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Sunday, October 29, 2006

GREENLIGHT #85: The Prestige (with "The Man Who Would Be King" and "Deathtrap")

Ann and Les were enthralled with the mystery of the The Prestige (2006.) This is a movie that almost makes us delve into the 11th percentile of our brains. They loved the performances of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale who play rival magicians playing mean tricks on one another with a little help from a master magician played by a screen master Michael Caine. It's all fun and games until someone shoots their eye out - I mean, until one of them becomes mysteriously deadly. It's a truly enjoyable challenge watching them as well as Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie create and combat all the intrigue. (Also, watch for Mr. Caine's real-life wife, Shakira Caine .) For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a film featuring a young Mr. Caine in The Man Who Would Be King (1975.) It's a John Huston soldier-buddy film that has Mr. Caine and Sean Connery in India when Mr. Connery is mistaken for a god. Things don't go so well for, at least, Mr. Caine and he ends up a beggar telling the story to Rudyard Kipling played by Christopher Plummer. Ann recommends yet another film featuring Mr. Caine in the midst of entertaining intrigue as a writer who plots against his would-be protege played by Christopher Reeve . The two of them do quite a dance together and it's particularly enjoyable to watch the goings-on through the eyes of Caine's wife played by Dyan Cannon . It's a Sydney Lumet film called Deathtrap (1982.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:52

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GREENLIGHT #84: Marie Antoinette (with "Mary Queen of Scots" and "The Three Musketeers")

Ann and Les were eyeing the neck of Marie Antoinette (2006) minutes into the film. Unfortunately, her head didn't roll soon enough. In fact, one of their big complaints about the film is that only those familiar with European history would even know what happened to her and her head. Their other big complaint focuses on the ghastly performance of Kirsten Dunst who played the title role like a Valley Girl in Versailles. While they continue to be hopeful for the career of director Sofia Coppolla, who can certainly shoot pretty pictures, they don't recommend her story telling skills in this one. The costumes, however, were fantastic. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a great film about two dynamic queens, on screen and off, called Mary Queen of Scots (1971.) It features Vanessa Redgrave in the title role battling wits with her rival Elizabeth I played by Glenda Jackson. Very dramatic stuff. Ann goes a much lighter route with a host of great actors, Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch , Michael York , Geraldine Chaplin , and Charlton Heston , among many others, romping around in Richard Lester's costume drama (and comedy) The Three Musketeers (1973.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:56

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Friday, October 20, 2006

GREENLIGHT #83: The Last King of Scotland (with "A Dry White Season" and "The Crying Game")

Ann and Les were very impressed with The Last King of Scotland (2006) even though he was truly a crazy man. They were particularly impressed with Forest Whitaker's astounding performance as the ghastly Idi Amin. The rest of the cast was worth watching as well, including James McAvoy, Kerry Washington , and a small part by a blond Gillian Anderson . Much credit goes to director Kevin Macdonald who managed to tell this horrible story with a sense of humanity. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends another film set in Africa, though a bit further south, called A Dry White Season (1997.) It features Donald Sutherland as a conscientious teacher in apartheid South Africa. When he realizes that things are not right, he hires a barrsiter played by Marlon Brando. Very interesting. Ann recommends a Neil Jordan film in which she first saw Mr. Whitaker and the one everyone remembers for him and Jaye Davidson's "surprise." It's called The Crying Game (1993.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:52

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

GREENLIGHT #82: Man of the Year (with "Suicide Kings" and "Mrs. Doubtfire")

Ann and Les give no awards to Man of the Year (2006.) The trailer showed Robin Williams wearing a George Washington type wig and telling funny jokes in Congress, so they thought this movie would be a comedy. It isn't. It's a sad and confusing tale of a late-night talk show host who runs for President and apparently takes himself seriously along the way. It's also a mystery movie because they can't figure out why Christopher Walken, Laura Linney , and Jeff Goldblum would agree to do such a film and why director Barry Levinson bothered with this script in the first place. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends a good but obscure film with Mr. Walken called Suicide Kings (1997.) It's a poker term that kind of explains the theory behind preppy boys, Jay Mohr, Sean Patrick Flanery and Henry Thomas, kidnapping a mafia boss played so creatively by Mr. Walken accompanied by his right-hand man played by Dennis Leary. Ann recommends Mr. Williams at his most charming playing opposite Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:58

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

GREENLIGHT #81: The Departed (with "Taxi Driver" and "The Music Lovers")

Ann and Les depart ways over The Departed (2006) though they agree it's a bloodbath. It's a movie about two Boston cops working as moles for competing gangs and it's brutal. They agree that Leonardo Decaprio, Matt Damon , and Mark Wahlberg were excellent while they also agree that Jack Nicholson was way over-the-top and not appropriate for the role. But they don't agree that the good outweighs the bad. Les thinks they were good enough to make the movie a yellow. Ann says it's a red. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends his favorite Martin Scorcese film (who also directed the above) called Taxi Driver (1976) with captivating and heartbraking performances by Robert DeNiro and Jodie Foster with a brilliantly sleazy performance by Harvey Keitel. Ann recommends a much more obscure film directed by a man known for controlled but outrageous films Ken Russell with wonderfully over-the-top performances by Richard Chamberlain and Glenda Jackson called The Music Lovers (1970.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:58

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Friday, October 13, 2006

GREENLIGHT #80: Heading South (with "The Verdict" and "Three Coins in a Fountain")

Ann and Les wanted to head out while watching Heading South (2006.) It's a movie about middle-aged women going down to Haiti every year for trysts with their young, very young, men. As Ann and Les put it, "not so savory." But Les was so taken with the performances of Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young , and Menothy Cesar he was willing to give the movie a yellow. Ann agreed that the performances were good but the movie was not. She gives it a full red. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends his favorite performance of Ms. Rampling in director Sidney Lumet's masterpiece called The Verdict (1982.) She stars alongside Paul Newman, James Mason, and Jack Warden in this riveting courtroom drama. Ann recommends a much more charming movie about three women looking for romance in a foreign land with Clifton Webb and Dorothy McGuire, among many others, called Three Coins in a Fountain (1954.)
RUNNING TIME: 14:54

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Friday, October 06, 2006

GREENLIGHT #79: The Science of Sleep (with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Dreams")

Ann and Les each think the other flunked on The Science of Sleep (2006) exam. Les thinks this experimental film by director Michel Gondry was refreshing, charming, and even a bit thought-provoking. he was charmed by lead Gael Garcia Bernal even though he thought he'd hate watching this guy in a dorky hat for two hours. Ann, on the other hand, thought she was in a nightmare. She thinks the story is confusing and pretentious. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends Gondry's debut film (which even Ann enjoyed) called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004.) Jim Carrey plays a guy who tries to have his mind erased of his ex-girlfriend played by Kate Winslet who received an Oscar nomination for her performace. Ann recommends an amazing, perhaps the best, movie about dreams by the amazing visuals director, perhaps the best, director Akira Kurosawa called Dreams (1990.) Watch it on the biggest screen possible.
RUNNING TIME: 15:00

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

GREENLIGHT #78: The Guardian (with "Wyatt Earp" and "An Officer and a Gentleman"

Ann and Les were so pleasantly surprised with The Guardian (2006) even though it's a formula film - grizzled veteran vs. cocky recruit. Both went in knowing that Kevin Costner doesn't have the greatest track record lately but were thrilled wtih what they saw. And, skeptical as they were of Costner, they were convinced that Ashton Kutcher would be a disaster. Instead, he was fantastic - and it wasn't just his swimming skills. For their GREENLIGHT Rentals, Les recommends an unheralded Costner film directed by Lawrence Kasdan called Wyatt Earp (1994.) Les says it's the best telling of the story of Wyatt Earp on film. And Dennis Quaid gives an amazing and skinny performance of Doc Holladay. The list of other stars in this movie includes Mark Harmon, Gene Hackman, Michael Madsen, and Catherine O'Hara, Bill Pullman, Isabella Rossellini, and JoBeth Williams among so many others. Ann recommends a classic veteran vs. recruit movie that made stars of director Taylor Hackford and stars Richard Gere and Debra Winger, David Keith called An Officer and a Gentleman (1957.)
RUNNING TIME: 15:01

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