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The devil changes you
There were a few things that bothered me about the film, besides the actual concept of snuff films. Although, there were a few things that interested me as well.
I thought it was amusing how Mary's mother offered Cage's character a drink - and seeing him refusing it so casually, just made me think back to Leaving Las Vegas. Little incidents like these that link characters from other movies together amuses me. However, it made me think that perhaps Cage was making me recognize his character in Leaving Las Vegas too much. Like when you're watching a movie and you become distracted by the actor. It made me realize that Cage's acting in this one was sub-par. I wasn't involved in the story enough and his acting wasn't convincing me to believe the story. It was a bit embarrassing to watch him watching the film in the beginning. He was too awkward, and too obvious. Did his talent take a holiday in this one? The monotonous narrative (the phone calls) over the momentous (too overpowering) music made me cringe. Was an editor hired for this movie? Was everything done in one take? Did Cage shoot all this in the wee hours? I don't understand what went wrong, but something was definitely missing.
I really enjoyed Joaquin Phoenix in this one. Though not the most likeable character, he portrayed it convincingly (well to the non-S&M-buff like me) and affably. The wife had not much substance to her character so not much to work with, but I believed the patience required by her character was stretched a bit far.
The message that stayed with me throughout the second half of the film, may I roughly quote "The devil doesn't change. The devil changes you." This is what made me able to stay with the second half. If this hadn't been said, I would have found it very difficult to justify the downhill slide of Cage's character into the depths which he so loathed. But, this made it make sense for me.
I guess I was lucky I had heard so much about the film beforehand, because it desensitized me to material that would have, under circumstances in which I knew nothing of the film prior to watching, would have horrified me and left an indelible impression on my mind. As it was, I was left with the concept that if evil is stronger than good, it can't help but change you. And no matter how good you try to be, seeing the lowest depths of human depravity can never be removed from you, once exposed.
I watch this a few times a week, although it is on late. Drew Pinsky is a "board-certified physician - addiction medicine specialist" and Adam Carolla is the wise-cracking side-kick.
It is hard to take anything Carolla says seriously, although he has delivered some excellent laughs. Dr Drew's wise insights provide an effective counterbalance to Carolla's antics, though Drew has got some of his own back on Carolla from time to time. Surprisingly, though, Carolla does have some excellent suggestions occasionally. And their current co-host Diane Farr, although not qualified, has some valuable input on the behalf of females.
I would seriously recommend this show to teenagers who have any questions about sex, sexuality, abuse, masturbation, STDs and any other serious (or not so serious) issues involving relationships.
Many of the questions seem recycled, but if you are a regular watcher, as I am, you will become familiar with some scenarios or questions, and will try and solve the dilemmas presented before the hosts do.
There has been some incredible input by guests, particularly the episode with Danica McKellar recently. There have been a wide variety of guests. Some I have seen are Alex Kingston (ER), Pamela Anderson, 'N Sync, Mekhi Phifer, Adam Baldwin, Lisa Loeb, Drew Carey, Henry Rollins, Sugar Ray and Everclear.
It is quite funny to watch some of the guests squirm at the questions posed and their reactions to Carolla's mostly off-color jokes. It's also funny to hear advice about sex from celebrities. It gives you an idea about their own attitudes to relationships - much more so than you'll find on a lot of late shows.
These guys are not always on the mark. Only occasionally have I disagreed with their responses and even less felt insulted or outraged by their comments - particularly Carolla. But that's all part of the fun. Carolla gets a kick out of stirring people up.
There have been a couple of episodes that have held me transfixed and even moved me to tears. Some of the real-life situations people endure are incredible. It's so sad to hear about someone that has been hurt so badly in their past, but comforting to hear the warm, solid advice delivered by Drew. On these occasions, thankfully, Carolla knows when to keep his mouth shut. Except for the regular "Don't have any more kids!" to the callers who have come from bad backgrounds and are continuing the cycle in current relationships.
All in all, an informative, funny, serious, thought-provoking show about sex and relationships. A must see at least once.
Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
My most painful movie experience
I expected it to be bad. I expected it to be really bad. I didn't expect it to be so bad it was painful to watch. I caught myself wincing throughout most of it. This would have to be the most cliched, cheesy, predictable film I have ever seen.
The special effects couldn't save this one. Sandra Bullock lost everything she gained from Speed, and then some...
As I was watching the movie, I predicted each event and even found myself saying the lines VERBATIM before the characters did. I can't believe I sat through the whole thing - I guess I was stunned into stupidity.
Hope Floats (1998)
Better than I'd hoped
From the second this movie started I was glued to my seat. It opened with a very realistic scene in a talk show. It is the very first movie in a long, long time that had me gripped from the first scene - apart from Saving Private Ryan. The emotions on Sandra Bullock's face! This is the first movie I have seen her in in which I am now convinced that she is a great actress. Perhaps her previous films suffered from script-deprivation. This scene could have so easily been overdone by anyone else, but Sandra played it so convincingly. And this continued throughout the film.
Her character's daughter also gripped me. Understandable she is mixed up about her parents' separation and is acting out accordingly. The scene with her holding her bag by the front gate and crying, certainly put a huge lump in my throat.
The scene at the employment agency could also have been overdone, but I found it realistic - even moving, in a strange way. The acting was subtle, the pauses just long enough, the emotions visible to the viewer, but not blatant or manipulative. This is an example of the types of techniques employed in the film that allow the viewer to relate to the characters - to feel their pain, to be embarrassed with them and to laugh and cry when they make mistakes and when they learn from them.
Married to the Mob (1988)
It's so Eighties!
If you're looking for a not-so-serious mob movie, with a female as the lead, you're in the right place. Pfieffer has acted much better than this. You can see she has matured beyond this picture.
When I first picked this movie up, I expected Pfeiffer was poorly miscast, however, she plays her mob wife role to the hilt. Not a bad performance from Baldwin, either.
If you don't pay attention to the hair, you might enjoy this movie. But don't take it too seriously...
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Clever and riveting
Wouldn't I hate to get on the bad side of Marquise De Merteuil (Glenn Close) or Vicomte De Valmont (John Malkovich) for that matter. What an evil (and hilarious) partnership. The sadistic viewer can relate well to this scheming pair.
I was a bit surprised to see Michelle Pfeiffer as the ingenue, but she played it quite convincingly. Her performance reminded me of her character in Witches of Eastwick.
I became engrossed in the evil machinations of the duelling duo - wondering what fiendish trick they would play next. Glenn Close plays these characters too well.
Interesting side note: one section of her dialogue has become almost a requisite audition piece for budding actresses. But no one can pull it off as well as Mme Close.
Not all washed up
I only just saw this movie for the first time the other day and was surprised that it was pretty good, because I had heard so many bad things about it. From now on, I will not be taking public opinion so seriously and will watch anything with a promising premise and good actors.
Tina Majorino was, as always, (see "When A Man Loves A Woman" and Corrina, Corrina") believable. It amazes me how many tears this child can summon and I still believe each one of them.
Kevin Costner wasn't really anything special. I had just seen The Postman the week before (which prompted me to watch Waterworld), and he seemed to me to be the same character. I could go on and on about comparisons, but I'll leave it at that. Although, I have to let you know there was a strange deja-vu thing happening between plot points and character developments.
Jeanne Tripplehorn was quite convincing. I thought their tans were all apt considering the habitat of the characters, but a bit overdone.
The most disappointing thing for me was how the film turned from a unique, (pre-Postman) fairly intelligent plot into a typical action film with explosions and chases. There were explosions toward the beginning that were a little overdone, but I felt they were necessary to introduce us to the Smokers and to Dennis Hopper's character. This film could have turned out quite well, if the last few scenes were completely re-written.
Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Thanks, but no thanks
This is the movie that decided it for me - I am not a Woody Allen fan, nor will I ever be. The use of the Greek Chorus was meaningless, superlative and completely at odds with the rest of the film. This seemed to me to be yet another vehicle for Allen's "therapy via widescreen" existence. Why do all his films leave us feeling like we've intimately witnessed a day in Woody Allen's life? I would prefer if he had cast someone other than himself in the lead - so we may at least be distracted from the directorial techniques, or lack thereof in this particular film, and instead focus on the message he was trying to convey. Though, if someone figures out what that was - please let me know. I'm also trying to figure out why Mira Sorvino won best actress. I found her acting in this film to be annoying and unrealistic (although it's hard to be realistic in a contrived atmosphere surrounded by surreal wailing Greeks). Oh please! Definitely 1/10.
Eve's Bayou (1997)
More than words
Incredible movie that hasn't been given justice by the press or the public. Deeply-moving and very real (apart from the over-stylized voodoo). It's not often you can relate to someone as young as the character of Eve, who plays the young daughter and the narrator of the film. And it's not often you get to see both sides of a story. Well worth watching - another to add to the collection of intelligent, stylish, modern classics.
Dating the Enemy (1996)
Great scene, bad script
Yes, we've all seen hundreds of the gender/role/switching,type movies. eg. Freaky Friday, Like Father Like Son, Wish Upon A Star, Switch etc.. and they are all incredibly corny, but there were a couple of scenes in this movie that made me laugh out loud (and that is pretty unusual). One memorable moment: Guy Pierce in Claudia Karvan's body - experiencing his(her) first menstruation. I wish there were more scenes like this one in the movie. Would have made it a passable film.
The Doors (1991)
Great if you're into drugs and chaos
This is a total waste of celluloid. The chaotic, mindless "drug-induced" backdrop of the movie, seems to me to be a gratuitous mention for those stoned and wishing to experience that same environment through film. Only people seriously into the Doors...or drugs...need watch this. Although, it is a good example of what not to do if you make it big on the charts.
True Story Tear-jerker
We are introduced to a young man who later becomes a pivotal character, in an incredibly moving and true story. The character is Leonard Lowe, played with intelligence, compassion and wisdom by Robert De Niro. Leonard develops a degenerative illness, which affects the functions of the brain to send signals to the body. It is like being trapped inside a body that cannot listen and cannot communicate, but still exists on another sphere. It is scary to imagine that we could be locked away so easily, for being misunderstood, misinterpreted or overlooked.
The film awakens our understanding for sufferers of this rare disease that affected a generation of people, and has now affected us, the viewers. Penny Marshal has directed this incredible, haunting movie with vision. She develops the drama in such a way that we cannot help being affected by the lives of each of these characters. To know there is life under the surface of these seemingly vegetative patients, is horrifying and, at the same time, incredible. Robert De Niro gives an incredible screen performance. His contrast in emotions, coupled with clever directing, leaves you feeling sad, overjoyed and shattered. Robin Williams touches us with his portrayal of a man with almost painful social awkwardness and naivete, contrasting with the genius of his medicine.