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Sophie's Choice (1982)
A Great, Literate Movie
This is one of the best films I have ever seen. It is a thought-provoking, literate movie with great performances from Streep, Kline, and MacNicol. The use of poetry and eloquent narration by MacNicol's Stingo give the film an added beauty. The plot is well-crafted, and will keep you guessing until the end. The film is not entirely without flaws; for instance, there was at least one scene that could have been completely removed, and the depiction of the concentration camp was soft-pedalled. Nevertheless, this is a film that everyone should see.
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The film is often annoying, has very little in the way of truly funny jokes, and is unoriginal. Many of the jokes have been recycled from the previous Austin Powers movies, something that the film itself acknowledges. The film brags about its lack of originality! Beyonce Knowles is unamusing as Cleopatra, and often just stands around watching while Mike Myers mugs. She is not as effective as Elizabeth Hurley or Heather Graham. The character of Goldmember is ill-conceived and less than amusing. As my father, who watched it with me, noted, "The character wasn't even one dimensional; he's half-dimensional." The only jokes associated with him either fail to bring even a chuckle, or grow old very quickly. Finally, the film is laden with annoying celebrity cameos that distract from the action. The celebrities in question should fire whoever talked them into appearing in this garbage.
Interesting character study
This film documents the life of Dian Fossey, from the beginning of her work with the mountain gorillas to her decline into obsession and psychotic behavior. The film has wonderful special effects and great scenery. Furthermore, Weaver gives a marvelous performance as Fossey, making her descent into madness all too believable. The film does have some flaws, though. Julie Harris actually only appears for five minutes in the film (which disappointed me, since she received an honorary degree from my school.) Furthermore, the African actor who plays Fossey's guide has a larger role than either Harris or Bryan Brown, yet is listed further down in the credits. Finally, the film tries to put a happy spin on what is actually a tragic story, and tries to justify Fossey's actions.
Little Men (1940)
Way Too Cute
This film is cute to the point of being saccharine sweet. It tells the story of a too good to be true school mistress and her pupils, and of a rough and tumble young boy whose life they touch. The treatment of the youngsters is improbable given the time period the film takes place in, and the film has a trite ending that ignores the realities of the situation the boy is in. Finally, the film features the original Bessie the Cow; that fact alone makes it too cute.
The Hours (2002)
One of the Strangest Major Studio Movies in Years
This is one of the strangest movies put out by a major studio in a while. It does not have a linear format; instead, the film unfolds like a novel, which is appropriate since it revolves around literature. The focus shifts between several different stories at various points in time. Events are connected to one another by association rather than simple coming one after another.
This film is truly excellent. The cast is great; they must have taken pay cuts to appear in this film, otherwise it would have cost close to $100 million. Julianne Moore is particularly good in her role; she should have won the Oscar. It was also good to see Claire Danes again, because she has not acted in a while. (I think she was in college.) The make up in the film is also superb.
The Fly (1986)
Cronenberg at his best
This is one of the best horror movies ever made. It combines some truly gut-wrenching violence with a touching story of lost love. Jeff Goldblum gives an excellent performance, moving from amusing to bizarre to out-right terrifying. Geena Davis is also good as his lover; the two display great chemistry with each other, possibly because they were getting married at the time. It's a pity they broke up; they worked well together. John Getz is good as Davis's ex-boyfriend; unfortunately, few directors have ever made use of him.
This is one of David Cronenberg's best films. It combines his excellent use of special effects with his talent for extremely odd, engrossing stories. It apparently took him three years to make this film after completing Videodrome. It was well-worth the effort. It illustrates his transition from a producer of gory horror movies to a director of intellectually challenging freak shows such as Dead Ringers and Naked Lunch.
A Great War Comedy
This is truly the best military comedy ever made. It is funny, yet it realistically depicts the savagery of war and the non-chalance it gradually inspires in its victims. For example, some of the funniest, yet also most disturbing, moments in the film come when the doctors are operating on wounded soldiers, complete with gruesome sound effects, yet are discussing extremely trivial matters.
The film also benefits from some great performances. Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould were excellent as Hawkeye and Trapper John. They both had a streak of good movies during the 70s. Robert Duvall is amusing as a pious major whose fanaticism drives our heroes to extreme measures. Sally Kellerman and Tom Skerrit also put in good performances in their roles; it is a pity that these two actors are not better utilized nowadays.
The Matrix (1999)
Thoughtful yet action packed science fiction
This is one of the most interesting movies to come out in the past decade. It examines philosophical questions involving reality and fate, just like "2001: A Space Odyssey" and other similar movies, yet it also provides brutal violence and excellent special effects in the tradition of "Aliens." Furthermore, it has some of the best costumes in recent memory, at least in my opinion. The only drawback to this film is that it is so complicated you will need to watch it again if you hope to understand any of the sequels.
Wag the Dog (1997)
One of the Most Prescient Political Movies Ever
This is easily the most accurate political satire ever committed to film. It shows the potential for government to manipulate media during times of crisis, whether political scandal or war. This film has repeatedly come true since it came out, first during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and now in the War on Terrorism and Iraq. Furthermore, the film is extremely funny, with great performances from Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson. Everyone should see it.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
An Excellent Sequel
This movie more that lives up to the original. It retains the violent action of "The Matrix" while increasing the complexity and philosophical depth of the original. The cast gives great performances, especially Fishburne as Morpheus and Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. You will never be able to predict the ending, which will leave you highly anticipating the final installment.