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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 5.63%
Average: 2.82%
Pretty Bad: 7.98%
Total Crap: 2.82%

4 reviews, 189 user ratings

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Schindler's List
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by MP Bartley

"Take a deep breath, watch, learn and never forget."
5 stars

It's so easy to sneer at 'Schindler's List' and be a contrarian. "It only won Oscars because it's about the Holocaust". "It's only rated because it's Spielberg being important in black and white". I'm not childish enough to sit here and deride people who don't like 'Schindler's List' as 'Nazis'. I'm just thankful that this film exists. And for those contrarians who just turn their noses up at it (and I've yet to read a valid criticism of it - they all smack of being contrary for the sake of it), I just feel sorry that you can't get from it what the rest of us can. Education.

Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is a German industrialist and casual womaniser, who is using cheap Jewish labour in Poland in the hope of making his millions from war profiteering. He's also a Nazi. His business runs into trouble however when the Nazis begin to implement the Holocaust, and his cheap labour is rounded up and deported to a labour camp under the baleful eye of Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes). Schindler bribes Goeth at first to release the Jews to him, because he needs the cheap labour and he's fast approaching bankruptcy without them, particularly his pin-sharp accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley). But something else is stirring inside Schindler, a feeling that he should be doing more. Something not designed solely for profit. Something human.

Oh my. Where to start? What about Steve Zallian's script taking a mammoth book, a complex time structure and story, an ambiguous individual we will probably never fully understand, and condensing it into a 3 hour epic that skirts that fine line between depressing and uplifting, that never loses focus and is resolutely, almost angrily purposeful?

How about Janusz Kaminski's startling, rich, evocative black and white cinematography? He captures haunting and terrifying images that we've only seen in photos or newsreels in a bleak documentary style, that alternately sickens and entrances with it's cold and awful beauty. The red is drained from the blood that washes over the screen, draining it of its tendency to be over-the-top or garish, and instead rendering it in a numbing, simple authenticity that gives it the horrifying true life feel.

We see images that we never thought we would ever see in a non-documentary film. A Jewish woman is shot through the head for telling the Nazis that the structure they are building in the camp, will collapse and that it needs to be rebuilt. And then they rebuild it anyway. Goeth takes potshots at Jewish children from his balcony because he feels like it. Thousands of bodies are burned in an open field with the ash settling on everything for miles around. And as a one armed man is pulled from a crowd and shot, the camera doesn't flinch as it stares at the hole in his forehead and watches the blood seep out and stain the surrounding snow.

And all by the man who directed 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'.

This film will fuck you up in the head. It will kick you in the stomach and not stop until you can't take anymore. It will twist your finger and force you to open your eyes and take in things you would hope to never see in your whole life. It will make you cry, but not through easy sentimentality, but through anger and horror that this whole period existed in a time that our own grandparents will remember.

But it isn't shameless or exploitative, it's all done with a finely tuned intelligence, a raging injustice and a dose of compassion that never falls into sentimentality. And this is all down to Spielberg. This is Spielberg at his most self-contained, at his most potent and using his powers as a supreme storyteller and an astonishing visualist to their fullest effect. Still think Spielberg's over-rated? Go away, I don't think I want to know you anymore.

The story isn't lost in the visuals as some critics claim, the story informs and becomes the visuals. Children hiding in shit, Nazis using stethoscopes to listen for people hiding behind walls, a factory worker discovering that the only thing more terrifying than a loaded gun, is a loaded gun that keeps jamming...these are things we've only read about with a shudder. And Spielberg brings them to life, with not a trace of sensationalism, but with a cool, calm and collected grace. With an unblinking eye that captures the most horrific period of the last century without ever losing control of his reigned in emotions. Spielberg uses every talent he has at his disposal, but he never shows it. He just shrinks back behind his lens until he's just as much an observer as we are.

And a magnificent cast carry every weight of this film on their shoulders without ever delving into cheap tricks or histrionics. Neeson (shamefully denied an Oscar by the Academy, who went for Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. Oh dear) is astonishing, conjuring up the fullest portrayal of an extraordinary man that is possible. We will probably never know just what drove Schindler, but we can hope that it's the simplest thing of all. Humanity.

And Neeson is riveting in this role, a commanding presence who dominates every scene, and manages to combine both a slow-burning intensity as a man who was being eaten away by his conscience and the horrors around him, and a light touch as someone who had to laugh and joke along with the very people responsible for exterminating all those who he wants to save. It's a tremendous performance, that keeps Schindler full of shades and contrasts instead of obvious and patronising. The drama is nearly as much about can Schindler save his own soul in the hell he lives in, than it is about the lives he can save. The drama is rich and powerful here, as the technicalities are astonishing and peerless.

Kingsley would seem to have the thankless task of having the least interesting part as the accountant that is invaluable to Schindler. But he acts as Schindler's conscience, slowly chipping away at him and his blind refusal to acknowledge what's going on around him, simply by virtue of being there and Kingsley expertly conveys the anguish of the man who is a knotted ball of anxiety inside. Anxious that if he say too much or the wrong thing to Schindler, that he will disappear to Auschwitz in a moment, and anxious that he's living in a world where life and death for his race are as arbitrary as the changing of the weather.

And then there's Fiennes. If this isn't one of the most disturbed, terrifying, pitiable individuals to ever be represented on screen, then someone will have to show me, because Goeth is the most horrific monster to appear in a film, possibly ever. And I will use that word monster. What other word could describe a man who casually extinguishes human lives like he would snuff out a match? A man who considers that true power is having the power to kill, but doesn't, but goes ahead and slaughters children anyway. Why? Because he can. Some people criticise 'Schindler's List' because Goeth is 'too inhuman'. Well you know what? Some Nazis were absolutely inhuman, and Finnes is simply jaw-dropping as a monster who can look at himself in a mirror, still see the traces of humanity that linger there, but still go and take casual shots at passing Jewish workers. And why does he does this? Because he can pardon himself. It's a terrifying portrait of a man given all the power in the world, and who is on an endless path to insanity because he's looked into the abyss so much that it's looking straight back at him.

There are other criticisms too, some valid. The little red girl in a red dress is an effective touch, but when the film is so effective anyway, it comes across as slightly jarring. And for all the tightly reigned in emotions, Neeson's final breakdown into tears isn't really needed. We know what Schindler is feeling, we don't need to be told here. It will probably make you cry too, but it's the only time you get the faint impression of Spielberg pulling the strings.

But the criticism that Spielberg ignores the characters of the Jews to focus on the characters of the Nazis instead? Incredible. Spielberg gives us a peek of just how utterly cruel the regime that created this nightmare had to be and he's derided for it? How can we fully understand the horror of the Holocaust until we understand who caused it? And I for one can certainly remember the characters of Helen Hirsch (Embeth Davidz) or Mark Ivanir as Marcel Goldberg. He doesn't focus on the Jews? Did these people actually watch the film or just concentrate on deciding on what they could knock Spielberg for instead?

And lastly, there's always the "we never understand why he saved them all" criticism. We are witnesses to a scene where Schindler stands atop a hill and watches in horror as the Nazis clean out the ghetto to take the Jews to the concentration camps. He watches women and children being slaughtered in the street. To those critics I say, isn't that the reason? That he could no longer just stand by and nothing? Perhaps the question we should be asking is why did no-one else do anything. Why did Oskar Schindler "save all those Jews"? For the very same reason that we should never stand by and let the same thing happen again. Because he was human.

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originally posted: 02/24/05 04:58:37
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User Comments

7/07/20 bored mom Neeson's performance is amazing. Then Luc Besson had to come and ruin his career. :p 4 stars
4/25/16 Katrina Weiss must watch movie 5 stars
2/10/15 martin alexander rubbish film. dont watch it because it waste your time 1 stars
3/30/12 Jonathan Essential viewing 5 stars
2/15/12 stanley welles poignant, powerful, bone-chilling, mesmerising 5 stars
8/27/10 InsanityCap This is the only film on the face of the planet that has made me weep so hard 5 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King A well paced film but the acting and script are mediocre 3 stars
6/04/10 User Name In the top three of the best films of the 90's. 5 stars
4/20/10 Meghan Gianni-Bradford As close as we will ever get to having a good view of both sides 5 stars
4/13/10 Mariah One of the best movies ever made. Anyone with a shred of sympathy will be touched 5 stars
12/10/09 Red Rubbish... pure jewish propaganda and you all bought into it. Holocaust = Hoax 1 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. the best holocaust-related flm made IMO, though not my favorite...hard to watch... 5 stars
12/06/08 Jonathan Essential viewing. "Schindler's List" is the mark of a true master filmmaker. 5 stars
8/06/08 Max One of the best films ever made 5 stars
6/19/08 noops grt direction and grt cast... 5 stars
3/05/08 action movie fan a bore-jurassic park was the best film of 1993 1 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic The final masterpiece of the 20th century 5 stars
1/06/08 dave gutierrez great movie 5 stars
12/15/07 stormsiren awesome film by an awesome director 5 stars
11/20/07 vick brown perfect 5 stars
9/25/07 petey MUST SEE 5 stars
6/25/07 fools♫gold I've underrated "Shanghai Ghetto", which undoubtedlly deserves 5 stars. 5 stars
6/15/07 ryan you're an idiot and someone should shoot you. 5 stars
5/19/07 Leandra This film stirred up emotions in me i have never known existed. It is a Masterpiece!! 5 stars
3/05/07 izzy An incredibly dark and intense film of overwhelming power and emotional impact 5 stars
2/01/07 Matt Spielberg's masterpiece is essential for anybody with half a brain. Neeson is superb. 5 stars
1/13/07 Clayton A cinematic masterpiece at every level... 5 stars
1/09/07 Drew Galletti A Masterpiece 5 stars
1/01/07 johnnyfog There is no comparison to the trite M.Burning. Very sad when Neelson cries at the end 5 stars
10/19/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
10/17/06 Isaac Baranoff Very, very good. Highly recommended. 5 stars
8/06/06 Chris Wilbik Realistic and sad movie of the lifes of jewish people 5 stars
5/20/06 chienne Severely depressing, but an excellent film. Even Neeson was good. 5 stars
3/06/06 Nina It has been one of the best movies that I have watched and that was based on a true story.. 5 stars
11/18/05 Chris Barrett A Tearjerker! Those Who Say It's Crap Have No Heart 5 stars
9/16/05 Daveman A sick targedy, cheapened by Spielberg schmaltz and LIES. 2 stars
9/02/05 Zack wonderfly maid, Who was the bastard u voted total crap? any it was sad :( but good 5 stars
8/26/05 Michael Very Good Movie 5 stars
8/17/05 ES This one and old yeller 8*( 5 stars
8/08/05 Moctezuma The Pianist is better, but this one is still good 4 stars
6/11/05 Adam A masterpiece in filmaking, very sad but a story that had to be told 5 stars
6/08/05 me a good 'make-out' movie 4 stars
4/24/05 Quigley an amazing story, but a very dark one at that. it'd be hard to watch again for sure. really 4 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Fantastic movie 5 stars
4/14/05 Frenzy Superb 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise great 5 stars
3/18/05 indrid cold Its effect stays with you for days afterwords. A masterpiece in every way. 5 stars
3/18/05 B. D. Cole One of the best films of all time 5 stars
3/14/05 The Talking Elbow Spielberg "sexed up" Schindler from reality. Still a great movie though. 5 stars
3/01/05 CanDance Walker I love true stories & the younger generation needs to know about the holocaust. 5 stars
3/01/05 Jeanette T. A life experience rather than a movie. Literally unforgettable. 5 stars
2/27/05 Charlene Javier Best. Film. Ever 5 stars
2/26/05 Joy Venters EXCELLENT - EVERYONE SHOULD SEE THIS 5 stars
2/26/05 Theresa Wagner Brings the horror of the holocaust to the present 5 stars
2/26/05 James Kiang Powerful film that still is relevant. 5 stars
2/23/05 andrea313 Hard to watch in places, but certainly worth the heartache. 5 stars
2/06/05 daveyt couldn't agree less with the review... 5 stars
12/15/04 Tom Benton The best film ever made, Spielberg's finest; Neeson does one of the best acts in history. 5 stars
12/07/04 keithers.. To depressing to enjoy but extremely well done 4 stars
12/01/04 mohit best edited and directed film have ever seen 5 stars
11/25/04 gentile Even if your not a jew you will be touched. 5 stars
11/25/04 T. Maj Spielberg just now heard about the Holocaust. 2 stars
10/26/04 ELI ARG! This film is really, really depressing 5 stars
10/25/04 UMER steven's best movie direction ever 5 stars
10/23/04 ODH Boring film that is more disturbing than anything. 2 stars
10/20/04 Pinkline Jones I didn't laugh once. And this won Best Comedy 1 stars
10/07/04 Desperado Alien VS Predator hmm you're a blithering dipshit who doesnt understand what movies r about 5 stars
8/04/04 Chloe Montana critic...yes, you are a faggot... 5 stars
7/27/04 Luke "THere will be generations to generations because of what you did". 5 stars
7/16/04 Chlo-mo-bo God...breathtaking...just...beautiful... 5 stars
6/27/04 Christy A movie that still haunts me today, ten years later. I'll never be the same. 5 stars
6/18/04 T. Maj Steven Spielberg just found out about the Holocaust? 2 stars
5/07/04 katie burtsell i thought it was so touching 5 stars
4/25/04 Carla oh my god, i was touched, i was moved, i felt completely numb, like i'd left my body. 5 stars
4/25/04 MetallicA Anyone who gives this a sucks rating is a shit excuse for a human 5 stars
4/20/04 TonyMontana Everyone who gives this sucks is nothing short of a faggot. 5 stars
3/18/04 Schmidty How you could you not like something about the war, and as sad as this 5 stars
2/28/04 Kyle A horrifying movie and a good movie: NOT THE SAME DAMN THING. Flawed and exploitive. 2 stars
2/19/04 MP Bartley Astonishing, moving piece of work. And not just because it's 'revered'. It's just that good 5 stars
2/13/04 Bryand The best film for the people with high I.Q 5 stars
1/30/04 fgifhjiefe Ray Hall and Lance Everest are stupid fucks. This movie is the best. 5 stars
1/08/04 Chlo Gyllenhaal Oh my God...this should have won so many more oscars than it did! Damn the Academy! 5 stars
12/14/03 luke How-can-you-not-like-this!!!! 5 stars
12/10/03 Desperado Ray Hall, Lance Everest= Absolute Dipshits, Extraordinary 5 stars
11/29/03 DM John L. Roberson, go fuck yourself. 5 stars
11/27/03 John pretty good film that could have been better (as in THE PIANIST or LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL) 3 stars
11/18/03 *A Monotonous Creton who loves Tom Hulce* ha dto do a 9th grade essay on it; fuck anyone who hates it! damn u!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/12/03 Shaq This fucking film was like a tiny little turd-nugget dangling from my asshole. IT ROCKED! 5 stars
10/02/03 Mattocks Okay movie 4 stars
9/29/03 Kyle A MASTERPIECE. Only a handful of films can claim that title. 5 stars
9/21/03 Fenris BULLSHIT! As historically accurate as Indiana Jones ... 1 stars
9/06/03 Jess o Totally moving,Both horrific and amazing film and everyone should be made to see it. 5 stars
8/14/03 Jeannie Karlsen My first introduction to actor Ralph Fiennes. His performance is absolute perfection. 5 stars
8/02/03 DM Anybody who gives less than 4 out of 5 stars should be shot! Great movie! 5 stars
7/12/03 Indrid Cold As deep as a frisbee, but almost unbelievably powerful and moving. Stays with you forever. 5 stars
4/27/03 Megan The book was more powerful, but the film still gave this horribly true story justice 5 stars
4/27/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Horrific, yet great film. 5 stars
4/16/03 JL This movies is excellent. 5 stars
3/31/03 Jessica Davis Good news: It amply deserved Best Pic win. Bad News: That puts it in company with SHITCAGO! 5 stars
3/28/03 Gray wish it was more historicaly truthful but it does convay the gravity of the Holocaust 5 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Great period detail, but the dramatic core is hollow and the characters ill-defined. 2 stars
2/11/03 Ubu the Ripper Want to know what Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and gays experienced? This is real. 5 stars
2/10/03 Paul Decent 3 stars
1/24/03 Jeremy Wonderful in every respect. I loved this film. 5 stars
1/08/03 Seppo Only Spielberg can make this kind of masterpiece! 5 stars
11/29/02 Jay Excellent movie! 5 stars
11/23/02 Kyle A good movie, but TV did it better in 1978's miniseries "Holocaust" 3 stars
8/26/02 Jo Not really all that truthful, but quite emotive 4 stars
6/05/02 Todd something everyone should see 5 stars
2/27/02 Shrike Brilliant film making from a 5 stars
2/17/02 Meryl K. Fiennes and Neeson were immaculate. The movie is brilliantly distressing - see it. 5 stars
1/27/02 Lin Rainey I sat spellbound through the entire film..tragic, haunting, uplifting. 5 stars
12/20/01 Heather Smyth I great film, not unjoyable to watch in any way but it protrays the holocaust brilliantly 5 stars
12/17/01 chuck all u that say this film is crap, shut up u nazis 5 stars
10/24/01 kris one of the best movies I have ever seen 5 stars
9/06/01 Gary Astounding. Spielberg's finest hour. Amazing. 5 stars
8/31/01 spaceworm Let us all now genuflect at the alter of Spielberg. 5 stars
8/25/01 John Roberson Matthew, you will find that info IN THE REVIEW. And what do YOU know? 2 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg very moving .Spielberg's best film yet . 5 stars
7/05/01 Matthew Bartley Why does John roberson have a vendetta against this film?What the fuck do you know anyway? 5 stars
6/28/01 John Roberson "Almost?" Rampage, it takes a Spielberg film to make you wish the Nazis never happened?!?) 2 stars
5/31/01 Ben Donnelly ok 3 stars
4/30/01 The Jedi Droid what can I say...what a film...emotional, & the black & white really added alot to the film 5 stars
4/23/01 Rampage it was good, almost made you wish the term Nazi never happened 4 stars
4/21/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) This film touched me deeply...and no, not just because I'm Jewish... 5 stars
4/16/01 Tam Heart-rending and profound, one of the finest films ever 5 stars
4/09/01 James Beetlejuice, you are a fucking moron.....nuff said 5 stars
3/18/01 Beetlejuice It was boring to me. Sorry. 3 stars
2/17/01 Michael Nicholls It emotionally drains the viewer, leaving little to spare... 5 stars
2/14/01 Lee Faultless and important 5 stars
1/15/01 Skip A masterpiece. Don't hate it because it's Spielberg. 5 stars
1/01/01 Msitrab Staggering 5 stars
12/31/00 kevin An excellent movie, one of Spielberg's best. It draws you into the plot and shows you life 5 stars
12/28/00 Viking If you don't like this movie, join the intellectual wankers at a Peter Greenaway festival 5 stars
11/26/00 Jack Wolverton I think this is the greatest film ever made. At the end I just set there in shock, awesome 5 stars
11/24/00 Cristopher Revilla you panners, pay attention or don't bother to review, you fucking morons, the film is great 5 stars
11/21/00 Randy Eischer The nude scenes were pretty good, though. 2 stars
11/18/00 The Bill Head The best movie of the 90s! Classic..Superb..Spielberg's best!On my top ten of all time... 5 stars
8/16/00 Lucritia I thik it was good of Steven to focus on schindler and what he did.He did not favour nazis 4 stars
8/04/00 Jake Ryan, That is soooooo true. What a total waste. "Oh No, I am a Jew!" 1 stars
7/26/00 fred wicked but gruesome 5 stars
7/11/00 Jami An absolutely amazing film. Ryan, you make me sick 5 stars
7/06/00 Matthew Bartley Ryan how can you say racist shit like IT'S JUST ANOTHER JEW MOVIE? 5 stars
6/27/00 Christian Zell Great film. Fiennes was incredible as Amon Goethe. 5 stars
6/12/00 perverted pixie Painful- yet exceptional. A classic. That red dress... 5 stars
6/01/00 TERRIE SMITH A emotional experience. One of the best during the 1990's. 5 stars
5/23/00 Steven Hunter This film is awesome. Naysayers wouldn't know a gret movie if it took up home in their arse 5 stars
5/05/00 matt touching 5 stars
4/26/00 Fran I wouldn't watch it again 'cause it's to bad if you see all this people. 4 stars
4/12/00 TJ St John Matthew, you're right, John Linton is an asshole!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/06/00 Bruce A hard film to watch, but you will be glad you did 5 stars
3/31/00 Matthew Bartley John Linton, you're a dickhead. How can you not acknowledge it's brilliance? 5 stars
3/18/00 Ashley superb 5 stars
2/17/00 k.tomkowski Grossly overrated, because of the subject and director. 2 stars
11/29/99 Mic The Greatest Film Ever Made. I wish I had 5,000 words to write about this movie. 5 stars
11/29/99 Crystal Fleming Well done movie 5 stars
11/28/99 Stephanie Arden Fantastic a movie to be seen by everyone, to eduacate people the harm war devauors ITS GREA 5 stars
11/19/99 Lisa Solinas I was so drained after watching this, I flipflopped through a thousand emotions 5 stars
11/07/99 Anthony Ellis One of the great movie masterpieces. If not the greatest. A remarkable landmark in cinema!! 5 stars
10/30/99 Marita Absolutely extrodanary 5 stars
10/26/99 Eva Davis It was a very powerful, awsom movie 5 stars
10/11/99 Weird Andy A laff riot. Rent "Shoah" or "Hotel Terminus" instead, and actually learn something. 2 stars
10/11/99 Eran ( Basically ,whoever hates the film-hates jews.It's as simple as that. 5 stars
10/09/99 sophia962 Stunning, haunting, every corny fucking thing there is to say but they're all TRUE 5 stars
9/16/99 Casey Wright & Merryn Rogan Excellent!! 5 stars
9/04/99 godsdog Intensely disturbing, immaculately executed. Spielburg is a brilliant storyteller, bar non 5 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: **** (out of ****) Category: "Excellent" 5 stars
5/25/99 iyu Best movie on the planet. Period. 5 stars
4/20/99 Tim To all those people who think the Holocaust is a hoax, watch this movie. 5 stars
3/22/99 A. M. Spielbergs best work. He will never top this. In fact it may have been inadvertant. 5 stars
2/09/99 Bob, Lord of Evil How can you not acknowledge how amazing it was? 5 stars
2/02/99 Matthew Bartley What can be said? You should be made to see this film by law. Watch it, weep and watch it a 5 stars
1/24/99 Slugmuffin A timeless masterpiece. A MUST see. 5 stars
1/23/99 Goofaloo A work of art. An epic that will be long remembered. 5 stars
1/19/99 donkey_dew This is probably the greatest movie ever made. 5 stars
1/10/99 Dasha If any film can come close to perfection, it's this one. 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink I agree with the last line of K-dog's review. 5 stars
11/26/98 little jerry As a Hollywood attempt to barely scratch the surface of The Final Solution-its impressive. 5 stars
11/25/98 Fred Everyone should see this movie. A masterpiece. 5 stars
10/18/98 Kwyjibo Very hardcore. Anyone who can't feel terrible at what happened after watching this is dead. 5 stars
10/14/98 Chi-Fan Hu One of the best films I've ever seen. I wouldn't usually go and see one of these. 5 stars
9/18/98 Couch Potato Critic A powerful film. One of the 6 best films Spielberg has ever done. 5 stars
9/06/98 Helle Marie Excuse me for saying the first hour was boring, but th rest was fuckin` great! 5 stars
9/04/98 pooky the bald Dare I say this movie had faults? I dare. Important, but lacking energy. 4 stars
9/04/98 Badass The most human movie ever made. 5 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Necessary viewing. 5 stars
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  23-Feb-1997 (R)
  DVD: 09-Mar-2004



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