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A Beautiful Mind (2001)
I went an saw "A Beautiful Mind" right before the Golden Globes because I figured Crowe would win the best actor award, and since I was still sore about his Oscar for the horrendous "Gladiator," I knew it would be best to see his performance in something a little more challenging.
I really liked "A Beautiful Mind." I thought that Ron Howard's directing was sort of pompous and self-serving, but he made a statement and I can forgive Opie for being selfish. I really liked Jennifer Connelly and thought that she was probably the best kind of actress for the role - not too famous, but not completely wet behind the ears.
The story, however warm and bubbly, misses reality somewhere....perhaps during the "love conquers all part." Someone else commented that it is dangerous to portray the life of a Schizophrenic as being curable once the patient finds their true love. The commentator noted that is unusual for someone with such an extreme case to have love beat the odds and then they certainly wouldn't be cured because of love.
Now here is my real beef with this movie....while it is BASED on John Forbes Nash, Jr., it is not a true story. Sure, he won the Pulitzer and yes, he was married to Alicia. In real life, however, he was divorced from Alicia and he had a long-time affair with a woman who bore him a son out of wedlock. While I have no personal gripe against the man and his decisions, I think it odd that the filmmakers would alter his life so much on the screen. And would, therefore, alter the reality of Nash and his disease.
While Crowe, Opie, and the lot might pat themselves on the backs and think they made a gripping tale about the life of a Schizophrenic paranoid, I hope that viewers will look past all the hype and see that this disease is not curable with love and may cause a person to never have the opportunity for love. That would be a greater and more tragic story....something that would deserve recognition and award - not the same old Hollywood sap.
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
Not the Book
I read "The Horse Whisperer" when it first came out in paperback. That was far before the movie was made and far before I had to enjoy a film that was so different from the book I so loved. That said, I didn't enjoy the movie the first time I watched it. I was disgusted, disappointed, and very upset with Redford for destroying the heart of the book.
The premise is the same: Girl gets in gory accident on horse. Friend dies. Girl loses leg. Horse loses spirit. Mom calls a loner in Montana (home of the big-sky country). So in these respect, Redford allowed we readers to get sucked back into the book all over again. He did an excellent job with the huge expanses and the scenes with the horses and him are very peaceful. He encompasses and inner-strength that comes across on the screen immediately.
Then come the differences: Tom should be a youger man! Redford wouldn't do a sex scene (which would give this story justice) because of his aging body. There should be a baby in the movie, but since there is no sex because of aforementioned body issues, there is no baby. There is no death at the end (I won't mention whose, but you readers will know). The climax of the movie is, frankly, anti-climactic. Instead of focusing on the love between two very strong, and very hurt characters, Redford focused on the horse. He missed that the horse was just a metaphor for all of them. There was no redemption!
Overall, the movie should be viewed without having read the book. As I continue to watch it, it becomes better and better. The furter I get from reading the beloved novel, the more I can respect this film as a completely independent piece of work. But if you love the book and are looking for the Tom and Annie that Evans wrote, read it again - don't rent Redford's version of them.
Runaway Bride (1999)
Let it grow on you.....
When I first saw this movie, following the wonderful "Notting Hill," I was less than thrilled. However, I have watched and watched and watched "Runaway Bride" and it really is a witty romance. What is particularly poignant about the film is the chemistry between Gere and Roberts. Though it seems very fast, it is completely natural for fans of "Pretty Woman," who saw these two fall in love a decade earlier.
Roberts is wonderful in this movie. She is completely comfortable, natural, and highly believable as the spunky Maggie Carpenter. Gere is cocky, weathered, and attractive as the misguided Ike Graham. The plot is predictable, but the first act is snappy and the climax is well-done. It may not please most people on the first run, but rent it again and you'll begin to see the subtleties that make it great.