The Insider (1999)

THE INSIDER (1999) dir. Michael Mann. Based on the true story of tobacco industry insider Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) who does an interview with TV program 60 Minutes, exposing illegality within the company. An incredible epic film, about an essentially unlikable character. One of Russell Crowe’s best performances, as the hard drinking scientist with anger issues who loves his kids. Al Pacino as the 60 Minutes producer is a delight, I enjoyed how he is calm and professional for almost the entire movie, and when he loses his temper, it’s glorious. I loved Al Pacino’s beach house. The deposition scene is one of the most satisfying courthouse moments in cinema. Possibly the best soundtracks to a thriller ever, combining operatic vocals, classical guitar, and a perfectly placed Massive Attack track. Watching again this time, I was very impressed by the use of repetition of the Wigand interview tapes. The taping of the interview is not the climax of the film, we see it multiple times from different angles: interviewer, interviewee, editor, producer, a finally audience, shown without words, in an airport lounge. Masterpiece.

Stigmata (1999)

dir Rupert Wainwright. Patricia Arquette plays young woman who is afflicted with stigmata, mysterious wounds on the body that match Jesus Christ’s wounds during the crucifixion. Priest/Biologist Gabriel Byrne investigates. So disappointing, in the last 20 years this movie had grown in my mind to be a combination of THE EXORCIST (1973) and Dan Brown style religious mystery. It’s not in the same universe. The cinematography takes its cues from bad 1990s music videos, and there is no chemistry between Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne. Interesting to see Jonathan Pryce play a Cardinal, 20 years before playing future Pope, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in THE TWO POPES (2019). Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars dad) gives maybe the worst Italian accent in cinema. I should have known it would be terrible when the opening credits started with the song ‘Mary, Mary (Stigmatic Mix)’ by Chumbawamba. May Lord have mercy.