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1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 12:18 pm

911
Trois vies et une seule mort
(Three lives and only one death- Raoul Ruiz, 1996)



Chilean director Raul Ruiz created a weird, wild, fantastic world with Three Lives and Only One Death. Marcello Mastroianni plays four different characters in as many different stories that at first seem completely separate, but by the films end are wholly intertwined. It is beautifully, almost mystically shot, effectively using shadows, light, and computer imagery to create painted like imagery. It is a bit confusing, but wholly satisfying film.
It is a film not meant for everyone. The story is a weird and complex as anything put out by David Lynch. But for the lover of cinema, there is much to appease the appetite. It is a beautiful, layered, surreal film that is a true pleasure to watch.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 1:34 pm

912
Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996)



This tearjerker by Australian filmmaker Scott Hicks is a surprising story about real-life classical pianist David Helfgott, an Australian who rose to international prominence at a very young age in the 1950s and '60s, and suffered a psychological collapse after enduring years of abuse from his father (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Hicks has three very fine actors portraying Helfgott at different stages of his life, including the adorably wry and goofy Noah Taylor (Flirting), who takes up the character's teen years, and Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, giving a great performance playing the musician as a schizophrenic adult. Despite the Helfgotts' compromised psychological health, Shine is hardly a depressing experience. If anything, the story is really about how long one person's life can take to make glorious sense of itself. Sir John Gielgud, in golden form, plays Helfgott's teacher.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 1:36 pm

913
Fargo (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)



Leave it to the wildly inventive Coen brothers (Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write) to concoct a fiendishly clever kidnap caper that's simultaneously a comedy of errors, a Midwestern satire, a taut suspense thriller, and a violent tale of criminal misfortune. It all begins when a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) ineptly orchestrates the kidnapping of his own wife. The plan goes horribly awry in the hands of bumbling bad guys Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare (one of them being described by a local girl as "kinda funny lookin'" and "not circumcised"), and the pregnant sheriff of Brainerd, Minnesota, (played exquisitely by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning role) is suddenly faced with a case of multiple murders. Her investigation is laced with offbeat observations about life in the rural hinterland of Minnesota and North Dakota, and Fargo embraces its local yokels with affectionate humor. At times shocking and hilarious, Fargo is utterly unique and distinctly American, bearing the unmistakable stamp of its inspired creators.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 1:40 pm

914
Ta'm e Guilass (Taste of cherry- Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)



Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival for this contemplative film about a Muslim, Mr. Badi (Homayon Ershadi), who drives around the barren hills outside Tehran, flagging down passersby and offering good money for a simple job that he's hesitant to explain. He's planning his suicide and seeks someone to perform something of a symbolic eulogy. Most of his subjects refuse (personal morality aside, suicide is forbidden to Muslims), but he finds an elderly taxidermist (Abdolrahman Bagheri) who agrees only because he needs the money for an ill child. Yet the old man gently pleads with him to choose life, to embrace the joys of earthly existence, to remember the taste of cherries. Though initially greeted with critical acclaim, A Taste of Cherry received poor distribution in the U.S. The meandering, deliberately paced drama is composed of long conversations and long silences, and the camera is locked in the car for entire sequences, staring at the protagonists in still closeups with the dusty landscape rolling past the windows of the Land Rover in the background. Kiarostami's film is not for everyone, but if you can embrace the quiet power and grace of his deceptively simple style, the film becomes a remarkably rich celebration of human dignity and resilience. By the astonishing conclusion we can see past Badi's age-etched face to the soul peering out from behind his sad eyes.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 1:45 pm

915
Funny games (Michael Haneke, 1997)



It is impossible to have a neutral opinion about the Austrian thriller Funny Games--a movie so relentless in its ability to shock that it gained pariah status on the film festival circuit in 1997. In the warped tradition of A Clockwork Orange, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Blue Velvet, this is a film--directed with electrifying audacity by Munich-born Michael Haneke--that addresses the controversy of screen violence by making the viewer as guilty as the Leopold and Loeb-like killers who terrorize a young family of three during their summer vacation. They arrive as friendly neighbors, seducing the family with phony congeniality, but soon Funny Games reveals its devious strategy, turning savage and appalling... and completely captivating for those who can endure the terror. There's actually less violence than you'd see in a typical American horror flick such as Scream, but Haneke's forceful staging effectively fulfills his agenda of viewer complicity; we vividly experience this doomed family's fate and feel helpless to save them. So helpless, in fact, that Haneke dares to offer a hint of respite by giving a victim the upper hand, only to "replay" the same scene with the darkest of outcomes. Funny Games is guaranteed to outrage some viewers with its manipulative schemes, but there's no denying the film's visceral impact, generated by Haneke's expert handling of a superior cast. Don't even think of allowing anyone under age 17 to watch this film; all others should proceed with caution.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 1:49 pm

916
Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)



When the theatrical release of James Cameron's Titanic was delayed from July to December of 1997, media pundits speculated that Cameron's $200 million disaster epic would cause the director's downfall, signal the end of the blockbuster era, and sink Paramount Studios as quickly as the ill-fated luxury liner had sunk on that fateful night of April 14, 1912. Some studio executives were confident, others horrified, but the clarity of hindsight turned Cameron into an Oscar-winning genius, a shrewd businessman, and one of the most successful directors in the history of motion pictures. Titanic would surpass the $1 billion mark in global box-office receipts (largely due to multiple viewings, the majority by teenage girls), win 11 Academy Awards including best picture and director, produce the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time, and make a global superstar of Leonardo DiCaprio. A bona fide pop-cultural phenomenon, the film has all the ingredients of a blockbuster (romance, passion, luxury, grand scale, a snidely villain, and an epic, life-threatening crisis), but Cameron's alchemy of these ingredients proved more popular than anyone could have predicted. His stroke of genius was to combine absolute authenticity with a pair of fictional lovers whose tragic fate would draw viewers into the heart-wrenching reality of the Titanic disaster. As starving artist Jack Dawson and soon-to-be-married socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater, DiCaprio and Kate Winslet won the hearts of viewers around the world, and their brief but never-forgotten love affair provides the humanity that Cameron needed to turn Titanic into an emotional experience. Present-day framing scenes (featuring Gloria Stuart as the 101-year-old Rose) add additional resonance to the story, and although some viewers proved vehemently immune to Cameron's manipulations, few can deny the production's impressive achievements. Although some of the computer-generated visual effects look artificial, others--such as the sunset silhouette of Titanic during its first evening at sea, or the climactic splitting of the ship's sinking hull--are state-of-the-art marvels. In terms of sets and costumes alone, the film is never less than astounding. More than anything else, however, the film's overwhelming popularity speaks for itself. Titanic is an event film and a monument to Cameron's risk-taking audacity, blending the tragic irony of the Titanic disaster with just enough narrative invention to give the historical event its fullest and most timeless dramatic impact. Titanic is an epic love story on par with Gone with the Wind, and like that earlier box-office phenomenon, it's a film for the ages.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 1:56 pm

917
Abre los ojos (Open your eyes- Alejandro Amenábar, 1997)



Imagine if an actor's director like Eric Rohmer--whose films consist almost entirely of conversation between pairs or small groups of people--made a film that incorporated elements from movies like Dark City, eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, The Truman Show, and Total Recall. The result might resemble Alejandro Amenabar's remarkable second feature, Open Your Eyes, which favors ideas over effects and offers twist upon twist with mind-warping agility. This film rewards multiple viewings, pushing the viewer toward one perception of reality, then switching to another until reality itself is called into question. Melodrama, love story, and psychological thriller combine with a dash of science fiction, forming a plot that is both disorienting and deceptively precise.
Set in Madrid, the story defies description, but this much can be revealed: young, handsome Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) is vain, rich, charming, and--following a botched suicide-murder scheme by a jilted lover--horribly disfigured. He'd fallen in love with Sofia (Penélope Cruz) but is now an embittered husk of his former self, stuck in a "psychiatric penitentiary" on a murder charge and hiding behind an expressionless mask. His reality has crumbled, but as the film's agenda is gradually revealed, we realize that there are other factors in play. Exposing that agenda would be a criminal offense against those who haven't seen the film; suffice it to say that Open Your Eyes takes you into the twilight zone and beyond, and does so cleverly enough to prompt Tom Cruise to produce and star in an English-language remake, Vanilla Sky. The 2001 remake, directed by Cameron Crowe, costars Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz, who reprises her original role.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 2:42 pm

918
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)



Even if the notorious 1970s porn-filmmaking milieu doesn't exactly turn you on, don't let it turn you off to this movie's extraordinary virtues, either. Boogie Nights is one of the key movies of the 1990s, and among the most ambitious and exuberantly alive American movies in years. It's also the breakthrough for an amazing new director, whose dazzling kaleidoscopic style here recalls the Robert Altman of Nashville and the Martin Scorsese of GoodFellas. Although loosely based on the sleazy life and times of real-life porn legend John Holmes, at heart it's a classic Hollywood rise-and-fall fable: a naive, good-looking young busboy is discovered in a San Fernando Valley disco by a famous motion picture producer, becomes a hotshot movie star, lives the high life, and then loses everything when he gets too big for his britches, succumbs to insobriety, and is left behind by new times and new technology. Of course, it ain't exactly A Star Is Born or Singin' in the Rain. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (in only his second feature!) puts his own affectionately sardonic twist on the old showbiz biopic formula: the ambitious upstart changes his name and achieves stardom in porno films as "Dirk Diggler." Instead of drinking to excess, he snorts cocaine (the classic drug of '70s hedonism); and it's the coming of home video (rather than talkies) that helps to dash his big-screen dreams. As for the britches ... well, the controversial "money shot" explains everything. And the cast is one of the great ensembles of the '90s, including Oscar nominees Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore, Mark Wahlberg (who really can act--from the waist up, too!), Heather Graham (as Rollergirl), William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, and Ricky Jay.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 2:47 pm

919
The sweet hereafter (Atom Egoyan, 1997)



In synopsis The Sweet Hereafter may sound like a devastatingly unpleasant downer, but don't be discouraged. The real subjects of this luminous picture (adapted by director Atom Egoyan from Russell Banks's novel) are hope and renewal--avoiding the cheap emotions suggested by those clichéd terms. Like other Egoyan films (Exotica, for one), it's an intriguing sort of mystery, a puzzle in which the big picture is not revealed until the very last piece is in place. A metropolitan attorney (Ian Holm) travels to a small British Columbian town where 14 children have been killed in a school bus accident to prepare a class-action suit. With sensitivity and empathy, he approaches relatives with promises that the suit will give focus and closure to their grief. And as he investigates the circumstances of the accident, he not only uncovers a few local secrets, but dredges up some painful pieces of his own past. Slowly, deeper mysteries are revealed--eternal mysteries at the very heart of human nature: Who is to blame for a tragedy like this? And why do people feel such a need to assign blame? Is that how they give meaning to otherwise inconceivable events? How does one reassemble a shattered life? The Sweet Hereafter is too honest to offer bromides, but it shows how a few people struggle, as best they can, to answer these questions for themselves.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 2:51 pm

920
The ice storm (Ang Lee, 1997)



Asian American director Ang Lee sums up America in the early 1970s by focusing on the arrival of the sexual revolution in the 'burbs. Isolationism within a family, consumerism, and selfishness are personified by a cast that captures the self-obsession within two New England families. As the children struggle awkwardly with adolescence, their parents stumble through sexual experimentation. In the days of Watergate and Vietnam, society is breaking boundaries and ignoring convention. Following suit, these families are eschewing polite barriers and social taboos, with disastrous results. The "ice storm" of the title refers not only to a natural phenomenon but is a (rather heavy-handed) metaphor for a pervasive emotional temperament. The entire cast delivers textured, finely nuanced performances. This movie lingers in the psyche not only for the scope of the tragedy at its conclusion, but for Lee's often humorous and stingingly accurate assessment of pop culture. Based on Rick Moody's novel, this won the best-screenplay award at Cannes in 1997.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 11, 2010 2:57 pm

921
Chun gwong cha sit (Happy together- Wong Kar-Wai, 1997)



Happy Together (traditional Chinese: 春光乍洩) is a 1997 Hong Kong movie directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, that depicts a turbulent romance between two men. The English title is inspired by The Turtles' 1967 song, which is covered by Danny Chung on the film's soundtrack; the Chinese title (previously used for Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup) is an idiomatic expression suggesting "the exposure of something indecent."
The film received positive reviews from several film festivals, including a win for Best Director at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
Ho Po-Wing (Leslie Cheung) and Lai Yiu-fai (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), a couple from pre-handover Hong Kong, visit Argentina hoping to renew their ailing relationship. The two have a pattern of abuse, followed by break-ups and reconciliations. One of their goals in Argentina is to visit the Iguazu waterfalls, which serves as a leitmotif in the movie.
Due to the international recognition that the film received, it was reviewed in several major U.S. publications. Edward Guthmann, of the San Francisco Chronicle, gave the film an ecstatic review, lavishing praise on Wong for his innovative cinematography and directorial approach; whilst naming Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs amongst those who would have been impressed by his film.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:34 pm

922
Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke- Hayao Miyazaki, 1997)



This epic, animated 1997 fantasy has already made history as the top-grossing domestic feature ever released in Japan, where its combination of mythic themes, mystical forces, and ravishing visuals tapped deeply into cultural identity and contemporary, ecological anxieties. For international animation and anime fans, Princess Mononoke represents an auspicious next step for its revered creator, Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service), an acknowledged anime pioneer, whose painterly style, vivid character design, and stylized approach to storytelling take ambitious, evolutionary steps here.
Set in medieval Japan, Miyazaki's original story envisions a struggle between nature and man. The march of technology, embodied in the dark iron forges of the ambitious Tatara clan, threatens the natural forces explicit in the benevolent Great God of the Forest and the wide-eyed, spectral spirits he protects. When Ashitaka, a young warrior from a remote, and endangered, village clan, kills a ravenous, boar-like monster, he discovers the beast is in fact an infectious "demon god," transformed by human anger. Ashitaka's quest to solve the beast's fatal curse brings him into the midst of human political intrigues as well as the more crucial battle between man and nature.
Miyazaki's convoluted fable is clearly not the stuff of kiddie matinees, nor is the often graphic violence depicted during the battles that ensue. If some younger viewers (or less attentive older ones) will wish for a diagram to sort out the players, Miyazaki's atmospheric world and its lush visual design are reasons enough to watch. For the English-language version, Miramax assembled an impressive vocal cast including Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup (as Ashitaka), Claire Danes (as San), Minnie Driver (as Lady Eboshi), Billy Bob Thornton, and Jada Pinkett Smith. They bring added nuance to a very different kind of magic kingdom. Recommended for ages 12 and older.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:38 pm

923
The butcher boy (Neil Jordan, 1997)



You can't write off Francie Brady, apple-cheeked hero of The Butcher Boy, as a bad seed and have done with him. In Irish director Neil Jordan's often-surreal fairy tales, bad seeds grow the fruit of subversive knowledge: A master of blending the everyday with the truly mad and wonderfully weird, Jordan loves to encourage charismatic anarchists--driven by amoral energy and imagination--to attack the status quo with extreme prejudice. Exuberant Francie (Eamonn Owens, making a splendid debut) is a thorn in the side of rural Irish repression and hypocrisy. Better to call this smart, too-sensitive brat an ambulatory Rorschach, an uncensored billboard of his disapproving society's uglier truths and fears. A nonstop standup comedian ("And the Francie Brady Not a Bad Bastard Anymore Award goes to--Great God, I think it's Francie Brady!"), he projects fantasies of '60s cold war paranoia (atomic warfare leaves his village a graveyard of charred pigs), American "cowboys and Indians" pop culture, and Catholic Madonna worship (Sinead O'Connor appears as an earthy Virgin Mary). But Francie's rich fantasy life is no match for reality's "slings and arrows": His abusive da (Stephen Rea) pickles himself in drink, his fragile mother edges closer to suicide, "blood brother" Joe turns Judas, and a punitive stint at a Catholic reformatory ends with our Gaelic Holden Caulfield tricked out in girlish bonnet and ruffles, plaything of an addled old priest (Milo O'Shea). No wonder Francie's ultimately driven to exorcize his own Wicked Witch of the West. (He sees Mrs. Nugent (Fiona Shaw), self-righteous pillar of a callous community, as the cause of his cursed life.) Laced with tragedy and hilarity, great beauty and horror, Jordan's adaptation of the Patrick McCabe bestseller mutates the adventures of Francie Brady--psychotic killer, performance artist, and purest innocent--into a sort of saint's life.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:40 pm

924
L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997)



In a time when it seems that every other movie makes some claim to being a film noir, L.A. Confidential is the real thing--a gritty, sordid tale of sex, scandal, betrayal, and corruption of all sorts (police, political, press--and, of course, very personal) in 1940s Hollywood. The Oscar-winning screenplay is actually based on several titles in James Ellroy's series of chronological thriller novels (including the title volume, The Big Nowhere, and White Jazz)--a compelling blend of L.A. history and pulp fiction that has earned it comparisons to the greatest of all Technicolor noir films, Chinatown. Kim Basinger richly deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a conflicted femme fatale; unfortunately, her male costars are so uniformly fine that they may have canceled each other out with the Academy voters: Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and James Cromwell play LAPD officers of varying stripes. Pearce's character is a particularly intriguing study in Hollywood amorality and ambition, a strait-laced "hero" (and son of a departmental legend) whose career goals outweigh all other moral, ethical, and legal considerations. If he's a good guy, it's only because he sees it as the quickest route to a promotion.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:43 pm

925
The thin red line (Terrence Malick, 1998)



One of the cinema's great disappearing acts came to a close with the release of The Thin Red Line in late 1998. Terrence Malick, the cryptic recluse who withdrew from Hollywood visibility after the release of his visually enthralling masterpiece Days of Heaven (1978), returned to the director's chair after a 20-year coffee break. Malick's comeback vehicle is a fascinating choice: a wide-ranging adaptation of a World War II novel (filmed once before, in 1964) by James Jones. The battle for Guadalcanal Island gives Malick an opportunity to explore nothing less than the nature of life, death, God, and courage. Let that be a warning to anyone expecting a conventional war flick; Malick proves himself quite capable of mounting an exciting action sequence, but he's just as likely to meander into pure philosophical noodling--or simply let the camera contemplate the first steps of a newly birthed tropical bird, the sinister skulk of a crocodile. This is not especially an actors' movie--some faces go by so quickly they barely register--but the standouts are bold: Nick Nolte as a career-minded colonel, Elias Koteas as a deeply spiritual captain who tries to protect his men, Ben Chaplin as a G.I. haunted by lyrical memories of his wife. The backbone of the film is the ongoing discussion between a wry sergeant (Sean Penn) and an ethereal, almost holy private (newcomer Jim Caviezel). The picture's sprawl may be a result of Malick's method of "finding" a film during shooting and editing, and in some ways The Thin Red Line seems vaguely, intriguingly incomplete. Yet it casts a spell like almost nothing else of its time, and Malick's visionary images are a challenge and a signpost to the rest of his filmmaking generation.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:48 pm

926
There's something about Mary (Peter & Bobby Farrelly, 1998)



There's Something About Mary is one of the funniest movies in years, recalling the days of the Zucker-Abraham-Zucker movies, in which (often tasteless) gags were piled on at a fierce rate. The difference is that cowriters and codirectors Bobby and Peter Farrelly have also crafted a credible story line and even tossed in some genuine emotional content. The Farrelly brothers' first two movies, Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, had some moments of uproarious raunch, but were uneven. With Mary, they've created a consistently hilarious romantic comedy, made all the funnier by the fact that you know that they know that some of their gags go way over the line.
Cameron Diaz stars as Mary, every guy's ideal. Ben Stiller plays a high-school suitor still hung up on Mary years later; the obstacles standing between him and her include a number of psychotic suitors, a miserable little pooch, and, oh yeah, a murder charge. The Farrellys' admittedly simplistic camera work, which adapts easily to a TV screen, and the fact that you'll likely laugh yourself so silly over certain scenes you'll want to replay them to see what you were missing while you were busy convulsing, make this a perfect video movie.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:52 pm

927
Ringu (The ring- Hideo Nakata, 1998)



A grainy, enigmatic videotape has the power to kill people seven days after they watch it. This brilliant premise fueled the 2002 Hollywood hit The Ring, but before that it conquered Japan in Ringu, Hideo Nakata's quietly unsettling study in terror. Fans of the U.S. version will find a less elaborate storyline and more primal fear in the original; the basic plot, however, still has a worried reporter (Nanako Matsushima) tracking down the meaning of the video--and, having watched it herself, she has only a week to work. The film's calm, economical style actually adds to the creeping sense of dread throughout, and the hair-curling set-pieces stand out in contrast. Like an old photograph of something evil, Ringu has the strange-but-familiar power to unnerve. Guaranteed, its effect will linger for at least seven days. Longer... if you're lucky.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:55 pm

928
π (Pi- Darren Aronofsky, 1998)



Patterns exist everywhere: in nature, in science, in religion, in business. Max Cohen (played hauntingly by Sean Gullette) is a mathematician searching for these patterns in everything. Yet, he's not the only one, and everyone from Wall Street investors, looking to break the market, to Hasidic Jews, searching for the 216-digit number that reveals the true name of God, are trying to get their hands on Max. This dark, low-budget film was shot in black and white by director Darren Aronofsky. With eerie music, voice-overs, and overt symbolism enhancing the somber mood, Aronofsky has created a disturbing look at the world. Max is deeply paranoid, holed up in his apartment with his computer Euclid, obsessively studying chaos theory. Blinding headaches and hallucinogenic visions only feed his paranoia as he attempts to remain aloof from the world, venturing out only to meet his mentor, Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis), who for some mysterious reason feels Max should take a break from his research. This movie is complex--occasionally too complex--but the psychological drama and the loose sci-fi elements make this a worthwhile, albeit consuming, watch. Pi won the Director's Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 12, 2010 2:59 pm

929
Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1998)



At times brilliant and insightful, at times repellent and false, Happiness is director Todd Solondz's multistory tale of sex, perversion, and loneliness. Plumbing depths of Crumb-like angst and rejection, Solondz won the Cannes International Critics Prize in 1998 and the film was a staple of nearly every critic's Top Ten list. Admirable, shocking, and hilarious for its sarcastic yet strangely empathetic look at consenting adults' confusion between lust and love, the film stares unflinchingly until the audience blinks. But it doesn't stop there. A word of strong caution to parents: One of the main characters, a suburban super dad (played by Dylan Baker), is really a predatory pedophile and there is more than an attempt to paint him as a sympathetic character. Children are used in this film as running gags or, worse, the means to an end. Whether that end is a humorous scene for Solondz or sexual gratification for the rapist becomes largely irrelevant. Happiness is an intelligent, sad film, revelatory and exact at moments. It's also abuse in the guise of art. That's nothing to celebrate.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 13, 2010 12:00 pm

930
Lola rennt (Run Lola run- Tom Twyker, 1998)



It's difficult to create a film that's fast paced, exciting, and aesthetically appealing without diluting its dialogue. Run Lola Run, directed and written by Tom Tykwer, is an enchanting balance of pace and narrative, creating a universal parable that leaps over cultural barriers. This is the story of young Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). In the space of 20 minutes, they must come up with 100,000 deutsche marks to pay back a seedy gangster, who will be less than forgiving when he finds out that Manni incompetently lost his cash to an opportunistic vagrant. Lola, confronted with one obstacle after another, rides an emotional roller coaster in her high-speed efforts to help the hapless Manni--attempting to extract the cash first from her double-dealing father (appropriately a bank manager), and then by any means necessary. From this point nothing goes right for either protagonist, but just when you think you've figured out the movie, the director introduces a series of brilliant existential twists that boggle the mind. Tykwer uses rapid camera movements and innovative pauses to explore the theme of cause and effect. Accompanied by a pulse-pounding soundtrack, we follow Lola through every turn and every heartbreak as she and Manni rush forward on a collision course with fate. There were a variety of original and intelligent films released in 1999, but perhaps none were as witty and clever as this little gem--one of the best foreign films of the year.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 13, 2010 12:09 pm

931
Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)



Wes Anderson's follow-up to the quirky Bottle Rocket is a wonderfully unorthodox coming-of-age story that ranks with Harold and Maude and The Graduate in the pantheon of timeless cult classics. Jason Schwartzman (son of Talia Shire and nephew of Francis Coppola) stars as Max Fischer, a 15-year-old attending the prestigious Rushmore Academy on scholarship, where he's failing all of his classes but is the superstar of the school's extracurricular activities (head of the drama club, the beekeeper club, the fencing club...). Possessing boundless confidence and chutzpah, as well as an aura of authority he seems to have been born with, Max finds two unlikely soulmates in his permutations at Rushmore: industrial magnate and Rushmore alumnus Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and first-grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). His alliance with Blume and crush on Miss Cross, however, are thrown out of kilter by his expulsion from Rushmore, and a budding romance between the two adults that threatens Max's own designs on the lovely schoolteacher.
Never stooping to sentimentality or schmaltz, Anderson and cowriter Owen Wilson have fashioned a wickedly intelligent and wildly funny tale of young adulthood that hits all the right notes in its mix of melancholy and optimism. As played by Schwartzman, Max is both immediately endearing and ferociously irritating: smarter than all the adults around him, with little sense of his shortcomings, he's an unstoppable dynamo who commands grudging respect despite his outlandish projects (including a school play about Vietnam). Murray, as the tycoon who determinedly wages war with Max for the affections of Miss Cross, is a revelation of middle-aged resignation. Disgusted with his family, his life, and himself, he's turned around by both Max's antagonism and Miss Cross's love. Williams is equally affecting as the teacher who still carries a torch for her dead husband, and the superb supporting cast also includes Seymour Cassel as Max's barber father, Brian Cox as the frustrated headmaster of Rushmore, and a hilarious Mason Gamble as Max's young charge. Put this one on your shelf of modern masterpieces.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 13, 2010 12:12 pm

932
Buffalo '66 (Vincent Gallo, 1998)



Writer-director-composer Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci star in this quirky and deliberately grimy little movie. Gallo plays Billy Brown, recently released from prison and unable to find so much as a decent bathroom in his cold hometown. Billy's parents are unaware that he's been locked up; in a pathetic attempt to impress them with how successful he's become, he hits on the novel plan of kidnapping young dance student Layla (Ricci) and forcing her to play the role of his wife. Billy's distant--to say the least--parents are played to the hilt by Anjelica Huston and Ben Gazzara, Huston in particular bringing a demented glee to her role as Billy's football-obsessed mother. As the movie unfolds, we learn more about Billy's tormented childhood and unfortunate tendency to bet on the Bills in the Super Bowl. Gallo boldly throws himself into the task of playing a complete sleazebag, and Ricci does lovely standout work as the one ray of hope in the grinding darkness of Billy's life. This odd little love story is just the thing to make you feel better about your own relationship--especially if you're not in one.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 13, 2010 12:14 pm

933
Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)



When Steven Spielberg was an adolescent, his first home movie was a backyard war film. When he toured Europe with Duel in his 20s, he saw old men crumble in front of headstones at Omaha Beach. That image became the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, his film of a mission following the D-day invasion that many have called the most realistic--and maybe the best--war film ever. With 1998 production standards, Spielberg has been able to create a stunning, unparalleled view of war as hell. We are at Omaha Beach as troops are slaughtered by Germans yet overcome the almost insurmountable odds.
A stalwart Tom Hanks plays Captain Miller, a soldier's soldier, who takes a small band of troops behind enemy lines to retrieve a private whose three brothers have recently been killed in action. It's a public relations move for the Army, but it has historical precedent dating back to the Civil War. Some critics of the film have labeled the central characters stereotypes. If that is so, this movie gives stereotypes a good name: Tom Sizemore as the deft sergeant, Edward Burns as the hotheaded Private Reiben, Barry Pepper as the religious sniper, Adam Goldberg as the lone Jew, Vin Diesel as the oversize Private Caparzo, Giovanni Ribisi as the soulful medic, and Jeremy Davies, who as a meek corporal gives the film its most memorable performance.
The movie is as heavy and realistic as Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler's List, but it's more kinetic. Spielberg and his ace technicians (the film won five Oscars: editing (Michael Kahn), cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), sound, sound effects, and directing) deliver battle sequences that wash over the eyes and hit the gut. The violence is extreme but never gratuitous. The final battle, a dizzying display of gusto, empathy, and chaos, leads to a profound repose. Saving Private Ryan touches us deeper than Schindler because it succinctly links the past with how we should feel today. It's the film Spielberg was destined to make.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 13, 2010 12:17 pm

933
Festen (The celebration- Thomas Vinterberg, 1998)



Rising to the challenge of Dogma 95's self-imposed restrictions on aesthetic freedom, Thomas Vinterberg's The Celebration is a remarkable example of the way limits can give rise to creative opportunity. (Dogma 95 is a Danish filmmakers collective that also includes Lars von Trier, director of Breaking the Waves. The group crafted a manifesto in which its members vow to eschew special lighting, optical effects, props, and the visible imprint of a director's personality in order to attain higher truths yielded by characters.) The Celebration, shot with a small video camera and transferred to 35mm film, concerns a black-tie birthday gathering for a family patriarch, Helge (Henning Moritzen), which erodes into a battle after long-suppressed secrets are revealed and the chance to settle old scores presents itself. Among the grievances are an accusation of incest and the responsibility for the death of a child--gruesome stuff, but Vinterberg doesn't characterize the partying crowd's reaction in quite the way one might have expected. In fact, the whole of The Celebration is about unexpected perspectives and vantage points emerging from out of nowhere, largely due to Vinterberg's free hand at editing the film in such a way as to yank truth from every corner. This is a strong work that belies skepticism over Dogma 95's bare-bones trendiness, and is perhaps a harbinger of great work to come from Vinterberg.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

Mensaje  JM el Miér Ene 13, 2010 1:56 pm

935
Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)



While too many movies suffer the fate of creative bankruptcy, Being John Malkovich is a refreshing study in contrast, so bracingly original that you'll want to send director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman a thank-you note for restoring your faith in the enchantment of film. Even if it ultimately serves little purpose beyond the thrill of comedic invention, this demented romance is gloriously entertaining, spilling over with ideas that tickle the brain and even touch the heart. That's to be expected in a movie that dares to ponder the existential dilemma of a forlorn puppeteer (John Cusack) who discovers a metaphysical portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich.
The puppeteer's working as a file clerk on the seventh-and-a-half floor of a Manhattan office building; this idea alone might serve as the comedic basis for an entire film, but Jonze and Kaufman are just getting started. Add a devious coworker (Catherine Keener), Cusack's dowdy wife (a barely recognizable Cameron Diaz), and a business scheme to capitalize on the thrill of being John Malkovich, and you've got a movie that just gets crazier as it plays by its own outrageous rules. Malkovich himself is the film's pièce de résistance, riffing on his own persona with obvious delight and--when he enters his own brain via the portal--appearing with multiple versions of himself in a tour-de-force use of digital trickery. Does it add up to much? Not really. But for 112 liberating minutes, Being John Malkovich is a wild place to visit.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XV: 1995-1999

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