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Reviews for the week of February 21, 2000.

Monday:
The Beach

The Beach
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It's a shame that although Leonardo DiCaprio is a terrific actor, The Beach is not a terrific movie.

DiCaprio is Richard, a twenty year old English tourist visiting Bangkok. While staying in a fleabag motel, he meets a decidedly stoned visitor named Daffy. Daffy tells Richard about a beautiful beach where an unlimited supply of marijuana grows - sort of a pothead's paradise. Shortly before killing himself, Daffy leaves a map to the idyllic beach on Richard's door.

Soon, Richard and his new friends, a French couple Francoise (Virgine Ledoyen) and Etienne (Guillaume Canet), head out to the beach, where they discover something reminiscent of a hippie commune - a group of youngish adults who smoke pot all day and basically don't do anything else. Life is a continual vacation there, so they decide to stick around.

Unfortunately, Richard left a copy of the map for two Bangkok potheads who now want to join the "beach resort". And that could get everyone on the beach murdered by their friendly neighbors - a group of marijuana farmers who want to keep the local population down - and protect their crops.

Audio VersionThe Beach is not an exciting thriller as the previews would have you believe. DiCaprio is a skilled actor, and he looks great with his shirt off, but the plot leaves much to be desired. Richard's expected romance with Francoise is pitifully predictable; I feel sorry for the guy who wrote this script.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Isn't She Great?

Isn't She Great?
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Isn't She Great is an easy, laughable comedy about real life author Jackie Suzanne.

Jackie (Bette Midler) desperately desired to be a famous actress in the 1950's, but her career went nowhere - even with the help of her agent - who also happened to be her devoted, doting husband (Nathan Lane). Finally, he suggested she write a book - "Just write about what you know".

What Jackie knew was show business - especially the less publicized sleazy side of show business. It was a natural move for her to write a deeply, profane novel about actresses overdosing on pills and sleeping with directors to win roles. (Probably, her best friend and actress - comically portrayed by Stockard Channing - was the basis of a few book characters.)

Unfortunately, the first few publishers Jackie approached said no to her book - they decided it was too sensational. Eventually, she found a publisher to print the book, and, thanks to a great publicity campaign, it became a bestseller.

Audio VersionThe hilarious comedy is tempered by some serious scenes - (Jackie is depressed because her only son is autistic, and later she gets cancer), that are skillfully performed. But overall, "Isn't She Great?" is the perfect movie, if you're looking for a good laugh.

My Rating = Four Stars

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