Monday, May 29, 2006

American Beauty (1999)

Lester Burnham does not go quietly into his midlife crisis, trading his career as a corporate cog for a gig as French fry jockey at a local burger joint. Meanwhile, his emasculating wife Carolyn begins a robust affair with a fellow real estate mogul after sharing the libidinous joys of the local firing range. Ricky, the creepy new boy next door, a video camera-wielding Eddie Haskell on Prozac, leverages the true counterforce for change, slow-burn seducing Lester's disaffected daughter Jane on the one hand, becoming Lester's life coach-slash-pot dealer with the other. Ultimately, however, it's Ricky's father, Marine colonel Frank, who knows the secret of the crying game. Alan Ball's prequel to Six Feet Under (seriously, look closely for the uncredited cameo by Fisher & Sons...) is an effective blend of Death of a Salesman and Lolita (with just a pinch of Sunset Boulevard thrown in for good measure).

While we're on the subject, I had a friend a while back who, whenever spotting an empty plastic grocery sack tumbling in the wind, would say, "It's tough to be a bag." Hard to argue, I suppose.

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