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cal-Q-L8
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Hearts in Atlantis (2001)
04. Aug 2002 at 12:47
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A widowed mother and her son change when a mysterious stranger enter their lives.
'Hearts in Atlantis' is beautifully directed by Australian Scott Hicks (Shine) and photographed by his collaborator, the late, Piotr Sobocinski. It is a nostalgic look at the last summer of a boy's 'childhood'. Set in 1960, the story is seen through the eyes of 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) whose widowed mother seems to care more about herself than her son. Bobby's life centres around his best friends Sully (Will Rothhaar), and Carol (Mika Boorem).

One day a stranger (Anthony Hopkins) arrives and rents the upstairs rooms of Bobby's house. Bobby, who is often left home alone, befriends the stranger, Ted, who offers to pay him a dollar a week to read him the paper. We gradually learn that Ted is hiding from the 'Low Men' (FBI?) who are after him because he is a psychic and they apparently want to use his abilities. Bobby and Ted develop a close relationship that expectedly ends in heartbreak.

Russian born, Anton Yelchin is perfectly cast and gives a fine, intuitive performance as Bobby. The handsome Will Rothhaar plays Bobby's best friend Sully but unfortunately doesn't get much screen time. Mika Boorem is terrific as Bobby's girlfriend Carol. Hopkins is Hopkins, one of the truly great actors.
« Last Edit: 06. Feb 2004 at 23:10 by cal-Q-L8 »  
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josephk
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Hearts in Atlantis (2001)
Reply #1 - 04. Aug 2002 at 13:32
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I was extremely disappointed by this film. Yes, the boys are nice, the photography is beautiful, the actors are all excellent. But for some reason it left me vaguely unsatisfied.

I think it's mostly because I'm sick of Stephen King's 60s nostalgia, which he is exploiting to death. It's the same things since Stand by Me and there isn't really anything new in the way he deals with it. Still the same fixation on details of his American childhood - a certain kind of chewing gum, a specific baseball moment, a famous bicycle model, etc. Things that have no resonance for me.

The inter-generational man/boy relationship is interesting and well developed. That, and the fact that the boy actors are all excellent, was a redeeming factor.

Also, when I went to see this in the cinema, something happened that disturbed me profoundly and ruined the entire experience for me. I'm talking about the scene where the gay bully gets beat up by the protagonist and runs off crying like a sissy. The entire audience seemed to think that was very funny and were laughing out loud. It made me nautious and I almost left the cinema at that point. I don't think I've ever felt this uncomfortable in a cinema before or since.

Sure, the character was a bully and deserved what he got. But was it necessary to also make that kid gay so that every one could laugh at him as he runs off in his clearly effeminate way? This is called demonizing and scapegoating. It's disgusting. Walking home after the show, I was so mad at Stephen King (this is not the only case of blatant homophobia in his books, but it's one of the worse) that I wanted to take all the books of him that I own and burn them. I didn't do it, but I'm still pissed.

I seem to be the only person in the universe to have noticed that. I've never read a single comment about that scene anywhere and everybody seems to have really enjoyed the movie but me. Maybe there's something wrong with me.

(Edited by josephk at 2:35 pm on Aug. 4, 2002)
  
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Reply #2 - 04. Aug 2002 at 15:15
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Interesting.  You dislike how Anthony Hopkins handles Timmy Reifsneider.  I don't suppose you will be viewing the movie again, but if you do, rent the DVD and listen to the commentary about that scene.  Would you have preferred it done the way the script called for?
  
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Reply #3 - 04. Aug 2002 at 15:23
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I will check the DVD commentary. I want to give the film another viewing anyway, because I think my original viewing experience was tainted by the discomfort of being in a room full of people laughing at a gay kid getting beat up on screen.

Also, I wasn't referring to the scene where Anthony Hopkins talks to the boy about his terrible secret, but to the scene at the end where the gay kid comes to beat up the protagonist, but then gets his own ass kicked. He runs off in a way that is obviously meant to be comical, and judging from the reaction of the audience, it worked. I thought it was of very poor taste.

Thanks for mentioning the commentary. I am intrigued by it.
  
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Reply #4 - 04. Aug 2002 at 19:39
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josephk, I didn't dislike that particular scene, myself, but I guess that's because I thought the kid had it coming to him, whether he was gay or not. I don't like stereotypes about gays, either, but really, I didn't think he was stereotypically gay. He was just a bully, who happened to be gay. I do understand how it could cause discomfort, though. It didn't for me, because I didn't like him at all, anyway.

I guess I like Stephen King's movies for the same reason you might dislike them, which is his <i>fixation on details of his American childhood - a certain kind of chewing gum, a specific baseball moment, a famous bicycle model, etc.</i> Those things do have relavence for me, and I love the way his stories are almost always inclusive of boys. Smiley

Anyway, I liked the movie. It's not one of my favorites of all time, but I thought it was very good.

Those are extremely nice galleries, by the way, Cal! :biggrin:

Love,
Sir Jacob
  
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Reply #5 - 05. Aug 2002 at 00:14
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Joseph,

I haven't read the Stephen King book but I do know that the movie is vastly different. As far as I know Stephen King had nothing to do with the movie production.  I don't think he even met with the film makers or even visited the set.

The film was directed by an Australian and much of the look of the movie was due to him, his cinematographer and the set designer. I loved the detail in the film and the overall look of the movie.  I thought the lighting was superb and the clever use of mirrors and reflections throughout the film was very effective.

The fact that the bully was gay or whatever had little impact on me. He was a bully and had already bashed the girl...  he more than deserved what he got. I didn't see the movie in a cinema so there was no audience laughter to go by, but I felt satisfied by the scene. I didn't think there was anything overly effeminate (I've seen much more effeminate boys in real life) about him nor did I laugh when he ran off, I felt relieved that he didn't hurt Bobby. Come to think of it, I've rarely if ever seen a gay teen bully before, so for me at least, I saw no stereotype at all.

I liked the relationship between the Hopkin's character and the boy and thought it was beautifully done. Any movie which shows a middle aged man and a boy in a positive and loving relationship gets my vote.
  
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Reply #6 - 05. Aug 2002 at 01:11
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The fact that the character deserved it or not is completely besides the point. I felt he deserved it too.

As I said, I seem to be the only person in the universe who sees a problem with this. Maybe I'm wrong. I'm just saying that the film would have worked just as well if the character had not been gay. The whole point of him being gay is so that when he runs off like a sissy, members of the audience can laugh at him and think: Haha, look at that f*g**t run away! That also fits in with the fact that he beats up girls; obviously a "normal" bully wouldn't sink that low.

I'm not saying anybody here reacted that way to the character. But in a theatre full of teenagers and young adults, that was totally the impression I got. It was sickening and I was mad at both Stephen King and the director, without really caring who came up with the idea in the first place. I haven't read the book so I don't know if the same thing happens in it.

Anyway, just forget it. I didn't want to belittle the fact that this (Australian) director is talented. Shine is an amazing film, and Hearts in Atlantis is equally beautiful and very well done.

I'll shut up now.

(Edited by josephk at 2:14 am on Aug. 5, 2002)
  
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Reply #7 - 05. Aug 2002 at 11:11
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joseph,

I value your opinion, and respect your point of view, and if you want to 'shut up' that's your choice  Cheesy

I'm not going to 'shut up' though, Tongue

<i>The whole point of him being gay is so that when he runs off like a sissy, members of the audience can laugh at him and think: Haha, look at that f*g**t run away! That also fits in with the fact that he beats up girls; obviously a "normal" bully wouldn't sink that low.</i>

I disagree, that there was any comedy intended, or any intention to goad an audience into laughter.  I sincerely doubt whether a cinema audience here would laugh during that scene. My city has a VERY high gay population.

Perhaps the audience in the cinema in which you saw the film was 'immature' or maybe even 'ignorant'.  I've watched a few films in the past where the audience has ruined a viewing experience for me.

What do they know anyway!   Smiley
  
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Reply #8 - 05. Aug 2002 at 13:16
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I value your opinion too, josephk. I hope you don't ever shut up. Smiley

Love,
Sir Jacob
  
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Reply #9 - 05. Aug 2002 at 16:24
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Oh, don't worry. You'll never be able to shut me up forever. And any declaration of silence coming from me must be considered as temporary. Smiley

Thank you both for sharing your views, even if they are contrary to mine. I'll need to give this a second viewing before I can make any further comment.
  
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