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Reviews for the week of January 11, 2000.

Monday:
The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley
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The Talented Mr. Ripley might just as well have been titled The Talented Matt Damon, because it displays his marvelous depth in acting abilities.

Damon, as Tom Ripley, impersonates several other characters besides Dickie Greenleaf - so he ends up playing numerous roles.

Tom Ripley is a highly talented forger and con man. While borrowing a musician's jacket, Tom is hired to go to Europe by Herbert Greenleaf and retrieve his son, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) a rich adult who has no intention of returning to the states. It's an attractive arrangement for Tom Ripley - a trip to Italy, plus a thousand dollars for the errand.

But Dickie has no intention of leaving Italy - or his fiance Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), so Tom is forced to admit failure and return to New York - Dickie's dad won't send any more money. Unwilling to leave the good life in Europe, Tom kills Dickie and assumes his life. That is, he tells people who have never met Dickie that he is Dickie Greenleaf; meanwhile, he is still Tom to the people who knew Dickie, including Marge. He arranges a suicide note from Dickie, hinting that Tom should get Dickie's inheritance - or at least a good portion of it.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a clever, intriguing film about a fabulous deceiver, imposter and fraud - which is played by fabulous actor, Matt Damon. The rest of the cast is excellent, also.

Audio VersionI also enjoy movies where the bad guy gets away with everything through quick thinking and brilliant scheming. This type of plot is much more original than the standard bad-guy-gets-caught-and-goes-to-jail story.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Friday:
Cider House Rules

Cider House Rules
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Cider House Rules opens like Annie minus the music, with lots of children in an early 1900's orphanage.

The main character is Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) an orphan who is never successfully adopted, so he grows up at the orphanage. Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), the kind old country doctor in charge of the orphanage, trains Homer to be an obstetrician/pediatrician. That includes performing abortions, which Homer refuses to do.

When he's about eighteen, Homer decides to leave the orphanage with an unmarried couple, who dropped in for a quick abortion. While traveling back to their hometown with them, Homer learns that the man is in the Air Force - that means he will shortly be flying off to a mission in Burma, leaving his girlfriend Candy (Charlize Theron) alone.

"I'm not good at being alone", Candy complains. She sure has that right. About five minutes after bidding Boyfriend a fond adieu, she's in the sack with Homer.

Meanwhile, Dr. Larch wants Homer to return to the orphanage and work as a doctor (despite the fact that Homer lacks M.D. credentials).

Cider House Rules isn't particularly entertaining; the plot was terribly blatant, and none of the characters were intriguing.

My Rating = One Star

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