*** Official "MONSTER'S BALL" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Oliver, Jan 5, 2002.

  1. David Oliver

    David Oliver Second Unit

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    I couldn't find any official review thread for this movie...
    Two fo the best performances of the year help hide the fact that there isn't much of a story here. This movie somewhat reminds me of the the quote (I can't remember who it was, "There is no there there". [/b]Monster's Ball[/b] is about two people searching for meaning, companionship, and eventually each other when life seems to throw them nothing but curveballs and beanballs. Unfortunatley, although the troubles are dramatic and major and add to the emotional capital of the characers, the struggle to escape them is not particularly daunting. However, while the movies narrative may not be particularly compelling, the performances of Billy Bob Thorton and especially Halle Berry are so strong, that i recommend the movie. These are must see performances that carry the movie through it's somewhat mundane story. The supporting cast, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle, Sean Coombs are also very good. Berry is definitely worthy of award season recognition that shuold come her way.
    This movie is finding it's way to the top of a lot of Critic's 2001 Top 10 lists. I am not quite that optimistic, but still give it [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] based on the overwhelmingly compelling performances of Berry and Thorton.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    [edited to reflect this thread's subsequent designation as official review thread]:
    Interesting observation about the story. The film gives you the entire history of two very different characters, each of whom reaches a crossroads and has to choose a direction. To me, that's an interesting story, but I realize it's a matter of taste.
    Here's my review, which was originally posted in what has now become the Official Discussion Thread:
    I don't know whether it's the best film of 2001, but it's certainly one of the most powerful and disturbing I've seen. Both Thornton and Berry are incredible; their performances grow in stature as I find myself thinking more and more about the film. Yes, they both take off their clothes, but unless you have a heart of stone, the context of the scene is so desperately sad that it's painful to watch.
    Berry has never been afraid to look unattractive on camera (Jungle Fever, Losing Isaiah), and she doesn't pull back here either. Her Leticia has been damaged in so many way that there's almost nothing left in her face but despair, and Berry shows us in terrible detail how hopeless this woman feels -- and then how suddenly she will leap at what looks like a moment's respite (salvation is beyond her imagining). Thornton uses some of the same reserve he displayed in The Man Who Wasn't There, but here it's a cover for powerful forces held barely in check under the appearance of a calm surface. (The fact that his character doesn't fit in should be obvious from the name: an apparent good ol' boy with the very un-Southern name of Hank Grotowski.)
    The supporting work by Heath Ledger and Peter Boyle is also very strong -- and chilling. The plot doesn't follow a predictable course, which is why I'm not trying to summarize it. Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone tell you the story before you see the film. All you need to know is that Thornton plays a prison guard who lives with his father and son, and who supervises the execution of a convicted killer (played competently by Sean Combs) to whom Halle Berry's Leticia is married. Let the rest unfold in all its messy unpredictability.
    M.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for Monster's Ball. 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, please post your discussion comments in the Official Discussion Thread for this film which can be found here
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Monster’s Ball, more or less, plays as two separate stories, which is then fused together as one halfway through the film. Each story has its own protagonist, Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) and Leticia (Halle Berry). One can’t help but notice though that one story is better written than the other. That one character is so much more developed.
    Clearly, Billy Bob Thornton is the powerhouse principal in this film. His story is the more compelling of the two. Heath Ledger and Peter Boyle both give very good supporting performances to round out his side of the story.
    On the other hand, there’s Halle Berry who is also impressive. However, her Leticia is not as well written as Thornton’s Hank. Her story is more to support Hank’s narrative. Without a doubt, it is Thornton who carries the entire film and a lot is put on his shoulders. Hank’s story is emotionally gripping but is loosened every time the narrative switches back to Leticia.
    Based on this year’s other female performances, Berry should get an Oscar nomination. However, it is clearly a noticeable first dramatic acting turn of consequence and her past films may not be helpful in securing that first Oscar win.
    One aspect, which I think hurts the picture is the manner in which the film’s sex scenes between the two main leads were handled, which almost borders on being gratuitous. These scenes were supposed to show the desperation of Hank and Leticia and not so much to showcase an actress’ beautiful body. In my judgement, director Marc Forster could have handled these scenes with greater care achieving the greater emotions needed to be conveyed by the two central characters. Somehow, it is an aspect of the film that taints an otherwise good performance by Berry.
    Monster’s Ball may not be this year’s best film but it is all the more worthy because of the acting turns by both Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry. Somehow, this film is on the same dramatic level as Todd Field’s In The Bedroom. However, it is the latter that would have a slight edge as it is on a more even keel.
    ~Edwin
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    What an unconventional love story, for a bit, I thought I was watching "Magnolia-lite" in the manner of how events of the past serve to land 2 people, unlikely to get together in a different time and place, in a strange relationship. Some of the plotline seems almost too "convenient" but I went with it.

    Very good performances by Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry's performance was a little more uneven. I don't know if the director intended the bits of comedy that ensued with Peter Boyle has Thornton's character's father, but he sure got it with the audience I saw this film with.

    I might be one of the very few here that is actually living in Georgia, and the crowd is definitely highly aware of the racial tensions that the film brought about in small doses. The racial scenes did get the audience a bit tense, but fortunately it's not the main thrust of the story, so the audience was spared.

    I give it a grade of B or 3 stars.
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This great film has finally made it's way to my neck of the woods. This is perhaps one of the best dramas I've seen in quite some time. The acting performances by all were outstanding. The writing and direction of Monster's Ball were top-notch and deserved more recognition. The desperation seen by all of the characters just reenforces the notion that life is never simple and it's full of much pain and sorrow. However, there comes a time when you're given a chance to make your life a little bit more pleasurable. You do so, by letting go of the demons that seem to possessed you forever in your life of misery and despair.

    The film has some uncomfortable scenes in it but in the end, to me they just illustrate how everyone has to endure the ups and downs of living. It's a shame this film wasn't produced and made by a larger film company that would have given this film the exposure it deserved. Most people won't discover this film until it hits cable and video but when they do, it's reputation of being one of the best 2001 films will become better known to the masses.

    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    I watched it last night and was hugely disappointed. No story, very mundane, mono-tone acting by Thornton. Halle Berry was nothing outstanding. So she did a porn-style love scene without the music and some good screaming at the hospital. A far cry from quality acting. How she won an Oscar for this is beyond me.
    I want my 2 hours back. I give it one star for the sound track.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  8. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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    I also thought this was totally under-rated. It is a marvelous film with great emotional depth. Thorton is definitely on a roll as a powerhouse force today. Berry was only "okay" in my opinion... she was drowned out somewhat by his brilliance. This was a contemplative film, not an escapist one. It dealt with a sort-of inert redemption for human interaction... with the neat crossover of how they had treated their deceased sons. I was pretty blown away by it all...
    A negative: Berry was just tooooo attractive... she was not simply a waitress, but a stunning supermodel IMO... and the steamy scene where they make love and fall off the couch... well, next thing we see is him wearing a perfecting ironed pair of underwear. ?? As Hollywood goes though this was a stunner.
    and no offense Ron [​IMG], but by looking at your DVD list, it wouldn't be hard to surmise that Monster's Ball wouldn't be up your alley.
     

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