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House of Sand and Fog

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House of Sand and Fog

Old 12-29-03, 04:17 AM
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House of Sand and Fog

I did a search for this but didn't find a thread dedicated solely to it. If I'm wrong then just post a link in here to that thread and we'll call it a day.

I just saw this, and thought it was fantastic. I wasn't sure what to make of it from the trailers, which made it look like a melodrama or a thriller, or a melodramatic thriller. Instead, I found an intelligent, well-acted, emotionally involving drama. It avoided so many cliches and potential pitfalls. I thought all the actors were fantastic, with both Connelly and Kingsley standing out. I wasn't initially so hot with
Spoiler:
the son dying
but after seeing the events that followed, it made sense to me. It played out like a well-tuned tragedy, and I thought it was one of the best films of the year.
Old 12-29-03, 11:58 AM
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Good for you!

. . . . . .
Old 12-29-03, 08:18 PM
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This film sidesteps many generic cliches in a film about a woman who loses her house by a clerical mistake with the local government, which results in it being auctioned off, and the buyer is an Iranian who has profits in his eyes as he picks up the distressed property for a song. What unfolds is pretty moving, as the search for cultural identity (by the Iranian family) and social identity (Jennifer Connelly's Kathy who has been beset with personal turmoil) meet head-on at different angles which impacts all involved in a final act that makes it very compelling to watch to its conclusion. The direction (by a first-timer Vadim Perelman) is very effective, especially in the final act, where restraint is on display, but it's done deftly and assuredly.

The film's trailer is pretty bad considering what the film is really about, and should not dissaude people from seeing the film.

Ben Kingsley is absolutely stunning in this film (I'm hoping he gets an Oscar nod for his work here). Jennifer Connelly's only shortcoming in the film is that she's just too damn good-looking, even when she's supposed to be down and out, she's still gorgeous to look at, and it's hard to imagine her to be the mess she is in the film. But, still, she's very effective in conveying a woman adrift in her life's woes. Ron Eldard's performance is good as the kind-hearted Sheriff who helps out Kathy, but it's not outstanding, and nowhere in Kingsley's league.

I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
Old 12-30-03, 03:40 AM
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for heaven's sake patman, have you ever heard of SPOILER tags???

thanks for nothin'...
Old 12-30-03, 05:44 AM
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Originally posted by slateef
for heaven's sake patman, have you ever heard of SPOILER tags???

thanks for nothin'...
Um, almost everything Patman said is shown in the trailer. What's your beef? I can tell you, he does not give away anything.
Old 12-30-03, 08:52 AM
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I write all of my reviews with the caveat that a film's trailer/preview content are fairgame to be mentioned, but I do my best not to give anything away in terms of resolution (or I spoilerize it). I haven't ruined the film for anyone who read my review, anymore than someone who saw the trailer for it.
Old 12-30-03, 10:07 AM
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That didn't seem to spoil anything at all.

Anyways, a question out of curiousity, is there alot of Farsi spoken in the film?
Old 12-30-03, 12:00 PM
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Personally I thought the movie was fantastic, but I think Ron Eldard's character was horrible in the movie. Some of the completely illogical choices he makes in the movie are just too much... That or maybe they just didn't develop the character well enough.
Old 12-30-03, 12:25 PM
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BTW, it looks like Jennifer got most of her boobage back.
Old 12-30-03, 01:38 PM
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Thank God. She looked way too skinny in Hulk.
Old 12-30-03, 04:46 PM
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Originally posted by Ignite
Personally I thought the movie was fantastic, but I think Ron Eldard's character was horrible in the movie. Some of the completely illogical choices he makes in the movie are just too much... That or maybe they just didn't develop the character well enough.
I rather agree with you, Ignite.

Spoiler:
While obviously the story needed a catalyst for the tragic events, Lester really acted in an irrational manner. The tragedy was really telegraphed ahead of time.
Old 12-30-03, 09:55 PM
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Originally posted by rkndkn
I rather agree with you, Ignite.

Spoiler:
While obviously the story needed a catalyst for the tragic events, Lester really acted in an irrational manner. The tragedy was really telegraphed ahead of time.
Yes, he acted irrationally, but the story did need it, and besides, looking at Jennifer Connelly, who stays rational? I thought Eldard's performance gave him enough of a human touch that while I may not have agreed with his decisions, I did understand them.
Old 01-02-04, 09:14 AM
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I saw this and is was more like House Of Boredom and Slumber for me. I thought it would never end.
Old 01-02-04, 10:52 PM
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Originally posted by Patman
BTW, it looks like Jennifer got most of her boobage back.
(can't believe I'm first to say this)

Pics?

I mean really, even if they aren't from this film, can a thread have too many J.C. pics can it?

-Gunshy
Old 01-03-04, 10:21 AM
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Originally posted by cdollaz
I saw this and is was more like House Of Boredom and Slumber for me. I thought it would never end.
I went to see this yesterday and definitely agree. I think JC had a pretty stellar performance, but it didn't help. First, it would have helped
Spoiler:
if they would have given some sort of explanation as to how the Iranians lost their money. It says that they were forced to flee, but they somehow are able to attend an extrememly expensive wedding for their daughter? Also, their daughter seemingly married into a rich family, yet they can get no help from them? Also, did JC just leave her job after she was evicted? All she seemed to be doing was running around and acting retarded after she got the boot. Also, the cop character was totally inconsistent. First, he picks up JC while evicting her? Total slime ball move. Then they try to make him into a nice guy who just doesn't love his wife anymore. Then he flips out again and turns evil, threatening the Iranians and locking them in the bathroom. Then he admits to the whole thing at the end to the police, evidently feeling guilty about everything. Seriously, have the ****ing character act like a ****ing human being, not a contrived weiner who changes his persona every 30 minutes to make the plot fit together. Another thing. The Iranian wife's English speaking skills were also really inconsistent. She spoke it pretty well, and understood English at the beginning of the movie, yet when JC tries talking to her at the end, she can't understand. Finally, he bought the house for 45k, and after putting the porch on, it was worth 157k? C'mon.
I guess those are just minor, unimportant details that really annoyed me since the movie sucked anyway.

I think if a movie is going to try and tackle these relationship and hardship issues, the characters and plot should be a little less contrived.
Old 01-03-04, 11:57 AM
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Nearly everything you've said is wrong and you clearly weren't paying attention:
Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
First, it would have helped if they would have given some sort of explanation as to how the Iranians lost their money. It says that they were forced to flee, but they somehow are able to attend an extrememly expensive wedding for their daughter?
It was made pretty clear that they fled Iran and were living off their quickly dwindling fortune. The father had to work 2 jobs to keep them in the black. A proud Iranian father who wants his daughter married to a good family and who wants to look good to his peers is going to spend lavishly on a wedding even if he doesn't have the money.

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Also, their daughter seemingly married into a rich family, yet they can get no help from them?
Did Ben Kingsly's character seem to you to be the kind of guy who would ask for help? He's too proud. Also his ellitest inlaws would think their son married a woman from a poor family. Were you in the bathroom when the inlaws vistited and were disgusted by the condition of the home?

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Also, did JC just leave her job after she was evicted? All she seemed to be doing was running around and acting retarded after she got the boot.
She was a cleaning lady. They actually dedicated an entire scene after her eviction showing her at work vacuming a family's home. You sure went to the bathroom a lot?

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Also, the cop character was totally inconsistent. First, he picks up JC while evicting her? Total slime ball move.
Exactly. Slime ball move from a slime ball character. It's the first reason we have to suspect his true intentions.

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Then they try to make him into a nice guy who just doesn't love his wife anymore. Then he flips out again and turns evil, threatening the Iranians and locking them in the bathroom. Then he admits to the whole thing at the end to the police, evidently feeling guilty about everything.
The whole point is that we don't know what to make of the guy. He is AMBIGUOUS. Ambiguity is at the heart of the thriller/suspense genre. All the characters in this film are given ambiguous traits so that the audience's expectations of the character are always uncertain.

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Seriously, have the ****ing character act like a ****ing human being, not a contrived weiner who changes his persona every 30 minutes to make the plot fit together.
Yeah like Norman Bates in that stupid movie Psycho. First he seems benign then he's a killer then back to mister nice guy, what's up with that?

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Another thing. The Iranian wife's English speaking skills were also really inconsistent. She spoke it pretty well, and understood English at the beginning of the movie, yet when JC tries talking to her at the end, she can't understand.
Not a big deal didn't bother me.

Originally posted by CUBuffsMike41
Finally, he bought the house for 45k, and after putting the porch on, it was worth 157k? C'mon.
But here is where you really blow my mind. You fundementally missunderstood the entire premise of the film. He bought the house at government auction for a rediculously low sum. That's what the government does with ceased property. That guy with the orange rolling measurer...that was an appraiser. The property appraised at 157K that's what it was REALLY WORTH! The goverment unloaded it below market value at public auction.

Bottom line is it's fine if you didn't like the movie, and I'm glad you shared your reasons for disliking it (that's more than some troll posters on this board ever do) but it seems you fundamentally missunderstood several things about this film, and I suggest you watch it again.

Last edited by Pants; 01-03-04 at 12:05 PM.
Old 01-03-04, 05:17 PM
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Originally posted by Pants
Nearly everything you've said is wrong and you clearly weren't paying attention: It was made pretty clear that they fled Iran and were living off their quickly dwindling fortune. The father had to work 2 jobs to keep them in the black. A proud Iranian father who wants his daughter married to a good family and who wants to look good to his peers is going to spend lavishly on a wedding even if he doesn't have the money.

Did Ben Kingsly's character seem to you to be the kind of guy who would ask for help? He's too proud. Also his ellitest inlaws would think their son married a woman from a poor family. Were you in the bathroom when the inlaws vistited and were disgusted by the condition of the home?

She was a cleaning lady. They actually dedicated an entire scene after her eviction showing her at work vacuming a family's home. You sure went to the bathroom a lot?

Exactly. Slime ball move from a slime ball character. It's the first reason we have to suspect his true intentions.

The whole point is that we don't know what to make of the guy. He is AMBIGUOUS. Ambiguity is at the heart of the thriller/suspense genre. All the characters in this film are given ambiguous traits so that the audience's expectations of the character are always uncertain.

Yeah like Norman Bates in that stupid movie Psycho. First he seems benign then he's a killer then back to mister nice guy, what's up with that?

Not a big deal didn't bother me.

But here is where you really blow my mind. You fundementally missunderstood the entire premise of the film. He bought the house at government auction for a rediculously low sum. That's what the government does with ceased property. That guy with the orange rolling measurer...that was an appraiser. The property appraised at 157K that's what it was REALLY WORTH! The goverment unloaded it below market value at public auction.

Bottom line is it's fine if you didn't like the movie, and I'm glad you shared your reasons for disliking it (that's more than some troll posters on this board ever do) but it seems you fundamentally missunderstood several things about this film, and I suggest you watch it again.
Pants, I agree with all your points. Connelly's character was evicted because she didn't pay $500 in taxes (that she didn't really owe, anyway). All the government wanted was $500. Beyond that, anything else was extra. THAT is why Kingsley's character got the property for so low.
Old 01-03-04, 06:40 PM
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Well, I must chime in and say that it's worth it to read the book...even if it was recommended by Oprah. Movies cannot display properly the inner turmoil that these characters have, and the book will shed some enlightenment to what is on screen.
Old 01-03-04, 09:14 PM
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Wasn't the house appraised for $175,000?
Old 01-03-04, 11:14 PM
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Yeah, it was. It could have been a grand less or a grand more, but it was definitely in the 170,000-180,000 range.

This struck me as dirt cheap for a beach house, regardless. Is this really the price houses are going for near San Fran? And near the ocean, no less. I had always imagined numbers much, much larger.

Anyway, I thought the movie was pretty decent. Well acted, particularly by Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley (no surprises there, I guess). Some great camera work, as well. The reoccuring shot of the bird bath was particularly cool. Anyway, nothing was really jaw dropping aside from the performances. Ben Kingsley should definitely earn a nod for this one.
Old 01-03-04, 11:41 PM
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A powerful drama, "B+", for sure. As noted a hundred times before, killer acting from Kingsley and JC. I never heard or read the book, but went to see it due to the praise, the Oscar nods, and the interesting premise-glad I did. The "bleakest ending to a film in 2003" that EW said, I really got a kick out of. It was a glooming and cold day here in Omaha, NE, and some people said after the show: "Well, that was different" and "No wonder people aren't in a nice mood"-funny to hear that.
Old 01-03-04, 11:43 PM
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Spoiler:
How about the nail scene? Ouch!!


Anyway. . .
Old 01-04-04, 02:09 PM
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I thought that this was a great movie. Connolly and Kingsley were superb. Wouldn't be surprised if they get some Oscar nods...
Old 01-09-04, 12:46 AM
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First off, Pants, you should go back and edit your post to put spoiler marks on it.

Anyway, talk about a movie built on sand. Ben Kingsley gives a respectable, game, B.K. performance, nothing above what he's done lately. But I don't get this crowning of him with an Oscar for his rather pedestrian role.
Spoiler:
He was appropriately restrained and then gets the big showy finish and I guess that's what people remember
But I can definately see him not even being nominated, behind Cruise, Crowe, Murrary, Penn, Law, Nicholson, etc. But that's neither here nor there, he was quite good, just a bit overrated. As for the film...

Spoiler:
I don't understand the praise for it. The entire final act is built on people's stupidity. Culiminating in Ishmael's stupidity. Which is fine, but he's been established as a kid who PROBABLY wouldn't do something as foolish as point a gun at the cops. But there was no real build up for this brainlock by this kid. He's a moron, and it wouldn't have been too hard to show he had that tendency inside of him. Instead it emerges as a warmed over Rebel Without a Cause tragic ending. The mindless act of a secondary character sends this spiraling out of control. It seemed to be going out of it's way to have an unhappy ending. Which I'd have no problem with if it was Connelly torching their house or painting the ceiling of her Bonneville red. But, in the heat of the moment, I can live with it, we don't know what we'd do in his shoes, fine.

But of course she's too stupid to shoot a loaded gun(as shown on the table). Fair enough, safey is on, she couldn't execute it.

Cop leaves his gun in her trunk, I missed the setup for that one, but I'll chalk that up to my missing. But I doubt very seriously he would have left without it. Moronic move, but I'll let it go, maybe in the heat of the moment?

Why did Ben Kingsley's character not approach the other cop in the heat of the moment. If ANY cop was seen with his shirt hanging out like that, it would arouse suspicion and confusion. But he didn't, wanted to stick to the plan, I can suspend disbelief, again.


God I could go on, but I scarcely see the point. Yes, if there were no errors in judgement or mistakes by the lead or supporting characters, you scarcely have a film, it's the nature of the beast. But stupidity should not likewise be a cure all for when a writer or director paints themself in a corner. It's lazy all the way not to establish a perchant or tendency for idiotic choices. And it's certainly not wise to be COMPLETELY reliant on them. Stupidity and luck are nothing to build a film on, never mind the climax. To be outsmarted is one thing, fine, but to be a complete moron, especially at random unpredictable intervals, is not the basis for a film of quality.
Old 01-09-04, 02:27 AM
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Originally posted by The Nature Boy
First off, Pants, you should go back and edit your post to put spoiler marks on it.


Spoiler:
(1) But, in the heat of the moment, I can live with it, we don't know what we'd do in his shoes, fine.

(2) But of course she's too stupid to shoot a loaded gun(as shown on the table). Fair enough, safey is on, she couldn't execute it.

(3) Cop leaves his gun in her trunk, I missed the setup for that one, but I'll chalk that up to my missing. But I doubt very seriously he would have left without it. Moronic move, but I'll let it go, maybe in the heat of the moment?

(4) Why did Ben Kingsley's character not approach the other cop in the heat of the moment. If ANY cop was seen with his shirt hanging out like that, it would arouse suspicion and confusion. But he didn't, wanted to stick to the plan, I can suspend disbelief, again.
I'm not trying to tell you what to think, but here are some other ways of seeing the situations.
Spoiler:


1) The kid is like what, 15? He's in an extremely stressful situation, pulls this gun that he has no clue how to use, and I don't think he was going to point it at the cops but simply turned towards them. Heat of the moment? I bought it--hook, line, and sinker.

2) She's drunk. Extremely drunk. Probably never handled a weapon before. Again, I buy it.

3) The cop has always been clumbsy and, well, it seems incompetent. Sure, he has a respectable rank--but he hits on chicks on duty, threatens people under an alias, etc.. I don't think leaving his gun in the trunk is that big of a stretch.

4) At this point, I think all Ben's character wanted to do was end this messy situation. Once his son pulled the weapon, well, things obviously changed quickly.


------

That being said, I don't think this is a great film. I do think it's good enough, though.

Last edited by Corvin; 01-09-04 at 02:43 AM.

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