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Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (review)

Honestly, I’d pay cash money to see either Neeson or Ewan McGregor on his own read from the phone book, and the two of them together is almost too delicious to bear. His Obi-Wan unfortunately doesn’t have an awful lot to do, but McGregor wastes no opportunity to be brilliant, reigning in a young man’s impetuousness with a Jedi-in-training’s emotional control — that these two opposing forces are at war within him is clear throughout the film.

Fantasia (review)

I saw a rerelease of *Fantasia* in Radio City Music Hall when I was probably 6 or 7, and the ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ sequence scared the bejeezus out of me. It still does.

Forrest Gump (review)

With Forrest Gump, the fable of the dimwitted but goodhearted Alabaman who was, in his own words, a ‘football star, war hero, national celebrity, and shrimp-boat captain,’ director Robert Zemeckis takes his work to a new level of maturity. His previous films are, for the most part, fun and highly entertaining, but Forrest Gump has an intricacy and depth that is more rewarding while still being enormously engaging.

Paulie (review)

I was not looking forward to watching Paulie, expecting the usual sitcomish antics that seem to pass for family viewing these days, so I was delighted to find an old-fashioned — in the best way — kind of movie. Disney used to make movies like this: uncynical but with a bit of an edge, wholesome without making you want to gag, sweet without sending you into a diabetic coma. Before Disney’s live action movies sunk to the level of a UPN sitcom, you could count on family films like Paulie (a Dreamworks release) to allow the bad guy (here, the lab director played by Bruce Davison) to be redeemed simply by witnessing an unselfish act, and to let you bawl your eyes out without feeling silly as only sentiment animal stories can.

Star Wars Trilogy: The Special Editions (review)

A recent episode of Showtime’s Stargate SG-1 featured this delightful line: ‘We’re afraid you’re gonna dark side on us,’ one character says to another who’s under the sway of the enemy. The mythology of Star Wars has presented us with a new verb: ‘to dark side.’ I love it.

Mulan (1998) and Hercules (1997) (review)

Damn! Mulan is thisclose to being not just a brilliant animated film, but a brilliant film, period. It has a dramatic story, a heroine who kicks butt, a villain who kicks butt, a square-jawed hero with a not-so-nice side, and some of the most sweepingly gorgeous visuals since Beauty and the Beast. But Mulan is dragged down by insipid songs that feel tacked on and silly, inappropriate sidekicks and secondary characters.