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The Laramie Project (2002)
Powerful film of a powerful play
I had the great privilege to see the play 7 times in New York City and 4 times at the New Jersey Repertory Theater. It is a powerful work of theater. The film is able to capture the power of the play, although of course you lose the intimacy of being there with live actors. Nevertheless, it is a deeply moving and insightful film about an American tragedy.
Moises Kaufman, the Tectonic Theater Project, and HBO are to be commended for such a daring production.
See this film. It will make a deep impact on you.
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Frightening and Thought-provoking
This is not an easy film to watch. But it does show all the different views of the death sentence.
The performances are impressive, the scenes are terribly realistic, and the moral is presented without being sermony. This is definitely not for someone seeking light or pleasant films. But it is worth seeing, if only to get the viewer to confront his/her thoughts on death and the death sentence.
40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)
Josh Hartnett is the person who makes the movie believable and worth seeing. The story verges on being irreverent, but it is his charm that makes takes the edge off any potential nastiness.
The story of a young man who decides to give up all sex for Lent is punctuated (get the pun?) by lots of symbolism since the story takes place in San Francisco -- city of towers and bridges with towers. And there are plenty of other Freudian symbols if you look for them.
The point of the story is that getting to know someone is much more important than having mindless sex. Yet the story trips itself up on its moral at the end. Nevertheless, it's a cute date movie and has some real fun in it.
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
Illusion vs. Reality
Whether it's a true story or not, the film offers an odd and provocative perspective on what is real and what is illusion.
There is an interesting political theme too, considering that the reporter is a political commentator who observes how we demonize people in the world. Maybe we create our own horrors.
The name of the town is ironic (even though it is real) -- Point Pleasant. For the time period of the story, it is anything but pleasant.
Great use of creepy FX, light and dark, symbolism (bridge of and to death). Is is a good old-fashioned horror flick. If you like to be spooked, try this one.
One wonders where the Mothman was before 9/11 -- or did people just not listen?
Eve and the Merman (1965)
Odd fish film
The purpose of the film seems to be naughty nudity.
We get some hockus-pokus about our relationship to the sea. Then the scene that gives the film its title appears -- one of the nude girls is frightened by a handsome young merman who comes up from a lagoon and talks to her, evidently wanting her to join him in the sea. She declines, but evidently she has fallen in love with him.
The oddist thing about the film is that there is almost no dialogue and you have to figure out the plot -- what plot there is. It is mainly just a nudity film. But, as I said, the merman is cute, and if all you want to do is watch an old nudie flick, this is OK.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Beautiful look at intellect
In John Nash's search for originality, we are taken on a journey into the discovery of what makes a human being. Clever dialogue and well-developed characters give us an insight into genius that has rarely been achieved in any other film.
The story involves the struggle of the individual against society and "reality" -- whatever that is. The atrocities as well as the imagination of the human mind are portrayed as Nash searches for a sense of meaning in a seemingly meaningless or possibly insane world.
Through him, we discover that logic only has real meaning when it is integrated with the heart in love. Putting that idea into words makes it sound cliche, but the film is definitely an original work of art and intellect -- as well as heart.
The heading "lengthy saga" is redundant, I know. But this film shows its lengthiness a bit too much.
We follow the saga of a hero through the civil rights movement as he attains his title and his own identity. The cast is excellent. The boxing is realistic.
But the film lingers and becomes indulgent. It could have been cut down to a more focused running time without losing the meaning.
Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Encyclopedia of teen movies
The title is true. This isn't just another teen movie.
It's a conglomeration of scenes and quotes from all sorts of teen movies. It even includes cameos. Some of it is forced. Some of it is clever. It's not original, but it's amusing.
Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
One too many
Combine the remakes of THE HAUNTING and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL with GHOSTBUSTERS and you get an interesting story.
This one is about a machine from hell that gives its owner infinite power. And interesting cast and a strangely artistic set give the film its own touch of creepy originality.
But I thought it got a bit too confusing with so many ghosts and so much mumbo-jumbo. Still, it was a fun scary film.
Fun with magic
The film gives us a good use of FX to create a magic Alice in Wonderland world. It is a bit overly long, but it's fun because of an engaging cast and good use of mythological archetypes.
The hero's quest is told once again. This time, it's a combination of STAR WARS, ROBIN HOOD, PHANTASM, and DEAD POET'S SOCIETY. It even offers an interesting parable about people who are different and whom the world shuts up in cupboards -- or closets.