Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'Meet Joe Black' Open Thread

What did you think?


  1. There is much to be said about this show, as it is of interest from a number of different angles. I think one interesting story line exists in the difficulty of the "Angel of Death" taking on human form to understand human life. Another interesting story line is the romance that wells up between the character "Joe" and Bill Parrish's younger daughter, Susan. But what I found as the most compelling aspect of the story was the conflict within the family itself, and Bill's effort to convey something important to the one's he loved.

    After the initial shock of being confronted with death, and the certainty that his time here had come to its end, Bill is preoccupied by the fate of his company. He has to address the manner in which he will leave. He is certain that there is something wrong with the deal with John Bontecou, and his gut tells him that the merger does not move his company into the future. It doesn't move his company forward at all, but rather moves it away from the principles that he founded and ran it by, so he looks to protect his companies future and refuses the merger offer. "Joe" doesn't understand this, Bill's preoccupation with the striving of life, and it strikes "Joe" as very curious. Bill's explanation of not wanting his life work torn down led "Joe" his first insight into human passion, all of which is dwarfed by the far stronger passions that he gets just a hint of, but which are central to the movie. The story about the business conflict was all just a backdrop to the larger passions, the loves of his life, and love in general, that "Joe" through his time with Bill and his family comes to gain an understanding of. What is far more important to Bill is the wife he lost, and the girls he will leave behind.

    In general, I enjoyed the relationships that Bill had with his family, and his desire to use the little time he had left to communicate to them both the love he had for them. I loved his asking them back to his place for dinner. He did so each night till the end, and it was a part of his sharing time with those he loved the most. Alison's incessant buzzing around and effort to do something spectacular with the party for her Dad struck him as much like many of the things she had become involved in over her life. His dislike of the fuss and lack of involvement in the process were understood by Alison as meaning that she wasn't worth his time or attention. He doesn't care about what I am doing meant to her what she feared, which was that he doesn't care about me. This underlying fear came to a head at the dinner where she asked him to choose a cake for the party. The party wasn't important to Bill, but Alison certainly was, and it was at this dinner that Bill finally came to understood how he had been misunderstood. When he calls her name and reaches across to her, picks up a fork and chooses a cake for her .. to her relief and delight, I just loved that. And their final scene together, where he tries to apologize, and she doesn't let him, and tells him that he was a wonderful father, and that she always felt loved, that meant a lot to me as well.

    I will have a little more to say soon.

    1. Why has no one brought up the fact that cofree guy and Joe are two different people. It had to be death that came back because no one knows coffee guys name and everyone knows his face as Joe so coffee guy would tell everyone he wasn't Joe then where does that leave everyone that know him as Joe. Everyone just thinks he is mentally challenged? No it was death that came back for Susan. Just like he had said he gets what he wants and he wanted her, thoughts????

    2. I thought that alison knew the whole time that joe was never the guy from the coffee shop because she had watched him die that day. In the end she mentions that she got to examine him after all and I thought that was a confirmation. Any thoughts?

    3. I thought that alison knew the whole time that joe was never the guy from the coffee shop because she had watched him die that day. In the end she mentions that she got to examine him after all and I thought that was a confirmation. Any thoughts?

    4. She did not see him get hit, she has already turned the corner. She got to examine him when they made love in the pool room. He has not told her his name at the coffee shop, so she accepted him as who her father said he was.

  2. Meet Joe Black IS the remake, Dude. However loosely based.

    But don't let me harsh your mellow--again. I know today's "yutes" can't watch a thing unless Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, or Ashton Kutcher makes an appearance.

    Evelyn Venable from the 1934 version is best known for being the Columbia "Lady with the Torch" symbol in its logo. You may see why they thought of her for the statue.

    Cathy, if you are having a hard time finding the 1934 "Death," (stupid Hollywood hasn't put it on DVD yet) try the Ultimate DVD Edition of Meet Joe Black. They include the 1934 version on the second disc. Hmmm. I wonder if they do that with all "similar movies"?

    While Hannibal Lecter ponders that choice of cake and deciding which words in the script would flitter off his tongue like "fava beans and Chianti,"
    it is important to realize that no one in the world has been dying since Death decided to embark on his journey of self-discovery. No one--not even people
    meeting horrific accidents and "manmade disasters," burned to skeletal cinders or dismembered in pieces by an explosion, gets blessed with the sweet release of death
    ending their torment. I guess three hours isn't enough time to explore that beyond that scene in the hospital with the Jamaican woman. This is what happens when you take God out
    of the equation, as secular relativists in Hollywood are always itiching to do.

    And hey, with those sex scenes, I think a sequel is in order. Bringing Up Baby....Death? And Baby Death Makes Three? I'm sure they can come up with a
    good one.

    I know this ends my club membership. . .Well, rhe first rule of Movie Club is never mentioning Movie Club so I wasn't cut out for this anyway.

    1. Yes, people were still dieing. Joe explained this to Bill as they took a walk down the street. Bill asks something like, "who's taking me care of your normal tasks?"! Joe reply to the affect of, "when you brushed you teeth did you think about work and other things? Well multiply that by infinity and the deaths of eternity(something like that) and you still wouldn't begin to understand!"! So Deaths job was still getting done. He actually took the older Jamaican lady at the hospital!

  3. it is important to realize that no one in the world has been dying since Death decided to embark on his journey of self-discovery

    Oh, I don't think so! Unlike Death Takes a Holiday) -- where they emphasized that no one was dying while "the prince" was visiting (including the roses (?) in the garden) -- in Meet Je Black they tried to make it clear -- there was a discussion between Joe and Bill, and those scenes involving the elderly Jamaican (?) woman at the hospital -- that Joe was "taking" the people whose time it is to die.

    I don't recall any mention of God, or Heaven, in Death Takes a Holiday -- I don't remember it perfectly, but I wondered at the time where it was that the girl was going to go with Death (I certainly may have missed something). I think the closest they got to it in this one is at the end when Bill asks whether he needs to afraid, and Joe says that a man like him does not. Pretty vague, but at least suggesting some kind of merit-based ;) next world/afterlife.

    The emphasis was so different, too, with the sort of ancient mythology feel to Death Takes a Holiday, and the more real-people-facing -the-end sense of the importance of finishing what you believe is important, and making sure you say what needs saying to the people you love.

    Bill spends at least as much energy -- even before Death puts him on notice -- trying to make sure that Susan doesn't make mistakes that will blight her happiness, as he does trying to fix the course of the company he built.

    I loved the scene early on where he's telling her to at least be open to the possibility of the kind of love that wows you, and he persists, even though at first she tries to fend off his concerns and advice.

    Sigh -- I must go respond to something. (Man, just as I was getting warmed up!) Back later!

    BTW -- I loved this movie!

  4. He eased her pain and told her that he would take her later. I assume after he decided to go back to work. If not, please cite your evidence.
    We'll forget about the other 105/minute worldwide
    for the moment.

    I didn't say that God was in Death Takes A Holiday, either. It was still Hollywood.

  5. OK, I'm back, but now I'm going to have to do this between laundry phases, so here goes nuthin'!

    I know Anthony Hopkins is a great actor, but I almost never want to watch anything he's in, because of the Hannibal Lecter thing -- even though I've never watched the movies, I associated him with really disturbing characters for such a long time. (Even the previews of those movies are enough to give you the heebie-jeebies.) So i really enjoyed seeing him play the very positive character, and watch him behave lovingly towards his family. And I really liked the cake scene, too, with it taking him so long to "get" that it was important for him to be interested in what Alison was trying to do. (I especially enjoyed the use of humor that seemed natural to the characters -- like Alison's teary chuckle, "Yay! He gives a sh*t!" -- to resolve the conflict so comfortingly.) That was something overall that felt very true to -- I mean, that premise that we can love people so very much, yet not understand what is or isn't important to them. The party meant so much to Alison, because it was something she could do for her dad, yet she didn't understand that parties, and special efforts of that nature, were not a blessing to him. And it took him quite a while to realize that, as misguided as it was, the level of perfection she was striving for was a reflection of her love for him, and her desire to get it right probably reflected her wish to do something that would get his approval.

    I thought they did a lovely job with the scene between Alison and Bill later, when she tells him that it's alright that she wasn't his favorite; she knew he loved her. And even later, towards the end of the party, when he holds her and thanks her and kisses her, so much more demonstrative than ever before, and the joy and happiness that shines from her through her tears and I-love-you's. That was one of the best moments in the movie. (I thought Marsha Gay Harden was wonderful throughout.)

    And I really liked Jeffrey Tambor as her husband (Quint?). Good hearted, authentic, more honest with himself than a lot of us, and trying to support all these people he had come to love. The scene with Joe when he talks about the freedom that comes from having someone know all your secrets, all your weakness and failings, and love you anyway -- well, I know it was meant to be a lesson for Joe, but I found it so moving, this picture of the love these two imperfect people had.

    I felt so much for him later, his anguish in knowing that his 'loose lips' moment was used to bring down the man he admired so much; taking Joe's encouragement to own up to Bill right way; his highs and lows of his talk with Bill and grabbing the opportunity to redeem himself and help make things right; and the sincere affection of the embrace they share when Bill knows he is saying goodbye. How richly drawn a character that might just have been the ubiquitous stupid son-in-law.

    Back in a bit!

  6. Darrell -- Cite my evidence, eh? :)

    The first time Joe talked with the old lady, she "recognized" him, and at first acted somewhat frightened, but as they spoke, told him the pain was terrible, and asked him to please take her then. He told her he couldn't break the rules, but told her it would be soon. Then, later, when he comes to the hospital with flowers for Susan -- isn't that when he "takes" the old woman? (I think it was that visit; I'm pretty sure she dies while he is sitting with her.)

    (I don't know how authentic Pitt's" Jamaican" was, but it was hard to understand much of what was said.)

    And the conversation with Bill: Bill asks him what happens to his "regular work" while Joe is with him, and Joe says something about even though you're shaving and dressing, you're making decisions about your business, and it was the same with Joe. I have a very hazy sense that somewhere there was an example mentioned, but I can't remember well enough right now.

    In fairness to the older movie, they suggested that the absence of death also meant an increase in life -- in the garden plants are blooming much more than they "should"; the newspapers showed all the amazing escapes from potential tragedies (the only one I remember was something about all the children being saved from a fire at a school or something); and the older man who wasn't the "host" commented about feeling better than he had in some time. It stuck with me, because for some reason, he reminded me of Uncle Willie from The Philadelphia Story. (Yeah, yeah. I know.)

  7. Yes, Cathy, you have it exactly. It was harder for Bill to reach out to Alison, just because her nature was so different from his own, but he truly and deeply loved her, and I was so glad he was able to tell her so. That is a challange... how do you let people know you love them when all your life you have never been able to relate very well, to the confusion and frustration of you both. That scene in the afternoon where he tries to apologize, and she lets him know that he is allowed to be human, and that she always felt loved, and his telling her that he couldn't want for anything more on his birthday, that was just a great scene. And later at the party itself his warm embrace of her and his thanking her for the lovely party. It was perfect.

    The younger daughter Susan was a different issue entirely, and I am so glad that there were the two daughters to look at these two different issues. In the case of Susan, they both had a deep affection for one another, but Bill worried for her that she might not experience life to its fullest. The idea of loving someone fiercely, of holding on tight to them and to experience the feeling of not wanting to live without that person - and to see those things as some of the best things in life and to carefully try to guide her to those good things, attempting to protect her and at the same time allowing her to make her own choices, hoping that he had given her enough to allow her to choose well... that struck me as so true. For me, raising children is a delight that is fraught with the knowledge of how hard the world can be. You do the best you can to guide them, but at some point you have to let go and hope for the best. His final scene with Susan, where he holds her tight and tells her that she gave him a purpose in his life beyond which he had any reason to hope for, that he loved her so much and always would, and that that in itself made it okay, and he had no regrets... that was just a great scene.

  8. But back to Meet joe Black! I'm not much a a fan as far as Brad pitt and his personal life are concerned (but, then, I may be too critical; I can hardly claim to actually be well-informed), but I am increasingly impressed by his acting. When Death first takes human form, his absolute confidence and authority are clear, in spite of how oddly youthful the person interacting with Bill appears. That delicate skating between the very powerful Death's occasional ominous challenges, and self-assurance among the other characters, and the moments of surprise, being caught off-guard, bafflement, and delight, in the things Joe experiences for the first time, even sometimes seeming too young for his age, was wonderful. He has no need to disguise his reactions to those moments that would make 'mortals' feel foolish -- if he doesn't seem to show to advantage because of some fish-out-of-water incident, there is no lingering insecurity when he faces down an emerging opponent. And the variety of moods Pitt displays still fell within a believable range.

    That introduction to peanut butter was so finely tuned -- comical, without being slapstick, or otherwise ridiculous. And as much as I wish they had done without the sex scene -- especially in a movie I would otherwise happily share with the big kids, anyway -- I have to appreciate the depiction of this first experiencing of the wondrous beauty of what is, ideally, the sacramental expression of committed love.

    Even better than peanut butter. :)

    And how great was the big showdown with Drew and the board if directors? Bill determined to do what he could to protect the integrity of his communications business, Joe having fun with the surprise he had up his sleeve. And who couldn't cheer them on, stomping on that 'snake in the grass'?!

    OK -- one more break...

  9. Hi JIm! Yes, there was an almost fairy-tale perfection to the love between Susan and Bill, so beautiful.

    Back soon.

  10. You know, there are a lot of movies with angels and guides and couriers and what not! I probably wouldn't have remembered Death Takes a Holiday if this one hadn't come up, but there's also A Matter of Life and Death and The Bishop's Wife, and Here Comes Mr. Jordan / Heaven Can Wait (which we haven't done!). And It's a Wonderful Life, of course. (I only saw Field of Dreams when it first came out, I don't remember whether there was a facilitator. Actually, now that I mention it, I don't remember much about it at all.)

    But each movie has a different mythos, or at least some suggestion of a set of rules or guidelines or something, that the other-world character is supposed to follow. So, I've been trying to decide whether Joe/Death broke his own rules or not. He explains "taking" Coffee Shop Guy "because (he) needed a body" -- but was it intended to be a borrowed body only for the time he spend getting the "tour" from Bill? (And what about making that deal with Bill?)

    I did think it was established with the Jamaican woman that he couldn't take someone ahead of his/her time -- but when Joe tells Bill he's going to take Susan with him when he goes, that would also seem to be in violation of whatever limits or rules he's supposed to observe. Joe might not have walked away from Susan if it had not been for the discussion with Quint about being loved in spite of "'the worst thing about you" being known to your beloved, and the outrage he encounters from Bill at the suggestion that it is Love that would prompt Joe to take Susan without her, well, informed consent. So is it these same appeals that cause him to restore Coffee Shop Guy to life, or had he intended to all along?

    Whether or not Joe was violating his world's boundaries, it is his growth, his increased understanding of what it means to be human, the Joe-ness of him, that prompts him to let Susan see the truth about him, and leave her not only to live out the life she had before her, but to know that it was not a mistake on her part to have believed herself loved.

    I thought this was great.

  11. "Whether or not Joe was violating his world's boundaries, it is his growth, his increased understanding of what it means to be human, the Joe-ness of him, that prompts him to let Susan see the truth about him, and leave her not only to live out the life she had before her, but to know that it was not a mistake on her part to have believed herself loved."

    Yes! Bill challenges Joe to reveal who he is to Susan and 'let the chips fall where they may', and as he goes out to speak with her, she tells him that she knew from the first, when she saw him at the coffee shop, and the look of... almost dread on Joe's face, replaced by silent resignation, and then he tells her that he loves her and will do so always, followed by his promise to her that she will always have what she found in the coffee shop - Joe's willingness to give up what he wanted most in this world is the point at which Joe actually loved her, and was the reason for his tears and hesitancy to leave it behind. I loved the way they played that scene, with her holding him knowing he was already gone, and him being willing to let her look into his eyes and sense who he really was, to her recoil finally blunted by her fearful smile and quick "You're Joe". That was all well done I thought. And the score was very moving, helping to convey the sense of love and loss in the story.

  12. Oh -- that reminds me! I meant to re-watch the portion of the movie that has the party music playing behind all these climatic conversations -- I think I spotted a pun (or perhaps just exceptionally appropriate selection) or two, but I'll have to go back. The music was great, wasn't it!

  13. ... her recoil finally blunted by her fearful smile and quick "You're Joe".

    Yes, that was wonderful. I can't believe I didn't say anything about Claire Forlani, who aside from being remarkably lovely, I thought did a beautiful job of being off-balance most of the time! With the exception of some of the family moments, Susan is constantly having everything she thinks she knows shaken up. Not just her father's weird mental state, changing his mind about things and talking to himself, but Coffee Shop Guy and being struck by lightening, then Joe as Coffee Shop Guy with amnesia, then Joe completely inexplicable, both in his identity and background, and in his bizarre lack of familiarity with Earth-stuff, and finally when he's telling her he has to leave, and can't take her with him. She can never make sense of him, until she realizes she has come to care for two people -- Coffee Shop Guy and Joe, who apparently isn't really a people at all...

    And she pulled it off with alternately quiet hesitancy and almost as quiet impetuosity, and finally such grace. Lovely!

  14. Ah yes, she was very good.

    I also loved the ending, where Bill and Joe are speaking together on the side of the hill, and Bill, who has now clearly taken the lead with "Joe", asks "It's hard to let go, isn't it?" and Joe responds, "Yes it is, Bill", to which Bill closes with "That's life... What can I tell you" while he gazes steadily at him and waits for him to turn and go.

    Yes, it was all very fine. I am so glad you enjoyed it.

  15. We've touched base with Matt over at Movietone Cameos, and we are going to give a go to the hidden Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger gem, I Know Where I'm Going!. There's nothing better on a wintry, rainy day than a trip away to Kiloran. The movie features the engaging Roger Livesay and a very spirited Wendy Hiller. I hope you all will enjoy it.

    Couple of days.

  16. Claire Forlani is so beautiful!!

  17. She is, that. And her halting, diffident manner around Joe was very endearing, as was her deep love and committment to her father. The bind they were all placed in as Joe came to fall in love with Susan, and then had to discover what love really is all about - that was what I found to be the most gut wrenchingly true aspect to this story of fiction. It is interesting how stories based in fiction can illuminate truth in the every day lives we lead.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Claire Forlani played Queen Igraine (King Arthur's biological mother)in the 2011 Starz series Camelot. She was beautiful there as well. I see a pattern.

  19. These comments have reinforced my love for this movie and its score.

  20. I love this movie. I'm so glad they chose Anthony Hopkins to play Bill. The speech at the end had me choked up. The only thing I'm confused about is after crossing the bridge with Bill (as Joe), the coffee shop guy came back. Does that mean he was actually in a coma and didn't die, or does it mean that he was allowed to come back from death? Hopefully someone can answer this for me. Obviously there isn't a sequel, so I would love some opinions and comments about the ending. Thanks, Melissa

  21. By the way, I totally agree with other posters on this site - the music in this movie was perfection. Melissa

  22. I think its fair to say that the young man returned from death

  23. Oh, yes, sorry about taking so long. I did not see your question there, but yes I agree with Anonymous, the young man had been killed, seemingly coldly and heartlessly (which he was), but he was brought back when "Joe" realized that to love Susan would require of him the loss of her. Anything less and he would have missed the mark of what it was that Bill was trying to show him. "Joe" came to look into the lives of people here on earth, to understand them, out of curiosity really, with a great sense of invulnerability and superiority, and in the end he was crushed by the realization of how painful it can be to love someone, and to loose someone that you love. He had chosen Bill to show him about life, not understanding what it was he might come to know. And Bill did what was asked of him, though "Joe" had no idea what it was to cost him. Bringing the young man in the shop back from death, for Susan whom he had come to love, was an act of kindness and affection for her. It was the final act of letting go, out of love.

    I loved the ending, where "Joe", so impervious before, finds himself wiping away a tear, and Bill, with compassion, respect and now even affection for him, offers:

    "Well, what can I tell you. That's life."

    And off they go. Great movie.

  24. I don't know how anyone else has missed this and I have never read anything anywhere that brings this part of the ending up. The end of the film when Susan talks to Joe about their discussion in the coffee shop regarding a man taking care of a woman. She brings up that Joe said,"that Joe did not want her to be his doctor because he would not want her to examine him". She then states that she got to examine him after all. She says this in a sad reflection. I always thought she meant that she examined him when he was brought into the hospital (where she works as a dr) after the accident and she knew he died. After she says this to Joe she asks him to take her with him wherever he is going. I think she knew all along and just could not accept it or could not understand until the ending. Any thoughts?

  25. Well, no, if Susan had actually been in on attempts to resuscitate the guy from the coffee shop in the ER, or if she had found him down in the morgue by some chance, her whole interaction with him throughout the movie would have been far different. No, in her relationship to Joe throughout she was intrigued, confused and a little bit frightened. She had turned the corner after they parted at the coffee shop. She never knew the guy in the coffee shop had been in an accident.

    Her father had warned her about Joe, that he was not the guy to set her hopes on, that she would be better off with... even a comparatively simpler man like Drew. Bill of course was trying to protect her from death itself, and even though Drew was a questionable character, he was a safer bet than Joe Black. Susan, however, did not know what her father knew about Joe, and took his warnings about Joe to be more traditional fatherly concerns: "Stay away from this kind of guy, he's a Romeo, he may seem appealing now but he is no one you can count on, he is going to end up breaking your heart, you can't trust him to love you as a man should..."

    The point of the movie you refer to was the key moment in the movie for Joe. Bill had scoffed at him for professing to love Susan. Joe didn't know the first thing about love, the fact that a fair amount of honesty is required if you are going to be known and loved. To hood wink someone who has fallen for an idea, without having any chance of knowing who you really are is to cruelly trick that person. That is not love. So Bill challenged him, go ahead, if you really love Susan tell her who you are, let the chips fall where they may, then see where you stand.

    Susan, meanwhile had come to sense from her father and Joe that something was about to happen, that things were changing, and that she would not have much longer. She assumed that Joe was going to leave town as her father had seemingly predicted, arrive suddenly, leave suddenly, and leave Susan there heart broken. So she is a little afraid when she comes up to Joe. Holding hands she nervously says:

    "If you're trying to tell me my future, you're looking on the wrong side"

    She is showing concern here over the future, and Joe replies:

    "There is something I want to tell you" and he pauses,

    "But you can't?" asks Susan.

    And then she mentions what you have said above, and describes how she felt when she first met the guy in the coffee shop, how he said he was a guy that wanted to take care of a woman, and how she told him he would have a hard time finding a woman like that these days, and then she puts it all out there...

    "Well, you found one Joe."

    And with that, there is a realization in Joe's eyes, and he says sadly:

    "The coffee shop."

    and she replies

    "That was the place... and you were the guy"

    and Joe knows. The chips have fallen. Susan, whom he loves, loves the man whose body he has been inhabiting. He has to let her go.

    And she, sensing that he is pulling away now, says to him with tears in her eyes:

    "I could come with you.
    You want me to wait?
    You'll come back?"

    And Joe just asks "Can I kiss you", and as Susan knows, it is a kiss of fairwell.

    I could watch this one again. Good stuff.

    Thanks for stopping by, Joseph.

  26. I think you all missed the great twist at the end: When Joe (death) comes back over the hill and sees that Susan was running after them, he pauses for a moment, suprised, then he continues walking towards her. Death is so enamored with her that he decides to come back and PRETEND that he is the guy who got hit by the car. He says "you told me you like me", which she corrects by saying "I told you I like you so much" (he wasn't sure because he (death) wasnt part of this conversation). She corrects him because she has figured out that he is not the guy from the beginning of the movie. Once she corrects him, his demeanor goes from pretending to be the happy-go-lucky guy back to being "death". So when she asks "what will we do now", death answers "It will come to us". He knew that line because he (death) was a part of THAT conversation. Therefore, death comes back and pretends to be the guy from the beginning, then he quickly drops the act and they live happliy ever after.... Go back and watch it again, it'll be much more clear after reading this.

    1. I totally agree with you!!! I finally found someone who notice this dialogue and the change of their demenor during this conversation.

  27. Woww!! Thank you to the last 2 posters, I saw the movie yesterday and never in a million years have realized that, and know I even love more the movie and their ending. The only thing that I realized yesterday is that at the end, Joe makes these movement of his head and eyes, that I always associated to the death, but I thought that it was a movement of the cofee shop guy and that the Death has copied it. But your explanations are more clear, cheers!!

  28. Ah, well, however you enjoy it best. Now, to go along with what has been offered by Anonymous, and agreed to so whole heartedly by Anonymous' and Anonymous'', we would have to content ourselves with the idea that Joe Black (death) ended up being a lying s.o.b. who learned nothing from his time with Bill. His story arc ends with him being completely content to lie to the love of his life so that he could have her to himself, never allowing her to realize who he really was. The tearful goodbye, the walk off with Bill to wherever it is that he came from and to wherever it is they will go - pure bunk. Joe wasn't going anywhere. Not with Susan Parish available for another toss about. Hmmm. I think not. You just might have a few problems with that version you have not quite worked out, but hey, I don't own the film or anyone's interpretation of it. As long as you enjoyed it and found a meaning in the work, that's what counts the most around here.

  29. Is that you, Darrell, signing in as "Anonymous" and writing purposely shallow and incongruent commentary just to get my Irish up?


  30. The posters who believe that Joe at the end is Death have it right. Obviously God has decided to let Death return and live out a life with Susan. Right before Bill and Joe go over the bridge Joe confirms that there is a higher power when Bill asks if he should be worried and Joe says not a man like you. Then Joe goes over the bridge with Bill and when he comes back and sees Susan he is surprised, not because he is coffee guy but because he has been given a chance to be with Susan. Then Death tries to pretend to be the original Joe but Susan acts not interested, not until Susan figures out that this Joe doesn't remember the conversation from the coffee shop and that he is Death which he confirms when he says "It will come to us" (which coffee shop Joe would never have known to say) does she show any interest in him. Because Death did not take Susan with him and had learned to love he was given a chance to live. Susan also tests him when she comments about how she wishes he'd have known her Dad, this confirms that she fully understood who Joe was and knew that coffee shop guy would know nothing about her father. The look on Joe's face shows that although he says he wishes he had too proves that Joe is Death. Why would coffee Joe say that? Wouldn't he say something like, okay where did that comment come from, or oh tell me about your Dad. Joe is Death and both Susan and him know it and that is why they are both so happy. Joe screwed up the coffee shop story cause he was telling it second hand since he wasn't there and not until Susan heard him screw it up did she want anything to do with him. Once he screwed it up she knew it was really him and that is why she was happy.

    1. GOD is not mentioned in the film. If you have a heavenly prospective on everything then im sorry to tell you im not sure you may have truly understood the movie. There are many storylines and everyone has there own interpretation of death. But your so off. You have every right to be in denial about the movie you think you saw called MEET JOE BLACK. Yes the storyline between Joe and Susan is innocent and stiff but there is an unearthly being disguised as a human for the first time throughout the movie which he JOE explains himself o be DEATH. Possibly the prince of darkness himself painting in a very neat and clean form you may not be familiar with. This is why the movie is so great and why I feel I truly understand the nature of myself as a being. When you live in a box of religious beliefs that are passed down to us not from us but by people who want control over peoples minds and alter their prospective one can lose some understandings or art.!!!!

  31. Yeah, sure. Except the ending is intended to resolve issues and be uplifting. The threat of Death to Susan was a key motivating factor behind Bill's conflict with Death. He could accept that he would die, he had lived a good life and had no regrets. But Susan, Susan deserved something more. For the man walking back across the bridge to be Death, and not the young man from the coffee shop, we have to accept that Bill lost his struggle with Death, that despite Bill's efforts to illustrate to Death the difference between love and desire, Susan was still lost to Death. She married Death. Oh, and the guy in the coffee shop? Too bad. Death needed a body, so... And we have no qualms about reachng an ending that could never be viewed as just or even handed. Nope, Death gets what Death wants.

    Hmm. Well, that is not a particularly uplifting ending, no real redeeming qualities to it, and I do not believe that is the correct interpretation of the closing scene, but like I always say, Movie Club is art, not science. You get to read into it what it says to you. That's the best and most important part about it!

    Thanks for stopping by!!

  32. The issue with Drew and how that was resolved sheds further light on the ending. In the last part of the movie Death and Bill confront the double dealing Drew, and the two work together to cut Drew to the quick, thereby saving Bill's lifelong work from falling into the hands of the unscrupulous John Barneyque. So by the end of the movie the relationship between Death and Bill had turned from one of conflict into one of comradeship. The two men were on the same page, as friends almost.

    Which was more important, more valuable, more loved to Bill, Parish Industries or Susan Parish? After helping to save Parish Industries, what kind of a friend would then turn around and take Susan Parish? No friend at all. No, Death and Bill walked off the stage together, each of them better for knowing the other. I would have to say to hold the story line consistent the man coming back over the bridge was the young man from the coffee shop.

  33. I don't get's a stupid ending... why did they go all the way to the bridge for Bill to die? what? he doesn't wanna be found? lol and if Susan knows her dad died (and she saw him walk across that bridge with Joe) she just turned her back on him and went back to the party? what the...!
    I don;t get it why didn't Bill just go up to his bedroom or office and die there?! and if Susan eventually realized that he was Death and not Coffee Joe..what? she met him at the bridge and thought to herself "oh well, I might as well just go dance at my dead dad's birthday party with the guy that took him!" ?????

  34. i agree with Niveen, where is Bills body? Although that can be rationalised by the going over the bridge being symbolism But the ending that it's coffee shop guy, doesnt make sense. He comes over the bridge and doesn't wonder how he got there, wearing a tux and the girl he met at the coffee shop is there. And the conversation they had, it makes absolutely no sense if it was coffee shop guy, unless they did it for simplicitys sake, the movie was already three hours long.

  35. Well Niveen, Bill went over the bridge... he went over, on to a new life, a new adventure. He had a great life here on earth, and he ended things on his terms. This is what he had hoped for, and what throughout the movie he was very afraid was not going to come to pass. He could accept that he was dying, we saw that early on. But losing Parish Industries to John Barneyque and that double dealing Drew, that was hard to take. Bill, with the help of Joe Black, saved it all.

    More importantly of course was Susan, whom he prized far more. Bill wanted her to find love, and she did. Not with Joe Black, death itself, but with a young man who would love her and care for her, and strive through life with her. So Bill ended happy on that score as well.

    Why not a dead Bill in the bedroom or some such? Well, for that the focus would be on his death, but the movie wanted you to focus on his life. So going over the bridge onto a new life in heaven is an excellent exit for Bill, for it is not something anyone has to mourn.

    And tj, the degree of penetration Susan had into the reality of Joe Black and then Coffee Shop Joe is left vague, but we have the idea that she senses it. Thus, though sorry at Joe Black going away and not coming back, by realizing there was something deeply black about Joe Black allowed her to see that he was not just some guy married to a girl in another town and that he was having a little fun at her expense. He really was someone she could not be with, and she had to just accept that she had to let him go. The truth is, she did not really want to know the full truth about it, because it was too dark for her. When Coffee Joe comes back across the bridge, she realizes something has happened very strange that neither of them can explain, and they both know they just have to accept it and go on from there.

    Well, that's the best I can do for you guys. If you want to look at it another way, hey, its only Movie Club. Knock yourself out.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    1. I have truly enjoyed your posts, and in my opinion you have been spot on in each post. The question about Bill's body lying somewhere beyond the bridge and his daughter and cafe Joe walking off together in seemingly total disregard to the deceased body nearby was the only part of the movie that was somewhat unresolved to me. On a symbolic stance, I see what you are saying about how the writers wanted viewers to focus on the life of our protagonist and not the death. This is after all a fictional somewhat fantasy movie anyway. If the grim reaper can borrow a body to take a tour of human life, why can't our main character have a symbolic departure from life? Right? I also enjoyed this movie for what it was.

  36. Oh, but remember, when coffee shop Joe comes back, he references the shop... she says, "the coffee shop?" And you can see her piecing it together, remembering when Joe (death) told her that she will always have what she found in the coffee shop... death was giving her one final gift if love... original Joe. The lines that were spoken, "we've got time" and "it'll come to us" were past if the blurred and hazy past that coffee shop Joe mentioned... I interpreted it to mean that coffee shop Joe was "in there somewhere" and Susan was making the connection based on the past conversations... she realized that this was the man she was supposed to be with abd Darth gave him back to her... that's why she said, "I wish you could have known my father".. I absolutely love this movie... I mean the cerebral and ambiguous nature if this film was genius, the actors -omg... the expressiveness in the eyes in all the emotional scenes! Phenomenal! The score! Beautiful! I don't care what anyone says... I've always felt this was a beautiful film

    1. Bingo! And very nicely put. Thanks for coming in to share it all with us. Great film!!

    2. Hi I'm still a little confused. So the coffee shop how was always there in a way listening and he was ment to be with her not Death....also does the coffee shop how remember them making love and stuff....

    3. I ment Joe not how in the beginning

  37. I always love the film. But tonight I realized something new. But, whether Joe at the end is coffee shop Joe or Death returned, both of them are going to Jail, and Bill loses Parrish Industries after the authorities question Joe and find out he's really some nobody who impersonated an IRS agent! And, when they find Bills body over the bridge whee Death left it after taking Bills spirit, Joe whoever gets the death penalty for Bills murder!!!

    Death could get away with the IRS thing only so long as Joe was going to disappear for good. But joe reappearing and apparently marrying Susan, even with a hazy memory is not going to fly with the police. Think about it.

    1. You are seem to be missing it a bit, out of design I imagine. No, Bill isn't going to lose Parrish Industries. He is no longer tied up with the concerns of this world. And we did not see Death stashing Bills body anywhere, so it would seem he left us - a disappearance. The lawyers may be troubled with the details of that, but the police will not be spending much time on it. There certainly is no case against Coffee Shop Joe, an innocent man if ever there was one. Hope you enjoyed the movie just the same!

    2. no. when Death takes someone, the body is left behind, like the woman in the hospital, and EVERY BODY ELSE WHO HAS EVER DIED! So Bills body will be found lying on the grass somewhere on his property over the hill. Joe will be apprehended as the person last seen with Bill. The police haven't watched this film. They have a suspect in the murder of a Billionaire. The bad guy adds the part about Joe impersonating an IRS agent. Joes "Im Innocent, I can't remember anything since the coffee shop" alibi won't get him off.

    3. Well...

      Bill's body likely shows no evidence of foul play. Earlier he began to suffer a heart attack (when Death first manifested as just a voice). So his death would most likely be ruled natural.

      And Joe's impersonation of an IRS agent was merely used to expose Drew to the board and work his resignation. The board then unanimously and immediately rejects the merger. No report filed with the IRS or attempts at an arrest. So no real crime on Joe's part. Drew was merely tricked into a confession that swayed the board.

      Finally, it's very possible to be among Death's powers to somehow obscure memories or something so that Coffee Shop Boy isn't implicated for Joe's actions.

      My mind usually wonders about his kid sister and if Coffee Shop Boy's absence was noticed by her.

  38. the ending was hazy to me...the acting was brilliant~"Quince," was who I'd hope to be...and "Susan"! what a lady and brad and anthony...and the other sister~even the "crook," acted so well that hatred came to me...I liked the Jamaican lady also...

  39. I kept expecting coffee guy at the end to say, "OH, by the way, your dad is laying dead in the grass on the other side of the bridge." Instead she flirts with him, not caring who he actually is as long as he is in Brad pits body. They then stroll off to dance leaving dad dead in the grass on the other side of the bridge. Weird

  40. Can we all agree that Bill's daughter Allison obviously poisoned Bill with that Orange cake? That throughout this movie both Allison and Quince were really masterminding the murder of Bill...because of jealousy?

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  42. It wasn't that hard to comprehend.

    I do question of Susan really understood who she was talking to at the party at the end. They did give an underlying impression that it was taboo to call Joe out on who he really was. Joe and Bill had an understanding that it would be kept secret. The old Jamaican lady called him "Mr. Bad News". So maybe she did and just stayed with the theme of not calling him out.

    I didn't have any trouble with the difference between coffee shop Joe and Bill's Joe(Death). I did wonder if Susan had realized that Death didnt remember the coffee shop dialect when they discussed it. Death did promise her that she would always have coffee shop Joe which seemed to go over her head at the time. The very end when he returned I think it somewhat became clearer to her that Coffee shop Joe had returned. She did like him right from the moment they had met, but she had one conversation with him so how was she to truly know Death wasn't the same guy she had met at the shop until the end when Death said goodbye and a seemly different man with recollection of their first encounter returned! I managed to put all that together. The double Joe was pretty well explained and rather easy to interpret for me.

    What I don't get is no emotion towards the departure of her father? That to me seems incredibly odd. They both walk over the bridge and only Joe returns and she doesn't question about her father at all? The return of a love interest seemed to trump her love for her father? Personally I'd be torn up at the idea of never seeing one of my parents again no matter how intriguing they women was. A hole left in my heart by someone, especially a parent, just isn't that easily filled by another!!!! It was like Dad's gone and I don't really know who you are but what are we going to do from here on out! That just baffles me, the lack of emotion and concern.

    I wonder if coffe shop Joe was going to keep the roos of the IRS agent? That was Susan's dads company and he was going to remain a part of Susan's life so I'm sure he'd have a run in with the board again. Quiton was her brother-in-law and held a high position with the company also. I'm sure Joe's "fake" identity as an IRS agent would be revealed to him. I'm sure Quinton would also be filled in about the firing of the other guy(Drew?)!!! Was coffee shop Joe really an IRS agent and that was actually truth? I think that's entirely possibly. Death knew that Drew cheated to pass a class, so I'm sure he knew an bit about the body he was occupying. Maybe the IRS was in fact true?

    That was another thing that bothered me about deaths character, he seemed knowledgeable in some regards and completely ignorant in others! He heard infinite times the stories similar to Bill's and his wife but couldn't recollect the coffee shop convo? Knew that Drew cheated but was amiss about peanut butter, toast, and cookies. I get he may not know the taste never having taste buds but to not know what it was.

    I still like the movie a lot, it just has some holes!!!!

  43. If you think about it though, at the end of the movie the coffee shop how says a line that Susan said to the character Death and so he might have come back for her....

  44. Does Susana know Joe Black is death??? Does she know that he took her father at the end?????