Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Aliens and American Beauty

For my first A-Z of Culture Month, I chose the best movies in the A category that I think every student should be aware of:

Aliens: While the first Alien movie was monumental and awesomely original (as well as classic haunted house story-telling), I hold a special love for Aliens. I’ve seen this movie a ton of times and I never get tired of it. Ripley isn’t thrown into a situation and made to deal with it as in the first movie, this time she faces her fears and sets out to save people’s lives. It’s visually stunning and the military operation based around the “bug hunt” of exterminating the thousands of eggs that could potential wipe out the human race is something the audience can root for. Also, Ripley’s hatred for the company using her and the crew in order to bring back an alien is another aspect that audiences can totally back her up on.

Burke: Ripley...! You know, I... I expected more from you. I thought you'd be smarter than this.
Ripley: I'm happy to disappoint you.

American Beauty: Most people think of Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects but I first saw him in American Beauty and absolutely loved it. Here was a guy who tells you from the start that he will die soon, so his telling of what happened in the last days of his life. Between his hatred for his job, his distance with his wife, and his disconnect from his daughter, Lester finally decides to change his life in an Office Space sense. However, the themes are a deeper in this film and you understand the feelings of every single member of the family. While Lester is our hero, of sorts, the escaping from a life of “just things” into a life where you think, feel, love and experience something other than what society expects you to, is why I think students should at least see this and get an idea of how cinematography can work to create good story-telling without CGI nonsense – plus, it’s pretty funny in parts. My literary criticism professor used this film as an example of symbolism in the rose petals and I’ve always kept that in mind in my own classes.

Carolyn Burnham: How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2012


  1. Alien is one of my all time favourite films, although I haven't watched for many years...I find the older I get the less brave I become. In my younger days though it was a regular Video that I'd pull off the shelf.

    I've never seen American Beauty, I'm not exactly sure why.

    Great post, I can't wait to see the rest of the month.

  2. Thanks so much!
    I'm not very brave with those movies either. Now that Prometheus is coming out, I'm fully prepared to hide my eyes for most of it.
    Again, American Beauty is just full of good casting, dialogue, story, etc. It's not on cable a lot so it's one you have to hunt for on Netflix.

  3. Great reviews, though I admit I've never had an interest in movies like Alien. American Beauty was great. Looking forward to more movie discussions!

    1. Thank you!
      Alien movies are not for everyone, I agree. The gross and scary aliens take some getting use to before being able to just appreciate the story.
      American Beauty was so good - I need to watch it again now.