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The Story of Us (1999)
Sweet, sad and, um, that's it
This is a pretty film, often poignant, and a bit too close to the bone at times for my liking. Still, it carries you along quite nicely - making it's point that time grinds marriages down more often than affairs - and then sort of stops.
The leads were great: Willis was really good, Pfeiffer was fantastic (hey, i'm a fan, okay). But, the characters were tough to take. The self-pity was intercut with nice bits of comedy, but it felt like Reiner was cutting from a wake to a pratt-fall on occasions.
The final scenes, with Pfeiffer's frightening display of multi-emotional skill (at once excellent and utterly ghastly), betrayed the characters. Normality was implausibly resumed, and Pfeiffer came across as at fault for taking the whole film to get real, and Willis looked much relieved that she'd taken the sanity pill and he could quit trying to change himself.
And the end was a surprise. I thought there was going to be more: a deeper level of story. But it ended without a sense of closure.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
This film was stylishly made, exceptionally well cut, and held together by Michelle Pfeiffer's most edgy performance in years. A wonderful experience in the cinema, this film kept surprising me - given the Hitchcock qualities were made obvious (and well respected) from the start - and triggered yelps of shock from the audience.
The story is nothing special - the plot being almost totally given away in the trailers - but the stars and clever direction make it engrossing.
And of the stars: Harrison Ford pulls off intense by way of bemused throughout, whilst Pfeiffer made me more uptight with each sideways glance. It was a relief, incidentally, to see her in a story without soap opera tendencies.
Nope, this film was bloody excellent and, whilst I don't doubt it will fade to a memory of technique and little heart, achieved greater resonance than anything I've seen this year.
Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983)
A party - with no particular sense of drama.
This is as happy a celebration as a 20 year old science fiction programme could hope to have. A mish-mash of Doctors and monsters, it works better as a series of character vignettes than a dramatic story. The episode (it is best viewed as the 90 minute film of the original transmission) ambles spendidly through mini-adventures for all concerned, sort of aiming towards the showdown at the end, but with no great tension for the audience.
It's a little odd to think that we're now another 16 years on.
A Thousand Acres (1997)
Visually slow, the film is powered by Pfeiffer's anger
Given the way the film begins - lots of slow tracking shots of the thousand acres - I expected this to be a dull but worthy effort only brightened by Michelle Pfeiffer (the reason I bought the tape). To an extent this was true - Pfeiffer's character was by far the most interesting. Her anger throughout, although utterly justified, carried an air of self-destruction and manipulation that made the story most watchable. There were points when I wondered if the film was going to miss any tragedian tricks (perhaps I mean soap opera headlines: death, abandonment, loss with no true deliverance, etc), but it was the believability of Pfeiffer and the ugly familiness achieved by the rest of the cast that carried it, showing peaks of humanity through the weight of the film's atmosphere.
Doctor Who (1996)
An exciting, if sometimes bemusing, return for a Time Lord
On first viewing, as a long-time fan of Who, I found this film thoroughly exciting and - with the exception of certain shots of his wig - McGann's Doctor a splendidly 'honest' incarnation. There's a point in the film when he diverts personal revelation into a comment about his shoes - and a true moment of the Doctor's characterisation I couldn't have asked for. > Granted the car chases were largely silly, but there was some running up and down corridors in there as well, so I was happy. The only bits that really irritated me were the half-human revelation and 'cloaking device' reference: icons of another story altogether. If Star Trek did not exist, these would have been an interesting development and a curious re-labelling (of the TARDIS's chameleon circuit). However, Star Trek does exist and they felt > like a needless cultural intrusion rather than an extension of the > story. > Of the kiss: most of the louder Who fans seem to prefer an asexual Doctor. To be honest, I wouldn't have liked to see Patrick Troughton doing that with his assistants (any of them), but I'm a grown up now and Grace was a babe so... um... is there a place for lechery in these reviews? > And the last twenty minutes were excellent - despite making no sense at all.