Acclaimed and highly discussed filmmaker Neil LaBute has made himself a force to be reckoned with and a name to watch. With his true-to-life cynical and self-absorbed characters and all-too-true social themes, he has firmly established himself as an unforgiving judge of the ugliest side of human nature.LaBute was originally a playwright. He attended Brigham Young University and took theater as his major. Many say that Pulitzer-Prize winner David Mamet was a strong influence on him. He chose to attack subjects that many don't really want to talk about and showed the way that people really talk amongst themselves. His piece entitled "Filthy Talk for Troubled Times" featured two guys just sitting around and making small talk and ridiculing homosexuals and their ways, in a manner not unlike the conversations in his In the Company of Men (1997). The play was not, unsurprisingly, a hit with the critics.After LaBute graduated from the University of Kansas and New York University, he got a scholarship to London's Royal Court Theatre in the US in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. Then he got into cinema. He made his films like his plays: showing just characters talking and revealing how evil, scared, ignorant, wounded, delusional, disillusioned and cynical they are.LaBute made his first major mark with the low-budget (and frighteningly realistic) cautionary fable In the Company of Men (1997), about two sexist male office co-workers fed up with what they believe is the way women have taken over American society and how it is no longer a man's world. They set out to find a vulnerable woman - one looking for male attention - and wine her, dine her, then cruelly dump her, just to gain some "dignity" for their gender. Shot for $25,000 in less than two weeks, the film won the Sundance Filmmaker's trophy, awards for LaBute's screenplay and Aaron Eckhart's performance as a heartless creep with ambition and cockiness to spare.His next movie and sophomore cinema effort, Your Friends & Neighbors (1998), was considerably less well-received (a casualty of what is often referred to as "the sophomore jinx"). The film was about a group of six people (three men and three women) connected by their relationships; when unhappy in them, they begin to shamelessly cheat on one another with their lovers, and even with their friends. The movie got some strong reviews, but other reviewers felt LaBute was pretty much repeating himself. The prevailing attitude seeming to be that this time he had made an entire movie with all of its characters being nothing but villains, so why should anyone care about or want these six people to ever find happiness?Nurse Betty (2000) was LaBute's next directorial effort, from a script he didn't write himself. It was was a radical departure from LaBute's other work, about a sweet-natured waitress obsessed with a particular soap opera and especially the show's star, George McCord (Greg Kinnear). The film received the Cannes Film Festival's Best Screenplay trophy for its authors and a Golden Palm for LaBute's effort. Renée Zellweger was honored with a Golden Globe Award. LaBute had finally made a good-natured, mainstream film, and a damn good one, but he didn't spend ALL his time basking - he had put out several other things that year, such as a TV movie based on his "Bash" plays and another original work entitled Tumble (2000), none of which got wide recognition. In 2002 LaBute got himself noticed again with another less-caustic movie - a costume period piece called Possession (2002), based on the best-selling novel, which many believed to be about his love for early English culture. It starred LaBute stalwart Eckhart and Gwyneth Paltrow, who specializes in having the most authentic sounding British accent around. It wasn't a huge box-office success, but it did have many fervent admirers.In 2003 LaBute brought to the screen another adaptation of his own work, a play he wrote and directed and had performed in England. He broug
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