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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 47 - February, 1999

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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The Avengers"The Avengers", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.71:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 35 min, Rated PG-13; Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery; John Steed (Fiennes) is a Secret Agent for "The Ministry", England's Top Secret Organization. Together with Dr. Emma Peel (Thurman), they try to stop Sir August De Wynter (Connery) from forcing the world to pay for good weather. His weather machine must be destroyed in order to do this. The film attempts to recreate the '60s TV show of the same name, but fails miserably in spite of the awesome star power of its cast. What a waste of time, money, and talent. - JEJ -

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

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Knock Off"Knock Off", TriStar Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 31 min; Rated R; Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rob Schneider, Paul Sorvino; In Hong Kong, it is time to return to Chinese rule, and Marcus Ray (Van Damme) discovers that his blue jeans company is being infiltrated with knock offs (counterfeits), which are cheaply made. To make matters worse, the Russian Mafia is packing the counterfeits with explosives, and they are about to be shipped to the United States. His business partner, Tommy Hendricks (Schneider) is working for the FBI in an attempt to catch the mafia and stop them. Just when they think it is safe, the FBI contact, Johannson (Sorvino) turns out to be a double agent. Although this movie may have been OK with Hong Kong audiences, counterfeit bluejeans just is not a very exciting concept for American audiences, and the whole film suffers from a yawning plot. - JEJ -

 

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

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Pi"Pi", Plantain Films, 1997, Black & White, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.59:1, Surround Sound, DD (2-channel), 1 Hr 25 min, Rated R; Sean Gullette, Ben Shenkman, Mark Margolis; Max Cohen (Gullette) is a mathematician obsessed with discovering a formula that describes the behavior of the stock market. Others, including a Kaballah group, and a Wall Street company, know that Max is on the verge of success, and they will do anything to get the formula, for their own use. Meanwhile, Max fights psychotic episodes with heavy drugs. This movie is an independent film, meaning that it had a relatively small budget. It is shot in high contrast black and white, which gives it a psychiatric hospital look. It is a disturbing product, not just because of the story, but also because it is so well done in light of having only a fraction of the money spent on big budget movies. - JEJ -

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

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Out of Sight"Out of Sight", Universal Pictures, 1998, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 3 min, Rated R; George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Dennis Farina; Jack Foley (Clooney) is caught after robbing a bank and put into prison. He escapes in the trunk of a car owned by Federal Marshal Karen Sisco (Lopez). Now, Sisco wants to track him down, but for an ulterior motive, romance. Her father (Farina) would prefer that she find a more conventional love interest, but gives her a gun for her birthday anyway. Sounds like a ridiculous plot doesn't it? It is. Even the cameo appearances of several other well known actors can't save this thing. Other reviewers have said this is one of 1998's best films, but I thought it stunk. - JEJ -

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

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Slums of Beverly Hills"Slums of Beverly Hills", Fox Searchlight Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD (two-channel), 1 Hr 31 min, Rated R ; Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Natasha Lyonne; In 1976, the Abramowitz family is moving from apartment to apartment, just slightly ahead of creditors, in order to keep their Beverly Hills zip code. They think it is prestigious, but you should see the dumps they live in, the slums of Beverly Hills, illustrating that every top must have a bottom. Papa Murray (Arkin) tries to keep his kids in check, and daughter Vivian (Lyonne), at just 16, is blossoming. The next door neighbor, a drug dealer, would like to pick a few flowers too. Murray takes in his brother's daughter Rita (Tomei) who has just exited a drug rehabilitation center, and the brother gives Murray some financial support so that they can get an apartment with more than one bedroom. I'm not sure what the appeal of this movie is supposed to be. A story about a poor family moving around in cheap apartments is not much of a venue for escapism. - JEJ -

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

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Protector "Protector", Lions Gate Films, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.33:1, Surround Sound, DD (two-channel), 1 Hr 34 min, Rated R; Mario Van Peebles, Zerha Leverman, Randy Quaid, Ben Gazzara; When a witness, Tony D is murdered, Detective Jack Valentine (Peebles) is given two weeks to trap those who killed him, including Joe Buddha (Gazzara). Otherwise, Jack will lose his job. The girl who was with Tony when he was murdered, a prostitute named Alma (Leverman), turns out to know enough to get her killed, and Jack tries to get her to help him trap Buddha. Uncovering police corruption, now they both must run for their lives. Peebles has become a fine actor, and I hope he gets better parts in the future. - JEJ -

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

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The Truman Show"The Truman Show", Paramount Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.59:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 43 min, Rated PG; Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Ed Harris; Truman Burbank (Carrey) has an idyllic life in Sea Haven. What he does not know is that he is living under a magnifying glass, and is the subject of a television show created by Christof (Harris). Everyone around Truman, including his wife Meryl (Linney) and best friend Marlon (Emmerich) are actors being paid by Hollywood. When an actress named Sylvia (McElhone) tries to explain that he is living in a world of make believe, Truman slowly begins to realize what is happening, and he makes life not so smooth for the TV show producers. A toned down Jim Carrey is the perfect actor for this role, and it has received many accolades. - JEJ -

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

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Vampires"Vampires", Columbia Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 48 min, Rated R; James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximillian Schell; Jack Crow (Woods) and his team of vampire killers search the United States for the undead, destroying them wherever they are found. When his team is wiped out, he and his friend Montoya (Baldwin) seek the help of a hooker (Lee) who has been bitten and who now has telepathic contact with most powerful of vampires, Valek (Griffith). They discover that Valek is searching for an ancient relic, the Cross of Berziers, the power of which can let Valek do his evil deeds in the daylight. Now, Jack must find Valek before it is too late. Although the film is not a great one, its new level of graphic special effects make it worth seeing, just this once. Its campy country western music, played by Director John Carpenter and the Texas Toad Lickers, makes the movie unique among vampire films. - JEJ -

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

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