Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Entertaining, but.... (spoilers)
First off, let me say that I found the original overrated. Not bad, but not a 'classic'. When I heard they were remaking it, with Cameron at the helm, I was extremely worried (I dislike everything the man's done in the 90's, with the exception of True Lies, which was fun). When it turned out to be Tim Burton, I felt that maybe he could make this movie truly 'relevant', with sharp satire, and perhaps a little human development. Alas, it wasn't to be.
Understand that I think that Burton is a director who's style often overwhelms the substance of any film he's shooting (note, see Sleepy Hollow). That said, he brings enormous creative energy to the film, and is to be respected for massing the talented crew he has. I'm glad to hear the people mentioned Danny Elfman's score, his best. It hooks you from beginning to end, and has the strength to become a contender at this year's oscars. Thunderous, rousing, brilliant, the score is better written then the script for eliciting a dramatic response. Special credit must be given to Rick Baker, the only Hollywood make-up artist whom I've heard of (he's acheived a celebrity status if you will). His simian creations are remarkable, and allow the actors to act through their make-up.
Well, that would be more true if the actors had something to act. The script makes no attempt to achieve any form of nuance or subtlety. It eschews what could have been a satire, and asks us to accept fight scenes and stunt work. Discussing the stunt work, it is phenomenal as well. Again, the technical achievements of this film are not to be ignored.
The film is fairly entertaining UNTIL..... The climax. What is supposed to be a pulse-pounding scene proves to be a series of cliches, and a horrible use of deux ex machina, and the ending is fairly silly and unnecessary. As for the actors, many attempt to act, but many have nothing to do (the humans). However, the performances by Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Roth are excellent. No kidding, but I think Roth deserves an oscar nomination (as it stands now). His scenery chewing performance as General Thade is energetic and outstanding.
Having said that, expect this to win a make-up oscar, and receive a nomination for best score, but it's not a film to rush out and see.
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
Ambitious, but not entirely successful (spoilers)
Style is very important to both Kubrick and Spielberg, and it's never clearer here. I'll admit it was hard to imagine a Kubrick/Spielberg collaboration. Spielberg, the warm humanist, Kubrick, the cold observationist (word??), their styles being too distinct to mesh. For example, their view of children. Kubrick gave us Lolita, "Red-rum" boy from the Shining, and two ghosts awash in blood. Spielberg gave us Drew
Barrymore, the cute kid in Close Encounters, and the kid stuck in an adult's body, Robin Williams..... I mean Peter Pan. So the approach to David (Haley Joel Osment), at times, seems to be too, well, different. That is one of the films two flaws (they are important and will detract from one's experience, but they also allow for interesting observation).
The film has two or three acts, depending on how one views it (I choose three, because it seems so neatly sectioned off). The first act is the acquisition of David by grieving parents (France's O'Connor and Sam Robards). The opening five minutes set up the thematic statement of the film, but it isn't as if you couldn't tell by the tagline. It is written quite well, with the Spielberg sensibility shining through, though there are glimmers of Kubrick. It's only flaw is the underuse of the wonderful O'Connor. It's sunny cinematography is perfect.
The second act follows David's search for the Blue Fairy, so he can become a real boy. He meets up with Gigolo Joe (Jude Law, in a frantically funny and manic performance). Kubrick's influence is seen strongly here, with some incredible scenes (The Flesh Fair is a stand-out, jolting with energy and Brendan Gleeson).
The third act continues the above search, but I can't describe much more. It is serenely haunting. However, I find it hard to reconcile the two styles in it. For example, there is a scene where David is sitting on a ledge, and then falls (lets himself fall) to the bottom of the ocean. It is supposed to be heartbreaking, but it isn't because the premise of the film inhibits it (an earlier scene in the film had the same problem). The epilogue/conclusion is unearned, but then, some people found it devastating.
The film is a technical achievement, to be sure. The art direction, costumes, make-up, sound, cinematography, score, film editing and visual effects are all first rate, and deserve oscar nominations (as it is now). Kahn's editing, Kaminski's cinematography, and Williams' score all deserve mention for working together to aid the Spielberg/Kubrick vision
O'Connor and Law are phenomenal. Osment is handed the trickiest role, and pulls it off with aplomb. This role requires amazing depth, breadth, and subtlety to be convincing, and Osment deserves another Oscar nomination for pulling it off. It's a role that cannot be entirely based on 'gut instinct', and it's a tribute to Osment and Spielberg that it is played perfectly.
The following is from Lisa Schwarzbaum's review from EW. It sums up my opinion quite well.
--There aren't many at all like Spielberg and Kubrick, directors willing to lasso dreams (that's Steven) and nightmares (that's Stanley) or die trying. ''A.I.'' is a clash of the titans, a jumble, an oedipal drama, a carny act. I want to see it again.--
Maddening, moving, provocative, a visual feast, AI is worth seeing, and worth seeing again.
Not half bad
This was an entertaining film, but one that could have been better. While it didn't seem short, if they added some character development for some of the characters who just take up screen time. And either develop the perfunctory love triangle, or get rid of it.
The story itself is rather simple as well. People hate mutants, and want to pass a bill forcing them to register themselves. The mutants are divided into two camps. The first group believe in peaceful coexistence, while the second believe that people must be destroyed.
The performances range, but that is as a result of their parts. Berry, Marsden, Jansen, and Romain-Stamos are limited by their roles, but still give a solid go of it. Anna Paquin as Rogue, while doesn't disappoint, isn't incredible. Rogue is not a teenager, so her character isn't completely 'true'. It also limits the flirtatious relationship between her and Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman. The film belongs to him. He's great to watch.
Fun, while not incredible (though it should have been nominated for an oscar in the Sound and make-up categories).
Good Will Hunting (1997)
My second comment, but
I had originally reviewed this movie a year after I saw it, and in my review, I gave it restrained praise. 'Does it have it's flaws. Yes. It does go on a bit too long, and Minnie Driver's character borders on caricature'. After rewatching, I have to take those two comments back. It didn't seem too long during the second viewing, and Minnie Driver's character had real depth, something I had missed on my original viewing.
However, one thing that I have to comment on is the script. It felt much better the second time around. Damon and Affleck have a natural ability to create dialogue that flows, almost like lyrics to a song. None of it seems forced, and it becomes quite moving in several scenes. The scenes between Williams and Damon are so well written, and are acted very precisely, they become quite powerful.
The music also works quite well, something else that I overlooked in my first viewing. I'm glad I watched it again, and it's status had certainly risen in my mind.
A Human epic (spoilers)
With his third film, Paul Thomas Anderson has accomplished the rare. He has made a true Human epic. Robert Altman's Nashville is the epitome of this 'genre', but Magnolia (and perhaps Soderbergh's Traffic, which I have yet to see) are shining examples of what can be achieved when throwing a handfull of people together.
Meet Frank TJ Mackey (Tom Cruise), a sex guru who's carefully constructed past is about to be blown in his face by a reporter (April Grace). Meet Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman), a brilliant child who's pushed to the limit by his overbearing father (Michael Bowen). Meet Mackey's father (Jason Robards- in his last film performance), a bedridden dying movie mogul who's desperate to see his son before he dies, while his trophy wife (Julianne Moore) is closer to the edge of despair then before, using pills to ease her pain. Meet Jim Kuring (John C. Reilly), who's need for love is so great, he falls in love with Claudia Wilson Gator (Melora Walters), a woman trying to remain sane while her body screams for drugs. Meet her father, Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), the quiz show host on Stanley's show, meet Donnie Smith (William H. Macy), former Quiz kid.
This is a movie that takes a leap into the operatic. Championing extroversion and ignoring the irony that plagued the nineties, Anderson assembles a magnificent cast and explores a story full of coincidence and ambition. He lets his cast free, and they give us glorious performances. At the head of the list are Tom Cruise, Melora Walters, and Julianne Moore. Cruise deserved the oscar for a brilliant turn as the sex guru who's visage is slowly destroyed. Walters and Moore give career defining performances (what a year for Moore!). The nervousness they share is underlined by their need for drugs.
There are scenes that are so rare for a film, that they defy reason. The cast singing 'Wise Up' was not cheesy and out of place as some suspected, but a touching addition. And the frog scene was incredible and very funny. Aimee Mann's songs work very well with the film as well as on their own.
I did think American Beauty was a better film, but Anderson's operatic and ambitious epic was a film where the tagline 'Look Closer' was one that could be identified with it.
Hmmm....(spoilers below, though not major)
This film is probably the best blockbuster of the summer. It has grisly and rousing action, wonderful technical direction from Ridley Scott, and masterful performances from Crowe and Pheonix.
Flaws always first. The opening battle sequence is confusing, and tries to be chaotic, when it is just incoherent. However, the rest of the film justifies Scott's technical brilliance (more on that later). The screenplay isn't as much a story told with action sequences but a string of action sequences with some connecting thread. However, it allows for some great acting. The script introduces a startling relationship between Commodus (Joaquin Pheonix) and his sister Lucilla (Connie Nelson), giving Pheonix and added dimension to chew through.
And does he ever. One of his three films this year, Pheonix proves that he can act in several diverse roles. This will probably garner him on Oscar nomination. His snivelling, ambitious emperor provides a fine foil for Crowe's Maximus. Crowe finally cements his star status with this film, after amazing turns in The Insider and L.A. Confidential. His performance is brutal and intense. In fact, the screenplay spares nothing on his character, giving Crowe several powerful scenes (the climax, his prison conversation with Lucilla, and his earlier conversation with Marcus Aurelius). He'll probably get an oscar nod as well.
Now, the direction of Ridley Scott. I am not a huge fan of his, so I was pleased to see him handle both the technical and narrative direction with equal aptitude. His technical direction is superb, ranking with Blade Runner and Alien. For the first (arguably second) time, however, he has paid attention to the story (the first being Thelma and Louise). And it has paid off handsomely. Look for Gladiator to have the most nominations at the academy awards this year (I'm guessing 11).
Brilliant, brutal film
When released in 1998, Happiness caused an uproar. After watching it (for the second time), it is easy to see why.
The story follows three sisters, and their respective relationships. Trish (played by Cynthia Stevens) is married to Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker), in what seems like a happy marriage. However, when Bill speaks to a psychiatrist (he himself is a therapist), we realize that there is a lot more going on under the skin. In fact, this entire film is about discovering what's under the skin of many people, no matter how unhealthy.
If there was an ensemble acting award at the Oscars, it would have gone to this film. There is no single bad performance throughout the entire cast, spearheaded by Dylan Baker, who should have received a supporting nod. His performance is simply magnificent. Many people will cringe at his final scene with his son, but Rufus Reed and Baker play it so well, that it doesn't feel exploitive or out of context In answering his son's questions openly and honestly, he perhaps saves his son from any future pain. Baker's character isn't a demon, but a man who isn't in control of his demons.
The three sisters are portrayed excellently, with Lara Flynn Boyle leading the pack. Her performance as a poet who's sick of being admired rang very true, from her characters shallowness to her own understanding of how empty she is.
This film can not be described as titillating or exploitive. Though not everyone will like, it dares to tread where few go. One of the best of 1998, Todd Solondz was sorely overlooked at the Oscars.
Playing by Heart (1998)
I agree with most of the comments made about this film, namely that it is slightly inconsistent, with three good stories, one okay one, and two slightly ridiculous. Bad news first: Anthony Edwards and Madeline Stowe make a very unconvincing couple. This isn't any fault in their acting (Stowe is great in a couple of scenes), but the script, which neither develops the relationship and hopes that the audience won't catch on to the contrivances. No such luck. The other story that isn't completely satisfying is Dennis Quaid, as a man who goes on an improv spree and tells tall (tragic) tales to strangers that he meets. This story ultimately leads no where, which is a disappointment.
However, the other four stories more than make up for the above two. Rowlands and Connery (in two marvelously modulated performances), play a husband and wife coming to terms with his 'affair' that occurred twenty-five years prior. This story works very well because it is written like a short story or a one act play. Ellen Burstyn gives a powerhouse performance as a mother just coming to grips with her son's illness (AIDS, as we led to believe). This story isn't given too much time, which is a shame, but Burstyn and Mohr (as her son) are incredible in their brief scenes. Gillian Anderson and Jon Stewart are marvelous together. This is one story where you can tell they act off each other. Gillian Anderson is a special treat, because we get to see her laugh and we get to see her nervous, which isn't something that Dana Scully reveals too often. The story is simply two people who try to get together, but her fear of being hurt prevents that. Jon Stewart also does wonderful work, in a very credible performance
Easily the most surprising of the relationship was the one between Jolie and Phillipe. With this film, Jolie proved she was a talent to watch, and Phillipe surprised with his convincing turn as an aloof character (without turning uninteresting). They are combustible together, and heartbreaking when we see how much they are in love.
Similar to the recently released (and ignored) Living Out Loud, this treads the same ground, but treads lightly and well, leaving a generally satisfying film (with a wonderful converging ending). A charmer, if not perfect.
Living Out Loud (1998)
Funny and very well written (spoilers)
When watching Living out Loud, it becomes obvious why As Good as it Gets felt contrived and phony. Richard LaGravenese is more interested in showing how people bounce off each other, in friendships and sexual relationships, than forcing a made-up romance between two people.
Holly Hunter stars as Judith, a woman who's coming off a bitter breakup from her husband (Martin Donovan) of sixteen years. She meets Danny Devito, and elevator attendant in her apartment. She also meets a torch singer (Queen Latifah), and they both change her life, but in different ways. LaGravenese doesn't find it necessary to place Hunter in a sexual relationship with either one, and that makes the film all the more unique. Now, because there is no plot per-se, the film may flounder for some. However, I found the movie to be very remarkable.
Danny Devito gives a detailed performance as a man who's lost everything, but still has hope. The first scene we see him in is very well acted, and absolutely hilarious. However, it's the two females who shine brightest in this film. Hunter is stunningly sensual in her role, embodying grace (sometimes it's lack), desperation, and humour. Her performance deserved an oscar nomination. The surprising scene stealer was Queen Latifah. Her rendition of 'Lush Life' was great to watch. She certainly holds her own against two incredible actors.
Some of the scenes deserve mention as well. The dancing sequence was very well done. The line between fantasy and reality was blurred, but frankly, I don't want to know if it was real or part of her imagination. It was very sensual, and again, oddly touching. The massage sequence, the 'kiss scene' and the ending were also very well handled. Overall, this dramedy should have received more acclaim than it did, and it places eight on my top ten of 1998. (as of now.)
Pulse pounding (spoilers)
This is one hell of an exciting movie. It starts off with a scene that sets up the suspense level of the movie, with the elevator accident. It is an incredible sequence, staged so magnificently (my kudos to the editing team. They did an brilliant job throughout the entire film). It was a hard act to follow, but director Jan de Bont does it admirably.
The basic plot: a really bad guy (it's Dennis Hopper, everyone's favourite in a performance that's of no stretch) has a score to settle after his simple demands of 3 million dollars aren't met (in the elevator fiasco). So he puts a bomb on the bus, and wires it to go off if the bus goes below 50 miles. Some people thought that 50 miles wasn't that fast, but there's absolutely no point in getting hung up on that. The bus sequence is an intense piece of filmmaking by all involved. The tautness of the situation is continually raised, and Jan De Bont and writer Graham Yost manage to crank up the suspense factor. Yes, the bus jumping the fifty foot overpass is ludicrous, but it is gloriously so.
Keanu Reeves actually gives a good performance. He is attacked for trying to expand is repetoire (Much Ado About Nothing, Dracula), so Speed is a refreshingly simple film for him. He is a great action hero (which was again proven with The Matrix). Sandra Bullock has great charisma, and she and Reeves have palatable chemistry.
An action film that cranks up the suspense factor like no other. Sure, its incongruous sometimes, but why carp?
Last Night (1998)
Moving, intriguing, and credible
I have seen this film twice, and believe that it is certainly one of the best films of 1998. One person brought that people wouldn't be violent on the day when the world ends, but come together in a type of philosophical togetherness. I was stunned by that idea, assuming that the cynicism that permeates today's culture would have enforced that idea, that violence will be around. The end of the world is a violent thought, as exemplified in films such as Armageddon and Deep Impact (true, they were stupid films). But that aside, Last Night is a powerful and very introspective look at the lives of several people who's lives happen to be interwoven on the last day of the world. It begs the question "what would you do with the final six hours". Many have remarked on the tone, and I have to heap more praise on the subtle irony that is found throughout the film. Why is the world ending? The audience doesn't find out. Whether one's appreciation of the film diminishes or grows for this ambitious step is purely personal. For a ninety minute film, it's ambition in depicting six lives is interesting, and it's only mistake. For the movie to do justice to all the characters, it needed to be at least half an hour longer. But that singular flaw does not negate the film's final achievement.
The entire cast is sensational, even if they're on for short periods of time. Rennie and Oh took home well deserved Genie awards for their brilliant performances, but I felt McKellar's performance was the most intriguing. He has a talent for not poignant drama, but scenes of almost deadpan-type comedy (where Sandra asks him the favour).
Don McKellar has got to be among the most versatile writers around. After writing Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, the fragmented biopic about the famous pianist, and The Red Violin, another slightly fragmented story told through and about a violin, he wrote, directed, and starred in Last Night, and apocalyptic dramedy (or an ironic tragicomedy), and he does it with supreme style. Last Night is a film not to be missed, but to be pondered over and savoured.
Why I don't like Shakespeare in Love
When I saw this movie, I realized why I didn't like Shakespeare in Love as much as most people do.
First of all, the entire cast here is much more brilliant than anything in Shakespeare in Love. Yes, Fiennes and Rush were in both movies, but in Elizabeth, they come to life (though Fiennes' role is one dimensional). And when comparing Cate Blanchett's stunning transformation from the lusty princess to the Virgin queen to Gwenyth Paltrow's romantic theatre lover, there really is no comparison. Cate Blanchett's role was much more difficult to pull off, and her performance was much more daring. Christopher Eccleston gave what I believe to be a brilliant, yet surprisingly underrated performance.
Many of my friends who don't like costume dramas/historical epics liked this film because it's not structured like a typical costume drama, but as a thriller. One watches as the conspiracy unfolds, in wicked appreciation of Shekar Kapur's direction as the story unfolds (he deserved a nomination over John Madden). Michael Hirst's screenplay does play around with history, but I don't understand why that bothers people. Mind you, I'm not an expert on Elizabeth, so I don't know what exactly Hirst removed/added/changed, but the final product is so juicy and thrilling, that I don't think I would mind much.
After seeing this, Shakespeare in Love seemed predictable, mundane, and well... rather boring.
My number three if 1998 (behind Saving Private Ryan and A Simple Plan)
Heart of Darkness (1993)
This film is brooding brilliance at it's best. Though it's a television movie, it transcends the stereotype of bead TV movies, though it is not entirely successful.
Tim Roth plays Marlowe, the captain of the riverboat sent to look for Kurtz (played with masterful insanity by Malkovich). Along the way, we see how the environment slowly drives Marlowe mad (though some would disagree, saying he wasn't mad).
The key thing to this film is the atmosphere. It is brooding, intense, and extremely symbolic (the monkey, the nuns stroking the cat). Three things were used to contribute to this atmosphere (or, three marked things). First off, the cinematography. Had this been a feature film, it would have been up for this Oscar. The smokey hues, the daunting close-ups and the darting camera all provide the creepiness necessaary in Conrad's novel. The sound also contributes to the unique haunting repression of Roeg's movie. The scene where Mfumu is killed is technically superb. And the performances. Tim Roth deserves mention for his portrayal of a man determined to do his job, but not to determined that he isn't aware of the harsh reality around him.
It learns from Apocalypse Now, (the ending does anyway). While not as good, it was worth watching.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Affecting, though it didn't deserve the best picture nomination
First of all, forgive me. I read about the ending before actually seeing the movie. Now, some of you may think that it ruined the film, but it one way, it enhanced it. Now, I tried to figure out the clues to the end, and I was stumped. I just couldn't figure it out.
Anyway, now to the film. This is a supremely effective chiller that is one of the quietest horror films ever (it whispers the scares). This is the first film I've seen with Toni Collette in, and she did impress me (though she didn't deserve her nomination). Her scenes with Haley Joel Osment are minor marvels. Osment deserved all the praise he received for his performance. The subtle shifts in emotion were alone worthy of the nomination. I would have given him the Oscar over Caine (but not over Cruise, Law, or the unnominated Bentley). Bruce Willis is in his 'strong, silent type' mode, but that didn't bother me.
The reason the film didn't deserve it's oscar nomination was because the film wasn't among the five best of the year. There were many far more challenging and powerful films in 1999 (however, had it been another year, I probably would have embraced the nomination). M. Night Shyamalan deserved the praise for his script, but didn't deserve the nomination over Three Kings or The Straight Story. I was surprised that this film didn't get the win for film editing (it was the best of the five, yes-- better than Matrix or Beauty).
This is a film that was a haunting beauty, and I will see it again (and I'll probably buy it too.)
American Beauty (1999)
An absolutely incredible experience
American Beauty was recently re-released in my town after having a shamefully short run. I had seen it the first time, without hearing any of the hype, and thought it was a stunning achievement. After seeing it again, I still think it's a stunning achievement. Is it the best film of 1999? Yes, there is no doubt in my mind. Magnolia is the only one that comes close (in my mind) to it's power.
A lot of people have been comparing to Happiness and The Ice Storm. I liked Happiness, but not The Ice Storm. However, American Beauty tries to be neither. Though it is similar to The Ice Storm, the characters in American Beauty were human, unlike the ice figurines found in The Ice Storm. Happiness was far more ambitious than American Beauty, but focused on the mordant characters. This film tries to find real beauty, and that is it's strength.
The performances from the actors are truly magnificent. Kevin Spacey deserved his Oscar, and gave edge to some brilliant lines. The power he gave to this line "You don't get to tell me what to do. Ever. Again" could have taken oil off a potato chip. This is his finest role (and performance) to date. Annette Benning is also great, but the supporting actors deserved more mention than they received. Wes Bentley gave a powerful performance as Ricky Fitts, and I would have loved to see him get an Oscar nomination. Thora Birch and Mena Suvari were also excellent. They each had scenes that they handled incredibly well (Suvari's final scene with Spacey, Birch's fight with her father).
Alan Balls' screenplay was written exceptionally well. The emotion and power he gives his characters brings them to life on the screen. Conrad L. Hall's photography was majestic and awe inspiring. Thomas Newman's score was perfect, as was the editing.
I can't believe this is Sam Mendes first film. He directs with skill and talent (though you can tell he was a theater director) and brings together the performances, script, and technical details to make one the finest film of 1999, weaving tragedy, satire, and irony to make a truly touching movie.
To compare this film to the Oscar pageantry of The Cider House Rules would be ridiculous. A lot of people will say that American Beauty was overhyped, and maybe it was. But consider this: American Beauty is not an Oscar film (Spacey pleasuring himself in the shower, vs cute little orphans), but it has the audacity, originality, and brilliance to shine a light at American suburbia in late 90's.
O Que é Isso, Companheiro? (1997)
Intelligent and exciting
This is a truly passionate film about young men and women who fight for ideals that they believe in.
A Brazillian rebel group has kidnapped the American ambassador for Brazil, and demands that fifteen jailed political prisoners be let free. This leads to some tense sequences with Fernando, the most intelligent and cowardly of the kidnappers, and the ambassador (played brilliantly by Alan Arkin).
This could have become a routine thriller. It isn't due to it's intelligence and passion. A very worthwhile movie.
** Even if you're turned off by the idea of subtitles, don't worry. There is a lot of English.
Richard III (1995)
An absolute powerhouse
Ian McKellan is stunning in his role as Richard the third, reincarnated for the early 20th century.
If you want to update a Shakespearean play, this is how you do it. The story will shock you sometimes, but not as bad as the critics have mentioned. It is a very visual film, and the cinematography and art direction are incredible. The performances range from good (Robert Downey Jr) to absolutely brilliant. Ian McKellan literally possesses the screen as Richard III. The power of his performance is strengthened by the incredible updating of the Bard's play.
This movie deserved many more nominations than given by the academy. Especially Ian McKellan (to see another facet of this guy's range, watch Gods and Monsters).
One of the top ten of 1995.
Angels and Insects (1995)
Mature and fascinating
This was thoroughly engaging and thoughtful film, with a rich and fascinating plot and characters.
The opening scene of the natives of South America dancing is a well edited opening, and the word 'Angels" appears over it. Indeed, all the Angels in this film are not in England (where the rest of the film takes place). William Adamson (Mark Rylance), a biologist who collects rare insects (especially the butterfly), survives a shipwreck and comes under the protection of an upper class English family. That's where he falls in love with Eugenia (Patsy Kensit). But every family has it's secrets.
Someone described this as "Merchant-Ivory meets Tennessee Williams", which is a perfect way to describe this film.
Several have complained about the actors, saying that there is not a single stand-out performance. I disagree, as both Rylance and Kristin Scott Thomas (in a performance worthy of an oscar nomination) acquit themselves well. The script is also very well written, and the costumes deserved the Oscar nomination.
One of the ten best of 1996.
This is a vastly underrated Canadian film that deserved more recognition. Is this a conventional war film? No, not at all.
The opening scenes are done quite like a painting. They are very impressive, and the overhead shots are simply majestic. The story, however, is set in a mental institution, where Doctor Rivers (played with brilliance by Jonathan Pryce) is set on 'curing' the shell-shocked patients. There are three that the movie focuses on in particular: Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Billy Prior, respectively played by James Wilby, Stuart Bunce, and Johnny Lee Miller.
Previous comments have compared this film to Saving Private Ryan, yet there are several marked differences between the two. Ignoring the fact that they are set in two different wars, Saving Private Ryan examines the idea of heroism on the field, while Regeneration takes look on how war effects men psychologically.
Certainly a worthy look, and a fine addition to any film collection.
Boogie Nights (1997)
Epic masterpiece of the low road
This movie was the product of a newcomer, who proved that he would be one of the most important young film-makers with this and Magnolia.
Paul Thomas Anderson is a little of a show-off with his camera movements, but the scenes impress us so much, that we ignore such hubris. Imagine a combination of Robert Altman, Oliver Stone, and Martin Scorsese, and you would get Anderson. Though it is about pornography, it really limits the nudity in the film.
The performances are also something to watch. Julianne Moore as the 'mother' of the film 'family' gives a performance that deserved the oscar. Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, and Don Cheadle also give memorable performances.
This film was overlooked at the oscars, and certainly deserved more awards than it received.
Henry & June (1990)
This is a biography where the director only claims to be fascinated with his main subject, Anais Nin, but knows he doesn't completely understand her. Which makes this film all the more interesting.
Anais Nin is played with ease by Maria de Medeiros. She embodies a sexuality and a poise that makes her a performer to watch. However, the most amazing performance comes from Uma Thurman. She is completely in tune with June Miller, Henry Millers rapturous wife. Her performance recalls those of Dietrich, West, and Garbo, but stands on her own. The production also must be complimented, for it's brilliant portrayal of Paris in the early 1930's. The cinematography deserves special praise.
If the film has one flaw, it's that we really don't know Anais Nin very well. But, whom do we completely understand.
The Hurricane (1999)
It needed to be three hours long
Before I go into detail of the one fault this film has, let me say that this movie is a powerful experience, one the everyone should undertake.
The acting by the entire cast is incredible. Denzel Washington gives his second best performance (after his stirring turn in Malcolm X). He commands the screen throughout the film. Rod Steiger also has a memorable cameo at the end as the judge.
The film's flaw is it's length. Because the studio wouldn't release a film over two and a half hours, the first hour tries to pack in so much information that it lacks cohesion. However, once the second hour starts, its a roller coaster ride of emotions until the very powerful finish.
The Wings of the Dove (1997)
Great to look at
Someone has already said of how Bonham Carter's character doesn't make sense, and I'm forced to agree. She is manipulative and deceitful, and we never really find out if she does love Merton or is using him as excitement.
The love story is quite well told, otherwise, with excellent performances by the three leads. Alison Elliot is great as the American heiress. Her Millie is quite funny and enjoyable, yet serious and sad. Bonham Carter also gives a great performance as the confounding Kate Croy. Linus Roache gives a subtle performance in a role quite unlike his role in Priest. He projects hints of happiness, yet assuming he is a happy person would be incorrect.
The cinematography is beautiful, and the scenes with Roache and Elliot very touching. It is worth a look
This ranks as one of the most horrifying film I have ever seen. The Thief (Michael Gambon) has got to be one of the most despicable characters put on screen. He is a brutal, disgusting man, who has no motive or reason for what he does. Helen Mirren is the long suffering wife who has an affair and gets the best bit of revenge at the end.
Though most of the film is in the restaraunt, Le Hollandaise, the film doesn't feel static or stagy. Michael Nyman's score is good, but doesn't stand up to his later scores for Gattaca or The Piano.
The ending is what I like best about this film. While I won't give it away, all I'll say is that it is unexpected.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Superb, well crafted and acted (Spoilers)
I was surprised that people didn't like this film, but some of the arguments used need some clarification. Someone said that the situation would unravel, like everyone knew it would. Of course it would. For their to be tension, the situation has to unravel. If there was no tension, it wouldn't be a thriller. You don't hate really any of these characters, except Freddy (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), but that is his character. His role is rather small, so it really doesn't affect your liking of the film. The only real flaw of the film is it's overlength. It is, as some have said, too long by about twenty minutes. But that is it's only flaw. Some people were bothered by the homosexual subtext. All I can say is that it is personal taste, and the film would be completely different without it.
Matt Damon gives an astonishingly good performance. It is a tricky role, but he nails it by underplaying Thomas Ripley. Damon is subtle, and projects his character by playing him quietly, not loudly. Which is the complete opposite of Jude Law's scenery chewing role as Dickie Greenleaf. He is absolutley brilliant in the role. What emerges when these two are on the screen is a mesmerizing tango of deceit.
Gwyneth Paltrow is not that great. She has a role that could have been played as anyone. Same with Cate Blanchett, but she is good. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character is so obnoxious, and his performance in Happiness is so brilliant, that it just doesn't work.
The ending is absolutely chilling. It is not a happy ending, but one that is thought-provoking. The script is very well written, and the cinematography is lush, but Anthony Minghella's direction really does use both to make a compelling film. But it is the Damon and Law who elevate this to be one of the ten best films of the year.