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The Matrix (1999)
An admittedly flashy movie but still worth its hype
THE MATRIX is, the second release by brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski (the pair responsible for 1997's erotic and excellent thriller Bound.) This movie has everything from special effects, action sequences, martial arts, amazing stunts, a nice dollop of humour and quite amazingly in a movie of this scale and budget an intelligent story to tell.
The cast all put in engaging and energetic performances. From Reeves as the bewildered hero, to the mystical Fisburne and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity (who is surely the sexist thing to grace the big screen in a very long time?).
The action sequence are all choreographed by the famed Yeung Wo Ping (who has notably worked with Jackie Chan) and he presides over the numerous fight sequences between Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and Agent Smith with an experts hand. He also employs the use of wire work (which help the actors achieve those amazing leaping motions) to great effect.
The result is a face paced and watchable action movie that doesn't ever become tedious even if it is slightly predictable.
American Beauty (1999)
An Inspirational Film
American Beauty is an inspirational film. I fully connected with Lester Burnham's rejection of tolerant living and his final redemption left this viewer in a positive mindset as I exited the cinema. The acting is exceptional with the performances of Kevin Spacey and relative newcomer Wes Bently standing out in particular.
However, certain elements of the movie are over-simplified at times, especially regarding some of the supporting characters. For example, Carolyn is exceptionally two-dimensional. She screams and sulks and schemes in a way that you could never envisage any real person doing and the end result is that she is more annoying for her unbelievability than her horrible personality.
Another criticism is that scenes between Thora Birch and Wes Bently are very lethargic and slow paced compared to the snappy speed of the rest of the film. But I admit that this is probably just nit picking on my part. After all, can you imagine trying to inject verve into a monologue about the beauty of a plastic bag being caught in the wind? I guess it just couldn't work any other way, so I'll forgive the film for that. Otherwise this movie is perfect in almost every way.
Over the years I've seen many films that I could classify as being masterpieces. But not too many of them actually MEANT anything to me. By that I'm talking about a film that actually makes viewers examine themselves to see what is good and bad about their lives. American Beauty is such a film.
In conclusion, American Beauty is a film that makes you feel good without ever falling into the trap of being a 'feel good movie'.