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This panoramic tale of Savannah's eccentricities focuses on a murder and the subsequent trial of Jim Williams: self made man, art collector, antiques dealer, bon vivant and semi-closeted homosexual. John Kelso a magazine reporter finds himself in Savannah amid the beautiful architecture and odd doings to write a feature on one of William's famous Christmas parties. He is intrigued by Williams from the start, but his curiosity is piqued when he meets Jim's violent, young and sexy lover, Billy. Later that night, Billy is dead, and Kelso stays on to cover the murder trial. Along the way he encounters the irrepressible Lady Chablis, a drag queen commedienne, Sonny Seiler, lawyer to Williams, whose famous dog UGA is the official mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs, an odd man who keeps flies attached to mini leashes on his lapels and threatens daily to poison the water supply, the Married Ladies Card Club, and Minerva, a spiritualist. Between being Jim's buddy, cuddling up to a torch singer, ... Written by
Teresa B. O'Donnell <email@example.com>
When John drives Lady Chablis home, the rearview mirror in the car disappears and re-appears. See more »
Quit eye balling me, Flavius. I knew you when you was a two bit hustler on Bull Street.
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Closing disclaimer: This film is based upon John Berendt's book "MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL". Dialogue and certain events and characters contained in the film were created for the purposes of dramatization. See more »
Sometimes, the measure of a good garden is the diversity of opinions it attracts: looking back over other writers' comments, one is struck by just how good this one must be. Some see weeds and disarray - a classic hothouse garden gone to seed - yet others perceive an Autumnal garden: garish in its primary colours of Fall yet splendid in its descent into decay. A splash of brilliance before the inevitable passage into death of all living things.
Luckily, I read Berendt's book before seeing the film, and realise just how hard Hancock must have worked to translate it to the screen. It is also, in my mind, one of Eastwood's best (if not THE best) directorial outings. The casting is superb. Not a 'clunker' among them. As an evocation of the decline of the contemporary South, I would offer that it is nonpareil: lazy, sleazy, desperate at times, yet possessed of a dignity that is long past in the rest-of-the-world. Whilst Savannah is not the Big Easy, as portrayed it has much of its charm, artifice, and implied danger. And there's the rub when becoming engrossed in this garden of smoke and mirrors. It appeals to those of us who can only be outsiders looking in.
The inclusion in the screenplay of Kelsoe's love interest (not present in the book) was, for me, an acceptable complication. It juxtaposed the "Yankee's" at times ingenuous fascination with all around him. His apparent ambivalence toward the sexuality aimed at him by the central characters (Jim and the Lady Chablis are obviously enamoured of him) becomes anchored in his desire to be part of their world but on his terms. Thus the inclusion of a heterosexual relationship which leads to his decision to stay.
I would offer, however, that one of the most telling scenes (at least in exploration of Kelsoe's character) is his obvious pride in the 'overpaint' - given to him by Jim - hanging on his newly-acquired wall as he tells his 'love-interest' that he is 'here to stay' for at least six months as he writes his book. It is not the presented landscape itself which intrigues us: it is the possibility that something more valuable resides beneath. A mystery left unsolved. Just like Savannah, really. An excellent film. Enjoy it for itself.
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