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Iron Will (1994)
For the young at heart...
'Iron Will' is a movie to see if you are young enough at heart to enjoy it, young enough at heart to believe in an "against-all-odds-courage-finding" story. Maybe it's predictable Disney-type stuff, but by the end of it you are cheering along with the rest. Mackenzie is great as young (Iron) Will Stoneman, who loses his father in a dog-sled accident, and boards the train to Winnepeg to take part in a sled-race to Minnesota, the prize of which is $10,000 - and the motive behind it is to save his family's farm and send himself to college. Spacey is, as always, fantastic, as a ruthless reporter covering the sled-race for his newspaper, especially Will. Throughout the race he discovers, to his own surprise, a conscience, and a heart. It's a movie with a lot of heart, and the ending, while some may think it's pre-determined, is still enjoyable. This movie *sparkles* whenever Spacey is on-screen, and he saves it from being marked "cheesy".
A good remedy for when you've begun to lose faith in the human race.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
A sorry excuse for movie viewing....pity Leo was so amazing!!
Ok let's get this straight. I hated this movie. I could not believe I wasted so much time watching such a poor excuse for cinema. So why bother to write this? I hear you ask. Well, the reason I got through this movie was due to Leo DiCaprio's performance as Arnie Grape. The depth, warmth, sincerity, and above all total and utter credibility and believability (so maybe it's not a word, but it's all that's coming to me right now) made me at first sceptical to believe that it was actually Leonardo on the screen. And after that I completely forgot it was even him. And that is something that is incredibly hard to convince an audience of, especially when you look like he does. I was actually speechless after the closing credits, sat in a wonderment of such phenomenal talent and dedication. It seems an understatement to say that he was worthy of an Oscar. He deserved much more than that, and maybe he got it. If it were anyone but Tommy-Lee Jones' 'Sam Gerard' that beat Leo for the Oscar, I would've lost all faith in the Academy. As it is I can only say that it's a shame that his best work was in such a pathetic movie. Leo saves this from ending up in a dumpster next to "The Revenge of the Killer Tomatoes". See this movie only to see one of the best performances you're likely to see.
The Negotiator (1998)
Spacey steals the show in a well made, and very clever action-flick
I went to the cinema to see this movie with no great expectations. I knew it would be good - any movie with Kevin Spacey in it, I have learned, is going to be damn good - but I had no idea I would like it as much as I did.
We first meet Policeman Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson), one of Chicago's best hostage negotiators. Roman loves his job, and it is clear that he's good at it. If only he wasn't being pressed to give in to the trigger-happy S.W.A.T team all the time. He's out celebrating his latest triumph, when he discovers that his friend, Nate, has uncovered a police-corruption conspiracy - right here in their ranks in Chicago. Later that night Nate is killed, and it looks like Roman is set to take the blame not only for his friend's murder, but for the corruption as well. Whether or not Roman is innocent remains to be proved to the authorities, though it is clear from the start that Roman is telling to truth when he pleads not guilty.
Enraged at the thought of going to jail, Roman ends up doing what he has been fighting for most of his life - he takes hostages. And he won't talk to anyone. That is, not to anyone he knows.
Enter Kevin Spacey (and the crowd goes wild!). He plays top hostage negotiator, and stranger to Roman, Chris Sabian. Legend has it he once "talked down" to a guy for 55 hours, and holds a 0-mortality rate. Now he is brought in to talk down to someone who already knows the rules. So now, with the same trigger-happy cops just itching to "end it", Sabian and Roman are engaged in a battle of wits, and it's up to them to find the truth. Let the games begin...
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Kevin Spacey is a genuine and amazingly talented actor. He convinces us effortlessly and we can see in his eyes that he is always thinking, absorbing every little detail. His performance runs circles around Jackson's, who, though he gives a credible portrayal, tends to come across as inconsistent and, in some parts, 'whiny'. Supporting cast is very strong, especially in the late JT Walsh, who the film is also dedicated to.
The Negotiator is not your average action flick. It's story is wonderfully original, and all the more amazing because it is true (based on several real-life hostage situations) and the plot twists are masterful. There is an intelligent and subtle humour throughout - I especially love the part where Sabian, fed up with Roman, coolly hangs up the phone in mid-sentence. But the best is saved til last, and the final scene is one of the very best I have ever seen.
This movie provides a thrilling action/adventure story-line, while remaining, above all, human. One of the best action flicks you're likely to see.
It's harder and harder to find a decent action flick with decent acting, but the Negotiator's writing and directing are fantastic, and Spacey doesn't put a foot wrong :)
Stand by Me (1986)
I find it hard to comment on this film without simply repeating what has already been said. It's not that I can't think of anything original, but that others seem to have felt the exact same emotions as I did when watching this film.
I saw this movie when I was about 12, 13, maybe 14 years old. So it didn't have the same nostalgic sense it had for so many. But what it did, was make me ache for those memories. I wanted (in the words of another reviewer) to be 12, and *that* cool. I wished I had been like that, that I had had friends like that, laughed like that, and had adventures like that.
The 'milk-money' scene was probably one of my all-time favourite scenes in movie history. Up until I saw this movie I had never held much regard for River Phoenix, but the poignancy and sincerity which River added to the role of Chris Chambers touched me to the point of tears. I read in yet another review that in this scene, River was asked to think of a time when he had been hurt by an adult, and that even after the cameras stopped rolling, River sat there still, sobbing and hurting. And I felt every tear and heard every word as though I were there with Chris.
This movie made me laugh, cry, rejoice and fear with Chris, Gordie, Teddy and Vern. I loved the campfire scenes, and today I look back on my own childhood, and remember with a laugh the amazingly similar things I used to laugh and wonder about with my friends. I remember dreaming about being a writer and an actress, I remember standing up to bullies, I remember walking or riding with my friends, I remember being afraid, and crying onto a friend's shoulder.
I guess what this movie does for everyone, is take them back in time, even though the situations may have been different, chances are you'll find the similarities, and remember with a smile that yes, your life was once *that* cool. In the words of Vern, "a great time"
I especially loved the ending. That they found out who was strong, and who just talked tough. I loved the last scene with Chris and Gordie, and the closing monologue.
"I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was twelve...Jesus....does anyone?"