63: “It’s Hard to Stay Mad When There’s So Much Beauty” – American Beauty

“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for 20 years… and I’m just now waking up.”

That’s what Lester Burnham tells us in AMERICAN BEAUTY, and may also describe some people’s reaction to this Best Picture winner from 1999, which is a mite more controversial in the wake of the #MeToo movement — and allegations of sexual misconduct by its Oscar-winning lead.

When We Were Young invites you to “look closer” at the stunning cinematography, the innovative editing, the memorably melancholy score, and, of course, Alan Ball’s sharp-tongued screenplay, which follows a doofy dad through a particularly fatal midlife crisis and satirizes upper middle class suburbia. There’s plenty to cherish here, from the darkly comedic performances of Annette Bening, Mena Suvari, and, yes, even Kevin Spacey — but what about its approach to gender and sexuality in the 90s? Is this a cautionary tale about the dangers of chasing youth in your middle age, or is watching Spacey lust after a teenager in 2019 just too… icky?

Does American Beauty hold up like a plastic bag on a blustery day? Or is the bloom off the rose? Find out in our newest episode!

When We Were Young is a podcast devoted to the most beloved pop culture of our formative years (roughly 1980-2000). Join us for a look back to the past with a critical eye on how these movies, songs, TV shows and more hold up now. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @WWWYshow, on Facebook at Facebook.com/WWWYShow and email your episode suggestions to wwwyshow@gmail.com. Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on iTunes so more folks check out the show!

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