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nicolefaith

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24 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
extraordinary, defies its genre, visual poetry, 20 March 2003

"Grand Canyon" is the rare, fleeting example of a movie handled so truthfully from the start that the journey overwhelms the give-away ending. For a superb 137 minutes flashing by, directing, acting, and screenwriting hit a nearly flawless note. Sucking on this bottle for instant gratification, however, is contra-indicated. Grand Canyon does not leave home with a nursemaid. Those who lust for predictable Hollywood spin with contrived drama and only fantastic elements of human life will feel unsatisfied with Director and Screenwriter (with Meg Kasdan) Lawrence Kasdan's stubborn defiance of proper genre hygiene. Kasdan's visual poetry draws us in to a world of separate images, forcing potential connections to jack-knife through the mind. Yet Kasdan provides no answers, at least not quickly. The radomness deliberately provokes preconditioning that "everything happens for a reason in the movies". Nothing connects. Nothing makes sense in the formula way wished subconciously. After all, one sees movies to escape life, not to immerse in it. The viewer's frustration peaks and the introspective see Kasdan's point about life's overwhelming radomness. Grand Canyon's scenes unfold throughout L.A. and Kasdan brilliantly plays on everyday scenarios of commutes, dodgy neighborhoods, and family tension until familiarity and frustration forces the viewer to hold these images as their own. The tension of the film binds with our personal emotions about how alienating life can be, about how alone we really are. For those who evaluate their suspended belief on his terms, Kasdan has a rich reward. He spoons us our medication precisely when we need it and not when we think we do. Yet by now there is little desire to fast-forward. We are entering with a sort of intrinsic trust into Kasdan's world. He has established that to "get" his story we need every word, each nuance. Kasdan's pace does not disapoint but takes off as the relationships form. His cuts and dialogue sync perfectly to the state of his characters as they (and we) make the connections. Grand Canyon truly gallops just a step in front of its audience beckoning with analytical gestures into its emotional content. But just as his message of alienation seems drilled one too many times Kasdan lifts the man-hole cover off a new hole and declares alienation isn't really what he's talking about at all. The isolating radomness is exposed as a delicate lure that creates humanity and a sense of fragility in the viewer; an understanding of the shared poignancy of coming and going ultimately, alone. We see Kasdan is really speaking of how the life's randomness heightens the beauty of connections to others simply because life usually makes no sense and of the responsibility to light the candle for people simply because we grope in darkness ourselves. In a movie as abstractly symbolic and thought provoking as "Apocalypse Now", Kasdan creates what could be Apocalypse Now's alter ego, the gentle side. His characters unveil a chosen logic, a purposeful proactivity that seems heroic in their chaotic world. However, the superb acting eliminates the possibility that Grand Canyon is populated with two dimensional goody-two-shoes. In fact, it is not so much of a stretch to imagine these characters were ourselves in their situations, a refreshing twist from the standard "wannabe" Hollywood fantasy. Kasdan does not exude easy answers, but seems to nudge us, asking "what would you do?" as we realize how precisely his everyday, chaotic world mirrors our own and how many untapped choices might be right here with us the moment we finish watching his movie and begin our life.