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My rant against Monster and movies like it

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My rant against Monster and movies like it

Old 02-01-04, 03:09 PM
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My rant against Monster and movies like it

Let me start off by stating that I thought Charlize Theron did a great job and gave the performance of a lifetime. I honestly feel she deserves the award more than Diane Keaton, whom I have the feeling will wind up getting it because the academy tends to enjoy awarding older actresses for showing that they still have it.
That said, I really am getting sick of movies that take the approach to criminals like the one Monster took with Aileen Wournos. It seems that since Bonnie and Clyde was made in the 60s no movie about criminals or killers can be made without making them seem like vicitms of society. Rather than explore the notion that the characters chose the life they lead and had to accept the consequences, there instead exists the necessity convey that they could have been better people if this and this had or had not happened. Hey, I had several friends growing up with not so great backgrounds and lifestyles, and none of them became serial killers.
Let me say that I do enjoy movies like Dead Man Walking and such, but one can only take the same story and spin it so many times. Yes, I know Wournos was real, yes, she had a rough life, but I honestly didn't feel that it necessitated a two hour movie telling a story we have heard over and over and over.
I honestly believe that if many years from now someone tried to make a movie about Ted Bundy or Osama Bin Laden they would feel the need to make the character sympathetic in some way or another, despite their bad deeds.

Now on to my main gripes with the movie itself, and I AM NOT USING SPOILER TAGS.
First, a small kudos for showing some family members rejoycing at the end when Lee is found guilty and given the death penalty. She did cause many people pain, more than she could have imagined, and it was good to illustrate, albeit in the background, that her capture and execution was not a bad thing.
Now for my real issue with Monster. While Charlize did a great job, this movie really only served one purpose: help her get an Oscar. That's it. The story was not unique, it did nothing we haven't seen before. Granted, that is done quite a bit in Hollywood, but this was an indy movie, try and push the envelope for Pete's sake! I would also say that if you make a movie like this and want to make the character sympathetic, keep it that way, instead what we got were scenes where we are expected to feel sorry for Aileen followed by those where we are obviously supposed to think of her as evil. In other words, the movie cannot make up its dang mind about how it wants to present her, and thus confuses the viewer as to how he/she should feel.
In terms of why they did not push the envelope, I think I know why and found out during the credits. Apparentyl Charlize Theron was one of the producers, and this film would not have gotten made without her. She knows this, and she also knows a role like this has Oscar bait written all over it. However, she cannot push the envelope too far; she must play it safe enough so that people still see her as a glamour girl when it's all over.
Bottomline: Charlize Theron gave a great performance, no denying that, and she deserves the award. Do I want her to win it? Not really. I do not think Theron produced and starred in this movie to grow as an actress. I think that she wants to make more movies like Italian Job and Hollywood blockbuster fare, but she wants to be the lead in these movies. And we all know that nothing helps your career out better than an Oscar on your resume. And, what better way to land an Oscar than to go totally against type in a low budget movie that you just so happened to finance. Problem is, once she gets it, she can take two routes. She can actually try and land even edgier roles to prove that she is the real deal, or she can take the Halle Berry/Hialry Swank route and wind up either driving a metal drill into the planet core or dressed as a pseudo dominatrix cracking a whip in a comic book movie that has nothing to do with the real comic in any way. In short, come out and say that the award was only there to increase your dollar amount and give an otherwise lame brain Hollywood movie "street cred" by offering the services of an award winning actress.

Of course that's just my opinion I could be wrong. If Charlize does get the award, I will anxiously await her big screen venture in a big screen adaptation of the comic "Danger Girl" where she will most likely run around in a tight shirt and vinyl/spandex pants bending over in front of the camera every chance she gets. I hope I'm wrong about her (then again, maybe I don't,), but I bet I'm right.
Old 02-01-04, 03:42 PM
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You could be right about Theron's win the Oscar-to-make-the-big-bucks theory. To me it's just as plossible that she wanted to play a big, dramatic role. Isn't this the sort of things most actors aspire to? To create a memorable character. She could have simpely recieved a producing credit for taking no money or lending her name to the production.

I don't think the movie was confused about how to present her re. 'we got were scenes where we are expected to feel sorry for Aileen followed by those where we are obviously supposed to think of her as evil.' Most people have multiple sides to them, and are good, bad, happy, funny, angry throughout the course of their live. There were lots of people close to him that felt fondly about Hitler. The lady in Blind Spot seemed to have found him to be a pretty decent guy.

In movie's like Monster or Dead Man Walking it usually isn't the person I feel sad for but the situation. I may feel pity for Wournos, but that isn't something that makes people saints or martyrs.
Old 02-01-04, 03:58 PM
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Re: My rant against Monster and movies like it

Originally posted by Dr. DVD
That said, I really am getting sick of movies that take the approach to criminals like the one Monster took with Aileen Wournos. It seems that since Bonnie and Clyde was made in the 60s no movie about criminals or killers can be made without making them seem like vicitms of society. Rather than explore the notion that the characters chose the life they lead and had to accept the consequences, there instead exists the necessity convey that they could have been better people if this and this had or had not happened.
Well, I think there are some films like that. However, there are films that show people making choices and sticking to them. Take Once Upon A Time In America or the Godfather films for examples. Goodfellas is another example of someone being lured by crime without having a bad childhood.

Originally posted by Dr. DVD
Hey, I had several friends growing up with not so great backgrounds and lifestyles, and none of them became serial killers.
And Monster isn't their story. You would be hard pressed to think that a bad childhood automatically equals a life of crime.

Originally posted by Dr. DVD Yes, I know Wournos was real, yes, she had a rough life, but I honestly didn't feel that it necessitated a two hour movie telling a story we have heard over and over and over.
So, had you been a film producer, you wouldn't have made it. These people did. I wouldn't have greenlit House of the Dead, but somebody did. It's their money, they can spend it how they wish.

Originally posted by Dr. DVD Now for my real issue with Monster. While Charlize did a great job, this movie really only served one purpose: help her get an Oscar. That's it. The story was not unique, it did nothing we haven't seen before. Granted, that is done quite a bit in Hollywood, but this was an indy movie, try and push the envelope for Pete's sake! I would also say that if you make a movie like this and want to make the character sympathetic, keep it that way, instead what we got were scenes where we are expected to feel sorry for Aileen followed by those where we are obviously supposed to think of her as evil. In other words, the movie cannot make up its dang mind about how it wants to present her, and thus confuses the viewer as to how he/she should feel.
A few things about this. First, how many indie films do you see anymore that are "pushing the envelope"? And pushing it in what way? I can think of a million drab romantic comedies that are indie films, and generic dramas, etc. The term "indie" movie has almost no meaning anymore. As Sidney Lumet said, there are only two true independent filmmakers: Roger Corman and Russ Meyer.

Secondly, perhaps the POINT of the film was to show the duality of her nature. She is sympathetic to a point, but is still capable of doing these things. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted the audience to make up their own mind, instead of being told by the filmmakers how to think about her.


Originally posted by Dr. DVD In terms of why they did not push the envelope, I think I know why and found out during the credits. Apparentyl Charlize Theron was one of the producers, and this film would not have gotten made without her. She knows this, and she also knows a role like this has Oscar bait written all over it. However, she cannot push the envelope too far; she must play it safe enough so that people still see her as a glamour girl when it's all over.
Bottomline: Charlize Theron gave a great performance, no denying that, and she deserves the award. Do I want her to win it? Not really. I do not think Theron produced and starred in this movie to grow as an actress. I think that she wants to make more movies like Italian Job and Hollywood blockbuster fare, but she wants to be the lead in these movies. And we all know that nothing helps your career out better than an Oscar on your resume. And, what better way to land an Oscar than to go totally against type in a low budget movie that you just so happened to finance. Problem is, once she gets it, she can take two routes. She can actually try and land even edgier roles to prove that she is the real deal, or she can take the Halle Berry/Hialry Swank route and wind up either driving a metal drill into the planet core or dressed as a pseudo dominatrix cracking a whip in a comic book movie that has nothing to do with the real comic in any way. In short, come out and say that the award was only there to increase your dollar amount and give an otherwise lame brain Hollywood movie "street cred" by offering the services of an award winning actress.

Of course that's just my opinion I could be wrong. If Charlize does get the award, I will anxiously await her big screen venture in a big screen adaptation of the comic "Danger Girl" where she will most likely run around in a tight shirt and vinyl/spandex pants bending over in front of the camera every chance she gets. I hope I'm wrong about her (then again, maybe I don't,), but I bet I'm right.
Okay, first, let's presume you're right. So what? Maybe Theron did do it just to get an oscar so she can increase her paycheck in big movies. Does that lessen the quality of the performance? No. I don't care WHY someone takes a role, I care how well they do in the role. And Theron gave a great performance, which is reason enough for the movie to exist.

I remember watching an interview with Bill Murray where he talked about the making of Rushmore. He said that Wes Anderson desperately wanted to do a particular shot, but it wasn't in the budget, and the company wouldn't let him do it. Eventually, Bill cut him a check from his own bank account so he could do the shot. Do you think Murray was funding this shot to increase his street cred? No, I think he honestly wanted Wes Anderson to be able to make the movie he wanted to make. Perhaps Theron put up money for Monster because she believed that it was a story worth telling, and money was tight. There are many reasons why she could have put up money. I don't think it's fair to pigeonhole her.

Also, Theron was already getting parts in The Italian Job and things like that, so why presume she's doing that to get more of those parts? According to imdb.com, her next two parts are in Head In The Clouds, a period piece romantic drama, and The Life And Death of Peter Sellers. Do either of those sound like The Italian Job type fare?

I think you went into the movie thinking Theron had an agenda, and watched the movie colored by those perceptions. I think Theron gave an oscar-winning performance, and she will probably win an oscar for it. The movie didn't break any new ground, but it was well told and involving. Frankly, if we had more movies that just concentrated on telling a story the way this one does, we'd have more quality films. Not every film is going to be a masterpiece or "push the envelope," and there's no reason to expect every film to do so.
Old 02-01-04, 04:06 PM
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Re: Re: My rant against Monster and movies like it

Originally posted by Suprmallet
Well, I think there are some films like that. However, there are films that show people making choices and sticking to them. Take Once Upon A Time In America or the Godfather films for examples. Goodfellas is another example of someone being lured by crime without having a bad childhood.



And Monster isn't their story. You would be hard pressed to think that a bad childhood automatically equals a life of crime.



So, had you been a film producer, you wouldn't have made it. These people did. I wouldn't have greenlit House of the Dead, but somebody did. It's their money, they can spend it how they wish.



A few things about this. First, how many indie films do you see anymore that are "pushing the envelope"? And pushing it in what way? I can think of a million drab romantic comedies that are indie films, and generic dramas, etc. The term "indie" movie has almost no meaning anymore. As Sidney Lumet said, there are only two true independent filmmakers: Roger Corman and Russ Meyer.

Secondly, perhaps the POINT of the film was to show the duality of her nature. She is sympathetic to a point, but is still capable of doing these things. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted the audience to make up their own mind, instead of being told by the filmmakers how to think about her.




Okay, first, let's presume you're right. So what? Maybe Theron did do it just to get an oscar so she can increase her paycheck in big movies. Does that lessen the quality of the performance? No. I don't care WHY someone takes a role, I care how well they do in the role. And Theron gave a great performance, which is reason enough for the movie to exist.

I remember watching an interview with Bill Murray where he talked about the making of Rushmore. He said that Wes Anderson desperately wanted to do a particular shot, but it wasn't in the budget, and the company wouldn't let him do it. Eventually, Bill cut him a check from his own bank account so he could do the shot. Do you think Murray was funding this shot to increase his street cred? No, I think he honestly wanted Wes Anderson to be able to make the movie he wanted to make. Perhaps Theron put up money for Monster because she believed that it was a story worth telling, and money was tight. There are many reasons why she could have put up money. I don't think it's fair to pigeonhole her.

Also, Theron was already getting parts in The Italian Job and things like that, so why presume she's doing that to get more of those parts? According to imdb.com, her next two parts are in Head In The Clouds, a period piece romantic drama, and The Life And Death of Peter Sellers. Do either of those sound like The Italian Job type fare?

I think you went into the movie thinking Theron had an agenda, and watched the movie colored by those perceptions. I think Theron gave an oscar-winning performance, and she will probably win an oscar for it. The movie didn't break any new ground, but it was well told and involving. Frankly, if we had more movies that just concentrated on telling a story the way this one does, we'd have more quality films. Not every film is going to be a masterpiece or "push the envelope," and there's no reason to expect every film to do so.
Very well-put on basically every statement. You made some very intelligent responses. I disagreed with a lot of what you said in the Mel Gibson "Passion of the Christ" thread, but not here.
Old 02-01-04, 04:10 PM
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While she was alive Wournos maintained she was just defending herself from men who tried to rape her; and yes she had a horrible life which included molestation while younger. But listen, when her day for death came she pretty much confessed that she -DID NOT- kill those men in self defense. She had other reasons.

She was a cold hearted killer...period.
Old 02-01-04, 04:13 PM
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You're right, I hate how these films take these serial killers and criminals and try to show that they are, in fact, people. I prefer the more realistic notion that they are snarling evil killers who do nothing but plot to kill, kill, and eat their victims.

Seriously, most of these criminals are human, and if anything they probably do have sympathetic sides. This need to completely persecute someone for all their sins and condemn them without any depth to who they are or what made them that way...that's no way to solve anything. To look into the heart of these people and see the human side of them (because no matter how horrific their crimes, they are...still people) is to get a better understanding of what goes wrong, and maybe even perhaps how to fix it.

I'm not saying this film, Monster, is going to solve any problems. I'm just defending the notion of painting these disgusting people in a more human light.

And quite frankly, what's wrong with a film that is a vehicle for acting? Is Charlize not...an actress? Is this not the sort of thing actors want to do, a deep challenging role? Perhaps she was oscar fishing, sure, but she delivered a hell of a performance and that should be enough to validate why she did the role.
Old 02-01-04, 04:26 PM
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There are lots of these annoying rules in movies. Yes, there are exceptions, but mostly:
1. All people in jail don't really deserve to be there. They are hard working, blue-collar guys ruthlessly persecuted by the man. See: Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, Birdman of Alcatraz etc.
2. All black characters are soulful and less materialistic than white characters. Unless they are gangsters, in which case they must dominate and humiliate a white male character.
3. Asian males are barely allowed on movie sets and when they are, not allowed to be sexy (Chow Yun Fat excepted) and mostly there to do martial arts. Asian women who are not Lucy Lui aren't allowed within 50 miles of Hollywood unless the movie is about Vietnam.
4. No Hindi or Middle Eastern people allowed on set unless they are depicted as terrorists or religious nuts.
5. All rich people are bad, all attained wealth through inheritance (in which case they didn't deserve it ) or crime.
6. Psychological counseling is invariably a process where the subject resists, resists and resists only to reach a "moment of clarity" breaking point and tearfully heal themselves instantly. See: Good Will Hunting etc.

etc, etc, etc.

Last edited by Hiro11; 02-01-04 at 05:34 PM.
Old 02-01-04, 04:32 PM
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Originally posted by Hiro11
There are lots of these annoying rules in movies. Yes, there are exceptions, but mostly:
1. All people in jail don't really deserve to be there. They are hard working, blue-collar guys ruthlessly perseciuted by the man. See: Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, Birdman of Alcatraz etc.
2. All black characters are soulful and less materialistic than white characters. Unless they are gangsters, in which case they must dominate and humiliate a white male character.
3. Asian males are barely allowed on movie sets and when they are, not allowed to be sexy (Chow Yun Fat excepted) and mostly there to do martial arts. Asian women who are not Lucy Lui aren't allowed within 50 miles of Hollywood unless the movie is about Vietnam.
4. No Hindi or Middle Eastern people allowed on set unless they are depicted as terrorists or religious nuts.
5. All rich people are bad, all attained wealth through inheritance (in which case they didn't deserve it ) or crime.
6. Psychological counseling is invariably a process where the subject resists, resists and resists only to reach a "moment of clarity" breaking point and tearfully heal themselves instantly. See: Good Will Hunting etc.

etc, etc, etc.
Old 02-01-04, 05:51 PM
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I apologize if this comes off harsh, but, just to make a point here...

Charlize Theron quite possibly IS doing this for selfish reasons, but hey, making movies is still a business, and she made the movie to further her career, not to bring back the lives of all the people Aileen Wuronos murdered. But I'm sure she feels for their loved ones.
Plus, she's not forcing anyone to go see the film.
Old 02-01-04, 06:19 PM
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Re: Re: Re: My rant against Monster and movies like it

Originally posted by Tarnower
Very well-put on basically every statement. You made some very intelligent responses. I disagreed with a lot of what you said in the Mel Gibson "Passion of the Christ" thread, but not here.
I'll admit that thread was not my shining moment. It's hard to inellectually justify a feeling. When we're not talking about religion, you'll find that I'm actually a nice, reasonable, intelligent guy.
Old 02-01-04, 10:07 PM
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Originally posted by MGBGT
I apologize if this comes off harsh, but, just to make a point here...

Charlize Theron quite possibly IS doing this for selfish reasons, but hey, making movies is still a business, and she made the movie to further her career, not to bring back the lives of all the people Aileen Wuronos murdered. But I'm sure she feels for their loved ones.
Plus, she's not forcing anyone to go see the film.

Thanks. Don't know whether to agree with you or not, but still!
Old 02-02-04, 12:32 AM
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Originally posted by Hiro11
There are lots of these annoying rules in movies. Yes, there are exceptions, but mostly:
1. All people in jail don't really deserve to be there. They are hard working, blue-collar guys ruthlessly persecuted by the man. See: Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, Birdman of Alcatraz etc.
2. All black characters are soulful and less materialistic than white characters. Unless they are gangsters, in which case they must dominate and humiliate a white male character.
3. Asian males are barely allowed on movie sets and when they are, not allowed to be sexy (Chow Yun Fat excepted) and mostly there to do martial arts. Asian women who are not Lucy Lui aren't allowed within 50 miles of Hollywood unless the movie is about Vietnam.
4. No Hindi or Middle Eastern people allowed on set unless they are depicted as terrorists or religious nuts.
5. All rich people are bad, all attained wealth through inheritance (in which case they didn't deserve it ) or crime.
6. Psychological counseling is invariably a process where the subject resists, resists and resists only to reach a "moment of clarity" breaking point and tearfully heal themselves instantly. See: Good Will Hunting etc.

etc, etc, etc.
They say people overgeneralize too much today, but I don't believe them...........
Old 02-02-04, 12:44 AM
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Originally posted by Hiro11
There are lots of these annoying rules in movies. Yes, there are exceptions, but mostly.... etc, etc, etc.
What the hell does this have to do with anything mentioned in the thread so far?
Old 02-02-04, 12:49 AM
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Re: My rant against Monster and movies like it

Originally posted by Dr. DVD
That said, I really am getting sick of movies that take the approach to criminals like the one Monster took with Aileen Wournos. It seems that since Bonnie and Clyde was made in the 60s no movie about criminals or killers can be made without making them seem like vicitms of society. Rather than explore the notion that the characters chose the life they lead and had to accept the consequences, there instead exists the necessity convey that they could have been better people if this and this had or had not happened.
So, people just wake up one day and decide to be murderers?

Considering that the majority of people on death row were abused as children, we live in a society of have's and have-not's, and we live in a society where some people are more important than others, I can't buy the simple argument that people just 'choose' to lead a life of crime.
Old 02-02-04, 06:50 AM
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Diane Keaton, whom I have the feeling will wind up getting it because the academy tends to enjoy awarding older actresses for showing that they still have it.
Tell that to Sissy Spacek, Ellen Burstyn, Annette Bening, Meryl Streep, etc.

Charlize is a lock this year.
Old 02-02-04, 10:07 AM
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Originally posted by MoviePage
Tell that to Sissy Spacek, Ellen Burstyn, Annette Bening, Meryl Streep, etc.

Charlize is a lock this year.
Actually, I feel that the aforementioned actresses being shut out in year's past is yet another factor contributing to a win for Keaton. The academy wants to compensate for not giving it to older actresses in years past, all of whom deserved it more than the one who actually got it. Ironic, since this year I honestly do feel that Charlize deserves it, but the politics are not in her favor IMO.

Also, I do not think anyone wakes up and decides to be a killer, I'm just saying that there is a moment where they can choose whether or not to kill. Aileen could have probably gotten away with her first murder and said it was justifiable homicide. Instead she chose to continue her spree.
Old 02-02-04, 10:09 AM
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Originally posted by Giantrobo
While she was alive Wournos maintained she was just defending herself from men who tried to rape her; and yes she had a horrible life which included molestation while younger. But listen, when her day for death came she pretty much confessed that she -DID NOT- kill those men in self defense. She had other reasons.

She was a cold hearted killer...period.

Precisely my point!
Old 02-02-04, 11:22 AM
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Originally posted by Crocker Jarmen
What the hell does this have to do with anything mentioned in the thread so far?
I was trying to make the point that there are lots of examples of "movie moral rules" in films these days. Dr. DVD said:
It seems that since Bonnie and Clyde was made in the 60s no movie about criminals or killers can be made without making them seem like vicitms of society. Rather than explore the notion that the characters chose the life they lead and had to accept the consequences, there instead exists the necessity convey that they could have been better people if this and this had or had not happened.
I was furthering the point by saying that most movies conform to a specific "moral universe". Lots of critically acclaimed movie adhere closely to these rules, like Monster, and are rewarded for it. I thought that was the point of the thread. I was just saying that there are reams of these rules.

Last edited by Hiro11; 02-02-04 at 11:27 AM.
Old 02-02-04, 11:26 AM
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Re: Re: My rant against Monster and movies like it

Originally posted by CuckooBoy
So, people just wake up one day and decide to be murderers?

Considering that the majority of people on death row were abused as children, we live in a society of have's and have-not's, and we live in a society where some people are more important than others, I can't buy the simple argument that people just 'choose' to lead a life of crime.
You must admit that some people do, though. Also, there are plenty of abused kids who don't turn out to be serial killers. The vast majority of "have nots" are law-abiding and there are serial killers who are "haves". I don't buy the "it's everyone elses fault" argument. These things may be a factor, but the person pulled the trigger.
Old 02-02-04, 11:31 AM
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I believe the film does portray Lee as a cold-blooded killer.....just not in a one dimensional way. The first time she killed was out of self defense, but the others were not.

I felt sympathy for her up to a point (as far as her being raped as a child, etc.) but had no sympathy for her later on during her murderous rampage.
Old 02-02-04, 11:57 AM
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Well, the fact that the movie is called "Monster" ought to tip you off that she's not being depicted as a saint, right?

I never once felt any sympathy for her when I watched the film, but that doesn't make the film any less incredible for the story it had to tell. I doubt if there's ever been a film made about a real-life female serial killer, so that in itself makes the film unique. The film is about telling a story about a sick reject from society and the thought processes that led her to do the atrocities that she did.
Old 02-02-04, 01:19 PM
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Originally posted by Giantrobo
While she was alive Wournos maintained she was just defending herself from men who tried to rape her;
She was a cold hearted killer...period.
And that "justification" for the murders is why I can't support 'Monster.' The movie sets up most of the killings as those done out of necessity rather than the internal evil that serial killers possess. By making them crimes of self-defense or need- the film excuses the killing. And is utter horseshit.

That said, Theron has my deep admiration for the display of craft and is certainly one of the year's best performances. I just wish the movie hadn't tried to excuse the Crimes at the heart of the film.
Old 02-02-04, 01:43 PM
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I really wonder how this film would have looked if a major film studio had made it and it was directed by someone like Oliver Stone. Would it be the same movie at all? Would the studio even touch it in the first place?
Old 02-02-04, 01:45 PM
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4. No Hindi or Middle Eastern people allowed on set unless they are depicted as terrorists or religious nuts.
And even then they're usually played by whites or people who "look" Arab but are not.

And on topic, what's up with Ep. I and II? Lucas is trying to humanize the most evil, sinister person in the galazy. Why's he showing us Vader's childhood and showing him do heroic things?

P.S. Monster has Oscar Bait writen all over it and I won't go near it with a 10 foot pole.
Old 02-02-04, 02:03 PM
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I guess I don't see a problem with trying to explore why people do what they do instead of just writing them off as "evil." I haven't seen Monster, but I don't see how trying to find out what lead to the killer's ability to do evil as a bad thing. If after learning about some aspects of the killer's life, you sympathize with her a little, is it really the fault of the filmmaker - unless of course they were being purposely manipulative.

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