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Arlington Road (1999)
No new plots?
Alas, it seems that all of the writers fled Hollywood. Rather than invent anything new, "writers" now rehash old ideas and old plots. The case in point: A comparison of Arlington Road, with Jeff Bridges and The Parallax View, with Warren Beatty.
Although Bridges' performance outstrips the wooden caricature presented by Beatty, it fails to carry this version any farther. With minor modifications for location and to reference the -- then recent -- tragedy of the Federal Offices in Oklahoma City, this is a simple rehash of the 1974 movie.
The viewer is left to wonder why, with such obvious points of reference, the script bothered to change names and places at all. Like the older version, this film succeeds in leaving the viewer with the feeling of emptiness... unfortunately, like it's predecessor.. the feeling of emptiness is accompanied by the thought "I wasted my time watching this?"
One of the truly durable musicals
Howard Keel died yesterday bringing a lifetime of energetic and fun films to a close. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was one of those films. It had catchy memorable tunes with strong hooks that stay in the brain for days. It took full advantage of brilliant color, fabulous choreography, and even managed to have that one thing that too many musicals eschew... a plot... complete with character arcs. Adam Pontipee is the eldest of seven brothers who decides that living in a squalor with six other scroungy bachelors and horrible cooking has gone on long enough. When Milly agrees to marry him on the day they meet, everyone's in for a shock.
Adam finds that a wife is more than a cooking and cleaning slave and that his actions can effect others far more than he ever thought. Milly learns that expectations and dreams don't always work out the way you hope, but they can still work out. The six brothers learn that there's more to life than chopping wood, that Adam isn't always right and that you can't just take what you want. And six young women (the brides) discover that there are more choices than the ones people put in front of you.
The movie asks some hard questions and doesn't answer all of them. Initially the brides are all quite take with the brothers, until the bachelors in town chase them back into the mountains. When the bachelors decide to kidnap the brides we have to ask ourselves how such an act could work out well. Before we heap indignities on the writers, we should also ask whether the townsfolk should be allowed to chase off anyone who might contend for the affections of the girls they have their eyes on. That's one of the finest points of this movie. These aren't matters of black and white. This is a story of humanity and of men and women. But mostly, this is a fine musical and part of Howard Keel's enduring legacy.
Legend of the Champions (1983)
More like a pilot than a movie
This movie really has the feeling of an inexpensive TV pilot than a movie.
The plot itself revolves around a series of flashbacks between a group of agents for a covert organization in Tibet, and the cell in which they are being interrogated. While in Tibet, they exhibit superheroic powers which they are unable and unwilling to explain to their interrogator. The entire thing gives two, somewhat conflicting feelings. On the one hand, the superheroic action has the feeling of a pulp novel. On the other hand, the camera craft gives it a surrealistic effect. Odd angles, slightly out of focus, in bright primary colors, it looks more like an episode from the original Star Trek series than what we expect of an espionage movie.