Feels like we should have thread for this, it being a part of the Filmspotting family and all. Though we're in the period of the year where I haven't seen the current films they're talking about, I've been making an effort to catch up with the films they're pairing them with, so I'll come prepared when those films get here, I guess.
Anyway, let's get us started with
To Die For (Gus Van Sant, 1995)
Ah, so this is how Nicole Kidman happened. She is magnetic here: it helps that she's stunning of course, but it's more than that. She's fully committed to her performance, and I get the feeling that she takes the character more seriously than Van Sant does. I didn't know this was based on a true story (I took the opening indication thereof to be Fargo-esque, given the overall tone of the film), but it makes sense now: Van Sant knew the main character would attract attention, but what he really wanted to do the film for were the teens. As a result, the film is a bit of a mess. They're both interesting, but Van Sant never fully commits to a tone, and though I enjoy some of the flourishes with the score and stuff like the opening or Kidman's narration blending in with the action... I'm not entirely sure what the film as a whole is getting at. Capitalism, television, the American dream, superficiality... all of the above ? Probably the latter, but it doesn't have anything especially compelling to say about any of these things. Kidman (and some of the supporting cast) makes it worth watching, but she really has a lot to hold together and it doesn't always work.
Given the pairing with I,Tonya, it amused me that ice skating actually played a bit of a role here. I'm sure it was part of the choice, but they hadn't mentioned it initially so it took me by surprise. It seems I, Tonya is being criticized for similar issues of tone, and it's the kind of film where it tends to be a problem: it's easy to be too glib when handling main characters who are mainly defined by their ineptness. On that subject, it seems the film can never quite decide how competent Susan Stone is: it seems like she's a machiavellian genius for most of the film... but then her plan to deal with her husband is obviously awful. I guess it's another case of two films clashing, or maybe the narrative weight of the original story ? Because a smart psychopath manipulating very dumb teens, which this seems like it's going to be for most of the film, would be more interesting than dumb people doing a dumb thing together.