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10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Despise the limit
Kat, the furiously flip take no prisoners heroine of "10 things I hate about you" might be described as a ball buster, although that would hardly do her justice. Brainy, beautiful and haughty as hell, with dancing feline eyes she narrows in contempt at any guy unlucky enough to make a play for her, Kat has a lot in common with the babelicious teases who saunter through high school movies, like leonine queens of the adolescent jungle. The difference is that Kat isn't going to win any popularity contests. She's a willowy high strung misfit who armors herself with gender war rhetoric, pretending she's better than everyone around her. She uses her bitchery and wit to put down guys for the unforgivable crime of being guys. This may be the cheekiest "literary" update yet - a post riot grrrl gloss on "The taming of the shrew" with Shakespeare's plot twirled around devices that have become cliches, virtually overnight in the new teen comedies - the guy who struggles to land a girl in order to win a bet - the ingenue - in this case Kat's younger sister - the button nosed Bianca - who's a virgin to everything but consumerism. The film casts an amusingly jaundiced eye on the unholy status games of contemporary teen culture. When the big keg blowout arrives, it's a quesy tequila soaked suburban sprawl, with make out session glimpses in all their squirmy desperation and a nerd bragging to two girls about his play to buy... a Toyota Tercel. At the center of this nasty spitfire is, Kat. The young actress Julia Stiles in her first major roles, casually plays against her luminescent Pre-Raphaelite glow. At times her hot blooded earthiness recalls Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth" and she makes Kat cruelly ambivalent about the effect of her sexuality on others. Along the way Kat is wooed and then "tamed" by a suitor of surprising Charm - Patrick a gentle Aussie heart-throb who's like Val Kilmer before he went falky - he knows just how to kill Kat with kindess. The film's snappish crank case doesn't break any molds, but it certainly gives you a lift.
We're supposed to be leaping into our neighbors' laps in fear - but once glance at the big ugly fisherman's hate and slicker and I'm guessing Ronald McDonald would have been a lot scarier. Even the killer's name is bland - Ben Willis - and more often than not he has a peculiar way of terrorizing his victims. Take for instance that lissome tulip Julie James. After helping her college chum Karla win a radio contest, the two arrive along with a couple of boys for a weekend getaway at a deserted Bahamas resort. In the middle of a monsoon, Julie decided to use the tannin bed, and as she's lying there with her headphone on, Ben Willis sneaks in turns the dial up to extra crispy, and binds the door with what looks like a cheap little newspaper bundler. Julie's friends burst into the room, there's a lot of screaming and commotion, but really! - a pair of scissors would have done the trick. Even when Ben Willis plants his hook into flesh it's all staged rather politely - a hand spiked here, a dribble of blood, with none of the outrageously gross, limb splitting carnage that all but defined the slasher genre in the '80s heyday. The gruesome pay off shocks are by now, as generic as who will be the next to die schematic. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Brandy are actresses the way that Annette Funicello and Olivia Netwon John were, but the fact that both of these doe-eyed teen idols happen to be mini-industries means that there's not much doubt about whether they'll truimph over the killer. Hewitt especially, looks as if she could fend him off with a quick flex of her abs. It's not just her body that's sculpted and toned - her entire personality seems aerobicized. She has no visible dirty thoughts, and that makes her the perfect star for a thriller so antiseptic you could eat off one of the corpses.
Kudrow and Sorvino go back to their roots in ditsy style
Ten years out of high school in Arizona, and Romy and Michele the best friend heroines are living in Southern California. They've got a cute apartment on the beach, baubley clothes and a great capacity for unironic enjoyment: Watching "Pretty woman" on video for the millionth time, they can still be moved by the sadness. They have no jobs (well, Michele is unemployed) and no boyfriends, but that doesn't keep them from hitting the dance clubs together. The two have got irrational optimism and a blissful trust in one another's friendship. Then they hear about their 10th high school reunion - and proceed to get all bent out of shape trying to make themselves appear more succesful than they are. How they go about it - how they get psyched, humiliate themselves, fight to reconcile, prevail, woo the boys, and triumph while never making any sense on planet Earth - is the rest of this comedy fairy tale, directed with an indulgent hand by TV producer-writer-director David Mirkin (Newhart, The simpsons - a lot of good stuff.) Had 'Romy and Michele' been written by Wendy Wasserstein - at this point our bard of the contemporary American female condition - it would have been called "Uncommon High school woman and others" and it would have been a much better and tighter story. As it is, this sloppy, pleasant comedy is an amiable mess, a padded out expasnion of a play called 'Ladie's room' mounted nearly a decade ago, starring a then unknown Lisa Kudrow in a showcase role that eventually brought her to 'Mad about you' and 'Friends' doing much the same ditz-as-Zen-mistress character. There are so many good ideas packed into 'Romy and Michele' about friendship, revenge, about the kind of high school torture that never sees the light of day in "Grosse Pointe Blank" - that it may be uncharitable to yammer. There's a killer interpretive dance the two friends do with Alan Cumming. The music is dishy. So, like, I guess who cares if there's a long draggy fantasy portion in the middle? Who's carping that these girls couldn't possibly be so dumb and so savvy at the same time? They're, like, sort of like real girls from high school. And they just want to have fun.
Strangers in the night
It's 1977 and Chris is a 30ish bloke who still has the eager, wistful face of an angelic adolescent, enjoys a placid existence in the London suburbs, taking comforting in his wife, his baby, and his garden. Yet he's a haunted man. Spurred by the arrival of Toni, his rakish counterculture chum, he is tormented by visions of what might have been - the enticing word of sexual possibility he left behind, embodied in memories of his blissed out love affair with a sultry secretary during his bohemian Paris days in the late '60s. As the film glides back and forth between eras, the churning of Chris' heart comes to the force with with disarming intimacy. We feel as if we're seeing the formation of an individual: his all too brief fling with hedonism, the sadness and hidden wisdom of a path that seems to have choosen him rather than the other way around. "Metroland" is a no-fuss movie that casts a rich, tranquil spell. It's a rare portrait of a happy marriage that is honest about the complex currents of desire, and the drama is beautifully played by Bale who gawks with soulful sweetness, and Emily Watson does her most piercing work since "Breaking the waves."
Dark City (1998)
Wait until dark
If nothing else, "Dark City" is proof of what an eye popping cornucopia of druggy science fiction imagery can now be jammed into a single fantasy film. It's also proof of what little impact such imagery will make if we have no investment in the story it's decorating. In a spectacularly sunless, floating urban doomscape, the humans have become guinea pigs for a tribe of ghostly aliens - bald, white faced phantoms who wear black overcoats and speak in doleful british accents. (They're like a race of Nosferatus all yearning to play Hamlet.) The aliens are obsessed with that musty Spockian query, What is it that makes humans... human? To find the answer, they extract memories of their subjects and inject them into other bodies. The hero wakes up in a bathtub only to discover that he has been given the mind of a serial killer. Directed by Australia's Alex Proyas, who debuted with "The crow", "Dark City" might be described as techno-Goth music video noir. A tin-pot amalgam of "Blade runner" and "Strange days" with an attention deficit style of editing (these aren't jump cuts, they're jitter cuts) and sets that look like sets - the movie features some dazzling hallucinogenic nightmare visions and at least one recurring image that's memorable - skyscrapers rise up out of the streets as the city "remakes" itself in tandem with the humans' shifting mental landscapes. At the same time, Proyas can't tell a straight story, and even his most arresting images are derivative (that churning building stuff is cribbed from the pirate-ship fantasia Terry Gilliam designed for "Monty Python's The meaning of life"). Rufus Sewell, with his Romanesque handsomeness, has an alluring tormented presence, but he's playing a cipher - a man robbed of a memory, and of dramatic dimension, too. "Dark city" is so busy trying to blow your mind, it never reveals a mind of its own.
Henry Fool (1997)
News of the whirl
Proof that famously idiosyncratic filmmaker Hal Hartley can expand the emotional and intellectual range of his often dismayingly bloodless work without compromising the skewed, life on the fringes vision that has built him a cult following. This resonant examination of friendship, fame, cultural trends, and the creative process, stars a garbage man and a mysterious bum. James Urbaniak is the socially challenged trash hauler -Simon Grim who lives with his severely depressed mother and slutty, acerbic sister in a cramped in Queens, N.Y. Thomas Jay Ryan is Henry Fool, the drinking drifter who moves into their basement, claiming to be a writer whose unpublished epic manuscript would shake of the world - if Henry ever allowed it to be published. (In fact he's talent free.) But it's Simon who becomes the literary star. Encouraged by his new friend, the trashman who never wrote before, turns out to be a natural poet, moving (and outraging) the public with the power of his words. The director packs a lot of tender heartache into the Grim household, and he presses his finger firmly on the bruised place in America where celebrity becomes its own curse. (In a great conceit, we never see of hear a word of Simon's masterpiece.) Hartley remains an acquired taste (for views with a lot of time to dine - this sitting runs about two hours and twenty minutes). But with "Henry Fool" he offers a lot to chew on.
The Wings of the Dove (1997)
"The wings of the dove" has a lush yet aching beauty that seems to saturate you as you watch it. I'm not just talking about visual beauty. I'm speaking of dramatic beauty, the exquisite moment to moment tension of characters who reveal themselves layer by layer, flowing from thought to feeling and back again, until thought and feeling become drama. Director Iain Softley has made one of those rare movies that evokes not just the essence of a great novel but the experience of it. In some ways this is undeniably a "modernization" of James (a nude scene makes his underlying sensuality powerfully explicit) yet we are enveloped, at every turn in the hidden pulse of his characters' motivating passions. "The wings of the dove" is a great film - the finest "Masterpiece Theatre movie" ever made. Helena Bonham Carter has always been an earnest yet curiously remote actress, but from the moment you see her here, she has a new, dark tones womanly radiance. As Kate Croy, Carter does full justice to a heroine who loves helplessly and deeply - so deeply that she's willing to become a scoundrel out of that love. We're in London in 1910, and Kate, the ward of her manipulative rich aunt is enmeshed in a passionate but secret involvement with Merton Densher, a handsome journalist possessed of wit, devotion, a fierce commitment to his ideals - everything but money. A marriage for these two, is thus, out of the question. If Kate were simply a gold digger, it would be easy to write her off. But the necessity of material well being is no mere luxury here. It's the edifice on which the world stands, and we follow Kate into an eerily justified form of treachery. Kate has befriended Millie, a sweet, trusting American heiress who takes a shine to Merton, having no idea that he and Kate have been together. What Kate doesn't know - yet - is that Millie is dying. When she learns this, a scheme forms: She and Merton will accompany Millie to Venice, where Merton will woo her, providing the woman some romantic comfort in her last days, and not so incidentally, winning her fortune. A forgivable plan? A dastardly one? The elusive power of this movie derives from the way it embraces moral judgments and then transcends them. For it is Merton's mysterious fate not so much to fall in love with Millie as to fall in love with her death. The way this plays out is at once tender and cruel, ineffable and heartbreaking. "The wings of the dove" is a film that confirms the arrival of major screen talents: director Softley, who works in sublime sensitivity to the intricacies of self deception. Carter and Roache who create a dazzlingly intimate chemistry within the propriety of Jamesian manners - and Allison Elliot who with her beatific charm and Mona Lisa smile, does one of the most difficult things an actress can - she brings goodness itself to life.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
Great white stark
Atom Egoyan's "The sweet hereafter" puts you in a rapturous emotional daze. Adapted from a novel by Russell Banks, Egoyan fills the void of his earlier work and at the same time brings his puzzle structure trickery to spellbinding new levels of artistry. "The sweet hereafter" is a new kind of mystical fairy tale, one that seeks to uncover the forces holding the world together even as they tear it apart. Mitchelle Stevens (Ian Holm) a lonely attorney, journeys to a small town in the snowy wilds of British Columbia. The townspeople have suffered a cataclysmic tragedy and he has come to try to represent them legally in their grief. Egoyan, gliding between past and present, teases our curiosity, revealing the details of the disaster only gradually. By the time we witness, in a memorably chilling image what actually happened the event feels part of something larger, a disturbance in the universe. "The sweet hereafter" is a hymn to the agony of loss, yet it is also saturated with the radiance of parental love. The characters we see here cherished their children. Holm's lawyer has lost his own daughter, a drug addict who spiraled into the gutter and now phones him only for money. He interviews his fellow sufferers with a fascinating mix of motives: He's part ambulance chaster, pat empathetic guru. Egoyan has a Lynchian vision of innocence bound with evil. It's embodies in his brillant use of "The pied piper of Hamelin" as a siren song of erotic dread. This is a movie in which darkness emanates from without and without - form the choices made by a seductive parent, to the random threat of a nest of baby spiders. The film which begins in devestation and ends in grace, is about the birth of a new world, in which parents and children love can love each other helplessly without, ever feeling that they're fully connected. "The sweet hereafter" leaves you shaken and ecstatic as the same time, transported by the vision of a major film artist.
Kiss the Girls (1997)
Serial killers, at least in movies, used to be objects of disquieting awe. Tony Curtis' tormented sex murderer in "The Boston strangler" the sado-snuff fetishists of "Manhunter" and "The silence of the lambs", Kevin Spacey's cat and mouse psycho in "Seven" - in each case we were asked to crawl inside the sick cave of a killer's mind and to view his most unspeakable kinks as a nightmare reflection of "ordinary" passion. But no, though even these artful thrillers have spawned their own cliches. When Ashley Judd, the heroine of "Kiss the girls" gets dragged to an underground dungeon, where she locked up along with a dozen other damsels, the setting is as ripely corn as any fogbound horror movie trope of the '30s and so is the homicidal phantom's "creepy" operatic spiel about his desire for perfect love. Judd is able to escape at which point she joins forces with forensic investigator Morgan Freeman. "Kiss the girls" is a fake psychological thriller that turns into a garishly schlocky and implausible bogeyman hunt. Why, for instance can't the FBI locate the dungeon from which Judd has escaped? Because in their meticulous search of the forest, the agents somehow failed to find... those big wooden basement doors to hell.
Eve's Bayou (1997)
Mojo better blues
The ghost of Tennessee Williams hover over "Eve's Bayou". The action takes place in a moss draped Louisiana backwater, and the family under observation (in their big gracious bayou house) is ripe with desires, disappointments, and the mysterious scent of sex as any in Mr. William's neighborhood. But the notable accomplishment of actress-writer Kasi Lemmons in her feature directorial debut is in creating a landscape quite beautiful and entirely her own - a fluid, feminine, African American, Southern gothic narrative that covers a tremendous amount of emotional territory with the lightest and most graceful of steps. The story belongs to young Eve Batiste. "The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old," a grown up Eve announced in a provocative prologue voice over. But the drama unfolds (in an unspecified bygone era when well to do woman wore gorgeous dresses to parties in their own homes) is far more shape shifting than such an audience grabbing statement can convey. Eve's father, Louis, is a suave, popular doctor and gentle family man who's also a womanizer - a flaw that bedevils Eve's graceful mother and especially torments Eve's older sister, Cisely, who adores her daddy more than she should. Eve, meanwhile worships her big sister. And in reaching out to support Cisely in a primal sexual struggle neither girl understand, Eve turns first to her father's sister Aunt Mozelle a vibrant, enigmatic woman infused with good-witch spiritual powers, and then to Elzora a voodoo priestess with potent bad witch abilities. Lemmons thus lays out big themes - the little seductions of fathers and daughters - the thick bond between sisters - the power of dark and light intentions in the material world. But she covers any traces of "heaviness" with shimmering, dream state visual elegance. And she makes up for any rough spots from the movie's younger actors with with a lovely score, and a great soundtrack of classic jazz and blues.
Buffalo '66 (1998)
The fall guy
Vincent Gallo, gaunt and pop eyed with a gaze of sexy hostile paranoia, has the look of a born sociopath - or a born movie star (or both.) In "Buffalo 66" which he wrote, directed and stars in, Gallo plays a young man named Billy Brown who emerges from a New York state prision looking like the psychotic cousin of Bruce Springsteen. Pale and goateed with greasy swept back hair. "Buffalo 66" is a grunge fable of regeneration that thrives on freedom. Billy, as his name suggest is still a kid, a stunted man-child coiled tight with impacted rage. Wondering into a tap-dance studio, he kidnaps the sweetly voluptuous, teenage Layla, and forces her to pretend to be his wife, all to convince his parents, a pair of hateful suburban louts that he is now a respectable person. The movie however doesn't just tweak these dysfunctional middle class goons. It satrizes the very pain they've caused. Gallo plays Billy as a wounded animal discovering his own soul. Gallo who has been an actor, a Calvin Klein model and a professional career bridge burner, already has the audacity and flair of a major filmmaker. What he does in "Buffalo 66" is turn the tables on punk disaffection. He gets an inspired performance from Christina Ricci who conveys a richer, dreamier insolence in one glance here than she does in all of "The opposite of sex." As Billy takes a plunge into his most self-annihilating fantasies, we have no idea if he'll come out the other side, and neither does he. In its eerie way, that's freedom.
The Killers (1946)
Gold in them noir hills
Using the eponymous Hemingway story as a launching pad, director Robert Soidmak and cowriters Anthony Veiller and John Huston (uncredited) blast into hard boiled atmospherics: An insurance investigator pries into the death of the Swede, an ex-boxer, ex-con, ex-beau of the shifty Kitty. You get so caught up watching the Swede's gang pull a heist - and the double crosses unfold in deep focus and flashback - that the whodunit problem sneaks up from behind.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
For contemporary moviegoers "Gone with the wind" offers a veritable shock of pleasure - more than a gorgeous monument, "Gone with the wind" along with "Citizen Kane" is probably the darkest movie ever produced within the studio system. A riveting tragedy of neurotic self destruction, it fixes its gaze on Scarlett O'Hara, the firebrand Dixie princess, as she ricochets with blind abandon between her Southern belle fantasies and her ruthless heart, between her abstract crush on Ashley Wilkes and her hunka burnin' lust for Rhett Butler (the man she hates herself for loving becomes he's as big a scoundrel as she is). The film begins as a bedazzled historical romance, but in the haunting final hour morphs into a Technicolor-gothic "Scenes from a marriage" with Vivien Leigh - now flirting, now raging, now smiling at heaven through tears - etching an indelible vision of feminine strength and self delusion. To see "Gone with the wind" is to weep for the fearlessness with which Hollywood once believed the sublime was possible.
One can't help but be a little weary of films that show the the plight of slavery or civil rights through a pair of white eyes. Yet here we have another of the famous white man/white woman to the rescue tales, with Jane Seymour's portrayal of British actress-abolitionist Fanny Kemble. Although watching Seymour's Kemble preach social equality while sauntering through slave quarters in white gloves with a parasol, strikes me as one of the more pharisaical images of late, at least performances from Eugene Byrd and "Oz's" Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, help free this film from the shackles of one dimensional self congratulation.
The Last Cigarette (1999)
Smoke and mirrors
Too short on hard facts (or opposing viewpoints) to satisfy as a documentary, "The last cigarette" works as an imaginatively constructed attack on the culture of smoking. Film maker Kevin Rafferty ditching conventional narration and statistics techniques - pleads his case by seamlessly editing together congressional testimony by Big Tobacco CEO's and archival pro-cigarette propaganda footage. The juxtaposition is effectively jarring, and though its final moments lack some much needed subtlety, "The last cigarette" never drags.
Trapped in a Purple Haze (2000)
Out of step
Fortunately for this predictable, say-no-to-smack tale, "General Hospital's" Jonathan Jackson could reupholster furniture for two hours and make it engaging. As a suburban kid who gets hooked on horse after meeting an addicted vixen ("Popular's" Carly Pope), Jackson makes a moving transition from nice boy to dope fiend, but always looks too damn cute to be a junkie.
28 Days (2000)
The drying game
Remember when alcoholics really were anonymous? The 12-stepping of America is now such a noisy, public process that those who've never been within 50 miles of a rehab center may feel as if they can anticipate everything that happens to Sandra Bullock in "28 days". At the beginning we see Gwen Cummins (Bullock)in full full, degraded celebration mode: guzzling a few wake up brewskies and showing up late for her sister's wedding. By the time she is done inflicting her damage, she has driven a limo into someone's house, and is ordered in lieu of jail time, to spend four weeks at Serenity Glen, a sprawling woodland detox-and-rehabilitation compound where the motto is "Mind Body Spirit." At first we take in the soft soap communal scenes through Gwen's eyes - the righteous, skeptical armor of her denial. Even without booze to light her up she's a firecracker, exploding in defiance at a world which refused to live up to her wishes. Bullock gives it her all - she's bristling and alive on screen in a way she hasn't been before. What's missing from her acting is what's missing from the movie - namely, a deeper more probingly confessional sense of Gwen's demons - of what precisely, the escape of alcohol has meant to her. In "28 days" there is plenty of squalid bad behavior, most of it depicted with engrossing honesty. But we don't get close enough to the inner trauma from which it emerges. It's as if the movie itself had already been through rehab.
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
It's no surprise that this remake of the 1958 schlocker fatally overdoses on bloody body parts and CGI effects. What's disappointing is how completely it wastes an almost A-list cast. While Taye Diggs and Peter Gallagher wander around looking for something, anything to do - Geoffrey Rush (taking on the Vincent Price role as the diabolical host) devours scenery with little apparent relish. Price had more fun four decades ago. So did the audience.
Est - Ouest (1999)
After luring emigres back to the motherland following World War II, Stalinists killed or imprisoned many of them. Alexei (Oleg Menchikov) and his French-born wife, Marie (Sandrine Bonnaire) the fictional couple who suffer for their patriotism in "East-West" are allowed to live because Alexei is needed as a doctor. But existence is brutal, and spies seem to overhear even dreams of escape. The film allows little perspective on the extent of Stalinist cruelty, even when terrible things happen they do so sedately. Landscape, costumes, Bonnaire's sad face - they're all gray. Only ruby-lipped Catherine Deneuve is allowed an expression of personal color in the role of a famous actress, who in Deneuvian grandeur, helps repatriate a fellow daughter of free France.
Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Just one of the 'boys'
What do we call Teena Brandon? Transgendered seems inappropriately ideological, androgyne unfittingly futuristic and cross-dresser too whimsically flimsy. In Kimberly Peirce's harrowing first film, Teena Brandon simply called herself Brandon Teena and started living as a man. Because Brandon lived in the real life trailer park precincts of 1993 Nebraska, this quietly brazen disruption of easy categories proved fatal. Hilary Swank's Oscar winning portrayal of Brandon is perfect - perfectly staggering. Her Brandon is as honest imposter, with a solid core of confidence under layers of vulnerability. The gender confusion is all ours.
A homophobic retired bank guard suffers a debilitating stroke and has to make nice with a sassy drag queen neighbor in order to get his speech back. While De Niro is affectingly understated, Hoffman is so over the top he makes Nathan Lane look macho. Joel Schumacher pours on the pathos as the film builds to a strained action movie climax. It's a drag all right.
Where the Money Is (2000)
Age has pared Paul Newman's fine features to a sketch - it's also honed his huge movie appeal to such basics that he can pretty much maintain our attention while in a coma. But as if to test his powers, in the shagging and intriguing caper "Where the money is", Newman plays Henry, a former famous bank robber and current guest of the prison system who actually is in a coma, or at least a stroke like state of suspended animation. Slumped and glazed, Henry sits for hours in his wheelchair at the nursing home to which he has been transferred tended to by Carol (Linda Fiorentino) a less than angelic nurse and onetime prom queen. Carol lives with her husband, in the same drab town where she grew up. She's bored as a former prom queen always is. And she's convinced that Henry - who had led the only interesting life around - is faking his stupor. So she bamboozles him into dropping his act, then promises to keep the secret, if he'll include her on just one more Bonnie and Clyde size heist. British director Marek Kanievska counts on the audience knowing that Newman's fame is tied to playing heist pros and hustlers, and that we're not just seeing some gravel voiced coot in a wheelchair - we're seeing what Butch Cassidy might have become had he not messed up in Bolivia. The minimalist acting the star has done in recent films like "Message in a bottle" and "Nobody's fool" serves him well, because he's confident - rightfully so- that the audience will fill in the blanks. Incorrigible Henry is fundamentally opaque, but canny Newman lets his eyes do the talking. As for Fiorentino, the star of "The last seduction" reprises her dangerous, restless woman persona as if to remind us (and casting agents) that if she got every role currently going to Catherine Zeta Jones, movies would be a lot more interesting. The payoff is the clash between a taciturn bandit faking feebleness and an angry Florence Nightingale, faking compassion, played by two actors who are the real thing.
Loosely cribbed from Daniel Keyes' novel "Flowers for Algernon" this moist tale follows experimental surgery subject, Molly who overcomes autism only to regress as the procedure's effects fade. We're supposed to realize that, the mentally disabled are people to - and have something to teach us. But this ham fisted tale ends up communicating a less profound message more along the lines of - some of them like to obsessively line up shoes.
Where the smart is
The eponymous protagonist of Lawrence Kasdan's romantic comedy is an amiable small town flim flam man who poses as a psychologist and becomes something of a miracle worker. It's unclear whether the film is lambasting therapy (as a placebo administrable by anyone with good ol' common sense) or just de-mystifying it. But, thanks to a smart script and stunning ensemble (Alfre Woodard, Hope Davis, Jason Lee) such heady concerns are irrelevant.
The Hidden (1987)
This low budget crossbreed of "The terminator", "Invasion of the body snatchers" and "The fugitive" remains one of the forgotten treasures of '80s science fiction. It seems only fitting that New Line Cinema, an outfit that first paid the rent by making decent genre fare like "A nightmare on elm street" and "Critters" would produce such a great looking edition of this underrated thriller, which stars, Kyle MacLachlan as an alien police officer tracking a body-swapping sociopath from another world.