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Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
By Far, Dangerous Liaisons is one of my all time favorite movies. This tale, taken from the [ repeatedly banned ] French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, has been curiously incarnated on film not once, twice or merely three times, but a whollaping four.
I've never gotten around to seeing Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1959) so it proves irrelevant, but Dangerous Liaisons is my second favorite of the batch, only falling short of the teen rendering Cruel Intentions (1999). Valmont is lacks in originality being that it was released not even a year following Liaisons.
Glenn Close is deliciously diabolical as the Marquise de Mertueil, one of my favorite characters in American film. Close played this character out well and the scene where she wiped her lipstick off her face as a single tear rolled down her chalk-white face was both emotional and powerful.
John Malkovitch was rather scary as Vicomte de Valmont (one advantage Valmont had over Liaisons was that Colin Firth wasn't as frightening and was a more believable clean-cut man) but I appreciated his performence. All in all, he could have done more with this role.
Michelle Pfeiffer, playing the virginal Madame de Tourvell could have done much more with the situation she was put in. To Me her acting seemed all most bland and fake-pushing cheesy, but the other cast members pretty much saved her due to their extraordinary acting.
Uma Thurman as the terribly naïve Cecile Volanges struck me odd at first, but I gradually became comfortable with her as she took her trip along the sexual escapades.
Christopher Hampton, who also wrote the stage play, did a wickedly good job of adapting the classic novel of sexual intrigue and diabolical endeavors. *****/5
No One Could Protect Her (1996)
Intriguing In The Best Way!
I recognized this story from an old copy of Readers' Digest. I recognized Joanna Kerns from Growing Pains. I recognized how severe the plot of this story was.
What most people don't know is that this is the true story of a woman who was raped a few years back, and sent her story into Readers' Digest under the name of Trouble In Allentown. I was young when I read it, but I knew about rape, even though I wish I hadn't at such a young age.
The man who raped this woman was a serial rapist---one of the sickest types of people out there. He had a pattern, blondes. Young blondes. First a 29 year-old, then a 34 year-old, and then [ the worst of them all ] a four year-old girl, and he slaughtered them all.
The twist came, throwing the police off track was the 16 year-old girl, who was saved only because she was masked with a pillow case---but she was a brunette. The woman became obsessed with solving the chain of vicious crimes.
This movie, while stirring, sent out a message that if one keeps their head in a perilous situation then they can overcome the fear and reign as the strong one.
And all should remember that this is a true story, and it wasn't made by a sick screen writer, so it could happen to anyone---so be prepared for the worst of times at all times, not just for yourself, but for everyone. *****/5
Alice in Wonderland (1999)
Can Absolutely No One Get It Right?
Ugh! Yet another rendering of Lewis Carroll's timeless classic and yet another version for the scrap heap!! It's as simple as this : Alice encounters the White Rabbit, The Caucus Race, The Duchess and Cook, The Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter and March Hare, The Queen and King Of Hearts, The Mock Turtle, The Griffin, and a few others in ALICE IN WONDERLAND! She returns home, then goes through the looking glass and meets Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, The White Queen, The Red Queen, likewise with the Kings, and a bunch of others in THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS!
The only time I have ever seen an accurate rendering is that 1980's mini-series with Carol Channing, although that scared me as I was only four. I wish that people who choose to adapt this story at least serve it justice. Seriously, three hours of jibber-jabber that makes no sense from a story that people love---this is certainly no Merlin or the 60's.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
The Only Thing Cruel About This Movie Is That I Didn't See It Sooner!
Cruel Intentions was one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. The twisted plot, deviant characters and beautiful cast rank this movie up in my top ten.
Sarah Michelle Gellar gave an award-worthy performance as Kathryn Mertueil, the seductive and spoiled high school student. The character was beautifully written, and Ms. Gellar's acting only took it further than anyone could have imagined. Her lines, actions and looks made her my favorite character in the film.
Ryan Phillippe, not exactly one of my favortie actors after Playing By Heart and 54, redeemed himself as he once again teamed with Ms. Gellar as Sebastian Valmont, the guy who's "had" every girl in New York. Sebastian, in my opinion, is much better than Colin Firth and John Malkovitch in the Valmont role in the previous two films. Phillippe's great performance as the twisted and diabolical Sebastian made him a close second for best character.
Reese Witherspoon hasn't exactly been chaste and pure in her previous films, but did a great job as Annette Hargrove. The bond that grows between her and Sebastian is fantastic, showing that no matter how cold the heart, it can always love. After this performance, I'd like to see Reese in more films.
Selma Blair made off like a bandit when she snatched the role of Cecile Caldwell. Being that she's a little known actress, I predict Cruel Intentions will be the lauching pad for one great career.
Roger Kumble's script blew me away, and his sense of humor is a keeper. This rendering of Les Liaisons Dangereuses beats out Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont by far. While some people may find this film vulgar, and that no high school student would do any of this then they need to go back to high school. *****/5