Cougar's Favorite Videos--
a tip sheet with thumbnail reviews
(or search at Amazon.com)
entries appear first in the sections below.
Lifestyle/Crime | Love/Relationship
| The Arts | Classics
| Out There
Thumbnail Reviews of the Cougar's Favorite Videos:
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Story of Cambodian war after Vietnam. Khmer Rouge wins capital
and sends everyone out to work or die in countryside. NYT journalist
and local translator barely escape. Gripping personal story in
context of genocidal civil war.
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.