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Review of the day for the week of January 5, 1998.

Monday:
Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire
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An avid Anne Rice fan, I rented Interview with the Vampire in hopes that I would be spared the agony of watching yet another wonderful work of literature be butchered and revised beyond any recognition for the silver screen.

I needn't have worried - this movie has had some changes made, but resembles the original story closely enough so that it didn't lose its appeal.

Tom Cruise, who stars as my favorite vampire book hero, Lestat, is hardly recognizable underneath mounds of white makeup. Brad Pitt looks even ghastlier as Louis, Lestat's protege. In 1791, Lestat turns Louis into a vampire, and Louis, who has much respect for human life, is angry and resentful. (Having read other books in the series, I can tell you that Lestat felt much the same way after he became a vampire, but this film doesn't tell you much about Lestat's past.) The story continues on about Lestat's and Louis' adventures and leads up to the 1980's.

My one problem with this excellent movie is that it's more about Louis than Lestat, whom I find a trifle more diverting. Of course, I already knew the point of the movie. Anyone who's read a lot of horror novels knows this one: immortals may live forever, but they're really miserable because they're never at peace with themselves. This is a very interesting premise for both books and movies, and I just hope that more of Rice's novels make it to the movies.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Christine

Christine
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Stephen King has written about serial killers, werewolves, telekinetic teenagers, and every other kind of horror you can imagine. In his book Christine, on which the movie Christine was based, he tackles yet another possible way of inducing nightmares: an evil car.

Unpopular Arnie Cunningham has always been the school dork - always having his lunch stolen, being beaten up by bullies, and generally having fun poked at him. Fortunately, he has his best friend Dennis to stick up for him - and Dennis does try to talk him out of a bad decision. But when Arnie sees an old car that is nothing less than a complete and total piece of junk, he has to have it. Soon, Arnie becomes obsessed with the car (which he names Christine), spending most of his spare time fixing it up, and suddenly he goes from being the school joke to a popular, handsome guy who even wins the attention of the school's beautiful new student, Leigh.

Soon both Dennis and Leigh decide something must be wrong with Arnie - and Christine. Leigh almost chokes to death on a hamburger while sitting in Christine, and suspects that the car caused her to choke. They discover that several other people previously died in the car - could it be haunted?

Meanwhile, Christine kills several people on her own (she drives herself around and spontaneously repairs her own damages, how about that!) and Arnie becomes more and more possessed. Can Leigh and Dennis save him?

There were some changes, and a few parts were cut out of the story, but for the most part, King's brilliant work was left unaltered. The actors were well cast in their roles, and the movie, while not actually scary, was quite engaging.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting
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Brilliantly acted and co-written by Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting, a spectacular film, is sure to win many accolades and rave reviews.

So I'll get started with my rave review. Damon plays Will Hunting, a young man from a rotten neighborhood who has a police record and little formal education, but, nonetheless, is a mathematical genius. Robin Williams portrays Sean, Will's therapist. What I love about Williams' character is that he's not the all-together, well-adjusted shrink you see in most movies; he has issues to work out as well, speaks honestly to Will even reverting to swearing when appropriate - all of which makes him more real and less stereotypical.

A subplot develops about Will's relationship with a rich Harvard - student girl, but the story is mainly about Will's fear of success, and the teachers who try to help him. Although it's primarily a serious story, much comic relief is provided via Robin Williams and Damon's friends which makes for a good combination (much like Damon's last excellent movie, The Rainmaker).

The well written story, as well as the strongly developed characters were tremendously impressive and left you wondering if Matt Damon perhaps has a screenwriting career in his future.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Thursday:
Risky Business

Risky Business
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The movie Risky Business is so old, Tom Cruise is barely recognizable, but his acting is as good as ever.

Cruise plays a high school senior whose parents leave him alone for a week, so a friend decides to send a prostitute to his house. While Cruise is trying to dig up some money to pay her, she steals his mother's prized possession, a rather expensive glass egg. Cruise and his friends chase her, trying to get the egg back, and they wind up in more trouble and he accidentally sinks his father's expensive car in a lake. What a mess! The hooker convinces him to set up his friends with her friends (all prostitutes too, of course) and offers to split the profits with him.

This absurd film was quite entertaining, even more so than some of Cruise's later films, such as Mission Impossible. And Tom Cruise was even better looking when he was younger, too - I think I'll rent some of his other early movies, if I figure out which ones they were.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
The English Patient

The English Patient
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Although I seldom enjoy historical fiction movies, The English Patient ranks up there with Titanic for historical romance movies that remain both entertaining and original.

Juliette Binoche plays Hana, a World War II nurse caring for the English Patient (Ralph Fiennes). Found in the desert, scarred beyond recognition and suffering from amnesia, this patient has only one clue to his past: a book which was found with him. Paging through this book, he begins having flashbacks of things that happened to him, and the story of his affair with a married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas) begins to slowly unfold.

Cleverly done, this film doesn't give you the whole story all at once, but gives you a lot to mull over while it slowly unravels. The end is original enough to make it one of those stories that sticks with you - I saw it in theatres early last year and haven't forgotten a detail yet.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Saturday:
I.Q.

I.Q.
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This ridiculously unrealistic movie provides little entertainment value for anyone with an I.Q. higher than one.

Meg Ryan plays an intelligent but ditsy scientist (aren't those two traits mutually exclusive?) who falls for an auto mechanic, despite the fact that she is already engaged to another scientist. And, oh yes, you're expected to believe that her elderly uncle (Walter Matthau) happens to be Albert Einstein.

There are a few mildly amusing lines at the beginning, but it soon turns into an all-too- predictable litany of stupid lines that fail to be laughable. It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out exactly how it's going to end either. Whoever wrote it must not have been too bright!

My Rating = One Star

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Sunday:
Emma

Emma
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Although I could not immerse myself in the book, Emma I thoroughly enjoyed the movie version of this delightful old English tale.

Gwyneth Paltrow portrays Emma, a young woman who has no plans to marry, but loves to play matchmaker for her friends. You can probably tell what happens next - Paltrow accidentally winds up matchmaking for herself. But things can get complicated, and Emma gets into some sticky situations, and not all of the romances she is responsible for work out. Will hers?

The quaint English accents are easy on the ears yet aren't hard to understand, and the acting is excellent. Maybe I was entertained because I never read the book and didn't know what was going to happen, yet I found the story to be well plotted and very amusing.

My Rating = Three Stars

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