In the weekend after thanksgiving 1973 the Hoods are skidding out of control. Benjamin Hood reels from drink to drink, trying not to think about his trouble at the office. His wife, Elena, is reading self help books and losing patience with her husband's lies. Their son, Paul, home for the holidays, escapes to the city to pursue an alluring rich girl from his prep school. And young, budding nymphomaniac, Wendy Hood roams the neighborhood, innocently exploring liquor cabinets and lingerie drawers of her friends' parents, looking for something new. Then an ice storm hits, the worst in a century. Things get bad... Written by
Emory Herbertson <email@example.com>
To prepare for the film, Ang Lee let the cast members study stacks of magazine cutouts from the early 1970s. See more »
George Clair's wedding ring disappears when he greets Ben Hood at the key party, but it reappears when his keys are picked from the bowl and he leaves the party. See more »
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This train, originating from New York's Grand Central Station, is back in service. Next stop will be New Canaan, Connecticut. New Canaan, Connecticut next stop.
In issue 141 of the Fantastic Four, published in November, 1973, Reed Richards had to use his anti-matter weapon on his own son, who Aannihilus has turn into the Human Atom Bomb. It was a typical predicament for the Fantastic Four, because they weren't like other superheroes. ...
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not the kind of film to watch right before you want to go to sleep; one of the best films of 97
The summary statement I write I mean as a compliment. In short, this film will keep you up thinking about the characters, the whole swarm of tragedy sewn into these characters, as it is a true look at American familial dysfunction. It's also the Chinese-directed cousin of American Beauty- in some ways just as compelling (if maybe a little more heavy on the metaphors)- and by the end of it, however down and drained the film made me feel, I knew I'd seen my favorite Ang Lee film thus far. He takes the subject matter- the script by James Schamus, and the nuanced performances- and makes it so that we feel for these people, however trapped into their upper-middle class walks of life. The ice theme does work for a good lot of the film, and even when it gets hammered down to the line, I was still moved by how these families intertwined, the bleakness but also the little bits of light coming through.
In fact, the film shares a good deal with American Beauty- two families, both fairly screwed up, with infidelity, drugs, procrastination, young lust, and a certain pining for the old days going steadily down the tubes. One family are the Hooods (Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Christina Ricci and Tobey MaGuire); the other are the Carvers (Sigourney Weaver, Elijah Wood, Henry Czerny, and Adam Hann-Byrd). Either side has their share of dilemmas, psychological cramps, and just total aimlessness. The performances from all are unique and quiet, desperate, and at least a few (in tune with the 'ice' theme), in particular Weaver, Wood and Allen, are numbed. Basically, there isn't as much story as there is attention to the fates and parallels of the characters.
Among the lot though, Kline has some of his best work to date, with his controlling demeanor masking something very insecure; Hann-Byrd and Wood are totally complimentary, so to speak, in that they work well at being brothers of the same weird seed; Allen, not much more to say that hasn't been said by others; and even smaller roles filled by Katie Holmes and David Krumholtz are worth the time. There stories all lead up to the big chunk of the story (ala the 'day you die' stuff in American Beauty), and at times it's painful, cringe-inducing, darkly amusing, and at the end hitting notes that had me eyes go wide. And the ending, when it comes, is sentimental, but never unrealistic. This is the kind of tone that Lee would also use for Brokeback Mountain, but here it contains even more depth and intrigue into the dysfunction, ironically in only the span of a few days vs. the span of twenty years in Brokeback.
You may, whether you like the film or not, will want to talk about it once it is over. It of course can be argued, and I would argue it, that the 'ice' motif is pushed to as far as it can go, and then some (then again it IS called the Ice Storm). But in contrast, another minor theme is handled superbly, involving the Fantastic Four comic book that Maguire's character gives some narration about. By looking through an abstract of a comic book, there's some extra meaning that can be put into the film, the power that can be taken away from superheroes as well as the enclosed New Canaan citizens. Along with some great 70's era period use- the Nixon/Watergate stuff adding another layer to the frustration (leading up to a truly disturbing moment involving a Nixon mask)- including music, creates a very impressive atmosphere. Maybe I'll check out the film again, when it's not past midnight, though even after hours the film packs a small wallop. 9.5/10
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