Cold Mountain

  • Directors: Anthony Minghella
  • Producers: Albert Berger, William Horberg, Sydney Pollack, Ron Yerxa
  • Writers: Anthony Minghella, Charles Frazier
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Hunnam, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland, James Gammon, Jack White, Ethan Suplee

At the film’s inception Jude Law plays a young man named W. P. Inman at a provincial North Carolina town. He meets Ada (Nicole Kidman) and is at the fledgling stages of a relationship with her when he marches off to war as a Confederate soldier.

The film opens early in the morning of July 30, 1864. Confederate troops are entrenched outside Petersburg during its siege. The teenaged Oakley (Lucas Black) is handing out clothes from a wheelbarrow while Inman reads letters from Ada. The soldiers are tired and bored. Most are seasoned veterans who have been fighting for over three years. But meanwhile Union engineers are filling a mine under the Confederate trenches with gunpowder barrels while above, hundreds Union troops are waiting to attack. Suddenly back at the Confederate siege works, a rabbit hops into the trench. Just as one of the men is about to capture it the ground rises from under him and there is a huge explosion. The Union lit the barrels and most of the trench exploded. As Inman and Oakley get up dazed from the blast they see Union troops charging at them. As the Union charge they run right into the crater where the trench used to be and are trapped in a kill zone. The Confederates fire down at them but the fighting becomes hand to hand and Oakley is pulled down in by a Union soldier and Inman goes after him. Before Inman can reach him Oakley is bayoneted but survives. Inman shoots the Union soldier with a LeMat revolver he finds and pulls Oakley out of the chaos. The battle ends with a huge Union defeat. As the Confederates are cleaning up after the battle, Inman comforts Oakley as he is pulled to the hospital on a cart. Later that day Oakley dies in the hospital with Inman and Stobrod Thewes (Brendan Gleeson) beside him.

The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have an infant child. Her father Stobrod is revealed to have survived, and it is revealed that Ada’s night with Inman had given her a child, Grace Inman.

Midnight Express

  • Directors: Alan Parker
  • Producers: Alan Marshall, David Puttnam
  • Writers: Billy Hayes, William Hoffer, Oliver Stone
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, John Hurt, Paul L Smith, Irene Miracle

On October 6, 1970, after a stay in Istanbul, a US citizen named Billy Hayes is arrested by Turkish police, on high alert due to fear of terrorist attacks, as he is about to fly out of the country with his girlfriend. After being found with several bricks of hashish taped to his body – about two kilograms in total – he is arrested. After a while, a shadowy American arrives. He translates for Billy. The police ask where Billy bought the hash. Billy tells them that he bought it from a cab driver and offers to help the police track him down in exchange for his release. He goes with the police to a local market and points the cab driver out but while the police go to arrest the cabbie, Billy makes a run for it. He gets cornered in a building and is recaptured by the mysterious American. Billy is sentenced to four years and two months’ imprisonment on the charge of drug possession. He is sent to SaÄŸmalcılar prison (closed in 2008) to serve out his sentence. In the remand centre, he meets and befriends other Western prisoners. In 1974, after a prosecution appeal (who originally wished to have Hayes found guilty of smuggling and not possession), his original sentence is overturned by the Turkish High Court in Ankara and he is ordered to serve a 30-year term for his crime. His stay becomes a living hell: terrifying and unbearable scenes of physical and mental torture follow one another, where bribery, violence and insanity rule the prison.

In 1975, Susan comes to see Billy and is devastated at what the guards have done to him. After being committed to the prison’s insane asylum, Billy again tries to escape, this time by attempting to bribe the head guard, who then takes him to the sanitarium, intending to rape him. Billy ends up killing the guard. He then puts on an officer’s uniform and manages his escape by walking out of the front door. From the epilogue, it is explained that on the night of October 4, 1975 he successfully crossed the border to Greece, and arrived home three weeks later.

Sleepers

  • Directors: Barry Levinson
  • Producers: Barry Levinson, Steve Golin
  • Writers: Screenplay, Barry Levinson, Novel, Lorenzo Carcaterra
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Kevin Bacon, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Minnie Driver, Ron Eldard, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Patric, and Brad Pitt

Lorenzo “Shakes” Carcaterra, Thomas “Tommy” Marcano, Michael Sullivan, and John Reilly are four childhood friends (Joseph Perrino, Jonathan Tucker, Brad Renfro, and Geoffrey Wigdor respectively) who grow up in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City in the mid-1960s. During this time, the local priest, Father Bobby (Robert De Niro), plays a very important part in their lives and keeps an eye on them. However, early on they start running small errands for a local gangster, King Benny (Vittorio Gassman).

On a summer day in 1967, their lives take a sharp turn when they almost kill a man after pulling a prank on a hot dog vendor. As a punishment they are all four sentenced to serve time at the Wilkinson Home for Boys in upstate New York. There, the boys are systematically beaten, abused, and raped by guards Sean Nokes, Henry Addison, Adam Styler, and Ralph Ferguson (Kevin Bacon, Jeffrey Donovan, Lennie Loftin, and Terry Kinney respectively). These traumatic events change the boys and their friendship forever.

Fourteen years later, John and Tommy (Ron Eldard and Billy Crudup), now gangsters, come across Sean Nokes in a pub in Hell’s Kitchen. After making sure that Nokes knows who they are, they both shoot him. Mike (Brad Pitt), now an assistant District Attorney, arranges to be assigned to the case, secretly intending to lose it as a means of getting revenge. Moreover, he and Shakes (Jason Patric), begin to forge a plan to get their revenge on all the responsible guards. Together with many of their lifelong friends, especially Carol (Minnie Driver), a social worker, and King Benny, they manage to collect information on all the Wilkinson guards.

However, to clinch the case they need a key witness who can give John and Tommy an alibi. After a long talk with Father Bobby, including telling him about the awful events at Wilkinson, he agrees to lie on the stand about where John and Tommy were on the night of the shooting; the priest swears under oath that they were with him at Madison Square Garden at a Knicks basketball game. As a result, they are acquited.

The Mask of Zorro

  • Directors: Martin Campbell
  • Producers: David Foster, Doug Claybourne, Executive Producers, Steven Spielberg, Walter F Parkes
  • Writers: Screenplay, John Eskow, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Story, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Randall Jahnson, Characters, Johnston McCulley
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Romance, Western
  • Actors: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letscher

In 1821, the Mexican Army is on the verge of liberating its country from Spanish colonial rule. In Las Californias the ruthless Spanish Governor, Don Rafael Montero, is about to be overthrown. In a final effort to trap his nemesis, the masked swordsman Zorro (Anthony Hopkins), Montero prepares to execute three innocent townspeople. With assistance from two orphan brothers, Joaquin and Alejandro Murrieta, Zorro releases the prisoners. Zorro rewards the Murrieta brothers with a medallion he wears, and escapes on his horse, Toronado, after cutting a “Z” into Montero’s neck as a warning.

Montero deduces that Zorro is really Don Diego de la Vega, a Spanish nobleman married to Esperanza, the woman Montero loved. Attempting to arrest Diego, a fight ensues. Esperanza is killed while trying to protect Diego. Diego’s house is burned and his infant daughter, Eléna, is taken by Montero to be raised as his own. Diego is imprisoned.

Twenty years later Montero returns to California, looking for Diego in the old prison. Although de La Vega is there, Montero does not recognize him, while several prisoners claim to be Zorro. Diego escapes, intent on killing Montero at a public ceremony for Montero’s return. Diego restrains himself when he sees Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones), now a beautiful young lady. Eléna is presented with a bouquet of flowers – Romagnas, native to California – the scent of which she recognizes, although she believes she has never been to California.

The one moment that captured all the advertising and viewer’s attention: When Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is undressed by the slashing sword of Mexican thief Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro (Antonio Banderas); the view of her opened dress caused his sword blade to pop up, followed by his taking her for a sensuous kiss.[1][2] The scene has been called one of the most erotic film moments of the 1990s.[3][4] In fact, both Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas have admitted to sexual arousal during the filming of this scene,[5] Banderas being aroused by Zeta-Jones’s beauty,[5] and Zeta-Jones being aroused by the very fact that Banderas could strip her by using only his sword and not his hands.[5]