*** Official HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Patrick Sun, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    This film sidesteps many generic cliches in a film about a woman who loses her house by a clerical mistake with the local government, which results in it being auctioned off, and the buyer is an Iranian who has profits in his eyes as he picks up the distressed property for a song. What unfolds is pretty moving, as the search for cultural identity (by the Iranian family) and social identity (Jennifer Connelly's Kathy who has been beset with personal turmoil) meet head-on at different angles which impacts all involved in a final act that makes it very compelling to watch to its conclusion. The direction (by a first-timer Vadim Perelman) is very effective, especially in the final act, where restraint is on display, but it's done deftly and assuredly.

    The film's trailer is pretty bad considering what the film is really about, and should not dissaude people from seeing the film.

    Ben Kingsley is absolutely stunning in this film (I'm hoping he gets an Oscar nod for his work here). Jennifer Connelly's only shortcoming in the film is that she's just too damn good-looking, even when she's supposed to be down and out, she's still gorgeous to look at, and it's hard to imagine her to be the mess she is in the film. But, still, she's very effective in conveying a woman adrift in her life's woes. Ron Eldard's performance is good as the kind-hearted Sheriff who helps out Kathy, but it's not outstanding, and nowhere in Kingsley's league.

    I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "House of Sand and Fog". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.

  3. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

    Mar 23, 2000
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  4. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

    Mar 4, 2001
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    This film is brilliantly acted by Kingsley and the beyond gorgeous Connelly. They both give powerhouse performances, and carry the film to the greatness that it winds up being. Their interactions with each other are just classic, and their characters are both very well developed. I also became emotionally connected to them both, and thus got absorbed in the film's emotions. And what powerful emotions they are! A very harrowing film emotionally, believe me.

    The film's story unfolds wonderfully, and the cinematography and score compliment the story perfectly. They greatly help to give the film the feel that the story demands. The story also contains a good deal of suspense, as we constantly wonder what the characters will do next against each other, or even if they will resort to violence.

    A fantastic, mesmerizing film, and easily one of the absolute best of the year. A definite new favorite.

  5. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

    Dec 1, 2000
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    Saw this the other night. A few friends of mine suggested this but I had not even heard of it. Rarely do I goto a movie that I have not seen a trailer for or haven't even heard of.

    Let me tell you, I was NOT dissapointed after watching this movie. Very depressing but very well acted. Ben Kingsley deserves an Oscar for this one.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Dave Bennett

    Dave Bennett Screenwriter

    Aug 11, 2000
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    Just got back from seeing it.
    I'm hesitant to apply a rating of an arbitray scale to this movie as I always am.
    I will say however that I REALLY enjoyed it. Ben Kingsley was great and Jennifer Connelly put in another fantastic performance. Her character's illusion of strength is quickly cut through and you see her play a very vunerable character who needs help. I think both will get Oscar nods(atleast I hope they do).
    Essentially, the film is a character study of three people. All three of these people have flaws and weaknesses that are deep inside and can't be seen initially. However, one of these characters prays on the misfortunes and weaknesses of the others for personal gain.
    If you like movies where the the story is about the characters (rather than the characters being part of a greater story) you will love this film.
  7. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    House of Sand and Fog - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of four

    There really is no point or theme or idea behind this movie other than that most people are good people but manage to do some nasty things to other people, depending on the circumstances.

    Character. In House of Sand and Fog, the titular house is the least important aspect of the entire story. It could be place with innumerable other objects of interest--in other words, it's a mcguffin. The movie is essentially all talking heads. People interact with one another, and character is developed and built. The first hour and forty five minutes forces us to care deeply for almost all the characters of the film, and then our guts our ripped out in the end.

    Jennifer Connelly is amazing, a truly incredible actress. kathy lets forth so much emotion so early in the film that its almost overwhelming, and it takes the majority of the film to get us to care for her.

    Equally impressive is Ron Eldred in an unsympathetic and sometimes terrifying supporting role. Lester is the closest thing to a really lousy human being in the film, but he has his good qualities too. The scene that really floored me was when he went as a police officer to speak with the Behrani's. The nuances of his work in this scene are fantastic, his face is scary and terrible to watch. in many ways this scene was the most difficult of any to watch.

    Shohreh Agdasholoo had the sympthetic and heartwarming supporting role. She is so beautiful, and as the wife of the colonel she simply radiates grace and sadness. Her work is subtle and natural, in all the movie, it was only her work (because it didn't have a really showy acting scene...) that never once reminded me I was watching an actor. For all the other performances I would sometimes be watching the actor and not the performance, not so with Mrs. Behrani. Her dream when Mr. Behrani brings in the tea near the end was so beautiful. and you know just be watching her face that she knows--even if she doesn't know the specifics--and completely trusts and loves her husband.

    And I'm of course leaving the best for last. Ben Kingsley. He is simply incredible. Yes it's a showy performance, but the character has many quiet moments that are the equal (if not better) to all the 'juicy' scenes. In many ways The House of Sand and Fog is a film that exists for one scene, and that scene makes the entire movie worth watching (and rewatching) because it is a perfect and incredibly powerful moment. Ben Kingsley has that scene here.

    The House of Sand and Fog is in many ways similar to the Deer Hunter. Both are wonderful films that take their time in telling a story, and overwhelmed, perfected, and given significance by a single moment near the films' ends.

    A powerful film that surprised the heck out of me.

  8. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Nov 4, 2000
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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of four.

    Minor nitpick, I will take this over Penn in Mystic River.

  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    After viewing House of Sand and Fog, I’m still amazed how filmmakers fail in a simple test of logic and still expect its story to resonate with its audience especially when its main catalyst is seriously at fault. This is the second film of 2003 where there are serious lapses in logic and reason. The other one is Mystic River.

    Here, we are led to believe that a county can evict a homeowner for non-payment of a $500 tax assessment, auction off the property and not give any monetary consideration to the owner for the fair market value of the seized property. While I could easily forgive the film for this serious mistake, forgetting about it is another matter as the whole story revolves around this very basic premise including a tragic turn of events that happens later on.

    But if I can accept this lapse in logic then Vadim Perelman’s debut film is an absorbing tale of mistakes and misjudgments and ultimately becomes a tragedy in errors. Ben Kingsley, Jennifer Connelly and Ron Eldard are all exceptional. The circumstances these characters are in are all the more real. But how they get there is the problem.

    Finally, it is possible to accept that the system and individuals make certain mistakes – this I always believe. We live in a world of flawed individuals and a system that sometimes does not work. But when a film’s story inexplicably defies that there is a system in place and totally betrays this foundation to which its character’s motivations are entirely based on, no matter how good the performances are, its entire credibility is shattered.

    A film this good, should not be this frustrating.

  10. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

    Feb 4, 2002
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    A stunning movie -- it really shook me to the core. I much preferred it to Mystic River, and preferred Kingsley's tightly-wound performance to Penn's grandstanding (some of which might be Clint Eastwood's fault). I've never seen Kingsly give a bad performance, come to think of it. The rest of the cast was also superb.

    As for Connelly's character being too damn pretty, I thought that too, but then again, that might be the reason she *got away with* being such a fuck-up for so long.
  11. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
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    Monroe, LA
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    Tim Glover
    Holy Crap. Just saw this tonight. Recent 1st time viewings of Dogville & now House of Sand and Fog have literally drained this ole poor man! [​IMG]...Hey I'm trying to like these a bit off the mark films I've missed over the years but how bout a little fluff and happiness every now and then. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I'm teasing a bit there. Seriously, House of Sand & Fog is a wallop of a film. It's depressing as hell. But man is it also extremely well acted and directed. Everyone just seems to nail their part perfectly. I read this is the director's first time for a full feature film? Are you kidding me???!

    I really like James Beradinelli's reviews the past few years. More times than not he writes what I am thinking. He states his allegiances switched frequently while watching this. Mine did a little but more importantly, each character was able to show their virtues and their demons. It's then left to us to decide where we want to go.

    I guess I just don't have the stomach for endings like this. It's my major pet peave with The Departed too[​IMG]

    Did Esmail really have to get shot and killed? Wasn't there another way to show this conflict?

    How does one rank a film that has the tone like this one does? This is why I wouldn't be a good professional movie critic. [​IMG] It's too hard for me to separate so much stellar work from the emotion of it all. But I'll try.

    I do give it very high marks. I'd rather not see it again for a very long time though. At least not without some prozac at my side, and Animal House next on the lineup.

    I can see how it made alot of top 10 lists for 2003.


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