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favorite fantasy movie
I saw this movie in the theater in 1985 when I was 13 and fell in love with it. I can't believe that was twenty years ago! I own the DVD now. It's not a perfect movie and I think the ending is a bit rough after all the magic that takes place before. But it's a beautiful story with stunning cinematography and good acting. I love Matthew Broderick's turn as Phillipe, he's cute and hilarious. Leo McKern breaks our heart when he tells us Navarre and Isabeau's story of doomed love, as does the pain etched into every line of Rutger Hauer's face. The thing I really like about this movie is despite Phillipe's conversations with God, it's really grounded; unlike other 80's fantasy movies there's an element of reality to it, it really feels like it's medieval setting, shot on location in Italy, with the dirty peasants and even the rich and corrupt Bishop's trappings of wealth are still medieval. The cathedral, the ruined abbey, the peasant's cottage, the dungeons, all feel real, not like movie sets. And the emotion between Isabeau and Navarre, and the sad old drunk, the desperate, lovesick young pickpocket make us feel, is human and real.
The funny thing about the music is that it never bothered me when I watched the movie when I was younger, now it's so cheesy it's almost unbearable. I guess that's the way fads are, they work at the time, but then later on you're like "What were we thinking?" It's very much music of the time which unfortunately dates this otherwise timeless period piece.
The Last Seduction (1994)
One of my favorite movies
I love this film. It's an absolute breath of fresh air. Those who can't deal with the "immorality" of this film are drunk on Hollywood happy-ending sap and are blind to the realities of human nature. Guess what, in real life, more often than not, the bad guys don't get punished. If movies about the white hats winning in the end make you feel better about the reality of what usually happens in life, more power to you.
How many times have we cheered on a bad guy despite ourselves, even though we know he's bad, just because he's so charming and sexy? Why not the same of a woman? She's evil, she's manipulative, she gets what she wants. I love it. Would I want to meet someone like this in real life? Of course not. Do I find her behavior acceptable? Of course not, it's absolutely reprehensible. But this is a movie, it's entertainment, and the world is already full of bad-guys-get-it-in-the-end fantasies, orgies of violence that are only excused by the fact that the person being destroyed is a "bad guy" - why can't I relish in a fantasy of a brilliant and amoral woman triumphing over the stupid and trusting (and yes, people can really be that stupid, even smart people.) We want to believe in the essential goodness of mankind, but unfortunately, in the real world as in this movie, villains often capitalize on that need to believe for their own benefit.
Linda Fiorentino is absolutely amazing in this movie, I really wish she would get more work, her talents are completely underutilized. Sexy, smart, and in control. Bill Pullman is his usual wonderful self, and there are many other excellent supporting performances from the likes of J.T. Walsh (RIP) and Peter Berg.
Mrs. Winterbourne (1996)
Passable performances; horrible writing.
I've always wanted to see this movie but I have to admit it was disappointing. It's just so completely implausible and without logic that it's difficult to enjoy. Yeah, I know that fluffy romantic comedies aren't supposed to be realistic, but this one just stretches credulity too much. The worst deficiency is Brendan Frasier's chilly WASP suddenly and inexplicably melting into a nice guy. He not only changes his opinion about Ricki Lake but seems to completely change personality as well. One moment he's rudely questioning her every move and investigating her and virtually the next he's romancing her, tangoing her around the room and kissing her, and then proposing marriage! He goes from aloof to gooey in 6 seconds flat. It's just too much to swallow. What was it exactly that caused him to fall in love - her charming use of the words "tits" and "ass" at the dinner table? The haircut? (Actually, I liked her hair better long and curly). Don't get me wrong, I love Ricki Lake, and I don't think she was bad here, she just wasn't given anything to do, and we were never given any reason why Frasier should experience such a dramatic sea-change. If perhaps they'd shown that a few months had passed, or something to explain the abrupt turnaround. Frankly, everyone in this movie goes around like their brains are made of mush. I suppose Maclaine's alcoholic character has an excuse, but really, the extremely simplistic and downright stereotypical characterizations of everyone involved (rich people, poor people, gay latino butlers) were insulting. Maclaine, Frasier and Sandoval are excellent comedic actors, and do the best with what they can here, but the characters are not even close to real people. The only real thing I got out of it was drooling over Brendan Frasier, and frankly there are many other superior movies that can be used for that purpose.
Stylish thriller, better than expected
Jade got a bad rap when it showed in theaters and still appears to be getting one now from the comments here, so I didn't expect much when I caught it on cable. It never hurts to have low expectations, but I was quite pleasantly surprised and have watched it a few more times since then.
No, the plot isn't especially tight nor the story original, and it can be hard to follow at some points, but it's still an exciting, kinky, disturbing ride nonetheless.
I think the main reason I enjoyed it was the actors involved - Caruso and Palminteri were both very skilled (and surprisingly sexy - I hadn't found either to be that way in any roles I had seen them in previously, including NYPD Blue). And most of all Fiorentino smokes up the screen whenever she's on it. Sensual, damaged, brilliant. She's amazing when given a good script like the Last Seduction, but even with a flawed effort such as Jade, she still sets the house on fire.
The cinematography and art direction were the other thing that made this film. I loved the lavish sets and especially the eerie lighting during the final scene.
And as far as the comparisons to Basic Instinct, I see it as being about equal, suffering from the opposite problems as Jade; while the story was far more interesting the acting was pendantic at best. But maybe that's just my personal bias; I find Michael Douglas pompous and annoying and Sharon Stone shallow and vain.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Erotic, compelling, surreal and challenging
It's funny how even the reviewers who liked this film seemed not to understand it. And at more than one point in the film I gave up trying to suss it all out and just let myself be seduced by it. Which I think is really the best way to enjoy this film - let it wash over you like a dream and when you wake up (when the movie ends) you'll figure it out. There is a point. Keep your eyes on the blue box - it's the key (no pun intended) to when dreams turn into reality. Don't try to fit every thread and character into your rationalization - not every part of every dream makes sense (it also helps to realize that this was originally supposed to be a TV show, and so many characters were introduced who stories never got to be fully told). One way to think of it is dreams as wish-fulfillment. In our fantasies and dreams, waking and not, we recast the players in our life as we wish they were - the lover who has spurned us becomes weak and dependent on us.
If you're up for a challenge, don't miss this one. The beginning is frustratingly slow, and it may take you awhile to figure out if you really like it or not, but give it a chance to work it's weird way on you.
Meet Joe Black (1998)
Try not to insult other people's opinions!
Please, enough with the ridiculous assumption (for this and other films) that if one didn't like it, one must be somehow intellectual or spiritually inferior to those who did. Surely you can express your opinion about a film without maligning the intelligence of those who don't share it.
I saw Meet Joe Black in the theater when it came out, which was a grave error. By the last third of the movie I was literally banging my head on the back of the chair in frustration. I came close to walking out, but damn me, I had to see how it all turned out. At this point, that wasn't even worth the time really, because I can look back and say with certainty "who cares!". If I were Anthony Hopkins, I would have told Death to kill me now rather than living the rest of my life, if it was going to be so excruciatingly dull!
Please note that when I say that the best part is when Brad Pitt gets run over with the car and thrown through the air, it's not because I want more action in a film. Action films are by far not my favorite genre. I'll take character development over explosions any day. It's simply because the ridiculousness of that moment sums up the whole futile effort that is this film! That moment actually made me *laugh*, and not because I'm cold hearted - I've cried at many a film - but simply because like everything else in this film, it was badly done and elicited the opposite effect that it was attempting to achieve.
My dislike of the movie had nothing to do with my ability to grasp it's "subtlety". It was about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Actors staring at each other with cow eyes and waiting a minute between ever line of dialogue doesn't make that dialogue any more meaningful, just spectacularly boring.
As other reviewers have noted, excising these excruciating pregnant pauses from many of the scenes might have made the film more tolerable. I definitely wish I had a fast forward button. If I had it to do all over again I would have just walked out and rented it later to watch the end and not wasted another second of my life. One other reviewer asked what else could we have been doing with our time. It's not what one does with one's time, it's whether one enjoys it or not, or actually does something productive. The three hours I wasted on Meet Joe Black were neither enjoyable nor productive. Maybe your time isn't precious to you, but mine is to me, and at the very least I could have been watching a better movie!
The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
Lousy movie; great music video!
The Crow: City of Angels gets so much debasement for not living up to the original. I saw it in the theater, and while it couldn't help but be a let down after all the hype it was given at the time, I still found things to like. The plot was in fact a remake of the original, yes, the movie had many deficits, of course, but there was still elements that could be enjoyed.
The reason why the first Crow was such a cult classic is that it appeals to people for different reasons and to different kinds of people. It attracted martial-arts and action fans, but it also attracted those of us interested in the dark, noir atmosphere of the film, and of the highly emotional content and relationships between the characters. For the action fans, COA was of course a waste; in that department it was nothing but rehash of the original. For those of us (like myself) drawn to the gothic feel of the movie and the emotional relationships between the characters, there was something to enjoy in the dazzling visual displays and the romance between Sarah and Ashe. I loved Mia Kirshner in this and wish she would have done more afterwards. Also I thought Iggy Pop was a kick. Too bad he couldn't be in the original. And I loved the soundtrack - almost as good as the original.
It wasn't an accident that the director, Tim Pope, had previously only worked on videos (most notably for the Cure). City of Angels is less a movie than it is a very long music video - short on plot and characterization but long on visuals and music.
Carla Gugino stands out in an otherwise amateurish effort
Jaded starts out strong, but loses steam quickly and trails off into nothing. It raises a lot of interesting issues and then does nothing with them. Omitting the court scene at the end could be forgivable but leaving several loose ends without resolution was unsettling at best. Although for the most part those threads (such as what exactly the customers in the bar were paying $500 for) have fairly obvious conclusions, leaving them hanging in the air in that way robbed this movie of a satisfying conclusion. As it is it almost seems as if they ran out of money to film the courtroom scene and thus made a movie out of the investigation and then just tacked on a ending.
The low budget for this film was painfully apparent - it seems almost like a student film. I've seen better production values in porno. Which is puzzling since for the most part the actors involved are professionals that are recognizable from more superior efforts (such as Aida Turturro from the Sopranos). Along with any sense of flow, the director failed to elicit good performances from her actors that we know can do better, with the exception of Carla Gugino, who seemed to be acting in a different film with the intensity that she brought to her performance. She was unfortunately the only thing enjoyable about this movie with a strong premise but no follow through.
And shame on whoever commented that Carla was chunky - do women have to be anorexics with stick arms and legs to be acceptable? She's a gorgeous young woman and those kinds of comments are just ridiculous.
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
Sweet little movie
I dismissed this movie as yet another romantic comedy when it came out in '92 and never gave it much thought until catching it recently on cable. It was quite surprisingly a very enjoyable film, for me mostly because of the chemistry between Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin; I thought they captured the blissful uncertainty of falling in love and thought the subtext was an interesting commentary on love and marriage and what we see in others. It's no great work of art, but it is moving and sweet. I really enjoyed watching the two leading stars. Of course they're beautiful and all that, but they managed to seem human and flawed at the same time (as did the parents) and I didn't feel this movie was overly sappy at all. They seemed to talk to each other the way people do, and less like your typical Hollywood snappy dialogue. There were some interesting and touching moments, such as the contrast between what the old man thought a married couple should act and how Alec Baldwin thought they should, as he looked longingly at the couple kissing in the pool while his new wife (possessed by the old man) chatted away with an older couple.
Oscar winner Kathy Bates was totally wasted here though. I wonder if her part had been bigger and then got cut later.