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The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The cheeriest bunch of suicidal teenagers ever
This movie had so much potential. If the director (Sophia Coppola) had developed her characters, namely the Lisbon girls, and allowed us to get to know them; had she helped us understand why the girls became suicidal; had she portrayed the parents as monsters as opposed as to just your average strict, conservative, fundamentalist Christians; and had she portrayed the girls as deeply morose, distraught, and desperate as opposed to simply bored and dejected.... then, maybe, just maybe, this movie would have been believable. I mean, c'mon, there have never been a cheerier bunch of suicidal teenagers! And the idea that all four girls would have the courage to take their lives------at the same time, no less-----you must be kidding! LOL! Much too unrealistic and phony to elicit any visceral emotions in me or to get me to adopt any deeper perspective/message Coppola may have wanted to impart. But, man, I still ponder the potential of this movie; it could easily have been a powerful, poignant film. Too bad.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Meaning of H-A-P-P-Y-N-E-S-S
**possible minor spoilers** Here are my thoughts about the movie. Please pardon any previously mentioned ideas, as I have not read everything on this board.
Like other viewers, I initially marveled at how superficial the message of the movie SEEMED to be: happiness can be reduced to material gain. I wondered why Chris Gardner couldn't find happiness in all the little things in life----"the spaces in between"-----such as all the private moments he had with his son. I questioned the director's wisdom of showing Chris Gardner celebrating in an awkward, suppressed manner his definition of happiness (after being hired by Dean Witter) as well as the director's striving for the "happily-ever-after" effect by stating at the end of the movie that the true-to-life Chris Gardner eventually went on to great monetary success.
But, later I thought about the placement of the word "happyness" in the film's title and then reflected on the film itself, and it all made sense. As others have pointed out on this board, Chris had no time to truly enjoy these smaller moments of happiness. With abject poverty and homelessness staring him in the face, he had to fight to not only survive but also be a successful provider for him and his son. It wasn't enough to just get by; he wanted to give his son a good life, perhaps one he had never had. For him (and countless others in this world), happiness is something that indeed must be pursued. The movie offers a refreshing, realistic portrayal of happiness that today is too often supplanted by over-simplistic, formulaic varieties espoused by some short-sighted, if not delusional, self-help "gurus" (By no means do I wish to slight all writers of the self-help genre, but, unfortunately, happiness cannot be reduced to seven simple laws/habits/eccentricities,etc.). Yes, that a piece of happiness can be found in life's simpler moments is a truth that, hopefully, should never be lost on any of us. But the writers and director of this movie seem to be saying that just as there is more than one way to SPELL "happiness", there is more than one way to FIND it too.