American Beauty

American Beauty American Beauty .. Look Closer My first reaction after seeing Sam Mendes’ feature film directorial debut, American Beauty, is that it disturbed me. I walked out of the theater in a virtually bewildered state of mind. This is the kind of movie that makes you wonder about what really is beautiful, and where can you find this beauty. Is it something that is in the happenings of an ordinary day or in the special people that we choose to share our lives with? American Beauty opens with Lester Burnham’s (Kevin Spacey) declaration that, “I’m 42 years old.

In less than a year I’ll be dead. Of course I don’t know that yet. In a way I’m dead already.” In this simple manner the film establishes its somber tone, its dry sense of humor, its non-linear narration, and its character’s fate. Having revealed the fatal outcome, what follows is a brief view of the final days of Lester’s frustrated life; of his wife Carolyn’s (Annette Bening) constant belittling of him and all things associated with him; and of their daughter Jane’s (Thora Birch) overpowering contempt towards both of them. (Review, www.cinephiles.net).

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“American Beauty accurately and purposefully describes the meaninglessness and loneliness of the current moment in much of America. It’s a story that finds its source on the pages of daily newspapers, with a group of characters we all know well from our neighborhood store, from our personal histories, or at least from television. It gives us a family we would pretty much expect: the Defeated Father; the Isolated Mother; the Jaded Teen. It gives us the Neat Gay Couple; the Homophobic Narrow Conservative, and the Oversexed Teen. These people are types, but they are not mere jokes.

These people exist in America, and they exist in full. These people are our neighbors, and if we “look closer” as the movie asks us to do, we’ll see that we know people just like this, and that perhaps we are one or more of these people” (Dodd, www.believe-me.com). Film and Cinema.

American beauty

Have you ever seen a movie that just simply amazed you and almost disgusted you in a way. Well over this weekend my family and I decided to rent the movie American Beauty. This movie recently has won many awards for performances in acting and best role play. But that is not the reason we choose to watch American Beauty. We choose to rent this movie pending on the fact for me to write my final psychology paper on it. American Beauty struck me in very different ways some including feelings of disgust, truth and reality, but mainly it was filled with many social psychology terms. If you asked to pick a different movie to show and demonstrate the examples of certain psychology terms I dont think I would have selected a better one. Some of the examples that I have decided to inform you about are ones such as love, discrimination, and social perception. But you will here plenty more about all the psychology factors and how this movie relates, also I provided other references such as the Internet and the dictionary.
Well to begin she was very high in neuroticism, is a personal trait meaning an emotionally unstable person that people either learns from watching and observing from other people and is portrayed in the movie American Beauty. Lesters wife is neurotic for a few reasons and the movie really shows a good example. She is so devoted to becoming successful that she dose not realize what is going on around her and starts to become distant. And when she dose not succeed she start to cry and beat herself up over it. Making her emotionally unstable.

Her Attitude(a negative or hostile state of mind b : a cocky or arrogant manner )towards Lester is also very negative. There are a few seen in the movie which prove my argument. For one instance when they are all leaving in the morning and Lester drops his briefcase in front of her she says that he cant possibly make her any later and that he is a loser because of it. Another scene is when she has some fund raiser for reality and she really likes The King of real sate so she tells Lester to just be quiet and for once make himself useful to her.

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Now we will turn to Lester for a little while our next subject. Lester is at a high school basketball game to watch his daughter Janie who is on the cheerleader squad. Although he was not very thrilled about going to the event once he notices the physical appearance (the way she looks relates to her personality and intelligence) of his daughters friend who is also on the squad Lester suddenly becomes very interested. Lester before he even introduces himself to Angela the friend of his daughter, assumes because of her beauty that she is personable and precise.
Another trait about Lester is that every time he either sees Angela or even thinks about her something strange begins to happen. Lester starts to see these roses and they appear to whatever he is thinking about. This to me is an Attributing Factor ( The inference process people use to assign cause and effect to behavior) So whenever Angela is on his mind these roses or pedal are attributed .
Cognitive Dissonance ( The tension produced when people act in a way that is inconsistent with there attitudes, attitude change may occur as a result of attempting to reduce cognitive dissonance. Lester shows this when he is supposed to write how he is important to the company. Instead of doing this he decided to tell the efficiency manager how he really feels. Also he tells the expert how he knows all about the manager spending almost fifty thousand dollars on a prostitute, which leads to fraud.
Finally I will touch upon the neighbors for just a bit, and how they portrayed social psychology. Ricky Spitz is the new neighbor that moves in next door to Lester and his family. Ricky shows signs of very high Obedience (the form of compliance that is shown when people respond to the orders of an authority figure) in this case it is to his father. Ricky and his father are on there way to take Ricky to school and his mentions how he cant stand that there gay neighbors just stopped by to rub it in there face that they are gay and proud. Ricky replies that there is nothing wrong with that, and his father flipped out screaming. Even though this is how Ricky really felt he was obedient and told his father in a very stern voice , that it makes him sick, and want to vomit. Rickys father is very Prejudice (an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics)towards gay human beings and is very disgusted when he is confronted by an individual of homosexuality.
Overall I did not expect to be so overwhelmed after viewing such a dramatizing film that displayed everything that you could possibly imagine. In a way this film kind of scared me because all they was done and the way the actors really showed how this type of movie is fiction and this situation happens in someone elses house every day and we do not realize it. Also my parents were amazed at how the father may not have shown how much he really cared for his children and the same goes for the childrens aspect of the father but deep down inside there was plenty of love for each other just a lack of communication. I think this too happens in many American house holds , mine quite possibly being one of those families. To sum it all up this movie actually gave me a whole new outlook on life and family situations and I hope I was able to explain to you how the terms related from the movie and other references that I have chosen. I do plan to take another course in psychology next semester and hope that such projects as this one are assigned to me so I can further open my mind to things that I might have never even thought of watching or reading before it was assigned.


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