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The Matrix (1999)
This movie is "the One" I've been waiting for
I went in with little idea of what this movie was about. I saw the commercials like everyone else, hit the web page, and decided the movie didn't matter, I just wanted to see the effects. I thought "the plot sounds a little like Tron" so I wasn't expecting too much of the story. I remember Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Bogus Success (that is the name of that movie, isn't it?) and I REALLY didn't expect much from the actors (I held out a little hope because of Laurence Fishburne's presence). I was thinking too far back. I should've thought about 2 years ago when I saw the Devil's Advocate in which Keanu turned in a great performance, which he matched if not improved upon in the Matrix. Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss completed the triumvirate quite effectively to show us a very well performed movie.
The movie is about these people who live in a simulated world - oh, but I've said too much. Go see it. It's a sci-fi plot I've seen hinted at but never fully formed in this fashion, which I find to be truly unique for this genre of movie.
All elements necessary to give a film a 10 were here...excellent acting, writing, directing, and story-telling, great action scenes, and of course, the sweetest eye-candy ever to hit the silver screen. One of the only movies I've ever watched and then been upset about an hour later because I couldn't watch it again right away. Definitely see this one.
PS I can't wait for Phantom Menace to come out :)
What a Pleasant Surprise!
Well, having seen very little in the way of previews for this movie, I didn't expect much more than a slapstick silly movie. I must say that I am extremely impressed by the writing talent of Gary Ross.
Being a big fan of old TV shows myself, I enjoyed the magnificent display of Black & White alongside Color on the same screen. Anyone who watches B&W TV programming knows that you don't need color to be able to tell what color Herman Munster's skin is or what color dress June Cleaver is wearing. Ross did a great job of capturing that look, and then showed everything to us again in color, which I personally enjoyed a great deal.
That, however, is not the really surprising part about this movie. After all, Ben Hur had some amazing sets and wonderful costuming, but that's not why it's a great movie - it all comes down to what story is being told. Pleasantville was an incredibly unique take on oppression in its many forms, and as much a political statement as a comedy. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it coming sooner.
I give Pleasantville an 8. The story was great, the directing was very good, and the cinematography was beautiful. I did see some room for improvement from most of the cast. Other than Jeff Daniels, who performed about as well as he always does - nothing amazing, but no major problems, and Tobey Maguire, who did a great job, I saw a lot of over-acting.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
"Whatever blows your hair back" - This movie does it for me!
This is the best movie I have seen since the Godfather. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck make a great team...not only as actors, but more impressively as co-writers. Add Robin Williams in perhaps his best role ever (too close to Good Morning Vietnam for me to make the call), and you have a wonderfully entertaining movie.
Ben Affleck is convincing as the best friend to a genius, able to effectively play the joker and the friend who would "lay down in traffic for you". Matt Damon's portrayal of that genius realizing that life has something more to offer than batting cages and bars is equally stunning. And Robin Williams certainly leaves nothing to be desired (except maybe a beard trimmer...).
The most amazing thing about this movie is the writing. Even if the acting were not terrific, this movie still would have made my top ten list. I was captivated from beginning to end.
If you've not seen it, Good Will Hunting is without doubt a "renter", and I think after seeing it, it's one you'll want to own to watch again and again.
12 Angry Men (1997)
This movie is excellent..."beyond any reasonable doubt"
Set almost entirely in a Jury's deliberation room, this is an incredibly realistic movie about 12 men assigned the task of deciding the fate of another. They seem to have it all figured out, until Jack Lemmon dissents, and one-by-one, like Lemmings, 11 people become convinced that perhaps they are not looking at all the facts.
The lack of a soundtrack in this movie impressively adds to the feel. One can almost hear the tension building as Juror #8 points out flaws in every other juror's logic.
You will come away from this movie feeling a bit deflated, as you realize how one's personal prejudices, family history, and even tickets to a "Big Game" can play a role in the deliberation process. You will, however, be more than satisfied with the excellent, powerful acting, superb writing and great directing in this movie.
I've not seen the original 1957 version with Henry Fonda, but I certainly intend to at first opportunity.