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Great Expectations (1998)
A Fabulously Deep Story
I read Charles Dickens' novel a long time ago, so I knew from the outset who Finnegan's benefactor really was and how the tale would end. But this did not detract one iota from the pleasure I gained from watching this movie. Ethan Hawke seems to have a flair for the love-torn traveller role and excelled in this movie. Gwyneth Paltrow was heaven to behold (as always) and Anne Bancroft and Robert de Niro were wonderful in their supporting characters. I am sure these actors are only the tip of a very creative machine - even this exulted cast could produce such a masterpiece alone.
I will not watch this movie again for fear of the magic I have experienced this evening being ruined.
What this really tells me is that modern-day storylines are so incredibly weak compared with those created in a time when movies were unheard of and the novel was the main source of literary escapism available at the time. This is our loss.
Something Fundamentally Wrong
The points of this movie are fairly straightforward, namely, extreme pornography is bad, how would you feel if your daughter was abused by such people and absolute power corrupts absolutely (oh yes, and if you're bald, fat and wear spectacles then you are very likely to be involved in this sort of stuff (!)).
These well-worn tenets aside, this movie has very little to offer. Given that Nick Cage is in control, the ending is predictably obvious and all the less satisfying for that.
I recommend waiting for it to be shown on AMC or TNT (all the same violence but with those pesky swear words taken out).
G.I. Jane (1997)
A kick in the teeth for women
Demi Moore's character in the movie was selected for the SEALs because of her looks. That was a bad start and the movie went down from there. The plot was totally unbelievable. The will to make it in a tough military unit is not enough. This movie did not convince me of a woman's physical ability to perform the types of tasks required.
Trying to pretend that women and men are basically the same is an insult to everyone's intelligence. The differences between the sexes are what makes life interesting.
The Postman (1997)
Gives Hope To Us All
This movie gives hope to us all. If Kevin Costner can get rich producing drivel like this movie, we all can. This movie is not only excruciatingly sentimental, but the plot is so contrived that it defies any sense of possibility.
It should be said however that the photography was good, which is the only redeeming feature of the movie.
This movie should not be bothered with, unless you're 18 or under.
The Full Monty (1997)
No Rip Off
Social comment about the sad lot of the northern English working class may not seem the basis for a great movie, but this one has pulled it off (in more ways than one).
Not a classic by any means and has a fairly predictable plot, but the wonderful self-denegrating, unpretentious nature of the movie make it worth watching more than once. Well done.
This one pulls you in all directions
This movie is revolting, hysterical, thought-provoking and desperately sad. It doesn't have the depth of the book (sorry to appear pretentious) and the plot doesn't explain the title (actually a reference to Renton's father who was drop-out drunk who didn't recognize his own son, and wondered if he was at the station late at night to do some trainspotting). Whether this teaches any kid to stay off drugs is debatable (kids always know better than everyone else (that's how you can tell they're kids)). This is more a fanciful social comment than a warning.
Great nonetheless - the CDs are great too (did I mention the book?)