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Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Emotionally exhausting yet magical and wonderful.
"Dancer in The Dark" is about a mother, Selma, who will do anything for her son, Gene, so that he will not suffer from her disease ( which is going blind ). She moved to America from Czechoslovakia, so he can get eye surgery. But she has to work day and night in a metal factory to raise him the money for surgery. Her only escape from her tired and dreary life is her imagination where every little noise turns into a musical. In her mind, she can see and sing and dance and everything is happy. Just when she raises enough money for her son's surgery, everything takes a turn for the worse when her friend and neighbor, Bill, runs into financial trouble. Its Selma's own strength and will that gets her into the mess she winds up in, but its all for her son, Gene, so he can see his grandchildren.
I can understand why people do not like this movie, but I other hand love this movie and was strongly moved by it. The use of digital camera might not have been the wisest choice. The editing in the beginning is choppy and the weird close-ups and shaky camera movement sometimes takes the impact of the scene away. The only time I think a person can really feel at ease technically and visually with this movie is during the dance numbers, because then the picture is brighter and of a higher quality and more steady. But I think that was the point. In Selma's imagination the world is brighter, higher quality, and steady. It's a better world. The songs are beautiful. If you sit back and close your eyes the lyrics bring tears to your eyes. Especially the songs "I've Seen It All", "Scatterheart", "Next To Last Song", and "New World". But the gem of the movie is Bjork's performance!! She plays Selma as a woman who has the entire weight of the world on her shoulders, who can still be happy and maintain a child-like view of the world. The moments when she smiles at the slightest happy things brought tears to my eyes. Her performance is dead on, and to have it not be recognized by the Academy is just WRONG! There was more heart and sweat and tears in Bjork's thumb then in all of Julia Roberts's cleavage and talent in "Erin Brockovich". But I believe that because this movie wasn't recognized that well except at Cannes just makes it more special. You have to discover it yourself because I think a lot of problems with movies lately is that they're really overrated or underrated and you go in a theatre or rent a movie thinking what people say and not really just sit back and enjoy the movie. Another reason why I don't think people like this movie is because of the intensity of it. Its emotionally exhausting, gut-wrenching, and doesn't leave you in a good mood. It makes you angry and hurt. And a lot of people don't go to see movies to feel horrid.
I loved this movie. I hated watching it because it brings out a lot of sadness in me. I wouldn't recommend this movie to just anyone. It takes a person who appreciates the small things that actors do (like smiles or glances and emotion in words), not just someone who expects an actor to look good and says funny one-liners to move a predictable plot along. I think a lot of the magic that Bjork put into Selma comes from her actions and facial expressions. I recommend this movie to people who have felt sympathy for a fictional character. Someone who can take something from a movie and feel its power and not dismiss it as 'just another movie'. It's not for the faint of heart or the easiest of crier. If the sentimental moments of a romantic comedy get you broken up, this movie is definitely not for you. This movie is one-of-a kind and delightfully strange. It can only be embraced by a few people, almost like Bjork's music. It can be only understood and loved by a few people, but in my opinion it is wonderful.
Matt Damon breaks out of the male hottie mold, but Edward Norton has the best performance!
Matt Damon proves that he is one of the most talented younger (but no too young) actors out in the movie business. I wasn't expecting much from this film because it was being overshadowed by all the hype "GOOD WILL HUNTING" and Matt and Ben Affleck received. So when television programs and magazines were making a big deal that Matt and Ben weren't in a movie together (heaven forbid!) I wasn't quite sure whether I would like this movie. I had another reason for my doubt: Along with Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio had a lot of attention from his 1997 movie as well (titanic), and his follow up movie, "MAN IN THE IRON MASK" was just a fair attempt at OOH A LEO FLICK! Leo's bland performance in that movie made me believe that young hotties only have enough fire to do one really good movie, get heavy publicity, and then they fizzle and take a couple years off for partying or self discovery. Well...Matt Damon totally changed my opinion. He proves he can handle the publicity and still dish out good movies that everyone (including his fans) could enjoy. "Rounders" is an excellent and thrilling movie featuring an awesome cast. Edward Norton is superb as the jerky best friend, Worm. His performance is better than Matt's! (See him in "Primal Fear", "American History X", and "Fight Club") The supporting characters are excellent as well (Martin Landau, John Tuturro). I do concede to the fact that John Malkovich's Russian accent is a bit obnoxious, but I love him anyway. At least he attempted at an accent. In his movies where everyone else around him is speaking in a fake accent ("Dangerous Liasons", "Mary Reilly"), he stands out with his regular voice. Maybe he likes to stand out. I love the story and the whole ending. It had me talking to the television, and if movies get that reaction out of me, it's definitely not a dud. I would recommend this movie to anyone!
Stealing Beauty (1996)
Beautiful Scenery with Ugly Plot holes
First I'll start with the good things of this film before I begin ranting: 1. The scenery was beautiful 2. Joseph Fiennes is in it 3. See #1 But one must know that scenery does not make a movie or does an extremely minor character make a movie. So what I have left is what I didn't like about the movie. It was way too long for what it covered, but for some reason it left me with question marks running through my head. I felt that Jeremy Irons's character was underdeveloped and I didn't feel the importance or the chemistry between him and Liv Tyler. His character wasn't the only one underdeveloped. Many actions weren't explained - like Why does Christopher get on a computer and use Lucy's name in a chatroom? Why does Liv Tyler like the guy who she first believes is her father? The world may never know. There was so much emphasis on the sex and nudity in this movie that I believe the makers forgot the storyline in a lot of the parts. Movies like "The End of the Affair" and "Shakespeare in Love" which use nudity and sex to represent love, art, and beauty succeed at continuing the story and not losing itself among the beautiful actors. Liv Tyler flaunts herself a lot in this movie. It made me wonder why she would ever argue with Martha Fiennes over not doing a nude scene in "Onegin". Because she sure bared her soul in this movie and didn't seem bothered by it. Maybe I didn't pay attention. I was too distracted by the numerous scenery shots I guess. Maybe there was some deep message that I missed. But the only deep thing I could think of is that this movie is just deep in fodder. Phew! Don't bother!
The English Patient (1996)
...to sleep to.
Even though I absolutely hated this movie it does have a few good things about it.
1) Excellent music - I personally believe Marta Sebestyn has a beautiful voice.
2) The scenes shot in the desert were beautiful (but overdone)
3) One of my favorite actors, Ralph Fiennes, is in it (but I do forgive him for that)
But even though those things were good, I hate this film with a passion and I give kudos to the Seinfeld episode where Elaine doesn't understand why people love this movie. And like the character Elaine, I do not understand why people and The Academy Awards liked this movie.
1) Juliette Binoche's character was very bland to me and her dialogue seemed unrealistic.
2) The beginning needs a lot more coal in the fire. With all the energy in it, you might tune out before the real action hits. And even then the action is next to nothing.
3) I don't feel any passion or love between Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas. Their "love" scenes are more comedic than passionate. Couldn't they kiss like normal human beings??
4) I never feel that Colin Firth is a jealous husband until the very end.
5) And the line "You can't kill me. I died long ago." didn't make sense to me. Wouldn't that mean his love for Katherine was nothing? He was dead during that relationship? Wow. What a powerful love story.
6) Isn't the movie "Fargo" on the top 100 movies of all time? So why didn't it win the Academy Award for Best Picture? Maybe it wasn't commercial enough.
So don't waste practically 3 hours of your time with this movie. Not unless you want an almost 3 hour nap. If you want to see Fiennes as a cynical lover see "The End of the Affair". An excellent movie with all the good things about the "The English Patient" with an exception of the desert. If you want to see the REAL best movie of 1996 see "Fargo". And if you want to see a good movie directed by Anthony Minghella see "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (even though its adaptation was far from faithful to the book.) Or you could watch a slug race because it has the same pace of "The English Patient" and just about as much excitement.
Strange Days (1995)
Ralph Fiennes at his best!
This movie has grown on me and earned the title MY FAVORITE MOVIE. This is my favorite role of Ralph Fiennes's. He's absolutely enchanting as Lenny Nero. Especially in the scene where Faith (Juliette Lewis) is singing and his eyes spark and you can feel his pain almost.
I must admit this though, Juliette Lewis is my least favorite actress. She can only play white trash or stupid women. Her voice isn't pleasant at all so the line of "...lift the whole world up to Heaven in one voice..." is just laughable.
Angela Bassett is awesome and presence is awesome as well. Her lectures could certainly lift people up to Heaven.
But I can't point out a part of the movie that I really dislike. I just love every second of it. And really when I think about it, the future it depicted is just a characterization of what it really is now. Kids shooting kids. High gas prices. All said in the movie. Kind of creepy.
Spandex is a privilege, not a right.
I happen to like this movie because it is just fun to watch. If I'm bored, I can easily become unbored by watching this movie. The soundtrack is awesome and it introduced me to electronic music. I never liked it until I saw "Hackers". I love the clothes and the visuals. I knew it wasn't accurate from the minute I saw it, but then again, it's not like it was posing itself as some movie that depicted the real life of cyberpunks. It's just fun little movie. Though some of the dialogue is a bit cheesed up, it is quotable.
I especially enjoyed the performance by Matthew Lillard. It made me look forward to seeing him in "Scream" later on. He is so funny. I enjoyed Angelina Jolie, though this is hardly one of her best performances.
The only person who really didn't belong in this movie was Lorraine Bracco. She just looked strange in her role. Other than that, this movie was a good movie and it shouldn't be bashed because it depicts people, technology, and life inaccurately. What movie ever does? I'm from Iowa and do you think movies depict Iowan's lives exactly the way they are? No. But I'm not out to fertilize the lawn with "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?".
Scary Movie (2000)
Makes the Farelly brothers seem more like Anthony Minghella
I didn't know what to expect from this movie except the fact that I knew it wasn't going to be high in the intelligence factor judging from the previews. I never really thought I'd ever actually push myself to see this movie but a few of my friends wanted to go and since they worked at the movie theater we could get in for free. So enough about me.
Since I knew it was going to be stupid I wasn't entirely shocked by some of the "humor" (I do use the term lightly). All the bits that were the funniest and most tasteful were all given away in the previews so it received a mild laughter from the audience.
I DO think the Wayans brother took a wrong turn when parodying "The Usual Suspects". I love that movie and it just left me in a bad mood when I left the theater. But then again, they could have found away to gross that parody up like all the other parodies. But "The Usual Suspects" is an intelligent movie that most of "Scary Movie"'s target audience (judging from my experience) haven't seen so everyone was quiet for the last five minutes of the movie because no one got that joke.
The character Doofy was horrible. None of my friends laughed when he was on screen. They just wanted him to die. At least the Wayans brothers didn't have him in a lot of scenes.
The thing that saved me from totally hating this movie was that it didn't parody "Shakespeare in Love". It showed clips of it! Yes! Looking at Joseph Fiennes face for a few seconds lifted up my spirits in this movie full of pretty much garbage.
Just to sum up what I think I'm trying to say is that you shouldn't go to this movie expecting comedy or really any substance. You should expect a gross-out piece of film that targets teens because they would be the only group of people that would talk about this movie.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Blows the "English Patient" away! Matt Damon is wonderful! One of the best pictures of this year!
I was very interested in this film when I saw the previews for it. The premise sounded exciting and the cast seemed excellent. (Matt Damon is one of my favorite actors and I've been in love with Cate Blanchett since Elizabeth).
But then I read up on the movie and discovered it was directed by Anthony Minghella. So I was convinced that it was going to be more like "The English Patient" - A slow, boring film going at the pace of Speedy the Wonderslug that was like a travel book of North Africa as opposed to a REAL movie.
I was dead wrong.
The beginning is full of cuts that are very fifties style. I wish those kind of cuts were throughout the movie, but oh well. It was just cool.
After seeing this movie, I was confused about all the hype around Jude Law. Yes, I think he did an excellent job, but it is understandable that Michael Cain won the Oscar instead of him. The performance that baffled me was Matt Damon's. He was breaking out of the smart good guy role into the smart bad/sort of good guy (because I don't think Matt could ever play an idiot.) The way that his character of Tom Ripley was portrayed and written was similar to Norman Bates. You wouldn't expect this kind of guy to do such a thing, but after he does in the back of your mind your rooting for him. (Like in "Psycho" when the car doesn't sink in the pond at first.) He should have so gotten an Oscar nomination for best actor.
The other performances were excellent as well. Cate did a wonderful job with her character who didn't appear very often in the movie. Gwyneth Paltrow was okay. There were sometimes when I wondered what accent she was doing this movie in. Anyone could have been cast as her role. There was nothing too challenging about it.
All in all I thought it was a wonderful movie. It proved to me that Anthony Minghella can make something exciting. There were points that this movie needing cutting (I didn't need to know Dickie Greenleaf like the back of my hand). Had it been cut so, it would have probably gotten an Oscar nomination for best picture.
I could have watched something better.
I didn't think this movie was very funny. I remember laughing once, but I don't remember exactly when. I thought it was a waste of talent, and it was awfully boring considering how funny the cast COULD have been. Tim Curry is much funnier in fish nets. Christopher Lloyd is great in "Back to the Future". I've always thought Madeline Kahn was funny in "Young Frankenstein" and "Mixed Nuts". And I like Colleen Camp better in "Flirting with Disaster". So really, I could have watched something better for an hour and a half.
Batman Returns (1992)
I want Catwoman Returns
This is probably my favorite of the four Batman movies because I love the whole weirdness to it. It's not faithful at all to what Catwoman and Penguin are really like, but I really don't care. I love how this movie was made and Danny Elfman's and Siouxsie and the Banshee's music adds the right touch of emotion. I love the relationship between Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle. It makes me angry in "Batman Forever" when Nicole Kidman is all over Batman, and I just want Catwoman to claw her. The ending is awesome and very "Tim Burton-esque" and when I first saw that movie my eyes were tearing. Partly because it's sad (oops is this a spoiler?) and partly because the picture of dark Gotham City being illuminated by the snow and the Bat Signal is sort of beautiful to me. I also think Christopher Walken is awesome no matter what.