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After the atrocious "Loss of Sexual Innocence" you wouldn't think that Figgis could get any more pretentious or heavy-handed; but he manages to do it with "Timecode". It's unwatchable, pointless and serves as a role call for a group of actors and actresses who cannot improvise to save their lives. But then they were saddled with a director who can't direct. The self-reflexive "joke" the film makes about itself toward the end has a pretty sour ring to it: the joke is on the audience who was unfortunate enough to pay money to see it. Figgis has the last laugh. This smug jerk is the same person who made "Leaving Las Vegas"?! It's seems impossible.
Angela's Ashes (1999)
Before I start to berate this absurdly over-rated film, I should mention its strong points, namely very fine performances by all of the actors involved, particularly Emily Watson. That aside, the film has to be one of the worst adaptions of a book that I've ever seen. How do I know this? Simple, I've never read the book. Two of the people I saw it with did, and they had to explain to me what the father character was really all about (the book apparentely contains a lot more detail.) You should not have to read a book ahead of time to appreciate the movie on which it is based.
Furthermore, the film is completely episodic. This is fine if you're talking about a five-part TV miniseries here (which is what this SHOULD have been) but this is a two-hour film, and the director should have provided some sense of continuity and cohesion. As it is, it is for the most part unbearably boring. Sure, there are some fine moments, but a fine moment here and there does not a good film make. "Angela's Ashes" is not worth you time or money.
Go Now (1995)
A frank, honest story concerning Multiple Sclerosis
Although many people may have seen this movie to see Robert Carlyle- understandably so, as he is a very fine actor- I saw this movie because I have Multiple Sclerosis and I wanted to see the manner in which the subject was depicted. I can honestly say this film was very true to life, particularly in the way it portrays the kind of emotional and physical pain having such a condition can cause. Since the kind of MS that Carlyle's character has is Chronic Progressive MS- the most serious form- it is very painful and sad to watch, but necessary to see for anyone who wants to understand the effect a disease such as MS has on a person, as well as their loved ones. I was downright relieved by the accuracy of the description of the symptoms, since MS has been the subject of some very ignorant TV shows and films. The major downside to the film is the overall weakness of the other actors, particularly when compared to Carlyle's stellar performance. Juliet Aubrey is particularly weak and unconvincing in the key role of the girlfriend. But this should not deter one from seeing it. Anyone who has MS or knows someone who has MS or any other kind of debilitating condition should see this film. You might learn something from it. As an added the plus, the soundtrack, which consists entirely of classic American R&B and Soul (most of which don't get heard too often) is wonderful.
The War Zone (1999)
A true work of art
First off, do not go to see "The War Zone" if you want to be entertained. There is nothing the least bit "entertaining" about this film. But if you believe that cinema has the potential to be an art form, and that one of the things that art should do is tell the truth, then you must see it. All of the performances are outstanding, particularly the newcomers who play Tom and Jess. As for the graphic nature of some of the scenes, I have to say that they were painful to watch, particularly the rape scene, which was horrifying. But incest is horrifying. "The War Zone" makes you feel the pain it causes, and this is one only film I can ever remember that actually made me cry. If you can feel anything, this film will make you angry that so much of this thing goes on in our society. This film deserves your attention.
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
The greatest film about love that I've ever seen
I first saw Heavenly Creatures when it first came out and, like a lot of people, I was completely riveted by it. Much has been made of the use of special effects, but for me that's the least interesting part of the film. What shook me up about it, then and now, is the intensity and raw honesty of the portrayal of the relationship between the two girls- both of the performances are a revelation. The director has to be credited with the brilliant use of pacing in the film, which mirrors the inner life of the characters in an amazing way. How one interprets the overall theme of film will probably vary from person to person- but for me this is the most painfully real love story I've EVER seen in any film. It cuts to the heart of what it feels like to be in the throes of passion. How those internal feelings and desires are enacted in the real world can indeed be tragic, and the film spares the viewer nothing. This is easily one of my all-time favorite films. It's interesting how godawful dull Peter Jackson's other films are- at least the ones I've seen. But he did make this one masterpiece, a film that once seen can never be forgotten.