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.

Blow

  • Directors: Ted Demme
  • Producers: Ted Demme, Denis Leary, Joel Stillerman
  • Writers: Nick Cassavetes, David McKenna
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Johnny Depp, Ray Liotta, Paul Reubens, Franka Potente, Rachel Griffiths, Ethan Suplee, Cliff Curtis

The film opens to a young George and his parents Fred (Ray Liotta) and Ermine (Rachel Griffiths). George’s father never wanted to argue in front of the boy. The boy’s father supports his family in Weymouth, Massachusetts by running a small plumbing company. His mother is constantly complaining that the family has no money and badgers her husband, asking him what they are going to do. Finally, despite Fred’s relentless efforts to keep the family afloat, they eventually have to file for bankruptcy and lose everything. The boy decides then that he will not let the same fate befall him.

A grown-up George (Johnny Depp) moves to Southern California with his friend “Tuna” (Ethan Suplee) and they get a beachside apartment and make friends with all the locals. They don’t want to get real jobs so Tuna comes up with the idea of selling marijuana. George’s new girlfriend, Barbara Buckley (Franka Potente) sets them on the path to do just that by introducing them to her friend/entrepreneur Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens), who is the main dealer in the area. With Derek’s help, George and Tuna make a lot of money selling to all the people in the area. Their other friend, Kevin Dulli (Max Perlich) who is a college student back in Boston visits them while on vacation. He begins to tell George and Tuna about the shortage of quality pot and the enormous demand given all the colleges in that area. With the help of Barbara, an airline stewardess, they start bringing the drugs to Boston.

George promises his daughter Kristina that he will take her to California, as that is her dream vacation, and goes into one last deal to garner enough money for the trip. On the deal, he is set up by the FBI and DEA along with old accomplices, and sentenced to 60 years at Otisville State Prison in upstate New York. He explains in the end that the sentence did not bother him so much as the emotional damage he caused on those he loved and how his ambition exceeded his talent.

Remember the Titans

  • Directors: Boaz Yakin
  • Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Chad Oman
  • Writers: Gregory Allen Howard
  • Genres: Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Hayden Panettiere, Donald Faison, Ethan Suplee

The film, takes place in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971, at the brand-new desegregated T.C. Williams High School. Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), also derogatorily known as Coach “Coon” by racist elements during the time period, due to his African-American background, is hired as head coach for the school’s football team, taking the place promised to former head coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton). Yoast at first refuses Boone’s offer as the assistant head coach, but then changes his mind. The black and white members of the football team clash in racially-motivated conflicts on a few occasions throughout their time at football camp, but after forceful coaxing and team building efforts by Coach Boone, the team manages to achieve some form of unity, as well as success. Boone makes the camp quite rigorous; when the bus is leaving for the camp at the beginning all members are instructed to wear a shirt and tie; anyone not doing so will watch the season and not compete. At the camp, anybody who displays any sort of misconduct at practice is instructed to run a mile. One time during camp, Coach Boone wakes up the players at 3:00 am to take a run through the woods to end up at a Civil War battleground where he delivers a stirring speech on ‘why that war was fought’ (‘…the same fight we are still having today’).

All-American player Gerry Bertier is paralyzed in an automobile accident while celebrating one of the team’s victories. Although Bertier is no longer able to play, the team goes on to win the championship, setting an example for the town in the process. The football team wins the AAA State championship game in Roanoke, and is first runner up in the national championship. Bertier later goes on to win a gold medal in the shotput event at the Paralympic Games. Ten years later, the team reunites at the end of the film to attend Bertier’s funeral.

American History X

  • Directors: Tony Kaye
  • Producers: John Morrissey
  • Writers: David McKenna
  • Genres: Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D Angelo, Avery Brooks, Stacy Keach, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Lien, Elliott Gould, Ethan Suplee, Guy Torry, William Russ

In the opening scene, Danny Vinyard, a young white supremacist, sits in his principal’s office. Danny’s history teacher, Murray, explains to the principal, Dr. Sweeney, who is black, that Danny wrote a book report sympathetic to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Sweeney then informs Danny that he is now Danny’s history teacher. The class is called “American History X”, and Danny’s first assignment is due the next morning: a paper about his brother Derek. The next scenes are flashbacks showing Derek’s transformation into a vengeful white supremacist. Derek had already been influenced by his firefighter father’s latent racism, and is driven to action when his father is murdered. Derek goes on a racial slur-laden tirade blaming blacks, Asians and Hispanics for his father’s death, saying that most of the crimes in the country are race-driven.

Eventually Derek becomes second-in-command of a neo-Nazi gang, The DOC, and entices young whites to join by promising protection from predominantly non-white gangs. The gang commits acts of intimidation, such as damaging a store owned by a Korean American and challenging basketball games against groups of black players. One night, while Derek is having sex with his girlfriend Stacy (Fairuza Balk), three black men arrive on the lawn and break into Derek’s truck. Brandishing a handgun, Derek exits the house and violently confronts the men, killing one and wounding the other before curb-stomping him. Danny watches in horror, then witnesses his brother submitting to the police officers and smiling triumphantly.

At school, Danny enters a bathroom before class starts and is confronted by a young black student who is a gang member, with whom he had a confrontation the previous day. The black student ends up shooting Danny three times in the chest. Derek races back to the school and cradles his dead brother. The film ends with Danny narrating part of his paper, in which he quotes the conclusion of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”