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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 50 - May, 1999

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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The Siege"The Siege", Twentieth Century Fox, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 46 min, Rated R; Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis; When FBI Agent Anthony Hubbard (Washington) is called to investigate possible terrorist activities in New York City, he discovers that the CIA is involved. He thwarts CIA Agent Elise Craft (Bening) from interfering with his duties, but when a bus blows up in downtown, and Craft seems to have predicted it, he enlists her help. The terrorism increases to the point that the Army is asked to declare Martial Law, under the direction of General William Devereaux (Willis), who happens to have secretly kidnapped a Muslim leader, and this event started the terrorism in the first place. The acting is superb, and so are the special effects, but the direction has failed to tell a cohesive story, so it is not easy to follow. - JEJ -

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

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A Bug's Life"A Bug's Life", Walt Disney Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 35 min; Rated G; Voices of Kevin Spacey, Phyllis Diller, and many others; On a tiny island, an ant colony makes pays homage to a nasty bunch of grasshoppers by gathering food for them. Unfortunately, they can't gather enough for both themselves and the grasshoppers. A bumbling ant inventor named Flik sets out on a trek to find help. He locates a flea circus group of insects who offer to help. When he returns to the colony, he decides not to tell them that the assistance is from a flea circus. The colony builds a mechanical bird to scare the grasshoppers when they come for their loot. This is the second collaboration between Disney and Pixar. Besides being a must-see for the family, it is interesting from the standpoint that no camera lenses or film are involved for the home version on DVD, since the movie was generated entirely on computers, edited digitally, and transferred digitally to DVD. As a result, there is no image quality degradation from the original to your TV at home, and the color quality is spectacular. The "out takes" at the end are a riot, too. - JEJ -

Entertainment: *****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: cartoon style
Sex: no
Language: no

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You've Got Mail"You've Got Mail", Warner Brothers, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD)1.71:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr, Rated PG; Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan; New York City book store tycoon Joe Fox (Hanks) is expanding Fox Books outlets, putting small book stores out of business. On the side, he has an on-line romance with a young lady that he has never met in person. His on-line name is NY152, while hers is Shopgirl. Soon, he discovers that one of the bookstore owners he is putting out of business, Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) is Shopgirl. They have a romantic entanglement, and Joe must figure out a way of letting her know he is actually NY152. Meanwhile, both of them have live-in soul mates, and they have to be told of the affair as well. This movie is another vehicle for the previous successes of Hanks and Ryan pairings. It is cute, but it's no "Sleepless in Seattle". - JEJ -

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

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Amistad"Amistad", Dreamworks Pictures, 1997, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.80:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 35 min, Rated R; Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey; In 1839, La Amistad is carrying a cargo of black slaves kidnapped from Africa, to Spain. On the way, the slaves take over the ship and end up in New Haven, Connecticut. The Spanish Ambassador requests the court to turn over the cargo to him, since it is Spanish property, but the court resists, and a trial ensues. A local abolitionist, Theodore Joadson (Freeman), hires a property attorney, Roger Baldwin (McConaughey), to help in the trial. Sensing that they need help, the defenders of the slaves ask former president John Quincy Adams (Hopkins) to speak for them at the trial. The outcome of this trial, which is a true story as told in the movie, sets the stage for Civil War in the 1860s. - JEJ -

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

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Beloved"Beloved", Touchstone Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 51 min, Rated R ; Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise; In Ohio, 1873, Sethe (Winfrey) and her daughter Denver (Elise) are ostracised because their house is haunted by an evil spirit. When an old friend, Paul D (Glover) returns to the town, he is at first afraid of the spirit, but fights it, and over time, the evil disappears. He provides the love and understanding that Sethe, Denver, and a strange young lady, Beloved (Newton) have needed for so many years. Although the film has some fine actors, and they perform their roles with great intensity, the story is poorly told, and it just drags on and on. It should have been edited down to about an hour and forty minutes. - JEJ -

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

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BASEketball "BASEketball", Universal Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.85:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 44 min, Rated R; Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Ernest Borgnine, Yasmine Bleeth, Jenny McCarthy; Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the immensely popular South Park, try their wares on the big screen in this generation X comedy.  Cooper (Stone) and Remer (Parker) are two high school losers that invent a game that is a cross between baseball and basketball (hence the movie title) and turn it in to a national pastime.  From there they enter into the arena of instant stardom and high stakes sporting dollars.  At the same time, Stone and Parker poke fun at everything from selling out, lengthy sports seasons, and of course Kathy Lee Gifford.  A can't miss for South Park fans. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Dance with Me"Dance with Me", Mandalay Entertainment, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 7 min, Rated PG; Vanessa Williams, Chayanne, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Plowright; Rafael (Chayanne) is a Cuban emigrant to the USA with the assistance of a dance studio owner (Kristofferson). When he arrives, with the assignment of being a handyman, he is attracted to one of the instructors, Ruby (Williams), who does not appreciate his advances at first. Soon, she discovers that he has dancing talent, and is torn between his affable nature and her professional dancing partner with whom she is preparing to compete in the Latin Dance Contest in Las Vegas. Although the dancing scenes are good, the story is trite. - JEJ -

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

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Stepmom"Stepmom", Columbia Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 5 min, Rated PG-13; Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Ed Harris; Jackie (Sarandon) and Luke (Harris) Harrison are divorced, and Luke's live-in girlfriend Isabel Kelly (Roberts) takes care of his children when they are visiting. Isabel is focused on her career, and this is not good enough for compulsive Jackie, so she threatens to take Luke's visitation rights away. So, life for everyone is miserable. Then, Jackie contracts cancer, but she decides not to tell her family, at least not right away. When chemotherapy fails, she tells the others, and they rally behind her so that she does not have to go through the trauma by herself. The first half of the film is innocuous, but the second half requires three hankies. - JEJ -

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

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Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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