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.: film --> 2002
lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring [ ***** ] one of the most intelligent screenplay adaptations I've ever seen. beautifully lavish visuals. I'll see it again, and possibly get it on dvd. almost perfect.
the royal tenenbaums [ ***** ] a perfect film. great script and unbelievable acting. inventive, sad, sweet, and hilarious with Dickensian characterizations. I'll see it again.
gosford park [ ****- ] not much of a mystery, but a perfect comedy of manners. poor editing renders at least one of the storylines incomprehensible, but this film is far superior to most films anyway. it's a real pleasure to see so many great actresses together; women really are the engine of this film. maggie smith is a special gem.
the man who wasn't there [ ****- ] stylish with wonderful performances, but not particularly affecting emotionally. recommended.
mulholland drive [ ****- ] has anyone understood this film while they're watching it? if I have it figured out (I believe the salon explanation is close, but not quite right), lynch has a profound understanding of the human heart. or maybe it's best understood as a TV pilot with an added ending. unsettling.
panic room [ *---- ] I haven't seen a bad movie in a long time. panic room is, alas, a bad film. after half an hour I knew it would be bad; after an hour I actually wanted to leave. despite some neat shots and short, suspenseful set pieces, this movie most resembles a predictable horror film where the monsters--rather than the victims--are stupid.
spider man [ ***** ] look, I'm a naif, I'm not a comic guy. but I loved this film. a good script that is true to its origins. I completely believed that these were high-school kids, and that peter parker was the geekiest kid in school, even after he became infected with his super-powers. no one has ever been more in love than peter parker is in this movie--in fact every aspect of tobey maguire's performance is touching and believable--and kirstin dunst isn't far behind.
star wars: attack of the clones [ **1/2-- ] strictly for the sets and costumes (which are 5-star--but sets and costumes do not a movie make). could they have picked a worse actor to play anakin skywalker? unfortunately, natalie portman is only marginally better. since the story centers around their love story, this is bad news. though the plot is a little byzantine and hard to follow, with a nuanced anakin, this film would have worked. as it was, it is a film of gorgeous visuals, interesting special effects, lots and lots of action scenes...and no emotional center whatever.
minority report [ ****- ] gritty and suspenseful, this is a classic suspense piece set the day after tomorrow. minority report succeeds at most of what it sets out to do. there is only one spielberg-esque scene, and it's almost not noticable. the ending is flat--disconnected from the main story arc, but that's the fault of the script, not the direction. visually brilliant--definitely worth seeing on a big screen. misnamed.
reign of fire [ **1/2-- ] a terrific premise translated poorly at the script level. with consistent dragon behavior and consistent human response, this film could have been solid entertainment. great effects, worth seeing on a big screen.
the bourne identity [ ****- ] good, solid suspense thriller. modest aims successfully realized. recommended.
signs [ ***-- ] dis-integrated. the human story mostly works, but the frame is little more than a device. don't think too hard about the aliens. good set pieces and nice humor. a promising step in Shyamalan's growth.
s1m0ne [ **--- ] instead of satire or commentary on our mediated world, niccol turned his premise into a pleasant piece of fluff. pacino, keener, and wood make a very nice, functional family--I'd like to see more of these onscreen.
my big fat greek wedding [ ****- ] predictable, warm, and funny. for me, it's the understated little moments that make this film.
baraka [ ***** ] I don't agree with commentary that claims this film is environmental. I think it is a meditation about the varieties of human experience, the meaning of human life, and our desire to connect with the infinite. beautiful, thought-provoking, moving. very highly recommended.
visions of light [ ***-- ] I guess I should have known this would be little more than a paean to cinematography. for some reason, I thought it might be more instructional, really showing how light works on film, so I was disappointed.
lawrence of arabia [ ***** ] war is madness, politics never change, and innocence alone is no match for the world.
spirited away [ ***1/2- ] odd, lovely film about a young girl overcoming her own fears that will probably scare the pants off younger/more timid children. highly imaginative, with animation that reminded me of maurice sendak. beautiful with a persistent melancholy. I can't quite figure out why it has been getting such high ratings.
harry potter and the chamber of secrets [ ***1/2- ] fun, fun, fun. a little awkward in trying to include everyone's favorite scenes, but definitely worth seeing if you love harry potter and his world.
star trek: nemesis [ ***-- ] I wish someone had paid more attention to the first 30 minutes of the film, but nevertheless there are some things in this film I haven't seen in any other star trek film, and I like it for that. nice closure for many of the characters. maybe not too satisfying to non-fans or extreme fans, but if you're a casual fan I think you'll enjoy the film.
lord of the rings: the two towers [ ****1/2 ] this is probably the hardest of the three films to pull off--it's the middle of the story, with no real beginning or end. but it's an outstanding rendition, with changes from the book that makes sense, and changes that don't make as much sense. aragorn is still dreamy.
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rushmore [ ***1/2- ] my expectations were too high. not nearly as good as the royal tenenbaums. the same quirky world-view, but with less cohesiveness, consistency, or sweetness. I would have thought this a promising film if I had seen it when it was released.
memento [ ****1/2 ] skillful and provoking meditation on memory, identity, and the nature of reality. but not as ponderous as that description sounds. also a stylish thriller. highly recommended.
dead man [ ***-- ] dark and funny and hard to describe. not as good as it was on first viewing, but still solid. weird, and dreamlike. though it seems like there may be some symbolism in the film, I suspect it's just a loose collection of thematically related elements. recommended.
donnie darko [ *---- ] I wish I could say this is a good idea poorly executed, but I don't think the filmmaker even thought his idea through sufficiently before putting pen to paper. the story is circular in a stupid way. the direction is wooden. the acting is annoying. jjg says it's been too long since I've seen a true one-star movie, but I really think this film is poorly conceived in every way.
run lola run [ ***-- ] solid film, well executed, fun to watch. this film has an intriguing concept that doesn't get tiresome. it did not grab my heart or go into the subject as deeply as it could have, but it's an entertaining evening anyway.
ocean's eleven [ ** 1/2-- ] disappointing. do not spoon feed me the twist, please, mr soderbergh. no chemistry between the characters, essential to this kind of film. to see this done right, rent [spoiler]
gattaca [ *** 1/2- ] a few cheats, but mostly this film succeeds. fun sci-fi with a thoughtful premise.
24 [ **** 1/2 ] though sometimes inconsistent, unbelievable, and occasionally tedious, this television season-long experiment in 'real time storytelling' is mostly a success. I didn't like the twist in the next-to-last episode, but the ending more than made up for it. the final scene is simply stunning. it worked as well as it does only as the end of a television season, reminding us of our contract with the producers, and that life doesn't have closure, only arbitrary beginnings and endings. highly recommended.
lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring (extended version) [ ***** ] the additional scenes are very nice (though they add little to the story) but the appendices are outstanding. these documentaries depict the work of the cast and crew as an epic in itself, each individual inspired by tolkien to commit years of their lives and to create perhaps their best work in bringing the heroic epic to life in every detail.