8 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
One made the best film of 1970s.
2 August 2000
Conclusive in it's existence, magnificent in it's metaphore, `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' tastes like wine – the older it gets, the better it is. It's a comedy because of the ironic unpredictabilities that occur during the story, and it's a tragedy because despite of everything that happens, nothing will ever be changed and nothing is set to. The only thing you can do is `rip that ******* thing' from the bathroom and run away from that kind of closed life circle.

Not one performance is overdone, not one line overwritten, not one moment unimportant, not one second of the movie flawed. It's a coherent brilliance of craftsmanship and a quite greatness of humility and dignity. The movie's anti-establishement intonation is already a thing of epochal diameter and it will stay that way for ever. The strenght of its unidealistic undercurrent is what makes all of us alive, even though no one is allowed to admit it. What is fascinating in this movie is that the people who made it know it.

Thinking back to the film I'm often thinking: `What if every human being in the world would allow himself to `rip that ******* thing' just one single time in his life?' Now, that was a scary thought.

10/10. Best motion picture of 1970s.
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Gladiator (2000)
A traditional matrix + the highest level of performance = An excellent motion picture.
29 May 2000
I have to admit that I entered my local multiplex with an endless dose of scepsis about `Gladiator' convinced that it's going to be just another popcorn entertainment project of modern Hollywood postoriginality, and it is in some way, except it's, in my opinion and my experience, a lot more. And that makes him more than just worth seeing.

The creators took a traditional matrix of old Hollywood spectacles and then did one of the hardest screenwriting jobs today and that's to lay a modern superstructure on top of it, balance the pieces well, measure the chill, the drama and the romance correctly and finally construct the visual performance in a manner which stories of this magnitude deserve. The creators did all that amazingly powerful, convincing and emotinally hammering bringing todays artistic conscience and computer techinque abilities to the borders of possible never going over the line or overdoing the performance to make it in discrepancy with the given plot. HOWEVER ...

... They did a crucial job to the film's final quality by rewriting the original draft which, among other differences, had a happy end, and that's something that proves that they knew what they were doing. I was very afraid, to say at least, that it will be a conventional happy-end-movie, and was prepared for that conclusion already seeing Russell Crowe and Connie Nielsen kissing in front of the sundown in the closing shot of the film, and if the original draft wa kept in the final version of the movie I would be even more disappointed than I was preparing to be, because the film was constantly promising a lot more than that kind of conclusion. I can't express how relieved, satisfied, moved and touched I was when that didn't happen.

I have to say that the intro battle in Germania and the fight between Maximus and Tiger are two of five most spectacular action sequences I've ever seen in movies, the `big fight' at the end one of the strongest finales in history, and the end altogather delivers one of the most moving conclusions in recent times, and one of the most important in history of the world, too.

All actors give strong performances, I myself was especially impressed by young Joaquin Phoenix and his magnificent portrayal of Commodus - one of the most repulsive, and yet believable bad guys I have ever seen - and also by his unique ease in snapping from character in one style of performance and film to another completely different, diametrically opposite one. The performance by young actor who playes Lucius will be the unsung one, although I hold that the kid was so good and convincing in his behaviour for the period his character's in, that he deserved a lot more screen time.

I was sincerely moved by the film in a lot of ways a film can get to you, and think it's a proof, more than welcome one, that Hollywood can still make great, full-blooded movies which get under your skin even without much originality or genuine artistic idealism that always heads for the development of new approaches to storytelling. Or maybe `A traditional matrix + the highest level of performance' is a way to go if a lot of new Hollywood products will have the final quality of this one. In another words: Be excellent motion pictures. Because this one certainly is.
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Being cheated out of awards.
25 April 2000
Well, the story repeats herself once again. Last year this happened to the unforgetable `The Truman Show' and this year to `Being John Malkovich', probably the best film directorial debut for a video commercial director. What both films have in common is a unique originality, unpredictability and involving, seductive, irresistible subliminal monsterous tone that spoke of big issues in an unrepeatably subtle, and yet direct way.

Obviously, they weren't long enough, or something, for the Academy's taste. I hold that they both deserved the Academy Award for best picture, because that is, I think, the only way American movies have a bright future – if awarding ultraoriginal creations, magnificantly and spectaculary constructed, uniquely written and powerfully and impressively performed. And that's exactly what `The Truman Show' and especially `Being John Malkovich' are.

Charlie Kaufman's screenplay has enough originalities for two dozen other movies, but, togather with director Spike Jonze's certainty, they reveal them slowly and neatly, always in a well-argumented manner and with good balance. The plot keeps surprising you from the beggining to the end, never going over the top or losing it's direction.

It's hard for me to even imagine how much effort the creators had to put into making this movie, and how hard it was to write it in the first place and then edit all that rough material at the end. I can't remember them failing anywhere, which is very rare in American filmmaking in general nowadays, and when it even happens in a movie like this, it's a miracle.

This movie is even so endlessly inventive and unpredictable it kept surprising me even more in the last quarter than in the first or the second one. Or the third one – maybe the most original one. And when even that happens, and when it's not done in a one-invention-on-top-of-the-other-with-absolutely-no-order-or-reason manner, like it isn't here, then you have a great motion picture.

`Being John Malkovich' talks wisely, funny and instructively about a lot of subjects that all come from the one in title, and the message is that they should not. Jonze managed to devise a very specific, strange atmosphere that he drags throughout the movie and adapts it to the situations. The result is one of the most stirring movies I've seen in the last few years.

An endless number of words could be spilled out about this film. Not one could describe how good it was to me and how truly entertaining it is. Maybe it's not as emotionally moving as his last year's partner in pain `The Truman Show' (both of the movies received best director and best original screenplay nomination, and were deprived for acting nomination – Carrey last year, Malkovich here), but it probably is even a little better performed and better balanced (or edited).

Both of them were best pictures of the years they were released in. But obviously not long enough.
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19 April 2000
Satire is an ambiguous genre: The theater play or a movie of satire genre is funny to everyone that doesn't understand how serious the issue is, and it's tragic and shocking to everyone that does.

For that matter, I find `American Beauty' an intelligent, slick and powerful film which is at the same time an earsplitting absurdity comedy, and a tragic and provocative modern everyday drama. One will roll all over the floor from laughter, the other will be horrified for knowing that what is seen is not a fiction – that or very similar things happen in our back yard every day, and it's a ruthless daily routine we do or do not directly face.

I think it's impressive how the creators managed to keep such twisted motives and layers subtle and smooth enough not to enter the list of dark movies, but still keep the tone of serious and stratified. I was also impressed how a stage play director skilfully and persuasively handles the world where there is no limit in space (especially smooth, easy and sly frame handling, consistent narration clarity and visibly excellent collaboration with the actors). And precise performances by Spacey, Cooper, Bently and Birch, together with correctly casted Benning and Suvari, elevate the entireness to even a higher level which it would not achieve without the mentioned. Imagine anyone else with the same interpretation of Lester Burnham. I can't.

Yes, I consider that the look of the film's final cut desperately lacks more specific atmosphere and the ending from the first screenplay draft (I read the original draft the day after seeing the movie because I knew something was wrong with the ending – and I was right; that tells you enough), although that does not make it a lot worse.

I was pretty surprised with all those Academy Awards `American Beauty' received, considering that it's contemporary and not epic, but also, in some way, constructed too traditionally and conventionally for the Academy's taste. Maybe because it's the first satire of that quality. Ambiguous.
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How to create something out of nothing? Ask Mark Andrus and Jim L. Brooks
19 April 2000
Really, how to make something original, fresh and odd out of absolutely nothing except a few characters? Using characters, only characters and nothing except characters. That's the simple formula Brooks uses in all of his work, but, for me, he has never created so much charm, warmth and sensibility as he did in `As good as it gets'.

Characters write the screenplay in this movie, and everything that happens - happens because of what they are. They are nothing special – they are ordinary people we meet in the street every day and that have the same problems a lot of other people have. This movie presents the example of how much you can pull out of that. And if that is written as well as it is in this case, not even a happy ending can bother you. Because, in real life, shown here, what is the end?

Everything is good and warm in this movie, everything is fresh and vivacious, understandable and well performed. Jack Nicholson brings one of the best performances of his career, that terrific Helen Hunt finally got a chance to show how skilfully an actor can connect naturalism with the laws of the camera performance, and Greg Kinnear shows the most convincing emotions coming from a gay character I've ever seen.

The relationships between the characters are created in the way that you can't predict anything that's going to happen, eventhough you know in advance what could come out of their mouth and what kind of attitude they'll have in a certain situation.

You can simply feel the progressive collaboration that occurred between Brooks and the actors and the mutual understanding they developed, and it's not often that you see that kind of artistic superstructure shining on the screen so much as it does here.

I find `As good as it gets' complexed, vital, intelligent, emotionally deep and studied, fresh, original, amusing, cheerful, funny, and one of the best films of 1997.
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Heavy (1995)
Feel the isolated world of solitude without inner happiness and happy ends.
19 April 2000
I watched really a lot of movies, but I have never ever seen a film so realistic, intimistic, warm, sad and depressing as James Mangold's `Heavy'. This is my favorite movie not just because it is so closely related to me, but because Mangold does not let go of the strains of modern verism for one single moment and creates situations so realistic that I don't think any other drama I've seen can measure up with `Heavy' in the aspect of plausibility.

The more I think about it the more I'm sure that this story or at least some points of the basic plot are not fictious. I could swear that Mangold had lived through those same or similar situations he has written, or that he was so compelled to those kinds of human problems in life that he decided to minutely depict the life of someone else he knew and then create different profiles of his characters remaining the real story as the matrix.

There were so many crossroads in front of Mangold where he could have chosen a more compromised or happier way to go, so it was just unbelievebly astonishing for me how he always picked the right street to continue his journey every single time. I haven't seen a movie yet that doesn't fail once in that aspect. Stories like the one in `Heavy' are the ones that are the hardest stories to build well because the realism of life dictates them, and one of those movies which could have gone in the wrong direction for two dozen times. `Heavy' is build up without a mistake and always chooses the right and, in the same time, logic and consistent resolvement.

I have also never seen two greater and more touching, persuassive and realistic performances that moved me so much in any motion picture than the ones by Pruitt Taylor Vince and Liv Tyler, so terrific and emotionally hammering that I actually felt an unexplainable urge to come into their lives and help them in any way that I can, if I only could.

`Heavy' is a master-piece which will be understood by any reasonable and grown-up person, and a movie that was so good for me that I needed to watch it only once because I remembered practicaly every shot of every scene. It is warm, sincere, candid, truly dramatic, touching, and intelligent and cruel in its integrity and utter reality. It is, I hold, the best picture of 1995, and one of the best motion pictures of the ‘90's for me.
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Forrest Gump (1994)
Through the forest of life
19 April 2000
I have never seen a screenplay that can measure up to Eric Roth's screenplay of `Forrest Gump' in it's original structure, intelligence and unique approach to life analysis and its treatment, and the direction so powerful, expert and spectacular in a major Hollywood motion picture like Robert Zemeckis's in this one.

I have also never seen a film so complete and deep, never seen a dream fantasy presented on the screen so successfully, never seen a human being so special as Forrest is, and never felt a movie experience that was so moving and touching. It's a fictious character and a fictious plot, but if I haven't known that, I would have said that I believe that the film is based on a true story with a few adaptions and plot point changes. Eventhough Forrest goes through the most unplausible situations one can go through.

I doubt that anyone will observe life the same way after seeing this movie. A lot of them will say that the movie was stupid and overdone, but deep inside they'll remember it forever. The promotional tagline of the movie truly is the point of it and its message. That's what the creators accomplished, and in such an unexpected and unique way that you really start to wonder was the quality of this movie maybe reached by a complete accident. The tagline and the feather prove that it wasn't.

I find `Forrest Gump' original, intelligent, wise, sly, balanced, complex, heartwarming, unbelievably dynamic, witty in one-of-a-kind manner, endlessly touching and enchanting, extraordinary and magical. And, for that matter, one of the best American motion pictures in the history of filmmaking.
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Heat (1995)
Mann's "The Last of the Crime Movies" - no more good and bad guys.
18 April 2000
The first time I started watching "Heat" on the VHS I realized that something is wrong and that this isn't a traditional and classical cops-and-robbers genre, and that the film's seductive poster picture of a few masked men is just a simple promotive trick to attract the potential viewers who will surely expect a luxury of shootings, chases, fights and swearings - all settled clichees of an American crime genre. Since I didn't complete watching the movie, I rented it a few months later and gave it my full attention. I got under the skin of every replica and shot. Very soon it was more than cristaly clear what was wrong: "Heat" truly is a motion picture that just goes beyond the expectations of the cops-and-robbers genre and easily steams into the kingdom of movie masterpieces. Further elaborations are not necessary. "Heat" really is, not just because of the author's anti-thesis as the corner stone of this epic tale, "the last crime movie", which brings its every element, wheter it's writing, directing, acting or any other important segment of filmmaking, to complete and astounding perfection and stratified storytelling complexion which pulls the story with unbelieveble smoothness and calm, literally excelling from one shot to the next, interweaving its situations with some kind of magical, subtle and modern elevation and with juicy dialogues sharpend to the utter perfection of screen writing, surely simptomatic and authentic for the characters' surroundings and their professions. Michael Mann, probably one of the strongest and studious Hollywood directors today, breaks down the accepted thesis of life and film and asks the discussable question from which he creates the corner stone of his masterful master-piece, although remaining the exact definition of time and place of the action, and, in the end, still only fictious characters he adores so much. A parade of acting icons and Hollywood pearls shines with the foreground of picturesque characters, Pacino's appropriate mannerism and De Niro's intimistic coldness of a loner. Are there any other more suitable characters for the profiles of those two? And is there any scene in their careers that can be as historic and as fascinating as the coffee confrontation scene? The one that can, in some way, be a simbol of the plot of this unavoidable master-piece. Which is, unfortunately, the most underestimated film of the decade.
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