Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) lives a charmed life, despite being born with a lower I.Q. than most – as well as a physical deformity of the spine which forces him to wear corrective leg braces. Gump’s mother (Sally Field) pushes and encourages him enough that he eventually sets out on his own and ends up witnessing lots of events in recent history that have shaped the world. On his journey of self, he chases love – in the form of Jenny Curran (Robin Wright), his childhood friend and crush – and also experiences war, happiness, loss and the gamut of the human experience, proving that despite his setbacks, Gump is wiser than most of us can say we are.

I remember seeing this back around the time it first came out, and I remember being blown away. So, I figured I’d revisit it, since it’s on Netflix, and to tell you the truth – Forrest Gump holds up pretty well over time.

Forrest Gump, the character, is one of Tom Hanks’ better roles. I’m no Hanks hater by any means, but he has a particular style that doesn’t lend to camouflaging his own personality. When I see him in films, I have a hard time separating film Hanks from real-life Hanks that I’ve seen. In Forrest Gump, this isn’t a problem.

Much like Billy Bob Thornton’s role in Slingblade, this is one of those times where you wonder if they’d have been able to make a film like this nowadays. There are some questionable messages in the film that critics would pounce on in present times, but for the time it was made it was a nice reflection on the Baby Boomer generation.

The movie is based, of course, on the novel of the same name by Winston Groom from 1986, although in the book, Forrest Gump is a pretty different character. Also, there are a few different events in the book that never made it to the movie version – like when Forrest went to space (would’ve been strange to see Hanks in space in Forrest Gump as well as in Apollo 13, amirite?!)

The only thing that didn’t really hold up too well was when it showed footage of Forrest in the old newsreels and footage from things and events that Forrest was privy to witnessing as history in the film progressed. You could really notice it. Other than that, though, the cinematography was great and the pacing of the film was really well done.

If you haven’t seen this one yet – do. It’s a classic.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

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Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997)

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997)

Original Theatrical Release: November 21, 1997
Director: Clint Eastwood

This film was based on a novel by John Berendt , of the same name.

A New York journalist, John Kelso (John Cusack) travels to the slower-paced Savannah, Georgia to write a feature for Town And Country Magazine on the massive annual Christmas party that Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey) throws. After the party, Williams kills his violent and childish lover, Billy Hanson (Jude Law) and claims it was self defense. Sensing a hit-story and novel, Kelso stays in Savannah to cover the trial and ends up meeting all sorts of wacky characters including an African-American transvestite night club performer named Lady Chablis (Who plays herself) and a vocalist named Mandy Nichols (Alison Eastwood) whom John has a romantic interest in.

PHEW.

With a crazy cast of characters and a long-winded, potentially boring story…certain things have to come together for the film to be successful. Clint Eastwood’s direction seems to capture the essence of the slow, down-to-earth southern lifestyle of Savannah, Georgia. The movie sometimes follows too closely to that pacing and seems to lead down roads that go nowhere, blissfully taking its time in its own atmospheric qualities, which thankfully are good more often than not (the graveyard scene, anyone?).

I’m a huge fan of Spacey and Cusack, so I admittedly would watch almost anything either of them are in (probably even porn, if it existed…JUDGE ME NOT), but I think Spacey’s performance in this film almost borders on being a parody, which actually works. The man’s a genius, I’m telling you.

Cusack, while I love the guy, didn’t really turn in too much more than we usually get from him. The character in this movie is almost the same one from 1408 (which obviously came out later on), but you can’t help but watch the man work.

I think whether you like the book or not, the movie is a different animal. The atmosphere of the movie is the star and Eastwood did a good job with it.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

Waitress (2007)

Waitress (2007)

Original Theatrical Release: May 25, 2007
Director: Adrienne Shelly

Jenna (Keri Russell), a server who is trapped in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto), has a talent for creating amazing pies -which she often uses to mentally escape from her life. A new doctor comes to town (Nathan Fillion) and she finds out from him that she’s pregnant, spurring a series of events that rock her world and force her into action.

Waitress kind of surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie before seeing it. I’d watched the trailer and  liked the look of the cinematography and the narrative voice of Jenna’s character. I love Jeremy Sisto as an actor, and also Nathan Fillion, so it was a natural for me to check out.

The acting was amazing in this movie. I hadn’t seen much of Keri Russel but she played her part very well. Jeremy Sisto was an amazing douche bag husband and Nathan Fillion was, of course, charming as the new doc. This was a very character-driven piece, the plot being secondary. Adrienne Shelly weaved everything together masterfully, though, and it all came together. I enjoyed seeing all the different sorts of pies she made and I rooted for her success. (Plus, we got to see Matlock in a diner)

About the only thing that kept me from giving it five stars was the pacing toward the end. By the time it was starting to wrap up, I had already figured out almost everything that was going to happen and basically had to stick around to see if I was right, at the end. Still, Adrienne Shelly definitely showcased her directing chops with this one. It’s too bad that she was murdered and now will not be able to create any more films. 😦

PS – I wonder if they created a pie recipe book as a movie tie-in. I’ll have to Google that…

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Waitress