The Big Chill and Grand Canyon

Paul D Young

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I watched both The Big Chill and Grand Canyon this week by coincidence without realizing they were both directed by Lawrence Kasdan. I had seen them both way back in the day on videotape (gasp!) but it was a brand new experience to watch both of these they that the should be watched.

Needless to say, I found both movies to be terrific and very moving. I was beginning to think that maybe Lawrence Kasdan was some sort of overlooked genius (by me). So I went to the IMDB to see what else he did and I found, amongst others, Silverado and French Kiss which I remember as being kind of crappy (maybe I am wrong). These were the only other Lawrence Kasdan movies I remember seeing.

Well here is my question:

Should I keep on watching Lawrence Kasdan's movies or did I already hit upon his two highlights? If I should, what other Lawrence Kasdan movies should I try next?

I must reiterate that I really loved both the Big Chill and Grand Canyon. I was quite surprised.
 

Walter Kittel

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You should definitely check out Kasdan's first feature film Body Heat, which works effectively as an homage to / updated version of Wilder's Double Indemnity. I would consider it to be the only other film of his directorial career to be on a par with The Big Chill and Grand Canyon.
Mumford is a light, breezy Capra-esque tale that while enjoyable, seems inconsequential ( some would argue that is the point of Mumford ) next to some of the other films of Kasdan's career.
Edit: I can't comment upon The Accidental Tourist as, to the best of my recollection, I've never viewed it. I know that some folks on this forum hold it in high regard; so perhaps my first paragraph regarding films that belong alongside the two you mentioned should be amended to include The Accidental Tourist.
- Walter.
 

Nate Anderson

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As a Kasdan fan, I have to say check out Mumford when you're in the mood for something light. It's really just a light, fun flick.
Silverado definately deserves another viewing. I always thought of it as one of the better Westerns out there. I'm not a big fan of Wyatt Earp though.
 

Elizabeth S

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In my opinion, he has never topped "Body Heat", though I've seen virtually all his movies. It's classic!
 

Jack Briggs

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Why Body Heat doesn't receive more recognition for excellence than it does is a mystery to me. I think it's one of the great noirs.
 

Justin Doring

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I personally think Kasdan is one of the best directors we've seen in the last 20 years. All of his films have been, at least, very good. I'd have trouble picking a favorite.

Body Heat is a superb "modern film noir" with great performances and a terrific John Barry score.

Silverado is the Western for someone who's never seen a Western. Kasdan made a wonderful homage here that stands alongside the best of the genre. And Bruce Broughton's rousing score is superb.

The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, as you've noted are also great. Still, I can't help but feel that James Newton Howard's music somewhat ruins the final shots of the latter film. It's pretty cheesy sounding. Silence is golden.

I remember Wyatt Earp being very good too, if flawed, but I haven't seen it since it came out in the theaters, so I can't say. I still lament that Kasdan changed composers with Grand Canyon, as both Barry and Broughton have far more talent than Howard.

For an underrated gem that I absolutely love, check out Zero Effect directed by Kasdan's son. It's got a lot of great replay value as well (similar to The Big Lebowski).
 

Paul D Young

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I also like Zero Effect but I forgot it was by Jake Kasdan. I see he also did Orange County, did you like that one? I never really considered it before.

I am definitely going to check out some more Lawrence Kasdan movies soon. I think I'll start with Body Heat. That seems to be the one getting the most praise.
 

AndrewD

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I always look forward to another Lawrence Kasdan movie. All of his movies seem to be more character-driven than plot or action-driven which is refreshing.
"I Love You to Death" was a neat little ensemble piece that was actually based on a true story. Tracy Ullman goes to great lengths to try and kill her adulterous husband played by Kevin Kline with an outrageous Italian accent. A great black comedy.
Though he didn't direct them, his scripts for Raiders of the Lost Ark and Empire Strikes Back weren't too shabby either.
 

Quentin

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Kasdan is one of my favorites.

"Body Heat" is a classic noir, and one of the tightest scripts you'll ever read. Kasdan was at the top of his game in those days, writing "Empire Strikes Back" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as well.

But, his auteur attempts are oft in need of some editing. "Grand Canyon" is long and meandering. Same with "Wyatt Earp" (though, parts of it are spectacular). "Accidental Tourist" is great - though, it's based on a book and is an odd character study.

"Silverado" is too episodic for me. It has its moments, but as a whole, I think it fails.
 

AndrewD

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"Silverado" is too episodic for me. It has its moments, but as a whole, I think it fails.
I agree. Every couple of years I seem to come across Silverado and everytime I always hope to like it more than I did before. It's got a great cast, a great look and a great score, but I always end up disappointed with it somehow.
 

Vickie_M

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"Silverado" is too episodic for me. It has its moments, but as a whole, I think it fails.
Not for me, I love Silverado! I'm not big on Westerns generally, I think I only have about 4 or 5 in my 1000+ DVD collection. Silverado works for me every time I've seen it and I've seen it several times.

To paraphrase Andrew, it's got a great cast, a great look and a great score, and I always have a great time watching it.

Here's another vote for Zero Effect. It's a little oddball of a film, and it's my favorite Ben Stiller and Bill Pullman film. Orange County has its own charms, but doesn't quite do it for me.
 

Justin Doring

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In my opinioin, Silverado is in no way too episodic; the pacing is superb. The film is a triumph in every way; one could not ask for a more quintessential Western.

What bothers me about Silverado, however, is that most of Rosanna Arquette's scenes are cut, and as a result her role seems incomplete. Kasdan comments on this in the DVD's special features, but Columbia didn't bother to offer to let him do a director's cut or even include the deleted scenes.
 

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