Movie Diary 1997 previous • next

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Top Five of 1997: The Fifth Element, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential, Men In Black, and Titanic. Enjoy my diary!

New Year's Day, 1997 • The Crucible • Maine Mall Cinema
Another bad teeth performance from Daniel Day-Lewis.
January 11, 1997 •  Evita
I hate Andrew Lloyd Webber- and this didn't change anything.
January 25, 1997 • Kendall Square Cinema • Hamlet
I drove 110 miles to see this amazing film, which was shot with 70mm cameras, projected with a 70mm projector.
Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope SPECIAL EDITION • January 31st (GC Burlington, MA) and February 8th (Flagship Falmouth, ME)
I am a little frustrated with George Lucas's tinkering with the Star Wars movies. I understand that Episode 4 was released with only half the effects completed, but by refusing to make the original theatrical cut available on home video, he is stealing the nostalgia from the fans who made him a billionaire to begin with. Admittedly many of his changes have improved the movies by further fleshing out the futuristic and alien worlds, but other changes are simply self-indulgent and distracting. While the Special Editions are still fun after all these years, I began to realize then that my generation's opinion of these movies is strongly influenced by our nostalgia.
Express-Ticketed to the Afterlife: The Death of Obi-Wan Kenobi

The death of Obi-Wan Kenobi confused me as a kid and bothers me as a movie fan. When Obi-Wan Kenobi battles Darth Vader on the Death Star, Kenobi eventually stops fighting, raises his saber in a moment of prayer(?), and Vader swipes at Kenobi. In a long shot, we see Vader's lightsaber pass through Kenobi's (suddenly) empty cloak, which falls to the deck. Vader steps on the empty cloak, as if to confirm that it's empty.

When this scene originally played out in 1977, movieogers knew very little about lightsabers and how they work. At that point in the Star Wars saga, we had only seen a lightsaber used once- when Kenobi defends Luke in the cantina in Mos Eisley. When Vader swipes at Kenobi and an empty cloak falls to the deck, I assumed that Vader's lightsaber had cut Kenobi in half and vaporized him.

In the episodes that followed, Lucas revealed more about the Jedi and their lightsabers:

  • You cannot vaporize someone by cutting them in half (see Darth Maul, Episode 1).
  • Jedi's bodies can disappear when they die (see Yoda, Episode 6).
  • Jedi's bodies don't necessarily disappear when they die (see Qui-Gonn Jinn, Episode 1).
During his battle with Vader, Kenobi implies that he his express-ticketed for the Force afterlife: "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." In retrospect we can assume that Kenobi sacrificed himself in order to give Luke, et al, a chance to escape on the Millenium Falcon. We can also guess that the moment Vader's saber struck Kenobi, he died, and he immediately passed on to the Force afterlife. After all, Kenobi's ghost calls out in Luke's head moments later ("Run, Luke!") and throughout the remainder of the film.

My problem is that none of this is obvious from the way Lucas staged it in the movie. I would have staged it like this:

The old Jedi Knight looks over his shoulder at Luke, lifts his sword from Vader's, then closes his eyes with a serene look on his face. Vader brings his sword down, mortally wounding Kenobi. Ben falls to the deck. Vader looks down on Kenobi's dead body as his form fades away to nothingness, leaving only his cloak and lightsaber behind. Vader is puzzled at Ben's disappearance and pokes at the empty cloak.
Not only would this effect have been easier to create with optical effects, but it would have conveyed the idea better: Vader kills Kenobi with his lightsaber, and then Kenobi passes on to the afterlife.
February 20, 1997 • Dante's Peak • Maine Mall Cinema
The first two acts follow the script of "Jaws" except they replaced the word 'shark' with 'volcano'...
February 21 and 28, 1997 • Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back SPECIAL EDITION • Flagship Cinemas Falmouth
"That's what life is - a bunch of down endings."
March 8, 1997 •  Absolute Power
The marketing have away the great twist- that Gene Hackman is the President...
March 9, 1997 •  Donnie Brasco
Wonderufl performances. Al does not overact.
March 14, 1997 •  Star Wars Episode 6: Return Of The Jedi SPECIAL EDITION
"...a bunch of Muppets..."
March 22, 1997 •  Liar, Liar • Maine Mall Cinema
My favorite Jim Carrey comedy.
March 23, 1997 • Shine
Crazy = Oscar.
March 29, 1997 • Jerry Maguire
April 12, 1997 •  Grosse Point Blank • Maine Mall Cinema
Very funny, great music.
April 26, 1997 • The Saint • Flagship Falmouth Cinemas
the horror... the horror...
May 9, 1997 •  The Fifth Element
Liked it so much, would return to see on the big screen 63 months later.
May 24, 1997 • The Lost World: Jurassic Park • Cheri Cinema, Boston
Spielberg should have done better.
Memorial Day Weekend Movies
Here's a look back at movies I have seen on Memorial Day weekend. I have only counted movies which I saw in the 5 days leading up to Memorial Day Monday. The film must have been released in that period to make this list:
June 20, 1997 • My Best Friend's Wedding • Flagship Falmouth Cinemas
Morally complex role for Julia makes for funny, original comedy. Cameron Diaz tries very hard to steal the movie. Why would Julia fight so hard to catch... Dermot Mulroney? I love how she starts smoking whenever her anxiety cranks up.
June 28, 1997 •  Face/Off • Maine Mall Cinema
Two hammy actors make for less than the sum of their hammy parts. Mmmm...hammy parts...
July 2, 1997 •  Men In Black
The original still shines. Avoid the sequel at all costs.
July 3, 1997 •  Grosse Point Blank
Very funny, great music.
July 5, 1997 • Hercules • Loews Fresh Pond
July 8, 1997 • Vertigo
A Masterpiece.
Dinner & A Movie at the Keystone, Portland, Maine
Like many entrepeneurial labors of love, the Keystone Cinema on Congress Street in Portland, ME was better in concept than execution. The proprietors built three or four decent-sized movie screens, and filled the theaters with very soft and cushioned seats (rescued from Lincoln Town Cars converted into limosuines). They served pub food before and during the movie. So what was the problem? The food was only OK, not great, and the service was mediocre. The waitresses used overly elaborate electronic handheld devices for placing orders- it seemed like the owners overthought the concept. Plus, the very cushy seats had large arms which made it impossible to get close to your date for snuggling. As you can see from the selection below, I only went eight times in three years: after six visits in 1997, I only attended twice more, in 1999.
My 25th Birthday
Star Trek: First Contact
April 13, 1997
The English Patient
May 2, 1997
Smilla's Sense of Snow
September 6, 1997
Citizen Kane
October 24, 1997
The Edge
November 30, 1997
The Ice Storm
February 12, 1999
December 31, 1999
Being John Malkovich

An exciting Borg adventure and my third favorite Star Trek movie, after numbers 2 and 6.

A little slow on the second viewing, but an impressive adaptation of a dense novel.

A very odd detective story, from a far superior book, as Emily is fond of pointing out.

One of my Top Ten all time movies.

Hopkins and Baldwin elevate this standard genre piece slightly above what it deserves.

Growing up in identical Boston suburbs makes the movie resound for me. I hope my parents didn't behave like this!

If I had paid attention in my History Of England course, perhaps I would have appreciated this movie more.

Bizarrely fantastic.

July 11, 1997 • Contact • Hoyt's Cinemas South Portland
I loved this movie, although I find the omnipresence of CNN anchors as the Greek chorus distracting.
July 25, 1997 •  Air Force One • Maine Mall Cinema
Quite good. I wonder what the Ford/Oldman working relationship was like?
July 30, 1997 •  Operation Condor
August 8, 1997 •  Spawn
Martin Sheen is so bad in this!
August 15, 1997
Conspiracy Theory • Maine Mall Cinema
They messed up a good ending (as usual)!
August 31, 1997 • Excess Baggage • Maine Mall Cinema
Why did I go and see this?
Nat's Top Ten Favorite Movies
It's a tough job to narrow the field
to just 10, but this is pretty close:
Two comedies, a scary movie,
a thriller, an action-adventure,
a sci-fi, a romance, a musical,
a Scorsese, and Citizen Kane.
Click on a face for more info.

September 19, 1997 • In & Out • Maine Mall Cinema

I don't remember loving this movie. This was my last-ever visit to the Maine Mall Cinema. I moved to the other side of Portland, much closer to a much niver theater in Falmouth.
October 1997 • L.A. Confidential
Love it, despite the awful feel-good ending.
October 10, 1997 • Seven Years In Tibet
Brad's first line in the film (with bad German accent): "I am goink to ze Himalayas!"
November 8, 1997 • Starship Troopers
Entertaining satirical sci-fi.
December 20, 1997 • Titanic • Flagship Falmouth Cinemas
An amazing, moving, spectacular film... with some of the worst dialogue ever.

Movie Diary 1997 previous • next

This Movie Diary has migrated to Blogspot. Visit Stub Hubby for current reviews!