Sunday, December 11, 2016

Now on Netflix: Pleasantville (1998)

Pleasantville movie poster
Pleasantville (1998) – Written and Directed by Gary Ross; Cinematography by John Lindley; Starring William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Don Knotts, Paul Walker and J.T. Walsh.

By Kenny Howell

Very interesting movie about a teenager played by Tobey Maguire (The Great Gatsby) that is obsessed with a 1950s TV show. He is visited by an odd TV repair man (Don Knotts) one night when his TV goes out during a marathon, and he is given a strange remote that sucks him and his sister, played by Reese Witherspoon (Wild), into their show.

Most writer-directors would use this as just a fish out of water situation, the kids from the 1990s, go back to the 1950s and don’t fit in. But Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) uses it as a liberation for the characters within the show. We often idolize this era, especially the TV shows, as some kind of moral standard, but the truth was that racism, sexism, and many other society ills were just swept under the rug and not talked about. The cinematography, which combines color and black and white also pops off the screen. The cast is anchored by the excellent Joan Allen as one of the repressed women within the show. We really don't see enough of her anymore. 

Pleasantville might be a bit on the nose at times, but it is definitely an interesting trip from Ross.

Pleasantville is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

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