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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 60 - March, 2000

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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Random Hearts"Random Hearts", Columbia Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1 (DVD), DD, 2 Hr 13 min, Rated R; Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Peter Cayote; When a jet crashes on its way to Miami, Internal Affairs Police Investigator Sgt. Dutch Van den Broeck (Ford) discovers that his wife Peyton was on the jet with Cullen Chandler (Cayote), who was the husband of Kay Chandler (Thomas) a representative running for Congress. Cullen and Peyton were on their way to a weekend together, their having had an ongoing affair for some time. Although Dutch wants some answers, Kay is afraid all the publicity will leave her with not only a lost past but ruin her chances of a future in Congress. Little by little, their mutual tragedy draws them into a personal relationship. Although the movie was panned by critics at its release, I found it to be a wonderful story and very entertaining. The combination of great acting, a good script, and fantastic director are hard to dismiss. - JEJ -

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

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Stigmata"Stigmata", MGM, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.32:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 42 min, Rated R; Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce; In a small Brazilian village, Father Andrew Kiernan (Byrne) investigates a statue that bleeds in response to the death of the village priest. A child there steals a rosary that belonged to the dead priest, and it ends up in the hands of a young woman, Frankie Page (Arquette) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Father Andrew is sent to Pittsburgh, because Frankie has shown the signs of stigmata (unexplained piercing of the body in the manner of Jesus Christ). She continues to show more and more signs, and Father Andrew tries not only to find out why she has been chosen, but to save her life as well. She begins to speak in the voice of the dead Brazilian priest, and writes part of the Gospel of St. Thomas on the wall. It turns out this particular Gospel states that mansions (churches) are not necessary for religion, and that you only need to see that God is inside you. Cardinal Daniel Houseman (Pryce), at the Vatican, is panicked that this information might destroy the church's power structure, so he goes to Pittsburgh, and in the guise of performing an exorcism, he attempts to murder her. This film caused tremendous controversy, and it is no wonder, when one considers that such a Gospel does actually exist, having been discovered in 1945. The Vatican refuses to recognize this Gospel, even though many scholars believe it to be very close to the actual words of Jesus. In any case, "Stigmata" is a very entertaining film, but I think you will either hate it or really like it. There seem to be no in-between opinions from what I can gather. - JEJ -

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

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The Astronaut's Wife"The Astronaut's Wife", New Line Cinema, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.76:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 50 min, Rated R; Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Joe Morton; NASA Astronaut Spencer Armacost (Depp) returns from a mission on an emergency basis after having lost contact with Houston Control for 2 minutes during a space walk. All seems normal for a while, but after becoming pregnant with twins, his wife Jillian (Theron) realizes that her husband is not the same person. A former NASA employee (Morton) tries to convince her that she has been impregnated by an alien. Over time, she comes to realize he is telling the truth, and she tries to abort the fetuses. Spencer resists her attempts, violently, and now she takes her life into her own hands. The film is like "Rosemary's Baby", but the pacing is more like a daytime TV soap opera trying to fit 15 minutes worth of story into a 30 minute program. - JEJ -

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

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Eyes Wide Shut"Eyes Wide Shut", Warner Brothers, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.33:1 (DVD), DD, 2 Hr 29 min, Rated R; Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman; Dr. Bill Hartford (Cruise) and his wife Alice (Kidman) seem happily married, until they have a discussion about their innermost desires after a dinner party. Alice admits that she has fantasies about a military officer, and Bill is so upset, he seeks the favors of a prostitute. Finding that not enough, he wades into the underworld of a sex cult and becomes involved in a murder mystery. All the while, he imagines Alice having sex with the military officer. The film is lurid and gives the impression that the director (Kubrick) was battling inner demons when he made it. I thought it to be a disappointing end to a brilliant career. - JEJ -

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

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The Bone Collector"The Bone Collector", Universal Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.27:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 1 Hr 58 min, Rated R; Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker; In New York City, a maniac is kidnapping and murdering people after picking them up in a taxi cab. Lincoln Rhyme (Washington) works on the case from his bed, as he is a quadriplegic, having been injured on the Police Force a few years before. Because he is bedridden, he enlists the help of a street cop, Officer Amelia Donaghy (Jolie) who had shown unusual forensic talent at the scene of the first dead body found in this case. The murderer leaves unusual clues, including fresh bones and other gruesome items. I was not expecting this movie to be quite the thriller that it turned out to be. Frankly, I was scared out of my wits. However, the ending was disappointingly predictable. But that part only takes a few minutes. The first 100 minutes will give you nightmares for days to come. - JEJ -

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

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Double Jeopardy"Double Jeopardy", Paramount Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at aspect ratio 2.32:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 45 min, Rated R; Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish; Libby (Judd) and Nick (Greenwood) Parsons are happy (seemingly) and living in a beautiful Washington State waterfront home. Bruce purchases a yacht for Libby, and they go out on a short cruise. Too short in fact, because Libby wakes up in the middle of the night to find blood all over her nightgown, on the floor, and on a knife. She is charged with Bruce's murder and sent to prison. While there, she discovers that Bruce is actually alive and has run off with her best friend. When she is paroled, she leaves the halfway house where she was staying and begins to hunt her wayward husband down, not simply to prove her innocence, but to do him considerable harm, and to get her son back. Her Parole Officer, Travis Lehman (Jones) chases after her, and discovers she was telling the truth. Now he must decide whether or not to let her kill him, since she cannot be tried for the same crime twice. The plot sounds like a good idea, but the script seems to have been hastily written, as there are too many implausibilities, like the $2,000,000 that no life insurance company in their right mind would pay to anyone in her family if she were convicted of murdering the insured party. - JEJ -

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

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Bats"Bats", Columbia/Tristar, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 31 min, Rated R;  Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer, Bob Gunton, Leon Carlos Jacott, David McConnel;  Bats.  You said bats?  There's sumpin' fishy goin' on in Gallup, Texas, and it's Dr. Sheriff Emmett Kimsey's job to do sumpin' bout it.  He reckons he better call somebody for help, and who better to call than bat expert Dr. Sheila Casper (Meyer)?  On arrival, Dr. Casper and her loyal sidekick Jimmy (Jacott) discover an entirely new type of bat . . . one that kills people.  Soon they encounter their creator Dr. Alexander McCabe (Gunton), an evil scientist working on a secret military project to create a new alternative weapon.  Who would have guessed that anything could go wrong?  There hasn't been a movie so simple and blatantly obvious like this in a long time that doesn't pretend to be anything more than that.  This fact made this movie enjoyable. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Run Lola Run"Run Lola Run", Columbia/TriStar, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 21 min, Rated R;  Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri;  Lola's (Potente) drug-dealing boyfriend, Manni (Bleibtreu) has just made a big mistake involving 100,000 Deutsches Marks.  Somehow Manni has managed to lose a sack of money he was supposed to deliver to his supplier within the hour.  After a plea for help via a phone call, Lola has exactly 20 minutes to get the cash that will keep Manni alive.  Lola doesn't get it right the first time (or even have to)  . . . interesting.  Pay close attention as seemingly meaningless encounters and random events affect the immediate future of all involved.  With an upbeat tempo, combined with action to the max, this movie is the equivalent of "Groundhog Day" on speed.  Not being a fan of foreign films, I had my doubts going into this one. However, like my significant other so subtlety reminded me, you should just give this movie a chance. - Jared Baldwin -

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

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Playing by Heart"Playing by Heart", Miramax Films, 1998, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), DD, 2 Hr 1 min, Rated R;  Gillian Anderson, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards, Angelina Jolie, Jay Mohr, Ryan Phillippe, Dennis Quaid, Gena Rowlands, Jon Stewart, Madelaine Stowe;  This film follows the lives of five sets of people as they experience life, love, and the weight of human emotion.  When Hannah (Rowlands) learns of her husband Paul's (Connery) affair that happened 25 years ago, she must search deep within herself to find forgiveness.  As Mark (Mohr) lies on his deathbed, he and his mother Mildred (Burstyn) share with each other their deepest secrets.  Infidelity reigns supreme in Hugh (Quaid) and Gracie's (Stowe) marriage when Gracie seeks the comfort of Roger (Edwards).  Joan (Jolie), a long time loser at love, believes she has found the relationship she has always wanted when she meets up with fellow club-hopper, Keenan (Phillippe), at a local hot spot.  Finally, will Trent (Stewart) endure long enough to allow Meredith (Anderson) to re-open her heart to true love?  With an amazing cast of veteran actors, this film will have you laughing and crying almost at the same time.  It's unfortunate that this movie is about 20 minutes too long, deciding instead to hit you over the head with an anvil to show you how the pieces of the puzzle fit nicely together in the end.  Regardless, it still is a very good movie. - Jared Baldwin -

Entertainment: ****
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: mild
Sex: yes
Language: the "F" word

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"In too Deep", Disney/Buena Vista, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 37 min, Rated R;  LL Cool J, Omar Epps, Stanley Tucci, Nia Long, Pam Grier;  Fresh out of the Police Academy, rookie cop Jeff Cole (Epps) is ready to take on the toughest assignment any cop cold ask for, a deep cover assignment.  This means bringing down Duan Keith Gittens (Cool J) a.k.a. God, the biggest drug dealer in Cincinnati.  After months of undercover work in one of the toughest cities in America, Cole gets caught in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong and narrowly escapes with his life.  Cole then gets some much-needed time off to rethink his chosen profession.  Soon, however, Cole finds that police work is in his blood and demands that he is put back into the game, deeper than he ever was before.  To bring down Gittens for good, Cole will have to remember two things: who his friends are and more importantly, who he is (sounds tough doesn't it?)  In the tradition of films like "Donnie Brasco", this movie is based on true-life events.  The relationship between Epps and LL Cool J has remnants of Lawrence Fishbourne & Jeff Goldbloom in "Deep Cover". - Jared Baldwin -

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

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"Chill Factor", Morgan Creek Productions, 1999, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.27:1, DD, 1 Hr 42 min, Rated R; Cuba Gooding, Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Peter Firth, David Paymer; A chemical weapons test goes badly, and many soldiers are killed because the weapon turns out to be much more powerful than expected. The commanding officer, Captain Andrew Brynner (Firth), is imprisoned as the scapegoat, while the chemical engineer, Dr. Richard Long (Paymer) goes free. Once Brynner is released (10 years later), Brynner exacts his revenge, not only on Dr. Long, but the US Government by attempting to steal the chemical and sell it to foreign powers. Dr. Long gives the weapon to his friend Tim Mason (Ulrich) to take to a local military base, and Tim hijacks an ice cream truck, along with its driver Arlo (Gooding), because the chemical must be kept cold. Brynner and his team follow Tim and Arlo across the Montana countryside, trying to retrieve the chemical weapon before they get to the military base. The movie is a routine chase film with lots of special effects, but that is about all. - JEJ -

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

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Jakob the Liar"Jakob the Liar", Columbia Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1, DD, 2 Hr, Rated PG-13; Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Armin Mueller-Stahl; In the Warsaw ghetto of 1944 Poland, Jakob Hyam (Williams) overhears a radio report in a German office that the Russians are closing in. He repeats this good news to a friend, who then believes that Jakob has a radio and insists on hearing further news. Rather than demoralize the entire group by telling them he does not have a radio, he invents news, all of it good, and some of it even funny. This is a film that tries to put humor into the blackest hours of the 20th century. I enjoy war movies, but I would rather see a focus on victory of the oppressed over tyranny. There is no room for laughter in the tragedy of genocide. - JEJ -

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

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The Sixth Sense"The Sixth Sense", Hollywood Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.77:1, DD, 1 Hr 47 min, Rated PG-13; Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Olivia WIlliams, Haley Joel Osment; Philadelphia Child Psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Willis) studies a young boy, Cole Sear (Osment), who shows evidence of tremendous pain when his parents are divorced. The most interesting symptom is that Cole says he sees dead people. Dr. Crowe thinks that Cole will need to be hospitalized for his visual delusions. However, Dr. Crowe soon begins to understand that there is a much deeper issue here, and maybe Cole can even help him solve his own marriage problems. The film made a fortune at the box office, but actually, "Stir of Echoes" was a more engrossing recent film in this genre. Nevertheless, Haley Joel Osment deserved the Oscar nomination that he received for his performance (he lost to Michael Caine). One thing that should be stopped right away is putting "Coming Attractions" at the beginning of DVDs. This is very annoying to have on a collectible disc and could very well dissuade many people from purchasing it, including me. - JEJ -

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

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Copyright 2000 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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