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The Majestic (2001)
Overly sentimental and terribly slow
I am a lover of Capra movies. With those in the background this one is less credible and less to the point. It is painfully long and, unlike in the Capra films where the sentiment seems appropriate, here it just seems to be laid on with a trowel. Moreover, for 2001, the amnesia cliche is tired, especially when it switches on and off without other health complications. And the misidentification of the Carey character, supposedly driven by wishful thinking that extends to social hysteria, is not developed enough at the beginning to help the audience over the hump.
What Women Want (2000)
Potentially clever comedy murdered by committee scripting
This film has a good cast and a clever premise. It is at its best in the first hour, when some insightful moments appear to be allowed and the situations are truly funny. After that, switch off and watch something else. Committee scripting, at its worst, takes over. It becomes sooo disappointing. In part because the second half is so dull and cliche-ridden the film is way too long. If we must have the romantic resolution, in this film please let us not lay it on with a trowel.
The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)
Cleverly written and entertaining, even in a more modern context
This is a very cleverly written romantic comedy and it is well directed and performed. It is now very old but the ideas, language and style seem to have dated surprisingly little. The only scene that drags for a modern audience is the one in the Montana frame house. The rest is sharp and very entertaining.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Disrespecting Welch and Taylor
Historical inaccuracy is unnecessary in a story like this. There were true heros in abundance. Two US Army Air Force flyers did shoot down seven aircraft during the battle over Pearl Harbour and their names were Welch and Taylor. The former survived the war only to die as a test pilot for North American aircraft in the development of the F-100 Supersabre. They were true heros - the only ones to get to their aircraft on that Sunday morning and to successfully join the fray in the air. Yet their characters are trampled by the differently named heros of the film. On a second matter, it was good to see some representation of the Doolittle Raid, but other than Doolittle himself, there is no recognition for the truly brave men who participated.
Cliches dressed up to be taken seriously
After reading rave reviews of this film I was very disappointed. The first hour is hard work as it serves up numerous disparate characters with no clear plot line. The characters do become embroiled in the second half, however, and the story is then more engrossing. The short sequences and the quick changes of scene and circumstance, particularly in the first half, along with the overall filming style all flatter the audience for its intelligence. Yet what is there in this film that is intelligent? It offers no philosophical nor any sociological insight that is not better provided in other films. The only thing approaching insight is the wife's complaint in the central relationship that, when her husband has an affair the true betrayal is that he doesn't tell her about it. Nothing here that you won't find in a prime time sitcom or a thousand hollywood romances. But is it true or representative? I doubt it. The film proudly displays ethnic diversity amongst its characters. But there is no ethnic diversity in their attitudes to marital behaviour and loyalty. This is complete garbage. More Hollywood via a "cultural cringe" from a non-Hollywood film. Southern European attitudes, for example, were done much better in the Godfather series. All this said, the performances are strong. They tell us to take the story and the ideas seriously. But at that level the film is vacuous. A great disappointment.
Dr. T and the Women (2000)
Two hours of unadulterated dogmeat
It is a corruption of the market for film entertainment when a well-reputed cast is combined with a terrible script and direction to produce a dog such as this, which is then marketed on the strength of the cast. I rented the film because the storyline sounded funny and the cast is strong. What a huge mistake. I cannot understand why Gere, Hunt and Tilley agreed to participate. There is no appreciable plot, not a single character has any depth and the ensemble scenes just irritate the senses. Hunt is the only actor with presence in the film but her character is never properly developed.
Boys and Girls (2000)
Better than expected.
This film is weakened by excessive zeal in tayloring it to its target demographic. The side-kick roles are especially stupid. But the principals are pretty good. I have seen more Prinze movies on airline flights than I would care to. His performance in this one is the best I have seen. And Forlani's role is also not badly written and played. She is beautiful as ever and seemingly adept at the accent. I just wish they had dressed her better, especially in better shoes. She is obviously uncomfortable in the walking scenes. But then, mine is not the target demographic!
A very strong, engrossing film
This is well written and produced film. The plot is made difficult to convey on screen because of the complexity of the game yet it seems to work for both for those who know the language and those who don't. The roles of the principles are difficult and very well played. My only disappointment was that the Damon character is so unconnected, except to his girlfriend and a judge. Such a clean cut kid, at the outset studying law with apparent success and living in a very nice looking apartment in Manhattan would not be completely devoid of family connections. Otherwise a terrific film.
I Love You, I Love You Not (1996)
Mixed themes yield a disappointment
For me this film is unsuccessful in intermingling the issue of antisemitism with the coming of age of a relatively studious young woman. On one level the Jude Law character might be only marginally deeper than his disgustingly callow friends. He is attracted by the young woman's seriousness and relatively shy affection for him but this attraction is offset by her social conservatism. The depth of any antisemitism in him or amongst his silly friends is never explored. In the end the motivation of his character, and the point of the film, elude me. An interpretation that springs to mind is that gentiles do not feel the significance of the holocaust, that they trivialise it. Part of coming of age for jewish girls is therefore that they should (or simply do) experience failed love affairs with gentiles. The fact that these affairs fail for these reasons is somehow constructively educational for the girls. I truly hope this is not intended to be the message.
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
Nice story spoiled by distracting direction
This has a nice story, with a socially responsible theme, and a romantic twist as the hero is swayed by his emotional tie to his first love. It would have made a very enjoyable film but for the direction. The story is told in short memory flashes that are so frequent and disjoint that a very high level of concentration is required to follow it. As ever, Max von Sydow is great as counsel for the defence. A major disappointment.