Jolie

IMDb member since February 2001
    Lifetime Total
    25+
    IMDb Member
    20 years

Reviews

Snatch
(2000)

Holy diamonds, Batman!
Wow...this film was a whirlwind of trendy visuals, ugly violence, colorful one dimensional characters, and of course, a sparkling 84 carat diamond extraordinaire. I must give director Guy Ritchie snaps for his cutting back and forth between scenes, lovely parallels like the (spoiler!) dogs and the hare, as well as the corresponding action in other quarters. But the suggestion of certain methods of feeding pigs, as well as the excessive appearance of blood and violence could have been avoided. On the other hand, the comic appeal of this film was first-rate and original. However, I was saddened that Benicio del Toro did not have a larger role in the film. I think that his character could have gone much further than it was given a chance to. In any case, with its breakneck pace, swift-moving soundtrack and gripping story line, "Snatch" was a definite entertainer.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
(2000)

A tale of epic proportions:)
What a film this was! From its commencement with the words of Homer to its dynamic finish, this film was an extreme departure from the mediocrity of most mainstream film today. Its score, filled with lovely harmonies and dixieland style tunes, suited the film perfectly. I especially loved the song of the Sirens...

Although the film was based upon the Odyssey by Homer, it bore little resemblance to the original, and was a delight in its own way. (Spoilers follow) John Goodman, with his one remaining eye was a dangerous Polyphemos, and of course, the Sirens by the riverbed and "Penny" rather than Penelope were all nods to Homer's epic. Yet what I loved about this movie was the way it built. Granted, it was a bit slow the first half hour, but once the audience realized the importance of Ulysses' journey and his need to reach his "treasure," then the interest built and built. The most frightening moment by far occurred when the three convicts crashed the "meeting" of the secret society and beheld the unmasking of its leaders. In short, this movie was a definite departure from the mainstream and most definitely worth your $5. :)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
(1998)

"What a long crazy trip it's been......"
Wow.....this film was an absolute mind-shattering experience, a visual journey of epic proportions, a literal trip for the viewer. I was in absolute awe during most of this film, watching the bizarre distortions of a drug induced stupor through the eyes of Raoul.

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was an absolute contrast of extremes. While it was hilarious to watch the 2 men stumbling through clubs, donning towels as if Lawrence of Arabia or hacking fruit, this was at the same time horribly tragic. It made one wonder what they could have been doing with their lives if they had not relied upon their mescaline, cocaine, ether and other substances. The line between fiction and reality was blurred as Dr. Gonzo plotted to (spoiler) kill the young reporter who he believed had taken "his" girl, when in fact she was just a random woman in an elevator. When Raoul later located the blood-tipped knife in the hotel room and pondered the occurrence of a crime slipping by in Las Vegas, you truly wondered what had transpired. Yet at the same time, all of the reflections on life, how one could get higher without the drugs, how these men, despite their tragic situations, could talk sense into each other and prevent worse events from occurring.....it was amazing. And when the film was all over, did it truly seem that bad?

X-Men
(2000)

Wow
I was incredibly impressed by this film, despite its mediocre reviews in the local newspaper. Director Bryan Singer truly captured the themes of loneliness and isolation that many experience in society today, even without mutant abilities. The struggle against prejudice was also another key element in this remarkable film. I was amazed by the haunting opening scene, as well as its continuing effect on the rest of the film. Also compelling were the relationships between the characters, and how in a remarkably brief amount of time, they had formed genuine bonds. The performances of Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin and Hugh Jackman? truly stood apart from the rest. Finally, I think that this film demonstrated than anyone can find acceptance, all they must do is find the right group of people. In a society bound by Internet access, cell phones and pagers, we must remember that there are people who feel left behind, who we must reach out to. This film reminds us that everyone deserves our respect, and therefore we should not judge others simply because they are different.

Charlie's Angels
(2000)

Can you say cheese?
This film must be the campiest, cheesiest, most ridiculous film I have seen yet....all of these slow motion shots with hair being tossed into the wind, the unzipped jumpsuits, the double entendres, the James Bond-esque puns.....gosh. And yet it was so much fun! We had strong female figures using their charms to fight crime and kick some proverbial rear end. Lucy Liu was hilarious in her presentation before the computer company, and it was priceless to see (spoiler) Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz in drag. What this film could have used was a bit less cleavage and a bit more substance, but that would have ruined the campy fun part...In any case, it was a fluffy little picture and is guaranteed to make you laugh.

Legend
(1985)

Interesting Concept
This film was such a trip. All of its nods to Adam and Eve, the heroic epics and even perhaps "A Midsummer Night's Dream" made for a familiar, yet well-woven story. Aside from the excruciating squeakiness of the fairy voices and the annoying nonsensical rhymes of the evil sprites, this film had many things going for it. First, it had the element of foreshadowing. It was chilling to see Lily watch the clock where death pursued the maiden, and how it was covered in snow in the broad daylight. There was the acceleration of images when the "Fall" occurred, with the flowing petals, the trotting unicorns, the advancing clouds, and the imminent approach of darkness. That brings me to another of the film's strengths, Tim Curry's performance as the Prince of Darkness. He was incredibly frightening in his devilish headdress, thick makeup and evil smile. Hell was almost Dante-esque with human barbecue, ravenous flames and screams of agony. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we had the innocence of Jack and Lily, our medieval Adam and Eve. It was fascinating to watch Lily's transformation from innocent into queen. I loved the scene where her white gown and simple makeup became an elegant upswept hairdo, luscious purple lipstick and a gown that looked ahead to the 90s and "Eyes Wide Shut" in terms of fashion. Even the uneven acting performances of the 2 actors was forgivable here because the film had such a fascinating concept. I loved the allegorical elements of the unicorns and the use of light and darkness and such. I would recommend this film to anyone who is in the mood for something different. Try to ignore the cheesy effects and concentrate on the concept. Clichéd it is, yes, but it is also a fun ride.

Final Destination
(2000)

Ok, I can breathe again now.........
What a film! I'll grant that the acting was mediocre and the plot questionable at times, but this film had an enormous impact. I was reminded of the Greek tragedies and their inexorable element of Fate. As Oedipus was fated to do the unthinkable, these young students were fated to die in a plane crash. But Fate did not account for the psychic impulses of Alex, nor their effect on Clear or his compatriots.

I absolutely loved all of the conceptual elements of foreshadowing; the word "Terminal" flipping, the words "Final Destination" on the tag, the announcement of the "Departure." Even moments in the dialogue which mentioned having the rest of one's life ahead of them simply pointed the finger towards an unfortunate end. Notice the subject of Clear's book at the airport, with its photos of Diana in the car crash...or Miss L's record...or all of the instances where Alex feels the presence of death. This film is incredible when it comes to suspense. I was literally holding my breath as I watched. It took me a good half hour to calm down afterward. And sleep? Ha. I couldn't fall asleep for hours. Yet despite the film's masterful concept of Fate, we also see the determination of the human spirit to survive, as well as courage, devotion and the notion of self-sacrifice. The film's only setbacks are the moments of stupidity by the main characters. (e.g., Would you ever put a beverage on a computer monitor? Hello?) Otherwise, this film was incredibly powerful and causes the viewer to contemplate its ideas for hours afterward. Also, consider the fact that there is an alternate ending on the DVD version and see which one you prefer.......:)

Coyote Ugly
(2000)

Surprisingly enjoyable
After I read a movie review for "Coyote Ugly" in my local newspaper and watched the trailer for this film, I expected it to be a mediocre picture lacking in plot, depth and clothing. Fortunately, a trip to the theatre to see "Coyote Ugly" proved me wrong. This film was an absolute treat. I'll grant it forgiveness for its cliches of the innocent girl in the big city seeking her fortune, the barista babes who befriend her, or the time-honored boy chases girl scenario, or in this case, how the ferociously handsome Mr. O'Donnell chases Violet Sanford.

On the subject of the male lead, Adam Garcia gives a sizzling performance as the dashing Mr. O'Donnell. Female fans in the audience will be thrilled to see Adam Garcia in his prime at the bar, but I won't divulge any details here. (Darn!) Although the film does feature some provocative female rug-cutting, some of the numbers are well-choreographed and pay homage to genres of dance like line dancing or "Riverdance"-esque moves. The soundtrack takes pages from The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Kid Rock, Third Eye Blind, and LeAnn Rimes, who performs the film's trademark song "Can't Fight the Moonlight."

This film has its share of pitfalls, such as the moment when Violet describes her stage fright to Mr. O'Donnell or Violet's weepy friend (why is she in the film again?) Yet on the whole, it was a solid, humorous, cliched film. I would give it **1/2 to *** stars. Thank you!

The Patriot
(2000)

Heart-wrenching drama
I was simply astounded by this film. From the moment that Mel Gibson brooded over the prospect of his prior sins to the touching ending of the film, I was spellbound by the strength of the characters and the emotion of this film. Mel Gibson presented us with the image of a war-hero who wished that he could undo the past. Unlike the other zealots at the town meeting, he alone saw the dangers of fighting a revolutionary war, and the high prices that the innocents would pay. Yet even his character could not foresee the terrors that his own family would face, and the dear consequenes of undertaking such an endeavor. This film is a testament to the human spirit, a force of reckoning for revolutionaries anywhere. It is such a contrast to learn about the American Revolution in a history class and then to see it reenacted onscreen, with bayonets slicing, tomahawks flying and cannonballs wreaking horrific havoc upon the enemy. Yet what is most moving is the devotion that these soldiers had to their families. Never mind the societal taboo that men cannot cry, for these men cared deeply for their families. I absolutely adored this film, and I strongly urge everyone to see it.

Scary Movie
(2000)

Nauseating
If I could compress all of my thoughts on "Scary Movie" into one word, that word would be nauseating. I cannot believe that this film did not receive the NC-17 rating that it so richly deserved. Any film with (spoiler!) a full frontal view of a man is enough to warrant more than an R rating. Yet the film did not stop there. At the time that I saw "Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me," I found its jokes about bodily functions disgusting. Unfortunately,"Scary Movie" went far beyond "The Spy Who Shagged Me," as well as any boundaries of decency, humor or farce. The story relied upon the already meager plots of "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer," which in themselves had mediocre writing and plots. Although ridiculing them down to the last detail is a nice trip for the director, it leaves the viewer wanting more than sex jokes and visual gags. I will give the film credit for its clever nods to "The Matrix,""The Blair Witch Project," and "The Sixth Sense," yet it lacked any depth whatsoever. Nothing made the viewers care if a character was knocked off, since their personalities were so incredibly cardboard that it was amazing that a great gust of wind didn't blow them all over. The only character that the audience could care about was Cindy, and even she (spoiler) lost her mind as a result of alcohol consumption. Cheri Oteri did a nice turn as Gail Hailstorm, and the ending (which I will not spoil here) was a pleasant twist on her part. Unfortunately, the last moment of the film was unfulfilling. I would rather see a definite ending to a film, not a random trick of fate. But if you seek jokes regarding sex, bodily functions, suggestive nudity on the part of guys and nausea, by all means, go see this film.

Alegría
(1999)

Astonishing - Contains Spoilers
I was overcome by this simplicity of this film. It began so innocently, and yet by the end it had stolen my heart. All of the cameos by the Cirque du Soleil performers and their phenomenal flexibility were incredible. I particularly enjoyed the soundtrack, which asked the question of why men wanted to kill themselves and young children had to work. These issues are still terribly relevant today, and this film only reiterated their truths.The love story between Frac and the young woman was classic, yet the moment when (spoiler!) Fleur chose to reveal their relationship to the audience of the cirque was disturbing. Throughout the entire film it was unclear where the circus ended and real life began. It was a bizarre meshing and art and life. (Spoiler?)Although the traditional gender role of boy saving girl were put into practice, the end result was still a touching film that managed to steal your heart by the end. I recommend it to anyone who longs for something different. I also loved the behind the scenes look at Alegria afterward, and how it is actually based upon The Garden of Earthly Delights by Boesch. A truly fascinating film.

Dogma
(1999)

Bizarre
I know that this film has come under fire from a number of religious groups, but I totally enjoyed it. From the moment that Loki compared religion to Through the Looking Glass to Jay casually mentioning the fact that he could be intimate with a preganant woman until the third trimester, I was enraptured. Dogma offered a fluid view of religion. Rather than presenting the viewer with a stagnant belief structure, Kevin Smith gave us the Catholicism Wow campaign and a (spoiler) female savior. What a concept! A woman saving the world, a woman as God. The ending of the film, (spoiler!) with Alanis Morisette dressed in a lovely mauve gown and flowers in her hair, gave me chills. Here was the novel idea of a female God on earth. Her kindness toward Bartleby was admirable, as she held him close to her and prevented his further suffering. I loved the chemistry between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the antics of Jay and Silent Bob, and the courage of Bethany. I do share her name in part, after all. The moment that (spoiler) Metotron covered her abdomen with his hand and presented her with a gift was phenomenal. And of course, I cannot leave out the nods to "Star Wars" in the diner and when Serendipity says "Take the Princess." This film could have done without the Golgotha and bit of the blood, but otherwise it was a solid effort. It is obvious that director Kevin Smith has a strong devotion to his faith, and this movie only sought to show that God has a sense of humor. I absolutely loved it!

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
(1990)

"What a long crazy trip!"
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is, without a doubt, the most macabre film I have seen yet. Not only did it begin in a most unusual manner, with Rosencrantz flipping a coin 157 times, but it ended in the most clever of fashions, with the Player performing the most regal of roles.

It is fascinating to watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern parry and thrust with words rather than tennis rackets and balls. Their use of rhetoric and imagined confidence belies their intelligence in spite of their confused situation. It is ironic that they know no more about themselves than play actors who only know their characters from the context of the play. But Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have no context. They are always travelling, be it through the woods, the interior of the castle, on the ship. They do not know their own names-they rely on others to set their course. It is a tragic situation.

On the other hand, the main player, superbly portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss, is like God. He places R @ G in their situation, adds his players, and watches how the scene unfolds. It is he who holds their destiny in his hands. The culmination of his power is most evident on the boat (spoiler!) when he assumes the role of the king and sentences them to death. Even a knife cannot end his life, for it is always an act for him.

The use of silent theatre with only the lyre to give voice to the actions was marvelous. Masks veiled the actors' countenances, and their actions spoke for them. The layering of dramatic action was fascinating: the puppet show mirrored the Murder of Gonzago which mirrored the events in Hamlet. The sudden transition to Claudius' horror-stricken expression was priceless. I especially loved the montage of the (spoiler!) fallen cup, Ophelia sinking beneath the waves, and Hamlet taking his revenge. All of the Shakespearian dialect, especially the moment when Hamlet attacked the tapestry, rang with passion and vivacity. I will always remember the moment when Hamlet said "Denmark is a prison," and his friend replied, "Then is the world one." Rosencrantz's arguments on death are fascinating, and as he lays on the stone table, contemplating death, one can almost feel the coffin over his/her face, the last breath stifled.....

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is a fascinating film, and I strongly recommend that you rent it.

The Shop Around the Corner
(1940)

Simply charming
What a delightful film! Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart had a lovely chemistry as the two warring employees at Matuschek and Company. I also loved the performance of Frank Morgan, best known for his title role in "The Wizard of Oz." I was initially interested in the film because of its successor, "You've Got Mail," but I found that this film has a lovely charm in its own right. I enjoyed the bantering between Mr. Kralik and Miss Novak, and the statement by the former: "You sure know how to put a guy on his planet." I loved the moment on Christmas Eve Mr. Matuschek discovers who will be his dining companion. And I especially enjoyed the film's ending, which I will not divulge here. I will only urge you to rent this charming classic.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
(1999)

Horrifying
I went to see "The Talented Mr. Ripley" with the impression that only one life would be lost in the film. Needless to say, I was wrong. Not only was there enough blood spurting to turn my stomach, but there were audio only deaths as well. Yet beyond the violence was a mesmerizing film. From the moment Mr. Ripley donned his glasses and began listening to jazz, I was spellbound. All of the mentions of the Greenleaf name opening doors, lying and impressions of others only served to foreshadow the murders of Dickie, et al. Matt Damon deserves an Oscar for his role as Mr. Ripley. Just when you think that you cannot detest him any more, he mentions the dark secrets, and how he wishes he could go back and erase it all. There is the moment at the opera when he witnesses the duel, the red cloth that signified blood, and (spoiler) tears fill his eyes. There is the moment when he embraces Dickie after his death, tenderly laying his head upon the other's back. I do not understand Mr. Ripley's motives throughout the film, but I will say that he is extraordinarily well-played by Mr. Damon.

Gwyneth Paltrow did a stunning job as Marge. We can truly see the effect of Mr. Ripley's deeds on Marge as she stands at the door of Dickie's house and cries that her heart is broken. Marge is clearly the most intelligent one, as she notices details that the police could not, such as Dickie's rings at Tom's house. How ironic it is that because she is a woman, the police do not believe the truth behind Dickie's death. Sadly, Ripley's trip to Europe only serves to shatter lives and aids no one but himself. I loved the part where Ripley rides his motor scooter down the alley of mirrors and sees a reflection of Dickie in one of them. And all of the Italian scenary and jazz music were absolutely delightful. I enjoyed hearing the Americano song which I remembered from "It Started in Naples."

On the whole, the film was astounding. It should win loads of Oscars. I only wish that it had held back on the gore.

Déjà Vu
(1997)

"What a strange crazy trip...."
From the appearance of the mysterious woman in the cafe to the 2 lovers standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, I was spellbound by this film. Although the acting on the part of the female lead was not world-class, she did manage to convey the shock and tortured emotions of her character. This film seemed to make use of an almost mythological concept of Fate, where humans are simply pawns in the hands of the gods. People can be fated to be together, and nothing will be able to stop them. It is so with this film. When Dana is left with a butterfly pin in an Israeli cafe, she travels to Paris to find its owner. A kind jewelry store owner leaves it in the front window in the hopes that the owner might see it. As she has to travel to London to meet her fiance, Dana sees a movie poster for the white cliffs of Dover. There she meets and falls in love with a painter named Sean. The mention of Dover and the song become a recurring motif in the film. Characters at the dinner party, namely Vanessa Redgrave, consider it a sign that everything would turn out all right. I enjoyed Redgrave's performance immensely, especially when she advised everyone to "jump into life!" All of the strange coincidences with the pictures and chance meetings of individuals present the characters with definite choices. Do they favor the steady, predicatable life with their fiance or do they see they take their chance with their man across the room, their mysterious man in the car? I think that this film can be applicable to everyone. If we all take that chance that we feel is right, that one decision that will change our lives forever-then at least we will have lived life fully. I do not care to spoil the end of this film, so I will simply call it "picture-perfect," and recommend it to anyone who wishes to see something different.

Les Misérables
(1998)

Compelling tapestry of human emotion
As the green landscape of France materialized on the screen, and the sweeping tones of the soundtrack whirled around me, I was swept away into another world. "Les Miserables" was a compelling tale as a novel and a musical, but in this film it is brought to new heights of brilliance. Liam Neeson brings a wonderfully expressive quality to Jean Valjean. His eyes speak volumes. Yet it is the idea of a character that can forgive and find redemption that I find the most compelling. Valjean has been jailed for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. In the novel it is because he attempted to escape, but in the film it is because of the cruelty of the judicial system. This same system allows Fantine to be arrested for defending herself against her attackers when they in fact were perpetrators of the original crime. It allows Valjean to be hunted down like a dog by fanatics like Javert who only want to free their consciences of annoying "problems" like Valjean. Yet ironically, Valjean is the only one who understands the meaning of justice. (Spoiler following!) It is he who allows Javert to escape rather than killing him in the alley. It is he who tells Javert that he does not hate him any longer. It is Valjean who saves Fantine from certain death, because he realizes that jailing her would be wrong. Javert's version of justice is warped by his fanaticism of cleansing the towns of all crime and corruption. Yet at the same time, his ways have corrupted him, and he only furthers them by continuing. (Spoiler!) His final plunge into the Seine River demonstrates the insanity that has pushed him over the edge. He cannot handle the kindness that Valjean has shown him, and cannot forgive himself for allowing Valjean to escape. It is here that forgiveness serves as a two-bladed sword: it can serve to free a person, as it did for Valjean...or trap a person, as it did Javert. His morals did not allow for compromise, and he was beaten before he began.

I also enjoyed Claire Danes' performance as Cosette. Here, instead of a quiet, dutiful daughter, we see a girl who has led repressed life because of her overprotective father. When she verbally lashes out at him, asking him who he is, why she should be punished for seeing Marius when she doesn't even know her own father, she brings up a valid point that Valjean must be truthful. We see the other side of the coin: a young child who is socially punished for her father's actions. It is obvious that Valjean adores her completely, but he cannot give her the freedom that she desires-like her father, she is trapped until Javert stops his search. I could go on for hours about this film, but I only ask that you give it a fair chance, because it is an extraordinary work.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
(1999)

Does going off on a tangent mean anything to you?
I was stunned by this film. I honestly did not believe that Mike Myers could stoop so low as to use such crude, primal bathroom humor. The film lacked the spontaneous gags and spunk of "International Man of Mystery." Where were the 60s spy movie in-jokes (aside from the bad puns and Mini-Me in the baby carriage)? Where were the clever double entendres? Where was the magic? "The Spy Who Shagged Me" could have been much more entertaining if a few amendments had been made.

First, the writers should have cashed in on the "Star Wars" cow. The film opened with golden credits flying through space and made mention of a Death Star, but it missed the train. Even Austin's mojo could have been portrayed as more mystical and drug-like instead of a pink potion. Second, Fat Bastard should never have existed. His comments belong in a men's locker room, NOT in a motion picture. I literally felt nauseous as he described his bathroom practices. Third, what happened to the 60s Dr. Evil? Was he frozen too? Wouldn't his staff have questioned a 90s Dr. Evil returning to the 60s and taking over? And why did Evil have to sleep with Frau what's her bucket? He always complained about Scott's lack of evil tendencies, calling him the "Diet Coke" of evil. Why couldn't he just not sleep with her and fail to produce Scott at all? Then he would only have Mini Me and be content.

Aside from the those amendments, the film was not entirely awful. I enjoyed the irony of Scott being more evil than his father. Scott is the one who lampoons the idiocy of throwing Austin and Felicity in a jail cell with one guard. Scott is the one who recommends killing Austin in the past, and his father replies that Scott does not truly understand the nature of evil. I think that if Scott were Dr. Evil, things would be happening in a more practical manner. I enjoyed the random nature of "One of Us" as performed by Dr. Evil. The whole rap number with Mini Me was hilarious as well. Yet I think that the film seemed to go off on an enormous tangent once Austin lost his mojo. The whole sequence with the phallic-shaped ship was incredibly bizarre. It had the flavor of an SNL episode. All in all, this film needed some clarification and some non-bathroom related humor. If the third installment in the trilogy returns to the flavor of "International Man of Mystery," it will be a good film. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Anywhere But Here
(1999)

Painfully Familiar
From the moment the trailer for "Anywhere But Here" flashed across my television set, I knew that I had to see this film. It was one of those irrepressible urges that leads you to brave the wildest roller coaster at the amusement park or kiss your best friend on a whim. So I doled out my hard-earned $8 and prayed that I wouldn't be disappointed. On the contrary, "Anywhere But Here" shattered the boundaries of my expectations and left me wanting more.

Natalie Portman is a phenomenal actress. When she stood in front of the Beverly Hills Diner with tears welling up in her eyes and nearly evoked tears from my eyes without saying a single word, I knew that I was in the presence of greatness. One stony look at her love interest spoke volumes. The vision of Ann gazing out the window while the blinds cast alternating shadows and light onto her face was sheer brilliance on the part of director Wayne Wang. Yet what makes Ann such a heartbreaking character is that she resembles everyone. We have all felt the tremors and unexpected tragedies of growing up. Ann has an especially difficult life with her outrageous mother Adele August (Susan Sarandon). Yet she handles all of her problems with phenomenal self-control and patience. It is almost ironic that Adele's daughter Ann is the first to notice that her mother engaged in a one night stand and the man didn't want to hear from her anymore.

We watch Ann progress from slouching teenager in baseball cap and baggy jeans to a self-assured, beautiful young woman. She undergoes the change that all of us must undertake to reach adulthood, and emerges relatively unscathed. (ha) Even Adele undergoes a change. At the beginning of the film, Susan Sarandon runs around in leggings and off the shoulder sweaters, telling fictionalized life accounts to strangers. We get the impression that she is merely a fun-loving, psycho mom who enjoys lugging her daughter from state to state. But through Wayne Wang's careful care with the film, we see that what is in her heart is a different story. She may be an outrageous mother, but she is a loving woman nonetheless. It is clear that Ann is the number one priority in her life.

Wayne Wang has painstakingly created a film that captures those moments that cannot be described. They are written in Natalie Portman's eyes as she watches for her mother out the window, or Susan Sarandon's 2nd run-in with (spoiler!) the kind policeman. They are etched in the fabric of our memory. I sincerely hope that everyone will go and watch this film, because it is PHENOMENAL.

The Matrix
(1999)

Indescribable
I honestly do not know where to begin. I found "The Matrix" to be simultaneously mind-altering, exhilarating, gasp-inducing, nauseating and maddening. Yet I believe that the true power of the film lies in its ability to make the viewer truly believe in the power of the Matrix. As I watched the film, I lost myself in the world of the 21st century. Yet the most chilling part of the film was the concept that machines could overrun the world. The concept of artificial intelligence with emotions and needs was addressed well in "2001: A Space Odyssey," but this film goes far beyond HAL. The idea of artificial intelligence considering us to be zoo animals, and accusing us of exhausting supplies-since when is artificial intelligence a natural commodity? Since when do computers deserve the earth more than humans? And since when did people lose all worth? I truly wanted to attack Agent Smith as he hurled these depraved comments at Morpheus.

On a lighter note, I loved all of the little allusions in the film. Obviously, "Follow the White Rabbit" came from "Alice in Wonderland," and Morpheus' comment about tumbling down the hole followed in the same vein. There was also a great deal of Biblical imagery. Neo was like a present day Jesus. There were also numerous references to religion, including Trinity's name, Adam Road, and the idea that he was THE ONE to save humanity. You could also consider Cypher a type of Judas, who would betray his friends for riches. Yet I also saw a bit of the X-Files in this film, with the theme of conspiracy; Star Wars, with Morpheus as a sort of Jedi master ("Don't think about it, do it.") and Neo as a sort of Luke Skywalker. Even Morpheus' comment had a Yoda-like feel about it.

I think that the film took great pains to demonstrate the values of humanity, and the price they put on life. The artificial intelligence was a sharp contrast. Although Smith confides that he too wants to be free, he hates humanity. Neo and friends aim to preserve life. We hold a higher value on life than battery fluid. The idea of infants ingesting the fluid of the deceased also made me nauseous. Soylent green as a liquid. Fun. Yet despite all of the nauseating blood, vomit and liquid people, I was simply blown away by this film. It challenged my entire viewpoint on life, challenging me to consider the idea that life is but a dream......It was a fine effort, and I hope that the 2 window-washing brothers come up with another provocative film.

Shakespeare in Love
(1998)

A film that swept me off my feet!
Watching "Shakespeare in Love" was like falling in love for the first time. The passionate enthusiasm of the characters, the gorgeous costumes and masterful script swept me along until the close of the film. I do not know where to begin when discussing this delightful film. I adored the little "in" jokes, such as the wording "Stratford-Upon-Avon" on Shakespeare's mug, or the man on the street discussing a rose, and how by any other name it would bear the same sweet fragrance. There was the classic balcony scene, swordplay, and passionate romance. Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes made a wonderfully charming couple, although I will admit that the film could have cut down on the nudity just a bit. But other than that, it was a flawless piece. Geoffrey Rush, dastardly evil in "Les Miserables," was simply hilarious as a theatre owner in financial straits. I loved his quirky facials and mock terror. Finally, Dame Judi Dench's performance as Queen Elizabeth was so subtle that it nearly caught one offguard. Yet it too was quick, witty and quite worthy of the Oscar it won her.

The film's script was a masterpiece in itself, weaving the beatiful wordplay of Shakespeare with some of the brilliance of today. There were plenty of plot twists and unexpected circumstances to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. And I believe that the ending of the film was simply perfect. I recently appeared in a production of "What You Will," and it was refreshing to see a familiar moment on screen. Clearly, "Shakespeare in Love" earned its Oscar for Best Picture. I sincerely hope that it will remain a favorite for years to come.

Muppets from Space
(1999)

The last innocent movie
"Muppets from Space" is one of the last innocent films of the 90s. Amidst a sea of raunchy comedies like "South Park," "Austin Powers 2" and screamfests like "The Blair Witch Project," the muppets have remained untouched. It is refreshing to see that "some things never change," as Robin reminded us in a "Muppet Family Christmas." This latest installment of the muppet adventures is an almost simplistic journey of a hero. Gonzo must overcome obstacles, such as mowing the lawn, building a jacuzzi (he he), escaping from a secret government hideaway, in order to reach his final goal: meeting his family. Everyone can relate to Gonzo's feelings of loneliness and isolation, and his final realization that Kermit, Piggy and the rest of the gang ARE his family. Schmaltzy perhaps, but it is what the Muppets do best. Several clever touches in the film included the references to "Men in Black," "Independence Day," and "Star Wars," with the Cosmic Fish. I also enjoyed Gonzo in the wind tunnel calling for Auntie Em. And who could forget the Ambassador to Gonzo's people, who was given his dream while the theme to "Star Trek" played in the background? This is truly classic Muppets fare. Do not watch it as an adult, but let your mind become childlike again, and you will love it.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
(1999)

Dazzling
"No one can kill a Jedi!" Anakin Skywalker boasts. Qui Gon Jinn regards the young boy with a rueful gaze. "I only wish that were so," he replies quietly. What better example of foreshadowing could be found in "Star Wars: Episode 1?" The film is literally teeming with clever instances of foreshadowing, irony and theme. Consider the time when Anakin meets Obi-Wan Kenobi. I know that in my mind, the final lightsaber battle between the two flashed through at that moment. There is the point when Anakin singlehandedly destroys the Trade Federation's flagship, a vessel that resembles the Death Star in more ways than one. Yet my favorite moment in the film is when Yoda and Mace Windu discuss the existence of the Dark Jedi. They wonder which was killed, the master, or the apprentice. As their conversation ends, the camera slowly pans across the room to focus on the "master," Senator Palpatine. Very well done, I must say. Also delightful to watch were the moments of irony on the part of Senator, such as when he told Amidala that he hoped to bring peace and prosperity to the galaxy. Especially with an Empire up his sleeve. But it will be fascinating to watch his transformation throughout the trilogy.

My only complaints about the film center around Queen Amidala. I enjoyed her performance during the first portion of the film, but towards the end, she seemed to develop a severe coldness. This was especially evident when she bade Anakin farewell right before her speech before the Senate. I understand that she may have been overcome with grief, but she was extremely harsh. Yet I did enjoy her performance in the Senate. The pain over the loss of her people and the ravaging of Naboo was evident as tears shone in her soft, brown eyes. Her costumes were extraordinary. I predict that an Academy Award nomination may find its way to the Costume Department over at Lucasfilm, Ltd, as will a nomination for Special Effects. I must applaud the men and women at Industrial Light and Magic for their genius on the pod race and space battles. The sound scheme was phenomenal as well. I could actually feel the floor rumble beneath my feet in the theatre as I watched the film. The lightsaber battles were flawless in their execution, and the choreography excellent. I hated to watch Qui Gon die. The first time I watched the film, I literally gasped as he fell to the floor. There was such a tortured expression on his face. I doubt I will ever forget it.

On a lighter note,I enjoyed watching young Jake Lloyd do a fantastic job as Anakin. I refuse to buy the critics advice on this young actor. They termed his performance "wooden. If I nearly cried when Anakin left his mother, I would not call his performance "wooden." He was absolutely adorable,especially when he asked Padme if she was "an angel." A friend of mine called his pickup line "smooth." I think that this was a powerful attempt at the "Star Wars" story. Although it had its flaws, it still followed the classic mythological framework laid out by Joseph Campbell in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. With "Star Wars," it isn't about the special effects. It is about the story of the hero, and the timeless truths that have been passed down for centuries. I salute George Lucas in his fine attempt to continue this essential tradition.

2001: A Space Odyssey
(1968)

Spell-binding
"2001: A Space Odyssey" could be considered one of the most fascinating films of the century. Its influence can be found everywhere, from "Star Wars" to "Contact." Its special effects were extraordinary for the time period, and the musical score was simply breathtaking. Surely it must have been a spell-binding sight on the silver screen, because it was fascinating on the small. As I perused the comments of others on this website, I noticed the term ambiguous was applied to the film in nearly every entry. This element allows viewers to interpret the film in any number of ways, and allows them freedom to think for themselves. It's a nice touch. I have a few ideas about this film myself...First, the "Dawn of Man." I got the impression that violence was the only manner that someone would get ahead in life. There was the cheetah that attacked the ape, the ape that attacked the theropod, and the ape that attacked the other ape. The film is filled with death imagery: the dead theropod, the dead ape, the dead humans. The sets are stark white and sterile. The only breath of fresh air, of new life, is the new baby at the end. Everyone is so isolated. They eat in front of their little computer stations and talk to the computer. Their conversations are so limited in scope. There does not seem to be anything worth fighting for, no truth, beauty,or religion. Nothing is powerful enough to stir things up. It's almost reminiscent of "Brave New World," because people have nothing worth living for. They also seem to be overly dependent on technology. At least one message of the film would be not to let technology rule your life, or it will come back to haunt you. There is the concept of technological advancement. In "Jurassic Park," Malcolm tells Mr. Hammond, "Your scientists were so preoccupied if they could, they didn't stop to think if they should!" When technology has its own artificial intelligence, emotions and dialogue, what separates it from humanity? When the people become as two-sided as cardboard cutouts and humanity has less personality than a computer, something is wrong. People need to reach out to one another.

So many things can be said about the film's ending. I am still unsure exactly how it fits in, except to provide a contrast to the death imagery. It could be the BIRTH of an idea. It could provide innocence to a struggling race. It could simply be a random idea, or a connection in the circle of life. In any case, the film is fascinating. I can see its influence on "Star Wars," "Contact," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (the wall is like the cylinder that attempts to evaporate Earth's oceans. You never discover its true purpose), "Lost in Space" (new movie), and many others. We will probably never discover the true message of the film, but it is a nice challenge to try and figure it out ourselves.

Lawrence of Arabia
(1962)

Stunning
"Lawrence of Arabia" rightfully deserves its reputation as a masterpiece. Its stunning footage of towering sand dunes, quirky camels and blazing sun set a high standard for future cinematographers to meet. I could almost feel the heat of the desert in my living room, as well as the intense strain of the Arabs. Watching the film was almost reminiscent of reading "The Old Man and the Sea"; they both have that wearying effect on a person.

Officer Lawrence himself reminded me of Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness." He began as an officer stifled by civilization, who later found himself in the unknown, in this case, Arabia. Lawrence's fellow officers also resembled the men in "Heart of Darkness." They were more actors than people, never realizing what the Arabs truly faced, what their ideals were. Lawrence found himself among them...yet he discovered that there were parts of himself he did not care for. The film also asks questions about the morals of civilization,and basic human rights.

"Lawrence of Arabia" reminded me of several other films. First, because of the involvement of Alec Guiness and the desert setting, I was reminded of "Star Wars." The camels reminded me of "Indiana Jones," as did the white clothing. Lawrence's costume resembles Indy's in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Speaking of costumes, notice the use of color in the movie. Ali is dressed in black, Lawrence in white. The classic bad guy v. good guy colors used in many films that followed. I could continue on forever about this film, yet I will simply state: I have never before seen a film quite like this.

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