Sunday, May 17, 2015

Film Classics of the 20th Century

In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at Your Friends & Neighbors,  Shampoo,  The Player,  Dick Tracy,  How To Marry A Millionaire,  Blow OutYou Only Live TwiceSleeper,  Diamonds Are Forever,  Sleepless In Seattle,  My Little Chickadee,  Tootsie,  After Hours,  Edward ScissorhandsChristmas in Connecticut, Desk Set,  When Harry Met Sally . . .,  Who Done It?,  That Darn Cat!,  Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings, especially on repeat viewings.

A good thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat, yes, but it also throws you off kilter from time to time so that you're never really sure how it's going to end.

Masters of the genre like Alan J. Pakula and Brian De Palma created classics in the genre.

Those who followed (Christopher Nolan, for example) largely relied on tricks.

The Net relied on fear and tension.


The 1995 film was directed and co-produced by Irwin Winkler whose filmography includes many important moments such as They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Raging Bull, Up The Sandbox, S*P*Y*S,  Betrayed, Goodfellas, Music Box, Peeper, Night and the City and last year's The Gambler.

The film revolves around systems analyst Angela Bennett who works from home and suffers from what could be considered a mild form of social agoraphobia -- she rarely ventures out from her home.  When she does, it is usually to visit her mother who suffers from Alzheimer's.

A series of events are taking place around the country that are not what they seem. Angela gets involved in the conspiracy when a friend sends her a disc (remember floppy discs?) with a program on it.

Just having the disc means those in charge of the conspiracy want Angela eliminated.


The conspiracy dispatches assassin Jack Devlin (Jeremy Northam) to seduce her, obtain the disc and kill her.

But Angela catches on that Devlin's not all he pretends to be (few straight men who self-describe  as "butch" ever are) and manages to escape.

Still the shadow figures use her Cozumel vacation to destroy her.  They erase her identity and falsify records to make her Ruth Marx, a woman with many prior convictions.

Angela now not only has to figure out what's going on but also to try to reclaim her identity.

She has to fight the conspiracy, she has to fight law enforcement, she's completely alone and the only one who can save Angela is Angela herself.


It's a tight and suspenseful film with Sandra Bullock in the lead role.

Following up on her first blockbuster (Speed with Keanu Reeves), Sandra delivered a one-two punch in 1995 with this thriller as well as the comedy While You Were Sleeping.

It's a difficult role and Bullock pulls it off.


At one point, she attempts to explain to a court-appointed attorney:

Just think about, just think about it, just think about it, our whole world is sitting there in the computer.  It's in the computer, everything. Your DMV records, your-your Social Security, your credit cards, your medical history -- it's all right there. Everyone is stored.  And there's like this little electronic shadow on each and every one of us that's just begging for somebody to screw with.  And you know what?  They've done it to me.  And you know what? They're going to do it with you. 

As Angela attempts to clear her name she finds the conspiracy runs deeper and deeper and Devlin and the real Ruth Marx (Wendy Gazelle) are determined to kill her on behalf of a Bill Gates' like predator who's behind the conspiracy.


Will Angela expose it all?  If she does, will it be her final act?

The Net keeps you guessing and the premise of the film was so powerful that not only did it go on to be a top DVD seller for two decades, it also spawned a sequel and a TV series.

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