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Fast Food Nation (2006)
The point of the film is that these issues ARE intertwined.
It's fascinating (and a bit frightening) that, of the people I've heard criticizing this film for not being "moving" enough, none seem to consider the possibility that this could be due to their own cynicism, jadedness, or other similar accumulations of scar tissue. Which are, of course, the very attitudes that allow the abuses depicted in the film to occur in the first place. Some say that Fast Food Nation takes on too many issues, but really it's about one thing: America. It asks us to look at how millions of us live and at the by-products of our living like this. Schlosser and Linklater, by presenting together the issues of fair wages, health, family, drug abuse, etc., give us the BIG picture. We can then have a close look, those of us who dare, at the details, reflect, and get to know our own feelings about it all.
You'd have to be a hardcore-serious skeptic not to revel in the sarcastic wisdom of the old rancher played brilliantly by Kris Kristofferson. Likewise, the family portrayed by Patricia Arquette, Ashley Johnson, and Ethan Hawke feels so genuine and loving, that anyone with a pulse ought to be attracted to the unspoken promise of their humility. All three of those actors give nuanced, subtle-yet-powerful performances. Luis Guzman's bit part is not meant to threaten or scare. It's humor in sleazy, but fairly harmless, smuggler's clothing. Worth mentioning is the palpably real character of "Mike", the meat packing plant supervisor played by Bobby Cannavale. His is yet another fine performance in an important, well-crafted, and thoroughly enjoyable movie.
A Sleazy, Gritty, Powerful, Beautiful Film
First thing: try not to bring a lot of hang-ups and prejudices when you see this. I've noticed that those who do so can end up disappointed. If you're even slightly open-minded you will see the beauty of this film- as many have, including the nominating committee for the Independent Spirit Awards. Because of the Tolstoy writing credit, I was expecting a historical or period piece. What Ivansxtc does, as does the Paul Thomas Anderson neo-classic Boogie Nights, is to show human beings being very naughty and very nice. Ivans, however, leaves us in darker territory.
I suggest reading little about this film before you see it. Check out the comments afterward and you'll see what I mean. Suffice it to say that this is risk-taking, well-acted, under-$500,000(shot on DV) filmmaking with gorgeous photography.
Balanced, Powerful, Superb!
Documentary on the life of Micheal Ray Richardson, a man who, in the seventies, was on track to creating one of the greatest careers in NBA history. Had the bottom not fallen out, Michael Jordan would have had to work himself out of Richardson's shadow. Few have even heard of him, of course, and this no-nonsense film shows you why. Beautiful vintage NBA footage is mixed with interviews with sports personalities and former coaches. Amazingly, none of the commentaries come off as obvious or dry. Everyone has something interesting or insightful to say ! And then there are the heartbreaking interviews with Richardson himself. The filmmakers make it easy for us to become emotionally involved in this story. One of the best sports documentaries ever made.
Most promising director continues to thrill.
I wonder just when Paul Thomas Anderson will be spoken of in the same sentences as Stanley Kubrick, The Coens, and even Orson Welles. Oops, I've already done it! I'd say many more will agree before long. Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and Hard Eight all venture to declare human connections deeper and farther than most of us care to look. Anderson loves his actors and they respond by performing their best- enjoying the task of making these pictures bracing, intense, and hilarious. It's hard to say which of the three is best, but Magnolia is very important, and it features some of the best child actors I've ever seen.
Lookin' to Get Out (1982)
Fans of Being There or Harold and Maude beware!
This is a disappointment for anyone familiar with the classics of Hal Ashby. Jon Voight seems to feel the need to scream every line (I guess he liked what he wrote!). It's one of those films that suffers from the absence of any likeable characters.