American beauty

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    George Town Tasmania Australia

    American beauty

    In 1999, in the months before and after I retired after 30 years as a teacher and lecturer, the film American Beauty was released around the world. Kevin Spacey stared as Lester Burnham, a middle-aged office worker who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend. The film has been described by academics as a satire of American middle class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction; analysis has focused on the film's explorations of romantic and paternal love, sexuality, beauty, materialism, self-liberation and redemption.

    In this prose-poem I want to make some comments on the film drawing on my own life experiences, my own values and beliefs as well as James S. Spiegel’s article “The Theological Aesthetic of American Beauty,” in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Volume 4, Summer 2003.

    Most of the photography for the film took place between December 1998 and February 1999 in the weeks I was preparing to make my exit from the teaching profession, from working with more than 100 students a week and putting-in an average of 60 hours weekly to keep up with the preparation, presentation and marking. By the age of 55 I had had enough of the workaday world as well as enough of what seemed like an endless stream of family, community and social responsibilities filling up the remaining hours of the 168 hour that existed in each week. If I was lucky I got my 56 hours of sleep. The concept of free time, duty-free time, was something I tucked into the few hours that remained. I could hear myself saying: “Stop the world! I want to get off!” And so I did stop the world; I got off and retired; I took a sea-change to a small old town where the world could not get at me and where I could write, take part in a very small Bahá'í community and get my bipolar head together.

    I could comment on this film’s, this director’s deliberate and composed style, his extensive use of static shots, slow pans and zooms to generate tension. I could comment as well on the cinematography, the peaceful shot compositions to contrast with the turbulent on-screen events. In film, the story is only one part of the final mix. The film was the best-reviewed American film of the year and grossed over $350 million worldwide. Reviewers praised most aspects of the production; criticism tended to focus on the familiarity of the characters and setting. The film had much Academy Award success. At the 2000 ceremony the film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. The film was nominated for and won many other awards and honours, mainly for the direction, writing and acting.—Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia, 4 April 2010.

    You can’t tell me this film does not raise
    the question of the meaning of life, eh??
    The hollow existence of the suburbs in &
    around the 200 countries of the world???
    Is it a mystery story, a kaleidoscopic trip,
    a journey through American suburbia or
    a series of love stories or was it about an
    imprisonment, loneliness-type of beauty?

    It was funny; it was angry, sad. It resisted
    any one interpretation: portrait of a beauty
    that underlies American miseries and its....
    misdeeds; perhaps the film's true controller
    was the creative energy that 100s of people
    put into production, agreeing & disagreeing,
    inserting and cutting and endless analysing.

    For me: Lester's journey is the story's centre.
    His sexual reawakening is the first of several
    turning points as he begins to throw off the
    responsibilities of the comfortable life he has
    come to despise. He questions his numbingly
    banal materialist daily existence & as he does
    the audience is asked to lead more meaningful
    lives as the film argues against conformity, but
    does not deny that people need and want their
    bourgeois preoccupations.

    American Beauty satirizes American middle class
    notions of meaning, satisfaction and beauty.
    Lester's transformation only comes about because
    of the possibility of sex and he therefore remains a
    willing devotee of popular media exultation of
    pubescent male sexuality as a route to a personal
    wholeness. Carolyn, his wife, is driven by conventional
    views of happiness; from her belief in a house beautiful,
    domestic bliss and gardening outfit....... Her domain is a
    fetching American millennial vision of Pleasantville and
    the Garden of Eden.

    The Burnhams are unaware that they are materialists
    philosophically and devout consumers ethically who
    expect the rudiments of American beauty to give them
    happiness. They are helpless in the face of prettified
    economic and sexual stereotypes that their culture has
    designated for their salvation. Ricky is the visionary, a
    spiritual and mystical centre. He sees beauty the minutiae
    of everyday life, videoing as much as he can for fear of
    missing it. He considers that the most beautiful thing he
    has filmed is a plastic bag, tossing in the wind in front of
    a wall. He says that in capturing the moment he realized
    that there was an entire life behind things; there's so much
    beauty in the world he can't take it and his heart will cave in.

    Lester looks at a picture of his family in happier times and he
    dies having had an epiphany that infuses him with wonder,
    joy, and soul-shaking gratitude: he has finally seen the world
    as it is. The audience is unprepared when Lester is shot and
    his blood spatters on the wall and all those watching the film.

    American Beauty defines its characters through their sexuality.
    Lester's attempts to relive his youth are a direct result of his lust
    for Angela and the state of his relationship with Carolyn is shown
    through their lack of sexual contact. Sexually frustrated, Carolyn
    has an affair that takes her from--cold perfectionist--to a carefree
    soul who sings happily along with the music in her car. Yes, sex
    is one of life’s big definers and it kept me busy for years but I am
    no Lester Burnham. I did get caught in the jungle but I was able
    to work my way out of the trees and down onto dry land—safely!

    If I did not have my value, belief and attitude system I would have
    got tangled in those trees and been eaten alive by insects & snakes.

    Ron Price
    4 April 2010
    Updated for: The Attraction Forums
    On: 7 July 2011

  2. Wtf?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    George Town Tasmania Australia

    Just some thoughts, Khanzo, on a film I watched. Don't worry if there is too much to read and it does not interest you....just pass on by. I do this all the time and have for years. -Ron Price, Australia

  4. lololol what is this yo what are you talking about. american beauty is a film about a pedophile who rapes his daughter's best friend because his wife's career makes his pervy feelings spin out of control. what's that got to do with islands and snakes n shit?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    George Town Tasmania Australia

    American Beaut: A Comment

    Your summary, swaaag, that American Beauty is "a film about a pedophile who rapes his daughter's best friend because his wife's career makes his pervy feelings spin out of control" is partly correct. Pedophilia is considered by some to be a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 or older) typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger, though onset of puberty may vary). The child must be at least five years younger in the case of adolescent pedophiles (16 or older) to be termed pedophilia. The term has a range of definitions, as found in psychiatry, psychology, the vernacular, and law enforcement. The main actor(Kevin Spacey) in this film is attracted to a girl who is not prepubescent, but clearly in her teens. In the end, though, he does not rape her but stops from penetrating her and they bond over their shared frustrations. In the end he is shot. The film won many awards.-Ron
    Last edited by RonPrice; 11-06-2011 at 08:02 PM. Reason: to add some words

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Surprise Buttsex

    Ron, you might get some more constructive feedback if you share what you hope to get out of participating on the forum?

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