Not everyone on HTF agrees. When the film was in theaters, there were some very harsh critics in the official Movies threads. I happen to be among those who think it's one of the best American films in years, but I wouldn't recommend a blind buy, especially of the more expensive spec. ed.
Be prepared for a dark and disturbing tale that pulls no punches. Also, very "Boston" in it's attitude (in the review thread, some people claimed that the initial scene was impossible on the streets of America, but the exact same scenario happened on the streets of Cambridge, MA around the time Lehane started the book). Eastwood insisted on filming on the streets of South Boston simply because the neighborhood itself was like a character in the book. Lehane's novels are deeply immersed in the crime history of the Boston area (the name 'Whitey' even makes an appearance - see FBI's Most Wanted) and the movie does a great job of capturing the city, with it's cynicism towards the police and it's love/hate relationship with mobsters (watch who Celeste goes to with her suspicions - it sure isn't the cops).
Michael, I tend to feel those who disliked it in that thread were looking for a who-done-it crime drama instead of the character driven tragedy the movie really (IMHO) is. If a police procedural is what one expected, I can understand people disliking the movie, for it was a poor who-done-it. Those that disliked it generally called it unrealistic and/or formulaic, somewhat legitimate criticism of the police procedural part of the plot, but certainly not legitimate if you take it as a Shakespearean-like tale of the legacy of violence and how it effects one's destiny. This is what I feel the movie is really about, and taken this way it is one of the great films of this or any decade.
Thanks for the info, but don't worry, I think almost all of the DVDs I bought were blind buys - and I have enjoyed 90% of them. I may just enjoy most movies, or the fact that I spent money on them haunts me - but I think it's the former.
You're preaching to the converted, Jeff. I think I was the first person to say in the Movies threads that this film shouldn't be watched as if it were an episode of Law and Order. But I still wouldn't recommend a blind buy, precisely because so many people have been conditioned to watch crime stories that way.
Lou Sytsma Post #44 wrote: “He has a dual personality of sorts, himself and "the boy". Dave, “the vicious psycho that killed the pedophile”? Killed the pedophile, yes, but was he a vicious psycho, or a man that decided to take the law into his own hands, to give the next victim a chance where the law let him down in the past? Was it Dave’s intense emotion, brought on by the past, that drove him to kill the pedophile, or did he plan the murder?
Dave “was becoming like a pedophile”? Did I miss this, or is this stereotyping him?
“It was this cold, calculating killer (and future molester??) inside that caused Dave to admit to killing Katie, even though he knew Jimmy would kill him.” Or was it the only hope Dave had left, that Jimmy promising him that he wouldn’t harm him, if he admitted it? (Similar to what can happen in unlawful interrogations.) “Future molester”? This leans toward a judgment that wasn’t addressed, unless I missed something again.
This is only my opinion. Pointing out the errors would be appreciated.
Clearly some of the responses to my criticisms suggest I'd do well to read this fine book. Saying that Robbin's character was a split personality and pedophile-in-the making was no where presented in the film. And my complaint with Laura Linnley's character was not that I didn't understand her (she was a loyal member of a crime family with the ethics that go with that), but she was all but invisible in the story until that killer speech. Dang, I'm wagering that speech becomes an audition piece for female actors everywhere; it was pure gold! It made me want to know her more, see more of her character, but sadly the film was over.
Dave admitted to Jimmy that he killed the pedophile because he was protecting people from him or (quoting from memory) "maybe because I was becoming like him, I don't know". I had to watch the scene twice to pick this up. It was a theme expressed in the book and I did not remember how they dealt with it in the film until I saw the DVD version, but it is definitely there. Lehane is very subtle, read (or watch) too quick and we miss it.
Couple this with Dave's expression after he admits this and we can interpret Dave's giving in to Jimmy as not trying to save his life, but as giving up and allowing Jimmy to kill the "beast" within. This beast within directly coincides with the "cool, calm sociopath" that we see in the interogation room. I think that's the only explanation for the interogation scene, it is Dave's other ego, the one he's afraid of and the one that began the day he was abducted.
Very important to this interpretation is to remember Dave's "werewolves and vampires" speech; both are monsters that were human but are turned into monsters by being bitten (i.e. molested). IMHO, Dave was afraid of becoming a werewolf (or vampire) because he had been "bitten" by wolves himself. Otherwise, why the vampire and werewolf speech at all? He could have babbled on about "the boy" or the "wolves" and not said anything about humans that change into "monsters" if he was not changing into a monster himself. He also said to Celeste that "Dave" died that day and what ever came out "was not Dave". He obviously feared whatever that was.
Besides, I admit to reading all of Lehane's work and this is just the type of sick ambiguity (is Dave a hero, or a monster, or both?) he would write into his books and did write into Mystic River. You want really ambiguous? Try the ending to "Shutter Island". My sister called me up 2 weeks ago to discuss the ending of that book and she still can't figure out what happened. I myself had to read it about 5 times.
Yes it was (see above). Clint stuck very close to Lehane's work and even in print, Lehane does not whack you over the head. He is very ambiguous and non-preachy and tends to use symbolism; the vampires and werewolves, "the boy" who saved Dave (Dave saved Dave, but "the boy" was the personality that split off), "Lady" Annabeth, the doting wife who becomes as hard as steel (as hard as her brothers are) when she has to, etc.
This film works on many layers and needs to be viewed many times. Heck, there were some in the Movie thread that claimed Jimmy didn't even care for his daughter because there were no scenes explicitly depicting it. This is not that kind of movie.
And yes, read the book. Not for stuff that is not in the film, because aside from some police procedural stuff (Sean and Whitey did listen to the tape), all the subtlety of the book is in the film. It's just that Lehane is from my hometown and needs the money
ROTK winning Best screenplay over Mystic River -- I just can't get my mind around it, except to say that American Splendor and Mystic River must have split the vote...like Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger in Platoon.
I'm one of those who found the film incredibly melodramatic and histrionic. An OK 2 hours at the theater, but nothing that needs to be in my collection.
The thing I can't get my mind around is that Sean Penn won an Oscar for this film. I thought his performance was incredibly forced and fake. I never felt that his grief over his daughter's death was authentic. It seemed to me that his character was merely "acting" like he was devastated, but not really meaning it, because that's what's expected from a father after his daughter is murdered. But I never felt like the character had any real grief.
And if Ernest is going to be allowed to get away with the "split vote" rationalization, then I'm playing the "body of work award" card for Penn.
He's talented, but this was far from his best film (and very far from the best performance by a lead actor in 2003, IMO).
Where some see this, others see Shakespeare. Given the well supported "Lady Macbeth" Annabeth speech at the end and the classic Macbethian "violence begets violence" theme, I think Shakespeare is what Clint and Lehane were going for. Maybe I'm wrong, different strokes and all. It is a difficult film and like Michael and I said, it has plenty of detractors with valid critiques, such as the paper thin who-done-it and police procedural aspects.
You think we talk a lot in this one, you should read the Movies review thread. You'll get a history of Boston crime, a socio-economic analysis of South Boston, a city girl vs. country girl debate, Shakespeare vs. who-done-it, Law and Order vs. character study, the probabability of abductions in broad daylight, the psychology of molestation victims, the role of a wife in her husbands perceived illness, Spencer for Hire, what Hawk would do to Whitey Bulger, heroin use in the Southie projects and much, much more.
"Corrupt" does not equal "accepts bribes." What I mean is that the Academy very clearly hands out awards based on factors other than the quality of the film. Without question, the winners are always good films...but they are often times not the "Best," which sort of takes away from the award itself, considering each one is prefixed with the word "Best." Of course, this is all quite subjective...my opinion can and will vary from anyone else's. I just wish the Academy would give awards based on nothing but quality. The most classic example of this, for me, is when Titanic beat out the likes of Good Will Hunting, As Good as it Gets, and L.A. Confidential.
P.S. We are definitely starting to steer away from DVD talk.
"What I mean is that the Academy very clearly hands out awards based on factors other than the quality of the film."
An indisputable fact. Tommy Lee Jones winning Best Supporting Actor over Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List is just one famous example of many -- Jones won for his "body of work" -- well, what does that have to do with Sam Gerard vs. Amon Goeth? Ron Howard beat Fellowship of the Ring for the same ludicrous reason, it was time to reward him for his long career. This happens every year -- Julia Roberts winning over Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream, just because "Julia is due for all her money-making films" and "Ellen has already won"? John Wayne winning Best Actor for one of his most over-the-top performances, ever, just because he had never won an Oscar and had made so many movies?
Politics. Not quality. Politics.
If George Lucas wanted to win some more Oscars, the best move he could make right now is to announce he has uncurable cancer. Episode III would be a sure bet to win more awards than any other SW film since the original Star Wars.
I agree with that, but that does not equate (in my mind) to corrupt. For example, though I am no particular fan of Titanic, I expect that a most of the members who voted for it, did so because they had a different criteria on what constitutes ‘best’ than mine—or at least the criteria of the year and day.
I’d also agree with Ernst’s view of ‘politics not quality’—and could cite many more examples to support the thesis.
Again however I don’t think that those votes constitute ‘corruption’.
And I expect that there are many deserving people who don’t receive enough votes simply because many of the members just don’t like them. Again, I don’t think that this is corruption.
Personally I don’t care much one way or another about the Oscars. My wife and I watch most years—and we have probably seen most of the nominated films, but I’ve never yet seen a year where, for at least one award, I could only say ‘what were they thinking?’