Gary Ross, 1998

I already did a pretty full writeup of this one a while back. This time I watched it with a more analytical eye. My analysis went something like this: "Very efficient way to convey information... good sequence there... wow, that line was crucial and the reading was perfect... ha, that was funny even the third time around... perfect line reading... beautiful scene... these actors are remarkable... beautiful scene... I love that shot... funny... beautiful... oh, that line, that line always gets me... oh, and when— and when she— why are there tears coming out of my eyes? That is not very analytical!"

The only thing I really have to add to my earlier post is that I think the reason I find the movie so beautiful and the reason I find it so well acted are related. What's so beautiful about the appearance of color in a black and white world? It's not the actual color mixture; if I take a photo and desaturate parts of it in Photoshop, I'm making it uglier. I think the trick is the creation of a false ceiling. There is only so much beauty possible in a black-and-white world. The movie lulls us into accepting those parameters. We start to think of a really well-composed grayscale shot as a ten. Then the movie drops in a red rose. Bam. Fourteen.

Similarly, the characters in Pleasantville are all amusingly stiff at first, as befits a 1958 sitcom. Any emotion at all — a faux-stern "come get your breakfast" — is a ten, because it just doesn't get any less bland. Until suddenly the walls come down for a moment and a character stands there, completely vulnerable, and quietly says, "I really liked it, though," and it's so heartfelt that it's off the previously established charts.

Anyway, while I should probably watch Red again just to be on the safe side, for now I'm going to say that this is my favorite movie.

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