Why Moriarty Sucks... or Moriarty's Powerfully Compelling Review of THE MESSENGER: THE JOAN OF ARC STORY
You know... For every adventure and journey I take. For every cool film thing I get to do before any of you. I have that same sad feeling of "MAN, I WANNA DO THAT" revisited upon me a hundredfold. Don't get me wrong... There are a lot of pretty darn cool things I get to do.... but there are so many more that people like you and Moriarty get to do. I think that is why I love doing this site. I can't be everywhere... experience everything. But through this site, through people like you and Moriarty... I get to get this sense... that I've been there. Of course all that sweet sentimentality just goes up in a big explosion when Moriarty goes and pulls out that friggin ACE CARD of a Time Machine and cheats.. That's right. He cheats. He uses that TIME MACHINE to simply CHEAT his way into films earlier than the rest of us. And... He sucks. I mean... God... Sigh.
Before I send you on to Moriarty's review of THE MESSENGER: THE JOAN OF ARC STORY, I need to warn you of the HEAVY SPOILERS with which he discusses this film. At certain points he is describing 'series of shots' concerning THE END OF THE FILM! And it may very well be far more spoilerish than you are currently thinking. It's... different. So... before you get into this, let me share my thoughts upon talking with Moriarty tonight about this film.
First off he believes it is not only a great film but a transcendent work of art. He truly and deep down loves this film more than BRAVEHEART, because of everything BEYOND the battles and the gungho bravado that film had. He prefers this movie over EXCALIBUR, though he really has a deep place in his heart for that film. They are very different films.
If you don't wish to know some very specific details of the film, leave now.... read below up until he says he has to go into details to discuss his feelings with the film. As for me. I'm going to write 10,000 times: "Moriarty Sucks Big Time, Even Though He Rocks!" Take care...
Hey, Head Geek...
"I was about ten years old... I was taking a shortcut home through the forest... when a strange wind began to blow. It was such a strange sound, almost like words calling me. Everything was moving so fast. I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe. God had given me a message, a message to deliver."
Spoken in a breathless near-whisper, this bit of dialogue opens the long trailer for THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC. It could also be said to be the key moment that lies at the heart of this epic, moving, challenging new work of art, a film that is among the year's finest, and which marks a major leap forward for French film stylist Luc Besson.
It is genuinely difficult for me to describe my reaction to this film, and I'm going to have to discuss spoilers, I'm sure, to do the film justice. It's not an easily digested "movie," no simple straightforward recount of the events of Joan's life. Instead, it's a prayer that Besson has offered up in memory of what made Joan human and holy in equal measure. It's a meditation on the very foundation of Joan's faith. It's also not due in theaters until November 12, a fact which was driving me absolutely bugfuck this morning.
You see, Harry, you just had to go and post that link to the trailer last night. I hadn't even seen the teaser trailer in the theater yet. As far as I was concerned, all I knew was that the film was coming, that Besson had made, Mila Jovovich was starring, and the supporting cast sounded good. All of that was a plus, but I wasn't really manic to see the film based on it. It was one of many on my list for the fall. This morning, I get up and I'm making my online rounds when I come across that damnable link. I click on it, wait a few minutes for the trailer to download, then press play, hoping it would at least look great.
As soon as the trailer stopped playing, I called Harry Lime and asked him to meet me at one of the many storage units I've got around the city. Twenty minutes later, he was helping me wrestle my infamous Time Machine out from under some debris.
"Wait a minute," he said. "This is a time machine?"
"A real time machine?"
"Have you used it?"
I explained to him about how I saw THE MUMMY early, how I ended up with the STAR WARS script so far in advance, and how much the sonofabitch hurts, and why I had decided that it probably wasn't worth it unless there was something really cool that I just couldn't wait for.
Lime flashed me that oily con man's grin of his as it dawned on him that we were going to actually use the device. "So what are we seeing? Is it X-MEN? Is it LORD OF THE RINGS?" He made a funny little girly sound, which was doubly odd coming out of Orson Welles' face, and asked, "Is it EPISODE II?"
"Nope... it's THE MESSENGER." He looked at me like he was waiting for the punchline, so I had him help me load the Time Machine into the car, we drove back to the Labs, and I showed him the trailer. He immediately understood my excitement, and we boarded the Machine, fired it up, and hopped to November 13, Saturday afternoon.
It took Lime about a half-hour to stop crying (time travel really, really, really hurts -- like a soccer-spike-to-the-nads hurts), but that was enough time for us to make it to the Dome, where THE MESSENGER was nearly sold out. Once we got in and got seated, the lights went down almost immediately, and all the hassle, all the pain, all the effort of getting there was immediately forgotten.
The film opens with a striking opening scroll that establishes we are in France and the year is 1420. Using a striking image of blood pouring over a map, Besson quickly establishes the English occupation of France, explains the basic politics behind it, and establishes that only one thing is going to deliver France from its circumstance... "a miracle."
Suddenly we are in darkness. A man's face fills the frame, a priest. "Have you come to confess?"
On the opposite side of a screen, a young girl's hand appears, followed by a little girl's face. The priest rolls his eyes, frustrated, but smiles a bit. A young Joan comes to confession for the second time in the same day, her fifth time that week, a habit that her priest seems familiar with. She's an inquisitive, open girl, fiercely devout already, impatient to reach the age where she can receive communion. She confesses to stealing her father's shoes to give to a homeless man. The priest smiles, assures her that her father will forgive her.
"He already has," she responds. "I want Jesus to forgive me." For Joan, her personal relationship with Christ is already of paramount importance to her. She wants God's love, wants to please God. The priest absolves her, sends her home, and we get a look at the world in which Joan lives. It is easy to believe in God when surrounded by such amazing evidence of his hand, the purples and greens and reds of the French countryside, the deeper greens and shadows of the forests. Besson's eye is key to this film. It's not just pretty pictures. He's interested in what this beauty means, in what it says about Joan and how it affects her.
Almost immediately, Besson shows us that Joan is more than just a peasant girl as Joan is struck with a vision that knocks her flat in a field. Mysteriously, she finds a sword that she retrieves, then is shown another vision, this one even more startling. In it, she finally comes face to face with some manifestation of God and Jesus and the Spirit, and Besson has chosen a striking face for his Christ. It's indicitive of the way he's cast the whole movie. There are a few movie stars who show up -- John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Tcheky Karyo, Dustin Hoffman -- but they are photographed to emphasize those amazing unique character faces of theirs, and not to satisfy any movie star vanity. Faye Dunaway's severe wicked witch appearance should displel that notion immediately. There's not a detail of this film that doesn't in some way contribute to the overall impact. Like the films KUNDUN and THE THIN RED LINE, this is a movie in which the imagery is all part of the film's message, from the colors used to the elegant composition by Thierry Arbogast to the faces of the actors. The film is thick with mood, ripe with atmosphere. Also, special mention must be made of how much the astonishing aural work of Eric Serra, whose compositions for the film are both epic and experimental. It's as strange as his FIFTH ELEMENT score, as beautiful as anything he's ever written for Besson, and it doesn't play by any traditional rules as far as historical period dramas are concerned.
The film also moves quickly, never wasting time. It's not much over two hours in running time, but it feels even shorter than that. Besson doesn't hand the movie over to his supporting players. Malkovich is used sparingly, as is Dunaway, but both are very, very good here. Their characters are etched indelibly in only a handful of scenes. In particular, Malkovich's Charles, Dauphin of France, is someone you are both drawn to and outraged by. You want him to be a better person than he is. There's a stunning moment, intimate and strange, between Joan and Charles when she first tells him of her visions. He's the only person she has ever confessed them to in detail, and the power of them literally sends him staggering from the room. For Joan, it's a release, the closest thing to intimacy that the virgin girl has ever experienced.
Quickly, she is dispatched to the front, where she says she will retake Orleans from the English. Here's where the sequence came that I suspect will be most prominently emphasized in the way this film is sold. Make no mistake of it -- these are some of the most stirring, wrenching battle sequences I've ever seen in a historical drama, but they are not the reason for the film. I've heard many people mention BRAVEHEART when talking about this film, and it does Besson's work a disservice. THE MESSENGER is leaps and bounds better than BRAVEHEART was, and it's because it transcends the greatness of the battle scenes. As terrifying and as exhilarating as they are, they are just one small element of the film, and once Orleans has been taken, that's basically it. Joan doesn't have a ton of adventures. She makes the difference in this one key campaign. There's a sequence later when she tries to take Paris and fails, but it's not staged on anything like the grand scale that the earlier sequence is.
Also, be warned that there is a fair amount of violence in these sequences, but it feels far less graphic to me than the Normandy beach scene in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. In fact, I'd even venture a guess that MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL has more spurting gore than this film does. What THE MESSENGER does so well is it makes us, as the audience, feel the weight of the violence. When she's told to look out on the glory of her victory, Joan is sickened. She sees the arms, the heads, the feet, the burnt and slashed bodies, the dogs, the birds, the blood, the filth, and she is sickened. "What glory?" she asks. We are shown how beautiful God's world is in the film's lyrical opening, and we are shown, by way of contrast, just how horrible we can make it in these sequences.
It's what happens with Joan after her victory at Orleans that is the real focus of Besson's film, though, and it's here where the film goes from being great to being truly transcendent. We know from the beginning of the film, just as we did with TITANIC, what the tragic ending must be. Joan will be burnt at the stake. How she goes from revered hero to reviled heretic is the material that I found most fascinating. Jovovich, an artist who continues to impress and amaze me with each fresh endeavor, brings to life a Joan we've never seen before, and it's because of her particular choices that the second half of the film works for me. Traditionally, Joan is played as a Virgin Saint, a pillar of strength, an Amazon with the might of God at her back. Not so this time. This Joan is as human and as fragile as Willem Dafoe's Christ was. She is a terrified girl who has been told by God to lead an army into battle. She is caught up in a storm, riding it out, and she never surrenders her right to be afraid or to be uncertain or to feel pain or sorrow. I was so deeply moved by her during the battle scenes that I had trouble watching them. When she is arrested for heresy and brought before a Church court, her mixture of outrage and betrayal and even fear is affecting.
But it's in one particular sequence of scenes that she truly proves herself, and to discuss them, I must clarify something about this film that I don't believe has been discussed anywhere. I know that the trailer doesn't hint at it. What I'm referring to is the nature of Dustin Hoffman's performance in the film. So far, every bit of press material I've seen refers to him as "The Grand Inquisitor." Well, what does that mean? I figured he was the one in charge of Joan's trial... and in a way, he is. He's in charge of the trial that's truly important, the one within Joan as to whether she did the right thing or not. You see, Dustin Hoffman plays a character who appears to only one person -- Joan. At first, it's impossible to tell if he is supposed to be God, the Devil, or even the voice of Joan herself. He is indeed an inquisitor, though. He provokes Joan, challenges her, dares her to believe in a God that has led her to this place, to this fate. He mocks her visions, makes her doubt her own assumptions about certain "signs." His scenes with Joan are electric, fascinating, and mark a rare grace note for Hoffman these days.
Let me explain by way of digression for a moment. I respect the hell out of Dustin Hoffman. I consider him a brilliant actor who has done some exemplary work. However, most of that work was done before I was an adult moviegoer, and it's work that I never really experienced on first run. I don't know what it felt like to sit there in the dark and discover that amazing performance in THE GRADUATE, or what it must have felt like to wonder who the hell that guy was. I was way too young to see ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN in the theater or MIDNIGHT COWBOY or MARATHON MAN or LITTLE BIG MAN or any of his classic early work. He's very good in RAIN MAN, but I always thought that Cruise had the hard role in the movie. Even TOOTSIE and KRAMER VS. KRAMER were just a bit too early for me. As a result, I've been lulled into thinking of Hoffman as a likeable guy who shows up these days in mainly mediocre films. Then, out of the blue, he makes an appearance like this and absolutely reasserts his brilliance.
The impact of his role can't be underestimated, either, since it's one of the clues as to what Besson's really doing here. For all the epic size and sound and fury of this film, it's really an intimate little story about one girl and the voices in her head. She wrestles with the nature of those voices until the last moments of her life, and her strength in those final moments comes from having reached a peace with her faith. In many ways, this portrait of Joan raises the ghost of T.E. Lawrence for me as a viewer. I can't help but think about the way O'Toole wrestled with the difference between his nature and his desire. Here, Joan is forced to confront the fact that she might not have heard God's voice. She might, in fact, just be a girl crazed by hatred, driven by a desire for revenge to raise arms. It would be fair enough. There's an early sequence involving the destruction of Joan's village and the fate of her sister that is brutal, ugly, and unforgettable. It literally shatters the young Joan, and the scenes that follow show just how deeply the wounds go. If her voices are just a reaction to the extreme grief, then it would be entirely believable.
In one pivotal moment, just before the battle at Orlean, Joan speaks to the French soldiers assembled. It's not your typical "movie" speech, each word perfect, but it's a raw emotional plea, the best wounded prayer Joan can muster, and it ends with her crying, "Follow me if you love me! Follow me!" And the army, moved by her vision, fuelled by her passion, follow her into frenzy. Later, alone with Hoffman, that moment is thrown back at her. "'Follow me if you love me!'" Hoffman mimics. "Where is there room for God in that?"
It's the film's final moments that really broke my heart, though, and that demonstrate how unique Besson's vision of the story is. In any other filmmaker's version, we'd be treated to a big, moving, final sequence in which Joan is led out to the stake, tied up, and in which she is allowed one final moment to make her big dying speech. We've seen the moment... we've even seen it done well. It's Mel Gibson on the rack screaming, "FREEDOM!!" It's also not important to Jovovich's Joan. She says as much in an earlier scene. "I do not care about saving my body. I care about saving my soul." When she finishes her final scene with Hoffman, alone in her cell, and finds the grace she so desperately needs, Joan's journey is done. She has found her way into God's arms, and nothing else is important. Hoffman lays a hand on her, blesses her in Latin, grants her absolution. Just like that, Besson cuts to the fire, to Joan already on the stake, already burning. It's stark, sudden, and graphic. We see the wood beneath her feet go up, followed by her dress, her skin. As she bucks and twists, her eyes find something, lock on.
And in that last shot, we look through Joan's eyes, through the flames, and we find a cross silhouetted against the sky, one final sign. It is beautiful, and it speaks so clearly to the heart of this girl, and it is an image that I will not shake any time soon.
Harry Lime and I returned to the Labs, where it was still midday Monday. We were both quiet, humbled a bit by the film. I'm sure he'll weigh in on the film in the next few days. I know that it's a film worth thinking over, chewing on. I suspect opinion will be hotly divided over it upon release, but that happens with most truly great art. And make no mistake... that's exactly what THE MESSENGER is.
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Sept. 28, 1999, 5:14 a.m. CST
I am honestly almost on the point of tears just reading this review. I can feel the intensity that Moriarty feels towards this movie, and I know that the film will touch me. This is the type of film we don't get to see any more - movies that are intelligent, make you think, and affect you without going for the easy sentimental route. I can't wait. ***** www.homestead.com/vertigofilms/
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:27 a.m. CST
Okay, I can understand other people being so childish as to leap on a new article and declare to the world "I'm first", but I never thought you were that type of person. First that whole cannibalism stuff, now this childish behaviour. You're really going down in my esteem. Oh, and you should be glad for Moriarty that he got to see the film. But personally, I think we've got it better. Why? Don't forget, now that he's seen the film, there's no build-up. No anitcipation. Whereas we have something to look forward to. I mean, wasn't the best part of Star Wars the wait for it to come? Just a thought. ***** www.homestead.com/vertigofilms/
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:36 a.m. CST
by Harry Knowles
What are you talking about? You posted first. Not me. I haven't posted at all till this very moment. Hmmmm.... Childish about Cannibalism? I take Cannibalism very seriously. As for my 'Moriarty Sucks' bit. That is a special spy code that Moriarty and I have worked out that when put through a special translator lays out specific mission coordinates whereby he can pick up his next packet of spy missions and access passes. While... to the rest of the world it looks as if we are squabbling.... But noone will ever break our code. HARRY OUT.
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:57 a.m. CST
Great review, I just can't wait to see this movie. Who's the actress again? In what movie did she play again?
Sept. 28, 1999, 6:49 a.m. CST
bitch, bitch, bitch, whine whine whine. Well, I for one am excited about this review, and I thought it was a superbly written review. Of course, I didn't read the whole thing for fear of spoilers, but I read enough to move this up on my anticipation list. I'm glad to hear that Milla is flexing her acting muscles better than in the past, and despite Sarin Rufus' critcisms, I like Besson. I do hope this is more intense and has more plot than the 5th Element, wihch, though I enjoyed it, was not particularly stirring. We shall see, yes?
Sept. 28, 1999, 7:13 a.m. CST
I, for one, thought that 5th element was one of the best films of the decade. It was not meant to be taken too seriously. It had something that most movies of that kind of budget and/or theme lack: original style. One of the very few movies I'd like to see again (others incl. Godfathers, Jackie Brown, Big Lebowski for example). No plot, my ass: sometimes it is not about the quantity, but the quality. Many Hollywood and indipendent movies have lots of story, the problem is that it is so damned cliched at every "surprising turn" that it makes me vomit (anybody remember the Bruce Willis thriller "Color of Night", for exapmle?). The fact that 5th element still evokes such a response is a testament to its longevity. And it was very well acted, esp. Milla, who I thought would suck. And I hope that The Messenger is even better!!
Sept. 28, 1999, 7:23 a.m. CST
BRAVEHEART wasn't a perfect film (when you get right down to it, the script was pretty pedestrian,) but it did benefit from John Toll's expert cinematography, which is what made those battle scenes so phenomenal. The arrows whistling across the gray sky, the slow, ominous gathering of the troops..... the comparisons to RAN, among others, weren't that far off. Of all the Oscars BRAVEHEART won that year, Toll's was the most well-deserved.
Sept. 28, 1999, 8:09 a.m. CST
Yeah, so it had problems, so did 5th Element but both were visually stunning and sometimes I appreciate that more than a deep convuluted plot. Here come the criticisms of that idea Godzilla, JP2 etc. whatever, I'm just saying sometimes a movie like the Bride with White Hair is far more interesting than Happiness!
Sept. 28, 1999, 8:22 a.m. CST
I have to agree with cuthbert, I'm afraid...Braveheart is a monumentally overrated movie. It's sort of the modern "Ben Hur"...a movie with one great action scene, and the rest is just silly. Maybe I could have stomached Braveheart better if it hadn't pretended to be historically accurate, and then turned its subjects into saints and demons. I HATE it when a historical film does that. Moral ambiguity is what makes biographical films great, and Braveheart left no room for it whatsoever. Now, I have no doubt The Messenger will be brilliant. Luc Besson is one of the few directors who *never* disappoints me (well, the 5th Element was a bit of fluff, but still enjoyable). His films are immensely satisfying...you don't feel like he missed any narrative opportunities or failed to find a story that resonated. I saw "La Femme Nikita" after the American remake and TV show had been around for a while, and I was afraid the movie would seem like it wasn't worth all the attention...but it did, because of interesting characters and a wealth of detail (rather than wall-to-wall action). And his visuals...holy crap. Again, he has the ability to invest a great-looking shot or sequence with actual relevance to the plot, so you don't feel like you've been staring at empty images for two hours. And any movie that make Dustin Hoffman look creepy must be pretty effectively made.
Sept. 28, 1999, 8:38 a.m. CST
You know what I love about Sarin Rufus? It's funny that by just reading the heading, I could tell who wrote it. Talk about predictable. What else I love? He spends half his time vomiting up criticism against people for liking movies that haven't even come out yet, and the other half his time criticising movies that haven't even come out. Interesting dichotomy, isn't it? I will admit, the movies you listed are all excellent/ classics. But I think this one will be great as well. It has the potential,certainly. I also think people need to stop looking at this in terms of the 5th Element - it's a completely different style that will be employed - no slapstick, no effects-heavy sets. It's a more serious, more weighty film, and I think Besson will shine with it. Of course, if you hate it already, then chances are you'll hate it when you see it. But please, let the rest of us get some joy out of anticipation. And Rufus, by the way. . . you're not always right, genius. People are welcome to think what they want, withoutt having to be browbeaten by a petty, sub-literate entertainment dictator such as yourself.
Sept. 28, 1999, 9:12 a.m. CST
by All Thumbs
I can't wait to see this movie and compare it to Moriarty's review. I want to see if I feel as passionate about the film as most people are seeming to be or if I'll feel like I did when I watched Braveheart; disappointed. I, too, am one of those people who didn't think Braveheart was worth all the hype, but then, that might have been because of the hype. One of my friends at the time proclaimed it to be the best movie and I'll admit it was good but had its moments of boredom and uninspired acting. The only scene that got to me was when the wife had her throat slit. Another movie I was told was one of the greatest masterpieces of all time is The English Patient and the friggin' movie bored me to death! Yeah, it had beautiful scenery and I like the chemistry between the nurse and the Sihk soldier, but that was about it. I still can't believe it won Best Picture. Ok, enough of my rants, I'm outta here.
Sept. 28, 1999, 9:45 a.m. CST
Well, I don't even know if your first line was sarcasm or not. . . seriously though, don't you feel that by intensely criticising a movie you have yet to see, you accomplish a similar thing? What I mean is, you're saying that there is a danger in overhyping a movie, and I agree with you. It's a constant thing these days. But ripping on an unreleased movie is the same thing - it's an extreme opinion that prejudges the film based on too little actual knowledge. I'm not saying you're right or wrong about the Messenger, I don'y know if it will be great or not, but it looks like it might be. I realize you think this decade has been disappointing, and I'm with you there brother, but you frequently just lash out with just as much foreknowledge (or lack thereof) as those who predict the movie will "rock" or "kick ass", and it's kinda like the pot and the kettle, ya know?
Sept. 28, 1999, 9:56 a.m. CST
I just think it's neat that Milla can play a twelve year old girl.
Sept. 28, 1999, 10:46 a.m. CST
ok, I'll admit, that was pretty funny.
Sept. 28, 1999, 10:54 a.m. CST
by Paco J
"I'm first", not in the sense of posting, but in the sense of getting to see things first, before others, get it?
Sept. 28, 1999, 11:32 a.m. CST
1) Dudley Do Right, 2) Batman and Robin, 3) Legends of the Fall, 4) Jane Austin's Mafia!, 5) Lethal Weapon 4, 6) John Carpenter's Vampires, 7) The Mummy, 8) She's All That, 9) Wing Commander, 10) uhh. . . oh! Showgirls!!!. . . . oh, woops, you said GOOD movies. My bad, sorry. No, seriously, I agree, this hasn't been a great decade. But that doesn't mean it's incapable of great movies. I just ask that you keep an open mind to those which could supercede the crap, and I think the Messenger is a good prospect.
Sept. 28, 1999, 1:06 p.m. CST
Hmm...Masterpieces of the 90's? Isn't it too early to tell? Nevermind. There may not be 10 all told, but I'd say "Remains of the Day" would be there. The documentary "Hoop Dreams" would be there as would "The Shawshank Redemption." "Pulp Fiction" and "The Usual Suspects" would be alongside "The Sweet Hereafter," "Rushmore" and "Out of Sight." The Kieslowski Trois couleurs trilogy would definitely make their way into a masterpieces of the 90s list as would "Malcolm X" (though many would probably debate that with me) as would "Fearless." Hell, I might even put "Smoke" and "Lone Star" on the list, but I'm running long now. For those who hate me for neglecting almost all foreign material, apologies all around and I didn't have time to go crazy about foreign pics. I do agree with the "Naked" choice of earlier, however, and apologize also for the obvious pics I've forgotten. And yes, even though it's fashionable, I do say "American Beauty" is up there.
Sept. 28, 1999, 2:24 p.m. CST
When I came to the page last night, I thought I noticed, above my "Sounds Beautiful" posting, a post that purported to be from Harry Knowles, titled "Ha Ha First", or something of that like, and then the message said something about "He He Firsties He He He". However, it was late (almost 1am in NZ), I was tired, about to go to bed, and I may have imagined it. Please accept my apology.
Sept. 28, 1999, 2:26 p.m. CST
by Jack La Motta
YOU HAVE NO LIFE!! You've already posted like seven times already. What the hell do you do all day. I'm thinking I dont like you very much. You love for people to respond to your Talk Backs, you want attention. Your like a 10 year old. Thats why your so negative with every meaninless fucking thing on this page. I will agree with you however on the 90's not being as good as the previous decades as far as movies go. But I'll give you some excellent movies, maybe not masterpieces in your mind) but unforgettable ones. Also, you put Blue Velvet in your top ten of the 80's, what does that say about your taste. Definilty not a "masterpiece". Anyways, here i go, Goodfellas(which you cant deny is a classic no matter what you say), JFK(if this were made ten years ago i'm sure you would love it more), Schindlers list(your response to this earlier in no way proved to us it wasnt a masterpiece), Hoop Dreams(name on imperfect thing about this gem), Leaving Las Veages(no love story like it, very powerful film), Fargo(contemporary classic already), Dark City(this is my 2001 for the 90's, there's no movie like it, look at the visuals, the story, totally original and amazing). Masterpiece is such a strong word to use for a movie. People dont often use it unless its older, unless time has brought a movie to its greatness. Thats why its hard to call any movies from the 90's a masterpiece. But, Schindlers list....MASTERPIECE....much better than movies like Days of Heaven or Blue Velvet. Raging Bull should have been at the top of your 80's list...there was nothing better that decade. The 70's is my favorite decade of movies. All the one's you mentioned were a lot of my favorites. But masterpiece to me can only be said of a movie through time. Look at 2001, it was hated by moviegoers and critics...now look at it. It's quite possibily considered one of the best ever. In my opinion, no movie can be considered a masterpiece this decade because people like you only think of oder movies that way. If Days of Heaven was just made last year, you wouldnt call it a masterpiece, you'd call it a boring piece of shit, cause the 90's sucks...right?
Sept. 28, 1999, 2:30 p.m. CST
This is getting interesting. Ten great films of the 90's? Here goes..... 1) EXOTICA -- Elusive storytelling. Beautifully shot, doesn't spell everything out, and just when you think Egoyan's overplaying his hand, he pulls the rug out from under you. One of my favorite final shots, mostly because of its eerie ambiguity. 2) THE ENGLISH PATIENT -- Layered storytelling, perfect structure, and massively romantic (and we're talking *earned* romaticism here, not the bullshit, PRETTY WOMAN kind.) 3) RUSHMORE -- You call it a gem, but I'd say the same about THE CONVERSATION; however, they're both brilliant regardless of their scale. A lovely film about obsession, pining away for the past, and the confusion of adolescence. Max Fisher is a modern day Ben Braddock. 4) GOODFELLAS -- How you can prefer CASINO, with its aspirations to a Shakespeare-level tragedy and its shallow characters, over this definitive take on the mob in the 20th Century is beyond me. Some people say the film sputters out near the end. I always feel a sense of dread, knowing that this is a downward spiral that keeps reaching new depths (listen for the real Henry Hill on the Howard Stern Show, and you'll know what I mean. Pathetic.) 5) THE SWEET HEREAFTER -- Another jigsaw puzzle from Egoyan, this time he only leaves you with the second greatest final shot of the decade. Why I love his storytelling: most writers/directors would show the bus wreck that spurs the story forward at the beginning or end of the film. Egoyan plops it right in the middle. Also, Ian Holm's monologue about the prospects of performing an emergency tracheotomy on his daughter is beyond riveting. 6) RED -- The defining chapter of Kieslowski's trilogy, and the most fully realized; although, I find myself praising BLUE more than most folks. That's enough for now. I've got far too much work to do, and, even though I'm firing this right off the top of my head, I still have work to do. I could keep going, though. Maybe later.
Sept. 28, 1999, 3:33 p.m. CST
You can't talk about the great movies of the decade and not mention The Chunkin Express, Breaking the Waves, The Celebration, Secrets and Lies, and this year's palm d'or winner Rosetta! It's not because American movies were bad that it's a bad decade for the movies! My favorites of the decade: Exotica My favorite American movies: Reservoir Dogs and Wild at Heart!
Sept. 28, 1999, 4:05 p.m. CST
by Loki Trickster
I'm not even going to list the reasons, unless the spirit moves me. "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs" are both masterpieces of storytelling and design, as well as very enjoyable movies. "Seven"...the end is what makes the movie so painful; the bad guy wins! How nihilistic, and wonderful. "The Usual Suspects"...do I even have to go into this one? "Naked"...the nihilism of "Seven" pumped up a couple notches; as if Dostoevsky and Nietszche collaborated on a film. "L.A. Confidential"...well, I hesitate on this one because the ending doesn't quite fit it's genre...but I can't think of more human characters in a noir... "Pi": Quit reading this and go rent that movie...how more intense and intelligent can you get? "Good Will Hunting"; an honest and original work. "Silence of the Lambs"; despite what you say, Anthony Hopkins portrays the most charming personification of Evil since Milton wrote "Paradise Lost". "The Shawshank Redemption": Incredible cinematography, incredible story, and one of the most oft stolen images in recent movie history (probably stolen from somewhere else, but still etched indelibly on our brain): the shot of Dufresne after his escape, arms outstretched in the rain. "The Truman Show": shut up, I can hear you snickering. Truman Burbank is one of the Benjamin Braddock's of our age. That's all I can come up with for now...there's more out there. "Saving Private Ryan" comes close, but has some fatal flaws, such as the opening and closing scenes, and the gung-ho propoganda cardboard characters. The battle scenes were intense, but Kubrick did the same thing back in the 50s with "Paths of Glory", and he did it with much characters much more real than any that have walked through Speilberg, ever. I guess it just seems like this decade sucks, because all the crap Martin Lawrence movies or Adam Sandler P.O.S that comes out, but remember, 95% of everything is shit, and only the "classics" from the past decades really survive. For every "Apocolypse Now", there's 10 "Howard the Duck"s. -Loki
Sept. 28, 1999, 4:06 p.m. CST
Funmazer here. I didn't even read all the posts, didn't even read the review (I don't spoil movies I WANT to see) noticed a few Braveheart comments. Braveheart was good, but I'd agree, VERY overrated. Far more overrated than 10 Titanics. Go ahead, flame me, but I've heard Braveheart called 'the decade's best film' so much I wanna puke. It's good, but (to me) only worked on a few levels, whereas Titanic (also not the best movie of the decade) worked on many more. I personally think Dances with Wolves is the decade's best film, BTW. ANYWAY. Joan of Arc is going to be a butt-kicking movie done with beautiful style. I have 5th Element on tape, probably seen it 8 times, I like it, but I do admit it's not the greatest. Moreso, I think, you can see what Luc 'I love Jean Reno' Besson is capable of, given a more epic, true story. Joan of Arc is my #1 pic for FILM TO SEE this fall. And Green Mile WON'T win Best Picture. You heard it here.
Sept. 28, 1999, 4:44 p.m. CST
Throughout the afternoon, I keep coming up with great films from '89 like "Mystery Train" and "Jesus of Montreal" thinking they were from the 90s. As for you, Sarin Rufus, I'm from Texas so "Lone Star" is just going to stay on my list, despite its flaws. Growing up around that made me feel that it was actually a great slice of border life. For purely aesthetical reasons, I wish to include "The Full Monty" on my list as that was one of the absolute most fun, most enjoyable movies of the 90s. Whether it was a masterpiece, who knows? But shouldn't sheer enjoyment of sitting in the theater and laughing your head off count?
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:07 p.m. CST
Just off the top of my head here's a list of films made in the 90's that are in MY opinion fantastic films (I'm not soliciting for votes here, whether people agree of disagree is niether here nor there, these are purely my own personal opinions, and for me thats good enough). Anyways here goes: The Grifters, Reservoir Dogs, Romper Stomper (no one said they had to be american films), Trainspotting (ditto), Leon (aka The Professional), Ed Wood, A Simple Plan, 12 Monkeys, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects, Strange Days (I still say that Kathryn Bigelow has to be the most under appreciated visualist director out there), Seven, The Crow, Braveheart, Lost Highway (I really dug it, probably my fave Lynch film) plus many others. **********On top of that there are many more recent films that I absolutely loved when I saw them but that I haven't seen enough times over a long enough period of time to really know just how well they will survive repeated viewings. Films such as Out Of Sight, Apt Pupil, The Matrix, Dark City, Suicide Kings, Eyes Wide Shut and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. I loved them all when I first (and in some cases second) saw them but how well they will hold up over time is anyones guess. They may become richer over time, they may still be just as enjoyable or they may lose some, or even much of their impact, only time can tell.**********Fact of the matter is if you really want to you can find fault with ANY film, from Taxi Driver to RAN, from Paths Of Glory to Jaws, from John Carpenter's The Thing to Bride Of Frankenstein, from The Godfather to Citizen Kane, if you want to find fault and pick at things then it's easy to do. No film is perfect, some come damn close and are 'perfect enough' but that is pretty much as good as it gets. There's a difference between being discerning and being destructive and those that love film do so because with each film that they see there is the faintest possibility that they may be blown away by something truly great and unexpected, they don't watch films just looking for things to pick at and whine about. True not very many films are truly great, but the flipside is that many films made are entertaining, and sometimes entertaining is enough.**********Well that's my rant for today, to anyone that made it this far go get a drink, you deserve it. By the way just who is it that decides if, what and when a film becomes a 'masterpiece' or a 'classic'? Is it a bunch of stuffy critics with a stick up their collective asses? Is it 'the masses'? Is it the 'film geeks'? Or is it just a popularity contest like the Oscars seem to have become? The answer doesn't really matter and personally I don't give a shit, I'll just continue to do what I've always done and watch each new movie that comes my way and then make up my own damn mind. After all isn't it our own personal classics and favourites that really matters in the long run?
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:11 p.m. CST
So forgive me if I seem a little abrasive. First off, Cinema Snobs. Yes, you know who you are, you sit in judgement of others work and think you know shit about something. Guess what! You're wrong. You constantly formulate your little "Best of" lists and toss them out as if it's evidence that you're so much more intelligent than the rest of us. While this is the cinematic version of name dropping, (Which only terribly stupid people do to make themselves seem more interesting.) it proves nothing. You read a critic's list, watched the flicks, and suddenly you know something about someone else's work. How often I've perused these talk backs, listening to you twirps argue back and forth over what will and won't be a great film, like you're speaking for someone other than yourself. You're not. You dweebs are the reason why going to the movies isn't nearly the joy it used to be. You sit and you wait to hate something. Even if you liked it, you wouldn't admit it. The only thing I have to say is, SHUT THE FUCK UP! Now, about "The Messenger". I have full faith in Moriarty's extremely entertaining assessment, spoilers and all. I'm not going to say it's going to 'rock', as I'm not a moron. I do think it's going to Besson's best film. I think that with the script and his visual style, he's finally made a masterpiece that will place his name among the great filmmakers of our time. I cannot wait to see this film. And I'm done.
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:39 p.m. CST
What an awesome post.
Sept. 28, 1999, 5:59 p.m. CST
by Loki Trickster
"You...watched the flicks, and suddenly you know something about someone else's work"...well, how else do you learn about someone's work? How else can we evaluate a work if we don't watch it? My list is not just name-dropping, it's advancing my opinion of what films of this past decade can truly be called works of art instead of just a flick. I'm not name-dropping...there's nothing special about my having seen these films; anyone with money can do so; what's special is these films themselves. Of course we sit in judgement of other people's work...you just did the exact same thing when you criticized our work. My formulation of the list is just my opinion...it's not put forth as divine law, and you're more than welcome to argue with them...that's why they're up there. I don't go to movies waiting to hate them...I go hoping that they'll be incredible, and I get angry when they aren't. I guess I might be a "cinema snob" because I want my movies to not be pieces of shit...sorry if you don't like that. Now I'm going to go watch "12 Monkeys", this conversation has got me wanting to see that again. -Loki
Sept. 28, 1999, 6:31 p.m. CST
My first post and a long one. Noentheless....I am intrigued by Rufus
Sept. 28, 1999, 7:56 p.m. CST
First off, let me say that I found Taxi Driver uninspired and more than a little boring. I also thought that A Clockwork Orange was far from a masterpiece. Just my opinion. But hey, I know some people won't like what I think were great films of the 90's. My only problem is that I can't recall right off hand if La Femme Nikita actually falls into this category. I know I didn't see it until three or four years ago, so for me it's a 90's film. The other nine, in no particular order are: The Usual Suspects (anyone who claims they figured it out is a liar) Saving Private Ryan (slow in the middle, but as a combat veretan I have to say the opening and closing combat sequences left my guts tied in knots) Casino ( I actually agree with Sarin Rufus, god help me!) The Shawshank Redemption (Hard to believe Stephen King wrote this wonderful story) Wings of Desire (What a wonderful work of art, classic in a way that the american version simply cannot match) Malcolm X (I must be one of the few white men in America who appreciated this amazing film) LA Confidential (Should have gained more Oscars, definately holds up better on a second viewing than Titanic) The Crow (A stunning set of visuals, a good story, and although not faithful to the specific content of the comic fully faithful to its feel) Sixth Sense (No one on earth can creditably tell me that they saw that ending coming. My friends and I look for endings like this, and not one of us got it. Right up there with Usual Suspects in this respect.)
Sept. 28, 1999, 8:04 p.m. CST
I'm sorry if I come of as overly optimistic here, but it's ridiculous to think that there haven't been masterpieces in the 90's. Sure, most people that watch a lot of films will agree lots of gems came out of the 70's (Deer Hunter is, incidentally, my favorite. The ending is one of the most powerful things I've ever seen. One that I don't think was listed is Annie Hall, another great.), but bear in mind they've all had 20+ years to snuggle themselves into people's hearts. Twenty years from now people will no doubt be discussing whether movies from the 90's were the best. But, for what it's worth, I'll try to list 10 films of the 90's that I feel are masterpieces, for varying reasons. 1)Eyes Wide Shut 2)The Thin Red Line 3) The Sweet Hereafter 4)The Blair Witch Project 5)Goodfellas 6)Schindler's List 7)Clerks 8)Pulp Fiction 9)Trainspotting 10)Life is Beautiful Those are just off of the top of my head, but there are more definitely. Just let some of these movies stand the 20 year test of time and we'll see how important they were.
Sept. 28, 1999, 9:16 p.m. CST
by Spell Checker
Braveheart is, and always will be, what Armageddon wanted (but failed miserably) to be... An epic, rousing tale that does more to fire one's adrenaline levels than fire ones synapses. Ina nutshell, it uses simple, straight forward, politically correct themes (told on 'comic bookian' levels) to rally audiences into rooting for the men in white. To say "We've seen the moment... we've even seen it done well. It's Mel Gibson on the rack screaming, "FREEDOM!!" is putting yourself down at the bottom of the movie review barrel, along with such 'cultural film pillars' as 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'Access Hollywood'. The moment that you're speaking of does nothing more than reveal the true 'depth' of a thematically shallow (albeit involving, rousing, and most of all wonderfully shot) film. While I enjoyed Braveheart for what it was, involving fluff, it ineptly aspires to be so very much more, and for that reason, ends up falling flat and relegating itself to the lower levels of 'Oscar bait' at best. Well written article, however that one comment bugged me.
Sept. 28, 1999, 9:56 p.m. CST
drakelake that is without question the finest piece of writing I have ever come across here, let's just hope more people than just me can appriciate it.
Sept. 28, 1999, 10:54 p.m. CST
I have great confidence that Luc Besson is going to create the best retelling of the Joan of Arc story ever. However, I have to say that I'm concerned about 1 thing. John M's accent. It's completely American. Even an English accent would've been better than the American accent. The Man in the Iron Mask wasn't a good film for obviuos reasons.... but the fact that out of the three musketeers only 1 of them had a French accent didn't help the situation. At least Braveheart was fairly consisten with their accents. Anyhow... I hope it's good. I also hope that John Mal. dies. DreamAway
Sept. 28, 1999, 11:05 p.m. CST
I'm not writing a thesis, I assure you. If I were, I wouldn't be submitting it for the perusal of sub-literates like Sarin Rufus. However, I do feel compelled to meet his challenge, and offer my own list of ten arguable "masterpieces." First, let me say that I watch films for entertainment only, and that the films which entertain me usually do not qualify as masterpieces. Top of my list for the '90's is "City of Lost Children," which I don't think I could ever tire of viewing. Frenchmen Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were responsible. The same duo also made "Delicatessen," a wickedly delightful film. "Delicatessen" is number two on my list. "Les Visiteurs" is number three. "L
Sept. 28, 1999, 11:53 p.m. CST
by All Thumbs
Nothing personal, but Armageddon strove to be a really long commercial, not an epic. I've seen this movie, thanks to my roommate who worships it, many, many times and each time it gets worse, although I have fun catching something new and Bruce Willis is actually pretty decent in it. I guess for me it's a throwaway movie--not something you love or even really like, but it's always on and you start to develop some bond to it like those movies shown on Comedy Central.***You know, I don't think that a movie is thought of as a masterpiece or a classic because it is perfect, but because of its representation of our culture, the way it is loved by movie lovers long after its original release, and the history behind the production. Think of how many people will one day say a movie like The Breakfast Club (while excellent, not considered a classic by many of us "cinema snobs," I suppose) is a classic and that's not just because TNT proclaims it a "new classic." Think also of how many people think of movies like The Wizard of Oz as a classic, but it was severly panned by critics. BTW, I would love to hear sarin's reasonings on why movies like Shawshank and Fargo aren't masterpieces or classics. Or maybe I don't.
Sept. 29, 1999, 12:25 a.m. CST
I agree with Drippy Bits that the drakelake post is one of the nicest bits of writing in a talkback I've seen for a while. Me, I'm usually a live and let live kinda guy, and am well aware that talkbacks, by their very nature, present an opportunity for those with ample egos or a need to prove their self-worth. Sarin Rufus is one such poster, much like Lane Myers before him - someone who inspires outrage of a magnitude large enough that others are coninuously driven to address his meanderings. Unfortunately - as if often the case with such posters - the postings themselves are pretty much of zero merit or humour. Like drakelake I am offended by his occasional homophobic outbursts and his continual need to foist his own opinions on anyone who can read, whilst simultaneously denying Harry and co similar rights. Of course Sarin will continue to post and agitate despite the fact that drakelake has succintly and comprehensively outlined the problems with his postings and why they should be ignored - albeit in a far more vicious way than I would!
Sept. 29, 1999, 1:08 a.m. CST
I'm not trying to stir your coffee or anything; I saw PI in the theatre twice and it was a good film, but any intelligence within seemed fake like the physics concepts were just read about and written into a treatment but not really understood. Very cool ideas, lots of silly coincidence but not really "applied" knowledge you know? Kind of built on a very weak support system. Any real mathematician would laugh this is just my opinion though. I did like the camera work that made humans seem like vibrating crude animated forms made of cells. A good illustration of bottom-up processing.
Sept. 29, 1999, 1:57 a.m. CST
I don't know if all of these qualify as masterpieces but they are my favorites of the 90's. I'm not going to rank them. Seven, Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, Dark City, The Big Lebowski, Contact, Heavenly Creatures, The Matrix, American Beauty and American History X. TPM almost made my list, so I love Star Wars... and I think the criticism is just due to people expecting the second coming of Christ instead of a new Episode of the Star Wars saga. Anyways maybe I'll discuss my choices later on but I'm tired now. Bye.
Sept. 29, 1999, 4:44 a.m. CST
I can't believe I read this friggin' review by Moriarty!!! I usually don't read spoilers, but I was SOOOO engrossed by Moriarty's eloquet words that i just kept reading and reading. By the time he was describing her confessions as a child, I was hooked. It wasn't until he started describing Dustinn Hoffman's character that I FORCED myself to close the damn Netscape window lest I read the entire spoiler and ruin one may be one of the best movies of the year. I have no idea how good this movie is going to be, but judging by Luc's last movie (which I love),...I'm sure this movie will rock! Ever since that one person described the trailer and finally when Harry posted a link to a sight to d/l it, suffice to say I'm there opening night. Keep up the good work Moriarty....ps: do you have an extra seat on that time machine of yours? (hey, what can i say, I'm a masochist)
Sept. 29, 1999, 7:02 a.m. CST
Drakelake (what does that mean?) made perhaps one of the best statements I've read here, but I must admit, we are all guilty of similar crimes, albeit to a lesser degree. While most of the rest of us don't deliberately try to goad others into being pissed off and defensive, we all easily take the bait from people like Rufus. In a previous post from a different article, I asked that we try to simply collectively ignore him, but I have found that difficult to do. And by taking the bait, we do nothing but stir up the pot further, hence our guilt as a group. But at least now we are addressing this issue, and as a result I have noticed many more positive, intelligently written talkbacks. I don't think they all need to be that way. . . the comic postings of those like narf and Pisso the Clown I appreciate. Likewise, I don't particularly care about swearing - I do it in the real world, so I see no reaosn to be bothered by it here. But the need to be obnoxious should be quelled by all, myself definitely included, and I hope we can succeed in maybe making this a intelligent yet funny forum.
Sept. 29, 1999, 7:32 a.m. CST
Very well put, both of you! A collective hands-up for supporting ignoring Rufus' drivel from now on!
Sept. 29, 1999, 10:03 a.m. CST
Is that BEST is in the eyes of the beholder. What one person thinks is the best, is not what several others will agree on. Although I truly enjoyed Braveheart (I love historical pieces, and am part of medieval re-enactments), I wouldn't put it any higher than #10 for the decade. Honestly, I don't think I'd claim more than a handful of early-90's movies as being Masterpieces...and again, it's because I like movies for different things. Some have great plots, sucky FX - and vice versa. So let's just respect other ppl's views, and not tell them what f-ing fools & morons they are...
Sept. 29, 1999, 10:23 a.m. CST
by Duke Ray
Those who cannot create, enjoy. Those who cannot enjoy, review. Those who cannot review, critique. Those who cannot critique, criticize. Those who cannot criticize, theorize. Those who cannot theorize, boycott. Those who cannot boycott, write "letters to the Editor." Those who cannot write "letters to the Editor," vandalize. Those who cannot vandalize, kick their dog. Those who cannot kick their dog, post Talk Back rants about how everything they don't like sucks.
Sept. 29, 1999, 10:56 a.m. CST
by A.K.A. LaneMyers
Did someone mention my name? It's amazing what kind of an effect I had here, absolutely amazing. Pissed everyone off and the pissed off in an amazing display that netted nearly SIX HUNDRED responses from people wanting to know what's what. There is no truth, only lies. That's what I love about film, it's all lies, pretty, flashy lies. Anyway, great review Moriarty. I really liked it, very informative and in keeping with the spirit of what I come here for anyway! SPOILERS! About lies though. When was the last time anyone told the truth about anything? Especially considering the Internet? THink about it, the ability to be able to put your immediate thougths out for public consumption at will, is a horribly frightening thing. Everyone in their own way is totally full of shit and will dazzle you with amazing displays of said shit every opportunity you give them. I'm no different than anyone else. I love shit! Shit is my stock and trade. I can dispell shit the likes of which would choke Richard Nixon I'm proud to say. Basically what it boils down to is, it's all shit and shit meaning lies. Every morsel of truth is coated in 90% shit. The shit being the crap we put on top of the truth to make it more interesting and let's face it, when was the last time the truth was interesting? No one knows the answer to that, because no one can remember the last time they got the truth without a healthy side order of shit. Basically, what I'm saying here is, I enjoy Moriarty's shit that he serves with the truth. I enjoy Harry's shit that he serves with the truth. This site serves some premium shit. Keep up the good work. The talk back however, is boring as Hell these days. I've only been reading for a few days, but man, whoa, damn. When did the obvious become the hot topic of conversation? What happened to the guys who would write some thought provoking shit? It was served with a massive amount of shit, (I should know:) but at least it was interesting to read. I've always considered the AICN talk back to be a bit more.....fun than your average message board. Long story short? Where's the cool shit? Where did it go? Is there a shit shortage or did everyone just wake up one morning and feel the need to act serious in all things they do? Thank you for your time.
Sept. 29, 1999, 11:01 a.m. CST
Now THAT was the best post I've read in a LONG time. Good show, Duke.
Sept. 29, 1999, 11:05 a.m. CST
I was talking about Duke Ray's post, by the way. AKA's was merely amusing.
Sept. 29, 1999, 11:22 a.m. CST
What makes a 'good' film - the preference and prejudice of the audience, or the vision and the integrity of the filmmakers? Is not a film a 'good' film when the filmmaker achieves his own vision? I think so. Were this not the case, then BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and THERES SOMETHING ABOUT MARY would be considered 'good' film; hordes of audience response says it is so. Knowing nothing of the film, the actor, the story, the hype prior to seeing the movie, my reaction, for the first and only time in all my years of film viewing was stunned silence as the final credits rolled. I remember clearly that I turned my body slightly away from the presence of my friend; indeed, I commanded breath to cease for just a moment. Any intrusion into that moment would steal me away from that absolute magic I had just experienced. I read much later that this was exactly the response Mr. Gibson aimed for. BH is not about synapses or adrenaline; it is about passion. It was not seeing Mel Gibson on the rack that stirred the soul; it was all that led to that moment. It was the honesty of the vision brought to life; it was the passion of those noble qualities in the heart of man that we rarely experience in these cynical times, represented on the Big Screen by a common man. Wallace wasn't brave in his cell; we saw his fear. He didn't refuse to drink the poison because he was brave; he refused it because he feared if he allowed himself the slightest comfort he would weaken and forsake his ideals. Mels Wallace was Human - not a hero, but a man. If that's Entertainment Tonight then sign me up. BTW, the end of Joan of Arc "as she bucks and twists her eyes find something, lock on" is taken *directly* from BH as Wallace eyes lock on the face of the child in the crowd. I must remind myself that many of the people who post on these TalkBacks are industry people who have a vested interest, either personal or professional, in attacking the works of another - especially the guy in front. Perhaps Hollywood is unforgiving of Mel because it just isn't permissible to be awesomely good looking, supremely multi-talented, courageous - and alive. Maybe people want to knock him down because he just simply refuses to fit into anyones mold. I think he's so far ahead of the pack that it takes too long for others to catch up. People don't like what they don't understand.
Sept. 29, 1999, 1:27 p.m. CST
To Duke: Great posting ... Great! I will say this... a film can become great,in my eyes, because of its emotional core. BraveHeart is a great film... the scene in the beginning between young Wallace and the girl ... beautiful ... and that scene is brought to a complete circle when Mel returns the flower to his love years later... The scene between Mel and the young Queen ... when he reveals what happened to his wife and that the young Queen must open her eyes and just when he is nearly overcome with emotion ( a weakness that he could not fall back into) he tells "You tell your King that William Wallace will not be rule or any Scott while I live!" Good stuff ... good stuff. Films that move me ... those are the films I consider great ... in no particular order. Here it goes ... " Good Will Hunting ", "Chasing Amy"....
Sept. 29, 1999, 5:16 p.m. CST
It sure is nice to believe that you would never fall into the trap of checking back into a talkback to see if anyone has responded to your post, but... what can I say, I'm only human - three parts water and one part ego! So I feel compelled to respond, a mite peevishly I know, to 'trepanned'. Let me state that I love films unequivocally. I'm a buttered popcorn and coke kid from way back. I love the thrill of cinema, whether it's 'The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms' or 'La Chinoise' - I like that feeling of searching out the obscure and wonderful as much as I can't help but stand in line for the hyped and woeful! Those people that supposedly 'suck all the life... out of movies' - those with some awareness of film theory - are often those making the damn things. What do you think happens at film school - it's not all about which end of the camera is which and finding out why film stock is different from chicken stock. Many of the directors of films over the last thirty or so years, many of whom you probably love and admire - have also studied film theory. Moreover, it is a sad kind of person who decides that the only love one can express for something is a transient, surface one. Don't you have a passion for something that you have made a point of finding out everything about? A period in history? A band? A collection of postage stamps? A football team? The fact is I can appreciate the ideas of someone like Christian Metz just as I can leave my brain at the door and holler and stomp during a screening of 'Starship Troopers'. Some flicks I'll walk right out of smiling, grab a coffee and a smoke and instantly the film's gone from my head. Others hit me on emotional levels I can't begin to dissect without a few years of hard therapy. Some others get the gears in my head turning over so damn hard that the neighbours complain about the racket. It is also fair to point out that I ain't a film teacher - I just happen to have read an average of two or so books a week for over 20 years or so (and if you think claiming you like to read a lot is boastful, then you are truly sad individual). In the process, I have read a fair number of post-structualist tracts. Along with a shitload of genre stuff, from horror to sf, books on Byzantine history, space and physics, Booker prize winners, biographies, graphic novels, plays - well, you get the gist. So I can say with some degree of certainty that Rufus is either not a film student at all, or not a particularly good (or pleasant) one, and provide some reasons for making that judgement. Much the same as, say, someone who had a reasonable idea about the rules of soccer, the English league and the last few FA Cups could pick someone up that clearly knows very little about the game, but wants to trumpet that knowledge as loudly as possible. Doesn't mean that the former person has to be a league player or a soccer historian. Just someone with a bit of passion for their subject. And a dislike for simplistic, sweeping judgements of the types made consistently by Rufus and, it appears, by yourself; judgements made on very little evidence but stemming from - in Rufus's case - a bloated self-image and a plethora of prejudices.
Sept. 29, 1999, 7:17 p.m. CST
I didn't read this review because of the spoiler warning, but when I read Harry's comment about how Moriarty thought this movie was a transcendant piece of art, I nearly wasted my dinner. NOT EVERY MOVIE IS A GREAT MOVIE! If every movie lived up to its potential as described on this site, every movie would win the Best Picture Oscar. At this point, its clear that Harry and the rest are hiding it when they dislike a movie, so as not to dash anyone's hopes. That doesn't mean Moriarty doesn't like "The Messenger," but it seems like most people at this site are far too willing to overlook flaws in a movie. For Chrissakes, how 'bout some HONESTY in this insane world.
Sept. 29, 1999, 7:59 p.m. CST
1. Braveheart 2. Trainspotting 3. Eyes Wide Shut 4. Pulp Fiction 5. Interview With The Vampire 6. Schindler's List 7. Seven 8. The Matrix. 9. The Silence of the Lambs 10. Face/Off
Sept. 29, 1999, 9:27 p.m. CST
In no particular order, my personal selections that I can sit through an infinite number of times: (1) ELECTION (2) JURASSIC PARK (3) GREMLINS 2 (4) EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (5) BATMAN RETURNS (6) SCHINDLER'S LIST (7) SEVEN (8) SCREAM (9) TITANIC (10) OUT OF SIGHT
Sept. 29, 1999, 11:30 p.m. CST
You evil bastard Moriarty, what a strangely compelling and powerful review of events that happened long ago. Up till now there hasn't been a film that one would call worthy of the tragic and glorious saga that was Joan's life. I am hoping that this movie will be it - a movie that will harken back to the artistry and sheer emotional power of Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures". Great movies are rare, great epics are rarer still. In five weeks we shall know. Keep that time machine of yours underwraps.
Sept. 30, 1999, 12:11 a.m. CST
by Loki Trickster
You know, maybe the reason that Moriarty and Harry give so many great reviews is not because they're media shills, or puppets of the studios, or trying to not disappoint anyone...perhaps they give good reviews because, well fuck, maybe they like movies. Harry seems to like even shitty movies, and Moriarty (while having slightly better tastes) seems to like a lot of movies. Of course, another reason that good reviews are coming out is that there are really good movies coming out. It's been a long time since so many better-than-decent movies have come out...of course there's still a lot of shit coming out, but they don't normally review the shitty movies unless they're superhumanly shitty...most bad movies they probably don't even go to...perhaps that has something to do with the good reviews they write...or am I just talking out of my ass? -Loki
Sept. 30, 1999, 3:56 a.m. CST
This late in the game, it's unlikely that anyone will read this but fuck it... 10. Glengarry Glen Ross...9. Lone Star (to the idiot mutha who said this was overrated...you don't live in Texas, that's pretty damn obvious. I knew these people.) 8. The Iron Giant(the best American animated film of the decade) 7. Seven. (Will Fight Club beat this?) 6. American Beauty. (The more I think about this film, the greater it gets.) 5. Ed Wood. (Tim Burton's best, hands down.) 4. Pulp Fiction. 3. Reservoir Dogs. 2. The Truman Show. (I work in a video store, where this is on the playlist. EVERY time I see this again something different shows up. Watch this about 20 times and prove me wrong. This is a phenomenal work.) 1. Schindler's List. (The best film of the decade. No other film - including Shoah - has brought the Holocaust so personally home. And the quality of the filmmaking and acting is stunning. this will be the one remembered for the ages.) To say this decade's movies sucked is to sell it far too short. If you spent your 90's riding the hype machine you deserved the letdowns that Godzilla, Batman and Robin, and Armageddon gave you. As American Beauty said, look closer. There were some films here that would never have been made anywhere else. This list doesn't even really come close. Next month it'll probably be entirely different. (Did Miller's Crossing come out in 1990? If so, I'll have to readjust...)
Oct. 1, 1999, 4:57 a.m. CST
Luc Besson's official website is open. There is lots of new Joan of Arc info there (pictures, costume information, and more!). Warning : many pages are still under construction. www.luc-besson.com Salut
Oct. 1, 1999, 5:13 a.m. CST
Hey, I've made an error when I was sending my last message. The beginning is good but the Luc Besson's french letter has nothing to do with it. Sorry.
Oct. 1, 1999, 1:06 p.m. CST
by The Consul
I think everyone really deserves a pat on the back for really offering something to the conversation. I really care about what you all have to say. I always feel sad when I think of Joan of Arc. It's not good to be burnt at the stake. Some people are talking about it looking cool. But it's not cool to be burnt at the stake. I think this movie sounds pretty good and I'm going to go and see it. I think Besson is great. And his movies are great. I think Joan is great. So I think these elements really work togeter. Great Director + Great subject matter makes a great movie. I think Moriarty is great too. We should all give a round of applause to Moriarty for evoking such powerful emotions in his review.
Oct. 2, 1999, 9:04 a.m. CST
Thank you for the review - I was sitting here reading the other day with two thoughts running through my head - "THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU...." and "YOUBARSTARDYOUBARSTARDYOUBARSTARD...." I am dying to see this film! And so far as I know it isn't being released in Australia till February 10 next year - what a load of crap! Well later kids! ~rebecca "I'm just the messenger" PS - I have also ordered that En attendant Jeanne book from www.fnac.fr that you guys had all those pictures from!
Oct. 2, 1999, 11:38 a.m. CST
I'm not gonna post a list of my favourite films here, and I'm not going to add any fuel to the fires already raging in this TalkBack, nor comment on the relevance of all that whining and complaining and cursing. All I'd like to do is ask Moriarty if he saw the "Joan of Arc" miniseries with Leelee Sobieski, and how does it compare with Luc Besson's new film? I've seen a few parts of the miniseries and found it very, very boring, but most of the time, it kept me wondering why people back in them Middle Ages were so clean and wore so much makeup. It was medieval France, people. People back then, including legendary heroines, weren't glamourous. Thank You! By the way, Mister Moriarty, nice review, and I can't wait to see the movie.
Nov. 21, 1999, 6:20 p.m. CST
Good evening everyone... I was completely disillusioned by The Messenger...I didn't particularly like the strange unloving portrayel of Christ, although he was engrossing in that mighty, supernatural way. On top of that, (and please correct me if I'm wrong) it appeared that Satan (Dustin Hoffman)is the one who confessed/absolved Joan in those last scenes. How is that possible? What did you (the reader) think about the cross? I've been reeling about this for days...someone help please... By the way, why don't we mention great movies like Sliding Doors and Dangerous Beauty? What about Legend, or The Last Unicorn...? What about awe inspiring movies like The Never Ending Story or Willow or The Secret of Nim or Photographing Fairies? What about Ice Storm, K2, Good Morning Vietnam, Star Man, and Benny and Joon? What about Hoosiers? I suppose these might not be classics, but I feel like the only person in the world who loves them anyway.
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