Life struck me as several cuts above “meh” but never made me jump out of my seat.
Q. I saw "Dangerous Minds," which was an OK movie, but could have been better. My question is, what happened to the scene where the students and teacher are playing pool? This scene is a major part of all of the previews and is still in some of the TV commercials. Why did they decide to cut that scene? -- David Becerra, San Diego
A. Movie ads and previews are made from early rough cuts, and often contain shots that are later taken out after test screenings. For example, in the ads for "Batman Forever," the Riddler says, "The Bat wants to play? We'll play!" Not in the movie. You think that's weird? "Dangerous Minds" originally co-starred Andy Garcia as Michelle Pfeiffer's love interest, and his entire character was cut after testing.
Q. Regarding the wonderful film "Il Postino," I understand the lead actor, Massimo Troisi, passed away just after the film was finished. Because the resolution of the plot seemed abrupt and not in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie, I'm wondering if he died before the film was completed and the director had to improvise the ending. Anyway, a great film and a real loss of a fine talent. -- Robert Hodgins, Delta, B.C., Canada
A. Troisi had a heart condition since childhood and, according to Entertainment Weekly, needed a heart transplant, but put the movie first. He died 12 hours after finishing his last scene, and two days before he was scheduled to fly to London for the operation. The film has turned into a surprise hit on the U.S. art circuit.
Q. I know that you will be interested in the AAI, or Appropriate Age Index. This is a totally new way to rate movies and may well replace the outdated MPAA! The AAI breaks every movie into six separate categories: Sexual Content, Nudity, Mature Themes, Personal Violence, Strong Language and General Violence. Each category receives a rating from 0 to 5. A "0" would indicate that there is none of that topic in the film. A "5" would indicate a great amount. After the ratings in the separate categories are determined, they are added together to express in years the MINIMUM appropriate age for that film, plus or minus three years. There is a lot more to it, of course, but you get the idea. People who have been reading the AAI are calling it the "movie rating system for the next century"! -- Tim Bonomo, Corning, N.Y.
A. Hmmm. According to my calculations here, "Basic Instinct" shouldn't be seen by anybody under 30. I think the system works.
Q. Earlier in the summer several readers gave solutions to the problem in "Die Hard With a Vengeance," where the heroes were given 3- and 5-gallon jugs and told to measure exactly 4 gallons of water. After deep thought I have come up with a simpler solution, which uses one less step. Fill the 5-gallon jug to the top, tip it 45 degrees so that the water is level with one top edge and the opposite lower corner of the jug. The water that remains in the 5- gallon container is 2.5 gallons. Now do the same with the 3- gallon jug. The water that remains is 1.5 gallons. Dump the contents of the 3-gallon jug into the 5-gallon jug and the 5-gallon jug will contain 4 gallons. -- Charles Eglinton, Rochester Hills, Mich.
A. Your solution is the most elegant yet, and does not include, as one reader's did, the instruction "First, borrow a bathtub."
Q. Here in Germany they dub films, often changing the dialogue at the same time. Some I have noticed: In Kubrick's "Lolita," Peter Sellers says to James Mason: "You're either Australian or a German refugee." The German version is, "You're either a gangster or a tramp." In Woody Allen's "Bananas," in the scene in the porn shop, he says, "I'm doing a sociological study on perversion. I'm up to advanced child-molesting." This has been changed to: "I'm up to sexual offense to mules." -- Bernd Backhaus, Bochum, Germany
A. And is it true that instead of "I'll be back," Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "I never left"?
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This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...