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She Fought Alone (1995)
better than most rape TV movie
Caitlin Rose (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) attends a private prom party with the popular jocks known as The Crew that includes a fun Carrie prank. After rejecting Jace, she hooks up with Ethan (Brian Austin Green). Jace is unrelenting and engineers Caitlin catching Ethan with another girl. Despite many rejections, Jace talks Caitlin to let him into her home. He rapes her while her mother (Isabella Hofmann) is away. Her little sister Junie hears the rape. Her friends don't believe her and everybody starts bullying her in favor of the football jock.
This is a teen rape network TV movie. It's surprisingly effective. I attribute that mostly on Thiessen. She has a very compelling persona and her character has a harrowing story. Brian Austin Green is also quite effective. It's more compelling than most in this genre.
Party Girl (1996)
I thought I liked it
Mary (Christine Taylor), and her friends Derrick (John Cameron Mitchell) and Oneal (Matthew Borlenghi) are party people in NYC. She gets arrested for charging entry fees into her illegal party. Librarian Judy Burkhard (Swoosie Kurtz) is her godmother and her only family. Judy dismisses her as being as irresponsible as her dead mother. She takes up the challenge and becomes a librarian clerk to the dismay of fellow clerk Wanda (Merrin Dungey).
I remember kind of liking this when it came out. Or else I thought Christine Taylor was hot. I don't think I ever thought it was funny. Almost twenty years later, I can safely say that it's not funny but yes, Christine was hot. This TV show is superior to the movie in only one aspect; Swoosie Kurtz. Mary's friends are not funny enough although I like Wanda. Everything is very fake in this show.
Party Girl (1995)
Parker Posey party
Mary (Parker Posey) is a 23 year old party girl in NYC. She gets arrested for charging entry fees to her illegal party. She needs to ask her librarian godmother Judy Lindendorf for bail. When she's dismissed as being irresponsible like her mother, she takes a library clerk job. Her best friend Leo is trying to be a DJ. She falls for the falafel street vendor Mustafa. She doesn't even know the Dewey Decimal System but if they taught a monkey to do it, how hard could it be.
Parker Posey is great. After her scene-stealing turn in Dazed and Confused, this was probably the next thing I saw her in. I love her. Interestingly, this also has an early Liev Schreiber performance. This indie has some fun unique lines but it's not that well shot. This needs a better director to bring out the quirky fun out of the screen.
My Family (1995)
grand Latino opera
Paco (Edward James Olmos) recounts three generations of his Mexican-American family. His father José Sanchez walked to L.A. where he marries his mother Maria. During the Great Depression in 1933, Maria is forcibly deported despite being a citizen. She is pregnant and Chucho is born in Mexico. It took her two years to return. In the late 50s, the large family is starting to clash. José kicks out his rebellious son Chucho (Esai Morales) out of the home. Chucho gets into trouble and killed by the police. Paco served in the Navy. Twenty more years later, youngest son Jimmy (Jimmy Smits) gets out of prison for armed robbery. Daughter Toni has left the nunnery and married priest David Ronconi (Scott Bakula). They're concerned about Salvadoran refugee Isabel.
The movie can feel a little rambling stretching out over such a long time period centering on the various characters. Each section has a compelling story. The first section is the epic journey for Jennifer Lopez. The second part is Esai Morales and the third is Jimmy Smits. Together, it paints a grand portrait of an American family.
too long, Dreyfuss great
Bernie Madoff (Richard Dreyfuss) was a trusted member of Wall Street and the chairman of Nasdaq. It shocked almost everyone when he's revealed to have run a giant Ponzi scheme. His wife Ruth (Blythe Danner) is clueless to the scheme and even his extra-marital affairs. He even cheats money out of his secretary Eleanor Squillari (Erin Cummings). His brother Peter (Peter Scolari) is troubled about his role as Chief Compliance Officer. His older son Mark is angry that he's not allowed to be involved in the company investments. His younger son Andrew also works for him and gets sick. Harry Markopolos (Frank Whaley) warned the SEC over and over again about the possible fraud at Madoff to no avail.
This two part network TV mini-series 2 x 2 hours is a bit too extended. As a drama, this would work much better compressed in half. The most important moment for me is back in the '29 when a young Madoff covered his client's losses. It explained how he started and the essence of what he's about. He's a confidence man. I don't need any more reveals about Madoff. That scene is eureka to Madoff and a perfect explanation of his character. The Harry Markopolos part provides some fun tension but that also gets played out. The rest about Bernie is a bit repetitive. I do not bemoan the secretary wanting a scene showing her being taken by Madoff. However, these self-serving scenes do pile up. The middle is a bit extended. Through it all, there is Dreyfuss doing great work.
The Snow Queen (1995)
not that good
Tom and Ellie live in a small town listening to their grandmother tell the story of the evil Snow Queen. The Snow Queen sends his trolls to set up her mirror but it shatters. Two shards get embedded into Tom turning him evil. The Snow Queen recovers the pieces and kidnaps Tom to put the pieces back together. Ellie sets off to rescue her brother Tom.
The animation style is basically 80s Saturday morning TV cartoon. It's perfectly fine. The songs are rather boring. There is an adventure born from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. It's comical with childish humor. It would be helpful if the story is more compelling but it's basically one extended road trip. It's not that good except for the littlest kids and I fear that even they could be bored.
complicated expositions but good sci-fi B-movie
It's 2078 on the planet SIRIUS 6B. The Berynium mining colony was run by the all-powerful the New Economic Block (NEB). The Alliance, mine workers and scientists, demanded mine closure due to the pollution. This led to the devastating war as the Alliance unleashed self-replicating weapons under the surface called Screamers. Col. Hendricksson (Peter Weller) commands an Alliance outpost. He receives an offer for peace negotiations. Ace Jefferson is the sole survivor of a mysterious transport crash. Hendricksson discovers the Screamers are being modified. With conflicting reports, Hendricksson believes that they've been abandoned. He takes Jefferson on a mission to negotiate with the surviving NEB soldiers.
The story is overloaded with background expositions. Sometimes, less is more. The movie needs to have one scene which reveals everything that is needed to know about the Screamers. Once that stuff is put away, this is a compelling sci-fi B-movie. Peter Weller is a solid sci-fi actor. I really like the premise but the expositions need to be tighter.
Richard III (1995)
classic play in new settings
The classic William Shakespeare play is reimagined with the world of WWII marrying a British monarchy. The rebel York family fights to put eldest son Edward (John Wood) onto the throne. His army is led by his youngest brother Richard (Ian McKellen) of Gloucester. After winning the war, Richard maneuvers his older brother Clarence into the Tower. Then he woos Lady Anne (Kristin Scott Thomas) after killing her husband and her father during the war. Edward is ill and Richard spreads the rumor that Queen Elizabeth (Annette Bening) is the one who had Clarence killed. He schemes to take out anyone on his quest for the throne.
It's fascinating to hear these classic lines being spoken in new settings. It's refreshing for fans of Shakespeare. For others, it doesn't make Shakespeare automatically accessible. The production is well made and the acting is superb. The hunchback is gone though. This is an intriguing exercise.
Pocahontas: The Legend (1995)
nice to see native actors
This is the legendary story of English settlers arriving and establishing the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Pocahontas is the daughter of Chief Powhatan. She befriends Captain John Smith and even saves him after he's captured by the tribe. It's a romance set with a backdrop of a clash of cultures. Smith often clash with the other leaders including the arrogant Sir Edwin Wingfield (Tony Goldwyn).
First of all, I do praise the use of real native actors. I don't think Sandrine Holt is native but there are many others in the cast. It is questionable about the historical accuracy and the movie covers that by naming it "Pocahontas: The Legend". It tries not to portray the natives as savages. However, it doesn't really have the gritty realism. Lead actor Miles O'Keeffe doesn't have the charisma and it would have been much better to have Tony Goldwyn play the part. The Canadian production doesn't have much in terms of value. This is a limited film.
Nick of Time (1995)
intriguing thriller premise
Accountant Gene Watson (Johnny Depp) arrives on the train with his daughter Lynn from San Diego. Mr. Smith (Christopher Walken) and Ms. Jones (Roma Maffia) are debating about people at the train station and pick out Gene and his daughter. They flash a badge and take them back to their van. They kidnap his daughter and demand that he murder Gov. Eleanor Grant (Marsha Mason). He has less than ninety minutes. With Smith watching over him, he is finally able to convince Grant's assistant Krista Brooks (Gloria Reuben). Smith kills her revealing a big conspiracy within Grant's inner circle. Gene has only shoeshine guy Huey (Charles S. Dutton) to turn to.
It's an intriguing premise of a thriller taking place mostly in real time. It does feel like the movie is trying too hard. Walken keeps coming by injecting his weirdness as threats. It needs a few moments of quiet to build up the intensity. I would also think that Gene would take the shot when he has Jones cornered with his daughter. There are a few moments where the movie stuck me as wrong. I like the premise more than the result.