Monster

Cast
Aileen: Charlize Theron
Selby: Christina Ricci
Thomas: Bruce Dern
Horton: Scott Wilson
Vincent Corey: Lee Tergesen
Gene: Pruitt Taylor Vince

Newmarket Films presents a film written and directed by Patty Jenkins. Running time: 111 minutes. Rated R (for strong violence and sexual content, and for pervasive language).

Central Theme
There is a logic, a reason, even in the most twisted life, characterized by violence and murder.

Story
The studio Promotional piece says: In a revelatory performance, Charlize Theron stars in the shocking and moving true-life story of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute executed last year in Florida after being convicted of murdering six men. While Wuornos confessed to the six murders, including a policeman, she claimed to have killed only in self-defense, resisting violent assaults while working as a prostitute.

Bravely burrowing beneath the tabloid headlines about America’s first female serial killer and the media’s sordid designation of Wuornos as an unrepentant monster in the midst of the horrors and pathologies, first-time writer-director Patty Jenkins unearths an unlikely love story between two misfits.

Nearing suicidal despair, Wuornos wanders into a Florida bar, where she meets Selby Wall (Christina Ricci), a young woman sent by her parents to live with an aunt in order to “cure her homosexuality.” Wuornos victim of a tragic, abusive upbringing quickly falls in love, and clings to Selby like a life preserver. Unable to find a legitimate job but desperate to sustain her relationship with Selby, Wuornos continues working as a prostitute. When one of her johns turns violent, Wuornos shoots the man in self-defense; the first in her tragic string of killings.

Shot in many of the actual locations where Wuornos committed her crimes between 1989-90, in its grittiness, verisimilitude, and hard-won empathy for its antihero, Monster is reminiscent of the great, iconoclastic American films of the ¢â‚¬Ëœ60s and ¢â‚¬Ëœ70s. Co-starring Bruce Dern, Monster succeeds as searing social commentary, road movie, and, most profoundly, as love story. Theron’s ferocious, fully-committed work astounding physical transformation matched by unerring psychological acuity is sure to surprise audiences familiar with her work, and in writer-director Jenkins, Monster heralds a major new filmmaking talent. — ‚© Newmarket Films

Culturewatch says: More than anything this is a sad story of wasted lives, twisted by life’s bad turns, bad choices and in some cases, mental illness. Aileen’s loveless life and distorted views of reality and morality produce a logic of their own which ultimately can’t bear the strain of encounters with the broader world. Her vision of the path to achieving the ¢â‚¬Ëœnormal life” is built on murder and mayhem. The marginalization of troubled people by Christians is stereotyped here, but is too often true. This is a gruesome and dark story, not pleasant to watch and fails at critical points artistically. Nevertheless it is being named as a must-see for filmgoers.

When the Apostle Paul said to meditate on things that are true, it was in a list that also included things that are also good. Monster is based on a true story but the retelling of it is not true, in the sense that is highly selective and in a self-serving way. When gauging good, one must use a number of standards. Bruce Dern is superb. Charlize Theron is being given Oscar consideration for her performance which Ebert describes as “one of the best performances in the history of cinema.” NYT’s Stephen Holden observes, “as Aileen Wuornos, the notorious Florida murderer, Charlize Theron pulls off the year’s most astounding screen makeover,” however he also reports of the more accurate documentary, “Mr. Broomfield’s movie makes it absolutely clear that Wuornos was insane at the time of her execution, even though a 15-minute psychiatric exam at the last minute found her sane. In the days leading up to her death, she became convinced that she was being controlled by police-directed radio waves and said she would be carried from the earth by angels on a spaceship.” The omission of Aileen’s mental illness means Monster’s story itself does not deserve a good or great because the story has been edited in a way that reduces (or at least leaves vague) the perception that Aileen is insane. How can we draw life lessons, how can we evaluate her condition or understand the factors that contributed to her contorted morality without coming to grips with her true condition? Ebert is seeing a lesson in the “theological virtue of charity.” Can one draw such lessons from the story of a woman who is certifiably nuts and religious people who are caricatures? The story also lacks plausibility because it fails to explain Selby’s involvement with Aileen in a believable way.

God is invoked at the outset of the story when Aileen informs God that she is down to her last five dollars, and that if God doesn’t give her a sign she will end her life. “God comes through” when she meets Selby at a lesbian bar. 18-year-old Selby is living with Florida relatives, having been sent there to be “cured” of lesbianism by her religiously fanatic parents. . That religious, fundamentalist types are drawn as caricatures is acceptable in Hollywood, but merits artistic downgrades by anyone aspiring for greatness in film because life is textured and layered. Religious fundamentalism is at least as complex as Aileen shouldn’t the movie reflect that if it is to be called excellent? The audience loves these superficial religious stereotypes, especially in a bastion of liberalism like Seattle, but is a real? Is it accurate? Does it support the story? If I learned nothing else from this film it is that I will never understand Roger Ebert’s standard of good/excellent because he gives Monster 4 stars, while giving LOTR: Return of the King 3.5 and Cold Mountain a 3.

Beliefs num
–Lust and obsessions are just different forms of love.
–Love, hope and decency are lies and illusions.
–All of life is screwed up and all people have a dark side.
–People should give a second chance no matter what you do, but they won’t.
–Religious people are the worst offenders when it comes to loving the marginalized.
–Once a hooker always a hooker.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–Did Aileen have a choice or was she a victim of her sorry life’s circumstances?
–What did Selby see in Aileen? Why did she stay? Why was the alternative of returning to her family so undesirable?
–Are religious people less caring?

Provocative Quotes byline
–ATTENTION: WE make every effort to assure the accuracy of provocative quotes. If you find an inaccurate quote please use report them by using the link at the end of the quotes section. Thanks.
==CW EDITORS.
–Everybody has to have faith in something. For me it was love.
==Aileen.
–I prayed¢â‚¬¦God if you’ve got something for me in this life you better bring it on¢â‚¬¦and there she was.
==Aileen prayer before entering lesbian bar and finding Selby.
–May I touch your face? God you’re so pretty.
==Selby to Aileen.
–I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be ready for church.
==Shelby to Aileen next morning.
–A person like that? No ma’am we have no business with people, like that.
==Selby’s “Christian” aunt.
–This is a once in a lifetime opportunity¢â‚¬¦just give me a week. You’ll never meet someone like me again.
==Aileen convinces Selby to stay instead of heading home to her parents.
–All you need is love and to believe in yourself and then there’s nothing you can’t do.
==Aileen comforting herself with platitudes recalled from her youth.
–I didn’t want to die thinking you might love me¢â‚¬¦so I killed him.
==Aileen’s first murder in self-defense.
–I’ve been hookin since I was thirteen ..Who am I kidding? I’m a hooker.
==Aileen tries to quit and can’t.
–You don’t know what’s going on in the world. I do¢â‚¬¦ I want you to go on believing people are good and kind¢â‚¬¦I love that about you¢â‚¬¦I’m good with the Lord¢â‚¬¦I’m fine with Him¢â‚¬¦Who the “f k” knows what God wants¢â‚¬¦people kill each other every day¢â‚¬¦for what?¢â‚¬¦ I’m not a bad person. I’m a good person¢â‚¬¦
==Aileen spinning out her logic about the evil world that reduces her own guilt as a murderer.
–What you’re feeling right now is guilt over something over which you’ve had no control.
==Thomas, concerned but unaware of Aileen’s murders.
–No ma’am you DON’T have to do this,
==Good Samaritan. Father, grandfather and about to be victim, pleading with Aileen.
–Maybe you can love me¢â‚¬¦maybe you can forgive me¢â‚¬¦because I don’t know if I can forgive myself¢â‚¬¦This will all pass.
==Aileen.
–WE still have a shot here¢â‚¬¦It’ll be all right. They’ve got me in on some old warrant. I just want to live. I just want to live a normal, happy life.
==Aileen deluded to the end.
–I wish there was a way people could forgive you for something like this, but they can’t so I’m gonna die Sel.
==Aileen denying personal responsibility to the end.
–Thank you judge. May you rot in hell.
==Aileen at death sentence.
–Love conquers all. Faith can move mountains. Love will always find a way. Where there is life there is hope. Of well¢â‚¬¦they gotta tell you something.
==Aileen closing thoughts.
–We are told to hate the sin but not the sinner, and as I watched “Monster” I began to see it as an exercise in the theological virtue of charity. It refuses to objectify Wuornos and her crimes and refuses to exploit her story in the cynical manner of true crime sensationalism — insisting instead on seeing her as one of God’s creatures worthy of our attention. She has been so cruelly twisted by life that she seems incapable of goodness, and yet when she feels love for the first time she is inspired to try to be a better person.
==Ebert Review.
— I was mesmerized by what was happening on the screen. What happens in this movie is almost beyond describing, and the performance by Charlize Theron is one of the best performances in the history of cinema.”
==Roger Ebert, on Ebert & Roper

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  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com

  • Posted in Movies, Staublog in January 12, 2004 by | No Comments »

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