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The Big Lebowski (1998)
A celebration of the ultimate man, nay, the ultimate dude
I'd heard a lot of bad press about this movie. Not as good as Fargo, was a much used phrase. I wasn't overly impressed with Fargo, the atmosphere just didn't click for me, but anyway, that made me a little apprehensive about this.
It's easily better than Fargo, IMHO, and it's right up there with Barton Fink or Miller's Crossing. A true comedy classic with so many memorable lines and characters, but it's the movie's atmosphere which is so truly joyous, a wonderful celebration of basically doing nothing. Achieving one's goals is important, yes, but it's okay to set them low, is what I perceived this movie to be saying. As long as one is basically a good guy, then that's enough. Well, that's what it seemed like to me, and it was expressed so beautifully in the stunning cast of grotesques, lovely music ( although more Burwell would have been nice ), and the trippiest, funniest, most absurd dream sequences you've ever seen. Great stuff.
Big Night (1996)
A wonderful tale of humanity and risotto
Delightful and visually spectacular in equal amounts, Big Night is a wonderful feat of acting, scripting, and remarkable directing. All the principles turn in superb performances, notably Shalhoub as the under-appreciated Primo, and the script dazzles with line after line of wit and depth. But it is in the directing, the sumptuous colours and convincing verisimilitude that are what shine in this movie. Essentially, the movie is about the artistry within food, and this is beautifully realised in every regard. The period is evoked perfectly, and what is most appealing is the length between cuts, the consummate skill that has gone into each and every scene. A delight.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Wannabe adult Disney fails badly...
A massively over-hyped piece of faux-adult entertainment. The scripting ranges from awkward, to laughably inept. The songs, in addition to being totally out of place, are completely forgettable. The acting is wretched for the main part, with a stand-out performance by Patrick Stewart. The animation is generally quite good, but lacks the vivacity of a Disney production, which the film is obviously trying to compete with. The computer animated parts are very effective, but are integrated very poorly with the cel animation, especially in the Red Sea sequence. Backgrounds are extremely patchy. But, for the most part, the movie is guilty of the worst cinematic crime of all; of being very, very boring. The entire film contains two compelling scenes: The taking of the first born, and the crossing of the Red Sea. These two scenes possess the grandeur necessary of such a powerful story, but elsewhere, the movie is very wanting. Very disappointing.