Sunshine State Reviews
One for the future: Edie Falco
Stand-out scene: Holding breath scene
Brainer or no-brainer: Brainer
Stands up to one viewing or repeated?: Repeated
DVD commentary any good?: John Sayles - insightful and informative
John Sayles can always be relied upon to spin an absorbing tale and here he gives us an Altman-esque ensemble piece set in a sleepy beach resort in Northern Florida. Its residents provide a multi-threaded yarn that leaves you intrigued for its duration (just over 2 hours). The Real Estate developers are sniffing around the area buying up land and properties, much to the chagrin of many of the residents whose stories are laid bare here. Amongst the populace are an unfulfilled restaurant manager (Edie Falco) and her Dad (Ralph Waite; the Dad in the Waltons) an ex-resident who left the town in disgrace visiting her mum (Angela Bassett) and an uptight organiser of a town festival (Mary Mastrantonio) whose hubbie is suicidal (Gordon Clapp). The relationship between Falco's character and an employee of the developers (Timothy Hutton) makes for the most affecting story of the lot, but it's an indicator of how multi-layered the screenplay is that that relationship forms only a small percentage of screentime. The DVD commentary from John Sayles was outstanding on this as I can think of only one other (from George Huang on Swimming with Sharks) that gives such a detailed description of the process of making movies, occasionally emerging like the Wizard of Oz from behind the heavy burgundy curtain to reveal the mundanities of what many envisage as a glamourous process. The description of the film's one special effect scene (right at the end, involving a golf ball) shows just how the sparing use of special effects can be the making of a movie (and evoked great memories of Lawn Dogs for me). More please, Mr Sayles.
Dialogue abounds of man vs nature, race relations, class difference, and all the rest.
Does this film have things to say? Yes.
Is it a better film than we rated it? Probably.
Did we enjoy it that much? Nah. None of the points contained therein struck us as revolutionary.
So there. Want to know more? Too bad!
Another wasted entry. We do so with the glee of knowing that it doesn't make one damn bit of difference. hahahaha
[size=3]I saw it at a matinee. The audience members got it; they laughed almost too hard at the jokes. [/size]
[size=3]Now that I can't afford leisure time, Netflix offers me another discount with promises of improved service. I subscribed since I felt suffocated by ... well, boring story. "The United States of Leland," "Twister" (the Tim Robbins one) and political documentary "The Party's Over." But I did subscribe, the DVDs arrived on time, and they're sitting, unwatched, in my apartment. Timing can make a situation better or worse.[/size]
[size=3]On a non-film note: [/size]
[size=3]Am reading "Caleb Williams" in class. I enjoy William Godwin's prose. It flows easy and goes down easy, especially after the long Butler essay. The class discussions merit another entry, which I won't indulge.[/size]
[size=3]I re-read Rowlandson for the American Lit class, although I apparently read it last year in American History. I guess I didn't pay much attention to words on the page last year, among other things, or everything. [/size]
[size=3]I think I'm getting far-sighted. Although this gives me the false mark of an intellectual -- or of a prematurely-aged person -- I need to take better care of my eyesight. Seriously.[/size]
[size=3]Looking forward to a productive weekend, hopefully balanced with DVD-viewing and my Sims. And hoping my sad, sad self can keep me in check. The oxymoron is that my sad self is a happier one, or at least more evasive. I feel like I sidestep stuff more often. [/size]
[size=3]I'll buy the brunette Bitty twins someday.[/size]
This morning I saw Sunshine State, which in typical Sayles fashion, has a large enesmble cast of colorful characters and takes place in a setting with an interesting history (in this case, a small community on the Florida coast). Most of the characters are connected in some way and the film takes its time in revealing these connections. Some of my favorites were a group of elderly golfers who discuss Florida's history while playing a round, Ralph Waite's Furman Temple, an old and nearly blind man who talks about the changing times, Tom Wright's former college football star, Lee "the Florida Flash" Phillips, whose career was cut short by an injury and who's still a hero in his hometown, Angela Bassett's Desiree, who left town never to look back at age 15 when she was pregnant with the football star's baby, Mary Alice's Eunice Stokes, Desiree's mother who's still bitter than she hasn't visited over the years, Bill Cobb's Elton Lloyd, an longtime resident of the town who raises protests against developers who want to buy the locals' land and build a resort of some kind, and Edie Falco's Marly Temple, Furman's daughter who runs a small motel that's been in the family for many years, although she's tired of the business and considers selling the property to the developers.
There are many interesting characters with rich background histories, the dialogue is often captivating, and the story moves along at a brisk 140 minutes or so. It doesn't get a higher rating though largely because of a few subplots which I felt weren't entirely resolved and because the whole movie just isn't as memorable as some of Sayles' earlier work, but it's still well worth seeking out.