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Thread: American Beauty

  1. #11
    Yeah, I can fly. Aleksei's Avatar
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    Jen: Great points.

    Quote Originally Posted by ross_in_green View Post
    well, i kind of disagree about angela being extroverted. when i think of her character, i usually think of how lost she is, how she needs somebody to take care of her, to listen to her, to admire her, but she's too absorbed with her image that she doesn't really care of others. she needs others' admiration, she needs to be the centre of attention, but it's a selfish need that to me doesn't imply an extroverted human being.
    I'm not sure how it wouldn't. That she needs the attention and approval of her peers, gets off on it, is extroverted to the nth degree. Introverts are overwhelmed by excessive attention. Extroverts don't necessarily care about other people (that's more Fe), but we do require socialization -- attention. Histrionic narcissism of the type she exhibits is a common problem among all ExxP types.

    maybe i'm mistaken. i'm new to the whole typology thing. : )
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    I feel a need to stick up for Carolyn, maybe because she's so much like my mother ... her husband turned into a total adolescent right before her eyes. Seems to me she has a right to some of that anger. I'm always so torn in the scene where it looks like she and her husband are going to reconnect and have sex on the couch (woo hoo, "sex on the couch" the true sign of spontaneity) and she realizes he's about to pour his beer on it and says so, ruining the moment. He says "It's just a couch!" and she says "It's SILK. It's ITALIAN. SILK."

    I can never figure out what would have been the right thing to do in that situation.

  3. #13
    Yeah, I can fly. Aleksei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    I can never figure out what would have been the right thing to do in that situation.
    Get it on in the couch of course. She can certainly afford to replace it.
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  4. #14
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    I actually really like Carolyn.

    Yes, she's got some major issues, but as a character she was so awesomely portrayed by Annette Benning -- so shallow and divorced from herself in some ways, but also underlying that invasive aggression and drive and seeming lack of coherence is a real vulnerability and fear that she won't be able to keep her life together... and if she doesn't, she will not be able to depend on anyone else.

    (After all, Lester sort of emotionally abandoned her long ago and now has become a loose cannon. He used to be passive, so she took charge, and perhaps vice versa; and now he's just become self-indulgent and self-focused. That Fi that the movie portrays so positively also is actually rather selfish, if you look at how Lester has divorced himself from his relationships in his process of liberation. Lester does not really break out of his selfish Fi mode until he chooses to not have sex with Angela, because he sees her as a real person, with real needs. That is the moment of Lester's true liberation.)

    That whole scene where Carolynn tries to psyche herself up to "sell that house"? Wow. I can watch that scene time and again, it makes me want to laugh and cry simultaneously. She is amazing. She goes in there, gets herself going, works endlessly to make the house perfect, plows through the obstacles of the day, gives those sales everything she has... and fails miserably partly because the house sucks so bad and her buyers are sort of lame. You finally see her crack, after they all leave her in the empty house, when she breaks down momentarily... completely breaks down... and then you just watch her, the battered warrior, climb back to her feet, bloodied and bruised, get herself together, and march out to try again the next day.

    War vets don't have anything on Carolyn. I find her perseverence impenetrable and yet amazing. It is one thing I've always valued in SFJs, honestly.

    The reason she tries to hard to keep everyone in their assigned roles is because she's not yet stable enough internally to keep herself afloat if everything external changes. She just isn't self-aware enough right now to be able to articulate that, she keeps thinking that if she was more successful she'd feel secure OR that everyone else should stay where they are so that her house of cards does not collapse.

    The "real" Carolyn is the one in Lester's final memory flashes -- where Carolyn is laughing on the amusement park ride. That captures the person that Carolyn could be, if she is secure within herself and just lets herself exist rather than trying to control every aspect of reality.

    In any case, no one in this movie comes out looking good, really, they're all kind of self-obsessed and screwing others over to get what they think they need and deserve... except for maybe Ricky and Jane. They are the EveryPeople in the movie -- they want to be loved, accepted, and understood, but get none of it, and end up having to fend for themselves while trying not to hurt anyone else or USE anyone else.
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  5. #15
    Member FlamingMask's Avatar
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    SJs are the Proprietary type. It would be natural for Carolyn to value their possessions more than Lester.
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  6. #16
    man-made neptunesnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    I feel a need to stick up for Carolyn, maybe because she's so much like my mother ... her husband turned into a total adolescent right before her eyes. Seems to me she has a right to some of that anger. I'm always so torn in the scene where it looks like she and her husband are going to reconnect and have sex on the couch (woo hoo, "sex on the couch" the true sign of spontaneity) and she realizes he's about to pour his beer on it and says so, ruining the moment. He says "It's just a couch!" and she says "It's SILK. It's ITALIAN. SILK."

    I can never figure out what would have been the right thing to do in that situation.
    Yeah I know what you mean. I really disliked Lester's character. He was merciless, selfish, and so whiny. "You can't just decide one day to stop taking accountability for your actions & decisions, esp when you have a family" was mostly how I felt towards him throughout the movie. I also didn't care too much for Carolyn, either, but only because it felt like the audience wasn't supposed to identify with her. She was the designated "bad guy" so that we the audience could feel good about ourselves and bond through collectively hating her. Kind of sucks. I'd still pick her over Lester.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    [stuff]
    All good. I agree.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    Yes, me, too. I would pick her over Lester. And Lester making advances toward her on the couch and expecting her to go through with sex on the Italian Silk Couch in the formal living room is really kind of fucking her, not making love. It violates her values.

    Carolyn laughing on the amusement park ride is Carolyn before she had any real responsibility. I guess we'd all like to stay in that place and be girlish and carefree, but it's a heavy expectation to put on someone.

  8. #18
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neptunesnet View Post
    Yeah I know what you mean. I really disliked Lester's character. He was merciless, selfish, and so whiny. "You can't just decide one day to stop taking accountability for your actions & decisions, esp when you have a family" was mostly how I felt towards him throughout the movie. I also didn't care too much for Carolyn, either, but only because it felt like the audience wasn't supposed to identify with her. She was the designated "bad guy" so that we the audience could feel good about ourselves and bond through collectively hating her. Kind of sucks. I'd still pick her over Lester.
    The story was really about Lester's growth. I was hard on Lester above, yet I think I should add that usually when one moves from passivity and being a child, one goes through a rebellious and self-absorbed stage. This is Lester throughout most of the movie, and I think it was actually necessary for him to pass through that wasteland to get to a good place.

    His catharsis when he "wakes up" and takes care of Angela is his moment of glory. It's unfortunate that he never gets to move past it because of his neighbor's phobia and rigidity. If he had survived, I actually think things between him and Carolyn would have changed. He would have finally reached out to her; and after some internal struggle on her part, she would have reached back. Her wailing in the bedroom, clutching his clothes and smelling the smell of him, after she knows he is gone, really shows how much she really did love him; the end of their relationship is devastating to her, regardless of how just a few minutes before she was contemplating violence herself.

    All good. I agree.
    Added a bit more. (sorry, I do that! ) See what you think.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    Yes, me, too. I would pick her over Lester. And Lester making advances toward her on the couch and expecting her to go through with sex on the Italian Silk Couch in the formal living room is really kind of fucking her, not making love. It violates her values.
    I see relationships as both. Sometimes you do things consciously, sometimes you just let yourself loose and enjoy the moment. (I think maybe we're having J/P bump here. ) But I do agree that Carolyn was in a place where her life was crumbling, so it was kind of hard for him to expect her to just "let go" even though it was clear she did want to; and she only got a chance to make one comment that broke the mood before he lashed out at her. He was definitely not thinking about her right then, even while she was still considering the sofa.

    Carolyn laughing on the amusement park ride is Carolyn before she had any real responsibility. I guess we'd all like to stay in that place and be girlish and carefree, but it's a heavy expectation to put on someone.
    I agree, you can't expect someone to stay there forever even though I think it's an "idealized" view of her.

    I think once someone reaches a good place in their lives, they are able to be both at once. They can let go in the situations that are best participated in by letting go (retaining their childlike joy and innocence), yet also be aware and mature and complex in situations that demand a more controlled and responsible adult perspective.

    In the movie, Lester was stuck in "child mode" and Carolyn was stuck in "adult mode." Which created a mother/son relationship between them, rather than one of peers. If it had been balanced, both of them could have been adults together, children together, or parents together.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  9. #19
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    Lester was a bit of a late bloomer.

  10. #20
    man-made neptunesnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    That Fi that the movie portrays so positively also is actually rather selfish, if you look at how Lester has divorced himself from his relationships in his process of liberation. Lester does not really break out of his selfish Fi mode until he chooses to not have sex with Angela, because he sees her as a real person, with real needs. That is the moment of Lester's true liberation.
    That's one of the fears I've had myself. Not the temptation of entering into that frame of mind but rather being a victim of it (because I have the capacity of being it and know what it's capable of). I've been very wary of it and critical of it in myself, sometimes too much, to avoid Fi that's unfiltered like that and selfish and knows no consequences. Now, I just couldn't even begin to understand that on a personal level. Developed Ne helps (for me).

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