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Barb's Briefs

(Vol. V, no. 4 -- Spring 2002)
Three from the fastest cursor in the business.

Training Day: Oh My. Keep reminding yourself that thereís some rule in the movie business that the really bad guy has to be defeated in the end. And that the DAY in Training Day probably means that as it starts to get dark outside it may be almost over. Denzel may have won an Oscar for this, but you should consider watching something more cheerful like Goodfellas or Harvey Keitelís dirty cop drama Bad Lieutenant (1992). Even Straw Dogs (1971). This is very unpleasant and reminded me of Scarface (1983) in a strange and disgusting way. says itís a "top video rental" now (4/02) so at least Iím doing the popular thing.

Lantana violates BTB Rule #2 (rule #1 is BE QUIET IN THE MOVIES): the word "LANTANA" was never spoken and anyone who hadnít owned an actual lantana or two would not have recognized the quick shot of the plant that they put up at one point. Well done and quite interesting but once you violate one of my rules, know!

Monsterís Ball: A fascinating IDEA (but even the box lies - showing Halle with curly hair on the front and implying that Hank was minding her husband on death row at the same time he was "falling in love" with her). The unbelievable set of interlinked people in Lantana was easier to buy than this "overnight" transformation from "nigger hater" to conciliatory, amends-making NICE man. . . . Iíll buy that the performances were extraordinary but the premise was not well developed.

(Vol. III, no. I -- Spring 2000)

If you aren't tired of the Northern Ireland conflict movie genre and are having trouble finding something in the "new releases" section of your local video store, try The Devil's Own, starring Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt (along with a number of other recognizables like Treat Williams - who must really BE a bad guy since he never plays anything else). Of course the continued confusion about whether Hollywood is pro-IRA or not abounds but all the visible "bad guys" in the IRA are conveniently dead at the end, so you be the judge.

Brad does what appears to be a good Irish accent (and is devilishly handsome with a beard) and Harrison is just being Harrison, but who can complain about that?

For a long, rainy weekend, try combining this with reprises of The Crying Game and The Boxer.

And now, for a little trip down memory lane.

Klute (1971): Update the cars and the gadgetry, exchange Fonda and Sutherland (BtB's favorite!) with Stone and Ford or someone like that and this film would easily stand up to today's audience needs. It is very good indeed.

(Vol. II, no. 4 -- Spring 1999)
Presenting the review of a movie I haven't seen yet:

Tea with Mussolini: Judi Dench, Cher, Joan Plowright, Lily Tomlin. Franco Zeffirelli directs. Iíd add Dame Maggie Smith, and put the English Grand Dames in 1, 3, 5 position, Cher in 2 and Lily in 4.  NY Times review calls it a "diva derby."
One can only hope the tea is decaffeinated.

(Vol. II, no. 3 -- Winter 1999)

Red Corner: Liberated (Chinese) women (Bai Ling and others) and Richard Gere (looking very good indeed). What more could you want? Car chase? Got it.

Assignment: watch Red Corner and American Gigolo on the same night, write a feminist brief. Extra credit: add Pretty Woman.

As I expected, Life is [not] Beautiful. I found it too frenetic, in that Chaplinesque way.

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