Monster

Not rated yet!
Director
Patty Jenkins
Runtime
1 h 50 min
Release Date
24 December 2003
Genres
Crime, Drama
Overview
An emotionally scarred highway hooker shoots a sadistic trick who rapes her, and ultimately becomes America's first female serial killer.
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VJ Morton3
Right Wing Film Geek



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • Oscar-bait season, part 1

    Oscar-bait season, part 1

    MONSTER (Patty Jenkins, USA, 2003, 7)

    OK, Charlize Theron IS in full-beg “please give me an Oscar” mode, uglying herself up to play prostitute and serial-killer Aileen Wuornos. But just because you beg for something doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it (and I’ve thought Theron one of the better actresses among Hollywood hotties for some time; you can see behind her eyes).

    This is a great performance, in no small part because it’s not all just Nervous Twitching Tics and Big Moments. Those tics becomes stronger later in the film, but by then her murder “career” is spinning out of control and the excuses Wuornos makes to herself for her murders are becoming thinner and thinner. She’s losing her grip, but in a believable arc.

    But what makes the performance is how she inhabits the character’s body language earlier — Theron nails a certain sort of habitual swagger in the walk, and a bored look on her face while hooking. She’s just as believable sitting at a dive bar, soaked, drinking her last $5, and communicating one of the most difficult emotions to convey — dead-end tiredness. We don’t even need the line saying that she had decided to kill herself if God didn’t send her some future — in the person of lesbian Christina Ricci, who becomes her lover and eventually inspires her murder rampage. Ricci is … yawn … as terrific as always, though again in the underappreciated “straight man” … uh … role.

    I do have one problem with this film though. In his panegyric to MONSTER (which he named the best film of the year), Roger Ebert says, “There are no excuses for what she does, but there are reasons, and the purpose of the movie is to make them visible.” I don’t agree. I think the film dances damn close to making excuses for Wuornos — not because reasons = excuses (clearly, that’s not necessarily so), but because MONSTER caricatures the messenger in the two or three places where it makes some pretty obvious moral points.

    For example, there is a scene where Ricci’s custodian/aunt tells Ricci that lots of people have shit childhoods but don’t become hookers or junkies (amp that up quite a bit to apply to murder). But the aunt character is played throughout the movie as a hysterical, prudish harpie and this particular line comes 5 seconds after she uses the word “nigger” and immediately says “now, I’m not a racist.” Yeah, right.

    Still, there’s too much to like here to dismiss the film. And one other thing — MONSTER does demonstrate definitively and unquestionably that Journey is awesome.

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    January 26, 2004 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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  • Fearless prognostication, part 2
    (”Monster” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Fearless prognostication, part 2


    The Golden Globes were handed out last night (a complete list of the winners is here), and the two films that won Best Picture (unlike the Oscars, the Globes divide some of the movie categories into comedy and drama) were THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING (drama) and LOST IN TRANSLATION (comedy).

    Other key winners were Sean Penn (MYSTIC RIVER) and Charlize Theron (MONSTER) for best drama lead performances, and Bill Murray (LOST IN TRANSLATION) and Diane Keaton (SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE) for best comic lead performances. Peter Jackson won best director for the third part of the Tolkien trilogy, and Sofia Coppola won best script for TRANSLATION. These are all pretty much locks for at least a nomination.

    I do hope, though, the supporting actor award given to Tim Robbins for MYSTIC RIVER was the result of the ballots being sent by mistake to The Deaf and Blind Academy giving out their Braille novel awards and that “Tim Robbins” in Braille forms the shape of a Playboy centerfold. That’s the only acceptable excuse I can imagine.

    The Oscars have a tradition of ignoring or downplaying comedies (and rewarding the tic-ridden handicapped role — have I mentioned that I HATE Tim Robbins in MYSTIC RIVER?). One fact suffices to prove this: Cary Grant was nominated just twice — for PENNY SERENADE and NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART. Yes, the greatest film comedian ever got nominated for an orphanage tear-jerker and a Clifford Odets bit of cockney social consciousness. So most of the time, the Golden Globe drama winner has the advantage over the Golden Globe comedy winner. So, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that LORD OF THE RINGS 3.0 will win the Best Picture. Unless there’s pictures of Peter Jackson with a dead girl or a live boy — only in Hollywood, that might even improve its chances.

    More seriously, all the extracinematic reasons that films win Oscars are pointing LORD’s way — it was the capper to one of the most commercially successful series of all time, and, unlike say THE MATRIX movies, it was a succes d’estime as well. Neither of the first two films got much love from Oscar (the first got 13 nominations, but only four victories in minor categories; the second got just six nods and two minor victories) — so voting for it becomes a way both to salute the whole trilogy and to make up for past snubs. There’s also not a clear alternative front-runner right up Oscar-bait Alley, like there was with CHICAGO last year. So my Magic 8-ball sez the man who made HEAVENLY CREATURES takes home the gold in a month.

    Now, I have to *see* the damn thing.

    October 2007 update: Never did see LOTR3. Don’t feel the slightest bit unfulfilled.

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    January 26, 2004 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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    1. […] nomination for Bill Murray, and he might even win, though my money would be on Sean Penn (insert this rant from yesterday about the Academy giving short shrift to comedy and comic […]

      Pingback by Love and hate about the Oscar nominations « Rightwing Film Geek | January 11, 2008 | Reply


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  • Love and hate about the Oscar nominations
    (”Monster” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Love and hate about the Oscar nominations

    Having trouble with my phone line at home (cursed ice storm), so I couldn’t write up my reaction to the Oscar nominations until now (the complete list is here.)

    Good surprises:
    The year’s best film IMNHO was CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS, which was unfortunately was a documentary and therefore in years past its quality and critical popularity would have guaranteed that it would not get a nomination as Best Documentary. But not this year. Not only was FRIEDMANS nominated, but the other candidate for the year’s most widely-praised documentary, THE FOG OF WAR, was picked too. Though I’ve expressed my doubts and crushed high expectations about FOG, it’s also good that finally the Academy acknowledges the existence of the country’s most important documentarian — Errol Morris. And all three of the others were films that I have heard of, that played in theaters, and that was generally well-liked by the few critics who saw them. The documentary branch for years had a nearly perfect record of ignoring the one film that year that *had* to be on the list — Morris’ own THE THIN BLUE LINE, ROGER & ME, CRUMB, HOOP DREAMS, HEARTS OF DARKNESS. But this year and last, they seem to have gotten their heads screwed on straight. Last year, four of the five nominees were BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, WINGED MIGRATION, SPELLBOUND and DAUGHTER FROM DANANG — all films that, regardless of my varied particular opinions of them, were strong enough *as films* to get substantial critical praise and to win (with the exception of DANANG) a very broad and hugely popular commercial release by documentary standards.

    Some major nominations going to foreign films. THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE scored a nomination for best animated feature nomination and one for best song. And then there was all the love for CITY OF GOD — four nominations, including two major ones (script and director). I’m under no illusions that either is likely to win anything — for a foreign film, it is really true that the honor is just being nominated (some exceptions duly noted, including last year’s script win for Almodovar’s excellent TALK TO HER). According to the Associated Press, when director Fernando Meirelles heard of the nominations, he asked “Has the Academy gone mad?” No, Fernando: you just did good. I’ll have more to say here about this great film, which will be out on home video in a couple of weeks, when I do my Top 10 essay this weekend.

    The near-shutout suffered by COLD MOUNTAIN in the major categories — film, actress, director, script (yes … adapted script). I don’t begrudge Renee her nomination (and likely win), but what exactly was distinguished about Jude Law? Have I mentioned that I don’t care for this fantasy for the art-house audience? One Southerner of my acquaintance high-fived me, and told me that when he had heard of the film’s Oscar flop, he was dancing on the toilet bowl.

    Finally, a Best Actor nomination for Bill Murray, and he might even win, though my money would be on Sean Penn (insert this rant from yesterday about the Academy giving short shrift to comedy and comic actors).

    While I’m not crazy about most of the particular choices, it is good to note that the Academy actually acknowledged that films get released in the first 11 months of the year. Last year, all five nominees were released Dec. 18 or later. This year: LORD OF THE RINGS 3 on Dec. 17; MASTER AND COMMANDER on Nov. 14; MYSTIC RIVER on Oct. 8; LOST IN TRANSLATION on Sept. 12 and SEABISCUIT on July 25. Perhaps the shortened awards season this year (and the screener ban) made the end-of-year booking strategy not viable. Or maybe the voters just didn’t care for MONSTER, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, 21 GRAMS, THE COMPANY, COLD MOUNTAIN, IN AMERICA, BIG FISH, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and CALENDAR GIRLS.

    Bad surprises:
    The absolute shutout suffered by THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS. That’s not so much a surprise, I guess, as a disappointment about what I think was the best American fiction film of last year. I well realized it wasn’t gonna be a major player, since it was released in August and did poorly at the box office. But it still hurts that there was no room at the inn for its script and that Campbell Scott has nothing to show for the two of the best performances by an American male of recent years (this one and ROGER DODGER — so amazing because the characters in question are nothing like one another). Grrr … oh well: DENTISTS came out on home video last week and I heartily recommend it as one of the most realistic and dry-eyedly romantic depictions of family life I’ve ever seen.

    The nomination of Tim Robbins and his collection of gestures masquerading as a performance in MYSTIC RIVER for anything other than a Razzie. Have I mentioned here before that I *hate* that performance. I suppose I can see the logic … that’s Acting. In fact I’ve never so *much* Acting in a noncomic performance in my life. You see every twitch and halt, and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into this, The Ultimate Performance. It’s discouraging that even professional actors are again mistaking playing a handicap (or someone of the opposite sex, who ages 100 years, etc.) as acting.

    No Scarlett Johansson. She gives two of the year’s best lead female performances — in LOST IN TRANSLATION and GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING — and gets shut out. And not because neither film was up the Academy’s alley — LOST was one of the big winners and PEARL was a December prestige release that did get several (very deserved) nods in the technical categories. Maybe the two performances canceled each other out. Or maybe the Academy just prefers telegraphed collections of body-language tics to using your eyes and face and just *existing* on camera.

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    January 29, 2004 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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The Weekly Standard Staff1
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  • The Unintentional Politics of Wonder Woman
    (”Monster” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Maybe there will come a day when we can talk about big-budget Hollywood movies that happen to be female-driven in terms of whether we liked the movies or not. But that day is a very long way off. The problem begins because there are so few of these films, which puts huge pressure on each of them to do a yeoman's work in the culture wars. Of the tentpole releases by Hollywood's six major studios for the rest of this summer only two—the bawdy comedies Rough Night and Girls Trip —could be de
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American Renaissance1
American Renaissance



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    Steve Sailer1
    Taki Mag



    (Reviewers' Site/Bio)


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