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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 51 - June, 1999

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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Ringmaster"Ringmaster", Artisan Entertainment, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.85:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 35 min, Rated R; Jerry Springer, Jaime Pressly, William McNamara, Molly Hagen, Michael Jai White, Ashley Holbrook, Michael Dudikoff; "Ringmaster" is the big-screen debut for Jerry Springer, star of television's brash and irreverent "Jerry Springer Show".  The show takes a behind the scenes look at what it's like to be Jerry Springer, from Jerry's point of view.  The movie also follows two converging stories that land society's worst on the "Jerry Springer Show".  The first is the tale of a stepfather named Rusty (Dudikoff); his wife Connie (Hagan); her daughter Angel (Pressly); and Angel's fiancé Willie (Holbrook), appropriately titled "I Slept With My Stepfather".  The second story follows a playboy named Demond (White) and his many, many back stabbing women earning the title, "My Traitor Girlfriends".  Both stories come complete with an entirely overdrawn, uninspired reconciliation after the show is over.  Maybe bad movies do have happy endings.  The zest the television version of "Jerry Springer", which is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, just doesn't come across in the big-screen version.  In fact, the acting on the television show may even be a little better!. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Elizabeth"Elizabeth", Polygram Entertainment, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.84:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 4 min; Rated R; Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston; In 1554, Queen Mary, Catholic daughter of Henry VIII, becomes ill and is dying. The Catholic Church is desperate to keep her Protestant half sister, Elizabeth (Blanchett), from ascending the throne, but Mary refuses to sign her death warrant. Mary dies, and Elizabeth I becomes Queen. Amidst the turmoil of Protestant leaders returning to England from exile, a French warrior attempting to usurp her throne, an assassination attempt by the Catholic Church, treason from the Duke of Norfolk (Eccleston), and a failed love affair with Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Fiennes), Elizabeth has her hands full. Besides being a history lesson, the film is magnificent. I am sure that Elizabeth I had some bad traits in her personality, and this movie does not really expose them, but if even just some of what is told in the film is true, WOW, what a woman! - JEJ -

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

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Antz"Antz", Dreamworks Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD)1.73:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 23 min, Rated PG; Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone; In this animated insect movie that came out at about the same time as "A Bug's Life", we are treated to another biology lesson about queens, workers, and soldier ants. One particular worker named Z (Allen) wants to meet Princess Bala (Stone), so he asks one of his pals (Stallone) who is a soldier ant, to stand in for him in the hive, while he marches in front of the Princess during a parade. Unfortunately, the soldiers are called off to war with a termite colony, and Z is dragged along. Meanwhile, General Mandible (Hackman) tries to sabotage the hive and take command of the ant colony. Naturally, Z saves the day and is the hero at the end. There is a decapitation scene that I would imagine is disturbing to young children. - JEJ -

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

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Psycho"Psycho", Universal Pictures, 1999, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 44 min, Rated R; Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William Macy, Anne Heche; Marion Crane (Heche) cannot resist stealing a large sum of cash that her boss asks her to deposit in a bank on her way home. She leaves town and stays the night in a motel run by Norman Bates (Vaughn). Norman has kind of a nasty problem where women are concerned. Adios Marion. What a mess in the bathtub. Investigator Milton Arbogast (Macy) and Marion's sister Lila (Moore) try to find her, but the same fate awaits poor old Miltie in the creaky dark house. Oh well, at least the stuffed mommy is a better stage prop than the original one in Hitchcock's movie way back when. That, and the fantastic music of Bernard Herrmann are the only things in the film worthwhile. If Hollywood wants to remake old movies, let them do it with something like "Tank Battalion", not the works of geniuses. - JEJ -

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

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Enemy of the State"Enemy of the State", Touchstone Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.30:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 12 min, Rated R; Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Regina King;  When Congressman Phil Hammersley refuses a request by National Security Agency officer Thomas Reynolds (Voight), he has Hammersley murdered. A surveillance video camera accidentally records the event, and Reynolds sends a crew to retrieve it. The man who has the video tape realizes he is being followed, and he drops it secretly into the pocket of his friend Bob Dean (Smith) who is an attorney. Dean is in the middle of investigating the mob, getting his information from an informer called Brill (Hackman). Meanwhile, the NSA discovers that Dean has the incriminating tape, and comes after him. Brill helps Dean while trying to keep the NSA off his own back. There are lots of great actors, but the story is very predictable. - JEJ - With the upcoming vote in Congress on the Telecommunications, Security, and Privacy Act, special agent Reynolds (Voight) has employed all necessary means to eliminate opposition to the bill, including murder.  When this sensitive information is caught on tape, the race to recover this incriminating evidence is on.  At the same time, lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Smith) gets caught in the middle of a conspiracy he knows nothing about when this evidence is accidentally passed to him.  With the help of a secret contact, Brill (Hackman), Dean fights to get his life back.  With a very involved story line and complex interactions among the players, the result is a top-notch action/suspense film.  Be careful what you say, the NSA may be listening.  4 1/2 stars for entertainment - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Gods and Monsters "Gods and Monsters", Lions Gate Films, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD (two channel), 1 Hr 46 min, Rated R; Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave; In 1957, James Whale (McKellen) has long retired from film making, having been remembered most for his direction of "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein". He has had a stroke, but this does not dissuade him from being attracted to a new gardener, Clay Boone (Fraser). He befriends Clay, and asks him to sit while he paints Clay's head. He tells Clay of his past, and slowly Clay realizes that James is homosexual. Finally, in frustration over his declining health, James commits suicide by drowning in his swimming pool. Clay and the housekeeper, Hannah (Redgrave), cover up the suicide by hiding the suicide note until years later. I had hoped that the movie would spend more time on Whale's experiences making the classic horror films, but it dwells instead on his emotional distress before his death. McKellen is superb as Whale, but it is a very depressing story.  - JEJ -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: *****
Audio: **
Photography: ****
Violence: mild
Sex: frontal nudity, men kissing
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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The X Files"The X Files: The Movie", Twentieth Century Fox, Presented at 2.35:1 aspect ratio (DVD), Surround Sound, Dolby Digital, THX, 2 Hr 14 min, Rated PG-13; David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin Landau, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Blythe Danner, William B. Davis;  FBI agents Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) take center stage in this action packed movie based on the hit television show, "The X-Files".  Follow them as they try to uncover an ongoing worldwide conspiracy that could mean the end of humankind.  Hidden clues lead these two in a race against time and the secret leaders of the world.  The movie is surprisingly easy to follow even if you are not an avid "X-Files" viewer.  For those hardcore fans the movie ties in perfectly with the television plot. Two words: Trust No-One. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Jawbreaker"Jawbreaker", Columbia Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.85:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 27 min, Rated R; Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz, Judy Greer, Chad Christ, Charolette Lopez, Pam Grier; Courtney (McGowan), Marcie (Benz), Julie (Gayheart), and Liz (Lopez) are the four most popular girls in school.  When a surprise party for Liz goes terribly wrong, Liz winds up dead on her 17th birthday.  Down to the three most popular girls in school, they find a replacement in a most unusual way in the most unsuspecting character, Fern Mayo (Greer).  Now the girls are faced with an even bigger challenge than keeping their dirty little secret under wraps, namely preventing their newly made friend from taking over the school.  With its dark humor and misuse of big stars (particularly Pam Grier), this movie parallels "Very Bad Things". - Jared Baldwin -

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

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© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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