is it that the best films of the year always tend to be released
in November and December of the year? Over half of my Top
Ten List will be comprised of films released since the end of
October. A majority of those films will be films that have
been released in December. I know most of them wait to be
released due to better Oscar consideration, but why should the
average movie goer have to suffer through ten months of lame
comedies and corny action flicks just to get to the two months
of film that really matter. Whatever the reason,
"House of Sand and Fog" is the best film of the year,
bar none, and one of the best films I have seen in a very long
Jennifer Connelly stars as Kathy, a young woman who lives in a
beautiful home facing the ocean. She inherited the house
from her father, upon his death, and with the house comes a
flood of memories. One morning she awakes to a knock on
her door, after which a gentleman stars posting eviction notices
all over the house. It turns out Kathy has not paid a
business tax on the property in the amount of $500.00, hasn't
opened her mail the county has been sending, and is being
evicted, with the property being auctioned off the very next
day. So, with the help of a friendly policeman named
Lester (Ron Eldard), Kathy packs up and vacates her home.
Ben Kinglsey stars as Behrani, a former Iranian colonel who
lives in a lavish apartment he cannot afford, having to work two
menial jobs to barely cover the rent. So, he sees the
notice of auction and ends up purchasing the home for a quarter
of what it is actually worth. His idea is to buy the
property, fix up the house, and sell it for four times what he
paid for it, so he can movie his family into a much better home.
Things fall apart when it is revealed that the county made a
mistake and wrongfully evicted Kathy. They try to convince
Behrani to sell the house back for the cost at which he bought
it, but he refuses. Behrani already has plans for the
money he is going to make on the sale, including a new home for
his family and a university education for his son. Kathy
visits the home continually, trying to persuade both Behrani and
his wife to return her the house, and Lester, who has left his
wife for Kathy, even drops by with soem threats if the house is
not returned. This all winds down to an inevitable
conclusion that is somewhat unexpected, but then again
completely logical when you look at the way the movie
progresses. The ending of the film is one of the most
haunting and powerful conclusions I have ever seen.
This is a beautiful film, from beginning to end. Scenes
and sequences are segued by beautiful camera shots of the fog
and the beach and the ocean. We see the nature beyond the
house as a backdrop to the human nature that drives this story.
Kathy wants the house back because it was the only thing she
actually had that she could claim as her own. Behrani
wants to keep the house, at first, because he wants a better
life for his family. However, Behrani's motives start
becoming more about pride and principle than anything else.
Ron Eldard's character is interesting in that he seems to not
know what he wants. He tells Kathy it is over with his
wife, but he just can't seem to end it the way he would like to.
A case could be made that Eldard's character is the one that
incites the final portion of this film, but no one person is
really to blame. To place the blame on anyone would be
besides the point, but if so, I would certainly have to blame
the county for setting these events into motion.
Bill Murray finally has some competition in the Best Actor
category at the Oscars. Ben Kingsley deserves it just as
much here, if not more for his powerful performance. Take
the scene in which he is running down the halls of the hospital,
covered in blood, screaming and raving. Or, the scene in
which he is visited by Eldard. We see that Eldard is
trying to intimidate him, but we see in Kingsley's eyes that he
is not afraid in the slightest. And, Jennifer Connelly is,
as always, unbelievable in her role. The final scene is as
heartbreaking because of her performance as anything else.
"House of Sand and Fog" is the most memorable film of
the year, and it is my very favorite. I left the theatre
with this feeling of sadness for the inevitable, but with a
great sense of joy in the quality of the film I had just
watched. Director Vadim Perelman has delivered one hell of
a masterpiece and I cannot wait to see what is next.
( 4 out of 4 pops )
about this film with other Popkorn Junkies
Matt ( 3 1/2 out of 4 pops )
"House of Sand
of Fog" is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, led by two winning
performances by Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly. Kingsley is
one of the few, and I emphasize the word "few," actors who
chooses roles that he's passionate about. OK, he may have done
"Species" for the money, but it's no coincidence that he only
does movies every two or three years. And it's always worth the
wait. He was definitely robbed of an Oscar statue for "Sexy
Beast"--he was pitch-perfect in that movie and he's pitch-perfect
in this one as well. He plays a soft-spoken character, but
watching the intensity in his face alone makes you feel what he's
feeling. Not to mention he mastered the Iranian accent. Ron
Eldard turns in a good supporting performance as the likable sheriff.
I've had more of a respect for Eldard ever since his intense performance
in "Bastard Out of Carolina." The film is filled with
thrilling, heartbreaking and powerful moments. But what it makes
it special is it earns those moments honestly. This is one of the
few cases in which the character motivations don't take a backseat to
the plot. One example of that is "Cold Creek Manor,"
which came out earlier this year and has an identical plot.
Plus, "House of Sand of Fog" is a real character study in
the sense that I felt sympathy for both characters. Kingsley
cannot be technically classified as a "villain." He's
still a hard-working foreigner trying desperately to put food on the
table for his family. People surely weren't kidding when they said
the ending was depressing. All I have to say is don't expect to
leave the theater with dry eyes. If you want to see a great, solid
dramatic thriller that doesn't take cheap shots, this movie will be
a real blessing. If it weren't for one over-the-top moment
towards the end, I would give it 4 pops, but I'd still recommend this
for Oscar consideration. Rarely am I this blown away by a movie!
Mike ( 3 1/2 out of 4
This is one fine drama that has outstanding performances all around,
especially by Jennifer Connelly and the always magnificent Ben Kingsley.
These two actors make us totally care about these characters and they
come across as being completely real. There is no over-acting or
over-the-top stuff here which is always a big plus and makes the film
even that more realistic. The movie itself slowly draws you into
to the story and while you know right off the bat that something bad
will eventually happen, you will be surprised by what exactly what
happens. The style of this film sorta reminds me of last year's In
"The Bedroom" for some reason. As good as Connelly is in
this film, I can't stop raving about the performance of Ben Kingsley.
I thought he blew me away with his performance in "Sexy Beast"
but here in this film he does it again. The guy is simply a great