VANILLA SKY: David Aames (Tom Cuise) is living the good life--he's handsome and rich--until a spurned lover (Cameron Diaz) takes her revenge by plunging her car over a bridge railing with both of them in it. After that point, we aren't sure what is real and what is fantasy; what is a dream and what is a nightmare. Is David horribly disfigured? Do plastic surgeon's restore his face? Does he kill the woman he loves? Who knows. This is another one of those "try-to-figure-it-out-after-you-see-it movies that seems to be every where these days. I think there are two possible explanations:
1. After the accident, everything that happens takes place in David's mind as he lies in a comma.
2. You can accept the science fiction explanation of a "lucid dream" that is expounded at the end of the film.
Most of the critics seem to buy the science fiction aspect. I subscribe to the coma theory. The 2 hour and 15 minutes running time does seem a bit long, and, for me, there were some slow spots. Cruise, facially disfigured for more than half of the film, proves that he can act even without his killer smile. Penelope Cruz reprises the same role she played in the Spanish film Abre los Ojos upon which Cameron Crowe based this film. Gary thinks that this is the film Cruise wanted to make with Kubrik. It is much better than EYES WIDE SHUT. He also commented that if Kibrik had done this film it would be considered his final masterpiece. If Kubrik had directed the film, I would be tempted to go with the Science Fiction ending. But Kubrik didn't make this movie, and Gary can only give it a B. I have to say B-.
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES: No one knows why the five Lisbon sisters committed suicide, and this movie provides no answers. The adolescent boys who were fascinated with the beautiful and inaccessible sisters in high school are never able to forget them. Even in adulthood, they yearn to understand the girls and the reasons for their suicide. It is set in Detroit in the early seventies when the automobile industry is dying because of foreign imports and the elm trees are dying from an imported disease-Dutch Elm Disease. Jaynes Woods is Mr. Lisbon, a high school English teacher, and Kathleen Turner is his wife. Both parents seem as bewildered by their beautiful daughters as are the boys who stand in front of the Lisbon house hoping for a glimpse of the sisters. Sophia Coppola, whose acting was savaged by the critics in The Godfather III, directed this film with a skillful and sensitive touch. She may someday prove to be in a league with famous father. GRADE: B