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The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004]
The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Al Pacino
Price: £7.82

174 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT PRODUCTION AND GREAT CAST MAKE "MERCHANT" MUST SEE, 19 Feb. 2005
"The Merchant of Venice" has undoubtedly become the most controversial play in Shakespeare's repertoire. Therefore, the first task of any modern adaptation is confronting the anti-Jewish bigotry that moves its plot and informs its poetry.
Director Michael Radford approaches the problem of Shylock (Al Pacino) by placing the character in context. This is accomplished by early making clear to us that the story takes place in "Venice, 1596." Although Shakespeare would not have announced this as the actors took their places on the stage of The Globe Theater, the movie's titles offer background about the marginal status and civic oppression of that city's Jewish population. Of course, just as in other parts of Europe, Venetian Jews were forced to practice usury because they were legally barred from most other ways of earning a living. In 1596, lending money at interest -- vital in the economy of the city-state and its merchants -- was something Christians wouldn't be caught dead doing. At the time, pimping and prostitution were considered much loftier occupations.
Still, none of this explains Shylock's character. Nor does it soften the taint of blood libel in Shakespeare's play. The only real choices for Radford were either to simply not to make "The Merchant of Venice" or to permit its uglier qualities to continue to complicate its wonderful rhetoric and brilliant examination of law, loyalty, the ethics of making promises -- and even issues of empathy, sympathy, and mercy. Redford decided to make the movie.
The movie has a bumpy beginning. Well of course, Shakespeare's 16th century dramas take longer in getting to the point than do 21st centiry movies. Today's audiences are used to having everything defined and in place after the first 10 minutes. But Radford, who wrote the screenplay, succeeds in making the story's complexities clear and vigorous. Too many modern productions of Shakespeare's plays push them into a contrived modern setting or chase after an irrelevant authenticity. But Radford [vitally aided by production designer Bruno Rubeo and the unbelievably talented cinematographer Benoît Delhomme] ingeniously bring us Shakespeare through the eyes of his artistic peers and contemporaries.
In this rendering of "The Merchant ...," Shylock's tragic grief is emphasized more than his predatory viciousness. His estrangement from the other characters makes sense because Shylock is, after all, an outsider who delivers much rougher verses than do his privileged, establishment Christian antagonists.
A depressed Antonio, the titled merchant, is quietly made to penetrate our consciousness by Joseph Fiennes, as his young friend Bassanio (whose courtship of Portia causes Antonio to mortgage his infamous pound of flesh to Shylock), speaks his lines beautifully. Fiennes is, nevertheless, upstaged by Kris Marshall, his feisty second, Gratiano, and also by Lynn Collins. She brings a radiant authority to her portrayal of Portia. Collins' charisma is vital for Radford in making his movie-play effective. Portia must convincingly both be a shrewd seductress and also an exacting ethicist. Her defeat of Shylock is among the great courtroom scenes in recent movies -- presented as an intense, emotionally boiling cauldron of cruelty and beauty. Like most of the rest of Radford's carefully creative interpretation of this impossible play, his Portia comes across with fresh dramatic intensity -- while her well lighted and photographed beauty are a banquet for our eyes.
Shakespeare's "Merchant" was trimmed by Radford to a manageable movie length and, for the most part, it is faithful in letter and spirit to the original play. Radford's 21st century version is exciting and completely entertaining -- and you won't want to miss it.


The Luzhin Defence [DVD] [2000]
The Luzhin Defence [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ John Turturro
Price: £4.48

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TREACHERY AND LOVE COMPETE FOR CHESS GENIUS' LIFE, 19 Feb. 2005
The talented John Turturro and Emily Watson head an excellent cast delicately directed by Marleen Gorris to tell the story of THE LUZHIN DEFENCE. The Russian chess genius, Luzhin is believably played by Turturro whose range is unbelievably broad and convincing.
Story: Alexander (Sacha) Luzhin, a disheveled and erratic chess master [reminiscent of the main character, musical genius in SHINE] arrives at a resort in the Italian Lakes to compete in the world chess championships. He had visited the same resort many years earlier with his cold and distant parents who we meet in frequent flashbacks. Childhood memories disturb Luzhin during his stay. Among the guests at the resort is the beautiful Natalia (Watson), hounded by her mother (Geraldine James) to the search for a class perfect husband. Believing the handsome Stassard (Christopher Thompson) is the perfect candidate, Natalia's mother is horrified when she pursues a relationship with Luzhin after he spontaneously declares his love for her and he proposes marriage to her across a fence at a tennis court. As the final contest of the chess tournament approaches, Luzhin's treacherous former mentor Valentinov (Stuart Wilson) arrives at the resort and plots to destroy his game; and, indeed, his life.
Alexander's complicated relationships with Natalia, his parents and his mentor are all explored in the movie. But only one is explored to a satisfactory level -- his relationship with chess itself. The movie is reduced by some flawed stereotypes such as the villainous Valentinov and the society-obsessed mother. These distract from what is essentially a dark story of humans using each other as pawns in a game. Also on the negative side of the ledger is the absurd inaccuracey of the Lanc Hid (Chain Bridge) juxtaposed with the Millenium Park in Budapest, Hungary. The two places are several miles apart but in THE LUZHIN DEFENCE, Director Gorris changes the city for the sake of a departure shot. That' simply not honest.
On the positive side, the rhythms of Vladimir Nabokov's prose (in a screenplay by Peter Berry) conveys the the sad, sometimes comic, story. Luzhin's White Russian emigre class are a people so cultivated and refined that wherever they travel they feel at home. But for poor Luzhin, his crippling by neuroses will not allow him to participate in this life. Turturro, as usual, is superb. He could have turned Luzhin into a highly amusing freak show, and it would have been great fun but it would have ruined the movie. He keeps Luzhin's pathos clearly in focus. We can feel the torment that Luzhin undergoes so crushingly that we must admire his noble battle to stand up to oppressors not only all around him, but from his own mind. Turturro's tenderness, even romance are not associated with any of his earlier works. It's a great performance in a hypnotic movie.
This movie is worth seeing because of its ethereal novelty and virtuoso performances by Turturro and Watson.


Das Boot [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Das Boot [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Jürgen Prochnow

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DESTINED TO BECOME A CLASSIC, 14 Jan. 2005
Some reviewers have said this is an "anti-war" movie. That may be optimistic. Maybe it is a movie about the misery of being a submariner on a suicide mission near the end of a war they know has been lost. But I think director Wolfgang Petersen tried and succeeded in presenting an honest portrayal of the once proud German "wolf pack" U-boat hunters of the sea who would sink anything afloat for the Fatherland.
Exhausted and demoralized men, the film opens with their drunken cabaret party in occupied France just before they ship out on yet another mission. The tough, thoughtful captain played by Jürgen Prochnow is becoming contemplative. He loves his men, and he seems certain each mission will be their last. Yet he is the strictly by the book warrior who will follow his orders to the end.
What carries the film is the conflict between military commeraderie and purpose, combined with certain failure and danger, and imminent death under the sea. Yes there is an undercurrent throughout DAS BOOT of repressed contempt by the U-boat captain for the Nazis, their discredited ideology and even Hitler and his henchmen. But one cannot help wondering whether this is part of loyalty to the truth of the actual U-boat officers' attutudes to the politicians in Berlin in 1945 ... or a contemporary impulse to be politically correct in Germany of the late 20th Century.
The combination of superb acting and unbelievably skillful camera work aboard an actual submarine made this among the 20th Century's most outstanding war films from any country. Also it froze in time a group of mostly young and bewildered submariners who had to function highly efficiently while at the same time, nearly constantly paralyzed by fear.
There is some glory and very much sadness and tragedy in DAS BOOT. Mainly, the film exhibits the terrifying absurdity of life on a German U-boat at the end of the Third Reich, lived by gallant but doomed young men ... and that of their leaders who while not much older than their subordinates have been made ancient by their ordeals in warfare. This film is intense and continually absorbing. No one can be indifferent while viewing DAS BOOT. A real spellbinder.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2010 11:43 AM BST


Chicken Run [DVD] [2000]
Chicken Run [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Mel Gibson (voice)
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £6.37

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST ANIMATION FILM FOR **GROWNUPS** (!) IN YEARS, 14 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Chicken Run [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Oddly, CHICKEN RUN has been mainly marketed for children. This sophisticated barnyard action-adventure film can no doubt delight a child. But adults will get even more out of it. The story, dialogue, animation and prominent off screen actors are terrific.
Ginger (Julia Sawalha's voice) is a fiesty English hen who has been plotting to escape from the Tweedy Chicken Farm. She can't stand the oppressively "de-chickenizing" working conditions. The wickedly, bottom-line obsessed Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson) literally makes fried chicken our of "anyone" who is not effcicient and productive. The product is eggs. But soon the egg market takes a hit and profits fall. Wicked Mrs. Tweedy decides to turn the farm into a factory that produces chicken-pie!
Now Ginger must get out or else get put into a pie. Then the devil-may-care circus American Flying Rooster (Mel Gibson's voice) urges the chickens to escape by flying out to safety. Rooster will teach them to fly. And so it is a matter of the two ringleaders succeeding against all odds to save their fellow foul.
The animation is an amazing dazzling feast for the eye. Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park skillfully take the audience through this feathery adventure, managing with excellent and witty dialogue to keep our interest up from beginning to end. There is no doubt that children will love it. But I expect adults to love it even more. This is one of those rare, gripping action-adventure [without SEX and VIOLENCE!] that children and grownups can enjoy together. Wow ... what a novel idea.
This extraordinarily well made animated film is highly recommended for all viewers ... but they must be accompanied by a child!


L.A. Confidential [1997] [DVD]
L.A. Confidential [1997] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kevin Spacey
Price: £4.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST FAST PACED CRIME THRILLER OF THE 1990s, 14 Jan. 2005
Curtis Hanson proved he's both a great director and auteur by turning James Ellroy's terrifying novel about corruption and crime among members of the LAPD in the 1950s into one of the best movies of the 1990s. Perhaps the most fascinating detective film since Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil," the casting is brilliant. Corruption runs amok in the L.A. police department only to be exposed by an eager, politically sophisticated, smart young cop Ed Exley (well played by Guy Pearce).
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL was produced with an exceptionally strong cast. Kim Basinger plays a wordly prostitute (Lynn Bracken) with a heart of gold and mind of steel. Strong in her character's every nuance, the viewer forgets Basinger is acting. She earned her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Kevin Spacey plays a sleazy detective who improbably solves an important part of a complex murder mystery. Russell Crowe was this film's wild card showing how a relatively unknown American actor at the time, got the leading part in such an important and expensive films such as "The Insider" and "Gladiator." Crowe plays the violent detective driven by his compulsion to protect abused women. The excellent supporting cast includes Danny DeVito (Sid), David Strathairn (Pierce Patchett), Ron Rifkin (D.A. Ellis Loew) and Matt McCoy (Brett Chase).
Quite a few reviewers flatteringly compared L.A. CONFIDENTIAL with Humphrey Bogart's Film Noir "The Maltese Falcon." It is a murder mystery with surprises, many twists and turns, and satisfactorily becomes resolved with a little bit of optimism for justice triumphing over corruption; barely. Very many 1997 film goers felt cheated that the movie "Titanic" took away Academy Awards that rightfully belonged to L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. That is easy to understand because 'CONFIDENTIAL is really THAT good!


America & The Holocaust [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
America & The Holocaust [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Hal Linden

5.0 out of 5 stars SAD DOCUMENTARY ON AMERICA'S REFUSING TO SAVE JEWS, 14 Jan. 2005
This very well made documentary, AMERICA AND THE HOLOCAUST was part of the made for television series, "The American Experience." Partly narrated by of one of three children of the German Jewish Klein family who in 1936 emigrated to the United States, we are taken through developments in Germany leading to the "Final Soluton." Then the youngest member of the Klein children, William, our story teller was 16. We are shown the parallel developments in anti-Semitic actions in Germany and America; both in public and behind closed government doors during the 1930s and 1940s. Archival footage of the American Nazi Bundt's rallies and several pictures of "restricted" resorts and beaches ["no Jews or dogs allowed"] provide the chilling backdrop of American anti-Semitism.
The now aged William Klein tells us through his family and official government letters of his sibs' endless struggle, beginning right after the Nazis' Krystall Nacht in 1938, to get his parents out of Germany and then France (where the Nazis deported them to a concentration camp). Yet the U.S. State Department set up insurmountable barriers for William's parents. Former government officials interviewed for this film confirm on camera that there were deliberate policies to reduce or stop the flow of Jews into the United States. It is furthmore clearly shown that although American journalists, governmenet officials and military personnel knew very well since 1940-41 of Germany's plan to round up and murder all of Eastern and Western Europe's Jews, helping these victims of Nazi genocide was not a priority. The struggle to save Europe's Jews was not only vigorously promoted by American Jewish organizations. As the documentary shows, a significant number of Christians in the government heroically struggled to save these people. Alas, even at the highest levels, President Franklin D. Roosevelt could not be persuaded to intervene in beginning to stop by 1942 the by then well known Jewish genocidal program assigned to the notorious Gestapo's Einsatzgruppen.
Official excuses for America doing nothiug to save Europe's Jews, even by purchasing their freedom in Romania for $50 each, ranged from the mission being "impossible" to reluctance to allow our World War II enemies to gain a financial advantage from such a rescue program. [While the film did not make the point, American corporations were secretly doing big industrial business, honoring their lucrative pre-war contracts with Hitler's Germany from 1942 until the war's end ... to the deadly disadvantage of our fighting men and women. Order from Amazon.Com: "Trading With The Enemy: An Exposé of the Nazi-American Money Plot, 1933-1949," by Charles Higham].
Meanwhile, just three weeks before their visa to America was finally approved (after three years of stalling), mother and father Klein are transported by the Nazis from France to Auschwitz. In early 1943, William joins the U.S. Army and fights his way across Europe. We are shown U.S.Air Force reconnaissance footage taken through the bomb sight as bombs fall over Auschwitz from a group of eight American bombers. The cluster of falling bombs are not targeted at the smoking crematory ovens clearly visible in the film, but rather at the German chemical factory in Auschwitz just five miles away. The narrator explains that officially, the U.S. War Department's position was that bombing the Auschwitz death camp was "impossible." [the narrator points out, during the Auschwitz chemical plant bombing mission, one bomb went astray landing in the death camp and killed 85 inmates and several of their Nazi guards]. Meanwhile, for purely political reasons Roosevelt establishes a special refugee agency (understaffed and underfunded) for rescuing Jews. He put this in place only days before an upcoming vote in Congress would have done the same thing. Obviously, if Roosevelt had done this two years earlier for humanitarian reasons then it is estimated that as many as 1 million Jews could have been saved.
As Germany loses the war, William is among the American soldiers who liberates surviving Jews from concentration camps in Czechoslovakia. Among them is a young woman near death ..... who will become his wife. AMERICA AND THE HOLOCAUST has a bittersweet human ending, but it gives one pause to wonder why it is that when it comes to saving innocent human lives the United States is both capable of great feats of bravery and commitment b but also deceit and indifference.
This is an excellent, historical film that is very worthwhile purchasing and studying individually and in groups.


Platinum-Based Drugs in Cancer Therapy (Cancer Drug Discovery and Development)
Platinum-Based Drugs in Cancer Therapy (Cancer Drug Discovery and Development)
by Lloyd R. Kelland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £173.00

5.0 out of 5 stars VALUABLE MONOGRAPH FOR CANCER RESEARCHERS, 14 Jan. 2005
When I purchased this book, my intention was to "quickly" get into platinum research after spending several years with the anthracyclines (dauno- and doxorubicin). There is an enormous amount of literature on platinum chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and cancer chemotherapy. What I needed was a reliable, up-to-date practical overview of the field. The book editors working via a British-American collaboration, Loyd R. Kelland and Nicholas Farrell perfectly met and exceeded my requirements.
The book is divided into formal parts, beginning with Part I: Chemistry, and progressing through biochemistry and clinical applications; ending with Part IV: New Platinum Drugs for the Future. Each of the three or four sub-sections in each Part is written by leaders in those areas. Moreover, the book is very evenly balanced between basic science and clinical research. The plethora of literature references in each sub-section is current, and the figures and tables are all very well done.
Of course, cancer research changes very quickly. However, even after the book by Kelland and Farrell is out of date it can still serve as an excellent primer for graduate and medical students wishing to learn the ins and outs of platinum medical science. This book will certainly serve as a superb model for similar monographs of the future.


Dark Alliance: CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
Dark Alliance: CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
by Gary Webb
Edition: Paperback

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN MEMORIAM, 14 Jan. 2005
On December 16, 2004, Editor & Publisher reported, "Gary Webb, former San Jose Mercury News reporter, was found dead in his Carmichael, Calif. home on Friday morning, December 10, 2004. 'The cause of death was determined to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head,' said a statement issued by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office. Information and evidence gathered at the scene of death, including a handwritten note indicating an intention on the part of the decedent to take his own life, resulted in 'suicide' as the determined manner of death.
I never met Gary Webb, but my daughter Cassandra did. As a fledgling investigative reporter for the Associated Press, she conducted the last interview with him for AP just before he left the San Jose Mercury News. She had been the most junior reporter at AP's Sacramento office where all the senior reporters had personally known Webb too well to prepare an impartial story. So they sent the "new kid." After Cassandra had filed her report, I asked her what Webb was like. "Oh, he's a really gentle, cool guy -- 100% journalist."
"How's he taking it?" I asked.
"Well, I think, philosophically," she replied. "He told me that's sometimes the price good journalists have to pay for getting the truth out. They can lose their jobs."
Thereafter, Webb wrote "Dark Alliance" and gave lectures on his work and the drug smuggling into the United States that is a part of America's covert wars.
Earlier, writers such as Michael Levine and Laura Kavanau-Levine who published, "The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic" or Alfred W. McCoy who wrote "The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade," seemed to have come through it unscathed. Maybe the C.I.A. and their domestic propagandists allow historians to "get away with it. " That was then, but Gary Webb had written about them about now. Webb's serialized exposé in the San Jose Mercury News, where his book's title originated, caused such a public outcry that his reports simply couldn't be ignored. Indeed, when Webb's stories first broke one drug gang-infested Los Angeles community became so enraged that the then CIA Director Deutsch was obliged to visit the public in a futile attempt to calm them and protect the "good name" of the CIA. He was virtually run out of town -- shown on national televison.
Investigative journalist Robert Parry, Gary Webb's comrade in arms who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek, recently wrote of his fallen colleague:
"At Webb's death, however, it should be noted that his great gift to American history was that he -- along with angry African-American citizens -- forced the government to admit some of the worst crimes ever condoned by any American administration: the protection of drug smuggling into the United States as part of a covert war against a country, Nicaragua, that represented no real threat to Americans.
"But the real tragedy of Webb's historic gift - and of his life cut short -- is that because of the major news media's callowness and cowardice, this dark chapter of the Reagan-Bush era remains largely unknown to the American people."
Robert Parry perhaps put it best when he wrote:
"For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. He was attacked by journalistic colleagues at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The American Journalism Review and even The Nation magazine. Under this media pressure, his editor Jerry Ceppos sold out the story and demoted Webb, causing him to quit the Mercury News. Even Webb's marriage broke up.
"On Friday, Dec. 10, Gary Webb, 49, died of an apparent suicide, a gunshot wound to the head. Whatever the details of Webb's death, American history owes him a huge debt. Though denigrated by much of the national news media, Webb's contra-cocaine series prompted internal investigations by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department, probes that confirmed that scores of contra units and contra-connected individuals were implicated in the drug trade. The probes also showed that the Reagan-Bush administration frustrated investigations into those crimes for geopolitical reasons."


Ghost Dog - The Way Of The Samurai [DVD] [2000]
Ghost Dog - The Way Of The Samurai [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Forest Whitaker
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £5.49

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JIM JARMUSCH DOES IT AGAIN !!, 14 Jan. 2005
If you didn't like Jim Jarmusch's NIGHT ON EARTH (Winona Ryder), STRANGER THAN PARADISE or DOWN BY LAW you'll definitely not like GHOST DOG. Like Tom Waitts' gravely voice that should have made him a failure rather than a succes as performer and song writer (often writing for Jarmusch's films) this movie is logical in a progression of Jarmusch's films.
Beginning with casting Forest Whitaker as the inner city Samurai, , who doesn't exactly sport a Bruce Lee physique, OBVIOUSLY this movie was never meant to be taken literally! In fact, Jarmusch may be the ONLY director who dares, and can pull off, a film that mixes hip-hop street culture with Mafioso wise guys, sprinkle it with quotes from The Book of the Samurai by Hagakure and not just "get away with it" but make it all work!
If you like Jim Jarmusch films then you'll love GHOST DOG. If you've never seen one of his flicks then go easy on yourself ... and take a peek at his 1991 film, NIGHT ON EARTH. If nothing else, you'll have a chance to see Winona Ryder in a wonderful acting role before she became, err, Winona Ryder. And let's not forget the other greats such as Gena Rowlands, Béatrice Dalle, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and that terrific MOUTH (and body) Rosie Perez who made NIGHT ON EARTH what it is. How can you resist?
In GHOST DOG, Whittaker is a gentle pigeon raising philosopher who is repected and feared in his 'hood. By night, he does "special" hits for the Mafia because as any good Samurai, he is loyal to one of the aging lieutenants who saved his life when Whittaker was a youth. The man he does contracts for is more like a character out of the ANALYZE THIS! than from the GODFATHER The wise guys in GHOST DOG are a bunch of ignorant bumblers (one of them played by Victor Argo, a great character actor) who can occasionally become very dangerous. Mixed in with this stew is a little black girl who Whittaker befiends because the two of them share a love of books.
Whittaker character's best friend is an ice cream vendor who doesn't speak a word of English, having just recently arrived from Ivory Coast in Africa. Some of the best dialogue is between these two who are so intuitively tuned to one another that although their words don't ever match up in their bilingual "conversations" they can exactly guess what the other one means.
Anyhow, this end-of-the-millennium film spiritually spans centuries while its post modern style was just born yesterday. See it!


Dirty Pictures [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dirty Pictures [DVD] [2000] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ James Woods
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £37.62

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JAMES WOODS AT HIS BEST IN FIGHT AGAINST CENSORSHIP, 14 Jan. 2005
This is an excellent made-for-television documentary drama that presents the true life story of local and national efforts by religious and political right wingers to suppress offensive art in Cincinatti during 1989-1990. The art is by photographer Robert Maplethorpe. James Woods (Dennis Barrie, the curator of Cincinnati's largest museum) is arrested for promoting obscenity and pornography. This follows his booking a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in Cincinatti which had already stirred up controversy elsewhere in the nation. Diana Scarwid plays Barrie's wife Dianne so well that the two actors are natural and engaging, making it kind of enjoyable to hang out with them. Most of the film focuses on the obscenity/pornography trial ... with the zealous sheriff Simon Leiss played by Craig T. Nelson, prosecutor and the biased judge doing their best to get the jury to convict Barrie.
Making the movie more interesting is the actual footage of Jesse Helms, William F. Buckley, Jr. and Patrick Buchanan lambasting Maplethorpe's work and those who dare to publicly display it. These additions add a frightening reality edge to the story. This is balanced by comments on personal freedom and free expression by Barney Frank, Salman Rushdie and author and Fran Liebowitz. Similar cameo appearances are made by celebrities like Susan Sarandon who personally knew and was photographed by Maplethorpe, as were her son and daughter.
This is very worthwhile entertainment which informs as it delights. In particular, James Woods fans will love his performance as the smart, edgy museum director trying to save himself and his family from the hell fire and brimstone brought down on them by selfrighteous and predatory political moralists. The film is definitely worth seeing.


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