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The Nurse (1997)
Lisa Zane and Janet Gunn are cool
The interaction between Janet Gunn and Lisa Zane carry the film and make it more than a predictable nurse-hates-patient story. Sure there are major flaws, like the nurse (Zane) kills the reporter and there is no investigation. But let's skip the small stuff. The movie is worth watching on a rainy or cold winter night. I gave it a 7 because of the technical flops, but the plot is a solid 8.
Men of Honor (2000)
Brashear's story inspires, Gooding Jr. is excellent, but . . .
If not for Cuba Gooding Jr., this film would sink to the bottom of the sea. Gooding's stellar performance alone carries Brashear's ordeals. DeNiro turns in a good performance, but it seems he's playing in the wrong movie. He appears to be a big-city gangster with a southern accent dressed in a Navy uniform. Charlize Theron is totally miscast and she plays her role with the glazed-eye look of confusion.
Except for Gooding's Brashear, all the characters are underdeveloped. The script is disjointed, flopping around from vignette to vignette. The director does well given the quality of the script. Many of the vignettes can stand alone as high-quality drama. The technical aspects of the film, i.e., the Navy culture, dogma, interactions and diving scenes are excellent and accurate. I give this film a 7 because Brashear's story inspires, Gooding is excellent.
Best of the Cowboy/Western Genre
"Shane" is a must-see film if you'd like to sample the cowboy/western genre. I realize cowboy flicks are out of vogue, but I predict they will come back.
Politically, America is becoming more conservative. With this will come a yearning for stories of the men an women who led the expansion west, post-Civil War.
There will be a remake of "Shane" for generations that don't know the story of the gunslinger and his role in this story of good v. evil set against the background of the marvelous Grand Teton mountains.
Tian yu (1998)
Trapped in a repressive culture.
Nothing flourishes under Chinese communism. From the outset this film's premise is very clear, then pounded home in its remainder. Set on the plains of northern China during Mao's Cultural Revolution, it portrays the lives of a teenaged girl and a kindly, maimed man of experience trapped in a repressive culture. The splendor of mountains, fertile meadows and wildflowers belie any expectations a viewer might entertain for a pleasant outcome for the characters. The performance of Lopsang as the man is well worth double the price of admission. The movie is poignant and sad. It's obviously written from the heart. An A+ for Joan Chen's directorial debut.
The Human Condition
This film is a statement on the human condition. The viewer travels through several countries via beautiful photography and music. Modern and primitive are contrasted by showing native cultures and suit-and-tie cultures. Tribal customs and hut-dwelling are juxtaposed with modern society's architecture, transportation and much more.
The film deals objectively with environment and religion. It makes a strong statement about the animal kingdom. In short, Baraka is a film about life. I highly recommend the film. It's seen best on a wide-screen tv or at the theatre.
Return to Paradise (1998)
Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn carry this mediocre production
The moral of this film is "don't do drugs in foreign countries." "Return to Paradise" is contrived, with occasional revelations to tweak the viewers' emotions. Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn turn in good performances, enough to carry the mediocre script. Watching this movie was like driving a car on cruise control -- there's some interesting scenery along the way, but you've got one eye on the clock and you can't wait until you reach the end of the ride.
If you like mobster films, don't miss this.
John Turturro and Mary-Louise Parker portray in fine fashion a mobster and his 60s pop-singer girlfriend. One can only speculate as to the factual accuracy of this insightful film about Sam Giancana and Phyllis McGuire. However, the film's repeated images of mobster brutality juxtaposed with a love story is chilling. This is a central theme in most mobster-genre movies, but it's not worn out here. "Sugartime" is one of the best of its genre.
The ultimate revenge of two high school "so-called" losers
Lisa Kudrow deadpans her way to stardom in this silly, camp cinema about two clueless women revisiting hostile classmates at their 10-year high school reunion. Anyone who writes this film off has a comatose sense of humor. It must have been great fun to make this flick because a stellar comedic attitude shines through with every word. The costumes are extravagant with color. Just pretend you're 18 years old when you watch this.
What Happened Was... (1994)
Nothing! That's what happened.
Two people spend an evening wrapped in an endless, boring conversation. A non-event. At first glance, Jackie (portrayed by Karen Sillas) seems worth the investment in time to wait for her character to develop. Unfortunately, Michael (Tom Noonan) is too depressing and neurotic to allow Jackie to blossom. This movie gives being single and dating a bad name. Had sex been introduced, it would have been anti-climactic. I recommend watching an infomercial about a bread-making machine before watching this.
Excess Baggage (1997)
"Cute" Alicia cannot carry film on looks alone
A really lousy movie. Alicia Silverstone needs more than her "cute" looks to recoup the producer's money. The dialogue ranges from incredibly dumb to hilariously stupid. Director Marco Brambilla was out to lunch on this one. Don't watch this film, read the phone book.