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Down in the Delta (1998)
Much less than it should have been.
This film is a pallid mediocrity which wastes the enormous talents involved in it, including the magnificent Ms. Angelou. (One wonders, though, how being a great poet and prose writer qualifies her to direct a major feature). The true crime in this film is the dreadful script which gives the characters no development beyond shallow cliche (Drug-Addicted Urban Mom, Gentle Older Rural Man). The most annoying cliche of all is the old myth that the city kills and the country heals. What a crock. Our struggles are in our souls, not our locations, and moving back home to the country won't solve anything if you are not in a position to do the hard work to heal yourself. What a waste this movie was, considering what it could have been. If anyone wishes to see what such a movie can be if done right, also with Alfre Woodard in a starring role, give "Passion Fish" a try. It is much more truthful and far better done.
Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (1986)
Great movie; Paquin comes up lame
This film is a great deal of fun, though the depth of thought behind it does not match that of others by the same director. My primary comment, though, is how very poor Anna Paquin was as the voice of Sheeta. Her accent varied from American to British to New Zealandic and back again with no apparent rhyme or reason. A very bizarre experience. She also seemed to play her character with little of the backbone that the lovely girl the movie portrays actually displayed. Otherwise, a must-see for Japanese animation fans! (And I hope everyone has already seen "My Neighbor Totoro"! A truly great movie in every respect!)
What do you get when a movie tries to do too much?
You get a movie like Traffic, which attempts to be all things but ends up telling many story lines poorly and developing characters hardly at all. You get a very unsatisfying film, which also has surprisingly little of any coherency to say about drug abuse and the law enforcement surrounding it. One hopes that the confusion in our society concerning these issues did not lead Soderbergh into the mistaken belief that he was therefore somehow justified in his muddled film, which turns out to be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Breakfast of Champions (1999)
What's the problem here?
I find it hard to believe that IMDb users so overwhelmingly disliked this utterly charming movie. Of course it's chaotic, that is the film's thematic core. Of course it's wacky, it's Vonnegut! I thought both Willis and Nolte turned in amazingly controlled performances, considering how over-the-top they could have allowed themselves to be, given the script. I hope this is not an indication that user's of the Database prefer the predigested pap routinely served up by the studios. This is a truly wonderful romp! Hey! Get with the program, IMDbers!
An accomplished major film directorial debut for Anthony Hopkins, a beautiful piece of work, accompanied by a wonderful score, also composed by Hopkins. But one must wonder, as with the adaptation of any great work of art, why it was necessary. "Uncle Vanya" has been masterfully translated, it seems superfluous at best to rewrite it. As with Shakespeare, the transposition into a new landscape need not be accomplished through a completely new script. This being said, however, it is always pleasing to see a project so close to a person's heart as this obviously was to Hopkins' come to such beautiful fruition.
The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
What's the buzz?
I surely don't understand the hype which surrounds this movie. Yes, it has a certain indie edginess to it, but the script is mostly annoying and the acting is dreadful. This film is, indeed, unbelievable, but not even remotely connected to any truth I know of.
Desperate Remedies (1993)
This is a self-consciously quirky film which sets out to be visually arresting and vigorously melodramatic. In the process, it comes close to unintentional humor in its bombastic style, primary color sets and incongruous moments of semi-nudity. In the end, though, Desperate Remedies is a stunning and delightful film, almost entirely due to the convincing, sexy, utterly charming acting by the entire cast.
Five Corners (1987)
A quirky indie
Some interesting performances from people who went on to bigger and better things. Turturro in particular gives a controlled turn to a role that could easily have been over the top. Many discontinuities mar the script, and there are plot elements which seem to come out of nowhere. But overall it is a movie worth seeing when the cupboard is bare.