8:00 PM, 10th April, 1999
At the start of The Siege, one of the US intelligence services abducts an Iraqi religious leader. In retaliation, Arab extremists start a campaign of terrorist bombings in New York City. FBI counter-terrorism agent Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) must try to stop the bombings. But the attacks escalate, with a bus and then a theatre being bombed, followed by an attack on a federal building that is rife with references to the real-life bombing in Oklahoma City. The job of stopping the bombings is finally given to the US military - martial law is declared and the army moves in to occupy New York City.
This film felt very much like it had two parts. The first part seems a fairly simple, if well done, cop thriller - Denzel Washington on the trail of the bombers. When the military moves into New York, the other part of the movie begins. This part attempts to explore issues of civil rights, authoritarian governments and democracy, but manages this only in a clumsy fashion. The second part of the movie didn't seem to follow from the first, and some of the events of the latter half of the film do not make much sense to say the least. But it does work fairly well if viewed as an interesting "what if..." While I personally was extremely disappointed with the film's conclusion, the movie does raise some interesting issues.
10:00 PM, 10th April, 1999
Hope Floats begins with Birdee Pruitt's (Bullock) appearance on a Ricki Lake style talk show for what she believes to be a makeover. Of course, these shows aren't really about makeovers; they're about people humiliating other people on television! This is the case for Birdee as she is confronted by her emotionally stunted husband and her self-absorbed best friend, who have come to the conclusion that the best place to tell Birdee of their long-term affair is on national TV. (I have asked myself many times whether these people are for real and if so what possesses them to put their grievances on display for the entire world to see. Perhaps it is as simple as safety in numbers or, alternatively, the joy of knowing that millions of people are encouraging you to "kick him to the curb!")
After her television debut, Birdee and her daughter, Bernice, move home to Smithville, Texas. There Birdee must put up with her eccentric mother and find a job despite her lack of qualifications, unless you count three-time Queen of Corn. She also has to look after her daughter who is an absolute brat, a nasty little monster who stomps all over her mother, all over the screen and all over the nerves of this viewer (I love children, really I do! [For Lunch? - Ed]). On the up side, Birdee becomes re-acquainted with Justin (Connick), who has held a torch for Birdee since High School and well, I'm sure you can guess the rest.
This movie is very predictable. It seems that the only people who don't know what is going to happen are the characters (and shouting at them doesn't increase their awareness!). Having said that, it has some good moments and you should enjoy yourselves.