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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 52 - July, 1999

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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Patch Adams"Patch Adams", Universal Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.30:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 56 min, Rated PG-13; Robin Williams, Monica Potter; Hunter Adams (Williams) voluntarily commits himself to a mental hospital for his suicidal depression. While there, he finds great satisfaction in making the other patients laugh. After leaving the hospital, he applies to Medical School and is accepted. As a medical student, he is not supposed to have contact with patients, but he can't resist, making the nurses and patients very happy, but getting himself into trouble with the professors. He and some other students start a clinic outside the hospital, for those who can't afford treatment, and the Dean threatens to expel him from school. He requests a hearing, succeeds in maintaining his student status, graduates, and is currently (in fact) building a hospital. It's a true story, and a wonderful film, even if it is obviously another vehicle for Williams' humor.  - JEJ - After relentless searching for many years,  Patch Adams (Williams) finds himself in the last place he thought to look, with his patients.  With his playful humor and outrageous methods of therapy, he is making the most important impression of all toward his patients, compassion.  Based on a true story, he shares his unique vision of patient care to the medical community.  This movie really draws you in with the strong emotional ties Patch makes with his patients.  The film also showcases what the medical profession truly has the potential to be. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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A Simple Plan"A Simple Plan", Paramount Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.71:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 1 min; Rated R; Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda, Brent Briscoe; In a winter woodland, Hank (Paxton), Jake (Thornton), and Lou (Briscoe) discover a plane covered with snow. Inside, they find the body of the pilot, and a suitcase filled with several million dollars. Realizing it must be drug money, they keep it and wait for the plane to be discovered by the Police. The "owners" of the money come looking for it and try to find who took it from the plane. Now the three men have to hide their guilt from the local police, and the mob. They discover that the price of greed is too high. - JEJ -

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

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A Civil Action"A Civil Action", Paramount Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 55 min, Rated PG-13; John Travolta, Robert Duvall, John Lithgow, William H. Macy; Personal Injury Lawyer Jan Schlictmann (Travolta) is looking for cases that will net his firm plenty of money. When the locals from a small New England town come to him for help with possible contamination of their local water supply, Jan does not see the dollar signs . . . not until he discovers that some very big corporations have company sites nearby. So, his firm takes the case, and it is their only case. In order to pay for all the investigating that is needed, they put their homes up as collateral. They borrow every cent they can get their hands on. Defense lawyer Jerome Facher (Duvall) offers $20,000,000 as settlement. Jan refuses, much to the consternation of the other members of his firm. Jan wants more than $100,000,000. So, the case goes to court. Another true story, another good movie. - JEJ - In the small New England town of East Woburn, Massachusetts, coincidence seems the most unlikely suspect for the parents of seven dead children stricken by leukemia.  John Travolta plays Jan Schlichtmann who is a personal injury attorney, and who takes on this wrongful death suit against an industry giant that turns quickly into the classic David versus Goliath courtroom battle.  Robert Duvall delivers an Oscar worthy performance representing one of the defendants in the case. Scripted from the best selling novel (based on a true story), Schlichtmann proves he is a lawyer who will stop at nothing to reveal the truth.  This story had the makings of a great film, but falls a bit short and becomes the same worn out courtroom drama simply with a different group of actors.  However, a realistic ending, not a Hollywood one, was a welcome change.  Even some lawyer humor can be deciphered if you pay close enough attention. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Varsity Blues"Varsity Blues", Paramount Pictures, 1999, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.71:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 44 min, Rated R; James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Ron Lester, Paul Walker; In West Cannan, Texas, the local High School Football Team - the Coyotes - are the focus of the whole town. The star of the team, quarterback Lance Harbor, is suddenly out of the picture due to injury. Now the backup quarterback, Jonathan Moxon (Van Der Beek) is off the bench and on the field. Much to everyone's surprise, he not only takes the team to victory game after game, but builds team spirit . . . something lacking with the former quarterback. Head Coach Bud Kilmer (Voight) finds his power over the team members reduced by Moxon's influence, and he makes life miserable for everyone. Now, the championship game has arrived, and Moxon must deal with two opponents . . . the other team and his own coach. - JEJ - In the town of West Canaan, high school football is not only a sport, it's a religion.  When star quarterback Lance Harbor (Walker) goes down with an injury, Coach Bud Kilmer (Voight) has no choice but to play his back up, Jonathan Moxon (Van Der Beek).  The untested Moxon quickly proves himself worthy of the starting job and must now stand up to the pressures of being the biggest star in West Canaan.  Despite the easily predicted outcome of the movie, it does a nice job of introducing one of Hollywood's newest up and coming stars, James Van Der Beek. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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The Arrival II"The Arrival II", Artisan Entertainment, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.74:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 41 min, Rated R; Patrick Muldoon, Jane Sibbett; Jack Addison (Muldoon) receives a letter from his brother, now deceased, explaining how aliens have invaded earth, and are planning to make the planet uninhabitable for humans, so they can take it over. The aliens take the form of humans (how novel) so they are not easy to spot. However, they have a weakness: they can't stand cold temperatures. News reporter Bridget Riordan (Sibbett) tags along while Jack tries to convince everyone that the aliens are here, and at the same time, stay of the aliens' way. A boring plot and arcade effects make this a stinker. - JEJ -

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

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8 mm "8 mm", Columbia Pictures, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr 3 min, Rated R; Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, Private Investigator Tom Welles (Cage) is commissioned by an aging widow to search into the origin of a "snuff" film she found in her dead husband's wall safe. She wants to know if the girl who is presumably killed in the film is really dead, or was just acting. Tom's search leads him into vile dungeons of illegal pornography, with the help of a Los Angeles local, Max California (Phoenix) who knows his way around. They travel to New York, where they ask a pornographer to make a movie for them, using the actor they secretly have identified was in the snuff film. The pornographer discovers who they are and tries to murder both of them, in a most vicious manner. The movie is quite sensational, very graphic, and extremely disturbing . . . but it is well done and worth seeing.  - JEJ - Tom Welles (Cage) is a surveillance expert who is hired to follow a lead hoping to disprove the authenticity of a mysterious "snuff" (simulated murder) film. This lead takes him deep into the beating heart of the adult porn industry.  Max California (Phoenix) serves as his tour guide in this underground world of sex, money, and sin.  This pursuit quickly turns from job to obsession as Welles gets closer to finding the gruesome truth about the tape. With a plot that will keep you glued to your television and on the edge of your seat, this movie is a very fine thriller. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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The General"The General", Sony Pictures, 1998, Black & White, Presented at 2.35:1 aspect ratio (DVD), Surround Sound, DD (two-channel), 2 Hr 4 min, Rated R; Brendan Gleeson, Jon Voight, Maria Doyle Kennedy; In the 1990s, Martin Cahill (Gleeson) finds that he cannot support his family in Dublin, Ireland, in the manner that they want, so he takes up robbery. He is clever as he is brilliant, and is successful beyond all expectations . . . much to the consternation of a jewelry exchange owned by the IRA. So, now the local police and the IRA want him. He eludes their wrath . . . until one afternoon in 1994. - JEJ -

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

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Payback"Payback", Paramount Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.27:1, Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 41 min, Rated R; Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer; Porter (Gibson) is a New York hoodlum. After being betrayed by another bad guy, relieved of his $70,000 share in a heist, and shot in the back by his wife and left for dead, he survives. Now he wants his $70,000, and he tracks down his former partner Resnick (Henry) who used the $70,000 to buy his way back into the mob. After an execution by the gun-in-a-pillow method, plus gasoline under the car, ignited by a cigarette, while standing behind the car full of goons, Porter takes his complaint all the way to the top for a showdown. The mob can't believe Porter is causing all this trouble for a measly $70,000, and I can't believe Hollywood spent millions on such a mediocre film. - JEJ -

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

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Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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