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Energetic and well produced, but why praise it so much?
First off, unlike most reviewers who give this a lukewarm or low rating, I'm not interested in the politics of this movie. That said, what's up with the reviewer who said the only people who dislike this film are thin-skinned Englishmen? I certainly am not one.
People here have praised this film for it's acting. Mel Gibson's 'Scotsman' would be a poor attempt at serious acting, if it weren't for the fact that he seems to realize that the role is far above his abilities and so he plays it, literally, as a cocky 1980s American action hero in a medieval British setting. The story reads like it was written by someone who read a book called "Shakespeare 101." The themes are laughably simple: Freedom! Love! Fight for your country! - but to his credit, this is just the sort of one-dimensional fluff Gibson directs so well. The images and music may be stirring at first, but the schmaltz is so thick this film does not stand up to repeated viewings.
Two years later came another big-budget overproduced 3-hour 'epic', with similarly simple themes - this time though, with the love angle at the forefront. It won some of the same Oscars and even had a score by James Horner. That film was Titanic and just like Braveheart, it was well done and just 'worked' for many people. But over the years people were smart enough to look beyond the surface and see it for what it was - a childish, poorly written story that just looked and felt right. Why have so few been able to do the same for Braveheart? The answer: It's violent and bloody enough for people to think they're watching something important and life-changing. I could say the same for Gladiator.
That said, Braveheart is worth a viewing, but it certainly doesn't deserve to be rated an 8 or have a place in the top 250. It's just Hollywood cheese at it's best - and worst.
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
This could've been great
It seems that most people who hate Larry Flynt give this a negative review and most who like him give it a positive one.
In truth, this isn't a bad film but has nothing special about it either. Taken as a documentary it's interesting enough. But as a film it's not as provocative or as powerful as it should be. Even the sniper attempt, which could've been riveting, fell flat. The writing, directing, acting, editing - the entire project seems very half-baked, even down right bad at points. It's very dull, straightforward and never really takes off. The choral baptism scenes are so out of place - Forman is clearly still living in the shadow of Amadeus.
To see what this could've been like, check out Oliver Stone's JFK and Jim Sheridan's In the Name of the Father.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
See it for what it is
It's a Wonderful Life is to cinema what The Fox and the Crow is to literature.
Don't get me wrong: This is a gem of a film, definitely worth watching at least once, but it really is more of a parable or short story than anything else. Its biggest drawback (aside from its length, which could use a trimming of about 30 minutes) is its cheap sentiment, done in typical Capra style. Beyond that, though, is a very simple yet potent film that serves as a reminder that the stories that work on a simple, allegorical level are often the ones that work best. I believe that due to it being a Christmas movie, people are willing to overlook its multitude of flaws, from the hokey acting to the weak script. It's interesting to see the rather bluntly portrayed themes here still work well today, though thankfully with more subtlety and complexity, such as the childlike wonder in Amelie, alternate realities in everything from the Groundhog Day to the Matrix and of course the very obvious character arc no good story should be without (although Capra is hardly the inventor of this basic centuries-old device, as one reviewer stated).