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Movie Review: American Beauty

Story: Brilliantly directed by Sam Mendes (first film) equipped with a fabulous script by Alan Ball (you can tell that I really liked this film already, can't you?), 42 year old Lester Burnham has a mid life crisis. He drops out, pumps up, gets stoned, fantasizes and lets loose - he morphs. All of the characters make remarkably subtle, yet by movies end, dramatic changes. Without giving anything away, this is no ordinary movie. I just loved this film (and Nick Nolte is not even in it). The colors, the soundtrack, the dialogue, the sets, the everyone, everywhere general Americanese of the smallness and largeness of each moment makes for a great cinematic treat. And then there's the.....

Acting: Kevin Spacey can do no wrong. What a performer. His range of emotions and his ability to physically change in his roles is outstanding (remember him at the end of The Usual Suspects?) I can see a companion Oscar on his mantle in March. Annette Bening has returned to great acting (remember her in The Grifters before she married Warren Beatty and sold out?) We are also introduced to young Wes Bentley, mesmerizingly handsome as the neighborhood voyeur, Thora Birch as the understated, right on the money daughter and Chris Cooper ( a strong John Sayles film staple) played against type as the ex-Marine neighbor kids' Dad. There are terrific supporting roles including Peter Gallagher, as the slick, local real-estate tycoon, and Scott Bakula and Sam Robards (he has dropped the Jr) as the neighborhood gay partners.

Visual Art: None (But I think this was deliberate and it works)

Pets: None (but I think all films could use a cat).

Length: Perfect (five minutes under the 2-hour rule).

LOBO HOWLS: 9.5