THE VERDICT – Best Motion Picture: 1988

At last! After almost three months of struggling with my blog and with my school works, here I am to present the verdict.

# 1 and # 2 were sure things, I had sudden change of feelings with #3 and # 4, and # 5 was a sure one.

You can just click on the titles for their profiles.
 

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5. Mississippi Burning

It’s a well-accomplished film with some fine performances and startling scenes that will surely overwhelm a viewer, but it suffers from its undertones that are obviously too political. It comes as a dated propaganda, but still fine, film.

3

Best Scene: KKK attack after a prayer meeting
Best Performance: Gene Hackman as Anderson

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4. The Accidental Tourist

It’s a heartwrenching story of grief and sorrow that is not for everyone’s taste. Its pace may keep viewers away from this film, but William Hurt’s internalized turn as the grieving father is a thing to be cherished. Maybe it’s too proper to be daring or to be something new, but it’s really good.

3

Best Scene: The final scene, waiting for a cab
Best Performance: William Hurt as Macon Leary

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3. Rain Man

It’s a very simple story, but equipped with brilliant performances that are guaranteed to tug your hearts. It’s one of those cases there simplicity is beauty. The power of it lies on its honesty in the subject matter.

4

Best Scene: The kitchen fire scene
Best Performance: Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt

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2. Dangerous Liaisons

A fabulous, smart, and thrillingly executed game of lust and betrayal. With its topnotch acting from its cast, a smartly-handled direction, and a screenplay for the ages, this is an unmissable work of art a genius can only make.

Best Scene: The ending, wiping off the face of the manipulator
Best Performance: Glenn Close as Marquise de Merteuil

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1. Working Girl

Well, I just need to go against the wave of hate against this film: this is a beautifully crafted film that lives on a truthful but fun truth of the business trade. It’s not lightweight, it speaks of an intelligent but accessible side of the business, and it’s an inspiring take with everything going with it: skillful direction, wonderful cast, masterful screenplay, and brilliance.

Best Scene: Which one? I can’t choose! Maybe the opening credits, soaring with the spirit of hope in the tune of “Let The River Run”
Best Performance: Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill

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Except for the sudden change of my preference, changing the 3rd and the 4th, it’s what I really expected. Except for Mississippi Burning, I can say that it was quite a strong year.

I haven’t seen much that year, but here is my personal ballot:

The Accidental Tourist
Dangerous Liaisons
Married to the Mob
Rain Man
Working Girl

Rain Man had the biggest chances of winning, so no surprises, really. This is how I see what happened in the voting:

1. Rain Man (big winner)

(big margin)

2. Dangerous Liaisons (the missing Best Director nom is backstabbing)

3. Mississippi Burning (political films do well with Oscars)

4. Working Girl (the light part of the roster; could have attracted some fans)

5. The Accidental Tourist ( I think people then are just afraid to tell how bored they were with this film)

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What’s you pick? Do you agree with the Academy, or with me, or you have a different choice?

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Best Picture Profile: Rain Man

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Company: United Artists

Runtime: 133 minutes

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Charlie Babbitt, an on-the-go car dealer, is living in the fast lane. However, his father suddenly dies, leaving him to act to get his share of the inheritance. He wants to have it all. But what was left for him? An old classy car and a flower bed. Where’s the rest? It’s to be given to his brother Ray, who happens to be an autistic savant.

This annoys the hell out of him, since he thinks that Ray wouldn’t do anything with the riches since he is autistic. In his desperation to get his fair share, he kidnaps him and brings them in a crazy road trip where Charlie loses his girlfriend over a fight over Ray, among others.

In this crazy trip, he slowly builds up a relationship with him that he did not expect. Charlie started to care for Ray. It even comes to a point where he becomes selfless and cares for both of their sake. He forgets that he is kidnapping Ray, and he also uses him to play card games in Las Vegas since he knows it.

Ray had his first kiss, and he had his first dance with his brother Charlie. Now, Charlie could already get his part of inheritance, as the lawyer said, but he doesn’t care for it anymore. Charlie only wants the custody of Ray, but he couldn’t decide whether he would go back to his house or stay with his brother Charlie. In the end, Ray goes back to his home, and Charlie promises  to visit him soon.

I never expected that I would really like this since I remember feeling cold after watching this for the first time.

It carries such emotional resonance to everyone and to me especially because it’s a very simple story and yet, the whole relationship between Charlie and Ray is so well built-up that, in the end, you forget that Charlie kidnapped Ray. I can connect personally to it, but the important thing is it speaks the universal language of unexpected love.

Director Barry Levinson does quite a good job holding this movie together. It’s really close to being a TV movie, but he makes very slick moves to create such compelling results,  making it cinematic. The moves at a very well-decided pace that we don’t get bored and at the same time, we have enough time to establish the connection between us and Charlie and Ray. I

t’s really very simple, especially in the direction. But Levinson makes it sure that don’t get dragged around either by the pace or the sentimentality the story carries. I’m not sure it it was really anything revolutionary, but the direction really fits the movie.

As for me, there are a lot of well-directed scenes, building up the tension, humor, and drama. But for me, it’s the simple scene of Charlie and Ray going to the psychiatrist. It’s a normal scene, no music, not much I guess, just talking. And when the doctor is observing Ray, we have this reaction shot at Charlie, zooming in at his face. You may consider it a very small and unimportant shot, but it gives us the feeling that Charlie observes Ray in a level that hadn’t done before. He is getting close to Ray. He starts to understand him. The emotional connection between the two starts to tighten as Charlie is already willing to relate with Ray.

The screenplay also serves the movie with the best it can. It’s a really challenging work, I guess since it should be something people can relate, people think that it’s something different even though the film is very recent, it should give us a emotional look at autism and its effect to relationships without being over-sentimental, and most importantly, it should capture the setting of a cinema movie and not TV movie.

The line between cinema movie and TV movie is very hard to define when we have this kind of stories. And in some points of the movie, it did tend to almost cross over to the line, but it eventually catches up and gives us  real cinema. Anyway, let’s clear things: what is wrong with a TV movie? There are some really excellent TV movies? Well, they lack the emotional punch of cinema, and the production tends to be rushed, mediocre, and, well, forgettable. What made Rain Man cinema is that it was relaxed, very good, and memorable.

The screenplay lives up to the challenge of the story that is really quite hard to make because of the big chances that it could go wrong since it’s a dangerous story to tell. To have an autistic character as a lead character means extra care from the screenplay, and it could just result into two things: schmaltzy or effective. It was really effective; I don’t get the hate for the movie because it’s really accomplished.

The cinematography is efficient, the editing flawless, the sound accomplished, the costumes wonderful. The music is really good, since it evokes the feeling of the turbulent relationship between the two. Even though these technical parts really feel dated, it helps us to have such personal atmosphere that could be built by these technical parts.

Dustin Hoffman is indeed brilliant as Ray Babbitt. His performance is a really a dangerous one since it has a lot of tics in it that it is already calculated but it should not feel that it’s all overdone.I know that it’s a love-or-hate performance, but even if I don’t think he was really the best that year, he still gave us one of the most accomplished performances that year. The way he moves, the way he walks, the way he speaks can only be done by someone who really knows he craft of acting realistically. And the movie really benefited from Hoffman’s surprisingly affecting performance.

The deft characterization he applies throughout the length of the movie is a thing to remember from the movie. From the first moment he arrives to the farewell scene with Cruise in the train station, it’s an all the way gripping performance by Hoffman. His experience really helped him in making the character seem so real but seem so different. It’s an intelligent performance by Hoffman, and it’s a true showcase of a real actor’s range.

So, when you remember Rain Man, the first thing that pops into your mind is Dustin Hoffman, who happens to be a sort of co-lead, though he is really suited for a lead. People tend to forget Tom Cruise who injects such sensitivity and, at the same time, toughness as the real lead of the film.

He is the start of the film, and he is the end of the film. He’s a no-nonsense, business-minded, mature 80′s yuppie here, and I know that. There’s no false impression that he makes in the film because he really has the biggest character arc in the film, and much important character arc than Hoffman’s. Hoffman could have a showier and much more noticeable character as he was unusual, but Cruise serves as the sturdy foundation of the film.

He doesn’t have any showy scenes, maybe except for some scenes where he is really agitated with Ray, having some yells, but it’s a really subtle turn from Cruise. He’s playing an appealing character, he’s cool, and he has an autistic brother. If you’ll look at that, it may look like that he doesn’t do much acting, and he’s always on the background since the spotlight’s on Hoffman, but Cruise holds his own in his scenes.

The thing about his character is that he manipulates the proceedings, but his brother gets the attention. The thing with Cruise’s performance is that he was able to do a very tricky thing with Charlie Babbitt – he doesn’t let himself be overshadowed by Hoffman nor he overshadow Hoffman. He creates a team with him, and he makes equal impact with Hoffman.

In this part, I could say that I favor Cruise’s performance over Hoffman’s because he was able to build the backbone of the film without letting himself be overpowered. This year could have been his year. Maybe the studio was ust afraid to face the truth that the two leads of the film are just two of the best actors of the year, so they didn’t even push Cruise for campaign.

Both Cruise and Hoffman make a wonderful acting duo that was able to reach the zenith of the film’s success, and that is because of the incomparable charisma and chemistry they bring on screen. Both give great performances, but they are also brothers in the film.  And I believe it because they were able to show dimensions of the story that no other actor can do. I mean, there are some better actors, Cruise is no Brando, but Cruise brought something special in this film that no other actor can, same with Hoffman.

And that leads us to the best scene of the film. It’s when Ray was in the kitchen. And did some wrong things, leading to the oven having a fire. He doesn’t know what to do. The fire alarm started ringing, Charlie came down running, protecting Ray. He tries to calm Ray down, but he is still in panic attack. And amidst all of that, there is this deafening silence, with a quiet musical score slowly building the tension of the scene.

It’s fantastic. It achieved an unspeakable level of control. I mean it holds your breath, it takes you to the place, it feel like you’re in Ray’s mind. You don’t know what’s going on Ray’s mind. He’s in panic, shouting, but he is enveloped with this silence, this feeling of being trapped. And Charlie came. He tries to help him to ease his anxiety, but he doesn’t easily use it. It’s going to be my favorite scene from this movie.

But let’s look at this point: why am I praising the film mostly with its performances? Because the drive of the film are the performances. We don’t know where to lead. It’s all unpredictable, but we are able to trust with the performances. So I don’t mind the flaws. And when you focus on the performances, you know you’re not watching TV, you are watching cinema.

What we have here is a simple and direct, maybe slightly dated, film but in the hands of two great actors, we are able to have this glimpse in autism. The production may not fully impress you, because this film is not for all.

But it’s a film of subtlety and heart without the over sentimentality.

For this, the movie gets:

4

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

Best Picture Profile: The Accidental Tourist

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan

Company: Warner Bros. Pictures

Runtime: 121 minutes

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The Accidental Tourist is about Macon Leary, a travel guide book writer, whose life is in its lowest when, while still in grief after his son’s death, his wife Sarah asked for a divorce. With only a dog as his company, he moves in to his family for a while, including a loveless sister whose dedication to the family seems to end when she fell in love with Macon’s publisher, Julian.

Enter Muriel Pritchett, a bubbly dog trainer whose joy is a mere mask that she uses when she meets people in order to hide the fact that she lives a really hard life because of her hardwork for her sickly son.

When they meet, they thought it would be just a simple friendship between the dog trainer and the dog owner. But when things collide, they are already in for a romantic relationship. At the same time, Sarah wants to make it up to him by coming back to him. Now, he is torn between his wife and his new love.

The film is undeniably slow. And I understand those who criticize the movie by it. But I didn’t mind it, but let’s be honest: it’s a bore for the first time.

And that’s the benefit of rewatching it, since there are a lot of things in this film that you won’t appreciate if you wouldn’t watch it for the first time.

First, the direction is a very carefully handled one. Right from the start of the film, what we have is a very quiet film with a lot of subtlety in it. You may fall for it, maybe not, but it’s an all-the-way thing in the movie: subtlety. And the movie has this always “grieving” mood even if the characters are happy, sometimes funny. It underlines the sadness that we can feel from the main character.

I don’t know how to express the degree of subtlety it contains in the direction. It’s very different from Dangerous Liaisons: that one has a really fast-paced direction, while this one is a film that you could accuse of having no direction at all.

Anyway, the direction is lovely and subtle, sometimes too subtle, but it all fits in the story.

The story is a really good one. The film is about a man, and it’s about death, so the main goal is to not make it look like cheese because drama easily falls for cheese. And for this kind of film with small laughs, it’s really cheese-prone. But no. What we have here, like the direction, is subtlety. It brings us to some small but not totally surprising twists, but the story is so strong that it’s hard-hitting.

The cinematography is really a good one. It’s a quiet movie, and not just in terms of sound, because it really was, but also in the visual part. And there’s this simplicity in it that makes it shine. I just feel that there is something different on how it was shot that it looked so soft. I mean the texture is so soft and delicate.

Anyway, the editing is really good. It’s a crucial part of the movie because it’s a very slow story and yet, you need to keep someone viewing it because it’s almost painful to watch this, not because it’s so slow, but because the sufferings of the main character is so hard to take. Anyway, it’s quite good.

Nothing much to say to the technical part of the movie since it’s really doing the basics. Well, except for the playful and melodic musical score. The  same music pattern is recurring throughout the film, but it was able to convey a lot of emotions.

Now, what we have here is a very good cast.

Kathleen Turner, Amy Wright, Bill Pullman, and Geena Davis were able to deliver performances that were appropriate, accomplished, and most of all, subtle, as the spirit of the film was.

Now, Geena Davis is an Oscar winner that is completely debatable since it has a stronger competition and of the fact that it’s not really much of a demanding role. But the good thing about her performance is that it is that her performance was relaxed and subtle. Now talk about the quirk.

The attitude of the character doesn’t set the movie off-balance, unlike Whoopi Goldberg’s sensational work in Ghost that, even great, turned thhe movie off-balance in a bit. Even then, I’m not sure if Davis really deserves to win, but I’m sure she brings a radiant and beautifully-delivered performance that lives up to the movie.

Now, William Hurt gives one of the most complicated performances ever, if not one of the best. What we see here is a character without much external conflict. Instead, it’s a character full of internal conflicts. All of the troubles he is having is all happening inside him. He seems to be very calm, but the sense of a man shouting at the top of his lungs all of his troubles is what I really feel in his performance.

He cries a bit, but the eyes is just full of…. ugh! Full of sorrow. And you just want to go there and make every way to ease his sadness because truthfully, it hurts to see him have that problem. It’s because of his natural charisma that he brings everytime he is onscreen. It’s not a forced performance.

It’s quiet but intense work from one of the best actors of the 80’s.

And by the way: the ending was pitch-perfect. I couldn’t have imagined a better ending than that.

Anyway, amidst all of the praises I could give to the film, the thing that goes against it is that it was too proper. Not sure if it was really a problem, since the film is very well-made. But I don’t know if I could really say it was a milestone. No wonder many people have already forgotten it.

But I just can’t deny the beauty this film possesses.

For this, the movie gets

3

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

Best Picture Profile: Dangerous Liaisons

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Company: Warner Bros. Pictures

Runtime: 119 minutes

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It’s such a film. And it could have been a real contender.

The movie is about former lovers – Marquise and Vicomte – who are planning to do a duo for them to have their own revenges – Marquise to her former lover Bastide who is incidentally going to be married to the daughter of her cousin, Vicomte to Madame de Volanges by seducing the virtuous woman Madame de Tourvel.

Marquise manipulates the proceedings, but Vicomte is his tool for her revenge to take effect. They arranged a deal to each other in a way that they would be some sort of tag team since Marquise offers Vicomte a reward whenever he does succeed in his revenge.

Revenge takes its toll and Vicomte is already in deep shame as they succeeded in manipulating those that are around them. But VIcomte wants what he expects – the reward. And Marquise is just set to have her biggest war.

I don’t know. I cannot express the whole plot in a few words because it’s such a movie that has a lot of things in it. It’s like Howards End – the story’s beautiful but you just can’t look for the adequate words to describe it.

To be simply put in words, Dangerous Liaisons is fantastic!

First of all, its direction is quite marvelous. Just as what I have said a while ago, there are a lot of subplots in this, but Frears makes sure that we are all in one boat, going to one destination. It’s about manipulation, his film, but he never makes us feel that this film is just manipulating us to be also like the characters. We are in that story, we are in the place. And we are excited by the events.

I don’t know this, but I got the scope of the film. That one great scene in the opera house. At first, we think we are just in the point of view of one of the characters watching it, and suddenly, the camera turns and we see that Marquise is just one of them, and we go upwards to see the other characters. Maybe I’m just being hypnotized by this film’s greatness, but that specific scene is one of those scenes that really puts you in the place, therefore captivating this atmosphere of the era.

And I’d like to mention the modern feel in it. It was not constructed as some Gone With the Wind type costume drama, albeit we get this feeling that it’s quite recent. And I love it for that. Just for comparison, I hated the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice because it tried to be so modern and its moves are just so forced. But when I was typing this, I kept thinking, why did I love this undeniably modern drama while I hated this other one?

The answer: it’s not forced.

We are just being caught by the events. We drive with it. Right from the start of the film, the director uses this quite haunting image of a hand opening this envelope, sort of invitation, and what we see inside? “Dangerous Liaisons.”

And the start is like an invitation. We are here to be in this dangerous liaisons involving different characters, not to mention the fact that it created the very sexual and at the same time, “dangerous” feeling of it. And the nomination snub is just unforgivable.

The cinematography and editing are masterful. For the count, it is a costume drama, but it never gives the bore that most costume dramas give. Instead, it is one edge-of-your-seat experience for me. You never let go of the tension, the emotions are exploding, and there is this clash between evil manipulation and eternal virtue, embodied by the excellent actors John Malkovich and Michelle Pfieffer (more of this later).

It gives us the feeling of being there, as what I have said a while ago, and because of that, we are able to feel it. It’s almost that we can touch the things. Maybe I’m overstating right here, but those two things are just bringing us in the place, and it gives us an experience. A grand experience.

The music is majestic. It gives me the thrilling mood of the film. And to give such respect to the material and to grace the movie with such captivating music is quite awesome. It’s biggest achievement is the opening credits itself. It just takes your breath away right from the start. It’s a powerful medium that the movie was really blessed with. Its congruence to the blasting clarity this movie offers is just wonderful to be witnessed.

The production is just dead-on. Costume design? Art direction? It has it. And they look so authentic, and it really played a part in being there.

What have I forgotten?

Oh, that magnificent screenplay. That screenplay!

The screenplay could just be one of the best screenplays ever. And that says a lot. It is very intelligently written and it’s so in its time but you don’t feel that you’re lost. Those words that comes out like water from a river is just amazing to watch. I mean, who could have imagined those words naturally come out of them? Those are rich statements. Magically, though, they are always in sync with the characters. And the vocabulary is just brought up high here without being obvious. It’s natural.

And the acting is marvelous.

John Malkovich is great here. He controls his character with such greatness that you feel that he’s really it. In spite of that, he could also be the only flaw in the casting. I agree that he delivers Vicomte, but I just go back to one word – reason. Is there any reason for a woman to be seduced by him? Frankly, I think he’s unattractive. But that problem is really unobvious once you watched it already. Needs a nomination.

Uma Thurman is delicious as the innocent Cecile de Volanges. She’s innocent. And she’s deflowered. And she’s brought into an unexpected pregnancy. And for her to deliver such professionalism in that early part of her career is just astounding to watch. She’s one of the victims here. She’s been taken advantage with Vicomte and brainwashed by Marquise, her dear inspiration. Her talk about with Marquise about the sex with the three men is fun to watch because she invokes this valued innocence, she’s still a child. And to see that being destroyed by the evil is devastating to watch.

Michelle Pfieffer is awesome as Madame de Tourvel, the biggest victim in the story. She’s the virtuoso of good breeding, of sacredness, of holiness, of dignity, of manners, of grace. She never does anything wrong, but she never lets us feel that it’s one-note. We see her life shattered by the manipulations of her lover, Vicomte. And it’s a big tragedy for us to see it right in front of our eyes. In a way, we see beauty stained with sorrow.

She is one happy woman. She observes the sacrament regularly, and yet, when Vicomte came, it’s her world that went upside down. And we sympathize her, we care for her, because we see this supposedly tragic prey of manipulation being devoured by the demons of the manipulator. And it’s a fantastic turn for her because one misstep and you have an awful performance. But here, what we have is the portrait of untouched virtue.

Plus point: I felt the pain she’s undergoing.

And if we have the virtuoso of manners, who could forget the virtuoso of deceit?

Glenn Close owns this movie!

It’s true that she doesn’t have the biggest amount of time here (she only has 35% of the screentime, more of this in her upcoming performance profile here), but she has the biggest responsibility of carrying the whole movie. She, first of all, is the manipulator. She manipulates everything here. And she does that by what? Sitting around, giving carefully delivered monologues and conversations.

But what does her sitting around count of? She is one big force of nature. Marquise is a strong woman, someone not to be fooled or even played against with. She is one fierce wave of revenge ready to destroy lives. And Glenn does it in a very superior way.

First of all, her character is very calculated, but never unpredictable. She holds the scythe of evil here. She would do anything just for her plans to come true. And Glenn is just so in it. She invests so much in it that you know that in just one evil smile and glance, you know there’s a lot of meaning in it. She manipulates people by words, and we are only given hint of her background through her eyes. And she does it quite well.

Also, there is this certain fact that Marquise is an epitome of vanity. Her first scene is touching her skin, her smooth skin which has been layered by powder. And what do we have in the end? Her removing it.

That ending is arguably one of the most haunting endings ever. Because on how deafening the silence was and on how loud her action was. What was she doing there at first? Well, after one shameful event, she decides to remove her make-up – powder, lipstick, etc. And then, when we finally see the manipulator’s real face, we see a victim. We discover that it was not really her, she just needs to be evil for her to survive the world of superiority. Maybe she’s the victim, maybe not, but she certainly attacks the character with flame.

Also, there is also one hint of character change in her – the way she discovers that Vicomte is dead, she throws the powder and she crashes the mirror. That is one of the most awesome and greatly acted breakdown scenes in the history of cinema because on how she destroyed herself. She still holds the superiority, but she’s starting to lose it. And it’s more of an image self-destruction. Why? Because that’s her. The powder, the mirror – those are components of her character. And it’s one great clue to what she really is up to. It’s an all-time best performance, a performance that must be seen to be believed.

I cannot see any glaring faults, and I dare anyone to show me at least one, if ever there was because it’s a flawless masterpiece that deserves to be remembered and to be watched all over and over again.

For this, the movie gets:

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

Note: Sorry for not posting that much. Lots of activities keep me 
from finishing this as soon as I have wanted. But I'm doing my best.

Anyway, I am really excited for the next year! If you want to guess,
I'd give you a clue: the winner was about a word that a character
said in this movie.

Best Picture Profile: Working Girl

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Company: 20th Century Fox

Runtime: 113 minutes

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Is there a film that just makes you want to be there and to celebrate? Is there a film that you just can’t skip once it started already?

The film is about Tess McGill, a night school graduate that gets fired after she embarrassed her boss due to the fact that they were just setting her up like they cannot take her seriously. As her last chance, she gets her job as a secretary to an inspiring and somewhat powerful executive named Katherine Parker. She becomes her mentor as everyday, she inspires her. Now, as Katherine wants suggestions, Tess suggests the company to have radio acquisition, but Katherine replies that the idea was not accepted.

Unfortunately, in a skiing resort, Katherine got a broken leg and needs to stay there for two weeks, leaving Tess with no choice but to take over with the work she needs to do. In the process, she finds out that Katherine indeed proposed the idea and was into the process of working it out with a man, proclaiming that it was her idea. Of course, she was downhearted. Added to that, she saw her fiancée having sex with a friend. She’s lost in the city, only having her friend Cyn to help her.

When she needs to attend some business party, she meets a man, gets drunk with him, and sleeps with him. The next day, she runs to her office to meet people for her to propose the idea to men in charge. There, she meets the man she was with last night, Jack Trainer.

Her idea was rejected. But when he returns to meet her, she asks her friend to act as her secretary. They work with idea, but with it is her slow fall into the hands of the business. She has no time for herself, she disagrees with her best friend and she talks like she’s the one really in the office. Now, Katherine comes back and she is set to have the biggest surprise of her life.

Well, all I could say is that this is one of the most enjoyable movies ever made.

The direction is, I guess, one of the best ones in a contemporary movie. It goes like a clock: it just ticks and ticks, it excites you, and when you reach the end, you realize it’s not the end yet. I mean, it’s unexplainable. It moves in a way that it’s so fast, like the business world itself, but it gives you that whole moving time to absorb the thing. The director makes the wisest choices possible in order to make this as compelling as possible.

People are attacking this as dated. But when I am watching this every time again and again, it’s just so fresh. The direction takes no prisoners in making this a contemporary classic. He knows that there will be a future audience to watch this, but he also wants to make a mark saying that the era is present. And with its masterful direction, it gives us a feeling of being there.

The screenplay is all-around effective. The people there are in the business mood, and they are in this business world, thus they do many business talk. But unlike the badly aged Wall Street, it doesn’t eat up its time being too smart in it. Working Girl shows us how the business affects the characters. Sure, the characters also do a lot of talk about acquisitions and business deals and things, but it doesn’t try to bloat us with these terms. Instead, we relate to that because we first identify with the characters doing that.

Also, the screenplay is really good in the character construction because all of them are very humane and real. No one’s a caricature, all human.

With Tess, the main character, she slowly develops into this person that fights for her rights and for herself simply because she needs to. She has an idea, her boss stole it, it’s her right to get the deal set with he in it. And we depend on her because of that.

Here, we get into the other side of the character: she lies. She did the right thing through the wrong way. Confusing, huh? Well, I’d try to explain it. Her boss lied to her, and she knows nobody would listen to her if she was just a secretary because she’s not as trusted as the boss. So, she risks her friends, love, job, and even dignity just to fight for her rights by imposing herself as the boss once her boss was absent. Get it? She cannot fight the right way, so she does some very flawed decisions in order to fight for herself.

Maybe some would call her selfish, but come on. She has dreams, and most of the time, she’s being belittled by how she is. The way she talks, the educations she got – people find everything to fault on her. And she has been fooled for many times. And in this time, she knows it’s life or death, so she practically risked herself.

And that’s what makes me love more in the screenplay. The characters are good-willed, but flawed. And they’re real. So, there you go.

The technical parts are really good: cinematography was excellent, especially in the book-ending scenes, editing was flawless, sound was good, production is current but plausible.

But before the lengthy discussion about one facet of the movie, let me just say that the music is one of the most successful a contemporary movie ever had. It brings you to the skies, uplifting and inspiring you. And the theme song is classic!

Now, here is the most crucial part of it – acting.

Melanie Griffith is all around fantastic as the character. I repeat, you are not mistaken, fantastic. She gives us a performance that makes us care for the character. Right from the start, we hear that cute little voice by her, we see a character that’s amusing but at the same time, real. I’m always repeating the world real in this movie but it’s what the movie really is.

She is in a world she is trying to cope up with – she has a boyfriend who suggestively uses her, a friend she can count on, a boss that inspires her, and a lover that she can depend on. And, like me, she’s in a fast world. And, with her, we are on a quick journey. And we relate to her. And besides technicality, which is quite absent here, what we have here is an actress who delivered a fantastic performance as she made full emotional connection with the one she needs to connect with – the audience.

It’s comedy done great, drama handled well, and brilliance exemplified. And her greatest scene is when she finds out that her boss already stole her idea. I mean, that wasn’t really a big scene, just a brief one, but it’s Griffith’s best scene because with just one word she reacts in – radio – there is this already natural and sudden shift of expression. Maybe not all were impressed by this scene, but it’s a captivating moment of shock. We’re surprised that she stole the idea, but it’s Griffith’s genuine reaction to the situation is to be cherished.

Also, people are complaining about her recurring throat clearing, tagging this as a frog on her throat. Truth be told, it’s really unnoticeable when you are watching it. And it gives us the character’s feeling of insecurity. I don’t know. She knows she doesn’t fit that well in that place as an impostor and I feel that with that frog in her throat. And it’s not distracting, in any way.

She embodies strength, vulnerability, dedication, fragility, all in one, making one of cinema’s best independent women.

Joan Cusack is also great here. People are saying that this is one of those scene-stealing performances nominated in the supporting actress category. At first glance, you might say that, but when you analyze her performance, it just so happened that she was so in his character. Maybe she’s the one that will stick in your mind after the movie. Why? Is it because of that big hair, amazing eye shadow, and wowing accessories? Maybe that contributed. She was an ordinary 80’s girl. But for me, it’s because she was just very ‘in-character.’

There’s this scene that she was saying her regrets and doubts to Tess after she saw the outcome of her slow transformation as she climbs the business ladder. It’s a quiet delivery of words when she compares herself to Madonna. And it hits Tess on a gut level. And it’s so real and believable because of Cusack’s sharp delivery of lines.

A lot has been said about her character being a mere sidekick. But I’m telling you: she gives us one of the purest examples of real friends in movies and not just sidekicks. Plus, she was given that simple but important job of opening and closing the movie. She anchors this 80’s spirit that should be present all throughout the film. With just those outfit…..

Sigourney Weaver is remarkable as Katherine, the deceiving mentor-to-be of Tess. Her subtle work at the start of the film is just fun to watch. I mean she’s kind, but powerful. I also think that she is the character with the best entrance here. People suddenly go quiet when they hear the elevator. As Tess looks at her, she sees and we see this women with coat and office attire with those killer shoulder pads, her distinctive height, and the way air moves through her, turning her into this big image and epitome of a high-class working girl.

And as she gets bed ridden, what we see is a woman spoiled by the leisure of life, a woman not afraid to lose anything just to have pleasure.

As she progresses in the film, and as her evil plan slowly sheds of its coverings, so is her nice approach to Tess. And in the end, we see this manipulative monster of an executive, ready to eat anybody blocking her way to do what she thinks would better her position in the business.

In this way, we see how a social-climbing woman with no good will and her slow downfall. And it’s all played wonderfully by Weaver.

Closing the primary cast is Harrison Ford as the charming man both Katherine and Tess falls in love with. It’s not as complicated as the three previous characters, but he needs to carry this masculine presence in this film since business world is no business world without men. Not being sexist, but it’s a truth existing in or world. His accomplishment is that he was able to bring this soul to a degree of reality because just one little mistake and we are off to have our good-old cliché of a prince charming.

The other members of the cast make this world of Tess completely vibrant and catchy. Some of them have smaller parts than the others, but were able to make  a lasting impact. I’m talking about Kevin Spacey as the cocaine-snorting Bob Speck. In just one hilarious scene, we are able to have this glimpse of this guy’s crazy life. It’s the screenplay’s compliment too, but Spacey doesn’t bring it to a point where it’s just a mere comic sketch. In contrast to that, he is used to move Tess’ background forward for us to see what she really is and what she had become after the process.

And for the count: It’s smart, it’s full of romance, it’s funny in a meaningful way, and the drama is effective, thus making this a pure examples of smart romantic-comedy-drama.

All of deserving praises are already bestowed upon this great classic. And I am looking forward for a future rewatching of this gem.

For this, the movie obviously gets:

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

Best Picture Profile: Mississippi Burning

Directed by: Alan Parker

Company: Orion Pictures Production

Runtime: 128 minutes

This film was very controversial due to its fictionalization of events and on how political it was. I would just like to amend my latter statement – it was indeed very political.

The film is about two FBI agents, Anderson and Ward, who tries to solve the case involving three civil rights activists in Mississippi. Ward wants the subject face to face. But Anderson, on the other hand, knows the racial prejudices that is happening, and with the heated notoriety of the Ku Klux Klan, he takes it piece by piece. Evidences continue to show up, and Ward and Anderson continue to clash in their work. In the process, we see several terrorism by the whites to the black community.

Meanwhile, Anderson meets Mrs. Pell, a conflicted housewife. She’s a tough woman, but she’s cautious by what’s happening. She is married to a man that is indeed part of the KKK. Anderson and Ward both get developments in their jobs, and the prejudices heat up. Until both decided to fight the culprit, dead or alive.

First of all, like what I have said a while ago, it’s a very political film. And it made me uncomfortable with many scenes because they’re just so upsetting, morally. But anyway, I’m here to discuss the craft of the film, so, here it is.

Throughout the film, it maintains a deft direction. It’s not much of appropriate to say that it’s extraordinary because it never was. Maybe because of the editing (I’ll talk about it later). The tension is very well-built that sometimes, it’s unbearable. I just want to skip a scene, but the direction is really good. It knows the genre it wants to tackle, and Parker does it well.

The screenplay was also very good. It knows how to build the atmosphere of the place and the situation by the words the character. The best use of the screenplay is with the character of Mrs. Pell. The character simplifies her the spirit of being a housewife. But every word she says is so real to a housewife with conflicts. She loves her husband, but she knows he’s not doing that good. She wants to help him. But she’s helpless. She cannot do anything but to wait for him to come home. No matter how hopeless the situation is.

Of course, it’s 75% brilliance from the actress, but the screenplay helps her in making a believable person. I wish the characters (all of them) weren’t really reduced. Yes, Hackman and Dafoe were given chances by the screenplay to give their character the humanity for them to be real, but I just hoped that it gave more opportunity to do their craft. Maybe, it’s quite the editing’s fault. Anyway, an adequate screenplay.

The technical part of the movie is commendable, except for the editing which is rather carelessly done.

It got its main source of acclaim from its cinematography. Maybe it deserved it. There are really a lot of cinematographic gems scattered throughout the whole film. Just in case of any need of justification, the opening scene was haunting to look at. What I see is a church or church-like structure and it’s burning. And it was shot like it was a mourning. It’s marked there that what we see is not just a burning church but the oppression of the souls in it. It’s gracefully done.

Also, there is the motel scene of Anderson and Ward talking. There is also this particular shot that invokes a threat. In literal terms, it was just them talking and sitting, but we see a lot of the ceiling. That’s a very threatening shot because it evokes danger for them. True, danger came to them, but that shot is a perfect foreshadowing of that.

For the last mention is the scene where a member of the KKK was brought to the hospital. While he is lying in the bed, the doctors and co-members are running him to the emergency area. That is one great shot. Sure, it’s easy to be done, especially it had been already done by other movies. But the way the elements come together – the narrow corridor, the people running, and the way it was shot was just….. fantastic.

On the contrary, the editing gives us faults that are as many as the interesting shots it has. There are a lot of potentially powerful scenes. The hanging of the black father, the riot at the church, Mr. Pell hitting his wife, the several burning of houses and churches used by the blacks – those are just some of the hard-hitting scenes the film has. And it could have urged me to love the movie more if not because of the abrupt editing. It’s like it’s just getting started and they suddenly cut it.

To give you the feeling, here is my explanation of the feeling: it’s just like watching your favorite movie. You have the beautiful setting, the conflict, and when it reaches he climax, then electricity suddenly is cut. Every time this happens in this movie, it makes me wanna say “ugh!’ because, duh? The film is already strong, and then you won’t serve it all? Or maybe, it was really a human error, they cut the rest of the scene by mistake.

I’m just making these reasons to explain to you that this could have been much better, but no matter how powerful your performances and screenplay and direction is, if the editing is a big WTF, then you won’t really have a great outcome.

The music is also worth listening to. The gospel song are very appropriate, since they play during the abuse scenes. It’s like we’re getting into the thinking of the black people and their strong faith in God. This thing is very evident in the night attack after the prayer meeting of the blacks. And when the trouble ensues, the black child just prays.It’s a true testament on how they feel in that condition. And it just hurts to watch, with the very effective songs.

Also, there is this instrumental music that keeps on repeating throughout the film whenever there is tension going on. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s very effective.

The production is very atmospheric. The costumes, production design, and other stuffs were really in the place and it’s very helpful in making the whole thing believable.

And the acting is top-notch.

Gene Hackman is very good as Anderson. He’s tough, but he’s just not tough. He is only given very few moments to make his character more humane, but he makes use the most of it to construct a dimension of the character. Here, he creates a character that has internal conflicts, but can’t fight it and in addition, he needs to face the evil, leaving him very little time to be with himself.

Willem Dafoe is also very good as Ward. His approach to the crime is direct: he wants to get them all. But he doesn’t understand the proceedings and the conditions that same as Anderson. Sure, he has the skills of a clever FBI agent, but he doesn’t have the understanding that Anderson has. It’s like his character is always in a hurry. He wants his job done in no time, and you can feel that in his body language. And Dafoe is very effective in that. His character is relaxed but on-the-edge. Hackman is just cool, but Dafoe has this sort of thing that he is only hiding the feeling of peril that he contains in himself.

McDormand is very good as Mrs. Pell. It’s quite good that her first name wasn’t even known because she turns into a symbol of the 60’s housewife stuck with internal and external conflicts. But from that accomplishment, we can already dig a flaw – she’s just a symbol. A mere symbol. What does she do in the film? Fix some hair in the beauty parlor, wash some dishes, talk about her terrible photo, appreciate a cute flower, be beaten by her husband, wait for an unsure absolution after the event. But that’s it.

Her Mrs. Pell is a well-decided epitome of conflicts and loss of human stability, but this is really more of a show-off of some skills than making some fully rounded character. And don’t mention that her time is too short – look at Joan Cusack in Working Girl (wait for its profile, next to Burning). In a way, it’s a screenplay that’s continually benefiting and backstabbing her.

The others are also pretty good, but they’re not much of memorable.

And now, I can’t really decide what’s its best scene because of the stupid editing it gave us. But as of now, what stuck with me is the scene of the KKK terrorizing the blacks after the prayer meeting that they had. And the child prays. Powerful, but abrupt.

And the ending left me feeling “okay?” I mean, come on. Is that the best ending you can give me?

In the end, what we have here is a movie that aims for the general audience to be uncomfortable with the fictionalized truths it gave us and for the white American audience to be disturbed by their conscience. It’s very political, but indeed powerful and upsetting and effective and affecting.

For this, the movie gets:

3

What are your thoughts, dear reader?

INTRODUCTION: Best Motion Picture: 1988

Okay, I could have done other years, but I’m really curious to see Mississippi Burning for the first time so, here it is. The nominees are:


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The Accidental Tourist

Dangerous Liaisons

Mississippi Burning

Rain Man

Working Girl

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Who would be my pick?

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Would it be the psychological drama? Or the erotic costume drama? Or the social drama? Or the buddy-road drama? Or the romantic-comedy-drama?

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I want to see that one nominee as soon as possible, but I’ll torture myself for a while. Of course, the last profile would be for the winner, Rain Man.

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So, dear reader, would I go with the Academy? Or would I go with an another nominee?

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