Cougar's Favorite Videos--
a tip sheet with thumbnail reviews
(or search at Amazon.com)
Thumbnail Reviews of the Cougar's Favorite Videos:
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(reviews entered through February 2001; for newer reviews please
see the category pages above):
is carried out here to perfection.
...What happens to two women--to a society--when
rape is condoned or overlooked? An irreversible drive to violence
...Stephen King makes good as a master
dramatist, with a domestic tale all too real, with madness and
"murder" all too plausible.
...A Pacino masterpiece: a true tragic
hero in the modern mode--well-intentioned but doomed by karmic
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.
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.
...An entertaining family-espionage
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
...The Seventies obligatory blood-climax
rides again; a precursor to the growing trend of humor in any
...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.
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
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 but true: a story of a priest's
dedication to his faith in practice in hostile early Canada
...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":
...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.
War of the Buttons
...well-plotted, charming story of boys’
gang fighting in Ireland
...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.
Years in Tibet
...This movie dragged
relentlessly. Not even the occasional scenery redeemed it. Read
book instead: it’s riveting.
...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.
...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.
...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.
...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
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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
...An angel tries out the human experiment
in order to experience love. Pain comes along for the ride.
...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
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
...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.
of a Woman
...starring Al Pacino as a classic jerk
we are forced to love in the end
Joy Luck Club
...a classic of family patterns, with
heartbreaking Chinese cultural scenes throughout
...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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
Parker and the Vicious Circle
...An artful story of the depressing
life of the famous Hollywood writer, Dorothy Parker.
...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.
...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.
...Portrays the rise and fall of the
rock god Morrison exceptionally well under the direction of Oliver
Stone, with Val Kilmer as Jim.
...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."
...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.
... 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
...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…
Secret of Roan Inish
...magical depiction of Irish myth and
lifestyle, captivating for all ages.
...hold your breath for two hours. This
outhitchcocks Hitchcock for pure suspense.
Play in the Fields of the Lord
...a perfect novel, even better than
the excellent film
...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.
...Charming and unique,
this tale of a small Italian restaurant on the brink of bankruptcy
shines right to its slice-of-life end.
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?
...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).
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
City of Lost Children
...The European dark vision in full
macabre weirdness. Steal the children's dreams and what have you
...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…
...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.
...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
...a video demonstrating cosmic and
...Would you woo an earth librarian
make it your last salvo
leadership comes from within
Remain open to the message
we are not alone
...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
...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).
...a failed experiement in turning a
fascinating coverup into a familiar sci-fi script, complete with
cardboard romance as its centerpiece.
to the Future
...A thoroughly entertaining time-machine
story for all ages: 1985-1955.
to the Future 2
...Into the future this time we go,
but keep those keys away from Bif!
to the Future 3
...Concludes the trilogy…for now. This
time the jump is to 1885.
...The imagery was compelling, the sets
awe-inspiring, the technical wizardry polished, and the plot rather
lacking in science while heavy on the fiction.