Curious Raman Goes to the Movies

by Raman Pfaff
Reprinted from V7N1, June 1994

I don't know if Raman is still curious but he still enjoys the movies. Without a doubt this was one of the best years for the theater in a long time. I know my list won't be complete but I'll mention at least of a few of the ones that stick in my mind. Several of the flicks were based on true events that just boggle the mind about the condition of our society (both past and present). These include Malcom X, In the Name of the Father, and Schindler's List. Others just made me feel good. Movies such as The Fugitive and Jurrasic Park. And others had such quality sewn into them that I will not soon forget them -- Much Ado About Nothing and Remains of the Day. The most recent one I saw was Reality Bites. The story of my life.

This movie is supposed to be based on the typical feelings of Generation X. I don't know exactly who that is (the paper says it's 16-32 year olds) and I'm not exactly sure what the term refers to but after seeing the movie I definitely believe that they have pointed out the problems with our generation rather well. This movie is really a superb work of art that no one should miss. Winona Ryder does an outstanding job portraying a typical person of today. She is an outstanding college graduate who gets out of the classical schooling system and then realizes that in today's world hope is becoming a very difficult thing to find. The current belief which pervades our social mainstream consciousness is that doing well in school leads to a good job, a nice home, and all the good things that go along with life. As many of us now realize, that is not how things work. The movie really portrays life well in it's representation of our thirty second culture. Significance is no longer a pertinent aspect of our being. The movie thoroughly shows how "MTV" has altered the way humans view life around them. It pokes a lot of fun at the standard knowledge which has been gained by our generation -- we know a lot about information. Carl (a.k.a. Spike) and I actually think we live at the end of the information super highway -- the info superdump. The flick is full of laughs (including a mention of Melrose Place -- the ultimate TV show of the Spelling dynasty) and also touches on many of the darker sides of life today including cancer, AIDS, and 1-900 numbers (Spike knows about those). The only gripe I had with this movie is the ending. It was just a bit to good as far as I was concerned. Reality bites and that's how it should have ended. One word of warning though, don't leave when the credits start rolling cause they get one more good jab in at our society.

Another movie from back in the summer was The Fugitive. This was a beautiful remake of the old TV show that ran for many years on NBC. Harrison Ford (as usual) did a great job of portraying a vibrant character full of life with a sharp mind and driven ingenuity. The movie kept you sitting on the edge of your seat for parts and your mind constantly working during other segments. It was a great suspense-action-adventure-thriller. If you are just in the mood for a good flick and don't want to deal with any concerns of society -- then this is a good one to see. I think it just came out on video recently.

Another flick which came out during the summer was Jurrasic Park. This of course is the new highest grossing movie of all time (replacing E.T.). Steven Spielburg did a great job (more on him later) throwing dinosaurs at us in this dino-mite action flick. Many felt this movie was too scary but relative to driving downtown in the evening, this was nothing. The special effects were superb. The dinosaurs looked real to me and I enjoyed the humor that was thrown into the script when least expected. After all, getting chomped by a T. Rex is always fun when on the john.

Now, back to reality (I heard it bites). In the Name of the Father was another well crafted movie. Daniel-Day Lewis performed at Oscar level in this one. The film was based on a true story which shows how societal beliefs can alter people's lives. Emma Thompson truly shows her talents but was used sparingly -- I could have lived with more of her in the flick. The man playing Lewis' father deserves much credit for his portrayal. The emotions shown by the characters really came across well. In one scene Lewis was essentially on his last remaining grain of sanity and stepped across it. It was a powerfully performed scene and will stick in my mind for a long while.

Malcom X was another movie showing what has occurred in this country. Denzel Washington does a superb job in the movie. This movie was a bit on the long side and did seem to drag a bit but was worth seeing. Another movie which had both D. Washington and Emma Thompson was Much Ado About Nothing. Kenneth Branagh does a fantastic job both directing and acting in this film. Emma Thompson shows that she is truly one of the best actors of our generation (see also Remains of the Day). Michael Keaton does a great job with his character and really seems to enjoy it. As the poster declares, this flick has everything in it: romance, mischief, seduction, revenge, and it is remarkable. The dialogue keeps your ears perked up for the entire movie. The soundtrack is marvelous. The ending of this movie makes you feel so good about life. If you want to be cheered up, this is a good one to rent. Maybe there is hope after all. Emma Thompson also showed up in Remains of the Day. She teamed up with Anthony Hopkins again (Howard's End) with the same production team to produce one of the best movies of the year. The acting in this movie was truly the best I can remember. The on screen tension between Hopkins and Thompson was portrayed to a hilt. The movie truly shows that you really only have one chance at happiness in your life and if you miss it you'll be regretting decisions which you made for a long time. The movie was a bit long but the integral quality of this movie keeps life flowing along throughout the entire picture. I would not miss this if I were you.

The other movie I wouldn't miss is Schindler's List. Steven Spielberg directed this one and will most certainly win the Oscar he deserves. This movie is the story of one man who had a large influence on many lives during the horrendous holocaust of WWII. The movie was done in black and white. Color was not necessary to show the events and emotions which took place at this time. This movie will remain a classic and easily stand the test of time. The acting was solid. Spielberg did such a superb job directing this movie that the acting was really subdued by the story being shown to us. The story was truly remarkable. As I'm sure you've probably all heard, you'll need to bring kleenex to this one because it is hard not to cry. It is also difficult to find much wrong with this picture. My only minor complaint was that it did drag a bit in just a few scenes, but perhaps that was a good mental break since this was such a powerful movie.

I now think of a few other movies that I wouldn't miss from this past year. I didn't mean to leave them out and I certainly suggest you see them. Like Water for Chocolate was a brilliant film which I would highly recommend. Also Age of Innocence was well done -- I did have a problem with the ending though; the main character's last line in the book was not said in the movie. I thought that line really was the most significant line of the book. The Piano is a movie which I unfortunately missed (it was only here for about four months) and so I can't wait till it's out on video since I heard it was superb. I also have not yet gotten to Philadelphia which I've also heard is worth not missing.

I'm sure I've forgotten to mention a few others so I'm sorry about that but as I said, I think this was one of the best years ever for going out to the movies. As far as the Oscars go, I would give the director to Steven Spielburg for Schindler's List. I would give Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins the Oscars they deserve for Remains of the Day. By the time you read this that will be decided so we'll see how well I did with my pick. I wouldn't skip seeing any of the movies that I've mentioned here. Curious Raman must now go back to the movies (maybe I'll go see Blue)

hope to see you at the movies

[In the next issue, Curious Raman reviews the eclectic Belle Poque -- and hot summer flix of 1994. -ed]

Last Updated 04/13/95.© 1996 PPSA