These are the films I have seen in 2002 AD. * in front of a film means
I saw it sitting on my (or someone else's) couch. / at the front and
back of a title indicates a repeat viewing. + indicates a projected
video showing. Short subjects of less than 30 minutes duration are
indicated with an sXX for its number and those between 30 and 60 minutes
mXX. $ means it was a digitally projected laser presentation.
And away we go.
402. (31 Dec) Nicholas Nickleby (2002, Douglas McGrath) [B]
Charlie Hunnan's performance as the titular character is vacuous; but
the film is saved by a large and gifted ensemble throwing themselves
into Dickensian grotesquerie.
401. (31 Dec) Love Affair (1939, Leo McCarey) [B-]
I didn't realize An Affair to Remember was such an exact
remake; Remember gets the nod as the superior film for the simple
reason that Grant > Boyer. For all the grace and warmth of McCarey's
direction, both films still flounder on that Dunne/Kerr's decision
not to tell Boyer/Grant about her accident is aggravatingly inane.
400. (31 Dec) Chicago (2002, Rob Marshall) [B+]
399. (28 Dec) Two Weeks Notice (2002, Marc Lawrence) [B]
398. (27 Dec) Catch Me If You Can (2002, Steven Spielberg) [C+]
397. (27 Dec) *The Day the World Ended (2001, Terrence Gross) [C+]
Closing out the Creature Features films, this is an OK genre piece;
trim half of it and it'd be a fine episode of The Twilight Zone.
Props for utilizing its namesake in an imaginative way. (Needless to
say, the title does not remotely describe the plot.)
396. (25 Dec) Drumline (2002, Charles Stone III) [B]
395. (24 Dec) Gangs of New York (2002, Martin Scorsese) [B-]
394. (23 Dec) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002, Peter Jackson) [A]
393. (23 Dec) /*Star Trek: Generations/ (1994, David Carson) [C+]
392. (21 Dec) Devils on the Doorstep (2000, Jiang Wen) [A]
391. (21 Dec) Narc (2002, Joe Carnahan) [B-]
390. (21 Dec) 25th Hour (2002, Spike Lee) [A-]
s31. (18 Dec) +Family Dinner (2002, Skander Halim) [B-]
s30. (18 Dec) +Down the Labrador (2002, Brian Sullivan) [F]
s29. (18 Dec) +La Puppe (2002, Timothy Greenberg) [B+]
s28. (18 Dec) The Tell-Tale Vibrator (1999, Jill Chamberlain) [C-]
s27. (18 Dec) In the Red (2002, Lucy Weismann) [C-]
389. (16 Dec) Men With Brooms (2002, Paul Gross) [C+]
388. (15 Dec) Russian Ark (2002, Alexander Sokurov) [C]
387. (14 Dec) Star Trek: Nemesis (2002, Stuart Baird) [B]
386. (14 Dec) Brewster McCloud (1970, Robert Altman) [D+]
385. (14 Dec) About Schmidt (2002, Alexander Payne) [A-]
384. (11 Dec) *Undisputed (2002, Walter Hill) [B+]
383. (10 Dec) *High Crimes (2002, Carl Franklin) [C+]
382. (07 Dec) /Far From Heaven/ (2002, Todd Haynes) [A]
381. (07 Dec) Images (1972, Robert Altman) [A-]
380. (07 Dec) Adaptation (2002, Spike Jonze) [A-]
379. (05 Dec) *Lucky Break (2001, Peter Cattaneo) [C]
Wan plot, watchable cast. Not sure whether the idea to go for
likably amateurish versimilitude instead of Guffman style hilarity
in big musical finale good idea or not. Wonder if Tim Spall wandered over
from the set of All or Nothing to film his scenes; he's
playing the same damn character...
378. (04 Dec) /*Malice/ (1993, Harold Becker) [B]
377. (01 Dec) *Vera Cruz (1954, Robert Aldrich) [B]
376. (30 Nov) Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970, Russ Meyer) [C]
Has its moments, especially near the beginning when it seems a
lot more sharply satiric and Meyer's direction is bold and energetic, but
the energy level flags and the films slowly becomes a tiresomely campy parody
375. (30 Nov) Evergreen (1934, Victor Saville) [B+]
374. (27 Nov) Treasure Planet (2002, John Musker & Ron Clements) [B]
Like Atlantis, a solidly told, visually inventive yarn that
has no real flaws (save that dismal Dude from Goo Goo Dolls song over
the Long John and Jim bonding sequence), yet comes across as rather
bland and unexciting.
373. (27 Nov) The Quiet American (2002, Phillip Noyce) [B-]
372. (27 Nov) Solaris (2002, Steven Soderbergh) [A]
371. (26 Nov) Talk to Her (2002, Pedro Almodovar) [A-]
370. (26 Nov) Ararat (2002, Atom Egoyan) [B-]
After his last two so-so films, an unsuccessful adaptation of
Felicia's Journey and a straitjacketed filming of Krapp's Last
Tape, Egoyan returns with a film that features all the usual
Egoyan tics: quasi-incestual relationships, the conflicted dealings
between parents and children, a complex chronological framework, a meditative use
of video, and a wary examination of ethnic identity. But all this stuff is pretty
much overwhelmed by the film's central connecting sequence, an interrogation
of the young Armenian-Canadian hero by a customs inspector that amounts to
a lecture about the Armenian genocide that's so didactic that it grinds the
film to a halt when Egoyan keeps going back to it. Too bad, as it's often
a lot slyer than that sequence indicates; the film-within-a-film, in particular,
comes across as a wry parody of self-important filmmaking. (I am assuming
that it's supposed to be as bad as it appears.)
369. (26 Nov) Le Poulpe (1998, Guillame Nicloux) [B]
Despite my suspicion that Daroussin is slightly miscast, this is a superior
genre entertainment, a detective story that manages the neat trick of being both
eccentrically light-hearted and hard-boiled.
368. (25 Nov) /*Panic Room/ (2002, David Fincher) [B+]
367. (24 Nov) Die Another Day (2002, Lee Tamahori) [C-]
366. (24 Nov) Red Dragon (2002, Brett Ratner) [B]
A cast that any director would drool for makes this nakedly commercial enterprise
better that it really has any right to be; with the possible exception of Hopkins'
tired Hannibal routine, no one turns in a performance where they appear to be
calculating the interest on their paychecks.
365. (24 Nov) The Ring (2002, Gore Verbinski) [D+]
Better acting and Verbinski's better at gloom-and-doom atmosphere
than Nakata, but the storyline is still utter twaddle.
364. (23 Nov) Mississippi (1935, A. Edward Sutherland) [B]
363. (23 Nov) /Heavenly Creatures/ (1994, Peter Jackson) [A]
362. (23 Nov) Love Me Tonight (1932, Rouben Mamoulian) [B+]
s26. (23 Nov) Masters of Melody (1929) [C+]
361. (23 Nov) 8 Mile (2002, Curtis Hanson) [B]
360. (21 Nov) *Mr. Deeds (2002, Steven Brill) [C]
Almost bearable Sandler vehicle that has a highly original comic turn from
John Turturro as a sneaky, sock-loving Spanish butler.
359. (20 Nov) *A Letter to Three Wives (1949, Joseph L. Mankiewicz) [A]
358. (19 Nov) *Juliet in Love (2000, Wilson Yip) [C+]
357. (16 Nov) /Singin' in the Rain/ (1952, Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen) [A]
356. (16 Nov) The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short (1965, Andre Belvaux) [B+]
s25. (16 Nov) Inasmuch (2000, Wim Vandekeybus) [C-]
355. (16 Nov) $Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, Chris Columbus) [B-]
354. (14 Nov) /*Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring/ [extended version] (2001, Peter Jackson) [A]
The added material is largely character moments, but the main effect
is that it gives the film a more organic, better-flowing pace than the
herky-jerky rhythm of the original.
353. (13 Nov) *The Moderns (1988, Alan Rudolph) [B+]
s24. (12 Nov) *The Rocking Horse Winner (1997, Michael Almereyda) [B+]
352. (10 Nov) *Behind Enemy Lines (2001, John Moore) [C-]
351. (09 Nov) The Phantom of Liberty (1974, Luis Bunuel) [B+]
350. (09 Nov) Femme Fatale (2002, Brian DePalma) [C+]
349. (05 Nov) /*Popeye/ (1980, Robert Altman) [A-]
A strange, wildly eccentric delight I haven't seen since I was a
kid; on adult viewing, it reveals itself as perhaps the most Altmanesque
film of all, a bizarro-world remake of McCabe and Mrs. Miller complete
with rickety rope bridge, mumbled malapropisms, and the oddest movie
musical score ever written.
348. (03 Nov) Tully (2000, Hilary Birmingham) [C+]
Best when a character study paced to the rhythm of a laid-back
Nebraska summer; gets less interesting when the wanly melodramatic
plot wanders in selling restaurant supplies.
347. (03 Nov) Bloody Sunday (2002, Paul Greengrass) [C]
Random fades to black stupidest editing decision of the year;
singlehandedly turns this exercise in docufiction into a fossil encased
in amber. James Nesbitt seems to be getting acclaim for just showing
sparks of life.
346. (03 Nov) The Weight of Water (2000, Kathryn Bigelow) [C+]
Modern section largely an excuse for vapid acting and bad jazz;
only reason I rate Water this high is Polley's smolderingly intense
performance in the 1890s section as an immigrant housewife with
some complex family issues.
345. (03 Nov) *Pandaemonium (2000, Julien Temple) [C-]
344. (02 Nov) Quai des Orfevres (1947, Henri-Georges Clouzot) [A]
343. (02 Nov) Frida (2002, Julie Taymor) [C-]
342. (02 Nov) All or Nothing (2002, Mike Leigh) [B+]
341. (26 Oct) Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai des Commerces, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, Chantal Akerman) [B+]
340. (26 Oct) Roger Dodger (2002, Dylan Kidd) [A-]
339. (26 Oct) The Truth About Charlie (2002, Jonathan Demme) [B]
No Charade, but it's a breezily enjoyable entertainment
with several fine moments. A third-act stab at misplaced seriousness
and a seriously miscast Wahlberg keep it grounded.
338. (23 Oct) Horror Express (1972, Eugenio Martin) [C+]
Silly, but has its moments -- Cushing's flustered expression
on being told "The monster could be anyone, even you", and Savalas's
all-too-brief turn as a ruthless Cossack.
337. (23 Oct) Possession (1981, Andrezj Zulawski) [B-]
Quite possibly the weirdest film I've ever seen; I spent a good deal
of time muttering to myself "What the fuck?". Doesn't make a lick of
sense, though I suspect it isn't really meant to; at heart, despite
its art-film credentials, this is a crazed exercise in Grand Guignol.
(It's kinda hard to believe a film is meant to be taken seriously when
it has such a campy performace as Heinz Bennert's.)
336. (21 Oct) *Murder by Numbers (2002, Barbet Schroeder) [C+]
More an American policier than the serial killer thriller I
thought it was, and thus more watchable and less stupid. Rather
bland, though, and Sandra Bullock simply isn't an exciting actress.
335. (19 Oct) Evil Dead II (1987, Sam Raimi) [A]
The ne plus ultra of Midnight Madness movies; one wonders why
people like Eli Roth keep bothering. Loses a little steam when
the other characters/meat pop in after a half-hour of The Bruce
334. (19 Oct) The Evil Dead (1982, Sam Raimi) [B+]
Pretty terrific as low-budget horror flicks go, but pales in
comparison to the manic splendor of its sequel.
333. (19 Oct) Sweet Home Alabama (2002, Andy Tennant) [C-]
Bleh. Even Reese's charms gets dulled by this formulaic
332. (19 Oct) The Rules of Attraction (2002, Roger Avary) [C+]
331. (17 Oct) *The Captain's Paradise (1953, Anthony Kimmins) [B+]
330. (16 Oct) *Impostor (2002, Gary Fleder) [C+]
Or GENERIC PHILIP K. DICK MOVIE; how come every film based on
Dick turns into an SF variant on THE FUGITIVE? Routine thriller
that benefits from a nifty ending.
329. (13 Oct) Below (2002, David Twohy) [B-]
Fairly gripping moment-to-moment and some cool new additions
to the sub genre, but a lack of characterization eventually catches
up with a rather unsatisfying ending. Really distracting element:
the nominal hero's named Odell, and I never got used to the constant
"Mr. Odell...". (Though bonus points for not having a fuckin apostrophe
in the cast of characters listing.)
328. (12 Oct) White Oleander (2002, Peter Kosminsky) [B-]
Superb lead performance from Lohman anchors an uneven film hampered
by an episodic plot that rushes through some important points (such
as the fastest murder conviction in LA history). Dug the film's sun-dazed
but icy cinematography.
s23. (12 Oct) Toccata (2002, Hannes Schupbach) [D]
s22. (12 Oct) Number 15 [Untitled Seminole Patchwork Film] (1966, Harry Smith) [B]
s21. (12 Oct) Osmosis (2002, Bradley Eros) [C-]
s20. (12 Oct) +Snowstorm (2001, Gunvor Grundel Nelson) [C-]
s19. (12 Oct) Guiding Fictions (2002, Mark Street) [C]
s18. (12 Oct) +Where the Girls Are (2002, Abigail Child) [C]
s17. (12 Oct) Night Mulch (2002, Stan Brakhage) [C+]
s16. (12 Oct) Very (2002, Stan Brakhage) [B]
xxx. (12 Oct) +excerpts from uncompleted work Undesirables (Owen Land) [B]
s15. (12 Oct) Switch Center (2002, Ericka Breckman) [B-]
s14. (12 Oct) Yes? Ja? Oui? (2002, Thomas Draschen & Ulrich Weisner) [B+]
s13. (12 Oct) Song of the Firefly (2002, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof) [C+]
327. (12 Oct) The Man from Elysian Fields (2001, George Hickenlooper) [B]
326. (11 Oct) *S.O.B. (1981, Blake Edwards) [C]
Surprisingly watchable, given that this comes off as a wan precursor
to The Player, a film I find mildly overrated. Credit to veterans
like William Holden and Robert Preston, who are fun to watch despite
thinly drawn characters.
325. (09 Oct) /*Beauty and the Beast/ (1991, Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise) [A-]
324. (09 Oct) *The Case of the Bloody Iris (1971, Giuliano Carnimeo) [C+]
323. (06 Oct) My Mother's Smile (2002, Marco Bellochio) [D]
Incoherent nonsense that veers from psychodrama to religious farce
with little rhyme or reason.
s12. (06 Oct) Lifeline (2002, Victor Erice) [B-]
Works best as a plotless evocation of rural mid-century life in the
322. (05 Oct) Punch-Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson) [C]
s11. (05 Oct) Hyper (2002, Michael Canzoniero & Marco Ricci) [B]
321. (05 Oct) Welcome to Collinwood (2002, Anthony & Joe Russo) [B-]
320. (05 Oct) Auto Focus (2002, Paul Schrader) [C]
319. (05 Oct) Heaven (2002, Tom Twyker) [A-]
318. (04 Oct) /*Monsters, Inc./ (2001, Pete Docter) [B+]
317. (03 Oct) *The Sweetest Thing (2002, Roger Kumble) [C-]
Raunchy /= funny. At least screenwriter Pimenthal has taken to
heart one lesson from her South Park bosses: when all else
fails, throw in a musical number.
316. (02 Oct) *Haunted (1995, Lewis Gilbert) [C+]
315. (29 Sep) The Son (2002, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne) [B+]
s10. (29 Sep) Lamb (2002, Emma Freeman) [C-]
314. (29 Sep) The Magdalene Sisters (2002, Peter Mullan) [B-]
Essentially a women's-prison flick -- it even mirrors the
Fuller-written GIRLS IN PRISON by starting the film with 3
vignettes showing how the girls got in -- without any of the
cheap campy thrills.
s09. (29 Sep) A Social Call (2002, Jonathan Romney) [B-]
313. (29 Sep) Moonlight Mile (2002, Brad Silberling) [C-]
Avoids being maudlin, but with Jake Gyllenhaal's void of
a performance and a tedious subplot involving commercial real
estate, MILE qualifies as the year's first Oscar-bait bore.
312. (28 Sep) *Koyaanisqatsi (1983, Godfrey Reggio) [A-]
311. (27 Sep) *2 Seconds (1998, Manon Briand) [B]
Slight, but a lot of fun to watch thanks to a bevy of odd
directorial touches, such as a quick Fly-O-Cam that functions
as an out-of-nowhere gag.
310. (25 Sep) *French Connection II (1975, John Frankenheimer) [A-]
309. (22 Sep) The Children's Hour (1961, William Wyler) [B]
308. (22 Sep) The Collector (1965, William Wyler) [B]
307. (21 Sep) Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki) [B+]
306. (21 Sep) Secretary (2002, Steven Shainberg) [B]
305. (19 Sep) *Maelstrom (2000, Denis Villeneuve) [B]
304. (17 Sep) The Good Fairy (1935, William Wyler) [B+]
303. (17 Sep) Igby Goes Down (2002, Burr Stiers) [D+]
302. (17 Sep) Swimming (2000, Robert J. Siegel) [B-]
Rather rough-hewn American indie (the sound mix is awful)
that stays afloat thanks to Lauren Ambrose's finely nuanced work in
the lead. Pretty cool soundtrack of Southern indie bands.
(Note to self: must buy Smog.)
301. (14 Sep) Cabin Fever (2002, Eli Roth) [B]
Enjoyable combination of yuks and yucks, as a
flesh-eating virus infects a group of college kids
renting (what else?) a cabin in the woods.
300. (14 Sep) Ginostra (2002, Manuel Pradal) [F]
Starts off awful (Andie MacDowell's first solo scene may
be the worst-acted telephone conversation *ever*), graduates
into excruciantingly dull as it plods through its FBI Mafia plot,
then emerges as a so-bad-its-good camp classic as the titular
volcano erupts, dousing the screen with a barrage of wildly
overbaked Catholic symbolism (exploding lambs!!!) and spectacularly
299. (14 Sep) Trilogy: After Life (2002, Lucas Belvaux) [A-]
298. (14 Sep) Trilogy: An Amazing Couple (2002, Lucas Belvaux) [A-]
297. (14 Sep) Volcano High (2002, Kim Tae-Kyun) [C+]
Intriguing idea -- a cross between high school comedy and martial
arts flick -- waylaid by overuse of cheap CGI effects and a rather
296. (14 Sep) Novo (2002, Jean-Pierre Limousin) [D+]
295. (13 Sep) Oasis (2002, Lee Chang-Dong) [A-]
A friend dismissed this as The Other Sister. I would defend
it as that film done right. While I was indifferent to the film for
an hour, I eventually found it moving and affecting. (The occasional
flights of fancy helped.)
294. (13 Sep) Pure (2002, Gillies MacKinnon) [D]
One-dimensional, woodenly written hooey about a boy caring for
his heroin-addicted mother. Treacle that's harrowing only for those
who would die of a heart attack during Requiem for a Dream.
293. (13 Sep) Blissfully Yours (2002, Apichatpong Weeronsethakul) [B]
Its placid languor is oddly refreshing; I mean it as a compliment that
this is like a nap awake.
292. (13 Sep) Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002, Park Chan-Wook) [C]
Surprisingly I found this nihilistic revenge drama that
takes the cruel edge present in much of Korean cimena to its logical
conclusion a lot more repellent than Irreversible.
291. (13 Sep) Sex Is Comedy (2002, Catherine Breillat) [B-]
290. (12 Sep) Irreversible (2002, Gaspar Noe) [A-]
289. (12 Sep) Suddenly (2002, Diego Lerman) [B]
288. (12 Sep) 8 Women (2002, Francois Ozon) [B+]
Empty of substance -- I'll be damned if I can find genuine undercurrents
of sorrow -- and only half the musical numbers even mildly work, but this
arch exercise is mostly a blast and Isabelle Huppert's wildly funny turn
as the dour and icy Angeline is her best work yet; who knew she was such
a great comic?
287. (12 Sep) Divine Intervention (2002, Elia Suleiman) [C]
286. (12 Sep) Dirty Deeds (2002, David Caesar) [C]
An Australian Guy Ritchie. Nothing else needs to be said. Well,
except that Goodman and Collete are their usual watchable selves.
285. (11 Sep) On the Run (2002, Lucas Belvaux) [A-]
284. (11 Sep) The Man Without a Past (2002, Aki Kaurismaki) [B+]
Highly enjoyable in its deadpan delivery of a plot straight out
of a 30s Hollywood melodrama. (Amnesiac man, down and out, falls in love
with a Salvation Army worker. Hmm, I can already see the hypothetical
283. (11 Sep) The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002, Alan Rudolph) [A]
A brilliantly acted -- Campbell Scott is just amazing -- piece that grounds its
crisis of marital infidelity among the day-to-day incidents and pressures of
raising a young family. Rudolph's best work and one where his trademark
eccentricities don't overwhelm the picture. (Not incidentally, it's not
written by him.)
282. (10 Sep) My Little Eye (2002, Marc Evans) [B-]
281. (10 Sep) Punch (2002, Guy Bennett) [B-]
280. (10 Sep) Blue Car (2002, Karen Montcrieff) [C-]
279. (10 Sep) Sweet Sixteen (2002, Ken Loach) [A-]
278. (10 Sep) Adolphe (2002, Benoit Jacquot) [C]
Could have worked with another actor in the lead role; Stanislar
Merhar, however, looks as if he's waiting for his next turn down the catwalk.
277. (10 Sep) Winged Migration (2001, Jacques Perrin) [B]
No Microcosmos, Perrin's bird doc offers some lovely imagery,
but is burdened by half-hearted attempts at structure, some lame forced drama,
a dismal score, and a randomly appearing voiceover in French-accented English.
Kinda hope Sony Classics decides to fix the last two problems.
276. (09 Sep) blue (2002, Hiroshi Ando) [D]
Or the most boring film about teenage Japanese schoolgirl lesbians
possible. Emotional restraint ain't the same thing as emotional vacuum,
275. (09 Sep) Lilja 4-ever (2002, Lukas Moodysson) [C+]
Lukas trades in his humanism for a relentlessly downbeat film
that offers little surprises.
274. (09 Sep) Laurel Canyon (2002, Lisa Cholodenko) [C-]
273. (09 Sep) Far From Heaven (2002, Todd Haynes) [A]
272. (09 Sep) The Idol (2002, Samantha Lang) [C+]
271. (08 Sep) Shaolin Soccer (2001, Stephen Chiao) [C-]
A few good gags -- there's a great bit early on about using classic
wire-fu effects in everyday life --, but ultimately a tiresome variation
on the old "team of underdogs kick butt" routine. Would have been helped
by any indication that anybody involved had actually seen more
than one game of soccer in their life.
270. (08 Sep) Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002, Shane Meadows) [A-]
269. (08 Sep) Tuck Everlasting (2002, Jay Russell) [B-]
OK kid's fare -- earnest, well-made, but a bit dull. The only energy
comes from the too-little-used Ben Kingsley as the film's villain. Alexis
Bledel from my current TV fave, Gilmore Girls is fine, save for her
268. (08 Sep) Japon (2002, Carlos Reygadas) [D+]
Boring-ass drudgery of redemption that's saved from being a complete
loss by a finale that's a magnificent one-shot combination of dollies and
267. (08 Sep) Gerry (2002, Gus van Sant) [C+]
Works best when it plays as a deapan parody of pretentious art films
and getting much comic mileage from the juxtaposition of the inane
banter between Casey and Affleck and their desperate situation amongst
some fantastic desert scenery. Then it turns into a pretentious art film.
266. (08 Sep) Marion Bridge (2002, Wiebke von Carolsfeld) [B]
Feels more like a TV pilot than a movie, but to its credit I'd watch
the hypothetical series. MacIvor's writing hits just the right combination of
one-liners and restrained drama, and the ensemble is perfect. Any chance we Yanks
can import him to replace David E. Kelley, Canuck dudes?
265. (07 Sep) Bubba Ho-tep (2002, Don Coscarelli) [B+]
Yes, that is seven films on one day -- a new record for me. Great little
bit of horror shlock that actually develops some sincere pathos thanks to
Bruce Campbell's terrific lead performance (to quote Ford -- who knew the
son of a bitch could *act*?) as a cancerous Elvis rotting and forgotten
in a Texas rest home.
264. (07 Sep) The Turbulence of Fluids (2002, Manon Briand) [B]
OK, the program book lists the English title as Chaos and Desire,
but that sucks so I'll stick to the literal translation. Slick and enjoyable
bit of drama that plays like one of the odder episodes of Les files X
that manages to sell its ludicrous plot about the tides stopping in a sleepy
Quebec town and the seismologist (born, but not raised, there) sent to study
263. (07 Sep) Intacto (2001, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo) [B]
Pretty much coasts on its terrific premise -- luck actually behaves like
an RPG stat, and can be transferred between people -- but fails to realize
the material's emotional potential. Screams "remake me".
262. (07 Sep) Past Perfect (2002, Daniel MacIvor) [B]
261. (07 Sep) Happy Here and Now (2002, Michael Almareyda) [C+]
Beautifully shot, and rather baffling.
260. (07 Sep) Every Day God Kisses Us on the Mouth (2002, Sinisa Dragin) [C]
Sorry, black-and-white Tarresque drudgery does not work on DV.
259. (07 Sep) Personal Velocity (2002, Rebecca Miller) [C*]
*Walked out with approximately 10 minutes left to go for reasons of
personal comfort. Didn't miss much, though; only the middle one with
Parker Posey as a book editor rediscovering her ambition is any good.
A lesson in why people shouldn't direct their own published prose; there's
a constant stream of voiceover narration, a lot of which is overwritten.
258. (06 Sep) Spun (2002, Jonas Akerlund) [C]
Some great set pieces, but the self-indulgent comic performances begin to
wear thin and the whole mess ultimately runs out of gas after one too many
music-laced montages. But remember one thing, folks: Ask not what the
pussy can do for you, ask what you can do for the pussy.
257. (06 Sep) Marie-Jo and Her Two Loves (2002, Robert Guedigian) [C+]
256. (06 Sep) Morvern Callar (2002, Lynne Ramsay) [A-]
255. (06 Sep) The True Nature of Bernadette (1972, Gilles Carle) [B-]
254. (05 Sep) The Devils (2002, Christophe Ruggia) [C]
A slice of French realism ultimately addled by an out-of-control plot.
253. (05 Sep) Nowhere in Africa (2001, Caroline Link) [C+]
Typical well-mounted, but forgettable, European period piece hindered by
a much-too-sentimental take on its major African character.
252. (05 Sep) I'm the Father (2002, Dani Levy) [C]
251. (04 Sep) /Blue Crush/ (2002, John Stockwell) [A-]
250. (03 Sep) Mostly Martha (2001, Sandra Nettelbeck) [B]
No surprises in its overly familiar plot -- stiff chef loosens up
due to the influence of an Italian sous-chef *and* her recently-orphaned
niece -- but Martina Gedeck is terrific in the lead and Nettelbeck's
direction is as cool, restrained, and crisp as Martha's cooking.
249. (01 Sep) Nightfall (1956, Jacques Tourneur) [A]
Perfectly-made thriller in the Hitchcock mode that really should
be better known; an amazing central performance by Aldo Ray.
248. (01 Sep) Out of the Past (1947, Jacques Tourneur) [A]
247. (31 Aug) +*Corpus Callosum (2002, Michael Snow) [B]
Surprisingly fast-paced -- by the standards of a guy whose
best known work is a 45-minute zoom-- Corpus Callosum is buoyed
for most of its running time by an odd sense of humor (it's funny
when the fox's head explodes and lands on the couch). To some
extent repetitive, but given the film's topological concerns -- in
some ways, this is the video answer to Escher -- understandable.
246. (31 Aug) Cat People (1942, Jacques Tourneur) [A]
245. (31 Aug) The Leopard Man (1943, Jacques Tourneur) [B+]
244. (25 Aug) *I'll Be Yours (1947, William A. Seiter) [C]
243. (25 Aug) *Clockstoppers (2002, Jonathan Frakes) [C-]
242. (24 Aug) Beauty and the Beast (1946, Jean Cocteau) [A-]
241. (24 Aug) One Hour Photo (2002, Mark Romanek) [B-]
Chilly character study of a psychotic (helpfully named "Sy") going
over the edge; well-directed, to be sure, but awfully familiar...
240. (24 Aug) S1m0ne (2002, Andrew Niccol) [C]
Terrific idea for a movie -- director plays Frankenstein and creates
a virtual actress who turns out bigger than himself -- but sunk by a
didactic script, pretentious direction (Niccol has *zero* flair for
comedy), and a seriously miscast Al Pacino. It's also hard to believe
that people would be mesmerized by such a plastic-looking actress...
239. (21 Aug) *A Damsel in Distress (1937, George Stevens) [B]
238. (18 Aug) The Happiness of the Katikuris (2001, Takashi Miike) [B+]
237. (18 Aug) The Hidden Fortress (1958, Akira Kurosawa) [A]
236. (18 Aug) *The Major and the Minor (1942, Billy Wilder) [A-]
235. (17 Aug) Blue Crush (2002, John Stockwell) [A-]
234. (17 Aug) Possession (2002, Neil LaBute) [B+]
233. (16 Aug) *An Affair To Remember (1957, Leo McCarey) [B]
232. (16 Aug) *The Great Mouse Detective (1986, John Musker/Ron Clements/Dave Michener/Burny Mattison) [B]
231. (15 Aug) *Strapless (1989, David Hare) [B+]
230. (13 Aug) *Big Girls Don't Cry, They Get Even (1992, Joan Micklin Silver) [C+]
229. (11 Aug) XXX (2002, Rob Cohen) [B]
228. (11 Aug) 24 Hour Party People (2002, Michael Winterbottom) [B+]
227. (10 Aug) The Good Girl (2002, Miguel Artera) [C]
Indie version of Unfaithful, replacing Lyne's mix of sleaze
and class with a glumathon peppered by bits of caricature. (Yet keeping
the inane "winds of change" symbolism, for some reason.) It's not an
improvement. Only bright spot is Tim Blake Nelson's Bubba, who at least
has some unusual psychology.
226. (10 Aug) The Chateau (2002, Jesse Peretz) [C+]
Grade pretty much for Paul Rudd's hysterical mangling of the French
language -- right up there with "el trucko" for cultural-clash giggles.
Outside of tortured Franglais, though, this is a minor comedy that
peters out well before the ending. Contender for worst-looking DV film.
225. (10 Aug) Rashomon (1950, Akira Kurosawa) [A-]
224. (10 Aug) Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002, Robert Rodriguez) [B]
Slighty more fun than the first -- the two-headed, no-assed sea monster
the deciding factor, I think -- but has the same virtues (imaginative, giddy
production design) and vices (sloppy pacing).
223. (09 Aug) *Harriet the Spy (1996, Brownwen Hughes) [C+]
222. (06 Aug) *The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984, W.D. Richter) [C]
Overstuffed update of Golden Age pulp that's admittedly clever, but manages
somehow to be lifeless. Is the fact that Peter Weller's Buckaroo projects
zero charisma some weird pomo joke or just awful casting?
221. (04 Aug) Dersu Uzula (1975, Akira Kurosawa) [A-]
220. (03 Aug) Full Frontal (2002, Steven Soderbergh) [B-]
219. (03 Aug) Signs (2002, M. Night Shaymalan) [B-]
Almost an A- film; for the vast majority of its running time,
Signs is a masterfully executed creepfest with echoes of
Night of the Living Dead in the way it uses TV and radio
broadcasts. But the last five minutes features this summer's
most idiotic -- and it's a jawdropper in its stupidity -- plot
218. (02 Aug) *Cause for Alarm! (1951, Tay Garnett) [C+]
217. (28 Jul) A Delicate Balance (1973, Tony Richardson) [B-]
216. (27 Jul) Throne of Blood (1957, Akira Kurosawa) [B+]
215. (27 Jul) Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang) [A-]
214. (27 Jul) *Harvey (1950, Henry Koster) [B]
213. (26 Jul) *Shake, Rattle, & Rock! (1994, Allan Arkush) [B-]
212. (23 Jul) *A Little Princess (1995, Alfonso Cuaron) [B]
211. (21 Jul) The Brood (1979, David Cronenberg) [A-]
s08. (21 Jul) +The Lie Chair (1975, David Cronenberg) [C+]
210. (21 Jul) Tadpole (2002, Gary Winick) [D+]
Ugly, inept Neil Simon reject that's inexpicably getting
decent reviews; only Neuwirth (who treats this is as the
inane farce it is) and Iler (playing the only recognizable human)
escape with dignity intact.
209. (20 Jul) Reign of Fire (2002, Rob Bowman) [B-]
Should have been a lot better; terrific premise squandered by
one too many requests to suspend my disbelief -- only *1* male
dragon? -- but has a grungy postacolyptic feel, some terrific
scenery-chewing by McConaghuey, and pretty cool dragons. Possibly
best Star Wars gag since George Lucas in Love.
208. (20 Jul) K-19: The Widowmaker (2002, Kathryn Bigelow) [B]
Silly Russian accents aside, solid entertainment in the
macho battle of wills dept. of summer blockbuster. Terrible
coda goes overboard on celebrating the crew's heroism, though.
207. (20 Jul) Eight Legged Freaks (2002, Ellroy Elkayrem) [C+]
Kinda like Tremors, only without the witty script, zesty
performances, superior plotting, etc. Not terrible, per se, just
206. (20 Jul) *Forever Mine (1999, Paul Schrader) [B-]
205. (18 Jul) /*Tremors/ (1990, Ron Underwood) [A]
204. (17 Jul) /*Stop Making Sense/ (1984, Jonathan Demme) [A]
203. (16 Jul) *Teenage Caveman (2001, Larry Clark) [C+]
202. (14 Jul) Road to Perdition (2002, Sam Mendes) [B]
201. (13 Jul) /Songs from the Second Floor/ (2000, Roy Andersson) [B+]
200. (13 Jul) Le plaisir (1951, Max Ophuls) [B-]
199. (13 Jul) French Cancan (1955, Jean Renoir) [A]
198. (12 Jul) *Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001, John A. Davis) [B]
Looks like shit, thanks to cheap CGI and butt-ugly character
design, but wittier and goofier than the trailer let on.
197. (12 Jul) *Designing Woman (1957, Vincente Minnelli) [B+]
196. (11 Jul) *Boxcar Bertha (1972, Martin Scorsese) [C+]
m01. (09 Jul) *Lessons of Darkness (1992, Werner Herzog) [B]
195. (08 Jul) *A Cool, Dry Place (1998, John N. Smith) [B]
194. (05 Jul) Group (2002, Marilyn Freeman) [B+]
193. (05 Jul) Me Without You (2002, Sandra Goldbacher) [B-]
192. (04 Jul) Moontide (1942, Archie Mayo and Fritz Lang) [B+]
Makes the selling of live bait seem like the most romantic
calling. (This is not a sarcastic dismissal.) Jean Gabin's charm
is present, though it loses a little of its luster in accented English.
191. (04 Jul) The Powerpuff Girls (2002, Craig McCracken) [B-]
While I like the show, more than a half-hour of the girls is a bit
much, and the ending smackdown feels overextended.
s07. (04 Jul) Chicken Scratch (2002, Genndy Tartakovsky) [C]
A Dexter's Labarotory short. Like the rest of The
Cartoon Network's output (save Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup), it's
stylishly designed, original, and duller than a thrice-used razorblade.
190. (04 Jul) Men in Black II (2002, Barry Sonnenfeld) [D]
Proudly brought to you by Sprint, offering the latest technologies
to enable everyone involved to telecommute on this production.
189. (02 Jul) *Scandal (1988, Michael Caton-Jones) [C]
Leave it to the English to make a film about a real-life
scandal involving sex, drugs, politics, and espionage so staid.
188. (02 Jul) *Flesh and Bone (1993, Steve Kloves) [B]
187. (30 Jun) /Lovely & Amazing/ (2001, Nicole Holofcener) [B]
186. (30 Jun) The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002, Peter Care) [C]
185. (29 Jun) Pumpkin (2002, Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder) [D+]
Tonal disaster; could have worked as a full-throttle Sirkian melodrama
but the filmmakers' contempt for the conventions of melodrama are all too
184. (29 Jun) 3 Women (1977, Robert Altman) [B+]
183. (29 Jun) Harvard Man (2001, James Toback) [B]
Adrian Grenier too much the lightweight version of Robert Downey, Jr.
for this exercise in tawdry pulp to achieve any thematic heft. But on
pure entertainment terms, it's a blast: briskly paced thanks to a terrific
mix of jump cuts and parallel cuts and having a great vamp turn from
Sarah Michelle Gellar.
182. (29 Jun) Scooby-Doo (2002, Raja Gosnell) [C-]
Best when playing as a straight remake of the original cartoon; the
moments that recreate the show's tics are nostalgic, and Matthew Lillard
is scarily dead-on as Shaggy. That's about 10 minutes. The rest is
pretty dire "irony".
181. (26 Jun) *The Cranes Are Flying (1957, Mikhail Kalazotov) [A-]
180. (25 Jun) *Jane Eyre (1997, Robert Young) [B]
Visually it's standard BBC period drama -- none of the graceful
camerawork that marked Persuasion as the greatest example of
the genre -- but it does feature a formidable pair of performers in
Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds.
179. (24 Jun) *Girls in Prison (1994, John McNaughton) [B-]
Co-scripted by Sam Fuller, direction here is too self-consciously
aware of the material's pulpishness to be as invigoratingly two-fisted
as Fuller's best work but it still kinda works, thanks to performances
that don't stray into camp. (Well, except Heche, but she's the villain.)
178. (23 Jun) Kiss Me, Stupid (1964, Billy Wilder) [A]
177. (23 Jun) /Skin of Man, Heart of Beast/ (1999, Helene Angel) [B+]
176. (23 Jun) *Daisies (1966, Vera Chytilova) [C+]
Equal mix of heady avant-garde visual inventivess and inane,
muddled allegorical posturing.
175. (22 Jun) Sunshine State (2002, John Sayles) [C+]
174. (22 Jun) Lilo & Stitch (2002, Chris Sanders & Dean Dubois) [B-]
Frustrating display of both the best and worst tendencies of recent
Disney films; film's sense of humor recalls New Groove's anarchy
with a drier, more deadpan flavor but the charms are soon squashed by
the most ham-handed, sickly sweet variation on the standard Disney
tropes of orphans and families yet.
173. (22 Jun) Minority Report (2002, Steven Spielberg) [B]
More entertaining than A.I. thanks to a fairly adept blend of sci-fi
and noir genre mechanics and Spielberg's undeniable technical wizardry
(the overhead shot of the spiders searching the building Cruise is holed
up in is terrific), but has two endings too many and the consistent lack
of intellectual rigor in Spielberg's work prevents the film from
developing any consistent thematic oomph.
172. (18 Jun) *The Miracle Worker (1962, Arthur Penn) [A-]
Ruthlessly unsentimental and surprisingly violent; oncee
can make an argument that the 12-minute sequence where Annie
gets Helen to fold a napkin is the most grueling bit of
hand-to-hand combat in American cinema. Terrific performances
from Bancroft and (especially) Patty Duke, only the wooden
work of the actors playing Keller's parents really grates.
171. (16 Jun) The Bourne Identity (2002, Doug Liman) [C+]
Terrific action sequences, otherwise this is an extremely
routine spy thriller where virtually every character (only
Potente's Marie has any spark of life) is as blank as "Bourne"'s
memory and no urgency to the plotting between set pieces.
(Call me a heretic, but I think I prefer the 1988
TV-Movie with Richard Chamberlain...)
170. (16 Jun) Lianna (1983, John Sayles) [B]
Less sprawling than recent Sayles -- its anthropology is of a culture
(untenured academics and their families) rather than a region --
but much rougher technically. Characters never quite seem fully
three-dimensional (husband too much the villain, Lianna a bit too
nice) but, thanks to a surprisingly funny script never slips into
well-intentioned treacle. Also, any movie that has a kid who stays
up late to catch old William A. Wellman movies on TV has at least
a smidgen of merit.
169. (15 Jun) La belle noiseuse (1991, Jacques Rivette) [B-]
I was a bit thrown off by the fact that this is set in the
present day; for some reason (probably the "loosely based on
Balzac") I was under the impression it was a period piece.
That aside, I'm still mixed on Rivette; their length seems
more butt-numbing than necesssary.
168. (15 Jun) Montparnasse 19 (1958, Jacques Becker) [B]
Nice lead performance and terrific lensing -- there's one
shot of a fog-bound Paris street that took my breath away -- but
simplistic; this is the kind of movie where the forces of commerce
are represented by an ignorant American with a hideous French
accent. Just looks pathetic compared to something like Nolte's
complex performance in The Golden Bowl.
167. (15 Jun) Van Gogh (1991, Maurice Pialat) [A-]
166. (14 Jun) *How to Make a Monster (2001, George Huang) [B-]
Easily the most effective of the "Creature Features" screened
so far, even if it never quite rises above an average horror film.
Helps that it has a sense of humor that She Creature and
Earth v. Spider sorely lacked. Doesn't earn that incredibly
cynical coda, though.
165. (12 Jun) *Don Juan DeMarco (1995, Jeremy Leven) [B]
A somewhat belated fulfillment of a Mother's Day request --
she even supplied the DVD -- but this turns out to be a spry
charmer. Not quite sure I get behind the film's implicit rejection
of reality, but Depp's performance is hypnotically seductive and
Brando actually inhabits a character close to reality. Hey, at
least she didn't ask me to see, say, Swordfish....
164. (11 Jun) *Earth vs. the Spider (2001, Scott Ziehl) [C-]
Pretty obvious now that the whole "Creature Features" lineup
is an excuse for Stan Winston to keep the traditions of
old-fashioned horror puppetry/makeup alive in this age of CGI.
Admirable; just wish they were better movies than this badly
directed, dully written, and indifferently acted spin on
superheroes that's Spider-Man meets The Fly. (Hey, I've got
spider powers! Cool. Hey, I'm turning into a spider! Not so cool.)
163. (10 Jun) *The Group (1966, Sidney Lumet) [B+]
Pretty entertaining sudser, even if it spends too much time
with its most conventional plotline (a drunken, no-good husband).
Still, gotta like any movie that gets dramatic mileage out of the
breast v. bottle conundrum.
162. (09 Jun) Cherish (2002, Finn Taylor) [C]
Well-acted and fairly lively moment-by-moment but undone
by really, really dumb plotting.
161. (09 Jun) The Producers (1968, Mel Brooks) [A-]
The "Springtime for Hitler" premiere pretty much guarantees the
A- all by its lonesome; Gene Wilder's hysterical neurotic is just
gravy. Kinda has an indifferent ending (understandable; how do you
top Nazis dancing in swastika formation?) and is edited with all
the grace of a rabid elephant.
s06. (09 Jun) The Critic (1962, Ernest Pinkoff) [B]
160. (08 Jun) /*Legend/ (1985, Ridley Scott) [C+]
Handsomely mounted -- though Scott's insistence on having
stuff float through the air in virtually every scene is a bit
much -- but completely weightless, with the idea that anything
in the film could be imagined to have an existence outside
the frame unthinkable. Tim Curry's Darkness is a terrific screen
villain; just wish it was in something more substantial.
159. (07 Jun) *Parisian Love (1925, Louis Gasnier) [C]
158. (06 Jun) *She Creature (2001, Sebastian Gutierrez) [C]
One of a group of recent Showtime films inspired by old AIP
Z-budgeters, this has a pretty good twist on the mermaid/siren myth.
However, it's slow and muddled.
157. (05 Jun) /*The War of the Roses/ (1989, Danny De Vito) [A-]
156. (03 Jun) /*The Great Race/ (1965, Blake Edwards) [B+]
My favorite of Edwards' films, since for once his lowbrow
sensibilities aren't mixed with an offputting veneer of
pseudo-sophistication. Also, all movie villains should have
pipe organs that play Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
155. (01 Jun) Life is Sweet (1990, Mike Leigh) [B]
154. (01 Jun) High Hopes (1988, Mike Leigh) [C+]
Grade above possibly should be higher; let us just say thick English
accents, a beat up print, and the Anthology's weak sound system are
not a very userful combination is trying desperately to make sense
of so much as a quarter of the dialogue.;
153. (01 Jun) Master of the Flying Guillotine (1975, Jimmy Wang Yu) [B+]
Plenty of well-mounted kung fu action. I'd also like to mention
that I really dug the referee who announces the victor of the matches
in Master's extended tournament sequence. Whoever played
him got just the right mix of seriousness and tongue-in-cheek quality.
152. (01 Jun) Undercover Brother (2002, Malcolm D. Lee) [C+]
Scattershot and obvious; give me Pootie Tang's sheer
weirdness any day.
151. (30 May) *Cutter's Way (1981, Ivan Passer) [A-]
150. (28 May) *Love in the Afternoon (1957, Billy Wilder) [B]
149. (28 May) *Blind Beast (1969, Yasuzo Masumura) [C+]
148. (27 May) *Out Cold (2001, The Malloys) [C]
Amiable, but desultory, drunken frat-boy hijinks with some decent
snowboarding action and a better-than-normal romantic subplot lifted
from, of all things, Casablanca. Second film in a row I've
seen where BC subs for Alaska; are the mountains prettier there or
147. (26 May) Insomnia (2002, Christopher Nolan) [B]
I like this better than the Norwegian original, which struck
me as the kind of well-mounted foreign film that gets praised
because it's exactly like a Hollywood movie. Not that this is
a great film by any means; title gimmick is a gimmick that doesn't
add to the actual point of the story, and film's moral points are
studiously underlined. Nicely acted, though, and Nolan's direction
is full of crisp, widescreen visuals.
146. (26 May) Christmas in July (1940, Preston Sturges) [A]
145. (26 May) Unfaithfully Yours (1948, Preston Sturges) [B+]
144. (26 May) /Spider-Man/ (2002, Sam Raimi) [A-]
143. (25 May) CQ (2001, Roman Coppola) [C]
Inserts of the 60's space-babe flick groovy, but Davies' tendency
to withdraw leaves the film with an emotional vacuum; only spark of
life comes when Coppola focuses on the nuts-and-bolts of filmmaking.
142. (25 May) The Shop Around the Corner (1940, Ernst Lubitsch) [A]
141. (25 May) Ninotchka (1939, Ernst Lubitsch) [A]
140. (25 May) The Importance of Being Earnest (2002, Oliver Parker) [C+]
The bon mots fly, but everything else is earthbound.
139. (22 May) *Sommersby (1993, Jon Amiel) [B-]
Courthouse scenes may be a cheap way to insert drama, but sometimes
they're just the thing to wake up a movie. Like here, for instance, where
a fairly juicy moral quandary comes into play after 90 minutes of
Oscar-baiting period tedium.
138. (19 May) About a Boy (2002, Paul & Chris Weitz) [A-]
137. (18 May) Attack of the Clones (2002, George Lucas) [B-]
Better than The Phantom Menace, if only for a lively
last hour, the one scene in the last two films that has real, live
good acting, and less funny aliens. Hayden Christensen's horrid
performance destroys any hope that the next one will be any good,
136. (18 May) The Fortune Cookie (1966, Billy Wilder) [A]
135. (18 May) The Seven Year Itch (1955, Billy Wilder) [B+]
134. (17 May) *Girl (1998, Jonathan Kahn) [C]
Allows more room for its young cast to act than normal, but its heavy use of
a sardonic voiceover is wearying, and by the time it nears the end,
Girl shows its hand as a maddeningly solipistic fantasy where
all bow down before the goodness of its heroine.
133. (15 May) *Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982, Amy Heckerling) [A-]
132. (13 May) *Liam (2000, Stephen Frears) [C+]
131. (12 May) Earth (1930, Alexander Dovschenko) [C+]
130. (12 May) The Lady and the Duke (2001, Eric Rohmer) [B+]
129. (12 May) Unfaithful (2002, Adrian Lyne) [B-]
Diane Lane may be getting all the kudos (and she's fine), but
the first hour of the film -- where she's prominently featured --
is terrible, an overblown, overdirected bit of "erotic" drama filled
with ludicrous symbolism (never have the Winds of Change been so
laughably prominent). The film then makes an abrupt turn toward
actual goodness when Gere's husband suddenly becomes the focus,
and the film enters more interesting territory. e
128. (11 May) The New Guy (2002, Ed Decter) [B]
Doesn't make a lick of sense, but unflagging energy, general good
spirits, and a penchant for weird throwaway gags makes this much more
entertaining than it really has any right to be.
127. (11 May) Hail the Conquering Hero (1944, Preston Sturges) [A]
126. (11 May) The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944, Preston Sturges) [A]
125. (11 May) Janice Beard: 45 WPM (1999, Clare Kilner) [B-]
OK, but lackluster, comedy that gradually sheds its odder fillips
when it turns into a silly industrial-espionage thriller.
124. (10 May) *One False Move (1991, Carl Franklin) [B+]
123. (08 May) *Session 9 (2001, Brad Anderson) [B]
From the Carnival of Souls school of horror filmmaking of
basing a film entirely on a kickass location, S9 starts
slowly, but effectively uses the layering of the titular tapes
over the soundtrack to build a sense of impending doom.
122. (06 May) /*Swiss Family Robinson/ (1960, Ken Annakin) [B+]
Don't mind me, I'm just revisiting my childhood...though it's
hard to think up a more perfect boys' adventure yarn; deserted islands,
pirates (aargh!), and an impossible menagerie. Though I don't remember
Francis (the younger brother) being quite that annoying.
121. (04 May) Hollywood Ending (2002, Woody Allen) [D+]
Pretty much in a dead heat with Celebrity as Allen's worst
film; does Allen realize he's made a movie where the *studio executive*
comes across as the sanest, most sympathetic figure on screen?
And Allen's much vaunted skill with actors seems to have abandoned him;
Debra Messing downright awful, George Hamilton, cast then forgotten, and
Tea Leoni largely wasted.
120. (04 May) Spider-Man (2002, Sam Raimi) [A-]
This is how summer blockbusters should be; give the spectacle some
heft by concetrating on character and story, not on self-conscious camp.
119. (01 May) *My Wife is a Gangster (2001, Cho Jin-Kyu) [B]
I'll admit I bought the Korean DVD purely on the basis of the title,
on the reasoning than no movie with that premise can suck. Luckily, my
thinking was correct, as this is an odd, but enjoyable, blend of slapstick
Korean comedy (lots of people hitting each other), some bits of Asian-style
action, and earnestly played melodrama. Held back by some narrative
118. (27 Apr) Pistol Opera (2001, Seijun Suzuki) [D+]
Accurately described by Michael Atkinson (who I think liked the film)
as "120 proof voguing nonsense"; each frame of this has a certain
eye-popping beauty. The problem is that there is nothing of interest
between the frames; the dynamic energy of Branded to Kill has
been replaced with a fashion photographer's static composition.
117. (27 Apr) One Fine Spring Day (2001, Hur Jin-Ho) [C]
116. (27 Apr) /Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris/ (1998, Shusuke Kaneko) [B]
115. (27 Apr) Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996, Shusuke Kaneko) [B]
114. (25 Apr) *Manji (1964, Yasuzo Masamura) [B]
Takes forever to get to the really interesting parts; a final act
of intense hothouse melodrama (with a dynamic not far removed from
Being John Malkovich) filled with multiple layers of paranoia
113. (25 Apr) *A Sunday in the Country (1984, Bertrand Tavernier) [B+]
112. (24 Apr) /*Ruthless People/ (1986, Jim Abrahams / David Zucker / Jerry Zucker) [B]
111. (23 Apr) *High Heels and Low Lifes (2001, Mel Smith) [C]
Well, it's better than Beautiful Creatures and doesn't
have the cruel edge of most recent British gangster "comedies". It's
still a rather bad movie, with a terrible Mary McCormack besmirching
the good name of all Americans in England. Does have a highly enjoyable
split-screen montage that might be worth a Netflix rental slot.
110. (22 Apr) *The Stunt Man (1980, Richard Rush) [B]
Could have been a great film, but I kept getting sidetracked by the
overly jittery acting of Steven Railsback.
109. (21 Apr) The Thin Man (1934, W.S. Van Dyke) [A]
The most lovable pair of co-dependent alcoholics ever put on screen.
108. (21 Apr) The Awful Truth (1938, Leo McCarey) [B+]
107. (21 Apr) The Scorpion King (2002, Chuck Russell) [B-]
Campy, often entertaining sword-and-sorcery romp, but I liked
this better 5 years ago when it was called Kull the Conqueror.
106. (20 Apr) Children of Paradise (1945, Marcel Carne) [A]
Saw this at the renovated Thalia, which given the amount of
money fixing it up, was a real disappointment. Small screen,
terrible seats. The movie itself is a classic for good reason,
even if I can't quite fathom what these four men (or more precisely,
Baptiste) see in the self-absorbed Garance.
105. (18 Apr) *Lost in America (1985, Albert Brooks) [B]
104. (16 Apr) *Bread & Tulips (2000, Silvio Soldano) [B-]
103. (15 Apr) *Don't Say a Word (2001, Gary Fleder) [C-]
102. (13 Apr) Human Nature (2001, Michel Gondry) [B-]
Often very funny -- Miranda Otto's fake French accent is a
scream -- but Human Nature lacks both the emotional and stylistic
cohesiveness of Being John Malkvoich.
101. (13 Apr) Margarita Happy Hour (2001, Ilya Chaiken) [B]
100. (13 Apr) Changing Lanes (2002, Roger Michell) [C+]
Defines pretentiousness -- an ethical drama whose concept
of moral seriousness is defined by characters making long,
screenwriterly speeches. Too bad, really -- the film is
terrifically acted from top to bottom when not in speech mode,
and the whole thing is directed with a Lumetesque flair.
099. (13 Apr) The Cat's Meow (2001, Peter Bogdanovich) [B]
098. (10 Apr) *Drop Dead Fred (1991, Ate De Jong) [C]
There's something to be admired about a film and performance (Rik
Mayall's un-self-conscious, truly obnoxious "imaginary friend")
that constantly refuses to endear itself to the audience. Unfortunately,
I lost interest in this spiritual predecessor to Freddy Got
Fingered when Fred turns to be not quite as imaginary as I'd hoped.
097. (10 Apr) *True Grit (1969, Henry Hathaway) [B]
John Wayne may have gotten his Oscar for his work as Rooster
Cogburn, but the real standout comes from Kim Darby's miserly teen,
a performance where the spunkiness isn't once aligned with adorableness.
096. (07 Apr) The Rookie (2002, John Lee Hancock) [B]
Mostly successful bit of mythic Americana (which is a polite way
of saying corn) that grounds its platitudes in the convincing detail
and grit of Dennis Quaid's performance. Gets major bonus points for
acknowlodging the idea that Morris' stint in the majors was, in part,
a publicity stunt.
095. (07 Apr) Late Marriage (2001, Dover Kadishivili) [B+]
094. (07 Apr) Time Out (2001, Laurent Cantet) [B-]
Reminds me, unfortunately, of Les Sanguinaires, Cantet's
film in the 2000 As Seen By... series. Like that hour-long film,
Cantet isn't interested so much in psychology as in the existential
crisis of its hero.
093. (06 Apr) Big Trouble (2002, Barry Sonnenfeld) [C]
Disappointing adaptation of Barry's surprisingly good novel;
jettisons (with the exception of the Gator bit, the funniest thing
in the movie) all the oddball asides and graceful moments of
warmth that are the book's pleasure in favor of its convoluted, yet
inconsequential, plot. Of the performers, only Zooey Deschanel's
bone-dry line readings makes much of an impact.
092. (06 Apr) To Be or Not To Be (1942, Ernst Lubitsch) [A]
091. (06 Apr) Trouble in Paradise (1932, Ernst Lubitsch) [A-]
090. (06 Apr) *The Blackout (1997, Abel Ferrara) [C-]
Usual late-period Ferrara; self-indulgent and torpid. At least
it doesn't have Lili Taylor brooding in B&W on Nietszche.
089. (05 Apr) /*Beautiful Girls/ (1996, Ted Demme) [B+]
088. (03 Apr) /*Joe versus the Volcano/ (1990, John Patrick Shanley) [A-]
087. (02 Apr) *Giants and Toys (1958, Yazuso Masamura) [A-]
086. (30 Mar) Decision at Sundown (1957, Budd Boetticher) [B-]
One of the few Boetticher-Randolph Scott Westerns not written
by Burt Kennedy, and it's a disappointingly routine oater with little
of the psychological head games that mark the other films in the
series, opting instead for a straightforward McCarthyesque
085. (30 Mar) Death to Smoochy (2002, Danny DeVito) [C+]
Not quite as awful as reviews have made it out to be, though
it's definitely a mess with an overly hammy Robin Williams, several
go-nowhere subplots, and an irritating fondness for crazy camera
angles. But it's kept surprisingly funny throughout thanks to
Norton's spot-on earnestness as the good-natured innocent Mopes.
Most of the critics who are dismissing this as an extended kill
Barney joke seem to miss that Smoochy is the *hero*, and the film
actually has a heart beneath its jaded exterior.
084. (30 Mar) No Such Thing (2001, Hal Hartley) [B]
Rather scattered, with a hideously awful performance from Helen
Mirren, tired stabs at media satire, way too many redneck Icelanders,
and a muddled plot. But it has an anchor in an achingly sweet performance
from Sarah Polley, which results in several affecting moments.
083. (29 Mar) The Slaughter Rule (2002, Alex and Andrew Smith) [C]
Feels a lot like The Indian Runner II: David Morse being
terrific, wintry landscapes in Big Sky country, tortured explorations
of male identity, and shameless self-indulgent, "arty" direction.
082. (29 Mar) Ride Lonesome (1959, Budd Boetticher) [B+]
081. (29 Mar) The Tall T (1957, Budd Boetticher) [A-]
080. (29 Mar) /Kissing Jessica Stein/ (2001, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld) [B+]
079. (29 Mar) Panic Room (2002, David Fincher) [B+]
Not much more than a directorial tour-de-force, but an extremely
078. (27 Mar) *Keetje Tippel (1975, Paul Verhoeven) [B]
077. (24 Mar) Big Fat Liar (2002, Shawn Levy) [C+]
076. (24 Mar) The Mars Canon (2001, Shiori Kazama) [B]
075. (23 Mar) /E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial/ (1982, Steven Spielberg) [A]
074. (23 Mar) Take Care of My Cat (2001, Jeong Jae-Eun) [C+]
s05. (23 Mar) Site (2001, Jason Kliot) [C]
073. (22 Mar) *The Hallelujah Trail (1965, John Sturges) [B-]
072. (21 Mar) /*Impromptu/ (1991, James Lapine) [B]
071. (21 Mar) *Mute Witness (1994, Anthony Waller) [B]
070. (20 Mar) *Crimes of Passion (1984, Ken Russell) [C+]
069. (19 Mar) *Emma (1997, Diarmid Lawrence) [B+]
Not the so-so Paltrow version, but the TV version starring
a (perfectly cast) Kate Beckinsale. Solid in the best BBC period
style with some terrific casting: Samantha Morton and Olivia
Williams also pop up in early roles.
068. (17 Mar) The Girl from Paris (2001, Christian Carion) [C]
067. (17 Mar) The Officers' Ward (2001, Francois Dupeyron) [B+]
066. (17 Mar) Chaos (2001, Coline Serreau) [B]
Given that it's from the director of the original French version
of Three Men and a Baby, this is one really nutty film. Its
two hours contain enough plot for half-a-dozen movies and its tone
jumps all over the place from slapstick farce to pulp melodrama.
By all rights, the film should be flying apart at the seams, but
somehow it holds together.
065. (16 Mar) Betty Fisher and Other Stories (2001, Claude Miller) [B-]
Thrillers that are primarily psychological in nature are not
helped by an overabundance of plot. Which is unfortunately the case
064. (16 Mar) Resident Evil (2002, Paul "Not Thomas" Anderson) [B-]
A routine horror actioner with a couple of great camp-horror
063. (16 Mar) Monsoon Wedding (2001, Mira Nair) [C]
I believe in India McDonald's sells McChicken sandwiches with
062. (16 Mar) Pepe Le Moko (1937, Julien Duvuvier) [A]
061. (16 Mar) Ice Age (2002, Chris Wedge) [C+]
060. (14 Mar) *Georgia (1995, Ulu Grosbard) [B]
059. (13 Mar) *Mon Oncle (1958, Jacques Tati) [B-]
s04. (13 Mar) *The School for Postmen (1947, Jacques Tati) [B]
058. (12 Mar) *Used Cars (1980, Robert Zemeckis) [B]
057. (10 Mar) Inch'Allah Dimanche (2001, Yasmin Benguigui) [D]
056. (10 Mar) God Is Great, I'm Very Small (2001, Pascale Bailly) [C]
055. (10 Mar) Last Orders (2001, Fred Schepisi) [B]
054. (10 Mar) The Time Machine (2002, Simon Wells) [C+]
053. (09 Mar) The Wimbledon Stage (2001, Mathieu Amalric) [D+]
This is in the "boring-as-ass" category of French film; pretty
much checked out of the storyline (something about Balibar hunting
down info on an obscure writer who never wrote) 20 minutes in. Only
perked up on the occasional nice shot or rare moments when Amalric
remembers that his wife can be a terrific comedienne.
052. (09 Mar) Yeongsangun (1961, Shin Sang-Ok) [B-]
Pretty much like the non-pansoori parts of Chunyhang, with
an even more straight-out-of-the-silents acting style and some terrific
costumes, even if one of them makes the owner look like a rabid Easter
bunny. Consumer Warning: The MOMA description gives absolutely no
hint that this is the first part of a two-part epic, the second of
which isn't playing in the series.
051. (02 Mar) /Esther Kahn/ (2000, Arnaud Desplechin) [B-]
050. (02 Mar) Trouble Every Day (2001, Claire Denis) [B]
049. (02 Mar) 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002, Michael Lehmann) [D+]
048. (24 Feb) /Harmful Insect/ (2001, Akihiko Shiota) [A]
047. (24 Feb) Ring (1998, Hideo Nagata) [D]
046. (24 Feb) H Story (2001, Nobuhiro Suwa) [C-]
045. (24 Feb) *Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959, Alain Resnais) [A-]
044. (23 Feb) Super Troopers (2001, Jay Chandrasekhar) [B]
A definite surprise; better than I expected and, more importantly,
for reasons I wasn't expecting. An amiable non-postmodern, non-ironic
throwback to early 80s anti-authority slob comedies that I found
remarkable for Broken Lizard's sharp, relaxed comic timing, which
makes the rather standard shenanigans much funnier than they would
043. (20 Feb) *Bubble Boy (2001, Blair Hayes) [C+]
s03. (17 Feb) /Outer Space/ (1999, Peter Tsacherassky) [A]
042. (17 Feb) The Entity (1982, Sidney J. Furie) [C]
s02. (17 Feb) Dream Work (2001, Peter Tsacherassky) [B]
s01. (17 Feb) Outer Space (1999, Peter Tsacherassky) [A]
041. (17 Feb) The Mission (2000, Johnny To) [B-]
040. (17 Feb) Martha... Martha (2001, Sandrine Veysset) [B]
039. (17 Feb) Umberto D. (1952, Vittorio de Sica) [A-]
038. (16 Feb) The Sleepy Time Gal (2001, Christopher Munch) [C+]
037. (16 Feb) Investigating Sex (2001, Alan Rudolph) [B]
036. (12 Feb) /*The Bad News Bears/ (1976, Michael Ritchie) [A-]
035. (07 Feb) *Passion Fish (1992, John Sayles) [B]
034. (05 Feb) /*Dumbo/ (1941, Ben Sharpsteen) [B]
033. (04 Feb) *Klute (1971, Alan J. Pakula) [A-]
032. (03 Feb) The Mothman Prophecies (2002, Mark Pellington) [C-]
Lame X-Files wannabe that's all portentous pretense.
031. (03 Feb) The Count of Monte Cristo (2002, Kevin Reynolds) [B]
Swashes are righteously buckled in this smooth and snark-free retelling
of Dumas' classic tale. Could have been something special if an actor
more outgoing and less withdrawn than Jim Caveziel had been the lead.
Like Guy Pearce, who lends some humanity to his thoroughly venal villain.
030. (02 Feb) Metropolis (2001, Rintaro) [A-]
The best anime I've ever seen, Metropolis -- with its combination
of CGI, beautifully detailed background paintings, and old-school
Astro Boy characters -- is a stupendous visual treat. The story is
a little less special, but still handles the same philosophical territory
as AI with more intellectual and narrative rigor. Kickass ending with
major assist from Ray Charles.
029. (02 Feb) Birthday Girl (2001, Jez Butterworth) [B]
028. (02 Feb) Storytelling (2001, Todd Solondz) [C]
Kind of a B/D+ really -- the first section is a tight little
provocation that suggests more depth than first reading indicates,
and possibly the best thing Solondz's ever done. The second section,
on the other hand, is a rambling, unfocused mess that rails against
documentarians for making cheap shots about their subject while making
cheap shots against his own characters. And no, Todd, you did *not*
earn that fucking ending.
027. (31 Jan) *Deep Cover (1992, Bill Duke) [A-]
026. (28 Jan) *Where the Heart Is (1990, John Boorman) [C+]
"Quirky" and "offbeat" really don't do justice to how strange this
sometimes beguiling, sometimes offputting fable about family is.
025. (26 Jan) The Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001, Christophe Gans) [C+]
Plays like a Matrixified version of Sleepy Hollow and with an
everything-including-the-kitchen-sink inventiveness -- this is a film
where every character needs to be described with multiple slashes -- but
at 150 minutes, the films turns into an oppressively long sit.
024. (24 Jan) /*Safe/ (1995, Todd Haynes) [B+]
023. (23 Jan) *The Last Picture Show (1971, Peter Bogdanovich) [A-]
022. (20 Jan) Italian for Beginners (2001, Lone Scherfig) [C+]
Often likable bit of fluff that keeps getting led astray by
Dogmatics; the usual faux-verite affectations only point out in
glaring fashion the ridiculous contrivances that pass for plot
points. (In a town whose population apperantly consists only of
our eight hapless Italian students, two of them don't realize
021. (19 Jan) *Defending Your Life (1991, Albert Brooks) [B]
020. (19 Jan) *Ecstasy of the Angels (1972, Koji Wakamatsu) [C]
019. (18 Jan) *Zelig (1983, Woody Allen) [B+]
018. (17 Jan) *On the Town (1949, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen) [A-]
017. (15 Jan) *Get Carter (1971, Mike Hodges) [B]
016. (15 Jan) *A Summer's Tale (1996, Eric Rohmer) [B+]
Typical Rohmer -- this time examining one guy's romantic
dalliances with three girls. A must-see for members of the
French Ingenue Admiration Society.
015. (13 Jan) The Long Goodbye (1973, Robert Altman) [C-]
014. (13 Jan) McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971, Robert Altman) [A-]
013. (13 Jan) Orange County (2002, Jake Kasdan) [B-]
012. (12 Jan) What Time Is It There (2001, Tsai Ming-liang) [B+]
011. (12 Jan) The Shipping News (2001, Lasse Hallstrom) [B]
Like Cider House Rules, a mildly enjoyable adaptation.
Most interesting thing about it is Spacey's intriguing, if ultimately
010. (11 Jan) *Auggie Rose (2000, Matthew Tabak) [C]
Intriguing premise -- man takes over the identity of an ex-con
he saw die -- but Tabak never really answers the fundmental question
of *why* this particular guy feels the need to do so. (Vague hints
of midlife crisis doesn't cut the mustard here.)
009. (07 Jan) *Truly Madly Deeply (1991, Anthony Minghella) [A-]
Spectacularly good performance from Juliet Stevenson anchors an
often-moving, bittersweet film. Would have liked it more had I not
found one scene where Stevenson and her new beau trade personal histories
whilst hopping on one foot obnoxious as hell.
008. (05 Jan) L'amour fou (1968, Jacques Rivette) [B-]
007. (05 Jan) /Ghost World/ (2001, Terry Zwigoff) [A]
006. (05 Jan) /Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring/ (2001, Peter Jackson) [B+]
005. (04 Jan) *The Golden Bowl (2000, James Ivory) [B]
004. (03 Jan) *National Velvet (1944, Clarence Brown) [A-]
003. (02 Jan) *Pootie Tang (2001, Louis C.K.) [B-]
Wildly uneven and would have worked better as an anarchic half-hour
special on HBO, but has several brilliant comic moments: Daddy's
steel mill accident -- the most insane gag of the year, Dirty Dee,
and the incomprehensible lingo that PT spouts. Wadatay.
002. (01 Jan) Black Hawk Down (2001, Ridley Scott) [A-]
001. (01 Jan) Charlotte Gray (2001, Gillian Armstrong) [D+]
Near-complete misfire saved from being total dreck by the usual
strong performances by Michael Gambon, Billy Crudup, and Cate Blanchett.
But what a piece of malignant bullshit is the film's specious takes on
hope and love.