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oscar run xi: monster

I honestly don't know what to make of Monster. A few things are easy to say: Charlize Theron is as good as everyone says, and it ain't about the makeup, she gets inside the character. Christina Ricci is also fine, although her character as written seems harder to understand. I'd also guess the movie is successful on its own terms. I don't actually know what those terms are, but I can guess that writer/director Patty Jenkins was aiming for a complete lack of glamour, and she succeeds.

The film is so good at anti-glamour that it made me question my fondness for other movies about society's dregs. Even a movie like Sid and Nancy, which is mostly non-judgmental, allows Gary Oldman to make Sid Vicious more likable than he probably was ... it gives us a way inside the movie. Monster doesn't do that ... this monster is never likable, and certainly never glamorous (this ain't Bonnie and Clyde), yet through the force of Theron's performance we feel like we've gotten to understand something of what made a woman into a monster.

The "facts" of Aileen Wuornos's life are grim; there's nothing to be done about that. But we can be thankful that Patty Jenkins made this film, and not Lars von Trier ... he would have invented a dozen other atrocities for Wuornos to experience, then lovingly degraded Theron until her performance disappeared under the crap he made her endure.

The only Oscar nomination here is for Theron, and that's appropriate ... I respected the rest of the movie without feeling any real connection to it, which may be the point. If I gave 1/2 points, this would be a good one for a rating of 6.5, a little under 6 for the movie but bumped up by Theron. I don't know ... it's not as good as Requiem for a Dream, which got an 8 from me ... it's about as good as Whale Rider, another decent-not-great movie with a rewarding lead performance. OK, I'm feeling generous: seven on a scale of ten.

Comments

Kim Dot Dammit

Ultimately this is the same conclusion I finally reached regarding Monster. I gave Charlize Theron an A, but overall as a movie it was a B at best. I realized that it's really a "one woman show" more than anything else. If you take her performance out of it and just look at it objectively as a film, it doesn't really do anything very innovative or remarkable. It's her performance that carries it. So, I agree with our score.

Charlie Bertsch

We like Lars Von Trier in this house!

And we didn't like Requiem for a Dream that much, largely because everyone looked so perfect and clean.

Last Exit to Brooklyn is a much better Selby adapation, in our book.

We use the word "we" around here. Especially when I'm talking.

Steven Rubio

Ellen Burstyn didn't look perfect or clean in Requiem for a Dream.

You can like Lars von Trier and still wonder what's up with the women in those movies. Here's what I wrote about Breaking the Waves:

In Dancer, Bjork plays a woman upon whom every possible tragedy unfolds; Bjork hated working with von Trier so much she's said she never wants to act again, even though she won a Best Actress award at Cannes. In Breaking the Waves, Emily Watson makes her film debut and earns an Oscar nomination. Her role is that of a simpleton woman who goes through a series of degradations in order to restore her husband to health. For these acts, the film wants us to see her as a true Christian.
Setting this guy loose on Aileen Wuornos would be something to see, for sure ... I just don't know that I'd want to see it. And I doubt he'd have gotten such a great performance out of Theron ... if the above two films are any indication, he would have turned Charlize into a bag of tics.

Kim Dot Dammit

Maybe Ellen Burstyn looked bad, but the lead junkies -- Jennifer Connelly and Jared Whatshisface -- were way too beautiful. I can attest to the fact that when you are that strung out, you don't get $100 haircuts. Seriously. I have to admit though, I liked the double ass fuck scene. I like a little soft porn mixed in with my junkie with $100 haircut movies. Oh yeah, and the pimp dealer dude, now he was the most believable character. I think I've met him a few times.

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