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Review of the day for the week of October 27, 1997.

Monday:
Scream

Scream
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Scream is a scream. This horrifically wonderful bloodbath of a movie is perfect for Halloween night - or anytime.

A high school student named Casey is brutally murdered, mutilated, and left hanging from a tree. Sydney Prescott, another high school student, whose mother was murdered a year earlier, is targeted next, alone at home- just like Casey was. When Sydney's boyfriend shows up unannounced, the killer is scared away, but is still on the loose. By that night, several more people have been murdered. Sydney, her boyfriend, and her friend Tatum attend a party where everyone gets drunk while watching horror movies; naturally, the killer makes an appearance. Meanwhile, a snoopy reporter looks for the scoop - and gets more than she bargained for.

This classic "whodunit" mystery is comically gory in some scenes, and unoriginal in others, but at no point is the ending obvious. The everybody-stabbing-everybody-blood-all-over-the-place chaos at the end gets a little old, but what can you expect? It's a horror movie, and a darn good one.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
Aliens

Aliens
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In preparation for the new Alien: Resurrection movie opening soon, I'm watching all the Alien movies in order. This second one, Aliens, while slightly less engaging than the first movie, because it has more cheesy special effects and less plot, is still outrageously entertaining.

Ellen Ripley, hero of the first movie, Alien returns, after aimlessly drifting around space for fifty-seven years while in a deep hypersleep. Plagued by nightmares of the horrendous monsters she defeated, she is at first adamantly against returning to LV-426, the planet where her former crewmates discovered these monsters. LV-426 is now colonized, and there have been no problems, but suddenly earth is unable to reach LV-426, and a space program consultant who previously disbelieved and mocked Ripley's account of her adventures now begs her to return. After many protestations, Ripley agrees, and the fun begins. No one on LV-426 appears to have survived except for a little girl named Newt. Ripley befriends Newt, while she and her new crewmates continue to search for aliens.

Seek and ye shall find. Of course they encounter the aliens -the movie wouldn't be called Aliens if they didn't. Anyway, this results in yet another fierce battle for Ellen Ripley. Somewhere in the middle of all the slime and machine-gun blasts, she develops a romance with Sergeant Hicks, one of her crewmates. This is rather annoying, as no one wants a love story in the middle of a science-fiction flick, but fortunately, not too much time is spent on this subplot romance, so the movie doesn't suffer too much for it.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
The Firm

The Firm
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Although the movie versions of stories 'based on books" usually get on my nerves, The Firm is an exception.

. Sexy Tom Cruise portrays Mitch McDeere, a young lawyer barely out of Harvard law school, who's graduating in the top five percent of his class, and therefore is offered a job with literally every law firm around. After carefully considering all his offers, he accepts a job with a Memphis firm that will pay him nearly a hundred thousand dollars his first year, plus lease him a new Mercedes and provide him with a big, fancy house. However, once settled in, he begins having suspicions about the firm, which are later confirmed for him by the FBI: The firm is run by a Mafia family. Mitch can either copy incriminating files for the FBI or later go to jail with his colleagues. If he tries to leave the firm he'll be murdered; if he refuses to help the FBI, his jailbird brother will never get paroled; and, oh yeah, his wife's decided to leave him. Nope, things aren't going too well for Mitch after all.

Naturally, Tom Cruise's acting was superb; all the other performances especially Jeanne Tripplehorn"s and Gene Hackman's were excellent.

Good plot, plus great acting performances make this lengthy but thrilling film a good choice to rent.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
A Life Less Ordinary

A Life Less Ordinary
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This hilariously ludicrous film, A Life Less Ordinary kept me laughing, only because it was so preposterous.

Cameron Diaz plays the bizarrely kooky daughter of a ridiculously rich businessman. Example: she likes to shoot apples off people's heads, and when her annoying fiance accidentally moves while posing for her, she shoots him through the head! - by accident, of course.

Enter Jake, a janitor at her father's office building. Enraged because he has been replaced by a robot, he visits her father, who is in the middle of chewing her out. When Jake kidnaps her, a romance develops, and she decides to stick with Jake, even though she has many opportunities to escape.

I have two problems with this: one, nobody would be crazy enough to pass up an opportunity to escape their abductor, even a non-violent, totally stupid one like Jake. Two, this struck me as very reminiscent of Alicia Silverstone's latest endeavor, Excess Baggage. Although A Life Less Ordinary had even more laughably outrageous scenes than Excess Baggage, the premise was almost identical, and the end pretty obvious.

Still, there's enough laughable "filler" in this movie to make it worthwhile.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
Gattaca

Gattaca
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Don't let the previews fool you. This is less of a science-fiction thriller and more of an achievement story - the "you-can-do-anything-if-you-try" type that I find so maddening. The end is painfully obvious, and it feels like someone's trying to hammer his point into your head with a sledgehammer.

Ethan Hawke does a serviceable, if not completely convincing, acting job as Vincent, a man who can't succeed because of his genetic makeup. That's right, according to this movie, in the not so distant future, your DNA will determine everything - any minor health flaws, and you're destined for a lousy life. Even if there's a slight possibility that you could one day develop a health problem, you're still considered low-class. Determined to beat the system and be blasted into space to visit Titan, one of Saturn's moons, Vincent takes over high-class citizen Jerome Morrow's identity. For this he needs Morrow's blood and urine, plus lots of high-tech medical equipment. With Morrow's cooperation, he gets into Gattaca, an elite space program that is something like a farther advanced NASA.

I personally was more interested in what he might find on Titan - unusual aliens would have been interesting - than if or how he arrived there. If you're big on personal achievement stories, you might be less bored than I was.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Saturday:
Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility
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Although movies based on novels slated as classics usually aren't my forte, I thoroughly enjoyed the new movie, Sense and Sensibility.

Handsome Hugh Grant sets off the complicated, well-written plot as Edward Ferris, the charming, rich, young bachelor that penniless Miss Eleanor Dashwood falls for in a big way. Unfortunately, Miss Dashwood learns that Edward is secretly engaged to another woman - and has been secretly engaged for four years. Eleanor's heart is broken.

Meanwhile, Eleanor's younger sister, Mariann, accidentally meets a man named Willoughby. She falls for him in a big way and, is soon maddened to learn that her guy - Willoughby - is in love with another woman. Not only that, but a much older neighbor is expressing a romantic interest in her.

The movie is made even more enthralling by Miss Jeninngs, your stereotypical big, fat, busybody.

Definitely see this delightfully classic movie to find out. It's such a treasure of a movie, mmm... I think I'll read the book now....

My Rating = Three Stars

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Sunday:
Magic in the Water

Magic in the Water
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Magic in the Water is a comfortable, easy-going family movie. Divorced Jack Black spends little time with his two kids, so he agrees to take them on a vacation - to a rustic cabin by a lake. Once there,he pays no attention to them. Ashley (10 years old) soon discovers a lake monster named Orky, and she feeds him Oreos. Her older brother, Josh (Joshua Jackson) only wants to go for a boat ride. An accident occurs, and Jack's body becomes inhabited by Orky - the sea monster. But the legendary lake monster is sick because two creeps are polluting his lake. Can the Blacks save Orky? Or will Orky perish in the chemicals that the lake is now made of? Will the villains be beat? This is a gentle, mild sort of family movie. Very relaxing, and fun for little kids. I recommend it for families with small children.

My Rating = Three Stars

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