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Better than a bottle of aspirin.
4 March 2001
I was sitting at home in a snowstorm with a fever, chills and a bit of nausea. Time to watch a movie - but which movie? I spied my copy of the Princess Bride I bought after getting my DVD a few months ago. The last time I saw this was several years ago on VHS at a friend's in monophonic. What a spectacular experience on my new Sony Trinitron with a good stereo sound system! The nuances of color are wonderful and the sound track impeccable.

I have seen this movie several times over the years, and enjoy it just as much each time. How many movies can you say that of? Still, you don't want to wear it out. My suggestion is every home should have a copy of The Princess Bride, but save it for when someone is sick, just like the book in the movie. It sure made me feel better, even though I am a grown up.

Rob Reiner and the rest of the crew deserve a lot of credit for this movie. It is one of those gems where everything seems to fall into place perfectly. Thank you!

Evidently there is at least one cynic out there, though, who was not touched by this gentle fairy tale, which is ironic considering one of the greatest cynics of all worked on this movie: Norman Lear, creator of All in the Family. I agree with "markwilson" about Titanic; if I had to watch that when I was sick, I would probably shoot myself. All I can say, Mr. MW, is if The Princess Bride doesn't cheer you up, next time you get sick, make sure you have a big bottle of aspirin, and drink plenty of tequila.
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Notting Hill (1999)
Rent it if you subscribe to the National Enquirer.
28 January 2001
I kept thinking it seemed odd at the beginning of the movie that Hugh Grant should be surprised by the attentions of this famous movie starlet. After all, he is surely one of the leading heart-throbs on the screen these days. Oh yeah, I remembered, he is pretending to be a nobody, not an actor. But even as a nobody, I had trouble believing he would be shy and unable to get a date. And I had a heck of a time identifying with him.

And then there is Julia Roberts, famous actress, pretending she can't find true love, except in a book shopkeeper. Huh??? OK, accepting that stretch, lets say she was not a famous actress and just a girl who comes on to Grant. I doubt someone looking like Hugh Grant would pay much attention to such a mousy chick. So the logic that there is true love in Grant's heart for the person, not the actress is hard to accept.

If only there had been a climatic love scene - no not sex, but an intelligent conversation. I mean here are two people who decide not just to marry, but to make radical changes in their lives and they have done nothing deeper than take a walk in a park at night. I mean, she comes in to his book store to buy a book about travel; he owns a book store with nothing but books about travel. I am sitting there just waiting for a conversation about how they love to travel and would like to run away to some tropical isle together, or something. Not just a few quick name droppings of authors and painters.

The weird collection of people in Grant's family resembles the Addams Family, with Grant the only normal one. But then it began to make sense: this movie is not aimed at intellectuals, but at air heads who read People magazine and the tabloids, and whose very being hangs vicariously on reading about the lives of celebrities. The family represents the demographics of the tabloid readers, providing one of each type so they can identify with someone in the movie.

This could have been a profound movie about love transcending all, etc. Instead it is a superficial romance aimed at people whose idea of romance consists of a famous person taking one look at them and then falling madly in love with them. If you read People magazine, you will probably enjoy it. If you read Scientific American, forget it.

One other thing, this is another one of those videos where the box bears no resemblance to the movie. Why is Julia Roberts in pearls with a goofy grin? I mean she spends most of the movie in T-shirt. It makes it look like she is some rich person who lives in a mansion in Notting Hill. When the package doesn't match the contents you know something's wrong.
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A quiet masterpiece of the cinema
20 January 2001
I cannot begin to convey the intellectual and spiritual riches of this exquisite, almost transcendental film. I've seen What's Up Tiger Lilly about 50 times and I'm going to continue watching it til the end of my life. It is one of the ten best films I have ever seen. It entertains and inspires me with every subsequent viewing. However, there are two versions: What's up Tiger Lilly? and What's up, Tiger Lilly? You want to see the first, original version.

Never before have I seen such everyday people brought to the screen in such a believable and moving way. WUTL is filled with one perceptive scene after another. It is a metaphorical masterpiece.

Every now and then a film maker brings to life a unique group of people and lets you inside to see the things that make us human. Woody Allen has done it again! It is his juxtaposing of little and big events that lets us see how basically trivial most things we worry about are is truly genius. The characters are so richly drawn, finely acted and beautifully directed, that even when they're not speaking... we can read their emotions, we feel their pain.

I love it when I don't know what is going to happen, even within the context of a sort of romantic comedy. WUTL is a terrific look at why people stay "together" in the sense of being a part of someone's life even when danger lurks around every corner.

WUTL is undeniably one of the paramount achievements in modern film. This movie is about freedom -- the freedom to be yourself, to be unselfconscious, to let your mind roam and behave any way you want. Nothing about WUTL is conventional yet--and this is important--it never tries to shock you in a cheap Hollywood way with violence, sex, or some special effects crap.

This film is so un cliche that you really have to praise the makers of this film. As soon as you sit down to watch it, it oozes class. The writing is witty and never falls into cliche.

I think there is a lot of symbolism about art and the creative process in this movie. Not once is there a single frame of film wasted. The gorgeous visuals set a perfect backdrop for some of the greatest movie dialogue of all time.
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Not to be forgotten
14 January 2001
There were two ghosts that hung over the second half of the twentieth century: The novel 1984 and the wreck of the Titanic. It was the ghost of the future, and the ghost of the past.

Up until the year 1984 there was the constant fear that George Orwell's prophesy would prove correct - which, I suppose, was what Orwell had intended. There were times when the pendulum seemed to swing toward, and then away and then toward totalitarianism, even in the United States. By the time the year finally arrived, most people were no longer terrified of this phantom. And now you no longer have glib commentators invoking the image of a totalitarian future with the phrase "1984."

Growing up in the last third of the 20th century, the Titanic was like a mirror-image ghost of 1984, the past embalmed beneath the sea, preserving a world of grand innocence that died with World War I, or at least the image of innocence and grandeur that we projected upon it. Ironically, that ghost was exhumed two years later, in 1986, but it was not until the movie that it was finally exorcised through trivialization.

While I was disappointed with the movie Titanic, I was not disappointed with the movie Nineteen Eighty-Four. I do not know of a better rendition of a novel. I am amazed at how accurately the mood, imagery and even scenery of the movie matched the ones created in my mind by reading Orwell's novel several times since early adolescence. After all, these were my images, my subconscious, my fears. And yet here they were on the screen. It is a testament to Orwell's writing that he was able to create such vivid imagery that found its way faithfully into so many minds. And it is a testament to the film's producer; proof that a book can be transformed into a movie accurately. Judging from some of the other reviews, not everyone shares this view. But as I recall from my college lit classes, not everyone was capable of understanding every book, so could some of this be the reader-viewer's fault?

One detail in the movie that I found amusing was the depiction of computers. It was a melding of teletype keyboards from the 1940s with monitors using 1960s technology. I can't help thinking that that is the kind of computer technology we would have if government and the courts were to dictate the rules.

Freedom requires individual initiative unencumbered by government, as far as possible. However, corporations grown beyond control or accountability may be an even greater threat. The end of the Soviet Union, one of inspirations for 1984, is not the end of Big Brother. And, oddly, modern computer technology is only now creating the capability of producing true omnipresent paranoia. How many of us wonder, as we are sitting at out computers at work or at home, whether someone is watching our work?

If you are looking for sheer entertainment, Nineteen Eighty-Four will disappoint you. So, too, if you don't like "history." But even though the time is now in the past, the ghost may still be in the future. And for that reason, I hope people will still read the book AND watch this impeccable cinematic rendition of Orwell's masterpiece.
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Grand Canyon (1991)
I did my laundry during the last third of the movie.
7 January 2001
I wish I had started sooner. Maybe just done my laundry and skipped the movie. Some advice: if you are tempted to watch this movie, do your laundry, instead. Don't have any to do? Borrow some.

If you don't, what you will get is a loosely assembled montage of scenes from someone's life in Los Angeles. Scenes like muggings, drive-by shootings, police brutality, abandoned babies, psycho homeless people, an schizo adulterous secretary, and some "touching" scenes, such as teenagers making out in summer camp, and a kid learning to drive with his dad.

What do they all these scenes have to do with each other?

Beats me.

Hey, it's the big city, man. Life doesn't have to be connected, right? Life is just profound if you dig the flow.

In other words, this was, essentially, a West Coast version of Smoke, though not quite as bad. Actually, the acting was good, overall. But these people are professionals, and I don't think they should get awards for just doing their jobs. The exception was Steve Martin. Nice of him to try doing a straight role - in disguise. However, any pro from central casting could have done as well.

Randomness does not art make. Sorry.

Would you believe this movie made four Best 10 of the year awards? Makes me wonder if those reviewers had something extra in their popcorn. Don't get me wrong; this was not a terrible movie. The sound track was pretty good - it always let you know when to be worried something bad was going down, which was most of the time.

I am beginning to think some Best 10 Lists mean "10 movies that don't stink," at least for some reviewers.

Clearly, this movie was supposed to have some profound message concerning the meaning of life.
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The Gold Standard
24 December 2000
This is the standard by which all other movies must be rated. And here, with a scale of 1 to 10, this must be rated a 10. This does not necessarily mean that there are not other movies that are better, a somewhat meaningless exercise since all "10" movies must be unique, so not truly comparable. But it is useful to keep Gone with the Wind in mind when rating other movies. I cannot comprehend how people can rate such trash as Fargo or even The Sound of Music as the greatest movie ever created. I wonder how many movies they have watched? Six?

Yes, GWTW has flaws. Leslie Howard supposedly refused to read the book before playing the part, and got Ashley wrong as a result. And the biggest flaw is that it glorifies a way of life based on the evil of slavery. If the movie came out today, how many people would believe that they could enjoy such a storyline? Surely it would be picketed as politically incorrect. And yet the movie, like all great movies, makes you suspend disbelief and accept its pretext.

This is not entirely surprising given that the story emerged from a society, the South, that had become expert at weaving a world of fantasy to justify its unspeakably evil past, and to some extent, still does so today. There is a lesson here: movies, as art, are not about political correctness. And simply watching - or reading - a story does not somehow instantly brainwash you into believing its political message. I come away from seeing GWTW with a bit more empathy for what the South went through (I have lived in Southern states), but not a lot. And it certainly does not leave me advocating a Southern Rebel mindset, just as a movie about Nazis does not leave me waving a swastika.

I still enjoy GWTW, I still rate it a 10. But the truth is, as I have watched it many times over the years, I have expected to see, somewhere, a condemnation of slavery, but have not found it. Great art expresses a truth that transcends its time. GWTW fails that standard, sadly. But it is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. And with movies, that is the bottom line.
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