Monster's Ball

I've always loved you.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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I don't know what deal with the devil this resting home employee made to become one of the best actors in Hollywood, but The Man Who Wasn't There and Monster's Ball. Monster's Ball got a lot of press and a lot of acclaim. It was deserved. It is a simple but deep movie with layers of background and emotional realism. It's a gritty and harsh look at love in poverty and how people are shaped by their upbringing.

There are some amazing roles in this character driven film. Sean 'Puffy' Combs both did a perfect job with the small roles they were given.

I'm a believer that the most interesting parts of our lives start and end in a very short period of time. Monster's Ball is a story about one such turning point for a family of prison guards and a lower class black family. It's a love story where people don't always have a choice. While it's a story about relationships, the most powerful moments of all their lives happen in the very short period the movie takes place in. It also starts with someone throwing up, which you know is a good sign for a classy movie. Though one might think this movie is more of a touchy feely relationship movie, I would still highly recommend it. Each line of dialog, each look, each scene is filled to the brim with emotion. Monster's Ball is truly a powerful and wonderful film.

The DVD has a very clear 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture that immediately sucked me into the film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack adds ambiance where it is required without going over the top. I imagine it is hard for sound editors to put their work out of the mind of the audience but when they do it makes the whole picture better. There are two directors commentaries including one with the director, Thornton and Barry. I couldn't wait to listen to the seat shifty comments between Berry and Thornton while we all watched them hammering away like a pair of rabbits. Unfortunately it wasn't near as uncomfortable as I had hoped. Barry is just as insane as she was during the Academy Awards, so prepare yourself for a lot of touchy feely "become the inner spirit of the character" acting references.

Monster's Ball is one of the best movies I have seen all year. It is a great movie and one I would recommend it to just about anyone who can stand watching Halle Berry tear her clothes off and rape Billy Bob Thornton for twenty minutes. The actors and the story all put together an excellent drama and one of the best American films I have seen in a long time. Go see it.