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Best of Both Worlds (2001)
Is it possible to love two men at the same time?
From the commentaries in the question section on this site I guess many are men, and their views are interesting and poignant. BUT being a woman, and having spent some wonderful days in Bologna, I have a completely different impression from this mini-drama.
To me it is so clear that Diane feels confined in her English life. Whereas it's obvious that Diane adores her son, I'm not so sure about the rest of her family; her husband nagging her to sell her parents' house, irritated that her paid work takes her away from the restaurant (where she's not paid), her mother-in-law noting a new box of Tampax in their bathroom, both of them constantly watching, wanting to control her.
To me it would be impossible to love two men at the same time, so the "gusto" with which she continues her English life feels strange to me. Yes, here I believe she is false, in the same way some men also are with affairs on the side. I guess this is where your anger and rage come from. But of course she has a conscience, and she does display emotions, torn as she is between her two lives.
Whereas her Italian life seems to bring her more alive and allows her to be more spontaneous, both among strangers and Mark's family and friends. She learns Italian and discovers that she's good at it. Wonderful for your self-esteem! We get to see Bologna's magnificent centuries old buildings, squares and churches, the chaotic street life. That combined with the wonderful vibrancy of Cal Macaninch's acting and voice makes this mini exquisitely exciting to watch. Eventually that life also would become more humdrum, but in that stage which is the present in the mini they're not there yet.
And we're left with the question of what happens after the end of the mini; will she lose everything or come to terms with which one of the lives she actually wants; providing it's still available, because in the end it is not possible to have the best of both worlds. That I believe is the message Paul Abbot wanted to send.
The Stickup (2002)
Saves a lot of time...
Someone described this film as having flown in "below the radar". That's a very apt description. Perhaps "lesser" films with lesser budgets leave the writers and directors (in this case the same person) more artistic freedom to actually realize their ideas -- the script of The Stickup is very intelligent and so totally enjoyable!
In it we're presented with an opening car chase where the driver, being pursued by honest looking policemen, looks guilty as hell.
Not long afterwards the classic bar scene -- but the other way around and, much to our delight, the Bogart-Bacall-like bantering starts, as has been noted already by many others. (And we're given large servings of it all through the rest of the film!) Who said there's NO chemistry between them? (The actors in question have been together ever since shooting this film and are now engaged.) Simply watch the hands of James Spader.
The third component making this film so special and enjoyable is of course the young innocent FBI-agent, with all his quirks but immediately accepted by the county's Indians as a man to trust. When his more experienced colleagues defer to him we recognize our own ambition to be respected at work.
So if you like surprises and haven't seen this movie you should. Enjoy the ride! At the end of it you can conclude that there are three important lessons to be made: being a crook and a police at the same time + being sneaky + falling in love at first sight all saves a lot of time.
The Watcher (2000)
Impressive rendering of a tormented man coming together again
This is the kind of film a commercial TV channel shows around midnight, that I happened on when I should really be off to bed. At once I was completely stuck. I had to rent it and watch it again. Unlike the violent, foul-mouthed cops Hollywood produces 13 to a dozen we are presented with the vulnerable wreck of a man who is asked by his therapist if he wants to "live on disability" even though he's still young; and then, when his past catches up with him, he's transformed, totally focused. His calm fascinated me.
I found the script intelligent, brilliant (if it was based on a novel I would like to read it). For instance in the way they give us small pieces of the catastrophe three years earlier and then leave us to put the jigsaw together, somehow caught up in the "stream of consciousness" of the hero's mind. And the editing wonderfully underscored the way dreams of past horrors become intertwined with the horrors of the present. Seeing the film for the second and third time I realize how certain themes are hinted at in the dialogue, and how cleverly they let him comment on what is shown -- dreams? past events? what's actually happening? -- even as he speaks. Nothing is irrelevant -- you really should take notice of everything, which is impossible and which is why the film can be seen several times before you catch it all. Or nearly all.
What is totally lacking though is an explanation as to how the villain has become the monster he is -- I do like Keanu Reeves, but for this kind of role I think a real actor is needed, like John Malkovich, who plays psychopaths so convincingly.
So in spite of this flaw I gave the film the highest vote, for the script, the editing and for the performances of lovely Marisa Tomei and vulnerable James Spader. Simply wonderful.
Oh, and I must add, having skipped through the 15 pages with the 142 comments preceding mine, that this seems to be a film most appreciated by women. So for the man thinking of seeing it, be sure to be interested in the psychological side of life before watching. And as a female I see no bonding whatsoever between Campbell and the serial killer, as has been hinted at in other comments -- Campbell only says what he has to say in order to save a life -- he's simply "controlling the situation".
The Big Trail (1930)
I feel like a film archaeologist
I have really nothing to add to all the other comments, save this: To me the film looked like a silent film slowly being adapted to sound. The text boards bringing the story along reinforced that impression I suppose. Along the way the actors were allowed to leave the stilted, theatre-like acting; Marguerite Churchill very much looks like a typical early silent movie heroine at the beginning of the film, but at the end is allowed finer expressions. Gus, the Swede?, reminded me of the comic characters of Shakespeare plays, and Windy sounded to me like an early Donald Duck.
It truly amazed me that it was all filmed outdoors, on location, and even though the dust of all the wagons, horses and cattle obscured the view it must actually have been like that for the real settlers! It also was clear to me that many of those Indians must have been real, and I didn't detect any overt racism towards them. And John Wayne looks so incredibly young! As someone who became a real Wayne fan through the cavalry trilogy by John Ford, and thought that Stage Coach was Wayne's first as a leading star, this film was a revelation. The plot is very simple, again reminding me of a silent film, but the grit is very real indeed! An amazing film to have been made with that technique and under those conditions in 1930!
witty, intelligent, riveting
This series was shown in Sweden in 2001, and if I understand the IMDb info correctly, it only had one season. That is a pity. Was it an inability to show what life on Wall Street is like after September 11th that led to the decision to drop it?
The episodes were very interesting and entertaining to watch. The dialogue was intelligent and witty, the actors well chosen, the story captivating and moving, the music fabulous!, and it had problems to solve of both ethical and professional dimensions. I'm so very sorry that the series were not continued!
The Crow Road (1996)
Magic and absurd rendering of Scotland, strong women and...
Magic and absurd rendering of Scotland, strong and intelligent women, the wild countryside, old computer systems and some of the problems of growing up, together with witty dialogue, an excellent set of actors and a beautiful script! Can be seen again and again...