Some critics complained that City of Angels could never compare to Wim Wenders's exquisite German film Wings of Desire, which served as the later film's primary inspiration. The better argument to make is that any such comparisons are beside the point, because Wings of Desire was a much more deeply poetic, artfully contemplative film, whereas City of Angels is an enchanting product of mainstream Hollywood. Meg Ryan stars as Dr. Maggie Rice, a heart surgeon who is grieving over a lost patient when an angel named Seth (Nicolas Cage) appears to comfort her. She can see him despite the "rule" that angels are invisible, and Seth's love for Maggie forces him to choose between angelic immortality and a normal human existence on earth with her. Featuring heavenly roles for TV veterans Andre Braugher and Dennis Franz, the film liberally borrows imagery from Wings of Desire, but it also creates its own charming identity. Cage and Ryan give fine performances as lovers convinced they are soul mates, and although the plot relies on a last-minute twist that doesn't quite work, this earnest love story struck a chord with audiences and proved to be one of the surprise hits of 1998. --Jeff Shannon
This early effort by director Alan Parker is lively but jagged as it follows four students through their years in the New York City High School for the Performing Arts. Rather predictably, the kids fall into four clearly defined stereotypes: brazen, gay and hypersensitive, prickly, shy. Fame makes up for a disjointed presentation with a lot of heart and a great soundtrack (for which it won two Academy Awards). The hopes and disappointments, failures and successes of these teens are fodder for emotional scenes and exuberant dancing in the streets. It also turned out to be the first of many imitators and spawned a popular television series. (It was the breakout film for the short-lived feature-film career of Irene Cara, who sang the title song.) --Rochelle O'Gorman
A sweet and sassy comedy about the bonds of sisterhood, Mystic Pizza offers the opportunity to see some solid young actresses early in their careers. Three sisters of blue-collar Portuguese descent work in a pizzeria in the coastal town of Mystic, Connecticut. Each has her own unique romantic entanglements. One is the fast girl in town (Julia Roberts) who falls for a rich kid but wonders if she'll ever be accepted; one is the lifelong local girl (Lili Taylor) in love with her fisherman boyfriend (Vincent D'Onofrio) but scared of what marriage will do to their sex lives; and the youngest sister (Annabeth Gish) dreams of going to Yale but during a summer of babysitting has an affair with a married man. Through it all each sister depends on the others regardless of the complications. It's the alluring charm of the three disparate leads that makes Mystic Pizza the delightful experience it is. --Robert Lane, Amazon.com
Lawyer Jebediah Ward devoted to defending victims of large corporations and the State is fighting for compensation for the victims of automobile accidents involving defective cars. However it turns out that the manufacturer in his latest case is being defended by none other than Ward's daughter...
1994, a psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley) is put into a moral quandary when a young drug dealer supplies him with pot in exchange for clinical treatment.
Runaway Jury: The stakes are extremely high in an explosive trial when the widow of a gun massacre victim represented by attorney Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) sues the gun's powerful manufacturer. Now with millions of dollars in the balance 12 jurors must decide if the gun maker was negligent. However unscrupulous jury consultant Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) believes the verdict is too important to be left in the hands of a jury and will spare no expense to ensure the chosen jury remain sympathetic to his client. Tension mounts and tables are turned as it comes to light that the jury is being manipulated by one of its own Nicholas Easter (John Cusack) with the aid of a beautiful woman (Rachel Weisz) on the outside to swing the verdict in the direction of the highest bidder... Class Action: Lawyer Jebediah Ward devoted to defending victims of large corporations and the State is fighting for compensation for the victims of automobile accidents involving defective cars. However it turns out that the manufacturer in his latest case is being defended by none other than Ward's daughter...
You're never too old to believe in a dream. Or too young to make one come true! This sweet and nostalgia-drenched drama set in Depression-era South Philadelphia follows one 12-year-old boy's coming of age. Young Gennaro desperately wants to go to the opening of La Paloma the city's brand-new movie theater. But he hasn't the quarter he needs for admission. So he spends the day trying to raise the money and in the process has several misadventures and discovers many hidden t
In Witness Protection lifelong Mafia hood Bobby "Bats" Batton (Tom Sizemore) wakes up one night to discover a price on his head and nowhere to go but to the cops, under protection as a federal witness. Based on the article "The Invisible Family" by Robert Sabbag, this HBO film drops us into the volatile period between lives as Bats takes his family off the streets and into a federal bunker where they begin shaping their new identities. Surrounded by surveillance cameras and locked in an apartment that feels like a fancy prison block, the formerly prosperous family starts to suffocate and self-destruct while it becomes clear just what a "readjustment of expectations" really means. Sizemore is excellent as the hot-headed gangster paralysed by helplessness, but Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is especially moving as the once-hopeful wife who buckles as her husband's secrets and lies are revealed. It's an interesting dynamic: the swaggering goodfella forced into a working-class life elicits little sympathy, but the toll on the family torn apart by recriminations, blame and frustration is affecting and powerful. They're undergoing a crash course in family therapy with federal official Forest Whitaker as their tough-love crisis counsellor. While the screenplay at times feels contrived, the drama is always potent. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
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