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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 67 - October, 2000

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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"Drowning Mona", Columbia/Tri-Star, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 36 min, Rated PG-13;  Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Casey Affleck, Neve Campbell, Marcus Thomas, William Fichtner;  The normal situation when someone dies involves time to grieve and time to heal.  However, when Mona Dearly (Midler) dies, is it a time to celebrate?  Apparently so for the residents of Verplanck, New York.  For years, Mona had been a thorn in the side of many in town, with nothing good to say and absolutely no help to offer.  Although Phil Dearly (Fichtner), her husband, and Marcus Dearly (Thomas), her son, were not the sharpest tacks in the drawer, they were her family, who she treated worse than the dirt she trounced on.  Bobby Calzone (Affleck), Jeff's friend and business partner, may have hated her the most, but was too nice on the outside to do anything about it.  This little fact will stay true, especially if Ellen Rash (Campbell), Bobby's fianceť, and Chief Wyatt Rash (DeVito), her father, have anything to say about it.  When Mona Dearly passed away, those involved believed it to be a deserved end and a final exclamation to a disruptive life.  Instead, it was merely the beginning of the chaos her life left behind.  This movie is kind of a light version of "Very Bad Things".  At first I had a hard time believing this movie was a comedy, but it does get a lot funnier along the way. - JB -

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

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"Magnolia"New Line Cinema, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 3 Hr 18 min, Rated R;  Tom Cruise, Jeremy Blackman, Melinda Dillon, Jason Robards, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly;  Frank Mackey (Cruise) is a motivational speaker whose life has been a roller coaster ride, steadied only by his lust for the domination of all women by men.  Frank's father, Earl Partridge (Robards), is dying of cancer and wishes talk to his estranged son one last time.  Through the help of his caring nurse, Phil (Hoffman), although against the wishes of his wife Linda (Moore), he struggles to survive long enough to make contact with his son Frank.  Claudia Gator (Walters) has been strung out and drugged out for a long time.  Her father, Jimmy Gator (Hall), is trying to right a wrong he committed against her long ago that in her mind can never be forgotten.  However, Rose's troubled past hasn't scared off officer Jim Kurring (Reilly), who, while on a routine call to her house, feels an immediate connection with her.  Finally, whiz kid and child prodigy Donnie Smith (Macy) has never believed he has lived up to his own name, and is now in his 30's.  His story is being relived in the form of a new child genius named Stanley Spector (Blackman) and his obsessive father who has managed to push a young child to his limit.  These events may seem loosely connected on the surface; however, they tied together by the commonality that makes up life itself.  This is a cast full of seasoned actors who have come together to make an excellent film. - JB -

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

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"The Big Kahuna"Universal Studios, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 30 min, Rated R;  Kevin Spacey, Danny De Vito, Peter Facinelli, Paul Dawson;  Together, Larry (Spacey), Phil (De Vito), and Bob (Facinelli) represent the same industrial lubricants supplier, although all three are in very different stages of their chosen careers.  Bob is a wide-eyed kid fresh out of college who is ready to change the world, not with a sales pitch, but with the word of God.  Larry is a hardened sales veteran who is concerned only with the bottom line.  Phil, the oldest of three, wants to make some real life changes and is trying to tell Larry, his partner of 16 years, that he's had enough.  Tonight, their collective goal is to land the biggest account in the company's history, i.e., they will attempt to land "The Big Kahuna".  This film shows that acting is what drives any great movie.  Also, the style of this film makes it very obvious that it was based on a theatrical play. - JB -

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

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"Me, Myself, I"Columbia/Tri-Star, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 44 min, Rated R;  Rachel Griffiths, Shaun Loseby, David Roberts, Yael Stone, Trent Sullivan, Sandy Winton;  Have you ever wondered where taking a different path might have led you?  Lately, Pamela Drury (Griffiths) can't help but wonder what her life would be like if she had married her one true love, Robert Dickson (Loseby), over a decade earlier.  By the work of a small miracle, Pamela is going to get that chance when she changes places with her alternate self, the married Pamela Drury.  At first, Pamela's new life as a wife and mother is wholly overwhelming. However, she quickly finds the routine she never experienced as an unmarried woman.  Soon, Pamela realizes that the expectations of the perfect life she thought she had been missing may not be the life she wanted at all when she finds out that the grass isn't always necessarily greener on the other side.  This above average film taps into something that perhaps all of us have pondered at one time or another, wondering what life would have been like in another direction. - JB -

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

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"Titus", Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.33:1 (DVD), DD, 2 Hr 40 min, Rated R: Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Laura Fraser; This movie is based on Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus", which is a story about a Roman General at the time of Julius Caesar. However, the combination of spears and motorcycles is more Frederico Fellini, and in fact, the list of Italian credits does support that style. The problem with bringing classic theater into a modern setting, is that it becomes difficult to say what the story is about. Indeed, even the DVD jacket states only that it is, "a shocking journey into the depths of the human heart - a place where vengeance and passion reign supreme." This generic description could be applied to most of today's films. - JEJ -

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

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"Rules of Engagement", Paramount Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 2 Hr 7 min, Rated R; Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Anne Archer; Hays Hodges (Jones) and Terry Childers (Jackson) served together as Marines in Viet Nam in the 1960s. Now, 28 years later, Colonel Hodges has retired, but Colonel Childers serves on. Childers is assigned to rescue Ambassador Mourain (Kingsley) from a volatile situation in Yemen, and in doing so, civilians are killed. Terry faces a court martial, and he asks Hays to represent him as his lawyer. Colonel Childers claims that his marines were under fire not only from snipers, but from the crowd of civilians, and now Colonel Hodges must prove this, in spite of the State Department claim that a video tape of the incident has been lost. This film combines great actors with an excellent script, and the result is pure entertainment from logo to credit roll. - JEJ - 

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

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"Supernova"MGM/UA, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 31 min, Rated R;  James Spader, Angela Bassett, Robin Tunney, Peter Facinelli, Wilson Cruz, Robert Forster, Lou Diamond Philips;  The crew of the medical vessel Nightingale has just received an S.O.S. call for help from the farthest reaches of space.  Staying true to the oath she made to save lives, Captain Kaela Evers (Bassett) and her crew are about to travel across the universe to attempt a miraculous rescue.  Upon their arrival via a hyperspace jump, they are faced with a more immediate threat when they are pulled into the orbit of a dying star and are in need of fuel to pull away.  Things get even more interesting when the only survivor of those who sent the distress signal comes crashing into to the Nightingale.  While Nick Vanzant (Spader) descends to an abandoned mining station to find extra fuel, Karl (Facinelli) the Nightingale's new visitor, has plans of his own for the unsuspecting crew.  In fact, Karl will do anything to protect the alien artifact that he found while on expedition to the unstable planet.  I haven't seen the PG-13 version of this film, but I do know there is an abundance of sex and violence throughout the R-rated version.  Regardless, either version will fall short of what quality science fiction movie making is supposed to be. - JB -

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

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"Final Destination", New Line Cinema, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 37 min, Rated R;  Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenveur Smith, Tony Todd;  High school student Alex Browning (Sawa) has a bad feeling about the flight he and his classmates are about to go on for their senior class trip.  When a vision of their crashing plane seems like more than just a dream, he frantically tries to warn his class not to stay on the flight, but only succeeds in getting himself and six others kicked off the plane.  Soon after the plane takes off, it goes down in flames.  For reasons unknown, classmate Clear Rivers (Larter), who hadn't even known Alex through four years of high school, was included in those kicked out when she gets off the plane on his words.  A bond begins to form between Clear and Alex when they discover a mysterious pattern of death has followed the seven survivors from the plane.  It's funny how we only seem to remember our gut feeling when it's right.  I had a bad feeling before renting this movie, and I didn't listen to it. - JB -

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

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"Ready To Rumble", Warner Brothers, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1  (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 47 min, Rated PG-13;  David Arquette, Scott Caan, Oliver Platt, Rose McGowan, Martin Landau, Caroline Rhea;  In the world of professional wrestling, sometimes things are exactly what they seem.  This is a lesson that Gordie Boggs (Arquette) and Sean Dawkins (Caan) may never learn.  While attending a WCW Monday Nitro event in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Gordie and Sean witness the end of the career of their hero Jimmy King (Platt).  His defeat marks not only his wrestling adios, but also the end of a lifestyle he has become accustomed to.  However, these two hardest of the hardcore fans refuse to acknowledge the disappointing reality that is now King's life, and instead, take matters into their own hands by once again pushing their hero back to the top.  Their efforts get King one more shot at the title and one last chance to regain the prestige of a champion he once was.  As a moderate fan of professional wrestling, I would say that leaving the WCW would have been the best move Jimmy King or any other wrestler could do to move on with their lives.  This movie shows there is an obvious line between real actors and the physical actors involved in wrestling, notwithstanding the fact that professional wrestlers are superb athletes. - JB -

Entertainment: **
Video Quality: ****
Audio: ****
Photography: ****
Violence: extreme
Sex: nudity
Language: the "S" word 

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"Where the Heart Is"20th Century Fox, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 2 Hr, Rated PG-13;  Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, James Frain, Stockard Channing, Ray Prewitt, Sally Field, Joan Cusack;  Novalee Nation (Portman) is headed out of town to start a new life with her boyfriend Tim (Prewitt) and her unborn child when an unexpected turn of events leaves Novalee all alone in a Wal Mart parking lot.  However, with what seemed like an impossible situation to overcome, Novalee quickly winds up living a charmed, small town life.  While getting back on her feet, Novalee meets Lexie Coop (Judd), a local mother of four (soon to be five) still looking for Mr. Right, and Thelma (Channing), a "sister" of her own faith who takes in Novalee, the teenage mother to be.  There even may be love in Novalee's future with the local town librarian, Forney Hall (Frain).  Together, they try to live their lives the best they can in the comfort of their small community.  This movie shows that people can be happy living a modest life without the big city dreams . . . maybe even happier.  Natalie Portman gives a strong performance as the inexperienced and naÔve Novalee Nation.  I do have one question though.  Is everyone in Oklahoma really as nice as these folks? - JB -

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

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"Black and White"Columbia/TriStar, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), Surround Sound, DD, 1 Hr 40 min, Rated R;  Oliver Grant, Marla Maples, Jared Leto, Bijou Phillips, Scott Caan, Claudia Schiffer, Raekwon, Oliver Grant, Alan Houston, Ben Stiller, Brooke Shields, Robert Downey Jr.;  In the heart of NYC, things are anything but business as usual.  Documentary filmmaker Sam Donager (Shields) travels to The Big Apple to make a film about the urbanization of white America.  What she finds after she arrives is the variety of life that she was looking for.  Charlie (Phillips) and her friends want to experience everything to the fullest while at the same time trying on new identities that will best fill their need for excitement.  These kids are the ones who will take Donager on the inside of what is maybe the toughest city in America.  Here she meets hustlers like Rich Bower (Grant) and Cigar (Raekwon) who struggle every day to stay on top of their world.  Meanwhile, Dean Carter (Houston) is an undrafted basketball player about to end his senior college season.  Nervous about his future ability to make money, he takes a bribe from a gambling stiff that requires him to sabotage his next game.  It just so happens that this gambler is actually an undercover detective.  Things come full circle when Dean gives up Rich to the detective after being pressed for information and threatened with his freedom.  This movie tried way too hard to prove a point, and, instead, just seemed to reinforce the same old stereotypes of race and inner city life.  There is an appearance by none other that Mike Tyson himself who apparently has caught the acting bug, so look out world.  On a performance note, Robert Downey Jr. is great as Shields' gay husband. - JB -

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

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"The Patriot"Columbia Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.33:1 (DVD), DD, 2 Hr 45 min, Rated R; Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Chris Cooper, Tom Wilkinson; During the American Revolution (1776), war veteran Benjamin Martin (Gibson) does not want to revisit the pain of killing, but when the British Army burns his home, and the commanding officer kills one of his sons, he has no choice not only to fight, but to seek revenge against the British officer, Colonel William Tavington (Isaacs) who shot his son. He forms a militia, and along side his older son Gabriel (Ledger), they attack the British with a vengeance. The culmination is a huge battle with General Cornwallis' (Wilkinson) troops, where Martin faces his son's murderer. Gibson puts in a strong dose of his characters from "Braveheart" and "Lethal Weapon", and does some terrible things to the bad guy, as usual. Although the movie undoubtedly takes some artistic license with history, it is easily the most entertaining film ever made which depicts battle scenes of that period. - JEJ -

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

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"U-571" (HD DVD), Universal Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.32:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 1 Hr 57 min, Rated PG-13; Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Jon Bon Jovi, David Keith; Harvey Keitel; In early 1942, Navy Lt. Andy Tyler (McConaughey) and his crew are assigned a secret mission to pose as Nazi officers and board a disabled U Boat to steal an Enigma code machine along with the code book. When they do so, their own boat is sunk, and they are left with the job of getting back to base with the machine and code book without sending any radio messages and without being attacked. This is definitely a movie for use with the ButtKicker or Clark Synthesis Tactile Transducer. It is one of the best submarine war films I have seen, but it has a serious editing flaw with something that was either inserted in the wrong place or should not have been in the film at all. The first one to e-mail us with a description of what the editing flaw is, will win a copy of the ID-4 DVD. In any case, just ignore the flaw and enjoy the story, as it is very entertaining. - JEJ -

HD DVD Version - July, 2006 - Kris Deering - This was the first HD DVD that I could compare to another pre-recorded HD source. I own the D-Theater version of this film, which is already REALLY good. The HD DVD seems to be a bit better, probably because of the newer scaling and encoding efficiency. I saw a bit less banding in some of the underwater sequences, but apart from that, they are almost identical. That is fine with me, again the D-Theater version already looked incredible. Fine detail is jaw dropping at times during this film, especially some of the scenes in the control room of the submarine. Pores and facial features look amazing. Some of the outdoor sequences donít hold up quite as well, but they are still nothing to scoff at. One of the best HD presentations to date (7/06).

The DVD release of U-571 already sounded incredible, and this release is no different. You get the direct comparison of the DTS codec and the new Dolby Digital + codec and I have to say; I enjoyed the Dolby mix more. Surrounds sounded like they had more balance, and the bottom end was tighter. This is a demonstration quality soundtrack with the depth charge sequence still remaining one of the most system threatening scenes out there. - Kris Deering -
 

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

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"American Beauty", Dreamworks Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.36:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 2 Hr 2 min, Rated R; Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Peter Gallagher, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentlye, Chris Cooper; In a "typical" suburban neighborhood, Lester (Spacey) and Carolyn (Bening) Burnham have a "typical" family, at least on the outside. In reality, it is, well, maybe it is typical there too. With 50% of marriages failing and ending in divorce, the Burnhams fall into that statistic. They hate each other, and their daughter Jane (Birch) hates them. Lester has fantasies about Jane's beautiful friend Angela (Suvari), and Carolyn has an affair with the "King of Real Estate", Buddy Kane (Gallagher). Jane finds solace in her new neighbor Ricky Fitts (Bentley) who tries to hide his drug dealing from his retired marine Colonel father, Frank (Cooper). Meanwhile, Col. Fitts has his own worries, including a gay couple a few houses down the lane, and wonders if Ricky is gay, and even his own repressed sexuality is in question. I don't know. Is this a typical neighborhood or what?  - JEJ -

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

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