On Sunday, February 22, the biggest night in Hollywood will take place with the 87th Academy Awards, a night for the art of cinema to be celebrated. Here at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, we’re commemorating this special night with our own bit of film appreciation as we talk about real estate in cinema. Most of the films listed in this article are actually Oscar nominees themselves, and some are winners.
Directed by Sam Mendes, “American Beauty” tells the story of suburban turbulence that takes hold of a family, with Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey as a quarreling husband and wife, and Thora Birch as their troubled daughter. Bening plays Carolyn, a real estate agent who is looking for more in her dreary life, while Kevin Spacey plays Lester, an individual whose growing resentment at his job and home life drive him to behavior that’s inappropriate for his age. As the film goes on, the actions of the two spouses will eventually drive them towards unpredictable consequences. The movie has a wealth of supporting characters, all of whom have their own secrets and desires that have been repressed by the norms of their squeaky-clean suburb.
The hidden, bubbling tension of suburbia seems to be of interest to Sam Mendes, evidenced by him journeying back to that topic for his film, “Revolutionary Road.” Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star as Frank and April Wheeler, a young couple in the late 1940s who are introduced to the suburbs of Connecticut by real estate agent Helen Givings (Kathy Bates). Similar to Bening and Spacey’s characters, Frank and April are looking for something beyond their world of freshly mowed lawns, well-kept gardens, and white picket fences. Just like “American Beauty,” this film explores the inner lives of suburban dwellers who seem to be well-to-do on the outside, but later fall apart while confined by the shelter of their homes.
The horror genre is full of homes that would be difficult to place on the market in real life, and in Tobe Hooper’s fun horror film, “Poltergeist,” he tells the story of a real estate developer (Craig T. Nelson) and his family who live in a California planned community. The family soon has to call a team of paranormal specialists after their youngest daughter is taken by mysterious forces to an otherworldly dimension. As it turns out, this strange activity is due to the community having been built on property that previously belonged to a cemetery. When you’re looking to purchase a house after seeing this movie, you might be influenced to ask your realtor for the property’s full history.
If you want another film about suspenseful real estate, check out David Fincher’s thriller, “Panic Room,” starring Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart. Foster and Stewart play a mother and daughter who purchase a gorgeous, four-story brownstone apartment in New York City’s Upper West Side. After being in the apartment for only a short while, a trio of burglars break in. While the mother and daughter take refuge in their panic room, they soon realize that what the criminals are looking for is exactly where their victims are hiding. Fincher does a thorough job with juxtaposing the vastness of the apartment itself and the claustrophobic setting of the panic room, and there is also a very elaborate long take that takes you throughout the apartment in the sequence where the criminals are making their way in, giving the viewer a full look at the inside of the apartment.
“The Descendants,” directed by Alexander Payne, follows the story of a Honolulu attorney, Matt King (George Clooney), whose wife is in a coma and placed on life support after a boating accident. He must then do his best to care for his two daughters as they go through this difficult time, while also facing the task of having to figure out what to do with a piece of beachfront property in Kauai that is part of his family’s inheritance, property of which he is the sole trustee. While contemplating what to make of this area of land, his extended family continues to pressure him to sell it for millions of dollars. With the gorgeous shots of Hawaii throughout the film, “The Descendants” gives the viewer a look at the beauty of the islands, while also showing them that, even living in paradise, you still might have to face a few bumps in the road.
The ultimate real estate movie, however, is director James Foley’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” which is adapted from David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning stage play. The story follows the tense world of New York real estate and the competition that a group of four realtors participate in to win some of the company’s top leads. It’s a tale of the morals and ethics of business, or lack thereof in the realty company at the center of the film, and what the agents are willing to do in order to get those leads. One of the film’s significant highlights is when the owners of the office bring in an individual named Blake (Alec Baldwin), who comes in to incentivize the realtors. His character gives the iconic “Always Be Closing” speech, and the way he delivers this intense motivational speech would make anyone quiver with anxiety. This scene was actually written directly for the movie and does not appear in the play.
How many of these films have you seen? When you have time, I highly recommend that you check some of these out, and be sure to catch the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22 on ABC at 8:30 p.m.