Well we continue our march to mapl.de.map history. This week is girls’ night out and we get to watch a little classic known as A Thousand Acres… what’s that? No one actually knows what that is? Well it’s based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Jane Smiley (which I read, obvs) about a family of farmers in Northern Iowa. The plot loosely follows that of King Lear and the book was excellent. Apparently the movie was not as excellent. We’ll see though. This obviously takes the Iowa spot on the map, which I’m saving to update in the near future. Let’s go!
A Thousand Acres (1997) – BMeTric: 14.2 (November 13, 2016)
(Pretty classic older movie plot. Votes go up, rating regresses to the mean, BMeTric reaches a plateau. The votes are so low that the BMeTric is generally below average for a bad movie. Expected. Commentary generated on November 13, 2016)
Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – When a stubborn, single-minded widowed father decides to relinquish ownership of his farm to his three daughters, a family is abruptly torn apart, and long-held secrets come out of the closet. The only thing missing from this melodrama is character motivation, which presumably did exist in Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, a variation on King Lear. A hollow film notable only for the strong performances of the two leading ladies (whose companies jointly produced the film).
(Well, having read the novel I will admit that the character motivations are a bit hazy but mostly because everything is told from a particular point of view. The character who tells the story is naive and a bit too optimistic, so she is generally blind to the underlying motives of several of the major characters… you know, to be totally serious and analytical about this whole thing. Long story short: don’t talk about things you don’t know anything about Leonard.)
(“A story of family…” wait, wot? This is coming off a bit too ‘gee whiz, guys we can work this out cause we’re FAMILY’ (you know, like Furious 7), when the novel is not that… definitely not that. What a weird trailer.)
Director(s) – Jocelyn Moorhouse – (Known For: How to Make an American Quilt; Proof. BMT: A Thousand Acres; Unconditional Love. Notes: Her imdb picture is of her reading A Thousand Acres. She hasn’t done anything in film since this movie, but is returning to writing and directing this year with the release of The Dressmaker staring Kate Winslet. Wow.)
Writer(s) – Laura Jones (screenplay) – (Known For: Angela’s Ashes; Possession; The Portrait of a Lady; Oscar and Lucinda; An Angel at My Table; Brick Lane; The Well; High Tide. BMT: A Thousand Acres. Notes: Has mostly worked on literary adaptations to mostly great results.)
Actors – Michelle Pfeiffer – (Known For: Scarface; What Lies Beneath; Batman Returns; Hairspray; One Fine Day; Stardust; Wolf; The Age of Innocence; Dangerous Liaisons; Ladyhawke; I Could Never Be Your Woman; White Oleander; The Witches of Eastwick; Love Field; The Fabulous Baker Boys. BMT: I Am Sam; The Family; Dangerous Minds; Dark Shadows; Grease 2; The Story of Us; Up Close & Personal; New Year’s Eve (BMT); A Thousand Acres. Notes: Nominated for three Oscars (Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Love Field))
Jessica Lange – (Known For: Big Fish; Cape Fear; Tootsie; Rob Roy; The Gambler; Broken Flowers; All That Jazz; Titus; The Postman Always Rings Twice; King Kong; Frances; Blue Sky; Music Box; Losing Isaiah; Grey Gardens. BMT: The Vow; Hush; Prozac Nation; A Thousand Acres; Everybody’s All-American. Notes: Nominated for Worst Actress Razzie for Hush. Nominated for six Oscars, winning two (Tootsie and Blue Sky).)
Also stars Jason Robards.
Budget/Gross: $23 million/$8 million
(I knew this was a big bomb because it was noted everywhere that Pfeiffer spent five years trying to get it made only to have it bomb at the box office, which predictably bummed her out. Not her worst performance at the box office though, that would be Into the Night.)
Rotten Tomatoes: 22% (11/48), Critics Consensus: A Thousand Acres makes disappointingly sudsy stuff out of the source material, but benefits from solid performances by a strong cast.
(Surprising number of reviews for a film that came out in 1997 to little fanfare. Also fortuitously bad reviews as far as mapl.de.map is concerned. Not the typical film to drop all the way down to 22%, especially when the performances are noted everywhere as being great. I feel like if this came out now it would put up August: Osage County types of numbers.)
Poster – A Thousand Sklogs (B)
(I like this poster quite a bit. Like the symmetry of the sisters hugging above the stark Iowa farmhouse. Would have rather had Lange and Pfeiffer colorized to match the rest of the poster and would have loved for the poster to be more yellow (like the farm land, this is a bit too dark) but this is still good.)
Keyword(s) – iowa; Top Ten by BMeTric: 38.8 Children of the Corn (1984); 38.7 Unaccompanied Minors (2006); 35.4 Michael (1996); 29.5 I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998); 23.2 Sleeping with the Enemy (1991); 20.2 Fraternity Vacation (1985); 19.1 The Puppet Masters (1994); 17.5 Butter (2011); 16.6 Burlesque (I) (2010); 15.7 Whiteboyz (1999);
(They are missing one: I believe Bucky Larson Born to be a Star began in Iowa and if Burlesque counts then so should that. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I’m impressed by how few of these films I’ve seen. Fly over country indeed.)
Tagline(s) – Best friends. Bitter rivals. Sisters. (C)
(Ha, how poorly this goes with the simple random addition of the word “sisters”. “Best friends. Biter rivals.” is a pretty good tagline… this? Not as much.)
Notes – Michelle Pfeiffer, who produced the film, wanted Paul Newman to play patriarch Larry Cook, but he turned down the role.
According to an article in Premiere Magazine 1997, all extras in the film had to sign an agreement promising not to attempt to approach/speak to actresses Michelle Pfeiffer or Jessica Lange. (haha, what?)
Lange battled with producers during the editing phase of the film, during which it through extensive re-editing. When released, Lange stated that the only thing about the film which worked were the performances.
Jocelyn Moorhouse reportedly tried to take her name off the picture after her first cut of the film didn’t sit well with test audiences. (wow, this gets worse and worse. This would have been a super funny Alan Smithee film.)