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Movie Renter's Guide

Current Movies - Part 72 - March, 2001

Staff

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Ratings:
Extraordinary
Good
Acceptable
Mediocre
Poor

 

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"The Third Miracle", Franchise Pictures, 1999, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.84:1 (DVD), 2-Channel Stereo, 1 Hr 58 min, Rated R; Ed Harris, Anne Heche, Armin Mueller-Stahl; In Chicago, a statue of the Virgin Mary begins to cry bloody tears after a virtuous local Catholic woman, Helen O'Regan, passes away. Father Frank Shore (Harris) is assigned the task of determining if the tears really are blood, and if Helen is deserving of beatification (sainthood). In researching Helen, Shore meets her daughter Roxane (Heche), and they fall in love. Unfortunately, Shore must fight his emotions over Roxane while he prepares to deliver the case for beatification to a rather self-righteous member of the committee, Archbishop Werner (Mueller-Stahl). The movie starts out rather slow, but if you can hang in there, it has a very interesting conclusion. - JEJ -

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

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"The Contender", Dreamworks Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.78:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 2 Hr 7 min, Rated R; Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater, Sam Elliott; When the President of the United States dies, Vice President Jackson Evans (Bridges) becomes President, and he must select a new Vice President. Although Virginia Governor Jack Hathaway has been angling for the job, Evans picks Ohio Senator Laine Hanson (Allen). Evans' nemesis, Congressman Sheldon Runyon (Oldman) wants Hathaway as Vice President, rather than Hanson, so he digs up as much dirt on Hanson as he can find, including an apparent orgy that Hanson was involved in as a freshman college student. Contender is the best movie about politics since "Nixon". It has first rate actors and a top notch script. The ending is quite a surprise too. - JEJ -

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

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"Bless the Child", Paramount Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 47 min, Rated R;  Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Holliston Coleman, Rufus Sewell, Angela Bettis, Christina Ricci;  An ancient prophecy tells of the coming of a modern day Saint who will protect the pure of heart from evil.  This deliverer is young Cody (Coleman), who at only a few days old, has just been abandoned by her mom Jenna (Bettis) and left with her Aunt Maggie (Basinger).  Maggie is knowingly raising a special child, but she has no idea how special her niece is until Jenna comes back into their lives after 6 years of obscurity to take her daughter back. However, Jenna is not alone in her pursuit. Religious leader Eric Stark (Sewell) also has a peculiar interest in securing the girl into his family with new wife Jenna.  Maggie's refusal to let Cody go to virtual strangers leads to Cody's kidnapping right under her nose.  At the police station, Maggie learns that she can't press charges since Cody is still legally Jenna's child, but more importantly she hears of a rash of recent kidnapping-murders of 6-year olds that spurs her into immediate action to get Cody back.  The only one willing to help her is Detective John Travis (Smits), who has been following what he believes to be the ritualistic killing of these young children.  Perhaps the only bright spot in this movie was a glimpse of a very gothic-looking Christina Ricci playing Cherry, a girl trying to escape from faith leader Eric Stark.  If the recent "good versus evil" films were a last ditch effort to cash in on the genre, then the bone thin plot of this movie was simply an afterthought.  One woman and a young girl who can move dishes, against all of the forces of evil? Sorry, but evil is a little tougher than that.  On the other hand, I've never seen the forces of evil put up such a weak fight when the fate of existence was at stake.  - JB -

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

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"Bedazzled"20th Century Fox, Color, 2000, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 33 min, Rated PG-13; Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley, Frances O'Connor (II), Miriam Shor, Orlando Jones, Paul Adelstein, Toby Huss;  Elliot Richards (Fraser) is one of those guys who just can't get it right.  Whether he is at work, at the bar, or with the ladies, Elliot has never been in the know.  Lucky for him, that's all about to change.  After striking out with co-worker and girl of his dreams, Alison (O'Connor), Elliot would trade his soul for her to notice him.  As if right on cue, the Devil (Hurley) appears before him and offers him seven wishes for the relatively small price of his soul.  Seemingly with nothing left to lose and a whole world of riches to gain, Elliot signs the contract that he thinks will bring him everything he has always wanted, including Alison.  Of course, this deal was made with the Devil, and the Devil doesn't play fair.  This film was a nice change of pace to the "Hellfire" take on eternity.  The talented Brendan Fraser continues to add a good list of movie credits and acting performances to his resume.  If the Devil did look like Elizabeth Hurley, a lot more of us might be wandering around without a soul (but with seven wishes!).  - JB -

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

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"Lost Souls", New Line Cinema, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.39:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 1 Hr 38 min, Rated R; Winona Ryder, Ben Chaplin, John Hurt; Maya Larkin (Ryder) has an obsession about the Devil, and when she thinks she has found evidence that the Prince of Darkness is about to take on human form, she must convince a prominent journalist, Peter Kelson (Chaplin) that the Devil is not just a figment of human fear and imagination. The notes suggest the movie is in the tradition of "The Exorcist" and Rosemary's Baby", and I have also seen an allusion to "The Omen", but while those films were innovative and thrilling, "Lost Souls" has a pathetic screen play that relies only on dark photography and eerie music, leaving the story difficult to follow. It turns out to be just a lost cause instead. - JEJ -

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

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"Meet the Parents", Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 1.85:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 1 Hr 48 min, Rated PG-13; Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo; A male nurse (Stiller) from Chicago goes with his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Polo) to New York to meet her parents. If being a male nurse isn't enough to cause a discussion, how about having the name Gaylord Gregory Focker? Pam's father, Jack (De Niro), has immediate distrust for Greg, thinking no man is good enough for his daughter, but disaster after disaster, including setting the house on fire, cause further erosion of the first impressions. Top that off with Jack having just retired from being with the CIA, and we have a recipe for hilarity. The only - and I mean ONLY - reason that the movie works is because of De Niro, who is brilliant with his deadpan comedy. But, it is a very funny movie, even if some of the situations are a little outrageous, and the ending is rushed. - JEJ -

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

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"Wonder Boys", Paramount Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed spherically and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.35:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 52 min, Rated R; Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey, Jr., Richard Thomas;  A university professor in Pittsburgh, Dr. Grady Tripp (Douglas) is trying to get his book published, and caters to his publisher, Terry Crabtree (Downey, Jr.), who shows up at the train station with a transvestite. In the meantime, Grady is sleeping with the wife, Sara Gaskell (McDormand), of one of his colleagues, Walter Gaskell (Thomas), while going through a divorce. He must also deal with one of his students, James Leer (Maguire), who has some psychological problems. I think this movie was overrated. It seems like someone just taking a video camera to some faculty parties. - JEJ -

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

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"Remember the Titans", Walt Disney Pictures, 2000, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.31:1 (DVD), DD, DTS, 1 Hr 54 min, Rated PG; Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Donald Faison, Nicole Ari Parker; In the early 1970s, a high school coach, Bill Yoast (Patton), is shocked to learn that he is being replaced as head coach by Herman Boone (Washington) due to integration and busing from another high school. The soft spoken Yoast is at first put off by Boone's military training tactics, but the two begin to respect and actually like one another when the Titans become an unbeaten team heading for the state championships. The film is based on a true story and is a great football movie. The real star is the little girl who plays Yoast's football-loving daughter. - JEJ -

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

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"Red Planet", Warner Brothers, 2000, Color, Filmed in Panavision and presented at measured aspect ratio 2.38:1 (DVD), DD, 1 Hr 47 min, Rated PG-13; Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore, Benjamin Bratt, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp; It is the year 2057, and mankind has ruined planet earth (so what's new?) For the past two decades, earth has sent spacecrafts to Mars, laden with algae, hoping that proliferation of same will result in an oxygen atmosphere. All seems to be working until suddenly the algae disappear. So, a mission of astronauts and scientists is sent, led by Commander Bowman (Moss), and staffed by officers Gallagher (Kilmer), Burchenal (Sizemore), Santen (Bratt), Pettengil (Baker), and Chantilas (Stamp). Everyone but Commander Bowman takes a shuttle to the Mars surface, where they soon discover that the habitat which had been constructed is now destroyed, so they have no water, food, or oxygen supply. Top that off with their robot AMEE turning into a predator because it was damaged in the landing, along with some strange Mars creatures showing up, and the stage is set for a big mess getting back to the mother ship for return to earth. Of all the asteroid and Mars movies that have been released in the last several years, this one is the best. - JEJ -

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

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Copyright 2001 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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