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epic tale of jazz music, friendship, romance and .magic.
The story, told by the main character's best friend Max (Pruitt Taylor Vince) takes place on the Virginian, one of the luxurious ocean liners of the Titanic-era. It's an epic tale of jazz music, friendship, romance and
.magic. A baby boy is found on the Virginian by one of the ship's stokers. He names the boy after the name on the crate he was found in: T.D.Lemon. Since it's the turn of the century, 1900 is added as his surname. Tim Roth is 1900. Or more accurately: Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900. It turns out that 1900 is a special boy. His gift for the piano makes him a legend. But in order to experience the the piano sound of the legendary master, you have to make a cruise because 1900 never sets foot on land!
The only one to come close to the way 1900's mind works is his friend and colleague Max, an accomplished trumpet player in the ship's band. As Max puts it: `You're never really done for as long as you got a good story and someone to tell it to'. And boy does he tell a beautiful story. A story that will keep you mesmerized all through the film. There are scenes that will definitely put a smile on your face. For instance the scene when 1900 tries to cure Max from his seasickness by offering him a ride on his piano! And what about the piano duel? Watch this movie and find out for yourself. A heart-warming, touching movie with a touch of magic. Highly recommended.
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
One of those rare moments in film making
I remember the first time I saw this movie on TV I was pleasantly surprised by the subject. To compare it with other movies is quite difficult because nothing seems to come to mind. The screenplay is by Wallace Shawn and André Gregory who both star as themselves in this intriguing movie. After viewing the movie again on VHS and later on DVD, I must say I still enjoyed it as much as the first time I saw it. The story is about two friends who haven't seen each other for years and they decide to meet in a chic New York restaurant. It is in this restaurant where the entire movie takes place. Having been abroad for some years, André recounts his adventures to Wallace while they're enjoying their meal. By the time desert arrives, André and Wallace find themselves discussing their fears, their loves and the intricacies of life. When the cheque arrives, one of the two men will never look at the things in his life the same way as he did before.
I couldn't help feeling I was eavesdropping on an intimate conversation when watching this movie. Definitely not for all tastes, `My dinner with André' is as different from the standard Hollywood fare as it gets. If you don't mind trying something different then this movie fits the bill. The San Francisco Chronicle called it `An adventure through a magically cracked looking glass'. The Newsweek magazine `A unique and provocative film, ironic, funny, crazy and moving.' I'd like to add that this movie is about sharing special moments in life with a good friend and becoming enriched by it. A must see by my standards.
Strange Days (1995)
Fairly decent but with some shortcomings.
Shortcomings in the form of casting, for instance. Then there's the acting. Let's not mention the story and sub plots...I just can't take Fiennes' role of Lenny too seriously. As a former cop turned dealer in one of the sleazier L.A. subcultures, he does strike me as being too sensitive. Seeing him throw up after watching (I should say "experiencing") a murder, you might think he came across this kind of stuff along the line of duty. Well, he probably had a desk job and never came out of the house plus he didn't own a TV-set. Who knows, I just found the character unbelievable. Juliette Lewis tries to compensate for her lousy performance with frontal nudity in almost every shot she's in. I think Basset and Sizemore make the most out of this good but not-so-good-executed story, although Basset tends to overact. If visuals are your thing, than by all means, give this movie a try. I myself love a good visual experience (no pun intended) but I'm sad to say there's not a whole lot of it in Strange Days. Even considering its vintage. If you expect to see a great movie (as I did, judging from the general hype around it) you're bound to feel somewhat disappointed. All in all I'd rate it a solid 7 if it weren't for the ridiculous ending. All through the movie we're confronted with an upcoming revolution. Towards the end of the movie, the message of this revolution and unrest is driven home even harder, but what happens at midnight? Yep, no revolution, everyone's cheering. As if revolution is a tap you just shut off. Very unconvincing. Apart from all these quib's, the movie is pretty enjoyable but definitely not collector's material.
Foster at her peak.
It's easy to point out the flaws in "Nell". The sub plots that are left to waste, the "Taster's Choice" ending, and above all, failing to delve deeper into the psyche of Nell instead of dwelling too much on scenery and loose shots. Too easy. But let's concentrate on the good. And there is much to love about this movie, not in the least Fosters brilliant acting. I remember when I saw this movie in the theater for the first time, I was totally convinced by her acting. During the entire movie I never doubted for a second that Foster was "Nell". This is the best compliment I could give any actress or actor.
The Accidental Tourist (1988)
I agree to almost every word reviewer Takatomon wrote. One of this movie's greatest merits is that it deals with issues in life in a unpolished and natural way. It's easy to understand how this movie can be overlooked by the majority of viewers as this movie isn't for the majority of viewers. That is, the majority that's expecting to be entertained in the Hollywood style of film making. With that I mean those "strong" performances we all want to see from characters as Hoffman in "Rain Man" or Hanks in "Forrest Gump". Or vast visuals, filmed in the broadest scope, or action packed sequences. Not in "The Accidental Tourist". What you do get is William Hurt in what I think is one of his best roles as Macon Leary, writer of travel guides and Geena Davis in an exquisite role as the pet store owner. I've admired actors for the way they can portray mentally or socially challenged people (Rainman, Forrest Gump, Of mice and men, etc.). These parts tend to win the Oscars. But I'd rather give one to Hurt for his portrayal of Macon Leary because this character doesn't show obvious signs of any handicap. Actually Macon is very plain. What can be more difficult than acting out a role of a person who's personal qualities don't jump at you right away? "The Accidental Tourist" is a movie of high quality and should be given a fair chance.
Wo hu cang long (2000)
A different cinematographic language.
I once commented on Bruce Lee's superlative martial arts skills at my local video rental store, when a customer replied that if I wanted to see some real martial arts, I should watch CTHD. Expecting to see just that, I was very, very disappointed. Apart from beautiful scenery and good acting I just couldn't get into this movie because the fighting and flying scenes, which were so contradicting any notion of martial arts that I have that I just couldn't take this movie seriously. I cannot believe people who comment on this movie as being one of the best martial arts movie of the last decade. Maybe because I had training in martial arts that my viewpoint differs, but I can't imagine someone defying gravity for extended periods of time no matter how much training you've had. Everybody manages to see the emperor's new clothes, I just can't. Apart from that, CTHD is in a cinematographical language that's unfamiliar to me. I still believe Bruce Lee's fighting techniques are among the best ever put on film. To those who want to see good fighting scenes, I'd recommend any of his films or documentaries featuring Shaolin monks. But please, not CTHD!
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
On the whole, SFOC is not a bad movie, there's James Newton Howard's music, there's the childhood sweethearts, there's the drama (the internment of the Japanese americans during WWII), there's the courtroom, there's the exquisite scenery, even more drama (a suspected murder), suspense, etc,etc. My quib is that SFOC wants to be all of the above; it wants to be all of it *and* artistic *and* intelligent to boot. In fact I feel that Scott Hicks really wants to make it all work and in the process stumbles over all those ingredients. A passionate movie maker, Scott Hicks, but he doesn't persuade. Dealing with flashbacks and juxtaposition of images and sounds can become too much of a good thing especially when the editor wants it so badly he too takes a stumble or two. At one point the mixing of two pieces of music written in different keys and different tempi in one scene seemed so inappropriate, I wondered if the editor wanted to make me feel elated, melancholy or just confused. The courtroom scene is a good example of artistic self-consciousness pushed so far as to become distracting. Pity, because there's nothing wrong with the story or the ingredients; it's just the director trying too hard.
Historically inaccurate but sublime in every other aspect
Amadeus is a great movie and gains in quality after repeated viewing. It's right up there in my top ten list. Why historically inaccurate? Well, I am a big Mozart fan and I've read all the published letters he wrote to his father. Believe me, if Mozart had a disliking to someone, he'd mention it to his father without having reservations. If Mozart ever mentions Salieri in his letters, he refers to him as his colleague and doesn't have one nasty thing to say about him. Salieri never commissioned or helped Mozart with the Requiem score nor did he poisoned him (which also has been rumored) nor did he work him to death. I feel sorry for Salieri because he himself had only nice things to say about his colleagues. I think he deserves better and wonder why he's being portrayed as such a villain. (Bad enough for him no one knows his music...) By the way: Mozart's outrageous giggle which everyone loved and was the onset of an imitation-contest in Italy was "made in Hollywood". If the makers of Amadeus would have read the letters he wrote to his wife and niece, they could have dispensed with the fabricated intrigues and use factual material that would make Milos Forman's Mozart look like a choirboy. But hey: I still love to watch this movie, even for the umph-th time! Thanks Milos!
Sophie's Choice (1982)
Emotionally powerful, a very strong story and great acting.
Not many movies I've seen could carry away a top rating. Sophie's choice just made it there. Apart from a good story and very good acting, this movie has some fine little details in the editing as well that only caught my eye after repeated viewing. My favorite scene is (of course) where Sophie has her "choice" forced upon her by the SS Doctor played by Karlheinz Hackl. (In his book, William Styron gives him a fictitious name: Dr. Jemand von Niemand, literally translated as: Dr. Somebody of Nobody.) The ensuing scene is truly heartrending and must be every mother's worst nightmare...
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
If you're not a SF fan, go ahead and watch this movie. The brilliance of 2001 is that not only SF buffs will enjoy this masterpiece. I'm not the one to hype over a movie out of infatuation but I must say 2001 is a delight to the senses and the brain. Screenplay writer Arthur C. Clarke once commented that if anyone understood "2001:A Space Odyssey", he would have failed with his story. If you decide to give this movie a try, remember to take your time and sit back comfortably. The movie runs at 143 min. and the pace is (very)leisurely. Make sure you have your widescreen projector nicely tweaked and the speakers well set up. Most of all: Forget what you know about SF movies and start viewing with an open mind. My first 10-rating for Stanley Kubrick.