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Culture | The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts from 10/22/99 to 10/24/99

Issue: "Taking on the thugs," Nov. 6, 1999
The best man $9 million
1 week in release
$9 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Taye Diggs, Nia Long / Malcolm D. Lee / Universal Pictures
Content Rated R for profanity, sexual situations, violence, and nudity
Plot Sparks fly when writer goes to his best friend's wedding after writing a book about his friend's collegiate sexual escapades
Gist This "mainstream movie for African Americans" plays like a raunchier version of The Big Chill
Worldview Soap opera-ism: What matters is who sleeps with whom, mixed with the usual blather about friendship and relationships
Double Jeopardy $13.6 million
3 weeks in release
$65.8 million to date
Cast Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones
Director Bruce Beresford
Studio Paramount Pictures
Content Rated R for bad language, violence, and sexual situations
Plot Innocent woman convicted of murdering her jerk husband discovers hubby isn't dead
Gist Revenge is mine! Since she already did jail time for "killing" her husband, she decides she can hunt him down with impunity
Worldview True grit can eventually bring satisfying results
Fight Club $6.3 million
2 weeks in release
$21.9 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Brad Pitt, Edward Norton / David Fincher / 20th Century Fox
Content Rated R for profanity, sexual situations, graphic violence, and nudity
Plot Two frustrated men organize a band of pugilists who find ritual satisfaction in bare-knuckle brawls
Gist Male bonding goes to the extreme as Brad Pitt tries to prove he can act
Worldview Nietzsche in therapy: Troubled people find meaning by beating the stuffing out of each other
Bringing out the dead $6.2 million
1 week in release
$6.2 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette / Martin Scorsese / Paramount Pictures
Content Rated R for profanity, violence, and drug use
Plot Two days and three nights in the life of a New York City paramedic
Gist Director Scorsese reunites with screenwriter Paul Schrader, known for Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ
Worldview Post-Christian angst: Cage's EMS driver has a spiritual crisis because his patients are dying
The story of us $5.4 million
2 weeks in release
$17.8 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Michelle Pfeiffer, Bruce Willis / Rob Reiner / Universal Pictures
Content Rated R for profanity and sexual situations
Plot Anti-romantic comedy about a baby-boomer couple on the brink of divorce
Gist The audience gets to watch Pfeiffer and Willis fight for an hour and a half
Worldview Happy marriages turn sour in a few years after the original spark burns out

In the Spotlight
Movies that WORLD can recommend enthusiastically come along rarely. The Straight Story (Disney, rated G) is one. Its plot is simple: An old man travels for 5+ weeks from his home in Iowa to his brother's home in Wisconsin on an old John Deere riding mower. Its message is profound: the importance of family, reconciliation, and perseverance. The Straight Story works wonderfully because of patient directing by David Lynch and understated acting by craggy-faced Richard Farnsworth in the title role of Alvin Straight. Straight walks with two canes and has vision so bad that he can't drive a car. Yet each day he climbs on his transport and sets off at a snail's pace for his brother's house. Each night he climbs off and eats dinner by the light of a campfire at the side of the road. He travels with two chairs, one a spare for colorful strangers who share his fire and their troubles. The Straight Story has no illicit sex scenes, no car chases or violence, no obscenity or profanity. Its G rating reflects the glow of the nightly fire by which we learn the story of Straight, bit by bit. We learn about the death of his wife, his battle with alcohol, the sharp words that cut him off from his brother, and his daughter's devastating loss. We come to love this funny and kind man who has learned through suffering and has much to teach.

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