8:00 PM, 26th October, 2001
Matt Damon is John Grady Cole, a young rancher in Texas in the late forties who is left homeless after his recently-departed Grandfather's ranch is sold to an oil company. John and his best friend Lacey (Henry Thomas) thus set off to New Mexico for a little adventure, or at the very least a job. Along the way they meet up with a brash and reckless teen, Jimmy Blevins (Lucus Black), which results in them being implicated in a horse stealing raid. They eventually escape and get a job at a ranch, but things get a little touchy when John falls for, you guessed it, the boss' daughter (Penelope Cruz). As if that wasn't enough, the crooked arm of the law is looking to take a piece of the boys.
This western-romance-adventure is certainly one to experience on the big screen, as the Texan landscape is shot beautifully and much exploited (in a good way). In addition, the characters seem to get into their roles quite enthusiastically (which always makes or breaks a film for me - I hate watching actors that seem bored), and the 112 minutes are rich enough with adventure, drama, action and laughs to hold your interest. By no means a ground breaking film, it's still a nice story well shot and competently played.
9:56 PM, 26th October, 2001
This is not a lighthearted film but is a complex portrayal of a society brutalised under Stalin's paranoid leadership, directed by Regis Wargnier of Indochine fame. The action begins in 1946 after the end of World War II when Stalin invited Russian exiles to return to help re-build the homeland. It is a cruel trick and almost all the shipload of returning emigres are executed except for a Russian born physician, Alexei, his French wife Marie and their son. Alexei is eager to return and help in the rebuilding of Russia, and she loves him and comes along. Their disillusionment is swift and brutal. As a family, they have been spared the fate of the other passengers because the state needs doctors, but Marie is suspect because she speaks French and therefore, given the logic of the times, could be a spy, and her passport is torn up. But East-West is more than their story; it is a great, bleak epic of a society wasted and terrorized and spans over a decade. Tension mounts as Marie's tenacity, will to survive and hope for freedom results in elaborate plans to escape. Toward the end of the film there is a set piece worthy of a vintage thriller. It is a film that lingers in the mind long after the end.