Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

1997

Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) download yts

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Jude Law as Billy Hanson
Kevin Spacey as Jim Williams
John Cusack as John Kelso
James Gandolfini as Diner Cook #2
720p 1080p
1.11 GB
1280*720
R
23.976 fps
2hr 35 min
P/S Unknown
2.36 GB
1920*1080
R
23.976 fps
2hr 35 min
P/S Unknown

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Bill Slocum 6 / 10

Neither The Book Nor A Bust

Like "Citizen Kane" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "Midnight At The Garden Of Good And Evil" is a movie about a writer trying to get a simple story, and finding himself with more than he bargained for. John Cusack is the writer, John Kelso, and his explorations of Savannah, Georgia offer some mystery and fun, though the result will be flat for those who already know the story from reading the best-selling book.

"Better to be on the edge of a party, don't you think?" a young woman named Mandy (Alison Eastwood) asks Kelso at one point. It's a pertinent question. Alison's father Clint and screenwriter John Lee Hancock try to accomplish much the same effect here, dancing at the perimeters of things, showing conversations where words can not be discerned. Many times we see Kelso looking in on some social function from the outside, like at a cotillion for black debutantes or bridge games at the Married Women's Club, a bit adrift but interested in the games people play.

At the same time, Kelso becomes quite close to one Savannah resident, Joe Williams, an art dealer whose homosexuality is an open secret until he comes out of the closet by shooting his boy-toy. Kevin Spacey's performance as Williams is rich and fun, his accent not note-perfect but well-tailored to his polished delivery. The way he lazily smokes his cigars as he moves through a party, dabbles in lowcountry voodoo with Jesuitical zeal, or even eats gumbo in prison is a study in an actor's sense of the wholeness of the role.

While many book fans savage this with the comment "It's not what I read in the book," I take it in stride. John Berendt didn't carry this thing down from Mt. Sinai either – most notably by presenting the killing as something that happens after his arrival rather than before he played with the facts in the book. So when the film gives us a romance between Berendt's stand-in Kelso and Mandy or invents connections between the Williams story and the others in the book so the secondary characters can appear in the main story, it kind of works in an offbeat way.

What doesn't work is the pace. The film goes on for over two and a half hours, and feels longer. Eastwood obviously approached this project with enthusiasm for the book, and especially for the music of Johnny Mercer which is prominently featured. But the comedy feels labored, the depiction of Williams' trial too unshaded in its sympathy for the defendant, and many of the performances, like that of Jude Law as the dead loverboy, seem underbaked.

Two good performances are delivered by people who had real-life roles in the book. Sonny Seiler, who defended Williams, plays the judge in the trial and gets to tell himself when he's out of order. The Lady Chablis, who I never cared for much in the book, has an engaging vulnerability on screen. Even when the story screeches off track by focusing on her character, she makes the logic gaps less bothersome with her playfulness.

I even liked Alison Eastwood, who does a good accent, looks the part of Mandy, and makes the film's most egregious detour from the book seem less of a violation. Not a stunner, but her languid delivery and drooping eyelids are very sensual in the everyday manner she presents us with, a half-promise of something good reaching out to you in the dark. In that way, she recreates the spirit of the book quite wonderfully. Pity her father didn't always do the same, but this is an entertaining film more often than not.

Reviewed by S. M. 8 / 10

Pure Genius

Like every film Clint Eastwood makes, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is fascinated by the mystery of masculinity: what it means to be a man, and what you have to do to be the kind of man you think you need to be -- whether that's a father, a member of a cultural group, or the ideal man in a certain social situation. Two highly-acclaimed recent Eastwood films -- "Mystic River" and "Million-Dollar Baby" -- mildly disappointed me by sinking into oversimplification and predictability. Possibly Eastwood's directing hand is more interesting when less "self-assured," because 1997's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" follows these questions down less well-defined, and thus less predictable, paths. Maintaining a scrupulously neutral eye, the film recounts a complex tale of murder, involving characters who are recognizable types on the surface but carry deep difference underneath. It unfurls a slow, rich, and troubling narrative which answers the mysteries of its crime premise even as it opens much more difficult questions about the very things that murder stories are supposed to make simple: innocence, guilt, motivations, affection, and its characters' so-called morality.

Thanks in large part to a literally mesmerizing performance by Kevin Spacey (I'm riveted every time he appears on screen) and a well- balanced turn by John Cusack as the sympathetic investigating reporter, who charms us even as he maintains a total and focused receptivity to new information and strange events, the movie fills its two and a half hours with a slow-paced and carefully balanced story that brings us into the suffocating green world of Southern Gothic, with its all its mannered refinements, thick silences and passionate secrets. There's something in this film that would have pleased Tennessee Williams or Truman Capote, those cool-eyed investigators of the closeted South. John Berendt's nuanced book, Spacey's restrained, smoldering performance and Eastwood's lucidly hands-off direction have created a strange, slow gem of a film. It's not a gem appreciated by everyone, but two years before Spacey's turn in "American Beauty" struck a chord that resonated with the wider public, "Midnight in the Garden" asks similar questions in a context that is, at the same time, more precise, more exotic, and equally American.

Reviewed by smatysia 8 / 10

Spacey rocks. Think of it as an art-house film.

I haven't read the book. Might have hated the film if I had. But I liked it. I did read some reviews before viewing the film, and I was prepared to dislike it. A lot of the criticism has some validity. The movie isn't really a linear type of murder mystery. It's partly that and partly a quirky travelogue of Savannah. The Lady Chablis character gets way too much screen time, apparently because Eastwood thinks that it will entertain us. It does, but only to a point. However, this is a different sort of movie, so I understand why Eastwood includes so much of Chablis, and the voodoo woman, and the fly guy. Also, John Cusack plays it with the same dead-fish expressionlessness that he brings to most of his roles. This isn't really bad, it's just that he's always the same.

I had never seen one of Kevin Spacey's films before, and I am impressed at how he really nailed the role. I thought his performance made this film.

A word or two about the accents. Most non-Southern actors really murder Southern accents. I'm from Texas, not the Georgia coast, but I thought Spacey hit the accent just right all the way through. It was always there, but was never the focus. (Streepian in its apparent effortlessness) Jack Thompson did his accent very well, also, particularly since I understand that he's an Aussie. Some other cast members didn't do well with the Southern accent, like Alison Eastwood. She overdid it. It seemed strained. And oh, yeah, Cusack sounds like an accentless Californian rather than a New Yorker.

Overall, I guess I've written a lot more criticism than praise, but that wasn't my intent. This was a good movie. Think of it more as an art-house film rather than a mass-market picture, and you might have more realistic expectations.

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