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Review of the day for the week of September 16, 1996.

Monday:
The Fisher King (1991)

Fisher King, The
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One of Terry Gilliam's best works, this compelling fable follows the lives of two down-on-their-luck losers through the streets of New York. Jeff Bridges plays a loathsome Howard Stern-like radio personality, who is driven to the brink of suicide by a recent tragedy, involving one of the frequent callers of his late night talk show. He is saved (somewhat) by a completely insane vagrant (Robin Williams), who believes he's on a quest for the Holy Grail.

Like most of Gilliam's films, the ideas sound nuts at first, but they do suck you in from the first moment. It helps to have incredibly good acting and a hilariously outlandish story on hand. Bridges proves once again that he's one of the greatest actors in American cinema today, and Williams shows that he indeed does have a true dramatic range. The show-stopping performance comes from Mercedes Ruehl, who won an Academy award for her role as Bridges bizarre new age girlfriend, who is trying to save Bridges from a life of misery and self-loathing. Though it's not Gilliam's masterpiece, it certainly is his most ambitious effort. It is depressing at times, but also uplifting in the same instant, and that's what makes the movie so outstanding.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Tuesday:
Yellowbeard (1983)

Yellowbeard
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An incredibly horrid excuse for a comedy, this pirate spoof should have been sent down to Davy Jones locker. The story isn't worth explaining, since it's so damn erratic, you can't tell what's what and who's who most of the time. It's an extraordinary waste of, what would usually be considered, a fine comic cast (Eric Idle, Peter Cook, Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman). Whoever's bright idea this was, that person should have taken a long walk off a short pier.

My Rating = One Star

Rent


Wednesday:
Splitting Heirs (1993)

Splitting Heirs
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The second dumb comedy this week, the story involves a complete loser (Eric Idle), who learns that he is really a man of high nobility. But to regain the title from an American imposter (Rick Moranis), he has to kill him. Considering this story is from the boys who brought us Monty Python, you can expect an assortment of grizzly attempts to off Moranis.

Most of the comedy falls flat on it's face. Idle and Moranis are totally unconvincing in the roles they attempt to play. They also seem to lack comic chemistry, making this tough going for those who hoped for something hysterical. Be sure to watch at your own risk!

My Rating = One Star

Rent


Thursday:
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)

Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The
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From director Terry Gilliam comes this muddled fantasy, based on the classic children's stories. The fabulous Baron (John Neville) is sent into a series of truly odd adventures that take him from the earth to the moon, and back again. Along the way, he comes across his old friends, who have extraordinary powers.

Not as fantastic as one hopes. In fact, it's just downright dull at times, and has too many lapses into long boring scenes. The acting is fine, especially Neville's flamboyant lead performance, but the script is scattershot and the action is overblown. It does have great special effects however, and perhaps that's the sole saving grace of this mess.

My Rating = Two Stars

Rent


Friday:
Brazil (1985)

Brazil
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By far Terry Gilliam's greatest filmwork to date, he introduces us to a visually stunning, totalitarian government that looks like something right out of 1984. Like the George Orwell classic, it deals with a pair of lovers' attempts to escape from this oppressive fascist system. Jonathan Pryce is excellent as the milquetoast worker, who is becoming increasingly disillusioned with his mundane life, and dreams of more exciting adventures. He gets them, when he meets up with his dream girl (Kim Griest) and a slightly looney rebel (Robert De Niro).

A one of a kind motion picture, with a dazzling view of the future, great performances by Pryce, Griest, De Niro and Katherine Helmond is Pryce's mother: The ultimate plastic surgery experiment. You can put this on the list of films to look for on a rainy day.

My Rating = Four Stars

Rent


Saturday:
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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The second film from the bad boys of Britain, this is the most well known of the group's movies. The story is a spoof on the King Arthur legend, and the famous quest for the sacred cup of Christ. The adventures of King Arthur and his motley band take them to strange lands, where they meet even stranger characters.

Full of the usual assortment of gross sight gags and clever manic double-talk, this is certainly one of the group's funniest (if not THE funniest). It gets a tad too bloody at times, but even that can be overlooked, because the great comedy makes up for the gruesome violence. The funniest scene: The ultimate fate of the Black Knight and his various limbs. That scene alone certainly makes this film worth watching.

My Rating = Four Stars

Rent


Sunday:
The Life of Brian (1979)

Life of Brian, The
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Without a doubt Monty Python's most hysterical motion picture by far, this spoof of the life of Christ is bound to offend somebody, somewhere, at some time. People shouldn't take it too seriously. It is a comedy! Graham Chapman plays the title character, a man who is mistaken for the new messiah and whose life takes a turn for the worse because of this misunderstanding.

You wouldn't believe some of the stuff that Britain's bad boys fit into this. The humor is so surprisingly original, that at first you can't help but to stop and ponder the moment. Then a second later, you can't stop yourself from rolling on the ground with laughter. Stay through to the very last scene. The climax is a real gem. Definitely for Python fans. And don't forget the magic words that never fail to get a laugh! "Biggus Dickus".

My Rating = Four Stars

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