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16 reviews in total 
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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
I did the drill, 6 September 2001

All through grade school we did the various drills and I remember seeing the film during that time. After all that trained paranoia, it made the Cuban Missle Crisis far scarier than it looks like today in Thirteen Days.

Of course the film appears comical today, but I do remember being cynical about the duck and cover drill back in 4th grade. I distinctly remember telling my desk partner (Pam) that I didn't think the drill would do any good if the bomb actually drops cause we'd all be killed anyway.

It's fun to look back on this film and have a good laugh though. Even more ludicrous are the governmental lies and denials--on the second sequence they state that "thousands of lives at Hiroshima could have been saved if they had known to 'Duck and Cover'"

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant visual trip...definitive Fellini!, 13 February 2000

It's been many years since I first watched 8 1/2... too many years. I become thoroughly engrossed from the opening dream sequence to the final dance on the beach. No one does black and white imagery as effectively as Fellini, and this film is his most definitive.

8 1/2 is also the most autobiographical film that Fellini has done. Marcello Mastroiani plays a self critical and analytical filmmaker who is trying to develop a new film project. The film often goes inside Mastroiani's mind and we see the brilliant visual artist at work. One of more humorous sequences is one in which the various women in his life all operate as a "harem" to serve his needs and then stage a revolution against the tyrant.

Towards the end we see the filmmaker have doubts about his film and himself, wondering if he has anything to say. One of the women says to him "Why piece together the tatters of your life--the vague memories, the faces--the people you never knew how to love."

Fortunately for us, Fellini did leave us this most personal film, and a number of others afterwards, including Juliet of the Spirits, Satyricon, and Amarcord. We are fortunate that he resolved any self doubts he may have harbored, but we are especially blessed with 8 1/2, which definitely ranks among the best films ever created.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Better than most B movies--Craven demonstrates early talent..., 9 February 2000

I first saw Swamp Thing on The Movie Channel in its early years when you could see the same movie multiple times each week. I don't recall how many times I actually watched it back in the 1980's, but I remembered that it was better than most low budget films I'd seen.

I just watched it again last night on video, and found that the movie holds up. I was a little surprised to discover that it was directed and written by Wes Craven of the successful Scream movies. Swamp Thing is one of his earlier projects--though it came out 10 years after his first feature, The Last House of the Left.

There were glimpses of Craven's genius demonstrated in Swamp Thing. The dialog has touches of humor and doesn't take itself all that seriously. Adrienne Barbeau shows her toughness when confronted by the evil forces by getting a few punches in and continuing to fight and escape despite the odds.

For a low budget film, Craven has an eye for beauty--the swamp itself is filmed beautifully in many places. With a bigger budget he could have done more. But it's not necessary. With the scale and purpose of this movie Craven accomplishes about as much as you can hope for here. It's worth a look.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Amoldovar's best though still not quite mainstream..., 7 February 2000

All About My Mother is a GREAT film that I recently checked out at the one theater that brings some foreign fare occasionally to town. I Wouldn't be surprised to see Cecelia Roth get Oscar nomination for lead actress, as she plays a very strong ideal mother in this film.

In Spanish w/ English subtitles, it's a very engaging film that contains a typically most interesting collection of Amoldovar characters-- trans-sexual prostitutes, a grand dame theater matron, an actress who's a junkie, and a fallen nun. It's a very emotional work as well--if you've lost a close friend or relative, you may want to wait a while before seeing this. I definitely rank this in my top ten list of 1999.

All About My Mother is not for the kids. I'm sure it won't be playing in smaller cities either, and don't look for it at the multiplex. It's unfortunate that more Americans don't take to movies with subtitles. Seeing this film will convert a few "non readers" to check out foreign language fare.

Rebecca (1940)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A masterpiece, filmed in beautiful black and white!, 6 February 2000

This is the only Hitchcock movie that won an Academy Award for Best Movie, preceeding Citizen Kane by one year. There is much in Rebecca reminiscent of Kane--from the outstanding opening black and white cinematography of the tracking shot of Manderley to the final shot of the embroidered pillow surrounded by flames.

The Academy snubbed Hitchcock himself, as they never did award the all-time best director the top prize for himself. Hitchcock's influence is demonstrated throughout the unfolding of the film. As in many of his films, your initial assumptions will likely prove wrong.

Laurence Olivier plays a wealthy man haunted by the death of his first wife, while Joan Fontaine plays an "ordinary" young woman who becomes the second Mrs. de Winter. Fontaine's character obviously loves her husband but feels out of place in the vast mansion, especially when the sinister and strange Mrs. Danvers appears.

Rebecca holds up well with age. The characters are memorable and the subtle Hitchcockian twists are riveting. Renting this classic will be much more worthwhile than watching 99% of the more current fare available.

Scream 3 (2000)
Pointless but fun entertainment; cameos worth the price..., 5 February 2000

I can't say that Scream 3 scared me, as there's nothing really original in this movie that hasn't been covered in the original and the sequel. The plotline is familiar, yet the movie does contain some fun.

Two different cameo appearances gave me a chuckle, so these alone were almost worth the price of the movie. I'm not going to reveal who these cameos are, but if you've been to some one star was made famous in the 70's while another duo is a youth pop culture favorite of the 90's.

The style of the movie is familiar, and why not. Scream 3 is directed by Wes Craven, so it has the same feel and rhythm of the other two Scream movies. Fortunately, the movie has three of the main surviving characters returning, which adds to the fun of the film.

There's also a nice video return of a character who doesn't live past the first sequel. It explains the rules for the final chapters of trilogies--but this movie doesn't follow all these rules...

Does that mean that this is NOT a trilogy? Literally, and symbolicly the door is left open in the final shot.

I suspect that there'll be another Scream in the works as long as the money keeps rolling in. Didn't they do that already in the Friday the 13th movies?

Visual poem from Blue Velvet creator, 31 January 2000

The Straight Story has the look and feel of a foreign film, and I mean this as a compliment. It's a very simple story of an independent old man from the Midwest, who decides that he's going to set out to visit his estranged brother. Richard Farnsworth plays the old man, too blind to drive and too independent to rely on Greyhound, and he should be rewarded with an Oscar nomination.

In one sense it's hard to believe that this G rated film is created by the same director that brought us Blue Velvet, but look again. The film itself has David Lynch's trademark style and sound, and he obviously loves to take on small Midwestern Americana. It has a lyrical quality about it that held my interest throughout, occasionally bring dampness to the eyes with Farnsworth's homespun wisdom and stories.

This will play well on the small screen when it comes to video. I'm definitely planning to add it to my personal collection.

Casablanca in the snows of the Pacific northwest..., 30 January 2000

Snow Falling on Cedars is much better than much of the buzz I've been hearing. Sure, if I were editing, I'd cut down on some of the kiddie love scenes but I understand that the director is working with this for the added layers it gives.

Very lyrical... beautifully photographed, definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for cinematography.

Max von Sydow provides some of the best lawyer scenes ever, and sure ... Ethan Hawke is not a strong male lead... but I don't think the role calls for a dynamic male lead--that's one of the things that unfolds as the plot develops... without giving any plot away, I'd say that Hawke is effective in his role.

The movie portrays depth of feeling in numerous scenes--the first movie I can remember dealing w/ anti Japanese prejudice in the U.S. and with the disgraceful concentration camps that the U.S. herded its Japanese citizens into during the war.

Definitely worth going to...

In some ways it reminds me of Casablanca. Both are set in WWII obviously, but at a thematic level both have a lead character who must choose whether to dwell on a past love or overcome himself and return to his idealism.

I've seen two movies in the past two days that centered on courtroom drama-- I probably won't bother to see Hurricane again, but I'm sure to revisit Cedars

Hitchcockian thriller is one of 1999's best!, 30 January 2000

Alfred Hitchcock often unbalances us by presenting ordinary people in extraordinary situations and by blurring the lines between good and evil.

Anthony Minghella has done much the same here in his film translation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. From the opening credits we are thrust inside Tom Ripley's thoughts with a sense of foreboding as he wishes that it all could be erased, including himself.

Matt Damon nails the Ripley role perfectly in 1999's most complex role. Damon plays Ripley as a likable, introverted young man who is adept at imitating others and playing a variety of roles. When a shipping tycoon thinks that Ripley knows his son from the 1956 Princeton class, he convinces him to travel to Italy to convince his son Dickie to return to New York.

Ripley goes, and falls in love with Italy and the leisurely lifestyle that Dickie (Jude Law) and girlfriend Marge (Gweneth Paltrow) enjoy. He also falls in love with Dickie. Ripley is having the time of his life, but Dickie grows tired of Tom and the plot grows very dark. Ripley makes full use of his chameleon-like talents during this time. After all "I'd rather be a fake somebody than a real nobody."

Minghella has done masterful work here. The scenery evokes the mood of La Dolce Vita in the 1950's, the film composition and editing are very tight and effectively done, and he has drawn outstanding performances from Damon and the supporting cast.

This film is not for everyone. Like Hitchcock, Minghella takes you on a filmic roller coaster ride from lightness and humor to darkness and brooding. Though nothing is explicit, the homoeroticism itself may turn off some movie patrons. Others will feel manipulated, as you are drawn very deeply into Ripley's character, and this is a very uncomfortable place to be--figuratively in the basement of the soul.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a disturbing movie that will linger in your mind long after the final reel has ended. You will likely find that it will take a second viewing to catch the layered meanings and subtleties that Minghella has crafted within the film.

Happiness (1998)
Love it or hate it... no middle ground on this black comedy, 30 January 2000

The vignettes are often funny with a great deal of pain in this brilliant film. This video will be hard to find, as many stores refuse to put it on their shelves due to the subject matter--one of the characters is a pedophile.

It begins with an encounter in a restaurant where Jon Lovitz condemns his date for wanting to break up with him. It turns out that everyone in this film is hurting in some way... eventually even the wife who "has it all" is put into a painful situation.

The one character I thought was "normal" turns out to be a murderer. This is the blackest comedy I can ever recall seeing.

The film itself is very well made. If you're open minded and enjoy offbeat, dark comedy, check it out. It's a trip!

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