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Beautiful, haunting, and denied the praise it deserves
Beloved is one of the best movies of the last decade. I have read many, many reviews which seem to have been written by those who have little to no idea of just how complex and difficult Toni Morrison's original novel can be. Of course Beloved (the movie) will be long, and of course it will be emotionally draining and even confusing - the book was! That said, I loved the novel and the film version of it, which follows the original material almost verbatim. (To try and change the story would be to tamper needlessly with a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning book). I am no Oprah nut but she obviously had a deep respect and understanding for the story, which is evident in her surprisingly understated acting. Thandie Newton was simply amazing; I am glad I watched the film if for nothing else than the chance to see her performance (which, to be honest, has helped a key facet of the book make sense for me). The production design is flawless, and, as always, Jonathan Demme proves he's more than above average as a director. If you like pulp trash and want your movies dumb, loud, and shallow, avoid the movie version of Beloved. But if you're looking for a magnificently acted and gorgeously produced film, see this movie the first chance you get. I'm very glad I did.
Criminally Insane (1975)
This movie is funny for all the wrong reasons - the horrible acting, the lamentable special effects, the bizarre music, and the $.57 budget. However, if you're in the mood for something a little, uh, offbeat and darkly comic, watch this. I have honestly never seen anything funnier than "Criminally Insane" and I would recommend it for anybody who likes the weird, cheap, and hysterical.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920)
A unique, influential, and fun film
Even though this is a silent film, even though it's 81 years old, and even though it's hard to find copies of it, watching it is well worth the effort. 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' is in the same period and style (German expressionism) as the more famous original version of 'Nosferatu,' and if you liked 'Nosferatu,' see this. In my opinion, 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' is better. Watching this is an experience. The sets, the costumes, and the general macabre feeling create and add to an incredible world of fortune tellers, sleepwalkers, and lunatics, and you never see the unusual ending coming. This film's style has influenced many of the horror films which followed it, and other films besides - check out 'Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas' and you'll see that even a stop-motion film has been affected by the unique feel and design of 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.' It's atmospheric, it's creepy, and it's a lot of fun.