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A three hour film about death. It doesn't sound like much when you say it
like that, but trust me, Meet Joe Black is an outstanding film and is
without doubt one of the most underrated little gems I have ever seen. The
film is beautiful in every regards; the photography, the sets, the music and
the performances, especially the performances. The last time Anthony Hopkins
and Brad Pitt were on screen together it was the equally sublime Legends of
the Fall, here it is another sublime film and once again they are putting in
some of their best work. The characters that they play, Bill Parrish and
Death, bring out a fantastic chemistry between the two performers,
especially in the more comedic moments when they two are getting to know
each other. However, while death is the main theme of the film, director
Martin Brest remembers to filter optimism into his wonderful tale in the
shape of a love story between Parrish's daughter (played by the beautiful
Claire Forlani) and Death himself. This results in one of the most gorgeous
coupling in recent years as well as one of the most erotically intense love
scenes I have ever watched.
Director Brest presents the film in a more artistically filtered view than most other directors might have done. The love scene is done without nudity with close ups on the actors throughout. The striking presentation of the lighting in the film is also fantastic, with a lovely golden glow pouring of the screen and lastly Thomas Newman's music is quite simply marvelous. Films like The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty which have featured music by this outstanding composer have been enhanced by the haunting, lyrical and moving melodies he has composed and this film is no exception. The mixture of piano and orchestra builds to an uplifting and emotional pull that cements his position as one of the best music composers working in modern film today.
The three hour running time would appears to be problematic, but alas it is not. In fact like another sweeping romantic epic, Titanic, you will not feel the time going in. The three hours fly by and not only that, like the Oscar winning epic, this is a film that makes one instantly want to re-watch it again and again. Meet Joe Black is a wonderful mixture of comedy, romance and drama and is done exceedingly well. Brad Pitt puts in one of his finest performances as Death finds himself enchanted by human emotions and then finds himself making a deeply human choice at the end of the film and then there is Hopkins. One of cinema's finest actors no matter what he is in, he shows with his complex range of emotions in his performance there is more to him than playing Hannibal Lecter. His performance here restrained and quite frankly very well done. It is perhaps one of his best acting performances. His Shakespeare background obviously coming in handy for a film that contains many a Shakespearean like moment.
The film, while not a flop, was not the box office hit that was expected, especially considering the main casting, but if you can make up your own mind, do watch Meet Joe Black. This is a wonderful film and is a personal favorite of mine.
It's easy to wake up every day and see what is wrong with your life.
Everyone has their vices and their shortcomings. Whether you are a
billionaire with a perfect spouse, a cottage, a beach house, nice cars
and wonderful parents or if you are a single parent struggling to get
by on measly paycheck, we can all find something that is wrong with
life. Such is human nature. But what can we do to remedy that
situation. What can we do to try and ensure that our life gets better?
And is it all really that bad? Meet Joe Black is a movie that asks us
to look at ourselves and realize that this life is a gift and one that
perhaps is taken for granted a little too much. Meet Joe Black asks us
to ask ourselves: is it really all that bad?
Anthony Hopkins plays Bill. Bill is a very successful business man but it is his time. We all have to die one day, it is a part of life. And this is Bill's time. But before he goes, the Grim Reaper pays him a visit and offers him time. That is all. Just time. And in exchange Bill will show Death what it is like to be alive. A bit of an oxymoron for sure but true nonetheless. And what happens when Death starts to learn about what makes our life so precious is really something that has to be seen. Because what we take for granted, he sees as innocent and pure and magical. For instance, peanut butter. Joe Black tastes it and decides that it is the most amazing food that he has ever had in his short existence. And when people are eating their caviar at dinner, he refrains and has more peanut butter. This scene is one of the purest and most honest scenes in the film. Not for what is on the outside, but what it means, what it wants us to see. To me this scene is the microcosm of what the film and what life should be about.
Life is a gift. There are so many wonderful things that we have as human beings that we seem to forget what they are. We are so consumed with other things that at the time seem important but when you look at them closely they are trivial and it's the little things in life that bring us so much joy. Like peanut butter, aka tossing the ball around with your kids, aka. being lazy in the shade with your Collie. The point is that life is serious enough and it isn't until others are gone that we fully comprehend that.
Brad Pitt is perfect, absolutely perfect as Joe Black. He conveys the innocent wonder and pure joy of discovering human elements like the aforementioned peanut butter and more serious issues like falling in love.
Meet Joe Black has been criticized for its length but like all movies that are three hours plus, there is a reason for that. And that is because it has something to say. Something important to say. Meet Joe Black wants us to look at this film and then look at our lives and realize that there is a lot to live for. You just have to get through all the mist and cloudiness and you'll find it again. There is an innocence about how this movie feels and it is such a wonderful picture. It makes you feel good. Good to be in love ( if you are ) good to want to be in love ( if you are not already) and good to be alive.
See this film. It will make you glad that you did. I know I was and my life doesn't seem so bad right now even though there are many things that I could complain about like...... Ah hell, what's the point. Life can only get better. Meet Joe Black helped me see that.
Somewhere in the netherworld between being a "remake" and merely
"inspired by" Mitchell Leisen's 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday, Meet
Joe Black is the story of Death personified. Death takes over the body
of Brad Pitt's unnamed character, later donned "Joe Black" by William
Parrish (Anthony Hopkins). Although the motivation isn't specified but
implied in this film, Death wishes to experience the life he normally
takes away--he wants to see what it's like to be human. He chooses
Parrish to be his guide because Parrish is a hugely successful media
mogul who has conviction, strong "moral fiber" and insight on life.
Compounding the situation, Parrish's daughter, Susan (Claire Forlani),
is a woman whom Brad Pitt's unnamed character met in a coffee shop that
morning and had an instant mutual attraction with. Black sticks close
by William's side through much of the film, creating difficult
situations at a time when Parrish's company is trying to deal with a
financially attractive but ethically unsavory takeover bid, and he also
puts the boil to somewhat strained familial relationships.
First, a word of warning. This is a very long film (3 hours), and it tends to be very slowly paced. If you are averse to either, or if you do not like any of the three principalsPitt, Hopkins and Forlani--I'd advise you to avoid the film.
For me, I never think that a film's length is a problem in itself. As long as the film works, I'd be happy with it lasting 4, 5, even 12 hours or more--heck, I even gladly sat through Gettysburg (1993) in the theater. There have been films I've thought were too long (such as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, 1962), but it's contextual, not related to actual running time.
Helmer Martin Brest directs with a lot of deliberation. Lines of dialogue and responses are stretched out to "infinity and taken to the depth of forever". The camera gives us lots of lingering gazes. There is little to no "action" in the film. Much of it is similar to David Lynch's famed pregnant pauses. Some people hate that style. I love it (although I love other styles, too--I like variety), and for me, the pacing makes this film seem much shorter than its actual running time. It's the complete opposite of the pacing of, say, Medallion (2003), which is interesting given that both films feature Forlani. It's also interesting to note that Brest's career seems to match the pacing of Meet Joe Black. He's taken 2, 4, 5 and 6 years between films. Obviously, Brest is not in a rush.
If you watch Meet Joe Black immediately after watching Death Takes a Holiday, as I did this time around, a few things might strike you as odd and slightly negative at first. The principal difference that had this initial effect on me was the change in the primary romantic relationship--between Joe and Susan (and between Prince Sirki (Frederic March) and Grazia (Evelyn Venable) in the original). In the original, it's ambiguous whether Grazia doesn't recognize Sirki for what he really is all along. She at least never meets him as Sirki rather than Death-as-Sirki. It creates interesting philosophical scenarios about humankind's conception and fear of death; Grazia, who is a bit aloof all along, may be embracing death rather than fearing it, not as something negative, but more metaphysically, as inherent in the idea of life.
In Meet Joe Black, Susan falls for Pitt as another character first. It removes all of the philosophical points about one's attitude towards death (with the exception of William, who is the only one who knows the truth, even in the end, and who implicitly goes through vacillating feelings about death). However, despite my initial hesitation on the change, I tried to remember my commitment to judge each film on its own terms rather than its relation to other works, and I realized that the relationship set up here is interesting for another reason--it explores public identity in relationships and the tensions that arise through dynamicism of that public identity. That's a theme throughout the film, not just in its romantic relationships.
Pitt has often been criticized for his performance here, but in my opinion, it's perfect for the character(s)--just as good in its own way as March's turn as Sirki in the original. Once Pitt as Death takes over "Joe Black's" body, he _must_ change his persona in the way he does. He's supposed to be a supernatural being who normally relates to the world in a completely different way, but now he's suddenly made corporeal. He doesn't know what to do as a human. As an entity, he's not daft, lacking power or unknowledgeable about many things, but he's incredibly naïve and awkward as a thing of flesh. He's not used to relating to the world in that way. He's not used to making facial expressions. He's never tasted food, and so on. The change he undergoes in the beginning and end of the film is amazing and shows just how skilled Pitt is.
Hopkins and Forlani are of course no slouches, either. Hopkins' ability to go from understated and elegant to manic is put to good use; the role seems tailor-made for him. Forlani, who has a very unusual but intriguingly beautiful face that always looks a bit pouty, gets to pout even more, creating a bizarrely complex but effective character. The rest of the primary cast is just as good. The end result is a strangely dysfunctional family with a lot of depth.
While I can see people preferring Death Takes a Holiday to this film, for me, Meet Joe Black is slightly better. It's much more epic, of course, and that scope, plus the incredible score by Thomas Newman, pushes its emotional effectiveness up a notch. But make sure you do not miss either film. Both are excellent and unusual.
Meet Joe Black is a beautiful film with a talented cast. Because it is unique, the plot enables humor to be weaved within the dramatic and romantic elements. The music, composed by Thomas Newman (Shawshank Redemption, Erin Brokovich) truly enhances the movie. The many string and piano melodies are beautiful, and fit smoothly. There are so many memorable moments, like father-daughter conversations, and the scene in the coffee shop. Brad Pitt, in his portrayal of Death,displays naive and vulnerable feelings, skillfully in sharp contrast his behavior at the beginning of the film. While some criticize its length and unrealistic aspects of the plot, I found it to be so captivating and quite well-made. Meet Joe Black has an indescribable effect on me whenever I watch it. The story of Death being apprentice to a respected, accomplished man makes one realize the simple beauties of life-- passion, family, love... and peanut butter.
Whenever this film is aired, I'm drawn to watch it. The pace, like life, is slow. Some people find this to be a problem. I feel sorry for those people; maybe they've been so saturated by "fast food" films and reality TV that they think that's the way life is supposed to be. Unlike life, the film has no "wasted space". So, while it may seem too long for theatre viewing, it's plenty short for sitting back in an easy chair for three hours and just letting it draw you in--with the excellent dialogue (including the Patois), excellent performances by truly talented actors, and above all the [again] excellent score by Mr. Newman. If you're a romantic not just about love, but also about life, then treat yourself and watch it.
I first saw this film many years after its first release and let me
tell you I have never since or will I ever see such a moving and purely
Anthony Hopkins is already my idol and I have admired him for many years. There's something about the unique persona he brings upon any character he plays in a movie, as if he leaves part of himself behind on the film reel each time. From psychological thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs to emotional dramas, he also strikes me as a modest man and is, in my eyes a true genius!
Meet Joe Black is a strange tale that challenges our preconceptions of death. You come out of the film not so much enlightened but convinced that Bill Parrish is happy with the fate that comes upon him and that everyone else is too. It's immensely sad yet happy at the same time and thought-provoking. It is also a very long movie, which I believe strengthens it as you feel you have a bond with the main characters having known them for a long time and thus share the highs and the lows emotionally throughout the plot.
Providing you can stick to the 3hour film length it will truly be one of the most memorable films you'll ever watch. Excellent!
For a long time I put off watching this, because I have no interest in
superficial, teen comedy flicks, as implied by the film's pedestrian
title and by the casting of a youthful Brad Pitt. But "Meet Joe Black"
is anything but "superficial", and "teen comedy" does not describe this
movie at all.
Set in contemporary New York, the film follows a wealthy family whose patriarchal sixty-five year old head, played by Anthony Hopkins, is nearing the end of his life. Enter "Joe Black" (Brad Pitt), a handsome, but enigmatic, young man with an unusual agenda.
This is a thought-provoking movie about mortality and emotional separation. It will appeal to viewers with a reflective and philosophical nature. But the film also has humor, which keeps it from being grim. The pace is slow. There's lots of silence and stillness, entirely appropriate, given the subject matter. Among other things, the film presents the novel idea that a supernatural being can be subject to human emotions, and can make mistakes in judgment resulting from those emotions.
The film is not perfect. The plot is a tad egocentric. There's no reference to the universality and ongoing occurrence of death outside the confines of this family. Also, why now? Why does death choose to engage life in our present world, why not five hundred years ago? Minor script changes could have addressed these issues. The initial meeting between Susan (Claire Forlani) and Joe Black seems a little too convenient, but forms the basis for a plot twist that strengthens the overall story.
The acting is excellent. Anthony Hopkins is, as usual, outstanding. I would not have cast Brad Pitt in the role he plays, but he does a good job. Appropriate for this movie, the acting style for both Pitt and Forlani is one wherein they communicate their characters to viewers largely by means of their eyes, which, as taught by ancient philosophers, are the windows of the soul.
For viewers who liked "The Sixth Sense", another serious film with depth of meaning, I recommend "Meet Joe Black" most highly.
I must admit to have been slightly hesistant when I first heard about Meet
Joe Black because of the subject matter and its length, however I found this
film to be superb.
The acting was believable, the cinematography of the film was well thought out and extremely picturesque. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman (the Shawshank Redemption) went from chilling to the most beautiful melodies that I have ever heard (giving, in my humble opinion, any classical composer a run for their money), adding an extra depth to this film.
There are no in-betweens in this film: you WILL either love or hate this film. However, I can say that this film is one of the most uplifting and life affirming movies that I have ever seen. It left me both moved and confident that the world was not such a bad place after all. Just like the Shawshank Redemption told us that hope is not a bad thing, so Meet Joe Black tells us that indeed love can conquer all better than Titanic ever could.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went to this movie not expecting all that much. However, I was amazed by the way it slowly creeps up on you, and delivers such an emotional wallop that when it was over I decided that Saving Private Ryan was the only movie that has come out this year that was more powerful than this movie. Anthony Hopkins again astounds the movie-going world with one of his best performances, and he deserves an Oscar. One of the reasons that I think this movie has not gotten the attention it deserves is due to timing: it came out soon after What Dreams May Come, a movie with similar themes. However, while that movie mostly depended on special effects, this movie has very little special effects, but has easily twice the emotional power. I highly recommend it to anyone who may have overlooked it- you will not be disappointed.
I thought this movie was quite clearly spectacular. I mean, from the
trailer it looked like some teen, low-production-cost flick that I'd
stay as far away as possible, but in truth, the movie was deep,
meaningful and left you thinking about it for ages and ages afterward.
The actors were brilliant. I thought Brad Pitt, against a lot of people's expectations, performed very convincingly, and Anthony Hopkins, as always, stunned me and transported me. Claire Forlani was the only main actress who suffered slightly but still pulled off a reasonable performance. I personally thought the Jamaican Woman, played by Lois Kelly-Miller was very touching, and the conversations between most of the characters were all interesting and well, some of the advice you could put into use in your own daily lives.
The story line is edgy and dwells on sensitive subjects such as Death, Love and Happiness, I suppose. The wisdom behind it is unmistakable. I think this movie is underrated. Despite the disappointing Trailer, the movie will blow you away. I watched it on VCD, something that has low-ish quality on a computer, yet I managed to sit through all 170 minutes, completely stunned and unable to budge from concentration.
Overall, this movie is definitely recommended. A bit deep for your kids, I guess- I tried watching it with my niece but she ruined it slightly by everlasting flow of questions.
I'm giving it a 10/10 for it being emotional and funny at times. Overall a serious movie, and one that will truly make you think. It is quite complex and will definitely leave some strings untied, but I guess a bit of room for imagination never hurt anyone.
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