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You've Got Mail (1998)
NYC Tourism, pre 9/11
I don't care who you are.....you cannot dislike Tom Hanks, or even think that this movie is totally a chick flick. It's a whimsical movie that paid a high tribute to NYC. This movie was put out prior to September 11, 2001. It was the kind of movie that you watched, and suddenly wanted to go to New York and take a look around the upper west side and see for yourself it's mysteries, and rituals.
Remember when an instant message would startle you? Remember when you wandered into chat rooms and actually enjoyed doing so? Remember when you could spend hours and hours online and not think about the damage to your circulatory system? Yeah, me too! Now post 9/11 and post dial up connection for many of us, we watch the movie and marvel at how stark the AOL program looks. We see them dial up and think.....yeah, once that was the only way to connect.
We watch this movie, and we look for glimpses of the World Trade Centers. We know that building them back will eventually happen, but nothing will ever replace the way those buildings stood, and the majestic and formidable skyline that they painted for Manhatten. Those of us who are avid readers marvel at the books that are introduced in the movie, and smile recalling our days of youth when we read those same classic children's books.
We discover New York in the fall, and it's crispness. We see New York in the spring, and marvel out how much more alive everything seems no matter what time of the year it is. We see glimpses of winter, but even that does not deter the largest city in the USA from tourism, shopping, and daily strife. We get a sense of career driven people that seem to live, eat, breathe, and sleep work. Even to see them at a social gathering shows that they are there to make important contacts or be noticed in some sense of the word. We see a character who is an absolute introvert--that being Frank. We see the extroverted Meg Ryan trying to hold the relationship together, and not really sure why. Then we see what happens, and because she is not able to write boring narcissistic Frank off, she turns to the "dream of someone else" and discovers that there is nothing more powerful than the written word.
Modern technology in the internet has brought us back to the power of the written word. We can churn out notes, and communications quicker this way than by writing and mailing them via snail mail. Still this revelation is not without some hang ups. The internet legally is still etching the boundaries of what is permissible. In addition, there is a whole new breeding ground for trouble and perversion. Still, watching You've Got Mail is a positive and cheerful side to this stunning technology. It is a testament to the ever improving world of software, computers, communication, and life in general, while still holding onto the foundation of strong literary skills and classic books.
This movie holds a place of honor on my video shelf!
The Outsiders (1983)
If you haven't seen this movie by now.....what planet are you living on? Seriously. Released in 1983, this movie was a goldmine for the actors that were in it. Just about all of them either became part of the Brat Pack, or busted out solo on very lucrative careers.
Based on the novel of the same name, The Outsiders offers a look at a world filled with pain and strife no matter which side of the tracks you come from. Racial tension can come from your own race. Basically, people just don't get along sometimes, and for reasons that they do not always understand. Fighting solves nothing, but what else is there to do in a small town that borders big cities, and plays host to people from cut and dried walks of life?
S.E. Hinton wrote this novel when she was 16 years old. The book is sound, and the characters easily identifiable. The movie does well with the adaptation, but because it is geared towards a certain age group, can come off cheesy to adults.
It was great to see that Ralph Macchio can do something besides Karate, Tom Cruise does more than dance in his underwear, Patrick Swayze can fight with the best of them when he's not Dirty Dancing, Emilio Estevez can be young, and yet look so old. Rob Lowe had other friends besides the brat pack, C. Thomas Howell can pass off blond hair, and let's not overlook the lovely Diane Lane here! A performance often forgotten about is Leif Garrett before he became a teen heart throb.
If you have pre-teenage children, this is a movie that they should cut there soon to be adult teeth on. No matter what walk of life you are from, you will find something in this movie that you identify with.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Classic 80s for all Generations
Ah the Breakfast Club. Although I am a child of the 80's, I came along at the tail end of Generation X. The cast of The Breakfast Club were actors that I looked up to as a child, and still enjoy as an adult. I remember my own mother was a big fan of this movie, even though she was an adult with children.
Of all the "Brat Pack" movies, this remains my favorite. Even over two decades later, the movie still holds generations of people captive and sends us all into deep thoughts of our own glory days when we thought that life was BS, and that we had it tough. We were just a few years shy of seeing how tough life would be once we escape the protective circus tent known as high school.
Over and over you hear people wishing that a sequel to this film had been made. I am very glad there was not one. Surely we can't imagine this would have been a happily ever after for these characters. They came together one day, but like most high school relationships, all good things must come to an end. The closest thing to a sequel for this movie would be "St. Elmo's Fire" and again.....all good things must come to an end.
One thing that I loved most about this movie was the tell tale showing of intelligence in the least thought of places; the school janitor. The movie portrayed the janitor as being a hell of a lot smarter than the assistant principal. I have found in my life's experience this is quite believable. It's also sad. I believe that those employed by the education system could learn a very important lesson about young adults and the way their minds work. Youth knows when it's elders have forgotten how to see things. Youth knows how to use that against them. The moral is simple; stay young!
A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994)
Low Down Dirty Amusement
I found this movie to be quite over the top. Sure, the mass destruction is reminiscent of the Blues Brothers. Sure, the action and hype is quite over-rated. That's what makes Keenan Ivory Wayans the talent that he is. I find that I like to watch this movie when I am down in the dumps and in need of a distraction.
Jada Pinkett (later Smith) shines in this role. I have a sneaking suspicion that she's quite a lot like this character in real life. She made this movie, and I think it launched her for future good acting roles. Girlfriend doesn't ride Will's coatails, she's established on her own in my book.
The characters in the movie needed to be taken at face value, that was all they were worth. If you took an instant dislike to any of them, you were supposed to. The plot is a no brainer, and the jokes were quite funny even if you view this movie excessively. You WILL catch yourself wandering around saying lines from the movie....a true mark of a decent film.
I recommend it for a burst of energy on an otherwise boring weeknight. Happy viewing.
This movie remains a favorite of mine, although it has taken several viewings to figure out why. In the end, it's the good acting by the cast that saves it from being a total let down.
Holly Hunter shines as a police detective, tough, but still feminine. Aloof, but still accessible to those that take the time. Will Patton starts off good as a detective you like to loath, but then wimps out in the end with some unimaginative epiphany of why Hunter's character loathes him. That could have been avoided.
Sigourney Weaver. What can you say about Mrs. Weaver? Another good actress that tends to get lost in roles that fail to accent her acting chops. This role was more suited to her than the likes of Ghostbusters, Alien, and that horrid movie where she was a super hero of sorts. Unfortunately, she's confined to her apartment, so we are forced to focus on her mind and verbal wits only. Dermot Mulroney thankfully has been in better roles than this movie, but he did well as the Detective Cassanova that his role called for. There is a sense that he and Weaver's character had some sort of intimate liason somewhere in the mix, but the film's director got cold feet in 1995 and didn't bother with showing an "older woman, younger man" romance here. Pity. It might have made things interesting.
Harry Connick, Jr. Wow. What a performance! My goodness, I did a triple take on his role as a killer/stalker/freak. His voice to me was more frightening than the "gotcha" moments of the film with the tinkling annoying warning music. The last I have seen of him was Hope Floats and most recently Will and Grace. Another waste of talent, one hopes he gets a new agent or something! He should have expanded on this!
All in all, it's a good movie. Stretched thin in some places, but timeless overall. Definitely one that you'll revisit from time to time when there is nothing else on!
The Safety of Objects (2001)
The Objects Lost Me
I think I really wanted to like this film. Unfortunately, there were many elements that I found very cumbersome to the overall story/plot, or lack thereof.
The cast was really good, Dermot Mulroney, Glenn Close, Joshua Jackson. The idea of studying individual lives that share connecting threads is one that I usually find enticing. There were some deep seated demons within the group of characters. Among these demons, there seemed to be no consequences for their actions. I think the movie is incorrectly titled. There were no tangible objects within the film. At one point, you see Mulroney clinging to a stupid baseball mitt that he steals, what the heck was that all about? There there is his son that has a sexual relationship with a Barbie doll knock off. Hello, strange waters I choose not to swim in there.
Then there is Close attempting to win an automobile for her daughter, who makes it 71 hours into the competition, then suddenly gives up the fight because it's an automobile accident that caused her son to be in this paralyzed coma he's in through the whole movie. Incidentally, I'm not sure why the boy wasn't in the hospital here? A very weak plot is stating the fact kindly.
In the end, this whole mess of interwoven threads not unlike the silly friendship bracelet woven by a little girl who you think is a boy through most of the movie, is never completely tied off. The movie ends with this strange idea that it's okay to steal, murder, masturbate, have relationships with dolls, invite another young child to touch your private parts, cheat on your spouses, drink and drive, be irresponsible and promiscuous, and then wonder why you are depressed over God having a "wicked sense of humor" here?
I'm sorry that it kept me up in the wee hours of the night and I was crippled by my inability to look away from a car crash.....pun intended.
Chicago, A tribute to the Roaring Twenties
For many of us, we know only of the Roaring Twenties through our perusal of history. Chicago helps us catch a fictional glimpse, while sending the message of true reality: Justice is unheard of, it's all about glitter. Appearance means everything.
The actors that are cast in this movie were cast very well. Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones did not disappoint, and Renee Zellweger, who knew she could sing and dance! Excellent break out performance for her in a career that we thought had already burst at the seams. Queen Latifah's talents are showcased in this film as well, and not surprisingly, she is an absolute delight. I personally celebrate the day this talented woman began acting in addition to musical pursuits. I look forward to a continued fruitful career from this star!
The diamond in the rough in this movie is John C. Reilly. His performance of "Mr. Cellophane" blew me away, and lent that sympathetic note to an otherwise callous and cruel Chicago landscape. Personal favorite songs and performances for me are "Cell Block Tango" a sure fire energizer, and "We Both Reached for the Gun" a naughty glimpse into the world of the newsmedia puppets on a string, not unlike today's issues there.
I highly recommend this movie to any adult. I would definitely put the kiddies in bed for this one. Ladies, your husband or significant other will enjoy the show, plenty of scantily clad ladies dashing around. This film deserved the Oscar that it received.
A look into Harry's World
What a glorious look into the world of Harry Potter! If you have not read these books prior to viewing this movie, then you are selling yourself short of a magical experience. The movie condenses the book into a manageble timeframe, yet retains the over all golden tones of the beautiful wonder that Harry sees on his journey into an unfamiliar Wizard's world. With a keen sense of logic, and an unparalleled deliverance of an addicting storyline, this movie entices your imagination in ways that you never dreamed were possible. You will find yourself wishing with all your might that such a universe existed! A true delight for all ages, The Sorceror's Stone is the introduction to a long series of movies into Harry's world. Here we see it all begin as a young wizard learns of his past, embarks on the present, and etches out his future all in the blink of an eye.
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
Style and Class are still very much alive! (spoiler alert)
What is a bored acquisition to do, he is unable to find a woman that can keep up with him on her own without hints on who he is. This is a movie that had messages on many levels, and was an absolute joy to watch. We are in the know as to who did it, but what we didn't expect was to discover why.
We suspect it is because someone has too much money and time on their hands. Perhaps, but do look deeper, you'll be glad you did. I cannot say enough about Rene Russo, although it is my opinion that a better leading man could have escalated this movie higher. Denis Leary gives one of his best performances as a lead detective working with Russo's character, and Frankie Faison is not to be overlooked either in this movie. The cameo nod to Faye Dunaway should help bridge the time gap between this movie and it's predecessor, and further update it's setting to present times. A classic, perfect for an impromptu date night.
When the system fails (spoiler alert)
Sleepers is an account told by one of it's characters, the talented and wise Lorenzo Carcaterra. This movie sticks with the book, and makes wide use of simple narrative to convey the story without over extending the viewing time of the movie. The director was careful to avoid actually showing abuse and the horrible things that happened to the boys in this movie, choosing instead to allow what you don't see to fully impact the horror of the scenario.
The setting is Hell's Kitchen (present day Clinton, NY) and the backdrop is the uneasy and violent mix of races living in this neighborhood. Four friends find their lives irrevocably altered one hot summer day when a prank goes horribly wrong. The Judge sentences them in an exemplary fashion to an upstate Juvenile Detention center with apparent notoriety of harshness. The punishment did not fit the crime. The boys were too young to have been sent there in the first place, this made them easy targets for the events that unfold there after.
Half a lifetime later, the movie shows you what that type of young start can bring to the lives of these boys. Two of them have made something of themselves, the other two sought out a life of crime and shake downs. There is an old saying that you reap what you sow, and the opportunity to harvest presents itself when a chance encounter opens the door to one of the best and most justified revenge plots that I have ever read. In short, not only did the system fail these individuals as boys, but it failed to note there is no point in stopping inevitability. Using the same system that closed the door on them, two of the Sleepers gleaned revenge on four guards who deserve much more in the here after.
This is not a movie for children, or for young and impressionable minds. If you have been a victim of the system you identify strongly with the themes here. If you have never seen justice fail, then you may be skeptical or aghast at the story, but take my advice; it's better that way.