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Movies E-F

Edward Scissorhands (1990), Enemy of the State(1998), Erin Brockovich (2000), Eyes of Tammy Faye, The (2000), Faculty, The (1998)

more to follow...

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

This is the Tim Burton movie I get the most emotional about

(Warning: sappy content in review)

I can't think of any other movie that has made me cry as often during the course of the movie, or as hard. When I saw it in the theater, I wasn't just tearing up, I was openly sobbing by the end. During the scene where Vincent Price (God I miss him) perfectly cast as "The Inventor" tells Edward he has a special present for him and hold up a pair of perfect hands, only to slip away at the last moment, I looked around the 3rd time I saw in the theater, and literally everyone in the theater was choked up if not outright crying, including grown men.

If I ever want to cry on demand, all I have to do is simply *remember* the last scene of the movie, and the last few lines uttered by the storyteller, and I tear up. Just pulling up the image of Ryder, spinning around in the 'snow' dreamily, can still bring tears to my eyes 10+ years later. I think this is the only movie I've seen where I actually had to sit there all through the credits trying to pull it together.. My friend and I were still sniffling walking out of the theater.

Other women out there: this is not a movie to watch when you have PMS, not unless you want to totally break down in a sobbing, emotional heap. I was reading the transcript on the internet during my dinner break at work a couple years ago and started tearing up right at my desk, and I wasn't even in an emotional mood when I started reading it.

There's so many great things about this movie-- Tim Burton is a genius, plain and simple, and the art direction is brilliant. His vision of suburbia is incredible, with rows and rows of identical, colorful 50's style tract houses and flawless green lawns. The imagery will stick with you long after the movie is over; for instance, the shot of the little girl, getting told a bedtime story (the film's framing device) in a huge, oversized bed, almost buried in all the quilts and pillows, or the inventor's workshop, with an assembly line pumping out gingerbread men.

Elfman does do his best work (other than Beetlejuice). Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp were a couple at the time the movie was made, deeply in love, and it shows. It actually almost hurts to look at them, and Ryder, even with a blonde wig that anyone else would look horrible in, is stunningly beautiful and radiant. Just the way they look at each other, the longing in both their eyes, the tenderness when she says, "Hold me" and Edward replies sadly, "I can't", so Kim (Ryder) lovingly wraps her arms around him instead-- it gets me every time. All the casting is great (Vincent Price, especially -- obviously, Tim Burton got his dream cast for this one).

Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or lonely, or longed for someone they know they will probably never end up with, will be touched deeply. (Starcrossed lovers always get to me). Yeah, I know. This all sounds very corny, but this movie is really in a class by itself.

I have to go get some Kleenex, excuse me.

Grade: A+

Eyes of Tammy Faye, The (2000)

Get out the waterproof mascara

First, Tammy wears Great Lash, if anyone's interested.

I was very impressed, and also moved by this documentary.. I remember not being able to stand the sight of this woman back in the 80's, and being extremely satisfied when the Bakker's empire crumbled very publicly. Maybe I just got sick of hearing about them, and the media did not exactly paint a flattering portrait.

I started out this movie feeling pity for Tammy Faye, but began to admire her as it went on. I had no idea she was gay-friendly way before it was fashionable to do so(and even now, I don't think there are too many gay-friendly televangelists), and had no idea she had a TV talk show with an openly gay co-host. Not to make media headlines for being 'daring', either. With many other celebrities, you get the feeling they figured out, "Hmmm, gay men seem to really love me, I think I'll use this and cash in on it". With Tammy it's clear that she is not calculating at all but just a very friendly person with no prejudice.

The movie, narrated by RuPaul, chronicles her life, and gives her side of the story of the scandals. There are interviews with her current and ex-husband, and many of her friends, people she worked with, and biographers. The film includes great archival footage of her early television shows (if you think she has big hair *now*, just wait) to her later ones. The movie is divided up into chapters that are introduced with sock-puppets (this is not as ridiculous as it sounds, though the movie has plenty of humor).

In one scene Tammy confronts a reporter who wrote a very unflattering, and Tammy says untrue, book about the PTL Empire. This and several other scenes are hard to watch (though it's fun to see the reporter stammer when Tammy asks him point blank why he printed lies about her). In another scene I felt like watching through my hands over my eyes, during a point in her life when she was addicted to prescription drugs, we see Tammy sort of wandering off in the middle of a broadcast to remark on the backdrop, pretty whacked out. When I found out the circumstances that led to her doctor prescribing something to calm her down, I wasn't disgusted but more surprised that she wasn't taking every narcotic she could get her hands on at the time.

I remember thinking back in the 80's that anyone who walked around looking like Tammy and carrying herself confidently was out of their mind, or at best, delusional. At some point during the movie- probably a scene where she cheerfully pitches ideas for TV shows to someone probably 20 years younger than her at the USA Network (you get the feeling maybe he won't make fun of her as soon as she's out the door, but it's easy to imagine him having a good laugh with someone he knows later as he tells them about his encounter)- I realized she is just, well, being herself. She knows that her heavy eye makeup is "her trademark", and is proud of it.

Let's face it, it takes real guts for this woman just to walk down the street when most people consider her a punchline, a cartoon, a freak, or all three. She is not a stupid woman and knows this, but holds her head up high anyway, and carries herself proudly. How many people would be brave enough to do that?

I never thought I'd say this, but after seeing this, I have a newfound respect for Tammy Faye. If the film-makers intentions were to have people view the subject of their documentary in a different light, then they did an excellent job, and I don't have any complaints about it at all. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Tammy (even if only out of morbid curiousity, like I did at first) and loves a fascinating, touching documentary.

Grade: A

Erin Brockovich (2000)

Not bad for a Julia Roberts movie

As you can tell, I am not the world's biggest Julia Roberts fan. I don't hate her guts, or anything, but I generally don't see movies she's in unless they got very good reviews...or were directed by someone I probably can't go wrong with, like Steven Soderberg.

When I first saw trailers for this movie, I was like, oh please. Not only was it a Julia Roberts Vehicle, but there was the extra insult of having it be a big novelty that she played a sorta white-trashy, tough-talking, skanky dressing character. Oh, what a departure! Then I read lots of great reviews from reviewers I trusted, and thought again.

I personally don't think she gave an Oscar-worthy performance, but she did just fine in the role. Erin Brokovich is a single mother who may not have the best social skills, or fashion sense, but her heart is in the right place and she refuses to tolerate injustice when she sees it. Plus, I know how it feels to be in such a b*tchy mood that you can't help wanting to use the f-word in every sentence. She has mouths to feed at home, so she gets a job at a small law firm, and stumbles upon a situation where a large corporation has made a huge f-ck-up, and is being weaselly trying to get out of it.

The fact that this movie is based on a true story and the main character is based on an actual person really helps. Part of what turned me off in the first place was the fact that I thought the filmmakers made Julia Robert's character dress really trampy just to get attention. Now, I do think they over-do it in parts-no intelligent woman walks around in public with 90% of their bra exposed. Especially at work. Unless you work in a srip club. Dressing sexy is one thing, but in real life, women know better than to wear a top that is so hideously mismatched, with a bra showing that isn't even in the same color family, so you like like you were dressed by Ray Charles. Actually, Mr. Charles would probably do a better job.

Also, the main character is not perfect- though her cursing is entertaining, she goes too far in some cases. We all have felt like using 4 -letter words to some of the people we work with to their face, but adults don't do this on a regular basis-or if they do, they are looking for a new job very quickly. Aaron Eckhardt is great in the role of the supportive, yet put-upon biker boyfirend. So nice to see him play a character that is likeable.

A great movie, very entertaining, and actually makes you think that sometimes in life, hard work is rewarded and people get what they deserve-very satisfying. The DVD has some great extras, including a ton of deleted footage that was probably cut for time, but in my opinion should have been left in the movie.

Grade: B+

Enemy of the State (1998)

Much better than I though it would be.

I rented this expecting it to be totally mediocre, but at least worth a 3$ rental. I was pleasantly surprised to find this very watchable, thrilling, and something I'll probably rent again. Will Smith is great and easy on the eyes. The actress who plays his wife, Regina King, almost makes the movie, and has some of the best dialoogue. After se goes to take their kids to a frien's to spend the night, Smith says something to her like, "When you get home, we'll have the house to ourselves. You know what that means!" King: 'Yah, when I get back, you'll have fallen asleep on the couch.

There's a TON of uncredited performances. Why, I don't know. Phillip Baker Hall, Seth Green, Jason Robards, and my favorite, Tom Sizemore as Boss Pintero, who is only seen at his "social club", surrounded by guys with names like Sal and Frankie. (guess what kind of business he is in). All the acting was very good, though Jon Voight has popped up in so many movies lately I am starting to get tired of him.

I didn't figure out how it was going to end, and the final showdown, plus how the main characters outwit the bad guys was great. Tom Sizemore I actually didn't even recognize at first since he's put on so much weight, but as I said, he was fantastic. I give the writers extra points for not going for the cheap shot and having the bad guys kill Gene Hackman's kitty (if they had, I would have only given this movie an F, and probably not watched the rest).

I thought that they did kind of beat you over the head with the "SURVEILLANCE IS BAD" message. After the first half hour it was like, ok, I get the idea guys. The various fictional super-sophisticated tracking devices were cool, and Tony and Ridley Scott always shoot their films beautifully. You could do way, way worse than this movie.

grade: A-

Faculty, The (1998)

Well, if you're going to rip off another movie, at least make it "The Thing"

Not bad at all. I wanted to see this in the theater, but my husband wouldn't go with me, since I'd dragged him to the putrid 'Urban Legend' the month before (I regretted it too). I really wish now I'd seen it in the theater, I still liked it on video but it's one of those 'popcorn' movies

I took points away for it's shamelessly ripping off "The Thing", one of the ten best horror films ever made and also one I've seen over a dozen times. The take-the-test-to-make-sure-the monster-isn't-you scene and the severed head spouting legs and running around, spider-like, are DIRECTLY out of that movie (and so is the character's 'what the f---?' line when he sees it). But if you're going to steal, hey, steal from the best I guess.

I also am not the biggest Kevin Williamson fan in the world, maybe because I'm not in my 20's anymore and I find his aren't-I-clever pop-culture references painful. But those are minor points. I've seen most of the stuff he scripted and this is his best--much more unpredictable. Unfortunately I figured out who the "Queen" alien was before it happened, because I read a semi-spoiler. But in the scene (the one ripped off from The Thing) where all the characters are alone in a room and one-by-one are tested to see if they have the monster in them, the last one I expected is the kid that turned out to be the monster. I'm pretty good at guessing plot twists, so I liked that. Also, I don't think this movie would have been as fun or enjoyable without Robert "Rocket" Rodriguez directing. He just kicks ass

The scenes with the fireworks going off at the football game were beautifully shot, and the monster scenes were also fantastic, especially the shot in the locker room where the monster barrels after the kid and whole banks of lockers go flying through the air. The swimming pool scene was also pretty impressive. Also, maybe it wasn't original compared to, say, those wonderful 80's horror films (man, did I ever get spoiled growing up during that period) such as Re-Animator and The Thing, but compared to most of the teen horror film s--t that has been put out recently that has been so trendy, this is much more original. For instance, the fact that drugs are used as a weapon against the aliens (I think this is what really pissed off so many of the parents who rant about banning the movie) was great and refreshingly un-PC.

The cast was also good, especially most of the Faculty members/aliens such as BeBe Neuwirth and Piper Laurie. The kids were all pretty good actors. The effects were mind-blowing, and I'm glad they mixed animatronics with CGI. I'm noticing less and less animatronics in horror films and more CGI as the years go by, and that kind of disturbs me...I can imagine that years from now, movies will be put out that feature not only CGI effects but CGI actors. No, wait! That just happened. Jesus Christ, I was really hoping that wouldn't happen during my lifetime. Now I'm scaring the hell out of myself.

Also, the fact that if the Queen alien is killed, that the rest of the infected aliens will turn back into the humans they were annoyed me at first, but when I thought back on it was original. Also, it doesn't have one of those lame "the end...or is it?" type endings that leaves room for a sequel. Gotta admire that.

Grade: B-

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