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Overall Rating
3.05

Awesome: 26.32%
Worth A Look: 10.53%
Average: 15.79%
Pretty Bad36.84%
Total Crap: 10.53%

1 review, 13 user ratings


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How to Make an American Quilt
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by Carina Hoskisson

"In the mood for an excruciatingly nit-picky chick flick?"
2 stars

The first time I fell asleep during this movie I was 12 minutes into it. I’m frankly surprised I lasted that long. So instead of watching the movie I got up, did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. Invigorated from doing some women’s work I settled in to try to watch the movie again. I say ‘women’s work’ because this is a women’s movie. There is no possible way a man can sit through this film and not want to scratch his heterosexual eyes out. It is not that the movie is bad or poorly conceived. It is obvious that the movie is a work of love. The problem is sometimes love is a bad bad thing. People do things out of what they think is love and the result is a mess. Just ask Jodi Foster or Rebecca Schaeffer.

The crux of Finn’s (Winona Rider) problem is that her boyfriend (Dermot Mulroney) has asked her to marry him. Instead of saying yes or no, she decides to move into her great-aunt’s home several hours from their shared abode for the summer and ponderously consider the proposal. Let me give you a hint: If you don’t want to marry the guy up front, bag it. If you have to talk yourself into something that serious, you obviously shouldn’t be making that kind of commitment. Finn is also writing the third take on her Master’s thesis. She keeps ‘changing her mind.’ This pretty much sums up the character: wishy-washy, pseudo-intellectual, given to bouts of brooding, and generally unable to make any kind of meaningful decision. Most of all Finn is badly, badly dressed.

Winona Rider has never looked as unattractive in a movie. Why bother casting a beautiful star in a movie just to have her shuffle around in potato sacks? I know, the emphasis is supposed to be on the trials and tribulations of her character. Instead I just wondered how it is possible to costume a star so poorly the viewer is distracted. Her body is obscured by huge shifts of cloth. Yes, Winona is supposed to be an intellectually tortured soul, but does that mean she has to look so awful? No! There is no excuse for poor grooming and hygiene (outside of being homeless, drug-addicted, or Anna Nicole Smith.) Her hair looked like it was cut by the teenage trainee at Fantastic Sam’s. At least the poor clothing, hair and makeup was a perfect reflection of the annoying character Winona was asked to portray.

Anyway, Finn’s grandmother and great-aunt live together and host a quilting bee (with pot smoking proclivities and forced artistic sentimentalities.) This bee is full of sage older women who can each (of course) teach Finn something about life and love. Hence the film’s title. You, as the viewer, get to suffer these lessons in person-by-person flashbacks. Yawn. What strikes me as bizarre is that each of the women relate really sad stories about their involvements and/or marriages with men. Half the group has slept with the other half's husbands. All this is supposed to help Finn decide she wants to get married?

The women have spent the summer making Finn’s marriage quilt. They gift it to her. She sleeps with it one night and in the morning wraps herself up in it (ala refugee) to go run around the home’s orchard. Seven people just spent hundreds of painstaking hours sewing tiny little stitches onto this quilt and Finn decides to DRAG the white quilt through the dirt in the orchard. Not even grass, dirt. Nice.

I admit that a one point in the movie I actually cared about what was happening to the characters. I checked the time and realized that I had been watching How To Make An American Quilt for the past 26 hours…I was running dangerously low on wood and supplies….

At that precise moment I realized that this movie is the film equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition for men. I doubt if I have ever seen a movie that is so intently geared to the pink half of the population. I can guarantee you tripod readers that you’d rather watch The English Patient, Sweet November, and the entire 6 hours of BBC’s Pride and Prejudice than watch HTMAAQ. It is not just a question of being bored, it’s more of a slow and steady, reel to reel emasculation. I had my blood tested before and after this movie, my testosterone levels had dropped precipitously.

It’s hard to dissect a movie that is as earnest as HTMAAQ. The producers cast Alfre Woodard, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Capshaw, fine actors all. Maya Angelou also appears, lending an air of grace and dignity far above this milieu. Technically HTMAAQ is beautifully photographed and its leisurely editing matches the tone of the film.

The director and writers really wanted to make a statement about love and life and ways they affect women. But this kind of fare usually just reduces women into stereotypes. We are all ponderous, can’t make decisions, and we will all be seriously grieved by the men in our lives. I just don’t think that you can so neatly categorize an entire gender by making those kinds of assumptions. But that’s exactly what the movie did. It both decided what women are and conversely excluded the male half of the population. Nobody is saying that making a movie for a specific audience is bad, but what is the difference between HTMAAQ and Big Momma’s House?

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, How To Make An American Quilt is playing on the trip monitor. It isn’t even suitable for a good girl’s night in. This is a film geared to one gender that shouldn’t be viewed by either.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3557&reviewer=44
originally posted: 10/02/03 09:26:44
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User Comments

2/18/07 Niivala Didn't anybody get the creeps about Finn's boyfriend showing up like a stalker? 2 stars
11/28/05 patacchina This movie is simply magic. 5 stars
9/26/04 Bucky Buckner Boone Liked one or two insights/plot-lines 3 stars
3/20/04 t m 1 stars
1/28/04 Christin amazingly touching 5 stars
1/24/04 Elena I've always loved this film. It is poignant and real and truly cathartic 5 stars
10/03/03 Chris It's such an average chick flick that seems to go on auto pilot from scene 1, 3 stars
6/11/03 George Jung Bullshit movie that sucked then and sucks now. 1 stars
8/08/02 I Can't Swim that Winona joke..think of it all by yourself? WOW... 4 stars
6/26/02 Winona Ryder How to make a quilt: First, shoplift the materials. 3 stars
5/21/02 hannah van passel i'v seen the film more then 20 times and i think the movie is great, he makes me think 5 stars
7/26/01 Elvisfan Its a great movie, a great cast..accessible to men also 5 stars
6/20/00 amanda good but i wish i didn't have to review it for english class! 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Oct-1995 (PG-13)

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