Aladdin (1992)


A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true. (IMDb)
The romance plot is a little off (Jasmine obviously liked him as a pauper, so why was he such a haughty prince–especially after she showed her distaste? Well, a magic carpet ride will solve everything), but the two are sympathetic at least (see Aladdin’s fun opening song and Jasmine’s “well maybe I don’t want to be a princess!”). Elsewhere, the excellent villain, the hilarious Genie, and intriguing magical underpinnings help create a twisty, exciting adventure punctuated by great humour.
7.5/10 (Really Good)


Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)


In 1965, an unorthodox and irreverent DJ named Adrian Cronauer begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the U.S. Armed Services radio station in Vietnam. (IMDb)
I expected the rambunctious rapid-fire radio comedy (even if I rarely got the jokes, the montages with the rocking 60s hits were excellent and the uptight Hauk an almost too-perfect adversary); what surprised me was its serious commentary on the Vietnam war, not just with the army censorship issue but with the conflict’s effects on civilians as well (see the striking “What a Wonderful World” montage), though Aidan’s womanizing got that off to a rough start and the Tuan twist is left unresolved.
7/10 (Good)


One Hour Photo (2002)


An employee of a one-hour photo lab becomes obsessed with a young suburban family. (IMDb)
There are so many elements that make this a great thriller: The unnerving plot (and its unsettling florescent setting) that moves from subtle chills to full-blown psycho-horror; Williams’ nuanced turn as the creepy yet tragic and human lead character; the excellent score (at times melancholy and mournful, at others eerie and pulsing); the thoughtful scene framing and The Shining-esque long tracking shots. The unclear ending lacks that immediate impact but it fits the film’s blurred tone.
8/10 (Great)


Patch Adams (1998)


In the 1970s, a medical student treats patients, illegally, using humor. (IMDb)
Williams is brilliant as the titular character: Goofy and sweet (the first red nose scene with the kids is heart-melting), gleefully subversive (“At your cervix!”; the grad mooning), and endearingly idealistic (see his late-night brainstorm with Carin). The powerful combination of humour and sentimentality throughout is enough to make the heart burst–or at least let the film’s cliched set-ups and lazily brisk pacing (the hints of dark tragedy begged for more time) slide, for the most part.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Good Will Hunting (1997)


Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. (IMDb)
Powerful turns all around deliver scene after scene of raw and potent dialogue, seen most notably in Will and Sean’s widely varied but always intense emotional moments in therapy, but also in each of their secondary relationships with Skylar and Gerald, respectively. Mixed into the moving character studies that arise is thought-provoking discourse on dealing with the past, fulfilling potential, and finding purpose. This rich script is iced nicely with a beautiful acoustic soundtrack.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

Awakenings (1990)

The victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years ago have been catatonic ever since, but now a new drug offers the prospect of reviving them. (IMDb)
A fascinating and moving true story featuring stellar performances from the two leads: Williams’ shy but determined doctor attempts to “awaken” comatose patients with a new drug, and the aftermath is a tear-jerking mix of heart warming joy and wrenching sadness, seen most notably in DeNiro’s endearing Leonard. The parallel “awakening” of the doctor is meaningful without being heavy-handed, thanks to a graceful script. A delicate soundtrack and thoughtful cinematography top off this lovely film.
8/10 (Great)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

A beautiful account of a quirky teacher and how he inspired his students to “seize the day!” and be themselves. Although the drama is spread slightly thin between Todd’s, Neil’s, and Keating’s unique stories, respectively, the differing impacts of Keating’s teaching as seen in the two boys’ distinct journeys add an authentic complexity to the story as a whole. Williams, Hawke, and Leonard are all superb in their performances which ultimately pushes this film to soul-touching depths.
7.5/10 (Really Good)