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Glory (1989)
"Glory" is a glorious triumph, 15 January 1999

"Glory" is one of those films you keep on thinking about days after you've seen it. Movies like this, most of the time, mean one thing and that is that they are of great importance in one way or another. "Glory" is no exception.

Yes, there are a million war movies out there but only a handful, "Glory" included, that accurately portray what it means to be fighting in war, both physically and mentally speaking. Based on the experiences of the colored 54th Massachusetts Infantry enlisted to help during the Civil War, "Glory" speaks volumes on themes such as honor, duty, and love--things not only directed towards the country being fought for, but also towards the fellow men fighting alongside. "Glory" strongly invests itself in such classical themes of the American cinema and turns out to be one of the greatest and most valuable films of all time.

Performance-wise, this is illustrative of what coalesces when several fine thespians unite for one cause. Denzel is in no uncertain terms unworthy of his oscar award-winning performance, arguably the finest of his career. Broderick is nothing less than brilliant and captivating as Colonel Shaw. The performance required of him--he has to display his inherited abolitionist views on the surface while underneath, harboring a plenitude of humanity his soldiers initially think he lacks--is a hard one and he unexpectedly demonstrates he can do it as easily as he skipped school in the now cult-classic "Ferris Bueller's Day off." Morgan Freeman, as always, is effective as the wise one who knows that brains, not brawn, wins wars. Cary Elwes also deserves recognition for his contribution as Forbes.

The cinematography is without a doubt some of the finest I have ever witnessed. Every scene seems to jump out of itself as if it were a painting sitting in a museum. The score, as many have mentioned, is also an essential facet of the overall experience of "Glory." I guess films like these are the reason for all the hype over state-of the-art- DVD sound.

At the end, all we can ask ourselves is "What did I just see?" and why Shaw, at one time in the movie, tells an onlooker, "remember what you see here." Although the war is lost in physical, concrete terms, there is something truly "great"--call it heroic if you wish--suggested by such a loss. My only hope is that more people see "Glory" because it is one of those rare films that accomplishes, with utter poignancy I might add, in demonstrating both what movies and, ideally, this country is made of. And that everyone who calls him or herself human realizes that, as the movie points unequivocally to at the end, although our music may sound different, we're all in the same boat together.

73 out of 85 people found the following review useful:
When romance met sheer genius, 15 January 1999

I am no expert on the genre, but I'd have to say "When Harry met Sally" is, besides the plethora of truly wonderful films made by Woody Allen, the wittiest and most funny romantic comdedy waiting for you out there in video world. I'd only wished I'd seen the film sooner because this seems like that perfect film for discussion with a circle of good friends at Pizzaria Uno. The movie came out in 1989, but for some reason, I think this is one even our kids may like.

Like all good films coming from the genere, this film thrives most on its witty dialgue and cleverness in not "sentimnetalizing" it too much. In other words, there is that perfect equilibrium between scenes of sheer poignancy and scenes of brutal comic relief. The thespians involved, of course, have a lot to do with the film's success and overall appeal. Ryan and Crystal are perfect for the roles assigned, each one of them bringing their charisma and fresh breath of life to the screen. Crystal fits snugly into that character we find all too obnoxious but can't help but loving and Ryan, well, she is as adorable as always.

The issue the film tackles is an important one, I think. It asks us a question of universal importance, namely, can women and men ever be friends?. I'll leave that for you and your friends to talk about at Pizzaria Uno. For now, I'll just say that with heaps of quirky, funny dialogue, a taut script from Nora Ephron, and clean directing form Reiner, "When Harry met Sally" is a highly enjoyable film that unsurprisingly has held strong a decade after its inception.


Scarface (1983)
Making the world "ours.", 14 January 1999

Scarface is one of those "great" films that simply is what it is. Nothing else. It's not even a movie, but rather an event. And like all great films, it convinces us that Tony Montana (Pacino) is a man like you or me in pursuit of the same things, namely, wealth. We all want it, but it takes a performance as riveting as Pacino's that forces us to ask ourselves: How far will (we) one man really go to get it?

I just saw the movie again after not seeing it for ten or so years and you know what? Al Pacino still blows me way. There is no way, I would say, one can watch Scarface and not be "hit" by his performance. Montana's rage, a brewing tempest within that could disgorge any second, is as magnetizing as the film's score. That scene in the restaurant where he literally erupts is utterly disgusting, yet somehow, we can't resist it. Pacino, like Deniro, has that spellbinding power to engross us with his words, gestures, movements, to that point where feelings of repulsion suddenly become feelings of attraction. We are appealed by this rage, even though we would love to condemn it. Fury, I've always asserted, is a beautiful thing in Pacino's realm.

Oliver Stone's script is flawless and De Palma's directing, proven substantially already throughout his career, is sublime. The film has now become a cult classic, and for good reason. De Palma's shots of Montana's mansion, especially of the lavish red staircase shot overhead, in combination with the score, are numbing; the genius of his movements are inestimable. More importantly, De Palma, like Coppola did in the "Godfather," has made a little room for us viewers to step into a garish mob world where the immutable law has become: "think too strongly the world is yours and thou shall be destroyed."

Like Tony Montana, we all want the American dream. But in our search, we have to remember to make the world ours, not scoop it from underneath and then spit on it.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Oh dear, another one., 14 January 1999

Why did I so naively think "Negotiator" would be any different than all those other action movies out there? There is a plethora of "bad" ones waiting for us out there, waiting for us to shell out money so we can sit through two hours of an action movie that fails to deliver, well, action. When will "action" movies once again be action movies, redeem themselves and become pleasures instead of bores? I ask myself such a question when watching a movie like "Negotiator."

Sure, it has some action, but not the same engrossing action films like "Rambo," "Terminator 2," or even "Die Hard" had. Call me cynical, whatever but when I watch a movie, I want to be captivated, I want the film to hold me in the palm of its hands and not let go until the credits roll down. What has happened to the good ol parameters of action films? Have they crumbled? It sure seems like it nowadays.

The only thing saving the "Negotiator" is the acting, not to mention the sudden "L.A. Confidenital" sort of twist at the end. Spacey, as usual, is strong as Sabian, the negotiator talking to a fellow negotiator seeking justice after being framed (Samuel Jackson). Jackson is also good, yet all too often I get that feeling that these two were put together simply to rake in heavy profits. Though, I have to admit, the chemistry between them isn't that bad. Stronger dialogue should have made it more of a pleasurable feed instead of the burnt omelette they gave us.

The film is in dire need of a more economical script; "Negotiator" is like taking the elevator instead of the stairs--it wastes a lot of time it didn't need to. There could have been more to this film is all I'm saying. I swear seeing "Die Hard" for the millionth timne would have given me a more potent fix to satisfy my appetite for action. We go to these types of movies to be entertained, yet as the years go by and heaps of action films are shoveled on us like snow, these same films are losing in large increments in their attempts to sizzle and stir as they are supposed to.

Movies like "Negotiatior" try really hard to awe us but can't. A million shots of police cars simply doesn't do it for the average moviegoer. After all, we can just watch the five o'clock news instead.

12 Angry Men (1997) (TV)
one room and one hell of a cast, 12 January 1999

12 Angry Men is that type of film drama enthuthiasts die for. Set in a hot, muggy jury-deliberation room, twelve chosen men convene to decide one man's fate. Initially, all but one vote for guilty. It takes Lemmon's character (in another of his fine performances--how does he do it?) to gradually change their minds. The ending is half predictable, but the acting throughout, the sheer drama, is utterly satisfying.

As I said there is nothing finer about this movie than its acting; if you want to see what acting is all about, see this film. Lemmon, Danza, Scott (remember him in Patton?), and Williamson (as the black racist who eventually "gives up" on the other men) turn in dazzling performances. The sizzling chemistry amongst these men is so real, so penetrating, that we begin to actually feel like one of these 12 men.

There are no eye-popping effects (doesn't the movie industry ever get tired of them), no award-winning score, hell, we don't even see what the defendant has done. What we have, to put it bluntly, some damn good acting At the end, after a long time at point A, we arrive at point B happy, satisfied, and, like the city struck by a summer thunderstorm (the rain outside becomes tantamount to the raging tempest inside) midway the deliberations, soaked with fine performances.

Fallen (1998)
Hoblit almost prevails again, 12 January 1999

Gregory Hoblit can make a good, thought-provoking film. Evidence to support such a claim is his "Primal Fear." That one, like "Fallen," centers around that classic good vs. evil story and contains plenty of religious/biblical innuendo.I know, I know, we've all seen enough of these before. Or have we? Personally I love these types of thrillers that become more than simply "thrillers" once they begin to be "brain bogglers."

As many IMDB users have concurred, the premise behind "Fallen" is captivating, without uncertainty demanding of the viewer's attention. Too bad one can't speak the same for the acting, which I believe, is the film's tragic flaw. With sub-par acting, "Fallen" becomes a "good" film instead of one of the "great" ones. Denzel Washington as a detective in pursuit of a fallen angel isn't as convincing as he could have been. Goodman only dazzles during the last minutes of the film and Sutherland is plain boring.

The plot/storyline, in other words, is the life-saving force of the film, its "uumpth" I would argue. Simply stated, the acting just doesn't deliver as hard as I wish it could have. Nonetheless, this is a "cool" movie: The way Azazelle (the evil spirit Washington is in pursuit of) enters people is brilliantly captured in a riveting chase scene, Hoblit's ingenious use of a Stones song as the way Azazelle reveals his presence, and the resonating voice-over throughout the film (though it fails to deliver as powerful an effect as say, "Goddfellas.") all point towards Hoblit's craft.

Still, "Fallen" lacks that special something that inspires all the accolade for similar films such as "Seven" and to a certain extent a detective story like "LA Confidential." At the film's conclusion, the voice-over, assumably sepaking about the evolution of the human race, mentions something about the "turning point in life." With a minor upgrade on suspense and even a greater one on acting, "Fallen" could have been the "turning point" of Hoblit's directorial career. Still, that's not to say he's "fallen."

Blade (1998)
snipes is back!, 12 January 1999

Wow, Wesley Snipes can act! and better, he can fight good enough to tame the Steven Seagel hype that somehow still lingers around Hollywood nowadays. The film has some awesome special effects; my favorite is the lighting used in the movie. I would probably recommend this movie to someone simply because of the opening scene--a tour de force in movie-making, at least in this genre. Fighting, shooting, fire--it's all there. Dorff puts in a good performance as the bad guy and Kristofferson ,as Snipe's almost-paternal sidekick, Whistler,does too.

Not bad, for a re-adaption of a comic strip, which, needless to say, there are just too many floating around nowadays.


hold it one second, 6 January 1999

Many of you are criticizing the film for being too lightweight or predictable, which, in a sense, is true, but you're forgetting how much Nora Ephron conveys with her film, namely, the lack of intimacy in our techno-overdosed lives. Think about it: love on a computer???

Nora's main question, a legitimate one I think--today your "soul mate" can be found in a chat room--seems to be: can "true love" exist in such a frenzied, email-controlled and chaotic manner? And her answer: yes it can! The film leaves you awed and feeling happy for our two united lovers, just like any good romantic comedy should.

Sure, it's different than Sleepless in Seattle, but in terms of achievement, Nora Ephron hasn't lost any points yet.