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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 22 - June, 1997

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

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Mothernight"Mothernight", Fine Line Features, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.81:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 54 min, Rated R; Nick Nolte, Sheryl Lee, Alan Arkin, John Goodman; In pre-World War II Berlin, Howard Campbell (Nolte) writes plays and marries a German actress, Helga, (Lee). An American agent (Goodman) convinces Campbell to sacrifice his own reputation by broadcasting a radio program that is pro-Nazi, and serve the United States as a spy. The war ends, and Campbell is captured, but is then released. He moves to New York and meets up with a neo-Nazi group who wants to use him to promote their cause. The film is very powerful and is full of surprises. It is testimony to the terrible effect that war has on everyone. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: nudity
Language: no

 

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Ransom"Ransom", Touchstone Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.77:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 2 Hr 19 min, Rated R; Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise; Tom Mullen (Gibson) is the wealthy owner of an airline company, and his son Sean is kidnapped for a ransom of 2 million dollars. Tom and his wife Kate (Russo) are frantic, and bring in the FBI, in spite of a warning from the kidnappers not to involve the police. We find out very quickly that the police are more involved than the Mullens know. The only part that is played well in this movie is that of Sean, by Brawley Nolte, who looks enough like Nick Nolte, that I assume it is his son. Even Mel Gibson, who normally does a fine job, has difficulty portraying fear. I don't think this particular emotion is in his acting portfolio. The mediocre screenplay and directing don't warrant the added 18 minutes in this video rental version. There is no real tension, no mystery, no surprises. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ****
Audio: **
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

 

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Adrenalin"Adrenalin: Fear the Rush", Largo Entertainment, 1995, Color, Filmed anamorphically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.35:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 16 min, Rated R; Christopher Lambert, Natasha Henstridge; The year is 2007, and again, the world has destroyed itself. This time there is a virus that is about to become an epidemic if the single human carrier is not captured. Policepersons Lemieux (Lambert) and Delon (Henstridge) are assigned the task of chasing the psychotic carrier of the disease inside an old prison. I don't think I have ever seen such senseless gore. Your TV's red phosphors will get a real workout with this one. - JEJ -

Entertainment: *
Video Quality: **
Audio: **** (very good use of surround)
Photography: *
Violence: extreme
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

 

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Daylight"Daylight", Universal Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 1 Hr 55 min, Rated PG-13; Sylvester Stallone, Claire Bloom; Ahh . . . another disaster film. New York, on a cold afternoon. We are introduced to the characters: A young family of three, some punks who rob a jeweler, a policeman, and of course, a taxi driver named Kit Latura (Stallone). A chase involving the stolen jewels causes a crash in the tunnel beneath the Hudson River, and both ends of the tunnel are blocked, trapping drivers inside. Kit just happens to have been a former emergency medical services engineer. He makes his way into the tunnel through the ventilation shaft and saves the day, following fire, flood, rats, etc. I get the feeling we may see a "Daylight" ride at Universal Studios pretty soon. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ***
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***** (AC-3 is terrific)
Photography: ***
Violence: nature
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

 

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The Portrait of a Lady"The Portrait of a Lady", Polygram, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, 2 Hr 24 min, Rated PG-13; Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey; Young Isabel Archer (Kidman) moves from America to Europe in 1872. An Englishman proposes, and she rejects him in favor of going to London to enrich her life. There, she meets Madam Merle (Hershey) who, upon seeing her innocence, asks a friend, Gilbert Osmond (Malkovich) to add more excitement to her prim existence. Gilbert and Isabel are married, but her life is still not quite fulfilled. The motion picture is a boring, pale impression of the book by Henry James on which it is based. Chronically under-illuminated sets and monotone dialog are a poor substitute for brilliant works of literature, even with Schubert piano background music. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ***
Audio: **
Photography: *
Violence: no
Sex: partial nudity
Language: no

 

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Flirting with Disaster"Flirting with Disaster", Miramax Films, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.81:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 33 min, Rated R; Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, Alan Alda, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Lilly Tomlin; Mel Copland (Stiller) is an adopted child, whose adopted parents (Moore and Segal) are upset because he wants to meet his biological parents. Tina Kalb (Leoni) helps Ben locate his real mother and comes along to San Diego, with Ben, his wife (Arquette), and baby son, to document the reunion as part of her Doctoral studies. The large number of comedians who star in this movie make for some terminal laughter, beginning even before the opening credits are through. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: no
Sex: yes
Language: the "S" word

 

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Star Trek: First Contact"Star Trek: First Contact", Paramount Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, THX, 1 Hr 51 min, Rated PG-13; Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Alice Krige; All the gang from the TV series are here, with a widescreen image, AC-3 sound, and a big budget for the digital effects, sets, and costumes. The Borg (a half-organic, half-machine collective) have decided to assimilate humankind into their own. Jean-Luc Picard (Stewart), Captain of the Enterprise, wants to stave off the attack, but Starfleet Command is hesitant. Unfortunately, time is an issue, and Picard challenges the Borg. The Enterprise staff discovers that the Borg have gone back in time (April 4, 2063, after World War III) to destroy earth's first contact with extra-terrestrials, and they follow to prevent this from happening. The film is well done, but it makes the TV series rather difficult to enjoy, because it (TV series) is boring by comparison. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***** (spectacular AC-3)
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: no
Language: the "S" word

 

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Michael"Michael", Turner Pictures, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.33:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 46 min, Rated PG; John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Jean Stapleton; The National Mirror in Chicago is looking for new stories, and a Mrs. Pansy Milbank (Stapleton) calls to invite reporters to her home in Iowa to meet an Archangel named Michael (Travolta). The reporters, Frank Quinlan (Hurt) and Dorothy Winters (MacDowell), think it is an ideal story for their tabloid magazine, but when they arrive at the Milk Bottle Motel, they find that the Archangel is real. However, Michael turns out to be an overweight, smoking, cussing, girl-chasing angel, not quite what they expected. Michael asks them to drive him to Chicago so they can interview him, and therein lies the story: the driving trip. Along the way, they get into a bar room brawl, and stop to see the world's largest ball of twine. The story line is not all that interesting, but comedy is Travolta's forte, and he is up to par here. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: mild
Sex: sensuality
Language: the "S" word (interesting to hear Archie Bunker's wife say it)

 

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Turbulence"Turbulence", Rysher Entertainment, 1996, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.71:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 41 min, Rated R; Ray Liotta, Lauren Holly; On Christmas Eve, Ryan Weaver (Liotta), a convicted serial killer, is being transported from New York City to Los Angeles by jet. Weaver escapes in the plane (of course), wreaks havoc with the FBI agents, and takes over. The pilots are out of commission, and the flight is headed into a big thunderstorm. He locks all but one flight attendant, Teri Halloran (Holly), in a compartment. Weaver is ready to die, but Teri is not. She attempts to land the jet in Los Angeles, and Weaver tries to stop her. Unfortunately, "Die Hard" sets the standards for this type of film, and "Turbulence" does not make the grade. Cat and mouse chasing is fine, but when there is only the space of a single jet to do it in, interest wanes quickly. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ****
Photography: ***
Violence: graphic
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

 


Copyright 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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