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Good Will Hunting (1997)
A moving and fantastic movie. I never get tired of this film!
Good Will Hunting is the film that was unlucky to have been made in the same year as Titanic. Sadly while Titanic left with 13, it left Good Will Hunting with only 2, and unfairly so. For while no one denies that Titanic was impressive enough, Good Will Hunting should have left with the credit it deserved. This combination of Gus Van Sant's direction and the divine writing of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck was one of the best films that I have ever seen. You are greeted with Will Hunting, a sadly disturbed guy who has the most amazing mind, yet can not make himself take advantage of this gift because he is afraid of the consequences. The film looks stunning, with excellent use of camera angles, while the relationships between the various characters develop with so much sincerity that you can really empathise with them. The stars of the piece are not Damon and Affleck however, but Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgard, as the shrink who is able to get into the head of brilliant young Hunting and the genius maths professor who discovers Hunting and then spends the rest of the film wishing that he hadn't. The casting of Robin Williams in the serious role of Sean Maguire is excellent; after all Williams often performs his best work when allowed to take off the comic mask that he is so well known for. There is little I can find to criticise this movie with, sometimes the music fails to live up to what it could, but that is just nit-picking! When I saw this, I had already seen Titanic and after, I went to see Titanic again. It was then that I realised that the main element of the film that was any good was the actual sinking of the ship, and that the other two and a half hours were merely there to keep you going to build you up to the ship sinking. If you are looking for a movie to show the development of a relationship between two people, watch Good Will Hunting. Good Will Hunting gives you the hope that things can work out in the end. Also if you have the option, I urge you to listen to the audio commentary that you can get on the DVD, and see how things developed during the making of this utterly superb film.
American Beauty (1999)
What a great film! You should all see it again and again!
This Sam Mendes film truly is a coup de grace among mediocre substitutes. This scarily accurate portrayal of the various people who all appear sane on the outside, but inside are all as dysfunctional as each other and joined by the fact that everything about them is a lie, is moving and a powerful tribute to the fact that it is possible to make classic movies in an era where it is one good film per thousand. The cinematography is good, especially with the interaction between normal film and home camcorder, the original score served its dramatic purpose (thanks once again to Thomas Newman) and the casting is inspired. Though the essence of the film is obviously not in its technical side, but in its deliverance of its central message. The narration of Kevin Spacey, who gets better in every movie he is in, carries us along the delusion and degradation of his existence and he wakes up to the fact that he does not like what he has become. His voice merely echoes what most of us either feel or have felt that we do not live up to what we saw for ourselves when we were younger. The harsh reality of it lies in that no matter what we do to try to obtain what it was we lost, we can strive forever but something will always get in the way in the end. Undoubtedly this film will make you want to get up off the sofa, switch off the TV and do something about yourself, and so it should. If we get one thing out of Mr. Mendes' masterpiece, it should be to live for the moment and enjoy your life.
Meet Joe Black (1998)
One of the best films of 1998, I can't praise this film enough!
I must admit to have been slightly hesistant when I first heard about Meet Joe Black because of the subject matter and its length, however I found this film to be superb.
The acting was believable, the cinematography of the film was well thought out and extremely picturesque. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman (the Shawshank Redemption) went from chilling to the most beautiful melodies that I have ever heard (giving, in my humble opinion, any classical composer a run for their money), adding an extra depth to this film.
There are no in-betweens in this film: you WILL either love or hate this film. However, I can say that this film is one of the most uplifting and life affirming movies that I have ever seen. It left me both moved and confident that the world was not such a bad place after all. Just like the Shawshank Redemption told us that hope is not a bad thing, so Meet Joe Black tells us that indeed love can conquer all better than Titanic ever could.