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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 66 - September, 2000

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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"Deterrence", Paramount, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.78:1, DD (2-channel), 1 Hr 43 min, Rated R; Kevin Pollack, Timothy Hutton, Sheryl Lee Ralph; When US President Buchanan dies, Vice President Walter Emerson (Pollack) becomes President. During an election campaign, Emerson and his staff take refuge from a snow storm in a Colorado small town cafe. While waiting for the storm to abate, they receive news that Iraq is invading Kuwait again. Emerson threatens Iraq with a nuclear attack on Baghdad if they do not withdraw. Down to the wire, the question now is whether or not the President, having not actually been elected by vote, has the authority to begin a nuclear war. The second half of the movie is riveting, but the first half is fraught with items like the cook standing next to the President, putting tomatoes on his hamburger while he discusses national security on a coded telephone with the Armed Forces Chief of Staff. - JEJ -

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

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"Any Given Sunday", Warner Brothers, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.38:1, DD, 2 Hr 37 min, Rated R; Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Wood, Jaimie Foxx;  The Miami Sharks professional football team is having a bad year. This puts pressure on coach Tony D'Amato (Pacino) to replace quarterback Jack Roony (Quaid), who, like a lot of aging quarterbacks, thinks he still has some good years left. When another player, Willie Beamen (Foxx) shows considerable potential, the fireworks begin. Owner Chiristina Pagniaci (Diaz) supplies her share of opinion, which the team members don't necessarily appreciate. The problem with this movie is that it is just one big game after another, and we are used to watching football on a 4:3 screen. The 2.35:1 framing is just too tight, especially with the constant jumping around of the camera, and extreme close-ups. Although the transfer is excellent, it is cropped to 2.38:1, which in my opinion, is too much cropping. Thus, the middle rating on video quality. The teams also had the ugliest uniforms I have ever seen. - JEJ -

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

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"The Ninth Gate", 20th Century Fox, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.35:1, DD, 2 Hr 13 min, Rated R;  Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seiger, Barbara Jefford, Jack Taylor;  Dean Corso (Depp) has raised the art of collecting rare books to a criminal level.  After acquiring a book proposed to have been written by Lucifer himself, rare book collector Boris Balkan (Langella) seeks to prove the authenticity of his new addition by renting Deanís services.  With a generous check to pay his way, Dean travels to Europe to compare Mr. Balkanís book with two other editions that may share the same authenticity.  Upon further investigation, Dean finds that the three books collectively make up something much more real than their owners could have possibly imagined.  Together these books may unlock to darkest secret this world has ever known.  I really wanted to like this movie because of its intriguing storyline. However, sub-par visual and audio quality, some very odd music, and incredibly slow development did this movie in.  If the plot still sounds interesting then I would recommend reading El Club Dumas, the novel which the movie is based on, instead. - JB -

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

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"Erin Brockovich", Columbia/Tri-Star, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 1.71:1, DD, 2 Hr 10 min, Rated R;  Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart, Cherry Jones, Peter Coyote, Marg Helgenberger;  Erin Brockovich (Roberts) is an out of work mother of three who is fed up with a system that is keeping her down.  Desperate to provide for her children, she pushes her way into a job at a local law office after she expresses her displeasure for a case they had recently botched on her behalf.  Armed only with a high school education and the experiences of a mother, Erin matches wits with her boss, Ed (Finney), the lawyer fortunate enough to take a chance on her.  This faith would soon pay off in a big way for the firm and over 600 residents of a small, country town named Hinkley when Erin discovers a major corporate cover-up that has been costing people their health.  Without being a lawyer and with no legal training, Erin is still able immerse herself into the case to provide answers and a little hope to the residents of Hinkley, but she does so at a price.  Winning this case may cost Ed his entire business, but it may cost Erin even more, namely her family and her boyfriend George (Eckhart).  A strong performance from Julia Roberts and Albert Finney, with their stellar on-screen chemistry, steals the show. - JB -

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

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"American Psycho", Lions Gate Films, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.33:1 (DVD) , DD, 1 Hr 43 min, Unrated; Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jaret Leto, Samantha Mathis, Reese Witherspoon; Patrick Bateman (Bale) is a rising star at a New York financial institution, Pierce and Pierce. On the surface, he seems well adjusted and honorable, objecting to anti-semitic comments made by his friends, and insisting that they serve the community's needs. But, on the inside, he suffers from a tormented past, and when one of his colleagues shows up with a business card more impressive than his, he resorts to murder. Detective Don Kimble (Dafoe) is suspicious of Bateman, and pursues him subtly, sensing that he is deeply troubled. But this does not stop Bateman from further murders. Although he can't stop himself from his blood lust, he tells others that he is a murderer, but no one believes him. Based on the sensational book by Bret Eston Ellis, the film is smart and vividly brutal, and is vastly different from the fast food cinema which pervades our theaters these days. - JEJ -

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

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"Mission to Mars", Touchstone Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio (DVD) 2.30:1, DD, 1 Hr 53 min, Rated PG; Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Tim Robbins; In the year 2020, earth is planning to colonize Mars, having landed several exploratory missions. When one of the missions goes wrong, and earth loses contact with the astronauts who were there, a Mars recovery mission is launched, headed by Woody Blake (Robbins), his wife Terri (Nielsen), Luke Graham (Cheadle), and Jim McConnell (Sinise). They discover an advanced civilization, and now must decide whether to return to earth or accept an invitation to travel to a distant galaxy, home of the newly discovered life. Everyone I spoke with told me not to expect much entertainment from this movie, but I enjoyed it, in spite of myself. It does not have graphic violence, foul language, or explicit sex, for a change. Suitable for the entire family on a rainy Saturday evening at home. - JEJ - 

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

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