*** Official "FAR FROM HEAVEN" Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Michael Reuben, Nov 19, 2002.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I saw Far From Heaven last weekend, but I've been too busy to write a review. Moore, Quaid and Haysbert are extraordinary -- all three deserve Oscar nominations -- and Patricia Clarkson has a wickedly good time playing Moore's best friend. The movie is gorgeous to look at, and the Elmer Bernstein score suits the "period" feel without sounding entirely retro.
    It's very easy to laugh at many things in the movie that feel out of date (the audience I saw it with couldn't restrain themselves). But by stylizing this lost 50s world with a style of movie-making that feels equally antique, Haynes somehow manages to bring it back to life. The movie is a time capsule, but it's one that pulses with barely-contained emotional turmoil. A lot of contemporary viewers won't get this film; a lot of them won't believe that there was ever a world like the one it portrays; a lot of them won't understand how the characters could behave the way they do. Those who either remember the period or are willing to surrender themselves to Haynes' re-creation, will be amply rewarded.
    M.
     
  2. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    I was beginning to wonder if anyone else had seen Far From Heaven. It's an amazing film, and from the sound of Michael's report, I should be glad I didn't see it with an audience that got caught up on the retro qualities.

    I think it's absolutely perfect and certainly one of the year's best. A couple of other fellow critics I talked to afterward felt the same way, but one seemed to miss the point completely, complaining that Haynes must have watched too many sitcoms, that she lived at that time and that it wasn't that way. Not enough time to go into much detail right now, but push Far From Heaven to the top of your must-see list.
     
  3. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Michael:

    We came out of the film, and this particular critic was griping about how the kids said "mother" and "father" with such obvious overstatement, that kids didn't really talk that way then. I was floored that she had seen the movie and that this was what provoked a response. I wasn't around in those times, so I don't have any firsthand knowledge. I took the heightened speech--the heightened everything--to be the reality of the time as presented in popular culture rather than a true representation of the time. (Everything I've read about the film would lead me to believe the same thing.) I was disappointed someone was caught up on something like that when the film was flat-out great.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    I agree with everything you've said. Far From Heaven doesn't work without the conceit of being a Sirk-like film. It's a real mindbender to watch at times because it really feels like an older film that no one knew had ever been made. I also appreciated that it isn't played for kitsch value.
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  7. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    Coming from someone who hasn't watched any of Sirk's films, and only a handful of 50s' dramas, I think too much emphasis has been put on the fact that Far From Heaven is a retro-50s/Sirk film. Why do I say this? Because it works standing alone. If we can watch The Crucible and attempt to relate to the times and culture of those days, Far From Heaven is closer, especially since the views on interracial and changing homosexuality still exist today. Therefore, the emphasis on enjoying this film as a stylistic excercise or homage to 50s drama might be misleading; or, it could limit its audience by scaring someone like myself who is not terribly famaliar with the Sirk cannon.

    The film is obviously beautifully shot, well scored, as well as featuring top notch performances (especially for Moore), but I think everytime a period piece comes up, we can look at it as a social commentary on our own times. It is, afer all, our present views that shape our vision of the past. The conditions the Witikers live in is not so much different from today's suburbia. Much of the suburbs is class segragated, and therefore in our culture racially segragated. Notice how the characters in the films tend to not oppose equal rights, but outspoken against the integration of races. Of course, there are those who argue strongly that homosexuality can be changed today, too. Far From Heaven might not be commenting on our times directly, but like the study of deviance in sociology, it points to what we think of as the norm of today. The 50s was far from heaven, but so is today.
     
  8. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I found Far From Heaven to be a good film with very good performances especially by Julianne Moore. However, it appears that the film is getting recognized more for its technical achievements than anything else.
    Money can buy just about anything these days including pristine decorated sets, nice costumes, the best lighting, exceptional period details, beautiful cinematography, a commanding musical score and other production values guaranteed to give the right feel and mood for the film. All of these elements are present in Far From Heaven. But without a strong story to support it, all of these elements become just eye candy.
    The stylistic conventions that Todd Haynes use is majestic but the film, for me, did not have the emotional impact as it should have. I very much wanted to like this beyond its technical merits. But with its genre being the domestic melodrama, hyper real settings and 1950’s period, Todd Haynes doesn’t really cover any new ground here that other films in this period haven’t already done so.
    Far From Heaven has a lot going for it that come Oscar time, the Academy might even nominate it for Best Picture as this is more or less a reminder of a traditional Hollywood film. But as the title suggests it is far from heaven.
    [​IMG] (out of four).
    ~Edwin
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Far From Heaven". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.
    All HTF member film reviews of "Far From Heaven" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  10. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Additional review comments can also be found in the indie/arthouse thread starting with this post.
    ~Edwin
     
  11. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    I agree, Edwin. I thought everything looked great and the performances were fabulous, but I left the theater trying to figure out what the story was. Am I alone in thinking that Bernstein's score was too much at times? I'm guessing it was an homage to the scores of the 50s, am I right?
     
  12. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  14. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Re: Far From Heaven. If you receive the Sundance Channel, look for a new installment of their "Anatomy of a Scene" series that covers the party scene and the conversation immediately following between Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid. Very interesting commentary from the director, actors, costume and production designers, cinematographer and editor on how the scenes were conceived and realized.
    M.
     
  15. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  16. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  17. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    It's Cathy's story, not Frank's (or Raymond's for that matter). That being said, I disagree that Frank's is treated as "inconsequential". He gets less screen time, because he isn't the film's protagonist; but what makes Dennis Quaid's performance so impressive is how much he manages to convey about Frank in a relatively small number of scenes.

    M.
     
  18. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  19. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Edwin, I think the film makes those judgements about Frank as a reflection of those times, not ours. The film is being told from the 1950s perspective.

     
  20. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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