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The War Room (1993)
A Political Education
24 May 1999
As a student of Political Sciences, I believe this to be one of the most fascinating and introspective documentaries regarding the subject of campaigning. The first modern campaign, the 92 Clinton war is an amazing melodrama of quick rises to power, downfalls, villains, heroes, and the precursor to one of the most vicious political battles of our nation's history. In the film, if you look hard enough, you see the seeds of weakness being sown which would lead to an awesome political showdown which is more grand, more high-stakes, and more dark than the plotline of any film in this database. Note: If you like "The War Room," read Woodward's "The Agenda."
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Horizon: The Race for the Double Helix (1987)
Season 23, Episode 16
Excellent Movie-making
25 April 1999
This film is among those few which exhibit qualities of clear-cut and exciting movie-making. Although it does not stand out in any brilliant way and I do not consider it to be a "must-see," it is a film I recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to see it. Well-developed characters couple with an intelligent and fascinating plotline and make for a truly gripping film that is, in fact, very educational. I had the honor of watching this film with a good friend of both Watson and Crick and for me, the experience in hearing of the reality of the characters heightened the experience.
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A Chorus Line (1985)
A Diluted Point
16 April 1999
Although A Chorus Line is a film which carries with it a strong message and a look at fascinating characters, the point of the film (losing one's inhibitions through dance) is disrupted by musical interludes and flashbacks which - although develop two characters further - distract the viewer from the present frame of reference. The message and introspect of the film - which is brilliant - is belittled by being made to double as a setup for a song. The dance is necessary in the film; characters dancing about are an important element of the plot. But the movie might have been good if the songs were absent. A good message is worth nothing if that message cannot be relayed clearly to the viewer.
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Climax! (1954–1958)
Casino Royale - 1954
31 January 1999
Being a Bond fan, procuring the video of this original broadcast was neither an easy feat nor overlooked in its importance. The October 21, 1954 episode of "Climax!" was the first time James Bond appeared on-screen, and nearly half a century later Bond is still making movies.

The "live" quality of the show makes it all that much more enjoyable; the spontaneity of the lines spoken and the fact that the actors are working with an actual time limit makes for a show in which the flow is constant and consistent, the interest is kept to an expected level, and the characters are more realistic. These are qualities which cannot be replicated in some 20 overly planned and rehearsed later Bond films - but this only makes Casino Royale different - not better.

It is certainly entertaining, to say the least, to watch the original characterization of "Jimmy" Bond - a fast-talking American agent - and compare it to the amazingly developed cool-headedness of today's 007. What a difference 45 years can make!
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Agatha Would Have Been Proud
9 December 1998
Very rarely does a motion picture version of a great novel match up to the quality instilled directly from the author. Murder on the Orient Express, however, is one of those beautiful exceptions that proves the rule. A thrilling film that will keep you guessing until the end (unless one had already read the book), Murder comes complete with an all-star cast which includes such favorites as Lauren Bacall, Sir John Gielgud, and Sean Connery. (And as we've seen many times before, whenever Sean Connery gets on a train, something exciting happens.) The storyine begins understandable complex - while the viewer only sees and hears as much as Hercule Poirot - the film's hero. But through some master directing and writing, all of the once-confusing elements take shape and reveal a stunningly simple plot that seems all-too impossible anyway.
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The Mighty (1998)
Surprise Surprise
22 November 1998
I was so shocked about how much this movie captivated me! I

usually go for the action/adventure type movies, so I wasn't too eager to see it. Yet, I realized that this movie had a little bit of everything, which would be able to please everyone. It had comedy, drama, action, etcetera. Two thumbs up to Culkin, who really surprised me with his superb acting ability. As for Gillian Anderson (of course, I'm going to mention her,): I expected her to be more of a Scullyish character. But she turned out to be an excellent choice for Loretta Lee. I loved the expression on her face when she opened the door for the first time! A+
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Ronin (1998)
A thrill ride with a brain
7 November 1998
Ronin is one of the best action films to hit the silver screen in a long while. It has all of the action and intrigue of a 007 film, the twists and turns of a Humphrey Bogart mystery, and the intelligence of The Manchurian Candidate. Sporting an excellent cast composed of Jean Reno of The Professional, Robert DeNiro, and three former Bond villains, this movie tells much about friendship, trust, and personal integrity in a profession where honor is a valued commodity.
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A Pox on Leonardo DiCaprio!
5 November 1998
Have any of these commenters actually SEEN the movie? Great acting? I agree that John Malcovitch, Gerrard, and Jeremy Irons' performances were good - a few scenes were great - but Leo! What a load of nothing! The only role he was any good at was the retarded individual in Gilbert Grape. You know why? Because his acting is naturally retarded! You actually felt sorry for Gabriel Byrne when he had to act near Leo! You could tell that Gabriel wanted to do this great scene and was pulling it off until Leo said something with the emphasis of a high school production of "Our Town" and Gabriel just rolls his eyes up and wants to throw some punches! Part of it, too, was screenwriting. I usually respect a LOT of stuff that writers put on the screen, but I could literally pull a better script off by shouting gibberish into a voice-recognition microphone. With any luck, Leo will continue to boycott the Oscars and stay home and mope so that he doesn't get any pity nominations.
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Beau Geste (1939)
"Every man does his duty at Zinderneuf - dead or alive!"
5 November 1998
Beau Geste presents a magnificent based-on-novel re-telling of one of the greatest stories ever told. Three brothers embody the ideal reservoir of human resource and comraderie as they travel together from England to the battlefields of the French Foreign Legion and manage to stay wholly devoted to each other. Beaten down, broken, and sometimes bloody, they serve as models of absolute integrity which transcend traditional paths of moral thinking. Never faltering from their direction, never stopping from pain, and never complaining, the Geste brothers show the viewer what it means to be human in times of desperation and need.
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"Face to face, in secret places. Feel the chill."
15 October 1998
With an awesome score, a decent storyline, and a healthy but not too distracting dose of fantasy, the Bond franchise gives the Moore era one hell of a send-off! The cast is impeccable! Christopher Walken plays possibly the most berserk and psychotic villain ever to appear in a Bond movie. However, VTAK is sometimes accused of being a Goldfinger re-hash; if it is, it was done well. Similarities are fairly evident if one looks for them, but the action and adventure are grounds for ignoring the accusations. This film also asserts the superiority of the Bond films to the Avengers as a former John Steele becomes Bond's chauffeur. (Mrs. Peel was already killed as Bond's wife.)
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Octopussy (1983)
A Sweet Distraction for an Hour or Two
15 October 1998
Octopussy has the distinction of being the Bond film that symbolized a bit of a resurgence in effort on the part of Roger Moore and the producers. Having to compete with another 007 for the first time ever (Never Say Never Again), Moore gave it his all - and so did Sean Connery. Octopussy is actually a fairly-made movie with great action and interesting gadgets. The only question is why was it titled Octopussy? Maude Adams' character has little to nothing to do with the plot. At any rate, if Octopussy looks somewhat familiar, it's because Maude Adams also played the lead Bond girl in The Man With the Golden Gun - she died.
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One Look is a Guarantee...
15 October 1998
Those who were Bond fans from the very beginning are thrilled at the return of Sean Connery as James Bond! Unfortunately, the film is famous for its weak musical score and low climax, but Sean Connery's mere presence is enough to make anyone who's seen Thunderball sit back and watch with elation. Connery has lost neither his great sense of humour nor his strong punch. The bast improvement over the original Thunderball is that in the 1980s, the gadgets get more advanced - such as laser watches and corneal implants! Points to look for - the Domination game and the health-club sequence. And this one has Kim Basinger!
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"Where Has everybody Gone?"
15 October 1998
Somehow, For Your Eyes is the most basic - yet one of the most forgotten Bond films. By 1981, Moore was getting comfortable in his role - but too comfortable, perhaps, as the movie fails to stand out in any prominent way. Luckily for Bond old-schoolers, Broccoil decides to cut the fantasy a bit short and get down to some serious 00 action. There's skiing, rock climbing, plot twists, and a bunch of guns. No more invincible super-villains, however. In that respect, the characters are much more like the Red Grant of FRWL and Largo from Thunderball - able to be given a good punch in the nose and feel it! Also, old schoolers will be given a slight sense of closure at the death of who is supposed to represent an aging Ernst Blofeld.
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The Avengers (1998)
A REAL secret agent drinks COFFEE!
15 August 1998
Just back from the theatre... Wow. What a waste of $7. Not only was the movie seemingly lacking a director, but you know that James Bond could kick John Steed's a** any day of the week - even without an umbrella! The movie , however, seems to hail the Bond films by referencing the best scenes of Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, but not as well done as the originals. Sean Connery, even with a short on-screen time, has a well-rounded plot figured out. Unlike SPECTRE's well-thought out intents, however, Sir August deWinter lacks a motive! The writers, seemingly aware of the eventual demise of the script, apparently decided to perform a literary euthanasia - adding random physics jargon to explain a natural impossibility , introducing an invisible man who relates to the plot in no way whatsoever, and also keeping the dialogue uninteresting, dry, and pointless. In fact, the movie might have had a G rating if it had not been for one use of a disagreeable word edited in during post production. If one ever rents this movie, it would be a much more agreeable experience if one turns the volume down and the screen off. Even Roger Moore makes a better British agent than Ralph (Ray?) Finnes, who is an excellent but poorly cast actor. "The Ministry" could never stand up to Her Majesty's Secret Service, which is probably why the actors in the original Avenger's series (much better than the movie) eventually turned to the Bond camp. In short, a good intention killed by studio requisites.
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Dialogue, anyone?
15 August 1998
Licence to Kill is an odd Bond movie in the sense that action is at a loss. On its own - without connection to the rest of the Bond movies, it would make a fairly decent film. However, because the picture consists of a few good scenes sewn together with long, uninteresting sequences, it doesn't really compare to the rest of the Bond films, which employed nonstop action and snappy - rather than mournful dialogue. Timothy Dalton, who played a good Bond in The Living Daylights, was just getting into his character when the Bond character itself changed for Licence to Kill. Bond becomes much less glib and suddenly is a very vengeful character (a trait he was annoyed by in The Spy Who Loved Me.) Dalton, however, comes off as more grumpy than vengeful. On the plus side, Q makes a longer appearance...
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Moonraker (1979)
"You missed, Mr. Bond!" ("Did I?")
11 August 1998
Moonraker marks one of the low points in the Bond series; a few interesting (even exciting) sequences strung together by a thin plotline and only two memorable pieces of dialogue. Moonraker serves as an example of what can happen when a good but non-science-fiction francise jumps on to a science -fiction bandwagon begun by Star Wars. At the very least, there are a few good scenes: the teaser, the swordfight in the glass factory, the pheasant hunting, etc. Jaws is brought back from The Spy Who Loved Me, but rather than act as a superhuman henchman, his antics become reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote. Luckily, by For Your Eyes Only, Jaws is gone, Roger Moore is less glib and more lethal, and the soundtrack is back on key.
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Citizen Kane (1941)
The Title MAKES it Important Enough!
11 August 1998
Warning: Spoilers
I was troubled by a lot of aspects of the AFI's 1998 list, but Citizen Kane wasn't one of them; it thoroughly deserved the #1 spot. A magnificent story regarding the search for contentment and happiness among the squalor of cold material things. Kane's search is a paradox in itself; his happiness lies in a single material object - Rosebud - which represents his innocence and carefree happiness of childhood. The irony is that the other material objects he procures in this search only hinder his efforts. Welles' dramatic effects and his symbolic method of storytelling would make Melville proud; he always notes who is in shadow, what music is playing where, what position his characters are in, etc. The best ever.
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Nobody Does It Better
9 August 1998
By 1977, women were realizing independence in the Bond films as well as the real world. No longer would the typical Bond girl have to be saved time and time again by 007 and at last offer a helpless "oh James..." Major Anya Amasova is more than a match for Commander James Bond as she gets the upper hand time and time again before Bond realizes its a new generation of women he's dealing with. Q offers Bond his third company car - the Lotus Espirit ("Wet Nellie") which although draws glances, is no match for a good old Aston Martin. Stromberg is presented as a good match for Diamonds' Blofeld - an aging villain who would rather sit and listen to music while he is taking over the world than throw a few punches. Luckily, Jurgen's Stromberg has an amazing henchman - Jaws, who represents more of an opponent for Batman than for a realistic James Bond.
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"A Jealous Husband, Perhaps?"
9 August 1998
Roger Moore begins to get used to the Bond role in the 9th of EON's 007 productions. Tired of pecking at the Russians as the eternal enemies, this movie makes little reference towards the Soviets and focuses on an extremely well-rounded and developed villain - Francisco Scaramanga. Perhaps Bond resents the fact that the man he is ordered to kill is so much like him - a refined gentleman who kills professionally (albeit without a licence). Although the action lacks occasionally, the title character's "funhouse" is one of the greatest sets ever devised for a Bond film; it's outrageous and cartoony twists and turns has the viewer at the edge of their seat. Comic relief is found at the hands of Q (who is back again after a notable absence in Live and Let Die) and a returning Sheriff J.W. Pepper. One should also note the amazing "Javelin Jump" performed during a car chase - even if the effect was destroyed by a misplaced sound effect.
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An On-Film Miracle
8 August 1998
Although it sometimes seems that Hollywood is catering to the lowest common denominator of everything, The Truman Show is proof that there are great ideas that are able to be turned into great movies. Jim Carrey plays an excellent role as a man with whom you can emphasize as well as be entertained by. The film's surrealistic nature is frightening when the viewer realizes the legal feasibility in today's society, and it offers a great message about who or what we assume God to be and how He (he?) would react to our personal drives for discovery to challenge a world we treat as an aquarium. Some things to note and ponder: The way the real-life viewers ignore the real lives of their compatriots and customers while focusing on a false life on screen; whose life is more real and whose is worth living? Also, note that Christof does not have his name listed among the "real world" in the credits, but in "Christof's World." His high-profile media-driven life is no different from Truman's!
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GoldenEye (1995)
My, how things have changed in six years!
8 August 1998
Although GoldenEye is a decent movie, it deserves no special Bond recognition. It becomes easy to forget that Bond is Licensed to Kill, and although there is some thigh combat (a la Diamonds Are Forever) many Bondesque moments are simply missing. It may be important to note, however, that after the death of 006, Bond and 008 would be the only surviving agents. It still amazes me, however, that the writers assigned an active number to the traitor agent, indicating that they may have done a bit of research into the other Bond films. (002, for example, has been killed twice.) The film does serve as a fair example of the Bond series converting the formerly 80s agent into a 90s kind of guy. But only one question: The plot of the movie revolved around silicon chips' vulnerability to electromagnetic pulse; in A View to a Kill, an invulnerable chip was invented. Why not use those?
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"Names is for tombstones, baby!"
8 August 1998
Ignoring a Roger Moore who presents a bit of a distraction for viewers watching the series in order, Live And Let Die is an excellent example of how pop culture helps the Bond series survive throughout the decades. The growing concern of a drug-using society at the time is featured, and an immensely popular Paul McCartney does the title theme - indicating that the Bond series need not be rooted solidly in the three-piece suit days of 1962. Jane Seymour gives an excellent performance in her "introductory" role (although it was her fourth film). A bit of black magic and voodoo intertwined with gadgetry and high-tech machinery will have the viewer wondering if, indeed, there was magic in the movie after all - indeed, the cards WERE always right under Solitaire's power. Magical or not, Live and Let Die provides an interesting doorway to the other five Moore pictures - J.W. Pepper returns and Tee Hee seems to be Jaws' forerunner.
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"Humility is the worst form of conceit, Mr. Bond."
8 August 1998
Diamonds Are Forever represents a Bond film that simply celebrates the return of Sean Connery by losing all the emotion of OHMSS and pulling out all of the stops. A sattelite laser (thankfully not aimed at 007's crotch this time), a high speed chase where the police exhibit all of the intelligence of a non-featured J.W. Pepper, a floating fortress, and an amazing climax. A fan's only concern is wondering why Blofeld is making a habit of placing Bond in cells with holes in them! It seems that after a few years of hiding and countless plastic surgeries, Blofeld is getting careless - allowing Bond to get REALLY close to his world domination machine, so that when Bond ejects his programmed plan, he can only sigh and offer an exasperated "replace that tape immediately!" Regardless of a careless and all-too-mortal villain however, Diamonds Are truly Forever. It shines as one of the best.
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We Have All the Time in the World
8 August 1998
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is probably the least-remembered of the Bond films - and for an obvious reason: George Lazenby was never again Bond (although I really never should say never again). Audiences just couldn't take a "serious" Bond movie at this time. For the first and only time (before GoldenEye) we are faced with Bond's inner emotions - symbolized by our only glance at his office, an inner "sanctuary." However, I am convinced that had Lazenby been granted "all the time in the world," he might have been able to develop his acting into a remarkable Bond figure (though not approaching that of Sean Connery). His meeting with Draco (the voice of Goldfinger) is a pure Bond moment - although unfortunately often forgotten. The most emotional of the Bond movies, the ending will have even die-hard Bond fans fighting tears.
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"This is my second life."
8 August 1998
In a way, You Only Live Twice began the second iteration of Bond films. While the core elements remained the same (i.e. ending up on a raft with a beautiful woman in the middle of the ocean), the imagination of the writers thrust Bond into a new world of flashy lights and bizarre gadgets. For example, a simple underground lair becomes an underground lair in a volcano with a rocket and underground monorail - all under a metal lake! Most of this necessary evolution is owed to Ian Fleming's dear friend Roald Dahl, who was contacted to write the script. Dahl's timeless imagination and creativity made the elements of the story bigger and "more so" while not diminishing Bond's utter suaveness nor his double 0 designation.
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