To Die For (1995)

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Food: Before this home viewing, I got to try a place I have wanted to go to for a while: Momofuku Noodle Bar. I got their homemade cider which not good at all and I do not recommend. The Tiger beer was the much better choice. The pork buns were delicious. The ramen was average. The server wore rubber gloves the entire time – which I found very unsettling. I was in good company, so still had a good time.

Film: The film To Die For is an absolute masterpiece. Nicole Kidman’s performance is uncompromising, self-indulgent and utterly perfect. No matter what she does, she masters it with so much conviction, that she becomes unrecognizable. This is no different.

Often compared to I, Tonya this mock-umentary style film is centered around a self taped retelling of past events from Kidman’s character, the narcissistic fame hungry Suzanne Stone, accompanied by snippets of interviews from her husbands sister (the charming Illeana Douglas), a young burnout (Lydia Mertz), and a troubled young man who became Suzanne’s lover (Joaquin Phoenix), as well as her and her husbands parents in the film.

It is pretty clear from the first take that Suzanne is selfishly blind and relentlessly driven, and that despite her congenial demeanor, there is a much darker side to her. The story begins with a naive kid from a close family, Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon) who falls hopelessly for a “pure” and “angelic” girl in his class, Stone, despite his sisters reservations. They say love is blind, and he seems so convinced that she is the answer to all his problems, and lunges head first into marriage with her. It is barely the honeymoon when Suzanne leaves her husband for the day to set off taking meetings to pursue her career in TV, and cheats on him with some big time executive.

After getting a small break at a local cable station, she is more determined than ever to become a big-time anchor, and ferociously chases this dream with such cut throat perseverance, she will dismantle anything that gets in her way. This means bad news for her husband when he starts to suggest that she settle for motherhood instead. With disillusioned confidence, she embarks on a plan to have her husband murdered, enlisting some dim-witted highschoolers who are mesmerized by her and the promises she makes them, but without crossing her tees and dotting her eyes, she leaves a trail of chaos behind her.

Gus Van Sant’s combines the flare of Clueless with the darkness of Gone Girl, and brings us this devilishly twisted satire that comments on fame, the 24 hour news cycle, and the grotesqueness media culture.

 

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