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The Story: What's It All About

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The Story: What's It All About? When I was a kid (not that long ago, thank you), movies made me dream of what my life would be like when I grew up. After coming back from a great movie, I could sit in my room for hours and fantasize about the worlds I would see and the places I would visit outside my bedroom window, the places that only exist in that narrow, nebulous space between dreaming and waking. As I grew older, "wiser" and less innocent, I realized that those moments of fantasy can only be captured for a moment. As is the cruelty of adulthood, they are banished in an instant when the alarm clock rings, leaving only sorrow, regret and the slim anticipation that upon the next morning's sunrise, that glorious moment may return yet again to taunt you with that briefest of serjeanties. Pleasantville, though not a perfect film, brought me to that place again, if only for a few moments. Though critical consensus of the film was mixed and audience reaction more muted than expected, I found it to be a wonderful and moving fantasy, and one of the few films to understand the medium of film and what stories are best told with it. One thing I remember most about movies from my childhood is that they knew they were movies. ...read more.


First, and unfortunately, many critics and viewers focused on the digital effects required to colorize only specific image in any given shot (a technique utilizing extensive scanning and artistic tinkering), and failed to notice how well the slow integration of color into the film was employed. Watching the film twice is a treat, actually, because one notices how clever specific objects are colorized at specific times in the film. As a result, thankfully, the "black and white into color" is not just used as a gimmick, but as a completely valid and supported form of symbolism. Sure, it may not be subtle, but is it beautiful, exciting and, well, cinematic as hell. The performances are all first-rate especially Joan Allen as a repressed wife, William H. Macy has her befuddled but ultimately well-meaning husband, and Jeff Daniels as a the local soda jerk and frustrated artist. The Joan Allen/Jeff Daniels relationship in particular stands out, and I think it is the heart of the film. It is genuinely poignant and touching watching the transformation of the characters, and both Ms. Allen and Mr. Daniels convey a world of emotion through simply expressions and small movements. Their chaste meeting as the soda shop is a particular highlight. However, there are a few problems with he film, most notably the last half hour, where a needless conflict and dramatic conclusion seem forced on the film. ...read more.


Probably the main attractions are the audio commentaries with Director and Writer Gary Ross, which is informative and enjoyable (though it would have been nice to have some additional participants), and a second commentary with composer Randy Newman, who offers insights on his work during breaks of the isolated score. This is perhaps a controversial feature, as some may prefer to have the isolated score with no dialogue in-between, though it is important to note that as far as I could tell, the commentary never interfered with the score. Personally, I thought it was more interesting to hear than just the isolated score by itself. Also included is a 30-minute documentary on the special effects techniques and art of the film, broken up into about five little mini-features. These were actually better than I thought, though the tech fellows interviewed did seem a bit uncomfortable in the spotlight. But, the features are very informative and enjoyable. Also included are the standard cast & crew biographies and theatrical trailer, as well as a visually interesting Fiona Apple music video for the obligatory single off the movie, "Across The Universe." Interestingly, it is directed by Ms. Apple's current boyfriend, Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson. Wonder if his New Line affiliation has anything to do with this? ...read more.

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