Better Not Leave Your Burrow Yet
With Six More Weeks of Winter, It's Time to Snuggle Up with A Good Video
You can't depend on a groundhog for deliverance. Whether or not the little furry fatties see their shadow on Tuesday, winter's not leaving anytime soon. Even in Chesapeake Country, where a winter day's temperature is as likely to be in the 40s or 50s as in the 20s or teens, winter's most often a dank, dim study in gray.
You might just as well snuggle back into your den for another sluggish six weeks. With reality what it is this time of year (and most you see on television worse), we don't think you'll find a better season or reason to retreat.
So why not devote the next six weeks to a short course in fiction? The genre we have in mind is escapism, and the medium movies. You just pop the tape in your VCR and make like a ground hog.
Ah, were it only that easy. In the league of tough things in life, finding a good movie in a video store ranks with finding a life mate.
To hurry you along to the happy state of vacant bliss, New Bay Times' movie-watching staff has spent long hours over the last weeks recruiting, nominating and lobbying for our favorite movies, divided into 11 categories. To guarantee something for everyone, we've pooled the picks of 11 women and men whose ages span four decades. In reaching consensus, we've all suffered some movies we hate to get the ones we love.
The films span seven decades, with the earliest Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 release, The Lady Vanishes. Directors Ethan and Joel Coen, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood and - improbably - Ridley Scott win the most mentions with two each. Harrison Fords leads the actors with four roles.
With no further delay, our picks:
A collection of raucous joyriding, shoot-em-up films with testosterone coursing through their reels.
The Outlaw Josey Wales JAK
PG 2:15 1976
With a Western's hard-hitting action and heroic adventure, you also get questions about life and death, justice plus - a key ingredient to any Clint Eastwood movie - revenge.
Eastwood directs and plays the title character in this post-Civil War story of a one-time soldier, then farmer on a one-man vendetta hunting the villains who killed his family. To his stoic dislike, Wales pals up with Chief Dan George as a wise, old Cherokee, then rescues Sondra Locke, as a skittish young girl moving westward with her grandmother. Human ties grow, softening Wales, but don't think Clint gets soft in the stomach. Just as everything's getting comfortable, all hell breaks loose.
From Russia with Love MB
PG 2:05 1963
Terence Young directs the second and perhaps best of all 18 James Bond movies in this spy flick brimming with all the right stuff. Bond, played by Sean Connery (by far the best of the five who've played the role), gets by with wits, luck and gadgetry while tracking down the Lector decoder even as the evil organization Spectre plays Britain and Russia off one another. Includes sneaky spy tricks, a boat chase, a wild ride on the Orient Express and more.
Raiders of the Lost Ark MB
PG 1:55 1981
Steven Spielberg introduces Indiana Jones to the world in a classic, stunt-filled, good versus evil adventure. Harrison Ford's Jones is charged with unearthing the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis find it to use as a weapon for global conquest. Indy ends up fending off Nazis at every turn plus the occasional hired swordsmen and gunmen in the streets of Cairo. Plenty of big explosions, humor, gunplay and outrageous stunts.
True Lies DA
Terminator-creator James Cameron's comedic action thriller keeps its fans wide-eyed from special effects while the tongue-in-cheek humor has the adults chuckling - if not hooting. The surprising but engaging coupling of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis adds a romantic twist to this fast-moving espionage tale. Arnold is at his over-the-top (and charming!) best.
The Rock KF
R 2:16 1996
Michael Bay's action-packed thriller stars Nicholas Cage as an FBI chemical weapons specialist and Sean Connery as an imprisoned British intelligence agent. Together they must infiltrate Alcatraz. Ed Harris also stars as the Brigadier General, whose takeover of "the Rock" Cage and Connery must foil. Entwined through the smashes and crashes is a riveting story.
Adults might prefer these to the standard Disney fare.
Not Rated 1:56 1940
When Walt Disney released Fantasia - perhaps his best work ever - in 1940, it bombed, proving that timing is everything. A generation later, as psychedelia entranced America's youth, Fantasia gained respect.
Broken into nine vignettes, each matched to a classical score performed by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, Fantasia offers little plot, except perhaps in Mickey Mouse's role as the Sorcerer's Apprentice. Imagine listening to The Nutcracker or The Cossack Dance with your eyes closed. From this, Disney and his animators translated their mental images inspired by the music into cartoon cells. The results are Fantasiac.
Watership Down JP
PG 1:32 1978
Martin Rosen's animated version of Richard Adams' classic about a group of rabbits on a journey in search of utopia is very different than the Disney-style animated features we are used to. Beautiful drawing, quiet tone and nice pacing do justice to Adams' wonderful tale. Voices include John Hurt, Ralph Richardson and Zero Mostel.
Wallace and Gromit BK
Not Rated 1:25 total 1989-95
Nick Park's three award-winning shorts featuring inventor Wallace and his dog, Gromit, tickle claymation-hounds and cheese-lovers young and old. Elaborate sets and lighting add the mystery of suspense/thrillers while the music soundtrack carries you from breakfast to mystery to excitement to Wallace in love. Afterward, you'll crave more claymation - and cheese.
Heavy Metal JAK
R 1:30 1981
It's a sort of cross between the Varga Girl and G.I. Joe, this cult classic and animated masterpiece. Inspired by the magazine of the same name and paired to a hard-rocking soundtrack, Heavy Metal is a fantasy/sci-fi mix of sex and violence out of a teenager's daydreams. And like daydreams, Heavy Metal layers several stories, each with different style and narrated in a different voice, one belonging to John Candy.
The stories all follow classic fairy tale lines of good-versus-evil. However, the heroes are not always good, nor does good always win. The metal aside, this cartoon is heavy - too much so for children. The subjects are deep and, at times, disturbing. Though tame by today's video game standards, the animation, too, pushes the envelope.
Beavis & Butthead Do America MB
PG-13 1:22 1996
Mike Judge's MTV pair take to the big screen as he directs them through a comic misadventure only Gen-Xers could love. The plot is simple: Beavis and Butthead take off on a cross-country trip in search of their stolen tv. As expected, they do a lot of stupid things along the way - such as trying to hijack a plane while wired on an old lady's medicine mistaken for breath mints. Even if you hate the series, you might surprise yourself by laughing loud at the movie.
Tired of the guys' disparagement of "chick flicks," the women of NBT picked a short list of the movies they'd rather see when the men are away.
R 1:56 1979
For feminist sci-fi, you can't beat director Ridley Scott's Alien, the first and by far the best of the terrifying series. Alone of the luckless spaceship crew, the young, lovely Sigourney Weaver is tough enough to make the hard decisions, smart enough to know the right moves, cool enough to out-pluck the slimiest, nastiest, shape-changing monster you'd ever want to see - and nice enough to save the cat.
Smilla's Sense of Snow SOM
R 1:21 1997
In translating Danish writer Peter Hoeg's sparkling words into brilliant images, director Bille August has also given women our equivalent of Agent 007. As half-Icelandic Smilla Jaspersen cast adrift in modern Denmark, the doe-eyed Julia Ormond is agile and invulnerable, undaunted by man, woman or nature as she scales walls, sails ice-choked seas and treks through leagues of snow. On her feminine side, Smilla is brooding, motivated by a personal quest - solving the mystery of a small boy's death - and warmed by love, who comes in the equally brooding and doe-eyed Gabriel Byrne.
Fried Green Tomatoes KF
G-13 2:10 1991
Based on the novel by Fannie Flagg, director Jon Avnet's heart-warmer reminds us of the most important thing in life: friendship. Through a mixture of laughter and tears, two narratives unfold. The first is a history of the heartaches and pleasures of small town life in the 1930s, played by Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker. In the second, an older woman's (Jessica Tandy) memories help a meek housewife (Kathy Bates) find her happiness in an identity of her own.
Bull Durham SOM
R 1:47 1988
For sweet, sultry, sensual satisfaction, submerge yourself in director Ron Shelton's sexy love story set in the minor-league North Carolina ballpark where the manly Durham Bulls prove that playing baseball is a lot better life than selling Sears appliances. Helping build the Bulls' skills is Susan Sarandon. At her seductive best, the irresistible Sarandon gets to have her cake and eat it, too, first in a fling with the wild, cocky young pitcher 'Nuke' LaLouche (Tim Robbins) then in the real thing with seasoned catcher Kevin Costner, who peaked in this role.
Little Women DD
PG 1:58 1994
Gillian Armstrong directs this 1994 interpretation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, the triumphant story of Marmee (Susan Sarandon) and her four daughters' Civil War-era trials while their father is absent. The tight-knit New England sisters, each different from the next, weave their way through laughter and tears to ultimately prevail. While Winona Ryder's independent character Jo reels in Generation-Xers, the film's wonderful feminine tone and gentle comedy cater to most women.
Classics & Epics
The gold standard, these movies lay out the yardstick to measure their genre: comedy, musical, science fiction, war and urban culture.
2001: A Space Odyssey SOM
No Rating 1968 2:19
Director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke still have us wondering after all these years. Now that we're about to tumble into their time, it's time to reconsider their spacy meditation on the eons and direction of our evolution. Whether you'll figure out any mysteries is hard to say, but you'll certainly hear the music of the spheres and see light years beyond our normal range in the movie that won its year's Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Apocalypse Now JAK
R 2:33 1987
Set during the Vietnam War, this story within a story parallels Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Martin Sheen plays an over-the-edge military "spook" sent in search of once-prodigy, now-renegade Colonel Kurtz, who has mesmerized a stone-age tribe of Cambodians into worshipping him. Kurtz - played by a 300-pound Marlon Brando - has lost all pretense of the line between good and evil, right and wrong and must be "terminated with extreme prejudice." As Sheen makes his way upriver and into the heart of the jungle, he passes through individual vignettes of the horrors of war. Oscar-winning cinematography is breathtaking.
The all-male cast explodes with performances from Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper and a cameo by Coppola. Don't waste your money on the version modified to fit your tv screen; the 'director's cut' is a must.
American in Paris JP
Not Rated 1:53 1951
Struggling American artist (Gene Kelly) falls for Parisian girl (Leslie Caron). Director Vincent Minnelli gives us a boldly colorful feast for the eyes all set to the music of George Gershwin. An absolute must-see if only for the final 20 minutes: A dream sequence with Kelly and Caron dancing through impressionist paintings - and not a word is spoken!
Monty Python & the Holy Grail SOM
PG 1:30 1975
The infamous Monty Python crew does for the last quarter of the 20th century what Charlie Chaplin did for the '20s and '30s: Set the standard for irreverence. But Chaplin's comedies packed a punch of social comment while Monty Python's comedies are value free, declaring absurdist war on all of Western civilization. Lampooned here is the legend of King Arthur, whose epic quest is tangled with tangy insults, worldly temptations, terrific monsters and comic distractions. All the while you're busting a gut laughing, you're getting a stinging comment on the human condition. In illuminating the Dark Ages, directors Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones give us rare insight into modern times.
Do The Right Thing JP
R 2:00 1989
No movie before, and few since, have looked or talked like this brash original.
Director Spike Lee's modern epic of racial tension is set on a hot summer day on the block of a Brooklyn neighborhood. Lee brings up numerous racial issues and the audience wonder what is "the right thing?" Stellar cast includes Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Danny Aeillo, John Turturro and Rosie Perez. Ernest Dickerson's stylized cinematography adds to the film's heat.
Some of these are knee-slappers, others more subdued. All keep us laughing.
Raising Arizona KF
PG-13 1:34 1987
In this, the 1987 first of the Coen brothers' off-beat comedies, we are introduced to a succession of characters for whom the adjective "different" is an understatement. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter play an unlikely couple whose inability to have children leads them on a hilarious adventure. Trivia Buffs: Can you name the three actors in this film who went on to win Oscars?
The Pink Panther SOM
Not Rated 1:53 1964 etc.
For our money, it doesn't matter which of Blake Edwards' punful, physical Pink Panther comedies you bring home. All of them leave us stresslessly limp from laughter - both from the on-screen antics and from retelling the jokes to ourselves. We like them best when pompous, peril-stricken Inspector Clouseau is played by Peter Sellers, who rises from catastrophe like the cat with nine lives, filling us with optimism. Meanwhile, Cato lurks and Clouseau's boss, the long-suffering Herbert Lom, suffers.
Blazing Saddles JAK
R 1:30 1974
Seeing Mel Brooks' rude, crude and funniest movie anew or again, you'll laugh so hard it'll bring tears to your eyes.
Cleavon Little plays Bart, a small town's new sheriff, sent by the governor to stop a band of outlaws. The problem: The outlaws work for the governor. Before he can get to work, the black sheriff must win over the townspeople. Helping him is Gene Wilder, a one-time gunfighter who's still quick at drinking whiskey. Madeline Kahn is at her silliest and sexiest as the seductress sent to break Little but who falls to his charms.
Local Hero JP
PG 1:52 1983
An offbeat gem about a Texas businessman (Peter Riegert) sent to Scotland by his oil corporation to purchase an entire seaside village. Perfectly crafted by under-appreciated filmmaker Bill Forsythe. Burt Lancaster plays the eccentric oil tycoon Mr. Happer. (This is one of my favorite movies of all time.)
Zero Effect MB
R 1:56 1997
Jake Kasdan writes and directs this comically Sherlock Holmes derivative about a sociophobic private detective and what happens to him when he pokes his head out of his shell. Bill Pullman is the sociophobe, Daryl Zero, legendary in his field though a recluse. He and his point man, Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller), try to find a rich man's lost keys but uncover a web of murder and blackmail. Along the way Zero meets and falls for his match.
Whether horror flicks, adventures, zany sci-fis or over-the-top comedies, these brews are not your average cup of tea.
King Kong vs. Godzilla JP
Not Rated 1:30 1963
Movies' two "biggest" havoc-wreaking monsters square off in battle to save something. Fun's in the film's atrociousness: two guys in rubber suits on miniature sets, horribly dubbed Japanese actors, Cold War nuclear hysteria subtext. It is obviously a Japanese film patched together with an American one. Rumor has it that there is a different outcome in the Japanese version.
R 1:38 1971
In one of the first in the "blaxploitation" genre, Richard Roundtree stars as tough-take, no-mess, find-time-for-romance detective John Shaft. When a Harlem kingpin's daughter is kidnapped by the Mafia trying to muscle in on his territory, Shaft is just the man to find her. Gordon Parks' film features an Oscar-winning soundtrack by Issac Hayes. This action-packed classic is for detective fans nostalgic for '70s' style.
Repo Man NMK
R 1:33 1983
Emilio Estevez plays a newly recruited auto-reposseser who, with guidance from Harry Dean Stanton, finds himself getting into many a "tense situation" - from being shot at by those who haven't kept up their car payments to evading government agents who, along with Estevez, are searching for a mysterious Chevy Malibu and the contents of its trunk, which may be of alien origin. Set in the urban decay of Los Angeles with an '80s' punk rock soundtrack, Alex Cox's film takes you on a weird and wild ride. Those who enjoy a uniquely funny cult-classic: this may be one for you.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
PG 1:03 1984
W.D. Richter's Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is an outlandish sci-fi satire that repeatedly lures viewers back with its sly, silly humor. Peter Weller plays Buckaroo Banzai, the hunky, too-perfect hero whose pioneering trip into the 8th dimension thrusts Earth into the crossfire of an alien war. This film is worth watching just to enjoy John Lithgow's maniacal performance as evil mad scientist Dr. Emilio Lizardo.
Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, Army of Darkness
R 2:06; 1:24; 1:21 1983-'92
Sam Raimi combines slapstick humor, chainsaw massacre, living dead and swashbuckling adventures into three cult movies in which a department store clerk (Bruce Campbell) battles the undead. Graphic violence and disgusting bodily juices are weirdly funny. Undead animation isn't state-of-the-art but lends itself to Raimi's twisted humor. Great moving camera shots and fun fight scenes abound.
What you'll find here are good stories touching a wide range of emotions.
The Deer Hunter NMK
R 3:03 1978
Michael Cimino's epic tells the story of a group of friends whose lives in a small Pennsylvania steel mill town are irrevocably changed when three of them are called to serve in Vietnam. The segue from their last days at home to the jungles of Vietnam leads to some of the most graphically intense scenes of war ever filmed. A powerfully vivid film with an all-star cast: Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, John Savage and Meryl Streep as the love interest of Walken and DeNiro.
Dead Man Walking KF
R 2:02 1995
Tim Robbins' Dead Man Walking takes a thoughtful look at both sides of the death penalty debate. In this portrayal of a true story, Susan Sarandon (who won an Oscar for her work) plays Sister Helen Prejean, a nun who must prepare Sean Penn's Matthew Poncelet to face dire consequences and admit the actions that brought them on. Not much fun, but lots of high drama.
R 2:11· 1992
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in an existential Western devoid of gloss or glamour. Eastwood plays Will Munny, a retired gunman who reluctantly picks up his guns for one final bounty hunt. Along the way he crosses paths with the tough sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) and gets on his bad side. Rich characters, great acting, great plot, harsh realism, gunplay and relieving levity round it out nicely.
An Officer and a Gentleman DD
R 2:06 1982
Under the direction of Taylor Hackford, 1982's An Officer and a Gentleman is a lovely romantic drama. Richard Gere stars as a misfit who finds guidance by enrolling in a Naval Officer Candidate School where his drill instructor, in an Oscar-winning performance by Louis Gossett Jr., beats him into an officer and a gentleman. Along the way he meets his working-class love, Debra Winger, and they live happily ever after.
Boogie Nights JAK
R 2:32 1996
The plot separates those who'll love this comedy/drama from those who'll hate it: Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) has a gift, and with it he rises to stardom in the porno film industry of the 1970s.
The characters in 28-year-old writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's first work aren't bright, but you wouldn't expect that. Oddly, they are good people trying to lead good lives. Burt Reynolds gives one of his finest performances as Jack Horner, Dirk's director, mentor and father figure.
Films so gripping you'll forgive the subtitles to see them - even on the small screen.
High & Low JP
R 2:23 1962 Japanese
In contemporary Tokyo, a successful businessman (Toshiro Mifune) searches for his kidnapped daughter in this suspenseful film by Japanese master Akira Kurosawa. This film provides a different take on Kurosawa for those of us most familiar with his samurai movies. A friend of mine absolutely swears by this great-looking flick with an oh-so-cool Mifune.
Babette's Feast DA
Not Rated 1:42 1987 French/Danish
Gabriel Axel's Feast is a delicious treat for both foreign film buffs and culinary enthusiasts. This 19th century story of the introduction of sensual pleasure to the inhabitants of a bleak coastal village in Denmark satisfies both the eye and the spirit. Winner of the 1987 Academy Award for best foreign film.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown JAK
R 1:28 1988 Spanish
Pepa, a television star in Madrid, is having a bad day: She's dumped by her boyfriend yet finds herself meeting the family she never knew he had. Plus, she's harboring a ditzy friend on the lam.
Mix these characters together and you have the recipe for Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's success abroad and in the States.
Pepa proves heroic, fending off her mounting troubles, keeping her cool and her sanity. In a supporting role, a young Antonio Banderas, in his native Spanish, performs better than in his more recent Hollywood roles.
Cinema Paradiso KF
No Rating 2:03 1988 Italian
Giuseppe Tornatore's Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film tells a touching tale of a man compelled to remember his boyhood love for the theater and the father-like relationship he shared with the projectionist. Set in post-war, small-town Italy where the old movie was the sole form of entertainment, this is a charming story that even subtitle shy-aways will appreciate.
Burnt by the Sun MB
R 2:14 1994 Russian
Nikita Mikhalkov creates an insightful, heavily symbolic drama focusing on a hero's downfall in the wave of change. Mikhalkov plays Serguei, a Soviet military hero whose life changes with Stalin's rise to power. Excellent photography, direction and acting bring to vibrant life a communist utopia and delivers a hefty punch as Stalin's heavy hand lays it all to waste.
The nail-biters that keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what's next.
The Lady Vanishes JAK
Not Rated 1:39 1938
Alfred Hitchcock filmed this one in 1938 prior to leaving native England for Hollywood.
Ira Henderson, a young singer, boards a train and chats briefly with the kindly old passenger sitting across from her, Mrs. Froy. Upon waking, Ira is surprised to find another woman claiming to be Mrs. Froy. Ira is even more surprised when conductor and passengers claim never to have seen another Mrs. Froy.
The thick English accents and the sound quality of the time may slow you down in the first five minutes, but - as with most Hitchcock films - the plot unfolds more with action than with dialogue.
Blood Simple DA
R 1:37 1984
The Coen brothers' first feature film is a suspenseful, dark comedy for mature audiences with the will to pay attention to a complex but rewarding plot. It's an out-of-the-ordinary treatment of the husband hiring a hit man to kill his adulterous wife and her lover. Blunders abound and the bizzare difficulties the murderers encounter disposing of a corpse will keep admirers of black comedy startled, amused and entertained.
The Manchurian Candidate SOM
No Rating 2:06 1962
Director John Frankenheimer made this thriller of high-level assassination a year before John Kennedy's assassination made anything seem possible. That the president - and his friend Frank Sinatra - championed this movie chills to the bone. The way Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey play an opposing pair of intense, troubled officers tortured by wartime flashbacks, you know terrible things could happen even to you. Wonderful, too, are the sense of time and place.
The Usual Suspects KF
R 1:45 1995
Bryan Singer brings together an ensemble cast who attempt to answer the question, "Who is Keyser Soze?" Five men, with only their criminal backgrounds in common, are assembled by the mysterious Mr. Soze to pull off a heist. The story, told in flashback by Kevin Spacey, keeps you guessing even after the movie is over.
The Conversation JAK
No Rating 1:53 1974
Sandwiched between his two Godfather films is Francis Ford Coppola's forgotten classic, a film taking simple words and examining them so carefully and so minutely they are no longer familiar - or safe.
Gene Hackman plays an aging surveillance and security expert hired to eavesdrop for a rich and jealous husband. But Hackman soon doubts the husband's motives and his own role in a deepening mystery. Joining Hackman are some Coppola usuals, Robert Duvall and, in an unusually dark role, Harrison Ford, as well as first-timer Terri Garr.
Not Just for Kids
These films are geared toward younger audiences, but they're not just kids' stuff.
Darby O'Gill & the Little People JAK
G 1:33 1959
Caretaker Darby O'Gill spends most of his time matching wits with King Bryan Connors of the Leprechauns and telling stories in the town pub. "The Little People," reports Darby, "love three things most: dance, whiskey and the hunt." We see them all as Darby visits their world.
Young children will love this 40-year-old classic Disney film for its silliness and the Leprechauns, though some scenes may frighten very small children. Teenage boys will like the action, and girls the romance between Darby's daughter Katie and his soon-to be replacement, Michael McBride. Parents will like the enjoyable, harmless plot. Women of all ages will love McBride - Sean Connery, fresh from his Mr. Universe title, in his first movie role.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory BK
G 1:40 1971
Mel Stuart created this candy-land classic full of morals that scare kids and remind parents of the dangers of bad parenting. Yummy sweets are countered by dark twists in which kids - and adults - get their just desserts. A bit scary for young children, but magic and fun abound. As Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder's weirdness is definitely for adults.
The Muppet Movie JP
G 1:34 1979
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Jim Henson's whole muppet gang star in this very first muppet feature about a singing frog who leaves his pond to seek fame in Hollywood. Filled with puns and gags that only adults can appreciate, including many jabs at movie making. Numerous movie-star cameos add to the fun. Plus Kermit rides a bike!
George of the Jungle MB
G 1:32 1997
Sam Weisman adapts the classic cartoon of the same name to a delightfully cartoonish, live-action, slapstick comedy. Brendan Fraser plays George, the dashing but klutzy jungle man who wins the heart of Ursula, the rich, blonde heiress. There's much in the way of crashing into trees and silly humor, including voice-over narration by the omniscient narrator.
Mouse Hunt JAK
PG 1:35 1997
Remember the madness driving Wile E. Coyote to catch the Road Runner? How his schemes always backfired? How you laughed, sometimes even hoped Wile E. would catch that pesky road runner?
Mouse Hunt is that kind of movie.
Nathan Lane plays a chef out of work thanks to bugs at his restaurant. His father, who made his fortune manufacturing string, bequeaths Lane and his brother (Lee Evans) a run-down mansion. The brothers set out to restore the house, which they discover is very valuable, a great architect's lost relic. Enter the mouse, an oh-so cute little rodent who unleashes so much slapstick humor you can hardly breathe.
Sci-Fi / Fantasy
These movies toy with what lies ahead, the dangers of tampering with science and the far-flung possibilities of the imagination.
The Fly JAK
R 1:36 1986
Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis star in David Cronenberg's remake of the 1958 original. Goldblum plays a scientist working to invent a teleportation machine. When a fly enters the machine with Goldblum, the horror begins. Bit by bit, Goldblum transforms, gaining superhuman powers. At the same time, his humanity slips away, much to the dismay - and disgust - of Davis. Makeup earned this Fly an Oscar.
PG 2:30 1997
After years of attempting communication with extraterrestrials, scientist Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) discovers a transmission that turns out to be blueprints for an intergalactic craft. Who will represent the human race on the voyage gives the film human drama. Spectacular visual effects, a strong cast and an intriguing angle on extraterrestrial intelligence make Robert Zemeckis' film of philosopher/astronomer Carl Sagan's novel a great mind expander.
12 Monkeys BK
R 2:11 1995
Terry Gilliam's sci-fi/suspense explores paradoxes of time travel and scientists' inability to control their inventions. Odd camera angles keep you on edge as Bruce Willis struggles between a beautiful world where he's considered crazy and a dead world where he's a slave. (Watch out! Gratuitous buttshots of Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, though all are indignant.)
Blade Runner (director's cut) MB
R 2:02 1982
Ridley Scott crafts a sci-fi masterpiece in this noir-style mystery. Harrison Ford plays a former blade runner (android hunter) who's called back to duty so he can track down murderous androids who've escaped a mining colony to find their creator so he can lengthen their life spans. He takes the job and starts hunting them down, but ultimately he has to come to terms with the ethics of playing god over enslaved androids. Scott's futuristic LA is moody: a dark, rainy and chaotic place. The hack version of the movie is dumbed down and easier to follow with a little happy ending scene tagged on, but doesn't have the same rich style or mysteriousness of the director's cut.
The Fifth Element MB
PG-13 2:06 1997
Luc Besson crafts a comedic sci-fi adventure laced with a bit of everything. Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) is a retired fighter pilot and cab driver who gets tangled in a mission to save Earth from an ancient evil. To make it interesting, shape-changing aliens and a goofy corporate bad guy conspire to stop him. It comes fully stocked with starship battles, comedy, gratuitous violence, exotic aliens, detailed futuristic vistas, great special effects and a little bit of love story.
Contributing to this story are Donna Ayres, Mark Behuncik, Mark Burns, Kim Cammarata, Darcey Dodd, Kathy Flaherty, Betsy Kehne, J. Alex Knoll, Nathaniel Knoll, Sandra Martin and Jonathan Parker.
Surfing for Videos
Do you space out, overwhelmed, when you walk into your local video store? Would you love to see something similar to that great video you watched last month? Do you often get a hankering to watch a video, but you just don't know which movie to get? If so, help is at hand - or rather at your fingertips. If you have access to the internet, you have a video treasure house to explore.
There are many Web sites for buying or renting videos. But these vendors also offer versatile ways for you to search for that perfect video. All of the sites listed below allow you to: search for movies by your favorite director or actor; search by genre; search for similar movies; search for movies that won prestigious awards.
These four sites are among the best when you don't know what movie to watch:
A note of caution for you Web surfers: searching for movies this way is so much fun, you may find yourself stuck in front of your monitor instead of in front of your TV/VCR watching that perfect movie.
| Issue 4 |
VolumeVII Number 4
January 28 - February 3, 1999
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