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A Reminder of How Decadent the 90s Were...
This show was the thorn in the side for many lovers of wit, art and taste for an entire decade. This show just kept going, season after season, and none of us could figure out who the fools were that kept it on the air by watching it. Some of us suspected a terrorist plot to dumb down America; surely the ratings were rigged.
The show focused on up-scale yuppies whose glorified materialism provided most the plot fodder. The jokes were dumb and usually predictable. The acting was untrained and unfocused. There was no emotional connection between viewer and those on screen; when Rachel was pregnant there was a glimmer of hope she would die during child-birth. No such luck, of course.
Most episodes exploited human sexuality, but that is nothing new in 1990s television. Cheap sex captures attention and saves the writers from having to do any creative work.
The fact that unscrupulous network executives, producers, etc. broadcast this show with full knowledge and intent of it being seen by children is unforgivable. The show's main themes were not friendship (for a better understanding of Friendship Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is recommended) but rather hedonism, sexuality, materialism, and foolishness. Those who knowingly beamed this show to children made their pockets of dough, but on judgment day they just best not talk about their souls.
If you are looking for intelligent comedy, look elsewhere. As of this writing, IMDb recommends fans of this show also watch The Bob Newhart Show. This is ironic since both Newhart's main shows are brilliant. Friends, on the other hand, is trash. Fifty or a hundred years from now it will be watched as a mark of how decadent the 90s and early 21st century were.
Masked and Anonymous (2003)
I had read so many bad reviews of this movie. I'd read it was impossible to follow; I'd read that the dialogue was banal; Roger Ebert gave it half a star, claiming it was too ambiguous. So, when I saw Masked & Anonymous, I was prepared for the worse.
Instead, as soon as the movie began, and that Spanish Version of My Back Pages started playing to bomb explosions and imagery of a future gone wrong, I realize: I'm going to like this movie.
First, the plot, far too incredible to really explain here (And it sort of depends on your point of view anyways) is very creative in that it conveys an incredible amount of symbolism. On one hand, this is a movie that mocks rock music (Think of the scene where Uncle Sweetheart tells Fate "You're gonna play rock and roll get rich launch your career and bring world peace all at the same time!") On the other hand, this could be Dylan's way of telling us who he really is. "Maybe I'm just a singer and nothing more" he tells us. He's tired of being made to be a counter cultural liberal protester. He's tired of people who think he only writes anti-war songs. Think of the scene where a woman brings her daughter to see Dylan. When Dylan learns that the little girl knows all his lyrics he asks "What'd she do that for?" And the mother quickly responds "Because I made her." This movie is about so many things: You just have to see it and every time you see it again you'll see more.
Concerning the dialogue. Many people say the dialogue is contrived, banal, or mindlessly poetic. To such people I reccomend they read Shakespeare (He's in the alley). Dylan has been hailed as a modern Shakespeare, so it is not wonder that this movie has the same beautiful poetry that his songs do.
But I will grant this: Bad actors would never be able to pull off this script. And this was probably the movie's strongest feature: Incredible acting. John Goodman deserves an Emmy for his portrayal of the scheming Uncle Sweetheart. Val Kilmer shocked me with his ability to portray the crazed Animal Wrangler. Jessica Lange gave the best performance of her career. The list goes on... Mickey Rourke, Ed Harris, Christian Slater, all surprised me with brilliant acting.
If you have the chance to see this movie, just once, do so. And forgive its few shortcomings-- it was made on short notice, and its messages were meant to transcend all imperfections for movie rookie director Larry Charles. This movie will probably be forgotten one day, which is unfortunate, because rarely is a movie this original.