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44 reviews in total 
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Chekhov, 26 February 1999

I studied both "Three Sisters" and "The Cherry Orchard" in college, and thought that Chekhov must have written the most boring plays ever put to page. I reluctantly saw this film because I figured that nothing with Julianne Moore could be unwatchable. I was right about Julianne -- she's amazing in this film...but I was completely wrong about Anton Chekhov. You must see his work performed (by actors who know what to do with him) in order to appreciate his comedy and his understanding of human psychology and complexity. I have since become a fan of all of Chekhov's major works -- including "Three Sisters" and "The Cherry Orchard."

Larry Pine, Brooke Smith, and George Gaynes are also wonderful in this film.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The movie belongs to Helen Hunt, 26 October 1998

Helen Hunt is brilliant in this movie. As good as Judi Dench and Helena Bonham Carter were in their Oscar-nominated roles of 1997, Hunt was every inch their equal. Her role was by far the most difficult of the film.

Nicholson basically just played himself, and did a few obsessive-compulsive tics every now and again for variety. If you're a fan of his, you've seen this before.

Greg Kinnear did an okay job, but his character was largely ignored by the screenwriters -- I never felt as though I were allowed inside his mind the way I was allowed inside the mind of Hunt's character. The only way we even know that his character is gay is because everyone keeps talking about how "gay" he is -- it's a character trait written in to annoy Nicholson's character; he could have been a saintly Jew or a saintly black man. The fact that he's a saintly gay person is largely inconsequential.

But...Hunt's performance is easily worth the price of the rental. The movie gets two stars; Helen Hunt gets four.

Orgazmo (1997)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
The pits, the pits, the pits, 26 October 1998

One of the worst movies ever made. My friends and I walked out after an hour, so maybe it got better...but I doubt it. The humor is stupid and banal, but I knew that going in. What I didn't know is that no one in the cast would have any sense of comic timing, the production values would be close to nil, and that I wouldn't laugh. Ever.

The story idea (taking a sweet Mormon kid from Utah and throwing him in the middle of the porn industry) could have turned into a really funny movie, but the script is dull and the performances are duller. This isn't even worth a rental. Bleah.

Happiness (1998)
Terrific, disturbing film, 26 October 1998

The best thing about Todd Solondz's new "comedy" (I put this in quotes, because while I loved the film, it didn't make me laugh nearly as often as some of the other patrons in the theatre on the night that I saw it) isn't that it's about pedophilia, obscene phone calls, pre-pubescent impotence (don't ask) or post-coital murder. The best thing about this film is that it doesn't MORALIZE. As a responsible member of society, I KNOW that pedophilia is wrong; I don't need to be TOLD. Todd Solondz has done something very courageous: he has dared to enter the minds of the pedophile, the obscene caller, and the miserable loser, to show me what life looks like from their vantage point. Be warned that it's not pretty, but it is provocative, unsettling, and brilliant.

Rope (1948)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good enough without the gimmick, 20 October 1998

I was drawn to this film because of its "gimmick" -- the idea that the entire film takes place in real time and was filmed in only eight takes -- 80 minutes of one long shot after another. Once I began viewing the film, however, I forgot about the gimmick. The acting, plot-line, and dialogue are all good enough that they could have survived without the gimmick, which really does nothing to add or detract from the film in any way. By today's standards, some of the dialogue might seem a bit overblown, and some of the performances a little hammy, but considering that the film comes from the late '40's, I enjoyed it. I actually think that it could have been scarier if Hitchcock had allowed himself to play around with close-ups and points of view. I have a feeling that he went with one long shot after another only to prove the fact that he's a genius and could do anything he wanted to. That "Rope" is still a suspenseful, engaging film despite the unusually long takes is proof enough of that.

Beloved (1998)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Toni Morrison is a genius, 19 October 1998

...and Jonathan Demme's film is very faithful to the spirit of her brilliant novel. The character of Beloved (Thandie Newton) is at once an individual woman and a symbol for the curse that slavery has put on slaves and their descendants. Newton's performance is brilliant. All the women (Oprah Winfrey, Kimberley Elise, Beah Richards) are wonderful, but Newton stands out due to the nature of her role. Also, Lisa Gay Hamilton as the younger Sethe (Winfrey plays the elder Sethe) is incredible, but probably won't gain the attention she deserves because when people think of Sethe's impact, Winfrey will get all of the credit. It's too bad, because Hamilton gets to play the pivotal scene about two hours into the film that defines Sethe's character. A truly amazing collection of performances, in a painful and disturbing (but well worth it) film.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Great Movie, 19 October 1998

Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening give the performances of their careers in this film (both scored Oscar noms, BTW). Tough, gorgeous, and funny -- this movie definitely belongs to the ladies. I haven't seen performances of this kind of power from either one since. Bening in particular seems to have taken lots of "saint" roles recently; it's a hoot watching her at her "bad girl" best.

8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A very moving film, 15 October 1998

When I rented this movie with friends, I expected it to be a trite melodrama of the "TV-movie of the week" variety. But it has two things going for it that elevate the film above soap opera.

The first is the performance of young Sam Bould as the abused child. One of the best performances from a young actor I have ever seen, without a trace of cutesiness, mugging, or self-consciousness.

The second is the character of Hannah. Here is a deeply flawed woman who willingly puts her own son through hell, and yet so skillfully written and played by Joely Richardson, I sympathized with her throughout. This is an extraordinary character, and I was really impressed by the way she was handled.

The one major flaw of this film is that the two gay men are wonderful parents, and the straight couple are such awful parents...the film is so pro-gay it verges on being anti-straight. But, as stated above, Joely Richardson's performance keeps you from making any easy judgments about Hannah. She saves the film from treacly melodrama.

Very silly but very wonderful, 8 October 1998

Not much else to say about this film. It's silly. Extremely silly. Wildly silly. But if you feel like turning your brain off for two hours and laughing ALOT, go see this movie. The entire cast is brilliant. Hope Davis (Next Stop Wonderland, The Myth of Fingerprints) and Allison Janney (The Object of My Affection, Six Days Seven Nights) deserve to be huge stars. Hopefully, this movie will introduce them to many new fans.

This is an ANTI-drug, ANTI-violence film, 25 September 1998

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


I'm reading a lot of these messages condemning Tarantino for making a pro-drug, pro-violence movie? Hello? Did we see different movies?

Just because a director SHOWS drugs or violence doesn't mean that they condone them. Did anyone watch Uma Thurman's overdose scene and react by craving smack? And about the violence...of the three leads (Travolta, Jackson, and Willis), only Travolta is committed to a life of violence, and he ends up dead in a toilet. Willis' character is redeemed by saving the life of his arch enemy, and Jackson's "holy" revelation leads him to reject the violent life of a hitman.

Any film that takes place in the criminal underworld has to show the viewer elements of sex, drugs, and violence or else lose all credibility. Deeper analysis of this film, however, shows it to be one of the most morally present films of the '90's.

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