far left eyes -- can't be just patriotic, he has to be a crazed fascist. The priest can't merely see homosexuality as a sin, he has to be virulent in his hatred. The anti-feminist has to be a proponent of rape. Etc., etc., etc. The quintet of killers are not heroes or even anti-heroes, or even psychopaths, but clean-cut, well-educated, well-intentioned typical liberals who become drunk with their own sense of self-righteousness. Their hunt to destroy future Hitlers blinds them to the reality that they are the future Hitlers. For what was Hitler, but a man who thought he could build a better society by eliminating the undesirables? The right-wing victims are such obvious caricatures that they do not inspire anger or hate, but uncomfortable humor, not unlike guest stars doing a skit on "Saturday Night Live." The weakness -- or perhaps the point -- of the left wing assassins is that they are so blandly uninteresting as individuals. This preppy death squad -- Ron Eldard, Cameron Diaz, Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner and Courtney B. Vance -- are so homogenized and banal as individuals that they only can be moved to action as a group. The message is that Hitler alone couldn't accomplish much, but a group willing to rationalize any atrocity as a means to a just end is the real danger to society.
It is as a critique of modern liberalism in the era of political correctness that the film is boldly, almost brazenly, sly. The groundbreaking liberalism of the 1960s, a call of dissent in the name of openness and equality, has slowly faded into the background. Diversity has become the liberal buzz word, but it is, literally, skin deep diversity, not diversity of thought. It is said that we become that which we hate the most and as such liberal idealism has increasingly become a dogma of intolerance, double standards and self-indulgence. Liberalism is no longer the antithesis of conservatism, it is the mirror image.
Of course the basic message of THE LAST SUPPER could have been told as well, but differently, with the political roles reversed. Indeed, had the film been made in the 1960s, I suspect that it would be conservatives serving the wine to liberals -- and I suspect that the film would have been satirically sharper and more outrageous. Certainly, in that case, the film's casual religious symbolism might have made sense, religion being a favored main dish to the right. But as is, THE LAST SUPPER's attempts to mock religion seem like a lame afterthought -- an ill-considered seasoning, as it were.
The film is better as a concept rather than a story and lacks a punch. Instead of being spicy or zesty or deliciously decadent, THE LAST SUPPER seems to be served up as something that is good for you, nutritious rather than satisfying. Especially the finale when the last Last Supper is with a conservative talk show host played by Ron Perlman, who may or may not be the Hitler that the we are taunted with throughout the other meals. Just desserts are served up with an ambiguous twist that is as jiggly uncertain as Jell-O. THE LAST SUPPER makes the worst social faux pas of all by sending its viewers away only half filled and hungry for something more.
Here the story is set against a familiar political divide, and as the murders (and cameos) follow one another, the criteria for getting killed become distressingly looser until the audience becomes impatient for the inevitable retribution.
All this exposition of criteria takes considerable time, and evidently character development needed to be sacrificed. I'm sure that in creating a large group of murderers who all share a house, the creators had something in mind (other than "Friends") and we get the impression of an attempt at characterization but it doesn't jell. The movie would have been better off with just one couple in on the plot; that's all Shakespeare needed for Macbeth.
Still, thanks to a line by Ron Pearlman, it does get me to think about whether or not I would kill Hitler before he rose to power. Maybe not in 1908, but in 1928, ABSOLUTELY!
the scene in which the kids kill the priest was particularly upsetting. supposed to be a joke, yes, but the man was depicted with too much humanity for the humor to come across with any force whatsoever - it felt pathetic, instead.
flat, boring, upsetting in all the wrong ways. only reason i'm not giving it a score of 1 is that it kept my attention - initially - long enough that i had to watch the whole damn thing.