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A few words about... {Proof}


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#1 of 43 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 25 2006 - 02:56 AM

I wasn't aware of precisely what I was getting into when I decided to give some time to John Madden's {Proof}. Afterwards, in viewing a featurette, I discovered that, for whatever reasons, there was a lag between production in the fall of 2003 and its release two years later.

Odd in this era in which productions reach a theatre while still wet from developer.

As a fan of Mr. Madden's Shakespeare in Love, however, it was only a matter of time until {Proof} found its way into my DVD player.

What I discovered was a superb film about the family of a brilliant mathematician being torn apart by the fear that his psychological imbalance, as well as a bit of his brilliance may have found its way into his daughter.

To discuss this further would be to give away the delights of this film, which has received both positive and negative reviews -- generally a sign of something interesting.

Performances, across the board, are superb.

The film brings to mind both A Beautiful Mind, as well as, strangely, The Magnificent Ambersons (for totally different reasons).

Mr. Madden's drama is highly recommended for viewing and a worthy use of 99 minutes of one's time.

This film is not froth. It is intelligent, and causes one to think through precisely what is occurring. In the end, it reveals the indomitability of the human spirit.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 43 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted February 25 2006 - 03:12 AM

it's always welcome to hear someone make a case for a film that would otherwise slip under the radar.
probably won't go out of my way to find it, but if it ever crosses my path (or next time i get a netflix account) i will give it a shot.

#3 of 43 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted February 25 2006 - 04:38 AM

Quote:
Odd in this era in which productions reach a theatre while still wet from developer.


Not that odd when you consider it was a Miramax / Harvey Weinstein film. He routinely keeps films on the shelf for years. He wanted to hold it to concentrate on others for that Oscar season, but then ending up leaving Miramax, and it was rushed out before he left, with little promotion.

It is an excellent film. I saw the play on Broadway with Jennifer Jason Leigh and absolutely loved it. The film is a very good adaptation of it.

Haven't gotten a chance to get the DVD yet, but I plan to.

#4 of 43 OFFLINE   Matt Leigh

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Posted March 04 2006 - 07:05 AM

My biggest problem with the whole film is that the movie could end at any point in the story if one of the characters just asked the one logical question or said the right thing. They all know what it is to ask and they all know what it is to say they just don't for the convenience of the plot. I found the film completely maddening to watch because of this.

#5 of 43 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted March 04 2006 - 01:18 PM

Quote:
My biggest problem with the whole film is that the movie could end at any point in the story if one of the characters just asked the one logical question or said the right thing. They all know what it is to ask and they all know what it is to say they just don't for the convenience of the plot. I found the film completely maddening to watch because of this.


What do you mean?

There really wasn't much plot to the film.

#6 of 43 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 10 2006 - 05:59 PM

Quote:
The film brings to mind both A Beautiful Mind, as well as, strangely, The Magnificent Ambersons (for totally different reasons).
Ambersons. Interesting observation, though I'm not entirely certain I understand where you are going. As far as A Beautiful Mind, I agree, but only on the surface. Mind is a prime example of the type of highly calculated movie that is often considered high cinema, though in the end, it is exactly what ends up on the screen, and nothing more. I know, it's based on a real person, but that's beside the point. I just think that {Proof} is significantly more. Rather than being so calculated as Mind, it is elegantly simple on the surface and wonderfully complex beyond that. To me, it is not really "about" what it seems to be about. After all, what it seems to be "about" doesn't appear until half way through the film. As Mr. Harris already pointed out, it would be a shame to reveal more than that.

Personally, this may end up my favorite film of 2005. In keeping with tradition, it is virtually unknown, even among the nearly 60,000 HTFers. I mean, a whopping 6 posts in this thread.


Quote:
There really wasn't much plot to the film.
[Inigo Montoya Voice]
"I don't think that word means what he thinks it means.'
[/Inigo Montoya Voice]

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#7 of 43 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 10 2006 - 06:00 PM

Quote:
My biggest problem with the whole film is that the movie could end at any point in the story if one of the characters just asked the one logical question or said the right thing.
I also have no idea what that means.

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#8 of 43 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

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Posted March 10 2006 - 07:13 PM

I have to jump in. I am a big fan of everyone in the cast, so I bought this a few days ago.
What a fantastic film !!! Great script and wonderful performances. This certainly slipped under the radar. Get it !!

#9 of 43 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted March 11 2006 - 12:07 AM

To Mr. Rice... I couldn't agree more.

To Joe Caps... Pleased you agree.

One of the elements that makes HTF the site that it is, is the ability for anyone to recommend films which seem to be passing beneath the confines of radar.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#10 of 43 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted March 11 2006 - 01:18 PM

Quote:
In keeping with tradition, it is virtually unknown, even among the nearly 60,000 HTFers. I mean, a whopping 6 posts in this thread.


Just goes to show you that when big companies battle, great little films get caught in the middle.

I mean, it was a Tony Award winning play, starring two Oscar winners, great reviews, yet the film was barely released. It had three release date changes, even after the ads were running for one date, it was changed to another. Disney didn't want to put advertising money up to help the Weinsteins as they were leaving, the Weinsteins didn't want to plug a film that Disney would get most of the financial credit for. And, the film plays a couple weeks before disappearing. The DVD gets released without any big publicity push.

It is a great film. One of my top ten of last year.

#11 of 43 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 11 2006 - 02:08 PM

Quote:
it was a Tony Award winning play, starring two Oscar winners
Not to mention one of the stars and the director had joined in a previous Oscar Winning film, and it also included one of this year's Oscar nominees. Considering there are basically just four people in the movie, that's a lot of Oscar clout.

What I don't understand is, if the Weinsteins were upset about not getting "credit" for it, why is The Weinstein Company in the opening credits? I have to say, for all they have done for Independent film, they really tend to be a couple children.

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#12 of 43 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted March 12 2006 - 01:31 AM

Quote:
What I don't understand is, if the Weinsteins were upset about not getting "credit" for it, why is The Weinstein Company in the opening credits?


That was one of the causes for the final delay last September. It was just a Miramax film (originally scheduled for the fall of 2004). Ads began showing last September with just the Miramax logo. Then, the release date was changed again (by 2 weeks). When it got a new release date, the Weinstein logo was on it, along with Miramax.

#13 of 43 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted March 12 2006 - 04:11 AM

I was able to catch a live performance of the original play at my college a year or two ago... excellent play (the college's drama students did a wonderful job acting, too). The film adaptation really looks good, so I'm hoping to check it out.

#14 of 43 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 12 2006 - 05:50 AM

Quote:
I saw the play on Broadway with Jennifer Jason Leigh and absolutely loved it.
Do you mean Mary Louise Parker? I wasn't aware JJL had played the part, plus she's a bit old for the character.

For those of you who have seen it on stage, I'm curious about something. There is a major plot element which is revealed in the opening scene of the film which I understand was not revealed until very late in the stage version. Is this true? It should be pretty obvious what I am talking about if it is. I only bring it up because one review I read criticized the film for changing that, where I can see it being criticized as a cheap "trick" if it hadn't been changed. Whoever answers, please put your answer in a spoiler so as to not ruin things for others.

One other thing which seriously annoys me regarding this film is the rampant hatred I read in reviews regarding Gwyneth Paltrow. An awful lot of these people seem to have decided they hated it before ever seeing it simply she is in it. I definitely think she was wonderful and my entire impression of her as an actress has changed as a result. Very much how my impression of Jessica Lange changed when I saw Titus. I've seen a lot of comments like "I saw it on stage and it had Mary Louise Parker" like that is supposed to mean something. Don't get me wrong, MLP is a fabulous actress but I do not think the film would be any better with her, just different. In fact, after thinking about it, I believe Paltrow is actually the better choice simply because...
it is more of a stretch to imagine her as a historical genius
which, to me, adds depth to the film.

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#15 of 43 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted March 12 2006 - 07:29 AM

Quote:
Do you mean Mary Louise Parker? I wasn't aware JJL had played the part, plus she's a bit old for the character.


It was Jennifer Jason Leigh. She played the role on Broadway after MLP, from 2001 to 2002 (and convinced Gwyneth to take the role in the London version of the play.) When I saw it, JJL's male lead was Josh Hamilton, who I was also a big fan of because of his being in Noah Baumbach's KICKING AND SCREAMING. (And now, JJL is married to Baumbach).

JJL was amazing, I thought she was fine for the character, even better than Gwyneth, who I thought was excellent.

Quote:
There is a major plot element which is revealed in the opening scene of the film which I understand was not revealed until very late in the stage version.


I'm not sure what you mean, was it

A. The fact that the father is dead or B. the authorship question


In both cases, I don't think it was changed that much, enough to harm the play.

The big, lights out, "whoa" inducing, end of act one moment was B, when she states
I wrote it
That doesn't translate AS powerfully to the film, but it worked as well as it could

#16 of 43 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 12 2006 - 12:00 PM

Joe, I was talking about "A". One review I read talked like they movie had completely ruined the whole point of the play. I think the reason this particular person, like with most of the reviews I have read, didn't appear to get what the play (and movie) are really about.

As far as "B", I can see that, since the movie lacks ability to state that line and end the act. They have to keep going.

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#17 of 43 OFFLINE   Matt Leigh

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Posted March 24 2006 - 01:10 PM

The Gweneth character was never ever crazy and she knew it. She only shut herself off because of the death of her father.

All that ever had to be asked was..."Did you write the proof and can you prove that you wrote it?" or.. "What happened to dad in the last years of his life?" She always knew where the proof was and she always knew that she wrote it as shown in the flash backs. This was never a revelation to her as she used her own proof as protection from her fathers belief in his own madness.

As well, the sister character was utterly painful to watch as she only acted and never talked. She simply did what she did not because she was a character in any capacity but because she was a mechanic to the plot to simply force the other characters in a certain direction.

If these characters ever actually talked to each other in a way that real people would communicate things would have ended immediately.

The story is ultimately thread bare and when characters continue to circle a single point as opposed to act on it. It is like a event in a soap opera that takes weeks to play out only to fill time.



#18 of 43 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted March 24 2006 - 01:54 PM

You are absolutely correct Matt. And all Luke Skywalker had to do was ask Darth Vader "Who the hell are you anyway"?


Seriously though, you severely oversimplify things.

How can you really think Catherine "knows" there is nothing wrong with her. Plus, it is addressed rather extensively why it is not readily possible to prove she authored the proof. Also, I have known people who act remarkably like Claire. She is a pretty realistic character.


I understand you don't like the movie, but your argument lacks validity.

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#19 of 43 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted March 25 2006 - 08:30 AM

Matt, it isn't that easy. As stated in the film

Hopkins could have explained it to her, so then of course she would be able to tell them what it meant.

The one thing the film did that the play didn't was make me question if indeed she did write it at all. In the play, I was 100% with the character. In the film, I was still sort of unsure.


#20 of 43 OFFLINE   Seymour Uranowitz

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Posted March 25 2006 - 08:51 AM

Quote:
In the play, I was 100% with the character. In the film, I was still sort of unsure.
Didn't both the play and the film end with Catherine explaining the proof to Hal? If she hadn't written it, that would make her an out-and-out liar. I don't think the film would do that.



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