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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 44 - November, 1998

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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Deep
 Rising"Deep Rising", Hollywood Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 46 min, Rated R; Treat Williams, Famke Janssen; In the South China Seas, a luxurious cruise ship - the Argonautica - is hijacked by a gang of thieves, using a military craft driven by a man named Finnegan (Williams). When the hijackers board the ship, they find that everyone has vanished. Soon, they discover why. A few of the ship's crew, and one passenger, Trillian (Janssen), who have survived, explain that something terrible is stalking the ship. A seabeast with multiple heads has risen from the deep, and, not satisfied with the vacationers, starts to devour the hijackers too. For most of the film, we mercifully do not see the beast. It merely crawls along the ship's innards, making sounds like this (click here) (the sound is my impression, not a recording from the movie sound track). This is one of the most pathetic motion pictures I have seen in a long time. - JEJ -

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

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The
 Newton Boys"The Newton Boys", Twentieth Century Fox, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 3 min; Rated PG-13; Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich, Vincent D'Onofrio; In 1919, when Willis Newton (McConaughey) gets out of prison, he and his brothers Jess (Hawke), Joe (Ulrich), and Doc (D'Onofrio) decide to rob banks instead of living on a small farm. So, for the next 5 years, they break into bank safes in the dead of night, using nitroglycerin, in states all across the nation. Finally, in 1924, after losing most of their money, they plan one last job, to take $3,000,000 from a mail train in Chicago. The film is based on a true story about the Newton brothers, who were the most successful bank robbers in US history. - JEJ -

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

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A

 Perfect Murder"A Perfect Murder", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.73:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 47 min, Rated R; Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Viggo Mortensen; Steven Taylor (Douglas) is a commodities broker in New York, and he doesn't have much time to devote to his rich wife Emily (Paltrow). She finds the attentions of a local artist, David Shaw (Mortensen), attractive to the point of having a love affair. Steven finds out about it, and in the meantime, is having a financial disaster in his work. He discovers that David is actually a con-man, and offers him $500,000 to murder Emily. Threatened with exposure to the police, David accepts. The plan fails, and now Steven must jump from one frying pan to another, improvising so that he can avoid exposing the truth. The plot is based on "Dial M for Murder", a play by Frederick Knott, turned to film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954. Although there are some twists from the classic movie version, it still retains enough of the original to be labeled as a mediocre imitation. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: *****
Audio: **
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: mild
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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Jackie
 Brown"Jackie Brown", Miramax Pictures, 1998, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 34 min, Rated R; Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert de Niro, Robert Forster; Jackie Brown (Grier) is a flight attendant for a small airline that flies to vacation spots out of the United States. She supplements her income by carrying drugs and cash for a drug baron (Jackson) in the US. The FBI wants to catch him, so they make her a deal - leniency for helping to put him in prison. The drug dealer hires a bond agent (Forster) to post the money that will get Jackie out of jail. Now that the FBI is onto the drug traffic, Jackie pretends to be a double agent, saying that she will bring the dealer's money back into the US, while making the FBI think she is just carrying a minor amount of drugs. The FBI, Jackie, the dealer, the bond agent, and the dealer's girlfriend (Fonda) all descend on a shopping mall for the switch. The big question is who will end up with the fortune in cash, hidden in a shopping bag. Director Quentin Tarrantino is assuredly one of Hollywood's most talented directors, as he deals up a rapid fire story. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ***
Photography: ***
Violence: yes
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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Godzilla"Godzilla", TriStar Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 19 min, Rated PG-13; Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria; While Dr. Niko Tsiopoulos (Broderick) is digging for oversized worms in Chernobyl soil, a helicopter lands, and the military asks for his help. Apparently, radiation from nuclear reactions has caused something else to be oversized too. A giant reptile - I guess "Godzilla" is as good a name as any - is rampaging through downtown New York City. Niko's expertise is called upon to aid in the destruction of the monster, although it takes a little longer than expected due to interference from an old girlfriend-turned-news reporter, Audrey Timmonds (Pitillo). Once Godzilla has been killed, Niko, Audrey, a French special operations officer - Phillipe Roche (Reno), and Audrey's camera man - Victor "animal" Palotti (Azaria) then discover that eggs have been laid in Madison Square Garden. Failing to get them with flame throwers and hand grenades, they request backup from a few missiles tossed into the garden by jets. The movie failed at the box office, probably because it is just an old story with modern special effects. Everything from the 1950s is here: giant animal, klutzy scientist, news reporter, the military. Been there, done that. - JEJ -

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

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Les
 Miserables "Les Misérables", Columbia Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 14 min, Rated PG-13; Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes; Victor Hugo's (1802-1885) masterpiece comes to the screen . . . again. Jean Valjean (Neeson) has spent 19 years in a French prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Prison has turned him into a true thief, and when he is released, he steals silver from a Bishop. Jean is caught, but the Bishop does not press charges, but instead, gives Jean the rest of his silver. Jean is transformed by this act of kindness, and now spends much of his time helping others in need. Unfortunately, a dedicated but brutal police inspector named Javert (Rush) is determined to bring Jean Valjean to justice for skipping out on his parole officer. In the meantime, Jean has settled into a small town, owning and running a company that makes bricks and tiles. A young factory worker, Fantine (Thurman), is discovered to have a child out of wedlock, and is fired by the manager of the factory. Jean takes the destitute Fantine into his care after realizing that she is ill, and when she dies from tuberculosis, he adopts her child Cosette (Danes). Years later, Jean and Cosette have settled in Paris under a new family name, but Javert is hot on Jean's trail. Cosette's infatuation with a young rebel leader complicates their escape, and Jean must have a final confrontation with Javert during the early stages of the French revolution. This wonderful story has been turned into a play as well as an excellent movie of the 1930s in which Charles Laughton plays the part of Javert, and in 1978 with Anthony Hopkins as Javert. Unlike many remakes in the movies, this one is marvelous. - JEJ -

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

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Incognito"Incognito", Warner Brothers, 1997, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 48 min, Rated R; Jason Patric, Irene Jacob, Rod Steiger; Harry Donovan (Patric) paints counterfeit masterpieces for money while he waits to win fame for his own works. When a one-man-show fails to materialize, he decides to accept a $500,000 offer to paint a lost Rembrandt, which will be accidentally discovered in the basement of a Spanish peasant. He meets a Rembrandt expert, Marieke Van Den Broeck (Jacob), who is the only one not fooled by the forgery. Harry is framed for a murder when the perpetrators of the scheme decide to auction the fake painting instead of selling it to a rich Japanese art patron. The police chase Harry and Marieke from France, to Holland, and England, during which the two fall in love. Finally, Harry is caught and goes to trial, where he must convince the court that he actually painted the fake masterpiece. The trouble is, the forgery is so brilliantly done, even the Rembrandt experts refuse to believe him. The story has its exciting moments, but never really goes deep enough to grip viewers by the throat. - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ***
Photography: ****
Violence: yes
Sex: nudity
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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No
 Escape"No Escape", Savoy Pictures, 1994, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.23:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 58 min, Rated R; Ray Liotta, Lance Henrikson, Kevin Dillon, Stuart Wilson; In the year 2022, prisons are run as commercial enterprises, and Lt. Robbins (Liotta) is sent to one after murdering an officer. He is found incorrigible and subsequently dropped onto an island ("Absolom") inhabited by criminals only, and they make their own rules. One group, the Outsiders, is run by a butcher named Marek (Wilson). Robbins is captured by the Outsiders but escapes, and joins another group, the Insiders, on the other side of the island. The Insiders are peaceful, being overseen by the Father (Henrikson). The Outsiders want their land, and Robbins helps the Insiders plan for the assault. I thought at first this might be a pretty good movie, but it turned out to be filled with clichés. The last 10 minutes of the DVD have no 5.1 DD for some reason, and I had to go to the foreign language tracks to get two channel audio so I could hear the rest of the film. - JEJ -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: *****
Audio: * (defect in last 10 minutes)
Photography: ***
Violence: explicit
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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