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Drama

Witness

There’s hardly any part of “Witness” I don’t love.  In fact, I wonder how a film like this even got green-lit.  Much of the supporting cast and the two writers were perennial television workers, the director had never directed an American film, and films about the Amish weren’t known to be blockbusters.

Steel Magnolias

Some films are meant to be read.  “Steel Magnolias” is one of those films where the dialogue is the lifeblood of the films.  The plot isn’t really interesting and doesn’t go many places.  The spine of the story is this group of close-knit friends and the drama of the good times and bad that bind them.

The drama involves a diabetic daughter and her health issues which drive the story forward.  It’s a true story written by her brother and became a hit broadway play and two film versions.

My Bodyguard

“My Bodyguard” had a first-time director and a cast of unknowns, made $22 million from a $3 million budget, and basically launched the careers of Matt Dillion, Joan Cusack and others.  Ok, Dillion was in Little Darlings that year, too, but this is the showy role that critics saw.  Chris Makepeace, the nerd from “Meatballs” plays the nerd here, too.  Martin Mull and Ruth Gordon add their schtick, but Makepeace and Dillon really make this film shine.

Rob Roy

“Braveheart” got the attention but “Rob Roy” deserved more.

I don’t think there is a better swashbuckler with smarter, dry and wittier dialogue than Rob Roy.  Oddly, the best dialogue is with the supporting cast.

Kramer vs. Kramer

Dustin Hoffman isn’t just an actor.  When he works, the film becomes all encompassing, and in the 1970s he was on a roll.  He wouldn’t just play a part.  He studies the part.  He fights over scenes.  He rewrites scripts.  He does everything they tell actors not to do.   Check out Tootsie to see the all too real scene between Hoffman and Albert Brooks about how hard his character is to work with.  That was reality for Hoffman.

Anatomy of a Murder

Courtroom dramas are about as frequent as starcrossed lover romance films, but we know how the romance films usually end. 

We sometimes know, or hope we know, how the courtroom drama will end.  

The test of a good movie, especially a courtroom one, is in the rewatching.  When you already know the ending, do you want to see it again.

Hoosiers

Some sports movies work even if you don’t like the sport.  You don’t have to be a boxing fan to like Rocky, and you certainly don’t have to like basketball to love “Hoosiers.”

“Hoosiers” is a sport movie that really isn’t about sports, or even about basketball specifically.  The same type of movie could’ve been about baseball, hockey, football or soccer.

Wall Street

Oliver Stone make personal films.  He fought in Vietnam, so he makes “Platoon,” “JFK,” and “Nixon.”  His father was a stock broker, so “Wall Street” shouldn’t have surprised anyone.

I must confess an affinity for business movies and that has stayed with me through the years.  “Wall Street” was really my first.