American Beauty, the last Best Picture of the 90’s, is a masterful, dark satire of American (suburban) life. Ahead of its time, American Beauty mocked suburbia before those housewives got so desperate. Everyone on Robin Hood Trail has a beautiful house with a beautiful lawn. Carolyn Burnham keeps her roses looking good with help from eggshells and Miracle Gro. And everyone seems to be a completely different person than they appear. Look closer indeed.
Written by HBO’s Six Feet Under scribe Alan Ball and directed by first time director, Sam Mendes American Beauty is a rare bird for best picture winners: it’s a comedy. A dark comedy or “dramedy” yes, but a comedy nevertheless. And it’s got a stellar cast. I love Kevin Spacey, I think he’s a truly gifted actor. Same goes for Annette Bening: she’s perfect here. I love the scene of her singing along and performing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in her car. I do that too–same song, different singer–I like the Barbra Streisand Funny Girl movie soundtrack version the best. Interesting to note, Carolyn was singing in her car to the Bobby Darin version; a few years later Kevin Spacey portrayed Bobby Darrin in the biopic Beyond the Sea.
A couple of before they were stars moments: John Cho, Harold from the Harold and Kumar movies ( a guilty pleasure, sure) has a tiny role as a prospective home buyer. 1980’s pop sensation Paula Abdul (“Straight Up’ “Forever your Girl”) and future American Idol flibbertigibbet choreographed the cheerleader scene. And before she won a Tony as the terrific Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray and before she danced on Dancing With the Stars a peppy Marissa Jaret Winokur showed up as the Mr. Smiley’s Counter Girl. She’s got one of the movies’ best lines, too.
Other movies nominated in 1999: The Insider, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense. They did good that year American Beauty is the best of the bunch.
For dinner we dined at a combo of Mr. Smiley’s and the Burnham’s house. I made burger’s ala an In-and-Out Burger. I only wish I could have made beef and cheese pot pie on a stick. LOL.
1/4 pound ground beef
1 fresh hamburger bun
1 tablespoon Kraft Thousand Island dressing
Large tomato slice (or 2 small slices)
Large lettuce leaf
2 slices American cheese (Singles)
-or- 1 slice real American cheese
1 whole onion slice (sliced thin)
Preheat a frying pan over medium heat.
Lightly toast the hamburger bun, face down in the pan.
Form each half into a thin patty slightly larger than the bun.
Lightly salt patty and cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side.
Flip it over and immediately place slice of cheese on. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Assemble the burger in the following stacking order from the bottom up:
bottom bun dressing/tomato/lettuce/beef patty with cheese/
onion slice or grilled onions/top bun.
Makes one hamburger.
Serve with a side of OreIda Fries (I wish I would have remembered Smiley fries) and some steamed asparagus (break off spears’ end, steam for about 3-4 minutes–serve with lemon slices).
For dessert we had a home baked frozen apple pie (once again, not on a stick). How American.