8:06 PM, 2nd June, 2000
As of this writing, Oscar nominations had not been announced, so I'm going to wing it. Nominated for seven Oscars, including the Big 5 (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay), American Beauty is an exceptionally well-crafted film, with a great central performance from Spacey (even by his high standards). Mendes has brought all aspects of this film together to create an intriguing and extremely engrossing look at modern life.
An inventive drama sprinkled with very dark comic touches, American Beauty centres around Lester Burnham (Spacey), a stereotypically middle-class man with a stereotypically middle-class existence. On the outside it may look like the American dream, but on the inside it is slowly driving Lester insane. Finally it all gets to him, and he decides it's time for a change, which has a serious impact on everyone around him.
If you haven't seen it, then come and see what all the fuss is about. If you have seen it, this is your last chance to see it on the big screen for a while, so come back and enjoy it again - you know you want to.
10:08 PM, 2nd June, 2000
Simon Birch opens with a surprisingly revealing preface by Jim Carrey, set in the present, 34 years after the pivotal events of this film. He plays the grown up version of a young boy, Joe, whom we encounter as we journey back to 1964 to the textbook typical American small town of Gravestown, Maine. Young Joe (Joseph Mazzello) is good friends with Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith), a young boy affected by dwarfism. The film centres are the trials of these two unlikely lead characters, as they try to resolve some of the great mysteries of life such as religion, the opposite sex and the cruelty of some of the people in their lives.
This movie, based on John Irving's 'A prayer for Owen Meany' certainly shoots straight for the heart strings, to a point which may repel some movie goers from enjoying this classic story. Now I get just as distracted at times by calculated tear jerkage injected into otherwise interesting films as most people, but just try to put that aside for a time and you may well find the lives of these boys a great watch. There are certainly some genuinely funny moments which are sure to entertain. Better yet, why not come along with a big box of tissues and let yourself have a great big girlie cry at this film. As much as critics may pan sentimentality, there is always that nagging feeling that no person is really too high and mighty to say that we shouldn't feel sad at a film, and indeed many have richer lives for it.