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Cougar's Favorite Videos--
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The Best Videos of the Century

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Thumbnail Reviews of the Cougar's Favorite Videos:

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Video Archive

(reviews entered through February 2001; for newer reviews please see the category pages above):


The Firm
...Grisham's thriller is carried out here to perfection.

Thelma and Louise
...What happens to two women--to a society--when rape is condoned or overlooked? An irreversible drive to violence and freedom.

Dolores Claiborne
...Stephen King makes good as a master dramatist, with a domestic tale all too real, with madness and "murder" all too plausible.

Carlito's Way
...A Pacino masterpiece: a true tragic hero in the modern mode--well-intentioned but doomed by karmic circumstance

Smilla's Sense of Snow
...Riveting thriller set in Denmark and Greenland, about a beautiful yet cold woman of Greenlandic descent, a murdered Inuit boy, and a covered-up mining discovery that threatens to spread death in exchange for fame and fortune. The bad scientist gets it in the end, of course.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (original version)
...Tamer than the remake, with enough difference to make them both interesting enough to see. James Garfield is even likeable here, and Lana Turner more understandable than the Jessica Lange portrayal. Nick the Greek is almost charming.

Undercover Blues
...An entertaining family-espionage comedy

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
...The Seventies obligatory blood-climax rides again; a precursor to the growing trend of humor in any subject.

Reservoir Dogs
...If you liked Pulp Fiction, you’ll love Resevoir Dogs. Tarantino shines with offbeat dialogue, perfectly meshed character and plot, and gripping suspense. If you can stand some gore (and this will test you) you will be rewarded with a fine work of art.

...Classic cops and robbers featuring DeNiro vs. Pacino. The plot fills out nicely with the overlapping subplots of the principal characters and the principal women in their lives.

...A wrenching study of abuse and revenge, artfully plotted and presented.

Social History

United 93 (link to review)
...Gripping, suspenseful (and suspect) "realistic" "documentary" portraying the official "heroic" struggle for control of the fourth "hijacked airliner" of 9/11

The Hunt for Red October
...Sean Connery plays a renegade Russian sub captain in this tightly plotted thriller. Nice mood and atmosphere here. Everything works; though it's all a bit of a stretch, right down to the circling torpedo.

Black Robe
...Black but true: a story of a priest's dedication to his faith in practice in hostile early Canada

Babette's feast
...foreign film, one of those stark, harsh Scandinavian village settings, with the austere and pious folk who will lovingly be pulled, however unwillingly, toward the sensual delights of gourmet Parisian food and drink

This is an all-time great-especially if you happened to have grown up in the fifties. After seeing this movie my own memories are unclear: though definitely in black-and-white, as depicted in this film--a major motif in itself. How much do I remember and how much overwrote my memory from innumerable TV shows that filled that standard American suburban childhood? How much are simply the B&W family photos, interspersed with increasing color as the decade passed from the bland and cardboard fifties into the vibrant flower-colors of the explosive sixties? This film is a parable of that change, and works wonderfully on both the personal growth and relationship level, and the social convention-cultural change level. Even race relations as a theme comes along for the ride, though no "coloreds" appear in person. Sex has a place here too, with an interesting role yet carefully enough presented to be profitably watched by, say, a nine year old and an eleven year old without being offensive.

Oliver Stone’s portrait of the defining character of American political history in the second half of the twentieth century is disturbing, illuminating, overwhelming, impressive, artful: a poetic statement on a grand scale. A worthy sequel to the revolutionary incisiveness of "JFK," this epic gives a human face to the beastly nature of modern geopolitics. Nixon, to Stone’s credit, wears this face in all its sympathetic, tragic, fatally flawed glory. Here is the man, beset with his own psychic struggles and simple ambitions, who dared to ride the beast and was thrown off bucking to the ground.

Here’s the political statement established beyond question in "JFK" and elaborated in "Nixon": world politics, driven ostensibly by the most powerful nation in the world, is at the mercy of gangsters. Gangsters and Big Money—the privately powerful—strike deals with government through covert liaisons such as the CIA. The deal is this: Protect us from prosecution and we will kill your enemies for you, our way. We will even fund your next campaign. Just let us continue doing business the way we like to do it. If you don’t like this deal, we can end it for you at any time: "in a heartbeat": our way.

...Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicolson star in epic-length true saga of two headstrong, left-wing journalists at time of Russian Revolution. Excellent portrayal of war between politics and art, free love and commitment.

The War of the Buttons
...well-plotted, charming story of boys’ gang fighting in Ireland

Wag the Dog
...Dustin Hoffman steals this uncannily timely show as a Hollywood producer saving the ass of an embarrassed President through a staged phony war on news clips. DeNiro supports and, ironically, is the movie’s producer.

Seven Years in Tibet
...This movie dragged relentlessly. Not even the occasional scenery redeemed it. Read the
book instead: it’s riveting.

Dances with Wolves
...I put off watching this for years, expecting the stock tragedy of the Indian wars. Instead, this is a full-bodied treatment that leaves our humanity free in the end despite the known history in close pursuit.

Dog Day Afternoon
...don't let shallow start throw you off. Great early Pacino, and capsule of early '70's.

...think you have problems with plumbing, wiring, terrorism, bureaucracy? Try this.

...I felt I owed it to myself to explore my Scottish roots. This filled a large gap in understanding that ragged history. So much treachery, so much courage, so much bloodshed. Another upbeat ending for a potential downer of a history lesson.

...Jack Nicolson shines in this tight mystery with a political edge. Too bad about the so-tragic ending so popular in the seventies.

Richard III
...Wry retelling of Shakespeare, set in an alternate past (England of 1930’s). The Shakespearean diction fits oddly but well. Be prepared for something different: tragedy made comic by style and irony.

...Some friends of mine enjoyed this, so I will only say it’s unusual, brash, street-real, and has the feel of a genre-definer: the dirty British realism that somehow comes off with a crooked smile and a lot of profanity to lace an unpleasant past, present and future. No wonder these characters are all junkies: too much needling for my stomach.

Soylent Green
...Charlton Heston in an almost-silly sci-fi premise, that the future masses are fed by our own dead; but it’s just plausible enough to be worth considering, and is entertaining besides.

When We Were Kings
...Muhammed Ali in all his glory: beating Foreman in Zaire. The sound track, featuring the great black music performers of the seventies (B.B. King, James Brown, and more) along with stage closeups, is an added bonus throughout. Fight footage is actually minimal as we see the complete man, Clay-Ali.

Howard’s End
...Ironically enough, a close fit with Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Only the setting is changed, to protect the guilty: in this case the upper class English. We are treated to an interminable display of country settings and townhouse teas, which portray all too well the life of a class that receives harsh justice in the end.


Stealing Beauty
Classy Bertolucci film about a beautiful girl's coming of age, among the company of an inbred cast of eccentric expatriates living in a villa in the Italian countryside.

Something Wild
Quirky escapade by woman looking for kicks and a suburban executive type who's taken for a ride. Trouble comes in the form of the woman's hubby fresh from the joint. One of those weird and wonderful combinations of comic tension, like Pulp Fiction.

A classic treatment of different peoples' lives, which touch each other only peripherally yet are closely woven in core themes centering around forgiveness and reconciliation. Quirky and brilliant. Excellent casting, dialogue and situational emotion. See this film!

...A true and sensitive story of C.S. Lewis, portrayed richly by Anthony Hopkins. Lewis wrote and taught and lectured about love and life and pain, but until he met an American divorcee he wasn't able to experience firsthand the fullness of these universals. When he finally does so he connects not only with her son, but with his own buried childhood, the source of magic in his books.

Like Water for Chocolate
...Well-constructed plot based on the novel of a woman made loveless by her oppressive family tradition: but love, and the fantastic power of desire, will not be kept down.

City of Angels
...An angel tries out the human experiment in order to experience love. Pain comes along for the ride.

A Dangerous Woman
...Disturbing character not quite ready for the world--or for love--but her ending is upbeat, a beginning

...A quirky, award-winning documentary-style film about a calendar-photographer, the woman he brings to Armenia to translate for him, the loss of her and the repetitive courtship of others.

The Horse Whisperer (DVD)
...A great, captivating movie with four strong plots interwoven, each centered on a main character: a horse, a girl, a woman, a cowboy. Most stories are built on one or two: this one weaves all four beautifully. The only drawback is the retrospective predictability of its outcome; but the strength in the plot is that we don’t believe in that outcome until it happens.

Paris, Texas
...Offbeat story working off the tension of a silent desert wanderer, to rediscover his past, and to bring resolution through the reunion of his son and his wife. Cannes award winner; great photography.

Scent of a Woman
...starring Al Pacino as a classic jerk we are forced to love in the end

The Joy Luck Club
...a classic of family patterns, with heartbreaking Chinese cultural scenes throughout

Shirley Valentine
...An English housewife takes off for Greece to find a new life: and succeeds. This is a down-to-earth, English-witty, non-Hollywood tour of midlife crisis and redemption.

The Matchmaker
...A light-hearted version of life in the down-and-dirty British outlands. This movie I believe was supposed to be funny, but wasn’t. Lacking that, there was nothing left to recommend it.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar
...Another seventies tragedy, with the obligatory murder at the end merely punctuating a sad and relentless tale of a young woman drifting through life in San Francisco. This movie is made with style, however, its whole essence imbued with this scent of despair, this inescapable oppression, this noise and glitter and abuse. In this case, the movie far outdoes the book in carrying out the portrayal of a doomed life.

The Arts

Stomp Out Loud
Smash Off-Broadway percussion show takes to the streets with brooms, basketballs, bungie cords, sewer pipes, kitchen knives, playing cards...anything that will make a rhythmic texture. In one joyful hour this group will make you aware of the rhythm pervasive in every act of our living.


Swimming to Cambodia
An entertaining public reading performance by the actor/author of the acclaimed novel, as he tells tales of his travels in Cambodia. Part of his experience involved a minor part in the film "The Killing Fields," so some footage and sound track is used to highlight the reading. Gray's range is impressive, from the atrocities of the Pol Pot era to the personal foibles of a middle-aged Yank in what threatens, at any of a number of potentially "perfect moments," to become the Paradise he seeks so passionately.

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
...An artful story of the depressing life of the famous Hollywood writer, Dorothy Parker.

Straight, No Chaser
...Documentary of the life and work of Thelonius Monk, the great and groundbreaking jazz pianist. He was unique, driven, obsessed, filled with genius. He lived for music, and music alone.

Hearts of Darkness
...Documentary goes behind the scenes of Apocalypse Now. Impossible budget and logistical and cast problems…kind of like the war itself: everyone went kind of crazy.

The Doors
...Portrays the rise and fall of the rock god Morrison exceptionally well under the direction of Oliver Stone, with Val Kilmer as Jim.

Dead Poets Society
...Robin Williams stars in this moving confrontation of conformity at a boys’ prep school, and the poetic impulse for freedom, individual expression and live group bonding. A tragic end, but that is the nature of poetry in a world captive by the gods of "realism."


Latcho Drom
...A wonderful film about gypsies and their music. Not so much a documentary, or travelogue, as a heart-full journey with a band of gypsies over the route of their historic wanderings as a people, from India and North Africa through Europe from east to west. The music is top-quality, and expresses the inner quality of life kept alive in this resilient people.

... Fellini's surrealistic remake of the classic drama: memorably freakish characters and scenes of Nero's Rome and its archetypal landscapes.

Citizen Kane
... Touted as the greatest film ever, it's a classic view of the rise and fall of human ambition. Even the greatest in power and wealth cannot escape the needs of the inner child.

Wild Strawberries
...A Bergman classic, every shot a masterpiece, right to the ending as humanly satisfying as it is unHollywood. Good for us to see these lessons of old age before it’s too late…

The Secret of Roan Inish
...magical depiction of Irish myth and lifestyle, captivating for all ages.

Cape Fear--with Robert DeNiro
...hold your breath for two hours. This outhitchcocks Hitchcock for pure suspense.

At Play in the Fields of the Lord
...a perfect novel, even better than the excellent film

Tropic of Cancer
...If there was ever a case of a movie falling short of a book, this is it. A drab sequence of sexual episodes and begging money off friends, punctuated by an occasionaly inspiring section of prose read from the real thing. Buy the book instead.

Big Night
...Charming and unique, this tale of a small Italian restaurant on the brink of bankruptcy shines right to its slice-of-life end.

The Scarlet Letter
...Hollywood reinvents the classic Hawthorne tale, and if I remember him correctly, this version is decidedly more positive in the end—after a progression from dark to darker still. The Indian raid as deus-ex-machina almost undercuts it, however. Still, I like this upbeat trend in nineties movies. We’ve had enough tragedy of every sort, so that even when we revisit it, it benefits our soul to see a more freeing outcome. Otherwise, why bother?

Out There

The Game
...An intriguing thriller that will keep you guessing even when it's over. A high-level executive is given a birthday present by his brother, one he'll never forget. The Game is tailored to each person's psychological profile, their deepest karmic need. Just when you think it's twisted far enough, the next move comes crashing through. (If you like this film and its premise, you'll also enjoy a new ebook of the same ilk: Future.Con, by Nowick Gray).

The Stand
...four-reel Stephen King epic is 2-4 times to long, but still gripping with its archetypal, apocalyptic forces of good and evil, with common human characters drawn into tragedy, destiny, final conflict and triumph...

The City of Lost Children
...The European dark vision in full macabre weirdness. Steal the children's dreams and what have you got?--human monsters…

Four Rooms
...Wild wacky Tarantino romp through a bellboy's highest and lowest fantasies made real.

...Good exterior view of what it's like to do too much, trying to wear too many hats. Technology may have the answer. Then again, maybe not…

Lawnmower Man
...Faust meets Frankenstein meets Flowers for Algernon, Steven King style. Stunning virtual reality sequences. The extremes of human potential and civilized savagery meet. Who wins? One of those great open endings…leading to Lawnmower Man 2, next on my list.

Babe: Pig in the City
...If you like monkeys in clothes, see it. Talking dogs, singing cats…the animation for the moving mouths is astonishing. Great voice-casting.

Men in Black
...pure Spielberg camp humor and laughable, awesome effects. Great for escaping.

...Unique, documentary footage and soundtrack, depicting resonant aspects of human and natural life throughout the planet. From jungle to city, monkey to robot, prison to monastery, we see the face of humanity in its utmost possibilities. A must-see!

Awakening to Zero Point--The Collective Initiation
...a video demonstrating cosmic and personal change

...Would you woo an earth librarian
make it your last salvo
leadership comes from within
Remain open to the message
we are not alone

Ground Hog Day
...I saw it, what, two, three times? Or was it a dream. A light premise, perhaps: waking up to repeat one’s day, day after day: but the importance of the message grows on you. Especially for those who entertain belief in reincarnation, or who fall prey to nasty patterns in relationship.

...The movie is almost as good as the Michael Crichton book by the same name, in presenting this theme of utmost importance: we create our own reality, for better or worse.

Altered States
...Were all movies from the seventies (even 1980) hokey and primitive-looking? This one has some pretty good light shows, but a hokey premise (man turned literally into beast via genetic intervention by hallucinogenic mushrooms).

The Philadelphia Experiment
...a failed experiement in turning a fascinating coverup into a familiar sci-fi script, complete with cardboard romance as its centerpiece.

Back to the Future
...A thoroughly entertaining time-machine story for all ages: 1985-1955.

Back to the Future 2
...Into the future this time we go, but keep those keys away from Bif!

Back to the Future 3
...Concludes the trilogy…for now. This time the jump is to 1885.

Alien Resurrection
...The imagery was compelling, the sets awe-inspiring, the technical wizardry polished, and the plot rather lacking in science while heavy on the fiction.

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