THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (Milos Forman, 1996)

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“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard a lot here today, and I’m not gonna try to go back over it all again for you. But you have to go back in that room and make some decisions. And there is one thing I want to make very clear to you before you do. I am not trying to convince you that you should like what Larry Flynt does.

I don’t like what Larry Flynt does. But what I do like is that I live in a country where you and I can make that decision for ourselves. I like that I live in a country where I can pick up Hustler and read it if I want to or throw it in the garbage can if that’s where I think it belongs. Or better yet, I can exercise my opinion and not buy it.

I like that I have that right. I care about it. And you should care about it too. You really should. Because we live in a free country. We say that a lot, but I think sometimes we forget really what that means, so listen to it again.

We live in a free country. And that is a powerful idea. That’s a magnificent way to live. But there’s a price for that freedom, which is that sometimes we have to tolerate things that we don’t necessarily like.

So go back in that room, where you are free to think whatever you want to think about Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine. But ask yourselves if you want to make that decision for the rest of us. Because the freedom that everyone in this room enjoys is in a very real way in your hands. If we start throwing up walls against what some of us think is obscene we may very well wake up one morning and realize walls have been thrown up in all kinds of places that we never expected. And we can’t see anything or do anything.

And that’s not freedom. That is not freedom. So be careful. Thank you.”

(Also, Woody Harrelson gave the performance of his life in this film.)

Rating: ★★★★★

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BREAKING THE WAVES (Lars von Trier, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I’d always remember this film as the one that my college Theology professor detested so much that she spoiled the entire story in one of our classes and discouraged us from ever seeing it, lest our souls burn in the pits of hell.

Being the obedient, saintly, Catholic school-raised kid that I was, of course I ignored her warning and immediately looked for a copy from my favorite mIRC channel (the cinema-related one, not the other kind). I was enthralled for two and a half hours and absorbed every “immoral” theme it had to offer. My spirit felt completely free by the time the bells started chiming in the end.

I guess I still turned out okay. (Not so sure about my soul, though.) Sadly, I never had the chance to tell my dear old teacher how much I loved it and that she “had no right to consign Bess to hell”.

Emily Watson was just phenomenal here. The rest of the cast (especially Stellan Skarsgard and the late Katrin Cartlidge) were terrific as well.

If you were able to watch the National Anthem episode of Black Mirror, you might have heard of the Dogme 95 style as part of the hostage taker’s demands in terms of filming that pig scene (“no background music, only natural light for authenticity”). That directorial choice worked really well in this one. Made me wonder if it was time to revive the Mother Lily Pito-Pito cinematic movement.

Rating: ★★★★★

THE CRUCIBLE (Nicholas Hytner, 1996)

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Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) inciting mass hysteria that played on people’s fears and religious zealotry just because she was denied a married John Proctor’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) big dick energy had to be one of the most villainous turns in cinema (and literature) history alongside that little lying witch Briony (Saoirse Ronan) in Atonement.

I related the most with Martha Corey (Mary Pat Gleason) who mockingly laughed at the devious fainting girls and said, “What else are fools good for?” which was obviously the equivalent of our local version of “Tingnan mo ang mga tangang ‘to!”.

Rating: ★★★★☆