*** Official HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Quentin, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I didn't see a thread on this...maybe it's still in pretty limited release?

    What an interesting film. I didn't expect much from it...who cares about a film about two people fighting over a house?

    But, it goes to a place I certainly never expected. Sure, we've seen films about situations where things progressively spin out of control, but what got me was the motivations and intentions at play, and the hidden secrets each character held beneath their surface.

    Great performances helped - but I thought this was a truly pleasant (but dark...ouch, so dark) surprise.

    Some really nice choices by first time director Vadim (i forget his last name).
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "House of Sand and Fog" please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

    All HTF member film reviews of "House of Sand and Fog" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Warren_Sc

    Warren_Sc Second Unit

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    I assume we don't need a spoiler warning when we comment in this thread?

    Just in case.
    This movie had no clear-cut bad guy, even though the cop was definitely a bit nuts. I have to disagree at Patrick's comment (in the review thread) that the house was lost due to government error because that was never proven in the movie. Connely's character never divulged much about herself, so we can't assume she was in the right.

    By the way, both my wife and I had trouble sleeping the night after we saw this movie. Powerful acting by Kingsley but this movie is not for everyone.

    If I don't need the spoiler cover, please let me know so I can remove it.

    Thanks,

    (admin note - spoiler text removed)
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    My understanding was that the house was improperly assessed a business tax classification, which put in motion the taxation of the property, combined with Kathy's non-response to the tax notice, which resulted in the government seizing the property and auctioning it off.

    Sure, if Kathy had answered her mail promptly, she would have known that her house was being improperly classified by the local government, and could have had that classification removed, and thus, she would not be evicted as she was in the film.
     
  5. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

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    ..
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    The mechanism by which evicts Kathy isn't really all that much to get worked up about. The point being is that circumstances happened, and the tragedy that gets set in motion by this turn of events is what is more interesting than the fact that she got evicted in the first place.
     
  7. Warren_Sc

    Warren_Sc Second Unit

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    The lien is a business tax. We don't know if it was generated by her not paying taxes for her cleaning service, if her husband left her with it, or if she inheirited it from her father. Kathy was quite aloof about responsibility in general (hence the dripping faucet), so we can't be sure.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    When her lawyer had Kathy recount the incident with her having to sign something that said the property didn't have business tax issues with it was a way to put the onus on the local government in the house fubar. Anyhow, that's how I took it, but it's open to interpretation.

    I admit, I had to laugh when Kathy was at the gas station, and comes up with the idea to burn something down, buys a plastic gas can and asks for pack of matches, and the next scene shows her filling up the gas can and she's smoking a cigarette near the gas station pump. It showed a lot about her state of mind in that one quick cut.
     
  9. Nathan V

    Nathan V Supporting Actor

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    Great movie. Amazing acting. Nobody else could do either of the two roles as well as Jennifer and Kingsley did. I loved the outdoor wide shots interspersed throughout the film. Very minimalist work here by Roger Deakins, esp. compared to his other work. Great writing, too. A truly heartbreaking ending. By far the most depressing film of the year, even moreso than 21 Grams (now who thought that was possible!).

    I found the film fascinating in that there was a conflict, and we were sympathetic towards both sides. There was no bad guy (except maybe the cop, who could be considered the catylyst). In all movies, there's a conflict, but we almost always take sides with one party and see the conflict from that party's point of view. Not having 'good'/'bad' characters is nothing new (noir, scorsese), but this is something very rare in modern film. I like that we spend an equal amount of time with both people.
     
  10. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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    I loved this film. I especially liked the shot of Jennifer Connelly at the end of the pier. [​IMG]
     
  11. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    That makes it now 3 films with Jennifer at the end of a pier.
     
  12. Warren_Sc

    Warren_Sc Second Unit

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    I agree that it's open to interpretation. I think they purposefully left the legal issue ambiguous, both so we would focus on the characters and to frustrate us. This movie was filled with frustration. I think that's why the ending was so depressing. It kind of reminded me of "Less than Zero", from a depression point of view.

    Did anyone else have trouble sleeping after seeing this movie? I might have felt better if there was an epilouge of Kathy with her life back together in a different house. Besides her ending quote, we really don't know that she "got it".
     
  13. Doug R

    Doug R Supporting Actor

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    I enjoyed this movie but didn't sympathize much with Jennifer. I agree the movie implied the property was seized in error but if you are too lazy to open your mail, then you get what you deserve (I won't go into the fact that yes, she should have been sent something certified but I'm going only on the movie's logic).

    In fact, I'd go as far to say she should have been arrested or at minimum questioned in regards to the son's death. She was "in league" with the cop who was essentially extorting $45K from Ben Kingsley via gunpoint. Conspiracy to commit extortion, which led to a murder.

    Good movie. Definitely thought provoking and always good to see a movie with multi-dimensional characters with no one-note good guys and one-note bad guys. Everyone had their faults.
     
  14. Jason Hughes

    Jason Hughes Supporting Actor

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    The legal issue was made clear. The county was going to give the house back if Beharni sold the house back to the county. FWIW, in the book, the error came about because the county got Bisgrove Street mixed up with Biscoe street, or some syntax error to that effect.

    But, as everybody stated, that was not the point of the movie. A deaf, dumb and blind attorney on day one after the bar could have gotten the auction stopped ASAP.

    Also (again you must throw logic out the window) what better thing to have happend to you than get wrongfully evicted from your own house? Think of the lawsuits involved. The county would probably pony up some serious cash long before it ever got to trial.
     
  15. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    **SPOILERS**

    As I said in my review, the film falls apart on its very basic premise.

    First, we are led to believe that the property is unencumbered but only for a $500 county tax lien and that is why the county is doing the eviction and not a foreclosure by the Borrower (i.e. bank). If there was an encumbrance present or mortgage associated with the property then the Borrower would also get the tax deficiency notices who would then get involved in making sure that the lien was properly paid, settled and removed. Here, I can accept Connelly’s character (Kathy) not opening her mail that sets the motion for the eviction.

    Second, and even if it is highly unlikely, I can also accept that the county can evict a homeowner out of their house to collect on a $500 tax lien, wrongfully assessed or not. But what I cannot accept is this: What happened to the rest of the $46,000 auction proceeds after the county tax lien was paid? Kathy should have received the balance of the proceeds to begin with since there was no other encumbrance on the property.

    If that was done, then the part where Behrani (Kingsley) needs to sell back the property to the county, which he would then give the money to Kathy in exchange for her quitclaiming the property to him is totally unnecessary. The kid would have never died and there would not have been a murder-suicide, etc., etc.

    This would have been a very good film if only the story did not skirt this biggest lapse in logic.

    ~Edwin
     
  16. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    I think that is digging too much on the unnecessary details. I mean nobody cares. It’s just some details. I didn’t even follow the legal issue closely. That’s not what the movie is about. It’s about something else. It’s about the human drama.
     
  17. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    I agree with Sam D. To mention just one famous example from cinema history, what about the all-powerful "letters of transit" in Casablanca? As far as anybody knows, no such forms existed that would have allowed anyone in Vichy-controlled North Africa to leave for any reason, regardless of what the French or German authorities did. It doesn't make much sense that the Germans would simply allow Victor Laszlo to walk freely about Casablanca the way he did. True, they do offer him a deal in exchange for the names of all the underground leaders in Europe, but still, the whole concept of these almost magical letters of transit is awfully unlikely.

    Now, does anybody who's ever seen that movie really care about that detail? Does it become grounds for criticizing the whole thing? Not at all.
     
  18. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    What else would it be about? But when the human drama is built upon certain character motivations and actions as a result of a false condition, then the impact of that drama is diminished and loses its integrity. The human drama is only as good and strong as a credible story it is built on.

    This is not even a minor technicality as the second half of the film, along with its major consequences, revolves around this issue. The journey is just as important as the outcome itself. It’s the difference that makes a powerful and hard-hitting drama that truly earns its sentiments versus one that doesn’t. If you are satisfied with mediocrity then by all means, give the filmmakers a free pass every time they concoct a storyline such as this one that is half-baked and only to get to your emotions.

    If you are only after emotions, then you’ll get it in this film. But I also wanted a well-thought out story to go along with it. If the story is not important to you then this whole film becomes just an exercise in dramatic acting. The better films are able to handle both elements.

    Again, the film is definitely recommended for its performances but this one (and only one) major lapse in logic that also turns out to be a key plot point in the film, for me, is very problematic.

    I’m glad there are those who enjoyed it.

    ~Edwin
     
  19. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Edwin, is it just me, or do you always have these sort of problems with movies? Reminds me of what you said about The Third Man. [​IMG]
     
  20. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    I can't wait to read your review of The Passion of the Christ!
     

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