Memorable - Gone! -Known Chronological Back-Date Order
10 2010 FILM SHORTS AWARD NOMINATIONS - excellent thruout
10 BOOK OF ELI (THE) - nuclear-holocaust earth; 'religion is power' GOldham, Braille Bible, 'samurai warrior' DWashington, Sword of God, MMcDowell's Great Books 'New Society', sGWitta dHughes bros; MKunis JBeals TWaits MGambon FDelaTour; Fun!
10 EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP - documentary 'intended'(?) on secretive Brit street artist Banksy is highjacked(?) by compulsive video-filmer TGuetta -becoming famous street artist himself(?); brilliant cultural anthropology study! nRIfans
10 MICMAC - wdJPJeunet/sGLaurant's wonderfully zany and inventive story/production (ABonetto cTNagata) takes on munitions makers; fun! fun! fun! DBoon JFerrier DPinongreat humor; Fr.
10 NORTH FACE - fictionalized take on the 1936 assault of the Swiss massif called Eiger (ogre) in which four climbers died in attempt to boost Nazi Germany's power; terrific thruout; wdPStozl; Ger. (Nord Wand)
09 9 - machines have taken over -earth, a dark wasteland; 9 puppets find the key to 'bring the earth back'; exceptionally good animation saves the film; wdSAcker/wPPettler
09 AFGHAN STAR - wdHavanaMarking documents post-Taliban life and state in major Afghan cities by way of American Idol equivalent bringing democracy to Afghanistan -eye-opening, educational, excellent thruout
09 AN UNLIKELY WEAPON - wdSMCooper's documentary on 70's/80s Vietnam etc photographer Eddie Adams' and craft necessity of 'agonizing dispassion from job at hand' -many talking-heads; not for everyone
09 ANVIL - film documents the current, still-profound dedication of Canadian 'heavy metal' chasing a great start 25 years ago of now moribund music; 'Lips' Kudlow, Robb Reiner; wdSGervasi cCSoos;
09 ART AND COPY - mostly talking heads and examples (many each) documents the intelligence and sophistication behind the best of artful advertising evolving after WWII; wdDPray; excellent thruout
09 BALLERINA - wdcBNormand documents the life of rigorous study and dedication; many interviews with ballet principals: Vaganova Ballet Academy; photography: Kirov, Mariinsky etc. excellent thruout; Russ.
09 BIG FAN - drama: ups and downs in life of a sports fanatic POswalt
-not for everyone, but just excellent thruout; wdRSiegel (The Wrestler --) KCorrigan MRapaport MJKutz
09 BRONSON - sdNWRefn/sBNBrock brilliantly re-imagine life of Britain's most notorious, violently wilful, agressive prisoner, Michael Peterson, calling self Charles Bronson -virtuoso Tom Hardy performance! -terrific thruout!
09 CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY - dMMoore's slow-starting documentary ends up solidly showing how incested the capitalism of our 'American free-enterprise democracy' is, but he misses the boat on problems with democracy
09 COVE (THE) - originator Ric O'Barry of Flipper-type entertainment discovers Japanese town Taiji's secret industry selling 'Flipper' dolphins
-butchering upto 23,000 left-overs/year for meat; terrific document of the bloody whole
09 DAYTIME DRINKING - agreement of four young male college grads to meet for more drinking strands Sam-dong Song in solo journey of 'Korean politeness does not turn down a drink'; wdcpm Young-seokNoh makes small masterpiece for $20,000
09 DISGRACE - 'Byron-obsessed' lit prof JMalkovitch's affair with student AEngel and daughter JHaines' rape brings 'life lessons' at end of S African apartheid; sAMMonticelli attempts too much bJMCoetzee human condition; dSJacobs EEbouney
09 DISTRICT 9 - 'prawn' aliens' spaceship stranded 20 years in Johannesburg SAfica -brilliant scifi broadside on human condition beats anything Hollywood for screenplay/production/cost/inventiveness; saw film twice!
09 GOMORRAH - better review coming
09 HURT LOCKER (THE) - dKaythrynBigelow transforms 'Explosive Ordnance Disposal' (Iraq) by JRenner AMackie BGeraghty into great character-study and 'monumental absurdity of war' that everyone should see;sMBoal cBAckroyd
09 IL DIVO - docudrama takes on Italy's 'The divine performer' Giulio Andreotti (TServillo) as 7 times prime minister and 'Senator for life' as powerful, secretive politician with 'finger in everything'; brilliantly surreal and mesmerizing;
09 IN THE LOOP - "British comedy takes a biting look at the manipulation of arguments to justify a US invasion" (LAT); brilliant enough thruout for second viewing; PCapaldi SFoster THollander JGondolfini
09 JULIE AND JULIA - wdNEphron dumbs-down and panders to Americans as widest money-making audience with 'cutely pert' AAdams playing 'acolyte' author JPowell; great, but only for MStreep playing Julia Child; STucci
09 LA DANSE - wdFWiseman documents behind-the-scenes business and dance practices of the paris opera ballet and school -traditional and modern; excellent thuout if even if overly long
09 MAID (THE) - mines physical and mental difficulties of '2nd-class citizen' maid CSaavedra dedicated to privileged Chilean family with range of children -mother CCeledon; wdSSilva/wPPeirano; excellent -and discomfiting thruout; Sp.
09 MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT - effectively documents argument that a 'singular, musical artform' of a sort was more or less 'free-enterprise developable' around one-dimensional entertainment capabilities; an evening's education
09 OF TIME AND THE CITY - a brilliant filmic/literary-voice-over essay/wallow in 30s/60s Liverpool nostalgia and human condition; wdTerenceDavies; not for everyone
09 ORPHAN - 30-yr-old psychopathic killer IFuhrman farms self thru orphanages and adopting families as 9-yr-old orphan from Russia; slow starting, but great horror/sub-slasher; pJSilver VFarmiga PSarsgaard
09 PRECIOUS - paradocumentary on life/circumstances (1987) of bright, very obese/black 16yr-old raped mother GSidibe of a 'Downs' girl and new baby; great material/production -too often clumsy: sGFletcher/dLDaniels; bSapphire Mo'Nique
09 REVANCHE - prostitute GF IPotapenko's death in 'gofer'/thug JKrisch's 'bank robbery gone-awry' skews into great psychological pot-boiler of remorse, depression, sterility and secrets; wdGSpielmann UStrauss ALust HThanheiser; Ger.
09 SECRET OF THE GRAIN (THE) - brilliant, intimate take on the human condition thru the sprawling trials/tribulations of a large immigrant Tunisian family in France coping with unemployment, prejudice, intermarriage, divorce, hopes etc;
09 SERAPHINE - real-life, French housemaid/cook/laundress Seraphine de Senlis (YMoreau), religion-driven, primitive impressionism painter is discovered by German art dealer UTukur; success overwhelms her;
wdMProvost; excellent thruout; Fr.
09 SERIOUS MAN (A) - stereotypic material and effective development and production preponderantly jewish thruout brings up the question: Isn't it time for jews to stop dwelling on 'the jewish experience' and join humanity?
09 SLEEP DEALER - wdARivera/wDRiker takes us into scifi world where employees operate real robotics thru a kind of virtual reality; great idea, some really great setups/cinematography cLRinzler; Sp.
09 SOUL POWER - the 1974 Mohammad Ali/George Foreman 'Rumble in the jungle' overshadowed the 'Zaire 74' music festival; great documentary thruout -setup and performances
09 TONY MANERO - Alfredo Castro plays murderously pathological,
52-yr-old nobody/imitator of Saturday Night Fever's JTravolta (with subtext of Chilean govt under Pinochet); character-study not for everyone; wdPLarrain; Sp.
09 TYSON - excellent character study on the making, life and thinking of a 'successful' boxer -with some jarringly bad cinematographic style; dJToback
08 2007 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED LIVE SHORT FILMS - 4 shorts: 3 great; 1 OK
08 2007 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED SHORT FILMS -ANIMATED - 5 shorts: 3 great; 2 OK
08 AMERICAN TEEN - NBurstein's documentary follows "five Indiana highschoolers through their senior year, shining hopes, pimples and all ... diligently selects jock, princess, geek, heartthrob, rebel" (LAT); excellent thruout.
08 BEAUTY IN TROUBLE - 2002 post-Communist hard times; wealthy JAbvrham returns to claim land -meets divorce-contemplating wife AGeislerova of
turned-to-car-stripping husband RLuknar; excellently crafted 'human condition' thruout; Czech.
08 BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER - middle brother of three co-wpCBell
(co-wpABuono/TRawady) documents 'cult of muscleness' warping of America
-steroids, 'entertainment' etc; subtitle "Side Effects Of Being American" says it all
08 BILLY THE KID - wdJVenditti's slow-starting but excellent documentary follows a 15-yr-old coming-of-age with Asperger's(?); it's unclear what it might be if the camera/director did not have him on stage
08 CHICAGO 10 - dBMorgan's film clips and animated voice recordings documentary on 1969-70 Yippie anti-Vietnam War invasion of National Democratic Convention -events not likely in today's culturally media-hooked population
08 ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD - wdWHerzog ventures below the Antarctic ice and above ground broadly commenting on various aspects of science, life, humanity and human influences on the planet -brilliant production thruout
08 FROST/NIXON (MSheen/FLangella) - excellent docudrama take on difficult set-ups for TV interviews and those events proper; psPMorgan dRHoward KBacon RHall TJones MMacFadyen OPlatt SRockwell
08 GROCER'S SON - slice-of-life in small-town family owning
genl-store/delivery service; hopes, miscues, illness (DDuval), love (CHesme/NCazale), divorce/near-suicide and starting anew; simple film, great, all-around production; dEGuirado JGoupil; Fr.
08 HAPPY-GO-LUCKY - wdMLeigh puts preternaturally cheerful, up-lifting school-teacher SHawkins thru number of 'human condition' situations -'driving lessons' with EMarsan: exceptional; brilliant thruout! one of my best films ever
08 IN BRUGES - sMMcDonagh's uncooked 'theater of the absurd'(?); ignorance, circumstance, pathos, and redemption by fellow hit-man BGleeson for 1st time CFarrell's accidental death of child -RFfiennes the pathological boss.
08 I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND - prison releasee OKaiser reconsiders his life (IBarnev) as sly opportunist waitering for the powerful thru post-WWI, Nazi occupation and Russian occupation; great morality/satire thruout; bBHrabal wdJMenzel;
08 JCVD - Jean Claude Van Damme plays the role of an actor just like himself -and one's life like that in the both the film and real worlds about him; brilliant conceipt -great film: wdMElMechri/wFBenudis/wCTurpin
08 KENNY - documentary: single-father waSJacobson services
roll-in/roll-out 'fairground'toilets: disappointed Dad, Nashville 'PLUMBER' convention, air-stewardess 'romance' etc. great music; brilliant, human, funny thruout; wdCJacobson Aus.
08 MAN ON WIRE - overall, perhaps the most singular event of human uniqueness so far: Philippe Petit high-wiring between the ill-fated Twin Towers brilliantly documented -talking-heads, extensive clips and 'reconstruction'; dJMarsh
08 NANKING - JGetz, WHarrelson, MHemingway JProchnow et al portray westerners writing about trying to save Chinese during 1937 massacre by Japanese; extensive film clips, but documentary lacks solid overview; dBGuttentag/DSturman
08 PLANET B-BOY - dBLee documents background and the international
break-dancing contest in Braunschweig Germany -some, unbelievable; excellent thruout even if ultimately wearing thin
08 RACHEL GETTING MARRIED - sJLumet's 'clever/frothy' situations and characters develop that this (Jewish? -zeitgeist?) family is 'warm and failingly human too despite its accomplished sophistication'; cDQuinn dJDemme AHathaway; ideal study in
08 RED - teenager NFisher maliciously kills BCox's dog; Korean vet BCox had similarly evil son; dad TSizemore's refusal to see 'evil' escalates into disaster -a terrific morality play; wSSusco bJKetchum dTAllister/DLuckyMcKee
08 RELIGULOUS - Bill Maher does his 'good-naturedly unabrasive best' while interviewing for profound incongruities in the three major religions -some best footage deliberately omitted; dLCharles
08 ROMAN DE GARE - mystery novelist FArdant is interviewed; serial killer is loose; teacher leaves wife; hooker mother ADana fakes hair-dressing; dCLelouche has ghost-writer DPinon knit whole together; brilliant fun! fun! fun! Fr.
08 SAVAGE GRACE - dTKalin churns spoiled-rotten son (ERedmayne) and spoiled-rotten wife (JMoore) of real-life Bakelite inventor's grandson (SDillane) into great potboiler production; fun! fun! fun! sHARodman bNRobins/SMLAronson
08 SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - pithy documenatary wrapped in a brilliant 'story within a story' -stay for the credits!; bVSwarup sSBeaufoy mARRahman cADMantel eCDickens cLTandan dDBoyle
08 STRANDED - better review coming
08 SURFWISE - film clips and interviews documentary on lives of 8 sons and daughter growing up physically, intellectually, socially constrained by tyrannically ideosyncratic, 'surfing nut' MD father; wdDPray
08 TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE - wdAGibney's excellent documentary details Bush administration's torture-skirting double-talk -film clips and talking heads including 'lessers' doing the dirty work and abandoned afterward
08 TELL NO ONE - superior murder mystery; slow-start becomes successively convoluted; lies, alibis, fear of aging/dying, child molestation, lesbianism, torture you feel et cetera; bHCoben sPLefebvre dGCanet FCluzet MJCroze JRochefort
08 TRANSSIBERIAN - 'Christian fellowship' WHarrelson and
wife-with-a-past EMortimer get caught up with 'bad detective' in BKingsley moving drugs and money; laboriously slow start picks up terrifically! dBAnderson cXGimenez eJMarti
08 UP THE YANGTZE - wdYChang's documentary takes us 'foreigners' on sightseeing cruise up the river showing to show us the mesmerizing and depressing influence of both westernization and the Three Gorges Dam on traditional and modern
08 VERY BRITISH GANGSTER (A) - wdDMacIntyre's excellent slice-of-life documentary follows Dominic Noonan as both 'crime-boss of thugs' and effective tribal leader of a large Manchester neighborhood
08 W. - wdOStone/wsSWeiser nail American ignorance twice electing an ignorant fraternity boy for president -excellent thruout; JBrolin JCromwell RDreyfuss EBanks SGlenn TNewton TJones JWright
08 WANTED - MFreeman subverts 'ancient society of weavers assassinating for benefit of man' for his world rule; AJolie's sidelooking, D-level acting and JMcAvoy 'save the world'; great scifi escapist stuff! little Hollywood FX shit!
08 WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN - documentary maker wdMSpurlock threads thru variously civilized, Bin-Laden-related neigborhoods of the world into an excellent study in demographics you will not see in National Geographic
08 WRESTLER (THE) - classical family fuck-up, old 'smack-down warrior with heart-of-gold' MRoarke goes down in blaze of glory; incredible, career performance -great cliches and excesses; cMAlberti sRSiegel dDAronofsky MTomei ERWood
08 YELLA - McGuffin(?): HSchonemann offs self and estranged
accountant-wife NHoss: if she had lived (E Germany), she would have developed the scheming double-dealing venality of western capitalism; excellent thruout; wdCPetzold DStriesow
07 300 - FMiller's graphic novel on the Spartan 300's Battle at Thermopylae executed as docudrama with faithful narration from the Greek, but of heavily biased personnae development -excellent FX -an evening's entertainment; sdZSnyder
07 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS - 'near-documentary', 'human condition' tale of abortion in intellectually and socially 'unready' 1987 Romania; excellent thruout -not for everyone; wdCMungiu AMarinca lVasiliu VIvanov; Rom.
07 AFTER THE WEDDING - younger, free-love drughead MMikkelsen grows up into orphanage work in India; offer of needed money turns into deeply involved melodrama -'the human condition'; superior production thruout; wdSBier SBKnudsen
07 AIR GUITAR NATION - FUN! FUN! FUN! documentary filmmaker ALipsitz follows American entry into Finland-based 'Air Guitar Championships' phenomenon; "C-Diddy"DJung "Bjorn Turoque"DCrane
07 ANTIBODIES - small-town German farmer/partime police officer WWMohring becomes key to solving Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer AHenicke in great tour de force psychological thriller; wdCAlvart; Ger.
07 BAMAKO - paradocumentary: 'first world nations' throwing money (e.g. World Bank, IMF) at poor nations (Mali here) and raping them of natural resources and capabilities by holding them for repayment -not for everyone; dASissako
07 BEYOND THE GATES - true event: Rwanda's Hutus butcher refugee Tutsis at a Catholic-based school compound on abandonment by UN force; much rough stuff, not for everyone; bDWolstencroft/DBelton dMCaton-Jones HDancy JHurt
07 BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT unless someone identifies the value(?) importance(?) of subtle(?) esoteric(?) changes over the original, this remains as great a production (sorta really-unresolved ending?) as ever.
07 BOSS OF IT ALL (THE) - 'play within a play -theater of the absurd' too? PGantzler can't face selling firm out under efficient staff he likes, is indebted to -blames loser/actor JAlbinus he hires as 'higher decisions boss'; sophisticated work
not for everyone wdLvonTrier Dan.
07 CHALK - mock documentary on the difficulties and overwork of teaching highschool -especially by novitiate teachers; eloquent, sensitive -and great fun too! waCMass wdMAkel TSchremmer JSchremmer SHaragan
07 CRAZY LOVE - social-study 'human condition' documentary: obsessed, 'prosaically feral Jewish lawyer' Burt Pugach permanently blinds 'prosaic (prick tease) Jewish queen' Linda Riss with acid and does time; they retire into married
07 DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT - wdJLoktev follows LWilliams in incantatory ritual rehearsing preparing herself for a suicide bombing by faceless group
-her alarming 'cause' at end of film: "Why didn't he want me"?
07 DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGENES) - Algerians ignorantly faithful to France are army cannon fodder fighting Nazis -no 'liberty, equality and fraternity' under French rule in addition to the horrors of war; superior thruout to most war films;
07 DEEP WATER amateur Donald Crowhurst enters first non-stop, solo sailboat race around the world -failure, shame, probable suicide follow; dLOsmond/JRothwell's superior documentary of interviews and much real film footage.
07 EAGLE VS SHARK - fun! fun! fun! an excellent little film on the peculiarities and personal problems of a couple of nebbishes, LHorsely, JClement, quirky romance between them and making mistakes in life; wdTWaititi
07 FIDO - society is besieged by zombies continuously 'surfacing'; scientists discover how to control them into servanthood -great, rollicking situations; fun! fun! fun! wdACurrie CAMoss BConnolly KSRay DBaker HCzerny
07 GOLDEN DOOR - warm, incisively humanistic wallow into the difficulties of mostly simple family migrants (and others: CGainsbourg) shipping to turn-of-the-century America; superior production thruout; dECrialese VAmato FCasisa FPucillo
07 HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE dDDorrie follows Zen master and cook EEBrown in hands-on practice of both; excellent documentary demonstrating Zen nonsense teaching continence and resilience.
07 JUNO - almost 'too cute', but still edge-cutting,
coming-of-age film: parents JKSimmons AJanney of EPage who says 'no abort!
-give up baby!' to wannabe mother JGarner now divorced by 'not ready' JBateman; wDCody dJReitman MCera
07 KING CORN food-activist best friends ICheney and CEllis develop
1-acre field to follow and document the all-permeating, physically and mentally corrupting role of corn in America -and the world; excellent thruout -with tad overkill.
07 KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS subculture Americana -the video game/record-holding world turning on Donkey Kong; villain BillyMitchell, hero SteveWiebe, historian/organizer WalterDay; superior study in every sense by dSGordon
07 LA VIE EN ROSE - week Edith Piaf biopic storyline, script and direction (wdODahan) is redeemed by brilliant production and star Marion Cottiard lip-syncing real-voice of Jil Aigrot; Fr.
07 LIGHTS IN THE DUSK; crime boss IKoivula sics GF MJarvenhelmi on 'everybody's fool' guard JHyytiainen for jewelry robbery; lonesome loser finds love in MHeiskanen who sells him 'hotdog supper' every night; wdAKaurismaki; great black humor
not for everyone; Fin.
07 LIVE-IN MAID divorced, 'aristocratic', fallen-on-hard-times NAleandro moves in with her 30-years ex-live-in maid NArgentina -not uncommon Latin-American life; brilliant paradocumentary not for everyone; w(?)dJGaggero's
07 MICHAEL CLAYTON - 'professionally guilty' TWilkinson intends to blow whistle on poisonous agrichems -drives 'janitor' GClooney to recover his own integrity and nail cruel archenemy TSwinton; brilliant work thruout; wdTGilroty cRElswit
07 NO END IN SIGHT MIT/Brookings poli-sci wdCFerguson's documentary with detailed history of administration booboos with interviews of various closely involved officials authenticating the whole; excellent thruout
07 PAGE TURNER (THE) - accidental spoil of young teener DFrancois's piano try-out by judge CFrot scars her (grown-up) into monumental revenge; great psychological drama and music thruout; wdDDercourt PGregrory; Fr.
07 POISON FRIENDS (AMITIES MALEFIQUES) - TVincon browbeats fellow 'lit' students into productive genius, but fails himself; character-study on difference between 'art' creation and critique; brilliant production not for everyone; dEBourdieu
07 PRICE OF SUGAR dBHaney's documentary on Catholic priest CHristopher Harley's battle to bring even minimal rights and lodgings to Haitian canecutters effectively enslaved by Dominican sugar giant Vicini family
-more info than one may want
07 PROTAGONIST - against a puppet Greek chorus of excerpts from Euripides, four 'talking heads' detail their overcoming profoundly diverse adversities in youth; brilliant documentary by Jessica Yu
07 REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN documentary on Illinois farmer John Peterson's education as hippy, and failure and ostracism as farmer -and success as 'organic farming' mover; fun! fun! fun! great, rollicking 'joie de vivre'; dTSiegel
07 RED ROAD - remote-camera monitor KDickie manipulates 'rape' (real sex) by reformed once-crack-head TCurran (accidently killed her husband, child) for 'parole violation'; great production -shaky screenplay(?); wdAArnold MCommpston;
07 ROMANTICO - wdMBecker documents San Francisco roving Mariachi 'El (non-existent) Trio Cometa' duo CMSanchez and friend back to Mexico after long absence making family living -'too old to return now'; great slice of life -here and
07 SEVERANCE - "motley sales crew of an international arms supplier off on a reluctant team-building weekend in the Hungarian backwoods" runs into "war criminals or escaped mental patients" (LAT); great horror/slasher film; sJMoran
07 SICKO wdMMoore -'greatest and best' muckraker so far, works over 'American free-enterprise, capitalism' health care versus that in other countries
07 STEEP - extreme skiing; "Big-mountain skiers are the focus ... a documentary packed with stunning imagery" (LAT); dMDObenhaus.
07 TEN CANOES amusing and educational 'field trip' into the lives and thinkings of an Australian aborigine tribe via tribal myth; wdRDeHeer
07 THERE WILL BE BLOOD - DDay-Lewis is monomaniacal oil baron in long but sustaining, pathos-absent, chunkily over-the-top production of USinclair's anti-capitalism, 'early 20th' "Oil"; cRElsworth mJGreenwood dPTAnderson;
07 THIS IS ENGLAND Falklands-War-orphaned 12-yr-old, outsider TTurgoose becomes skinhead -vehicle of Thatcher-England's many social problems; exceptionally powerful thruout; wdSMeadows JGilgun SGraham RHanson
07 VACANCY - LWilson/KBeckinsale's car breaks down in obscure country town; they discover they're set up in their motel room for a 'to be another snuff film' production; excellent production, great horror film; wdNAntal FWhaley
07 VIOLIN (THE) - one-handed violinist grandfather ATavira is arms agent for son GTaracena in wdFVargas' black and white film-essay tale of simple beliefs and confusion -Mexican peasants vs aristocracy/military; cMBoege Sp.
07 WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY - JCReilly is pop singer recasting self in what is recap of pop music stars from the 60s on; immensely sophisticated comedy not for everyone; wJApatow/wdJKasdan
07 WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (THE) - drama on the 1920 activities of one man (CMurphy) and his compatriots (PDelaney etc) fighting for the independence of Ireland from 'empire mentality' Britain -much rough stuff -excellent thruout;
07 YOU KILL ME - great, witty fun! fun! fun! criminal family's professional killer BKingsley's alcoholism botches his work; driven to AA, he recovers, finds love TLeoni, goes straight too(?) sCMarkus/SMcFeely dJDahl LWilson BPullman
07 ZODIAC - docudrama on the 60s and later Zodiac killings, clues and follow-ups petering out with death of one good suspect; attention-demanding -not for everyone; dDFincher JGyllenhaal RDowneyJr. MRuffalo AEdwards BCox ECoteas PBHall
06 AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH - Al Gore goes thru what is, essentially, an excellent 'powerpoint' presentation of man-made earthly disasters likely to come; complaint? -he doesn't really understand the range of the
06 APOCALYPTO - dMGibson's monumentally idiosyncratic take on Mayan culture just preceding discovery by Spain; a hodge-podge of wild story, photography (DSemler), costumes, blood-letting, epic scenes and incongruous events, time and
distance; in Yucatecan;
06 AUTUMN - LLucas renounces occupation as assassin; heavily stylized honor and its interpretation among sophisticated assassins; excellent psychological drama not for everyone; pwdeRa'up McGee cEHarvey mCMorin IJacob JCDreyfus MAumont;
06 BEAUTY ACADEMY OF KABUL (THE) - dLizMerman documents American Mary MacMakin's 'resurrecting post-Taliban women's sense of dignity' by opening the (title); perhaps not the greatest idea in the world, but excellent documentary on women's life
06 BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVARES - 12-yr-old gay boy (NLopez) settles as 'woman of the house' for dad, two bros dealing stolen cellphones -opts for school following crush on policeman who ends family business; excellent social study production
thruout; dASolito; Phil.
06 BORAT - Sasha Baron Cohen uses 'realistic' Kazakhi self-appointed goodwill emissary 'Borat' to poke fun at virtually all cultures everywhere -sometimes very cruelly -brilliantly excellent nevertheless
06 DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE - wdcHSauper documents horrific consequences of seeding Lake Victoria with alien Nile Perch; uneven storyline of superior photo coverage; suggest Googling Nile Perch in addition.
06 EMPIRE IN AFRICA - horrific documentary identifies factional war in once-British Sierra Leone as typical of 'democratization' as tool for holding on to European and American once-colony interests -mining etc.; not for the squeamish; wdPDiaz.
06 49 UP - dMApted continues his 'every 7 years' sampling into the lives of 14 Britishers of different backgrounds since their common age 7 (42 UP in 1999)
06 GROUND TRUTH (THE) - documentary of lengthy interviews with American marines physically or mentally -and badly and permanently, 'damaged' in Iraq -should be seen by everyone (my opinion), the 'dubya' administration in toto;
dPFoulkrod cRAaronson eRHall
06 HAPPY FEET - dGMiller's exceptionally good production/technology saves standard, 'over-developed, over-the-top Hollywood-storyline animation' with an ending tilt towards 'save the earth';
06 HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS - a gigantic and unresolved wallow in the life of a dissolute, drugging, prostituting, single mother (sdaAsiaArgento) of an unwanted child (3 actors, all great) -the two desperately needing each other;
06 HISTORY BOYS - intellectual dialog and highjinks between 8 boys and their instructors: 'value of classical upper-grade British education'; good evening's entertainment not for everyone; bABennett dNHytner RGriffiths CMerrison SCMoore
06 HOUSE OF SAND - VDeSa leads wife FMontenegro and daughter FTorres to seaside desert, seasonal farmland area of Brazilian fugitive slaves and dies; epic, 3-generation tale of time and survival follows; sdAWaddington cRDellaRosa Brz.
06 IDIOCRACY - 'dumb' comedy with great FX staying power: 5-year experiment with 2005 average, young man, woman goes wrong; they wake-up in 2050 to find all society consumerized and dumbed-down; sdMJudge cTSuhrstedt DShepard LWilson
06 IN COLD BLOOD - see Los Angeles Times 1967 review
06 INDIGENES: DAYS OF GLORY - Algerians ignorantly faithful to France are army cannon fodder fighting Nazis -no 'liberty, equality and fraternity' under French rule in addition to the horrors of war; superior thruout to most war films;
06 IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS - with U.S. military as backdrop alone, wdpJLongley's selections of Iraqi intellectual and physical life should be seen by everyone -special attention to religious fanaticism and political factionalism.
06 IRON ISLAND - reaping oil and scrap, 'Capt Nemo' ANasirian creates complete town of low-caste employees, families and 'human condition' on derelict oil tanker sinking offshore Persian Gulf until owner asserts self;
spellbinding allegory -exact message? wdMMRasoulof
06 JACKASS: NUMBER TWO - essentially documentary in the sense (case evidence) of masochistic and sadistic extremes to which 'fraternity IQ' camaraderie, mentality and high-jinks can take people (making Hollywood-film money?); dJTremaine
06 JESUS CAMP - documentors HEwing & RGrady 'ride along' with evangelical group as it educates children -bible meetings, camp etc, to what 'god wants us to do' - a small, but excellent example regarding ALL religion and isms in general.
06 KEKEXILI: MOUNTAIN PATROL - docudrama on a local non-official patrol's fight against poacher/killers for Tibetan chiru (antelope) wool; slice-of-life, excellent and grueling thruout; pWZhonglei sLChuan cCYu eTYun; subtitles;
06 KING LEOPOLD'S GHOST - wpdPScott documents how 1870s Belgian king's 'extensively destructive mining and slave labor cruelty in the Congo'
continues today for gold, nuclear material and digital technology -should be seen by everyone;
06 LA MOUSTACHE - happily married VLindon removal of mustache turns into main body of the film which is his real nightmare of surreal consequences from which he 'wakes up' only at the end; great mystery -not for everyone; dECarriere
mPGlass EDevos cPBlossier; Fr.
06 LAST KING OF SCOTLAND - exceptional docudrama production uses innocent, young Scottish doctor (JMcAvoy) as portrayal vehicle for really mad Idi Amin Dada Oumee
(fantastic FWhitaker!); dKMacdonald KWashington
06 LIVES OF OTHERS (THE) - remarkable drama/spy-thriller; life under Stasi-based E German Rep ends with redemption of super-agent UMuhe and sly comment on 'merits of western democracy' following Gorgachev; wdFHvonDonnersmarch; Ger.
06 LOOK BOTH WAYS - unrelated accident connects emotionally-scarred-but-stable JClarke (sees death everywhere) with WMcInnes (just told he's dying of cancer); complex interrelationships, ultimately life-affirming; superior production
thruout; wdSWatt; NZ(?)
06 MARDI GRAS: MADE IN CHINA - single-case bludeoning documentary on human condition; Chinese 'free-enterprise capitalism and slave labor' make glass-bead necklesses for New Orleans Mardi Gras; monumental garbage generation; dceDRedmon
06 OUR BRAND IS CRISIS - dpRBoynton documents American PR-manipulations hired for Gonzalez Lozada's 2002 Bolivian presidency run; excellent and nauseating thruout; James Carville among others;
06 PAINTED VEIL (THE) - 1925; Brit 'estated' family 'wastrel' NWatts marries (unfaithfully) bacteriologist-in-love ENorton; 'off to cholera epidemic in China' brings child & 'real love' but he dies; great evening's entertainment; bSMaughm
cSDryburgh TJones DRigg
06 PAN'S LABYRINTH - works 'princess of and surreally-weird-fairyland preoccupied' child IBaquero into 'WWII ending' (1944) demise of cruel, Falangist stepfather SLopez; dGdelToro MVerdu AGil; brilliant and allusory thruout; Sp.
06 PAPER DOLLS - excellent documentary on the lives of Philipina lesbians working as caretakers for various physically and mentally impaired old people in Israel.
06 PERFUME - born 'supernose, but no smell his own' monster BWhishaw becomes killer making 'essence of woman' perfume; 'classical' horror story too much for still a great production; bPSuskind sABirkin dTTwyker; awful DHoffman, ARickman
06 PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION - slow, perhaps even clumsy start develops into really great fun -assuming you like wsGKeilor's kind of program of course; dRAltman WHarrelson TLJones KKline LLohan VMadsen JCReilly MRudolph MStreep LTomlin .
06 PROPOSITION (THE) - great potboiler, outback-Australian, moral-dilemma 'western'; Capt RWinstone tells 'had enough [extreme!] murdering and cruelty' GPearce to bring in unredeemable bro DHuston so as to free bro RWilson; sNCave
dJHillcoat cBDelhomme eJGregory
06 SIR, NO SIR - talking heads and graphics; excellently documented American soldiers against the Vietnamese war -marching, picketing, rebeling, politicking, fomenting and 'agitproping' psdDZeiger cMRigler eMRigler/LMofford
06 SYRIAN BRIDE - an interesting peek into traditional(?) Muslim marriages in general and, here, Syrian life in particular as split by Israeli occupation of Golan Heights; an educational 'evening's entertainment'; dERiklis sSArraf
06 12 AND HOLDING - ZWeisenbaum's 'first tampon' becomes brilliant observations on 'common human condition' thru events at puberty: humor, 'stuffing oneself', 'coming of age', intermarriage, racism, 'war wounds' and innocently deadly
mistakes; sASCipriano dMCuesta CDonovan JCamacho LRoache JAtkinson JRenner
06 UNITED 93 - great 'guess' job: '911' high-jackers take over flight; passengers rise up, prevent crash into the White House(?), but all die in crash to ground; little known actors thruout -great production thruout; wdPGreengrass
06 U.S. VS JOHN LENNON; - excellently interesting for attention-drawing opposition to Vietnam war -with little intellectual substance of his own and others, and lots of Nixon/Hoover et al anger; wdDleaf/JScheinfeld dJMathers
06 VENUS - dying Shakespearean PO'Toole re-experiences love and 'meaning of life' thru friend's vapid niece JWhittaker looking for job; an overly romantic wallow of great dialog and performances; sHKureishi VRedgrave LPhillips
06 WATER - 8-yr-old girl widowed by man on way to hospital is 'vehicle' of women's lot before Ghandi brings profound political and social changes at 1938 end of colonial power -ultimately life-affirming -excellent thruout; wdDMehta
cGNuttgens eCMonie Hindi;
06 WORDPLAY - dscPCreadon/sCO'Malley's documentary on puzzle-master Will Shortz's crossword superbowl; just great fun, but you've got to appreciate that mentality too;
05 ANIMATION 2005 - better than usual: only the last short was a bummer
05 ASSISTED LIVING - the aged in end-of-the-line 'convalescent' homes gets the best of too-sensitive slacker/pothead MBonsignore; wry, funny, painfully 'human-condition', and brilliant thruout; wdEGreenebaum
05 ASYLUM - fun! fun! fun! gothic potboiler set in 50s England: feckless Dr HBonneville is to take over asylum; bored NRichardson buttons-up w/ wife-killer inmate MCsokas; cool, 'mad dr' IMcKellen 'orchestrates' the whole(?);
05 BALLETS RUSSES - first rate documentary; film clips and the reminisences of virtually all still-living principals from 1913 inception into 1954 Hollywood; excellent thruout; dDGoldfine/dGeller
05 BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS - two 'successful' Chinese reminisce on effects of importing 'bourgeois' literature during their late-teens 're-education' (and romance) in Red Mao's back-hills; flawed, but still excellent;
05 BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (THE) - real estate operator/thug, once promising pianist son RDuris of dead concert pianist mother and loan-shark father NArestrup can't decide what to be -becomes proper pianist manager; great human condition; -
not for everyone; dJAudiard; Fr.
05 BEFORE THE FALL - lower-middle-class, 'high hopes, late-teens, excellent boxer' MRiemelt joins 1942 German 'gauleiter' cadet school, but fails to meet eye-opening 'Aryan fighting standards and morality'; superior thruout; sG&MPeren
cTBreuer eJRetter dDGansel; Ger.
05 BORN INTO BROTHELS - documentary team ZBriski and RKauffman extend their Calcutta red-light project: children become photographers and are pushed towards school -the whole a broadside on incested prostitution, poverty, ignorance and
05 CAPOTE - 'morally rootless' Truman Capote (PSHoffman) undertakes 1959 Kansas Clutter-family murders; involvement with killers leave him permanently changed; superior thruout; bGClark dBMiller sDFutterman CKeener CCooper CCollinsJr
05 CATERINA IN THE BIG CITY - small-town girl ATegli moves to Rome with oversensitive/bearing teacher-father SCastellito and overwhelmed, insecure mother MBuy -comes-of-age under some biting vignettes on modern life-style excesses and duplicities;
excellent thruout; dPVirzi
05 CRASH - incisive, broad coverage of singularly specific but interrelated racial and ethnic stereotype situations (why 'jewish' excepted?) chopped up and played alongside each other (much irony) into excellent, complex drama -minor
05 CRONICAS - docudrama; hustler TV reporter JLeguizamo chasing down serial child-killer DAlcazar happens upon him driving just as child ran in front of him, was struck and died; some drag, but fate completely upends expected storyline;
wdSCordero LWatling JMYazpik CLuzuriaga; Sp.
05 DOWNFALL (Der Untergang) - docudrama based on Hitler-and-company's bunker operations as remembered by personal secretary from 1943, Traudl Junge (AMLara); (see 03 BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY); excellent, riveting thruout; bJFest
sBEichinger cRKlausmann eHFunck dOHirschbiegel BGanz JKohler; Ger.
05 DOWN TO THE BONE - first-rate 'docudrama/near-case-study'; long-time drug-addicted, very attentive, burned-out(?) mom VFarmiga is caught doing drugs with counselor HDillon; the two descend into complete loss of escape; sRLieske/sdGranik
05 DUST TO GLORY - red-blooded Americans (their wives, all blonds) and the 'great adrenaline times, philosophy, nobility -and free-enterprise capitalism excesses of the Baja 1000; great anthropological study; wdDBrown cKWard
05 EL CRIMEN PERFECTO - terrific Spanish comedy; accidental death of Men's Wear mgr LVarela drives 'woman-killer', 'supremely confident of promotion' Women's Wear mgr GToledo into arms of ugliest girl in the building -with side comments on
modern excesses; dAdelaIglesia cJLMoreno
05 ENRON: SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM - talking heads -in-depth coverage; great details; excellent thruout; wdAGibney;
05 FEAR AND TREMBLING - Japanese-born, college grad Belgian STestud 're-roots' herself with job in Japan -sophisticated, culture clash film perhaps overly harsh on Japanese; not for everyone; bANothomb dACornu Fr.
05 FUTURE OF FOOD (THE) - documentary: US government and chemical giants -Monsanto in particular, permeate world production, distribution and economics with genetically modifified food; potentially horrific consequences for all;
05 GRIZZLY MAN - documentary: 'wannabe Hollywood filmstar' failure Timothy Treadwell finds genuine salvation in noble, honest but clinical socio/psychopathy, trying to 'save' grizzleys -which eventually eat him and GF AHugenard;
05 GOEBBELS EXPERIMENT - KBrannagh narrates and recites from diarist Joseph Goebbels' rise thru German post-WWI social unrest/poverty, education (PhD), role as Hitler's propagandist -to family's suicide; dLHochmeister/MKloft; excellent
05 GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK - psaGHeslov/sdaGClooney docudramatize ERMurrow's 1951 radio-essay/analyses of JMcCarthy/HUAC investigation of 'communists/sympathizers' -excellent thruout; cRElswit esMirrione DStrathairn RDowneyJr. JDaniels
05 GUNNER PALACE - documentary: the lives and actions of young 'grunts' serving the eventually boring 'banality of war' in 2003-04 Baghdad as peace-keeper/police -'the human condition'; dMTucke/PEpperlein
05 HIGH TENSION - first-rate 'B' slasher/fantasy film with simple plot: 'obsessed she' loves 'hetero her' (MLeBesco) who doesn't love back -she, Jekyll(CdeFrance)/Hyde(slasher/male PNahon) on stage together, ends up in
05 HISTORY OF VIOLENCE - chance robbery discovers small-town diner owner VMortensen as once criminal enforcer; the circumstantial and existential nature of violence follows; bJWagner/VLocke dDCronenberg MBello AHolmes EHarris WHurt
05 HOLY GIRL (THE) - impulsive grope of devout, 15-year-old MMoran by doctor CBelloso at small Argentinian city convention sets up 'saving' him, coming of age and other societal collisions: brilliant production thruout; wdLMartel cFMonti
05 INSIDE DEEP THROAT - not the most important documentary, but still informative -film footage and talking heads: how the pursuit of prohibiting its showing influenced sexual mores and laws; wdFBailey/RBarbato
05 IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL - this overwhelming 'human condition' documentary so uniquely encompasses three properties fundamental to 'the human condition' -sex, deliberative capability
and idle-mind occupation (this website therein), that the latimes review is quoted in entirety -my comments attached.
05 KUNG FU HUSTLE - great fun! acrobatic, zany and wildly funny, bloodletting, screenplay-disjointed semi-musical about brutal criminal gang and the neighborhood and heros that rise up against it. wdpaSChow; Ch.
05 LEAGUE OF ORDINARY GENTLEMEN - pure 'americana': rise and fall of the Professional Bowlers Association -rise again on resurrection by retired MS hot-shot, and ex-Nike mrktr SMiller; ego's, humilities, dreams, family, the works;
05 LIPSTICK AND DYNAMITE - documentary interviews and film clips (some real grotesquerie) on the late 40s thru the 70s 'new sport' of women wrestlers -genuine feminists of sometimes brutal childhoods; wdRLeitman
05 MACHUCA - Allende and 'communist' followers revolt against life under hard conservatives -overthrow and his suicide under Pinochet; vehicle: the eyes of one rich boy MQuer (GREAT!), one poor AMateluna, friends coming of age; superior
thruout; sRBrodsky dAWood Sp.
05 MAD HOT BALLROOM - fun! fun! fun! documentary; American Ballroom Institute teaches NYC grammar school students ballroom dancing; great 'in passing' commentaries on poverty, intermarriage, socialization etc. pdMAgrelo pwASewell
05 MEMORY OF A KILLER (THE) - superior-craftsmanship thriller; professional killer JDecleir precipitously undergoing Altzheimer's concentrates enough to 'off' child-prostitution ring with ties to leading politician; bJGeeraerts dEVanLooy
05 MONDOVINO - a broad look at civilization thru 'wine war': 'terroir' or its 'insignificance', 'tradition' vs 'technology' production, 'consultants', authorities, capitalism and big business; wdJNossiter
05 MURDERBALL - documentary covers various quadriplegic life aspects thru rugby games played on specially designed wheelchairs: illness, accidents, rehabilitation, mentality et cetera; excellent and educating thruout; dHARubin/DAShapiro
05 NAKED IN ASHES - PFouce's roving camera follows teenager's initiation by India's Yogis into 'philosophy-babbling' as they prepare for an every-12-year Kumbh Mela 'abluting river ceremony' -interesting nuttery
05 NEVER BEEN THAWED - uproarious, over-the-top satire on born-agains, punk rock, sex and whatever developed about (believe it) a social club of young men, women and their collectibles of various 'classical' frozen dinners that have
05 NOMI SONG - wdAHorn on German-born east-coast, mid-70s-early-80s, countertenor 'performance artist' Klaus Sperber (think 'Cabaret'/DBowie) whom AIDS got before success which may not really have existed anyhow;
05 OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND - documentary captures 'descent of average-American-mind actions and musings (82nd Airborne squad) into the banality of war' during constrained, dangerously early occupation of Fallouja; dGScott/IOlds
05 OIL FACTOR: BEHIND THE WAR ON TERROR - first-rate documentary on U.S.' decades-old 'oil geopolitics' now dangerously worsened by the Bush administration; exacerbated; talking heads -many excellent graphics; dGUngerman/ABrohy;
05 PURPLE BUTTERFLY - Jap (m)TNakamura and Chinese (f)ZZhuang lovers become opposing agents in 1928-37 Jap takeover of China -intrigue, murder, brutality preceding Rape of Nanking; great production marred by confusing flashbacks; wdLYe cWYu
05 REEL PARADISE - dpeSJames documents indy film-producer JPierson's experiment taking wife, 'blossoming' daughter and sharp, younger son into culturally disruptive, free film-showing on Catholic-biased Taveuni, Fiji; excellent thruout;
05 RIZE - documentary on 'krumping' form of African-primitive dancing developed following '92 and earlier LA riots -no great art, but excellent social commentary on much hopelessness in ghetto life; dDLaChapelle
05 ROBOTS - exceptionally good animation film -storyline and animation complexity; something for everyone; sDLindsay-Abaire/LGanz/BMandel dChrisWedge/CarlosSaldanha
05 ROCK SCHOOL - wannabe, would-be(?) 'rock star' Paul Green obsessively drives and harangues his private-school students to variable success; a slice-of-life personality study -the human condition; documentary by
05 RORY O'SHEA WAS HERE - dDO'Donnel manages to turn documentary material on the physically impaired into first-rate, 'life-affirming' film with touches of zaniness and unrequited love; sJCaine/CO'Reilly cPJRobertson eFParker; JMcAvoy
SRobertson RGarai BFricker; Irl.
05 SCHIZO - poverty and do-it-yourself capitalism in outskirts of once industrial Kazakh city defuncted by autonomy from Russia; fatherless, 15-yr-old ONussuppaev comes of age despite Mom 's petty-crook boyfriend ETabyschev; excellent 'near'
documentary; OLandina wdGOmarova cKKydryraliyev Kazakh
05 SEARCHING FOR THE WRONG-EYED JESUS - 'country boy' HCrews drives the backwoods of Flo. Vir. La. Ky. into this film essay -music, 'tales' and religion -GREAT Americana! some poigant, much hilarious; sSHaisman cdADouglas
05 SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL - following his book, UN General Romeo Dallaire (Canada) painfully revisits futility of trying to stem 1994 Rwandan massacres -abandoned by the UN -much reminiscence, some detail, but excellent nevertheless;
05 SHORT CUT TO NIRVANA: KUMBH MELA - voyeuristic roving camera-and-interviews (and JDerrida-like spiritual babble) on 2001 Indian 'ablution' festival-and-'carny-show' (30M people?) held every 12 yrs; critical lack of investigative
05 STALIN'S WIFE - documentary; chasing down 'was Nadezhda Alliluyev killed or did she suicide?' provides many sideviews and subtleties on principals and the Russian Revolution up to WWII; dSTsukerman
05 STATE OF MIND - Brit dDGordon documents training of one 11-yr-old and one 13-yr-old girl for 'Mass Games', a choreographed, stadium-whole, genuine work-of-art commemorating North Korean history -cultural masterpiece of indoctrination
05 STOLEN CHILDHOODS - straightforward documentary pokes nose into extensive child labor in many countries of the world -some discussion of underlying economics, various charitable agencies, and general absence of real governmental
05 SUNSET STORY - life and death documentary: 'two little old leftist' women, Finnish Unitarian ILloyd and 'soft' Jew LAlpert, in a Los Angeles, 'little old leftists' retirement home; dLGabbert
05 TAKE (THE) - an in-your-face documentary on labor fighting against bankrupting consequences of globalization and money loans (World Bank, International Monetary Fund) to Argentina; wNKlein d ALewis; Sp.
05 THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA - 'shaggy-dog, something for everyone' tale; border patrol BPepper accidently kills daTLJones' 'faithful hand' JCCedillo who (MacGuffin) was promised 'burial in Mex. on death' sGArriaga cCMenges
05 TRACKER - stripped-down, classic morality tale -superior thruout; 1922: 'ignorant black' DGulpilil is conscripted to help fanatic police GSweet track 'killer, ignorant black' NWilton, but 'things aren't what they seem they are';
wdFdeHeer cIJones eTNehme mGTardif; DGameau GPage; Aussie
05 UP AND DOWN - the future under question by cross-cutting among petty crooks, immigration, educated, proactive family and 'trying to make it' ex-felon JMachacek -wife NBurger in desperate need of a child; superior thruout; sPJarchovsky
cJMalir eVBaarakdJHrebeik; PForman EVasaryova JTriska ITimkova Czech;
05 VOICES IN WARTIME - premise: "Poetry is best literary medium of expression against the insanity of war"; documentary delivers informative talking-heads, horrific film clips and a lot of bad poetry; dRKing;
05 WALL (MUR) - so good, read the whole latimes review with comments and links in addition
05 WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL - documentary; would-be folksinger gone 'slacker' Mark Bittner adopts flock of wild, red-headed parrots with many, many human condition asides -ends up marrying pdeJudy Irving; excellent thruout;
05 YES - the apostasy of love among the too well-educated and successful -SNeill shags JAllen's girlfriend; she rediscovers love and 'integrity' with Lebanese surgeon/cook SAbkarian; greek chorus SHenderson et al in brilliant, shaky,
poetic-verse undertaking; wdSPotter
04 BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY - character study? -the existentiality of modern life? two girls collude to punish a third for mother's indiscretion, but AMMuhe knows something is really wrong with pure poison KHerfurth; superior
thruout; cROsin wdMvonHeland
04 BLIND SHAFT - wdpLYang's incredible, unexpectedly great modern Chinese employment/society/study drama turns on a routine scamming mine-owners by pair of coal-mining killers; bLQingbang cLYonghong
04 BLIND SWORDSMAN ZATOICHI - subdued, but fun! fun! fun! -blind swordsman/masseur ZATOICHI recast as YOJIMBO! -with rousing Busby Berkeley closer! wda'Beat'TakeshiKitano; Jap.
04 BUSH'S BRAIN - dJMealey/MPShoob argue (talking heads/media clips documentary) that Karl Rove is (title), but nature of title makes proof difficult -interesting nevertheless, and credible; bJCMoore/WSlater
04 CALLAS FOREVER - wdFZeffirelli 'what ifs' MCallas into coming out of retirement by filming Carmen and lip-synching earlier recording -awful story, screenplay and direction; GREAT FArdant carries the film; JIrons JPlowright
04 CARANDIRU - based on memoir of doctor DVarella (LCVasconcelos), wdHBabenco reconstructs conditions, violence, riot, massacre and shuttering of notorious prison along with vignettes of various criminals; excellent thruout; Braz.
04 CONTROL ROOM - low-key views of internal operations and various interviews establish relative objectivity (excellent thruout) of Qatar-based, news/TV "Al Jazeera" contradicting Bush, Rumsfeld et al accusations re Iraq; dJNoujaim;
04 CORPORATION - 14th Amendment reading creates 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and the right to make as much money as you can' as 'individual with natural rights and freedoms'; great interviews and film clips; sJBakan
04 CRIMINAL - (Nine Queens remake) DLuna 'understudies' with JCRiley in swindle of PMullen -a set-up for getting incredibly callous Riley arrested for litigating sister MGyllenhaal out of inheritance; great screenplay; great movie;
04 CRIMSON GOLD - 'gentle bear' (real-life schizoid HEmadeddin) wants present for fiancee; delivering pizza opens him to 'western wealth' influence in Iran ; he suicides following misbegotten jewelry store holdup; brilliant and contained
thruout; 'pdeJPanahi sAKiarostami; Farsi;
04 DAY AFTER TOMORROW - great, sappy fun! great FX! small change in Atlantic currents (due to global warming) triggers sudden collapse into an ice age (happily short-lived); dREmmerich DQuaid JGyllenhaal, IHolm ERossum SWard
04 DISTANT - job-seeking METoprak visits successful Istanbul photographer, village-cousin MOzdemir; they unintentionally violate each others 'lonerhood' -no jobs, he leaves; bleak, elegaic thruout; not for everyone; wpcdNBCeylan $100k;
Turk. [keyword 'mouse']
04 DIVAN - 'liberated', Fulbright Scholar dPGluck wants 'the couch the Rebbi slept on' in study chase-down of Hasidic roots in rural, pre-WWII Hungary; excellent documentary peek into that ritualized mentality, thinking and life;
04 DOG DAYS (HUNDSTAGE) - excruciatingly funny if (a ramble) you like having your face rubbed in existentially dystopian 'light' alienation, sex, insanity and cruelty unleashed by the blistering 'dog days' of summer; dUSeidl Austria
04 END OF THE CENTURY: STORY OF THE RAMONES - cutting-edge punk rockers -trials, tribulations, various replacements and others on the scene; excellent documentary; dMGramaglia/JFields
04 FAHRENHEIT 9/11 - muckraker dMMoore does what he does best on Dubya Bush et al -but he also brings out much information that never gets to the newspapers or TV -SHOULD BE SEEN BY EVERYONE
04 GARDEN STATE - sedated all his youth by Dad IHolm, Calif. TV actor (wdaZGraff) comes to NJ to bury Mom, discovers he's OK w/o drugs; sweet, little, late-coming-of-age debut w/ many great asides NPortman PSarsgaard
04 GOODBY LENIN - German wall comes down; 20's-ish DBruhl has to convince dedicated socialist Mom KSass coming out of coma that people streaming across border are W Germans adopting now successful GDR economics; generally, very funny;
dsWBecker sBLichtenberg; Ger.
04 GUERILLA: THE TAKING OF PATTY HEARST - "dRStone's documentary ... kidnapping of newspaper heiress by symbionese liberation army, creating a media frenzy in the 70s" LAT; excellent take on misguided, ignorant terrorism -many principals
04 HERO - great 'Chinese opera', war-and-swordplay take on legendary hero (JLi) wanting to assassinate the 3rd century BC dreaded king Qin who was unifying the various warring kingdoms of China; dZYimou
04 HIDING AND SEEKING - Holocaust-survivor, orthodox dMDaum takes Israeli, 'goyim-distancing' Hasidic sons on search for background Poles that saved wife's family (belated 'thanks' therein); another 'peek' into this fundmentalism;
04 HIJACKING CATASTROPHE: 9/11, FEAR AND THE SELLING OF AMERICAN EMPIRE - documents existence of conservative agenda on US hegemony in the world beginning with Bush Sr admin and the Mid-east; excellent thruout! dSJhally/JEarp nJBond
DEllsberg KKwiatkowski NChomsky NMailer
04 HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT [CLINTON] - excellent examination of 'deliberately down-played(?) plottings and endeavors to get Clinton' (see 'Orwell' below) -interviews, film clips et cetera; dHThomason/NPerry
204 IMELDA - first rate documentary on the 'Marcos and Imelda following him' dynasty in the Philipines -a broadside on 'aristocracy' investing ALL government in general, pdRSDiaz
04 KEYS TO THE HOUSE - delayed cesarian -mother dies; dad abandons baby; foster parent cousin drives KRStuart to find and take on (really) seriously disabled son ARossi; superior thruout -an education; bGPontiggia sdGAmelio
04 KINSEY - 'reasonable biographical' stages him and his real-life marriage (LLinney) and operations with just the Hollywood necessary to bring in the audience; dBCondon LNeeson (uneven?) PSarsgaard CO'Donnell THutton
04 KITCHEN STORIES - (MacGuffin) Swedish post-WWII study In Norway of kitchen efficiency becomes bittersweet tale of nature and search for companionship -here, male batchelor in particular; immensely funny; wdBHamer JCalmeyer TNorstrom;
04 KLEZMER ON FISH STREET - dYStrom's poorly organized and minor but still interesting documentary follows the (re)birth of klezmer music in Krakow Poland's Kazimiercz section's once large pre-WWII Jewish population;
04 LOVE SONG FOR BOBBY LONG - excellent 'Faulknerian southern decay and resurrection': accident makes english prof JTravolta a self-loathing squatter/drop-out -'biographer' ex-student GMacht a principal; 'difficult' SJohannessen inherits
house from dead, divorced mom -all 'learn something'; bRECapps wdSGabel
04 MAESTRO - LP's-'re-mix'-rock and dance, scenes and talking heads, from budding mid-60's thru mid-80's; mixed gay/black/hispanic, NY underground venues of eventual rave, break-dancing, punk-rock, rap etc; poorly organized but still good;
04 MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE - 1962 Korean War brainwashing film (which see) well recast as 'government take-over sci-fi' using chip-implanted humans; dJDemme LSchreiber DWashington MStreep JVoight
04 MEAN CREEK - things go wrong when people collude to 'teach one someone a lesson' -high-schoolers and a death here; difficult social material, excellent thruout; wd JAEstes FCulkin RKelley SMechlowicz TMorgan JPeck CSchroeder
04 MERCHANT OF VENICE - Shakespeare -excellent thruout -still very hard on 'Shylock as a Jew' APacino (terrific); sdMRadford cBDelhomme mJPook JIrons JFiennes LCollins ZRobinson
04 MUDGE BOY - wdMBurke's farmer RJenkins loses wife -his 'outsider' teenage son EHirsch, his mother; farmer-boy 'friends' lives and cruelty bring dad and son into desperately needed communion; son 'grows-up' (maybe); many painful human
04 MY ARCHITECT - essentially venerational documentary by Nathaniel Kahn on his apostate, near-sociopathic architect father (early physical scarring, introversion and alienation -three women, 2 daughters too) -powerful architecture.
04 NAPOLEON DYNAMITE - dead-pan comedy fairytale on vignetted cruelties of highschool-related life turns nerd 'frog prince' JHeder (living with grandmother) and friends into heroes -great (sometimes painful) fun; JGries ARuell ERamirez
04 NOI - painfully bleak, 'mild' black comedy -brilliant -not for every one; late-teens, intelligent albino TLemarquis continues to withdraw as isolated Icelandic town-life crashes about him; sdDKari cRVidebaek TLGunnarsson EHansdottir
04 OASIS - out of jail for older bro's hit-and-run, socially troubled SKyung-gu seeks victim's family, finds love w/bright severely palsied niece MSo-ri -broadsides on outraged family, society; brilliant, superior thruout; wdLChang-dong
04 ORWELL ROLLS OVER IN HIS GRAVE - 'talking heads' "documentary looks at the influence of media conglomerates and politics on coverage of key issues today" (LAT) -TV primarily -excellent thruout; dRKPappas
04 OUTFOXED - first-rate documentary on the complete pervasion and control of Rupert Murdoch's news-media empire by his political biases; dRGreenwald
04 OVERNIGHT - 'legend in his own mind' rocker and wannabe film-producer TDuffy (Boondocks Saints) lands contract with Weinsteins -proceeds to fuck-it-up royally; friends wdTMontana/MBSmith document 'success' -great take on related
04 PASSION OF CHRIST(JCaviezel) - must be seen as 'an unrealistically cruel, folkart masterpiece of fundamentalist propaganda'; sBFitzgerald/sdMGibson cCDeschanel MMorgenstern MBellucci MSbragia HNShopov
04 PRISONER OF PARADISE - documentary on WWII Jewish theater intertainer Hans Gueron 'saved' by Nazis to photograph 'great Jewish life' in Theresienstadt (later become death camp) -later killed at Auschwitz; Ger.
04 RECKONING (THE) - fun! fun! fun! medieval pot-boiler: fall, redemption, death of priest PBettany: traveling actors (WDafoe GMcKee), serial murders/pederasty (lord VCassel), plague, deaf-mute innocence, village uprising; bBUnsworh wMMills
04 RED TROUSERS - excellent documentary; dRShou uses skeleton plot/film to show 'how the Hong Kong stuntmen do it' (really scary!); various asides/interviews: Chinese opera as forerunner; martial arts crossovers etc.
04 RETURN (THE) - mysteriously dreamy/surreal film; 'lost' dad KLavronenko returns, takes sons on isolated fishing trip; the two sons 'come of age' following his accidental death with balky, rejecting son IDobronravov; dAZvyagintsev VGarin;
04 RIDING GIANTS - a history of surfboarding from its Hawaian 1850's observation by Capt Cook to present jet-ski towing out to 'breaking walls of water' for the giants; great interviews and film clips; wdSPeralta
04 SAVED - 'highschool kids' film that more than 'nicely' takes aim at fundamentalist Christian religion and 'born again's; a great film impossible of retake, remake or sequel; wdBDannelly wMUrban JMalone MMoore MCulkin EAmurri MDonavan
04 SEAGULL'S LAUGHTER - 'glamourous' American war bride returns to family of women in small Icelandic fishing town after husband 'dies' -the new one here too, then? -hugely funny, uniquely ethnic; bKMBaldursdottir wdAGudmundsson;
04 SINCE OTAR LEFT - Georgian son dies in Paris; middle-age daughter NKhomassouridze and granddaughter DDroukarova keep son 'alive' for doting, old mother EGoridin -powerful -excellent thruout; sdJBertucelli cCPollock; Fr./Grg.
04 STANDER - 1st-rate docudrama; S. African detective AStander (TJane) revolts against apartheid after killing one Black by becoming successful bank-robber; dies following police chase for running stop sign in FLA; dBHughes DFletcher
DPO'hara DKUnger MWeyers
04 STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL - camel mother rejecting and finally accepting her first colt is basis of excellent documentary on sheep-and-camel raising family/clan in southern Mongolian desert; dLFalorni/BDavaa
04 SUPERSIZE ME - dMSpurlock laces great 30-day 'eating nothing but McDonald's' with talking heads and details of nefarious salesmanship, lobbying, malnourishment, addiction and American free-enterprise, capitalism in general; made for $65k and
04 TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE - saves the world from Korean president; raucous, dirty-mouth fun! fun! fun! -every TV and 'pop' action film cliche and stereotype possible done with puppets;
04 TIBET: CRY OF THE SNOW LION - a documentary of poor chronological organization, but still worth seeing -here, the better-knowing Chinese imposing their better communism upon their 'evolutionary lesser' Tibetans between the 1950s and the
04 TOM DOWD AND THE LANGUAGE OF MUSIC - excellent documentary on 'nuclear physicist turned sound engineer' and how he and his ground-breaking multi-tracking was critical to most music recording today -many, many artists; dMMooreman;
04 TOUCHING THE VOID - excellent docudrama needs editting -bJSimpson and SYates legendary climb up Peru's Siula Grande; accident isolates leg-broken Simpson into harrowing survival; dkMacDonald BMackey NAaron
04 UNCOVERED: THE WAR ON IRAQ - talking-head principals with great details and analysis to the 'information' Bush et al used for the war in Iraq; excellent thruout; dRGreenwald
04 UNTOLD SCANDAL - 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' done like-period, beginning 1800's Korea; excellent class study becomes a tad boring; sdEJ-yong cKByung-il BYong-jun LMi-sook JDo-yeon CHyeon-jae LSoh-yeon
04 VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT - 'classical epic' European film-making; 'insanity of war' (WWI, here) exposited thru daringly convoluted romance as lame ATautou searches/finds teenage love GUlliel; bSJaprisot sGLaurent dJPJeunet cBDelbonnel; Fr.
04 VODKA LEMON - interconnected vignettes centered on unemployment and poverty in a small Armenian town; 'achingly funny', excellent thruout; wdHSaleem cCPollock mMKorb RAvinian lSarkissian IFranek RMesropyan; Armenian/Russ/Kurd
04 WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH - 700 AD, retiring warrior JKiichi must capture deserter JWeng (guards Silk Road caravans rather than kill innocents -Buddha reliquary here) -bandit hordes, Turkish army etc -Great 'American Western' Epic;
Ch. dsHPing cZFei mARRahman
04 WITH DELIBERATE SPEED - excellent documentary covering events leading to 'Brown vs The Board Of Education' overriding "separate but equal" -its failure with the words "with all deliberate speed"; pdcPGilbert
04 ZELARY - WWII resistance uncovered, Czech med student AGeislerova goes underground -marries remote-village older millworker GCserhalmi -learns to love him, but he is shot and dies at the end of war; excellent thruout; dOTrojan
03 AMANDLA - dLHirsch documents evolution and much of the ground-swell music and mounting revolt that ended South African apartheid -interviews with many activists and some 'perhaps unrepentant Whitey's(?); great, even if not enough
03 AND NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMEN - excellently subplotted/executed -the eventual romance in Morocco between loner/dreamer-jewel-thief-with-brain-tumor JIrons and blacking-out, between-loves cabaret singer PKaas; sdCLeLouche CCardinale
03 ASSASSINATION TANGO - retired hit-man wdRDuvall is nudged into job on some Mr Big in Argentina; details-obscured film is a vehicle for some great situations, dialog, dancing and intelligent fun; RBlades LPedraza KBaker
03 BALLAD OF BERING STRAIT - formally trained Russian music students stung by 'blue-grass and country' come to 'make it' in the US -good documentary on generic music, difficulties and failings, but great musicianship! pdNGildenSeavey
03 BALSERO ('rafter') - 6-year documentary follows lives of several Cubans boating to the US in 1994 -wrenching culture shock, failed hopes, some 'success' etc; no finger-pointing; superior thruout; sCBosch/DTrueba dCBosch/JMDomenech
03 BETTER LUCK TOMORROW - crude but unique sub-culture drama covers not at all uncommon easy success of SoCal Asian-American high-school students and sometime transition into serious crime and murder; dJLin
03 BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY - Hitler-and-company's bunker operations as well-remembered by Traudl Junge, one of his personal secretaries from 1943 -last days in particular -excellent, riveting thruout; dAHeller/OSchmiderer
03 BOLIVIA - brilliant, best-contained film seen in years sub-documentary targets SAmerican unemployment/poverty as leading to death of Bolivian illegal cook FFlores in Argentina; wdIACaetano RSanchez IBertea ELiporace MVidela (B/W) Sp.
03 BUBBA HOTEP - great, raunchy fun stuff! fallen off stage 'Elvis impersonator' BCampbell in convalescent home (20 yrs!) takes on Egyptian mummy that's been surviving there by eating the souls of patients; wdDCoscarelli ODavis EJoyce
03 BUS 174 - documentary with extensive footage covers bus passengers taken hostage (July, 2000) by grown up street kid in Rio; heavy-duty broadside on poverty, abandoned children, the prison system etc -incredible cruelty of 'the common
man'; dJPadilha; Brazil
03 CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS - not to be missed; broad, thorough and clinical documentary film chronicles how 'perhaps sexual mismarriage' in turn-of-the-century immigrant family widely pervaded its next generation; dAJarecki
03 CARNAGE - incredibly sophisticated -not for everyone: 'alienation and the ineluctable connectedness of the human condition' -vehicle: painfully impersonal bull-fighting (JLescarret) and 'where parts of the maligned animal go'; wdDGleize
cCFournier CMastroianni AMolina; Fr/Sp;
03 CHAOS - couple happens upon beating of Parisian prostitute; crime thriller becomes major broadside on modern life thru the lot/shortcomings of French-Algerian culture; brilliant thruout! wdCSerreau cJFRobin eCRenault mLNavarre VLindon
RBrakni LRenaud AWiik
03 CITY OF GHOSTS - stylish, fast-moving cross-double-cross set interestingly in Cambodia; 'moral' wdMDillon chases down still-scamming, early-apostate father JCaan who 'taught him the business' -finds love with NMcElhone; SSkarsgaard
03 CITY OF GOD - new-housing Rio suburb taken over by drug dealers and youth gangs is overwhelming taste of 'civilization's violent breakdown to come'; non-professional cast; bPLins sBMantovani cCCharlone dFMeirelles/KLund eDRezende;
03 CITY OF NO LIMITS - modern family mystery develops around dying old man -a multi-layered story about youth and profound politics, love and jealousy -a masterpiece work of art thruout; sEBraso sdAHernandez cUMendia mVReyes; LSbaraglia
FFGomez GChaplin; Sp.
03 COOLER (THE) - 1st-rate fairy-tale romance; casino mgr ABaldwin 'cools' winning streaks with WHMacy's really bad luck; 'educated mafia' pressure brings him and 'loser' cocktail waitress MBello to find each other -upset the whole;
dWKramer sFHannah/WKramer cJWhitaker
03 CUCKOO - brilliantly light 'uselessness of war'; chained-in-place Finnish sniper VHaapasalo, 'treasonous' Russian captain VBychkov and wife of conscripted Lapp AKJuuso are stuck together over winter -none understanding another,
03 DIE MOMMIE DIE - high camp fun -not for everyone; excellently done, over-the-top put-on of 40-50's 'churning women's dramas' films; saCBusch dMRucker FConroy PBHall NLyonne JPriestley sSands
03 DIRTY PRETTY THINGS - excellent thriller thruout: illegal immigrants selling their body parts in London, with asides on their lot in general: Nigerian doctor CEjiofor is taxi driver, nightclerk; ATautou a Turkish girl; dSFrears SLopez
SOkonedo BWong ZBuric
03 DIVINE INTERVENTION - subtle, increasingly black political humor on life in Israel thru 'vignettes of absurdity' -excellently 'human condition' funny, but painfully grim and for everyone; wdESuleiman MKhader; in Arabic and Israeli
03 DRACULA -PAGES FROM A VIRGIN'S DIARY - dGMaddin transforms a 'silent film version' of MGodden's Dracula for Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet into high film art -not for everyone: classical ballet, GMahler, you name it!
03 ETOILE: DANCERS OF THE PARIS OPERA BALLET - behind the scenes workouts and in-depth interviews -profound demands on life committments and life-style; just great interviews and great dancing! scdNTavernier cNdLeRigoleur eFRicard; Fr.
03 FELLINI: I'M A BORN LIAR - interviews with Fellini ICalvo TStamp DSutherland and others identify him as difficultly and idiosycratically improvisational -films, good or bad; material is thin -better not available? dDPettigrew ; Ital.
03 FIDEL - excellent historical documentary thruout; interviews, film segments et cetera; biased perhaps, but (scientifically qualified opinion) Fidel is closer to where our genetics are headed than capitalism and other religious
03 FOG OF WAR, THE - dEMorris 'film footage's Robert McNamara on his experiences/views: Berkeley, Harvard education/presidency, WWII service, Ford Motors presidency, Cuban Crisis, Vietnam War Sec of Def etc; excellent thruout;
03 GIRL FROM PARIS, THE - excellent 'human relationships' story; single MSeigner chases her dream, gives up programming, takes classes, buys isolated goat farm from retiring, sour old MSerrault; wdCCarion PRoussillon FPierrot FBette;
03 GIRL WITH A PEARL EARING - great overall production; weak screenplay; poor direction (PWebber); docudrama on bTChevalier's how Dutch JVermeer's famous painting came to be; an evening's entertainment; SJohansson CFirth
03 HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT - slow 1st half follows student ATautou's insane love for doctor DLeBihan and his 'failing' her -2nd half, fun! fun! fun! what really happened, and her crimes and 'recovery' from insanity;
03 HEROD'S LAW (LA LEY DE HERODES) - satire-by-extremism; Mexico's long-time ruling, corrupt PRI installs innocent DALcazar as small town mayor to quell native complaints; he 'learns' to become party leader; DLEstrada LHuijara PArmendariz
dCasanova JCColumbo ACox
03 HORNS AND HALOS - documentary: St Martin's press drops its commission of 'junk' biographer/ex-felon JHatfield unearthing Dubya Bush coverups etc; 'Soft Skull' press (SHicks) picks it up; lawsuits follow; writer suicides; pdSHawley/MGalinsky
03 HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG - terrific potboiler! ex secret police Colonel BKingsley buys 'in-arrears' house from depressed ex-druggee JConnelly; deputy sheriff REldard adds his fuck-up too; bADubusIII; sSLOtto dVPerelman eLZChurgin;
03 I CAPTURE THE CASTLE - an adult, coming-of-marriageable-age film; one-shot British novelist HThomas accidentally kills wife, does time, rents small castle to recover; goes poor; daughter RByrne schemes to marry owner MBlucas to 'save'
family; other daughter RGarai 'diaries' the whole; bDSmith dTFywell BNighy TFitzgerald; Br.
03 IDENTITY - psychological thriller; GREAT FUN! 10 people are marooned in motel and killed one by one over a dark, stormy night -in the split personality mind of young JCusack, old PTVince; dJMangold RLiotta APeet AMolina JCMcGinley
03 IN MY SKIN (Dans Ma Peau) - incredibly well-crafted, near clinically voyeuristic(?) take on woman under seeming work stress spiraling into insanity under self-mutilation toggeled by an accident; wda Marina deVan, LLucas; Fr
03 IN THIS WORLD - wdMWinterbottom creates 'real documentary' by trekking a mid-20's man and a mid-teens boy (Afghanis) overland from Pakistan into 'making it' in London; excellent thruout, but 'difficulties' seen before; offensively
incongruous 'Western' music thruout.
03 JAPON - artist crushed by civilization AFerretis escapes to primitive backwoods of youth to kill self -finds 'untouched' life 'more of same'; brilliant, 'rub your nose in it' tone poem: love, death, sex, god, you-name-it -not for
everyone; dCReygadas MFlores; Mex.
03 LAWLESS HEART - funeral get-together on the Isle of Man: brilliant screenplay/direction develops complex personalities/interrelationships in multiply-crosscutting flashbacks; dTHunsinger BNighy THollander DHenshall CCelarie; Br.
03 L'CHAYIM, COMRAD STALIN - film chronicles eventual loss of culture et cetera following formation of Jewish Autonomous Region Birobidzhan in far-eastern Siberia as Stalin's 1928 solution to (premised) 'jewish problem'; not well done, but
03 LOST BOYS OF SUDAN - documentary follows Dinka-tribe teenage boys orphaned (late 80's) by 30 yrs Sudanese civil war as they are educated into US ways by various Christian-based orgs; a depressing sprawl of intellectual and 'other'
03 LOST IN TRANSLATION - excellent sweet/sour, touch-and-gone 'almost love-story' between middle-age 'Hlywd film star' BMurray doing Suntory ad shoot and early 20s-ish philosophy grad SJohansson (hubby GRibisi on assignment), both
intellectually/ethnically adrift in a 'neon' Tokyo; sdSCoppola
03 MADAME SATAN - excellent thruout, labor-of-love drama-doc on furiously idiosyncratic Brazilian bisexual, pimp/hooker, felon, eventually successful entertainer Joao Francisco dos Santos (LRamos); wdKAinouz MCartaxo, FBauraqui FMarques
03 MAGDALENE SISTERS, THE - dramatization of 1964-67 years of three 'shameful and bad' girls in an Irish, Catholic asylum that (penance) did laundry for profit; excellent thruout -unrelentingly austere; wdPMullan GMcEwan AMDuff NJNoone
03 MANITO - excellent thruout! deep NY latin-american setting of 'family NOT making it in America' could easily serve broad study material for 'idiomatics and what's wrong with modern man'; wdEEason cDGertsch eKHenry mSWilson FrankyG
03 MAN ON THE TRAIN - dour fairy-tale; in town for bankrobbery, 'lifestyle-sexy' loner JHallady, finds keep with 'cloistered' teacher JRochefort; 'dream' of each desiring the others life ends badly for both; excellent thruout despite awful
color-toning; dPLeConte Fr.
03 MAN WITHOUT A PAST - welder MTeltola left for dead by thugs miraculously recovers -memory too, by the end of this absurdist, surreal fairytale/lovestory with background on Finnish downtrodden and government; low-key-humor -not for
everyone; KOutinen JNiemela
03 MAROONED IN IRAQ - near 'cultural documentary'; crude, humorous 1st half: Kurd musician drags two grown musician sons across Iran/Iraq border to look for alienated wife; 2nd half: examples of Saddam Hussein's Kurd policy and '91 war
03 MONDAYS IN THE SUN - shipyard folds under globalization; laid-off workers become drinking-buddy unemployables -a sensitive, multifaceted downer -excellent thruout; wdFLdeAranoa JBardem LTosar JAEgido NdeMedina; Sp.
03 MY FLESH AND BLOOD - Jonathan Karsh (cAMmicheli eEOlsson) films Susan Tom's foster parenting of physically, mentally or genetically disabled children -with affects on in her own family; superior documentary should be seen by everyone
03 NICHOLAS NICKLEBY - excellent production of Charles Dickens classic; not for everyone: you either like this sort of thing or you don't; sdDMcGrath CHunnam CPlummer JBell NLane ACumming JBroadbent TCourtney RGarai DEEverage
03 NOWHERE IN AFRICA - Jewish lawyer flees Nazism; 'aristocratic' wife, daughter join him in Kenya and 'grow up'; 'heart-warming native life contacts'; they return to Nazi trials; Disney-level thruout; wdCLink JKohler MNinjdze SOnyulo;
03 OPEN RANGE - great, classical 30s-50s 'American Western' with modern film sophistication -good guys, bad guys, 'freedom', 'the big shoot-out' et cetera in the 1886(?) still opening new West; daKCostner RDuvall ABenning ABenrubi MGambon
03 PORN THEATRE - educational and human in best possible sense; wdaJNolot brilliantly and sociologically 'documents' one day-time's activities (male) in a French porn theater -cashier Vittoria Scognamiglio worth the price
alone; SViala; Fr.
03 RETURNER - great fun stuff; 'good' extraterrestrial crash-lands on earth 2002, but is 'compromised' by REALLY EVIL crime boss; girl returns from 2084 to save ET and the then world with help of matrix-type crime-buster; dTYamazaki
03 REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED - Venezuelan army seizes President Hugo Chavez -U.S. 'urging', low-key American press; Presidential Guard re-installs him 24 hours later by overwhelming public demand; excellent thruout;
03 RUNAWAY JURY - excellently crafted thriller (weak ending); opposite idealistic DHoffman, efficiently dystopian gun-makers' lawyer GHackman is permanently scammed by axe-grinding jury-insiders JCusack/RWeisz; bJGrisham dGFleder
03 RUSSIAN ARK - brilliant contrivance/execution: one 90-minute Steadicam take as 'modern curiosity taken on walk thru 19th century Czarist St Petersburg's Hermitage' by historian/critic Marquis de Custine; wdASokurov cTButtner mMGlinka
03 SANDSTORM - excellently broad dramatization of life in India based on circumstances surrounding the rape of 'untouchable' NDas by village 'Brahmins' to teach her a lesson for being an uppity activist; wdeJogmohan; Hindi
03 SEABISCUIT - following WWI depression, the late '30s resurrection of national hope thru the rousing, essentially true-to-life story by LHildebrand of 'the little racehorse that could'; excellent thruout! sdGRoss TMaguire JBridges CCooper
EBanks GStevens WHMacy.
03 SENORITA EXTRAVIADA - documentary points up the primitivity of (only local?) Mexican government, constituency and police by profiling the families, habits and killings of over 230 young, primarily maquilodora workers in Ciudad
Juarez since the 90's; pdLPortillo
03 SHATTERED GLASS - dBillyRay 'docudramatizes' Stephen Glass' (HChristensen) 'creative journalism' as a reporter on The New Republic magazine -excellent evening's entertainment thruout; PSarsgaard CSevigny
03 SHORTS PROGRAM, THE 2003 ACADEMY AWARD-NOMINATED LIVE ACTION AND ANIMATED - no way to identify it; just see it!
03 SO CLOSE - an assassin sister-pair working for evil business empire turns against crime -eventually working with woman detective; uneven, but some great clever/sappy fun and chinese opera/martial arts; dCoryYuen; Chin.
03 SON, THE - brilliant, heavily internal, not for everyone; insular, divorced woodshop teacher OGourmet takes on released prisoner student MMarinne that killed his child; subdued rage evolves into forgiveness of ignorantly youthful error;
03 SPELLBOUND - excellent documentary! -just great fun AND EDUCATION! -spelling bees (here, '99) identify the value of knowledge -also highlight (indirectly) the uselessness of ethnic and religious differences; dcJBlitz
03 STATEMENT (THE) - good 'chase' mystery/thriller; WWII Catholic, French, anti-communist zealot pair kill 7 Jews; MCaine is now to be offed by the other now high mucky-muck who needs to save self from law; dNJewison JNortham TSwinton
03 STEP INTO LIQUID - film documents totally awesome surfing in several of the great places around the world including even Shebogan Wisconsin and Galveston Texas; sdDanaBrown.
03 STEVIE - 'human condition' painfully thorough thruout documented by "Big Brother" dSJames: 'peculiar child' rejection, stepparents, foster homes, sexual molestation, religion, palsy, Aryan Bros, prison -you name it-
03 STOKED - documentary broadside on society segment turns on 80's skateboarding phenom; Mark "Gator" Ragosky is exploited by industry -'success,' drugs et cetera, jail: 'has-been rebel' eventually kills a girl; dHStickler
03 SWEET SIXTEEN - wdKLoach does 'social documentary in Glasgow petty-crime' again: 'belief in (unwilling) Mom' drives 15-year old 'saving' son MCompston to drug peddling and murder: he kills her boy-friend of preferred criminal life; AMFulton;
03 TATTOO - excellent thriller thruout; slacker police grad ADiehl is conscripted to help older detective CRedl solve murder the dark core of which is a gallery owner NBrennicke trading in masterpiece Japanese tattoos 'however obtained';
03 TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE - really great, sophisticated animation thruout! mafia kidnaps boy that little old club-foot grandma raised to be bicycle-racing champion; she, his dog and weird, old music-hall trio save him; wdSChomet mBCharest
03 TUPAC RESURRECTION - Tupac Shakur excellently indicts entire rap movement (and American capitalism) with ignorance, arrogance, early fame and wealth, but also see Nick Broomfield's BIGGIE AND TUPAC; dLLazin
03 28 DAYS LATER - dDBoyle at least 'one-ups' dGRomero's Night Of The Living Dead; 'animal rights'ists release chimps -and virus which induces a killing rage in 30 secs -'Is everyone really dead!?' sAGarland CMurphy nHarris, CEccleston
03 UNDER THE SKIN OF THE CITY - drama excellently captures complexities of life in Tehran under 'democratic theocracy' thru working-class family slice-of-life -none of it nice; dRBani-Etemad; Farsi
03 VENUS BOYZ - documentary directed by Gabriel Bauer -not for everyone: extensive in-depth interviews on cross-dressing, 'drag kings' and intersex; -see (The) Etiology of Homosexuality and Divorce and ...
03 WHAT ALICE FOUND - excellent thruout; EGrace steals day's deposits to chase college dream; older trailer park couple (JIvey BRaymond) 'servicing' truckers bring her to discovering her own adult self-capability;
03 WINGED MIGRATION - singularly spectacular, in-flight cinematography on various bird migrations with some barbed asides on environmentalism and econiche sensitivity; some excellent music, some really sappy; wdJPerrin et al
02 ABOUT A BOY - just a lot of good clean, intelligent fun; Christmas carol inheritance beneficiary 'slacker/womanizer' HGrant becomes 'humanized' by his supersharp, unintended 'ward' NHoult; bNHornsby sdWeitz Bros. TCollete RWeisz
02 ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU - coming-of-age cruelty, indifference, angst among Japanese well-to-do in and about school and vacation -indirect broadside on modern idiom and consumerism; sometimes crude, but excellent nevertheless; 1 1/2 hrs; not
for everyone; wdSIwai cNShinoda mTShinoda; Jap
02 ALL OR NOTHING - wdMLeigh goes overkill with his Brit underclass stereotypes -here, the work-a-day lives of three 'Great Unwashed' families -grown children living with them; ending goes really soggy;
02 BACKYARD, THE - Americana documentary; generally bored and/or socially disaffected small-town teenagers engage 'TV-style' wrestling with unbelievable sadism, masochism: glass, barbed-wire, fire etc -adult approval: "They could be doing
02 BARAN - grueling tale of misery, poverty and 'coming of age' love between Afghan girl returning home following Taliban defeat of Russians and Iranian boy; excellent thruout; never lets up; wdMMajidi cMDavudi mAPejman; Farsi
02 BELOW - new twist, great, gripping fun! WWII US sub officers kill captain after mistakenly sinking Brit hospital ship in 50-ish thriller/murder mystery with hint of supernatural: wDAronofsky/LSussman dDTwohy BGreenwood OWilliams (the
02 BIGGIE AND TUPAC - dNBroomfield's excellent background,-situation-and-principals documentary in deaths of rappers Christopher (Notorious B.I.G. - 'Biggie') Wallace and Tupac Shakur; 'Suge' Knight, LAPD, body guards, Snoop Doggy-dog
02 BIRTHDAY GIRL - Russian prostitute NKidman and friends (VCassel, MKassovitz) scam unsuspecting males -here, 'potential wife' falls in love with victim British bankclerk BChaplin and both run off with the scammings; excellent! fun! fun!
02 BLOODY SUNDAY - brilliant 'eyewitness' docudrama; Brit troops open fire on unarmed civil rights marchers -Derry N.Ireland Jan 30 '72; 27 hit, 5 shot in the back, 14 dead; bDMullan: Eyewitness Bloody Sunday; wdPGreengrass JNesbitt
TPigott-Smith NFarrell GMcSorley KKClarke cIStrasburg eCDouglas
02 BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE - wdpMMoore uses Columbine massacre as jumping-off point for rollicking, in-your-face muckraking targeting paranoic, gun-culture America -the NRA, Charlton Heston, Dick Clark, 'Dubya' et al, Lockheed, Allende,
Nicaragua, Walmart -you name it!
02 CHICAGO - BobFosse's stage musical excellent production thruout; FUN! FUN! FUN! dRMarshall sBillCondon/MDWatkins mJKander lFEbb cDBeebe -CZeta-Jones is great! RGere RZellweger
02 COCKETTES, THE; - documentary; rise (in San Francisco) and fall (New York) of drugged-out drag queens (some female groupies) as late 60's, early 70's wild-ass theatrical group; great fun! dBWeber/DWeissman
02 DAS EXPERIMENT - 14-day experiment on how selected 'common' men might react as prisoners and their guards goes wildly awry as guards take over the experiment; excellently crafted thruout bMGiordano dOHirschbiegel MBleibtreu ASawatzki;
02 DAUGHTER FROM DANANG (Heidi Bub) - college-educated, 'Operation Babylift' Vietnam/GI child (1975) adopted by cold, southern, single mom who lives thru her finds birth mother (and family) to profound culture shock -one-of-a-kind 'human
condition aperture'; $350,000; codirectors/GDolgin/VFranco;
02 DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS - then-and-now documentary on core-group, Santa-Monica-Bay-based 1950-70's progenitor surfboarders and their skateboarder follow-ups as school and society outlaws; excellent piece of social history; wpCStecyk
02 ELLING - drunken mother product SNordin and mama's boy product PCEllefsen (counterparts) are released from nuttery to assist each other finding way back into society; tearingly funny; excellent thruout; bIAmbjornsen sAHellstenius
02 FAR FROM HEAVEN - not for every one -archetype genre lesson thruout on overcooked, pot-boiler '50's slice-of-life movie/radio respected-family-with-kids/romance material: innocence, homosexuality, racism; dTHaynes JMoore DQuaid
02 FAST RUNNER, THE (ATANARJUAT) - Inuit (Arctic) legend made into crude but great, cultural-epic (3-hr) film: primitive love, death, hate, murder, spells, chase, forgiveness etc; cNCohn dAKunuk;
02 GANGSTER NO. 1 - fun! fun! fun! -the horrific rise (and rise) of over-the-top, pathologically brutal British gangster PBettany (terrific!); great production thruout literally crashes the last 10 minutes; dPMcGuigan MMcDowell DThewlis
02 GOOD GIRL, THE - variation on Flaubert's Madame Bovary as perhaps realized ('idiom' today) in the mind of Salinger's Holden Caulfield (Catcher In The Rye); funny, dour, daring -brilliant thruout! dMArteta saMWhite eJBetancourt JAniston
02 HOURS, THE - bMCunningham's 'flash-forward, real life' contrivance on (NKidman) bVWoolf's Mrs Dalloway; good general production (sDHare cSMcGarvey ePBoyle) overwhelms shaky early direction (SDaldry) and intrusively portentous
PGlass music; MStreep JMoore DQuaid
02 HOW I KILLED MY FATHER - idealistic dad MBouquet abandons wife & 2 baby-boys for post-WWII service in Africa; his reappearance nuances scarring of sons -pathologically guarded 'doctor to the wealthy' CBerling and diffident 'gofer' brother
SGuillon ; great character study; not for everyone; sJFieschi/sdAFontaine cJMFabre eGLecorne NRegnier; Fr.
02 IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST - farcical relationships and romances of 'turn of the century' well-to-do's with too much time on their hands -an Oscar Wilde stageplay of clever lines -excellent thruout; wdOParker CFirth REverett FO'Connor
02 INTACTO - sub-society dealing/gambling in 'innate luck' detective/sci-fi story -MvSydow the 'magister ludi' (why Jewish, WWII-surviving???); great, slick production thruout; wdJCFresnadillo cXGimenez LSbaraglia EPoncela MLopez; Sp.
02 INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN - 'confession' by JFK's killer RJBarry drags unemployed cameraman DHaggerty ever deeper into 'proof'; 'did he? -didn't he? -is he a liar? -crazy?' -great shaggy-dog construction thruout: camerman accidentally
kills killer! wdNBurger
02 ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS - charming DOGMA95 romantic comedy really works, lotsa fun! -various unattached singles variously meet, variously take common Italian language class together, end up in Venice; wdLScherfig; Denmark
02 IVANSXTC - 'posturing' beginning; crude edges, but body brilliant thruout -shattering ending! LTolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilyich (DHouston) cast as Hollywood filmmakers begins and ends with RWagner's Love-Death; sdBRose saLEnos PWeller
02 KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, THE; - self-indulgent, but still interesting documentary on Paramount Studios 'boy-prodigy' head ('59-'84) Robert Evans and life as Hollywood power (making 'new' but generally only so-so films -'Chinatown'
02 KOMEDIANT, THE - excellent documentary follows one Pesach'ke Burstein and his family on the journey of turn-of-the-century, mid-European Yiddish musical comedy to the Catskills and the Broadway musical; dAGoldfinger
02 LAGAAN, ONCE UPON A TIME IN INDIA - neither art nor craft, just a whomping 3 3/4 hours of EPIC great 'Bollywood' musical folk-opera fun! -drought-stricken farmers must win cricket game imposed by cruel English commandant (1893) to escape
taxes for three years -and rain comes too! wdAGowariker
02 LATE MARRIAGE - close family of Georgian Jews in Israel screws weak, 31-yr-old doctoral son in love with older divorcee with child into marrying for 'family, ethnicity, culture, tradition et cetera' -painful broadside -first-rate film;
02 LIFE AND DEBT - pdStephanieBlack's raging, but excellent short history of globalization in Jamaica under Western IMF and WTO -and that under 'American free-enterprise, capitalist democracy and cheap natural resources and labor'
02 LITTLE OTIK - Czech fairytale becomes sly commentary on modern life as tree root adopted as a child by childless couple becomes a ravenous monster-baby; excellently crude, simplistic, surreal etc -not for everyone; dJanSvankmajer
02 MAD LOVE (JUANA LA LOCA) - 'she means it and he sorta' consequences of true, arranged teen-age marriage of Ferdinand/Isabella's PLopez deAyala to hapsburg's DLiotti; soporific for some -still, excellent thruout; sdVAranda cPFemenia
02 MOSTLY MARTHA - German romance goes Italian style; up-tight, master chef MGedeck inherits dead sister's daughter and needs kitchen help too, goes up against hired Italian SCastellitto who wins everyone over; great thruout!
02 MURDEROUS MAIDS - palling, real-life tale; husband-abandoned wife's poverty commits children to maid service in 1933 France; Papin sisters' rage against overbearing class-differences isolation ends in murder; dJPDenis STestud
02 NINE QUEENS (Nueve Reinas) - LBredice and her boy-friend GPauls recover inheritance from her con-man brother RDarin thru a succession of con-men conning him in sale of 'rare stamps to Venezuelan under expulsion'; great, sophisticated
02 NAQOYQATSI - wdGReggio's uneven social crit theme 'fighting and war as a way of life' not as good as earlier 2 (Koyaanisqatsi excellent!) some excellent digital collages and graphics; PGlass music not as good either
02 PERSONAL VELOCITY - some great character study performances: high-school 'power thru sex' queen KSedgewick escapes violently abusive husband; cookbook editor PPosey frees self from prosaic husband on rediscovering capabilities and 'once
life'; aimless, bohemian FBalk discovers she 'really has a home' with Haitian who saved her.
02 PAULINE AND PAULETTE - an unbelievably well-crafted production misses nothing in a seriously demanding story of two Belgian sisters who must care for retarded third when the caring fourth dies; dwLDebrauwer sJBoon Dvan derGroen APetersen
02 PIANO TEACHER, THE - story disintegrates along with severely spinsterish, sex-obsessed piano professor IHuppert in intellectual soft-porn relationship with late-20's-ish engineer BMagimel; great performances and music; bEJelinek
02 PIANIST, THE - based on pianist bWladyslawSzpilman's experiences surviving Warsaw ghetto et cetera, film of perhaps greater historical importance works into first rate production; dRPolanski sRHarwookd cPEdelman eHdeLuze mWKilar ABrody
02 QUIET AMERICAN (THE) - superior thruout; 1952 Vietnam divesting self of French imperialism; Brit journalist MCaine finds 'moral compass' and 'tags' idealistic BFrazer as CIA agent of American intervention; sCHampton/RSchenkken bGGreene
cCDoyle dPNoyce DoHaiYen
02 RAIN - crudely elemental, palling production (awful music); daughter 'comes of age' during summer outing of marital failing/apathy, alcohol, infidelity and death; bKGunn wdCJeffs(debut) ABrowning SPeirse AFulford-Wierzbicki AMurphy;
02 READ MY LIPS (SUR MES LEVRES) - lip-reading (critical), lonely, office 'doormat' deaf woman EDevos and ex-petit-felon VCassels are caught up into using (and finding) each other in a robbery of robbers; excellently thruout developed
psycho-thriller; wdJdAudiard cMVadepied eJWelfing; Fr.
02 ROAD TO PERDITION - excellent thruout; 12-yr-old son THoechlin peeking-in on dad THanks as killer/enforcer for prohibition era boss PNewman becomes coming-of-age greek tragedy all around; graphic novel MACollins/RPRayner mTNewman sDSelf
cCLHall eJBilcock dSMendes JLaw sTucci DCraig
02 RUNTELDAT: MARTIN LAWRENCE LIVE - some really ignorant sexual cruelty; perhaps not as sophisticated as Richard Pryor Live, but nevertheless still intelligently if filthily funny in the best sense of the phrase.
02 SAFE CONDUCT (LAISSER PASSER) - docudrama homage to integrity of real French film principals (JDevaivre, JAurenche) and their resistance during WWII; complex, multiple-situation juggling excellent thruout; dBTavernier JGamblin
02 SCRATCH - ultimately overloading, but nevertheless a singular documentary on the mechanics and subtleties of 'scratch' as an instrument (record 'turntablist') in DJ/hip-hop history dDougPray
02 SECRET THINGS (Choses Secretes- Fr.) - MacGuffin: comeuppance for men's sexual tyranny; great Bunuelesque 'kinkies', miscues, "Wait! -there's more!"'s and irresolutions thruout; dJcBrisau SSeyvecou cRevel RMirmont FDelville
02 7 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER - documentary comprises film material and observations of various people with fortuitous film capability at time of Twin Towers disaster -heavy duty stuff you won't see on TV; dSRosenbaum;
02 SHANGHAI GHETTO - 20,000 Jews manage to escape and thrive as colony in Japanese-occupied Shanghai -eventually driven into ghetto; excellent film clips and stills -survivors interviewed: HJanklowicz, AKohn BGrebenschikoff;
02 SOMEBODY - 'cinema verite' plus on the profound difficulties typically attaching one's socio/psycho/sexual being; based on and incorporating relationships of principal actors; terrific, quantum-leap production thruout; saSBennett
02 STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN - performance, old film and interviews document Detroit and Funk Bros as well-spring of motown sound and more terrific songs than one can imagine -some eventual studio musicians, side-men of rock and
roll; bASlutsky dPJustman
02 TALK TO HER - wdPAlmodovar finally delivers! great classical-sense romantic, psychologically complex 'fairy tale' on love, loss, alienation, cruelties of chance etc; JCamara DGrandinetti LWatling RFlores GChaplin PBausche
02 TIME OUT - wdLCantet's masterpiece, studied 'squirmer' is not for everyone; fired, 'married, with kids' outsider (ARecoing) scams friends with faked 'corporate job move' -ends up returning to his 'the pathology of routine work'
02 TOSCA (the GPuccini opera) - excellent production thruout marred only by overplayed 'singing heads'; sdBJacquot cRWinding eLBarnier Tosca (AGheorghiu) Cavaradossi (RAlagna) Scarpia (RRaimondi) conductor APappano; sets SChauvelot
02 TOWN IS QUIET, THE - excellent, irritating 2 hrs 12 min defies abandon; intersecting lives of leftist dreamers and liars lost and beset in gritty Marseille ends as overwhelming downer; eBSasia sJLMilesi/dpsRGuediguian AAscaride
GMeylan JPDarroussin CBrucher AOgon
02 TREMBLING BEFORE GOD - Orthdox Jewish homosexuality irrelevant, dpSDuBowski's excellent documentary misses larger indictment of religious, ethnic and 'traditional' family/cultural ritual values as primary source of 'human condition'
02 TRIALS OF HENRY KISSINGER - documentary history of an apparently brilliant Machiavellian on world-stage of profoundly churning dynamics -much unclean, but hard to say what might have been if not for his 'juggling'; bCHitchens
02 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE - tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top docudrama'ed late '70s-'80s rise and fall of Manchester/punk-rock promoter Tony Wilson (SCoogan) -not for everyone; sFCBoyce RMuller dMWinterbottom; Br
02 VERY ANNIE MARY - grossly underrated, quirky fairytale/comedy/musical exceptionally good thruout; contest propels 'ugly duckling, old maid' RGriffith out of father JPryce's Welsh Village baker suppression; wdSSugarman
02 Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN - 'coming of age' film; the human condition with many little asides on the well-to-do on down in all Mexico today; too often, too gentle, but excellent thruout nevertheless; d(co-w)ACuaron(and bro) DLuna GGarciaBernal
01 AMELIE - romantic, quirky fairy-tale; shamelessly enthralling thruout; 'disconnected' girl ATautou finds her 'destiny' (romance too!) in surreptiously 'fixing things' for fellow 'personalities'; sGLaurant cBDelbonnel mYTiersen
01 AMORES PERROS ('Love Is A Bitch') - brilliant thruout! -failed 'avenging angel' EEchevarria 'mends' a human condition allegoried thru our treatment of dogs in three 'circumstantially' connected love stories; sGArriaga cRPrieto dAInarritu
GBernal VBauche GToledo AGuerro
01 ART OF AMALIA (THE) - a non-biographical tour thru the art of Amalia Rodrigues, the singer whose voice and interpretation almost alone took Portugal's small, heart-felt fado into an art-form that one cannot hear but cry.
01 BUBBLE BOY - a definitely 'amusing' comedy listed here primarily for arrested-teenage 'gross' and a breadth of tastelessness that it actually manages to supercede -eg TodBrowning's Freaks; dBHayes
01 CHUNHYUNG - film makes 'real' a classical Korean tale told -before an audience, by traditional story-teller; young lovers, separation, 'simple' attendants, evil governor, heroic return, spectacle! you name it! dIKTaek
01 CIRCLE (THE) - tour de force downer, searing indictment of severely male, Iranian fundamentalist theocracy; tales of six women with prison records, superfically linked; wdJafarPanahi; Farsi
01 DIVIDED WE FALL - small town, estated Jewish family is packed off to WWII camps; lone son escapes; plot twists squirreling him away by ex-employees makes brilliant fairy tale; bsPJarchovsky mABrenzina dJHrebejk BPolivka ASiskova JDusek
CKassai JKodet; Czech;
01 ENDURANCE - Ernest Shackleton abandons 1914 '1st Antarctica crossing' to save 27 pack-ice-marooned crew; first-rate documentary, harrowing thruout; bsCAlexander mMSmall dGButler cSSissel with original expedition footage by Frank Hurley;
01 FAITHLESS - disciple dLUllmann directs vintage IBergman overkill; excellent production on subtleties and wrenching consequences in variously married group-of-four's love and adultery; LEndre EJosephson KHenriksson THanzon
01 GLEANERS AND I, (THE) - dAVardas's interesting documentary on French (and European) traditional gleaning extending into junk resurrection as commentary on waste in modern civilization today
01 GHOST WORLD - coming-of-age film resolutely defies viewer at ever turn; graduating highschooler ThoraBirch (friend, SJohansson) downs everyone as 'dorks' -'grows up' in last few minutes of fairy-tale ending; DanielClowes(comic book) dTZwigoff
01 GOSFORD PARK - Sir(MGambon)'s 1932 weekend shoot is setting for his 'come-uppance' murder; excellent thruout: invitees and english mansion staff interaction: manners, mores, intrigue, gossip etc; sJFellowes dRAltman JNortham(Ivor
Novello!) EAtkins BBalaban ABates REGrant DJacobi KMacdonald COwen RPhillippe MSmith
01 HANNIBAL - just GREAT horror flick! -front 3/4 excellent 'European' style followed by 1/4 'American'; bTHarris ending changed; excellent nevertheless; dRScott AHopkins JMoore GOldman RLiottaGGianni FRFaison
01 HIMALAYA - geographically, geologically, ethnically and photographically interesting take on one high-mountain Nepal/Tibet village trade of salt for food; dEValli cEGuichard/JPMeurisse; native actors
01 IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE - not for everyone; excellent thruout, but too-long a take on languorous decay of unrequited love between new, next-apartment neighbors discovering their marrieds are having an affair; dWKar-wai TLChiu-wai MCheung
01 INTIMACY - non-sensationally 'human condition' film daringly and non-judgementally explores untouched aspects of elemental sex alone thru two characters of widely different alienations; sALTridivic/dPChereau KFox MRylance TSpall
AGalbraith PCalvario MFaithful
01 IRIS - British Iris Murdoch wrote profoundly literate novels as great philosophical pronouncements; generically romanticised bio ends with descent into Alzheimer's -excellent production nevertheless ($5M) dREyre JDench JBroadbent
01 JOURNEY TO THE SUN - Kurd befriends dark-skinned Turk mistaken for Kurd -is killed in riot; friend takes the body 'home' -the whole an unintentional(?) crashing downer on westernization of police-democracy Turkey; wdYUstaoglu
01 LA CIENAGA(-EGA) - wdLucretiaMartel's true 'cinema verite' defies film: 'invisible camera' invades wanton dissolution of fractured, aimless, estancia-wealthy, drone/burden family (The Swamp) for broadside on idiom/excesses of western
01 LANTANA - excellently crafted complex tale of marriage, sex, friendship, therapy, accidental death, misreads etc in group of people variously known/unknown to each other; sABovell dRLawrence ALaPaglia BHershey KArmstrong RBlake
01 LEGEND OF RITA, THE - docudrama follows WGermany's drop-out 'red' terrorist IngeViett; idealism mellows thru successive aliases under EGerm Stasi; all fails with the Berlin Wall; sWKohlhaase cAHofer dVSchlondorff BFeglau MWuttke NUhl ABeyer
01 LONG NIGHT'S JOURNEY INTO DAY - excellent; dFReid/DHoffmann document South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Black policeman Thapelo Mbelo, mixed-race activist RobertMcBride and murders of anti-apartheid American Amy
01 MAN WHO WASN'T THERE (THE) - sdCoenBros take genre 'escapes of small people from small lives' into many-layered 'human condition' maze; overkill ending very nearly obliterates brilliant production thruout; cRDeakins BBThornton FMcDormand
MBadalucco JGandolfini JPolito SJohansson
01 ME YOU THEM - left-at-alter earth-mother RCase marries loveless older LDuarte for security; his cousin SGarcia fathers another, moves in -ditto interant farmworker LVasconcelos; NE Brazilsugar-cane village poverty; low-key, earthy humor and
production excellent thruout; sSoarez dAWaddington
01 MOULIN ROUGE - doesn't always work, but still huge fun with some great songs and remarkable stagings evoking GeorgeMelies, 'Camille', BusbyBerkeley, Evita, 'Bollywood'; dBLuhrmann NKidman EMcGregor JBroadbent JLeguizamo RRoxburgh
01 NO MAN'S LAND - excellent thruout; three soldiers are caught between the lines in Bosnia; black humor on war, peace-keeping, newsreporting and ignorance turns on saving one lying on undefuseable mine -ends toweringly without
01 PANTS ON FIRE - excellent production thruout spent on a Modern Romance magazine-level story of two couples and their marital infidelities; wdRCollins CBaron HO'Reilly NMafin
01 PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR (THE) - 'bank robbery' vehicle for riveting but uneven tale of loss and alienation with weltschmerz overtones -too many contrivances? -'love'-story ending!? wdTTykwer cFGriebe FPotente BFurmann JKrol LRudolph
01 ROAD HOME (THE) - dZYimou's best; Chinese village school-teacher father dies away from home; 'city son' honors mother's request to walk body back per tradition; son recaps their primitively simple love story; ZZiyi ZHao
01 SERIES 7 - enormously funny broadside on TV-'survivor' in particular: contestants must kill each other -videocam following thruout; wdDMinahan cRDrummnond BSmith MarylouiseBurke GFitzgerald MKaycheck RVenture MWever
01 SONG FOR MARTIN (A) - excellent production thruout; non-TV-level love story about Alzheimer's (paradocumentary) that everyone should see -that biopics (see IRIS) can not deliver; dBAugust SWolter VSeldahl RBrynolfsson; Denmark
01 STARTUP.COM - great little documentary on the boom-and-crashed digital start-up phenomenon of 2000-1; govworks.com principals and friends Kaleil Tuzman Tom Herman; directors CHegedus, novice Jehane Noujaim (foot-in-door friend of Tuzman)
01 TAILOR OF PANAMA (THE) - great fun, great production thruout; exiled-to-panama MI-1 loser PBrosnan sets up loser-gone-tailor-to-power-suits GRush (performance!) in swindle of Brit government; sADavies bsJLecarre cPRousselot;
01 TAPE - over-the-top, but excellent little piece of dialog-and-stagecraft contrivance thruout; 'wastrel' EHawke maliciously precipitates exploding the wherefores and consequences of a high-school prom rape (RSLeonard UThurman) 10 years
earlier; sSBelber dRLinklater
01 THOMAS IN LOVE - excellently inventive and well-done, but not for everyone; psychiatrist and insurance company independently force 33-yr old agoraphobe to find love outside the futuristic system of his 8-year hermitage; sPBlasband
01 WHEN BRENDAN MET TRUDY - great, sappy fun; moody, film-struck, school-teacher PMcDonald finds burglar/girl FMontgomery -loses girl, finds girl; wonderful, asides -film, music, relationships et cetera; sRDoyle dKJWalsh cARowe
01 WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY - great fun! rich, psychopathic murderer reenters admired ex-schoolmate's harried 'married life with three children' to set it 'back on track'; Fr.
00 AIMEE AND JAGUAR - MASTERPIECE follows birth and consequences of deep love between newsp editor's daring, gay, Jewish asst MSchrader and soldier-at-war's, hungry-for-life mother-of-four JKohler -unraveling with Germany's WWII; bEFischer
00 AMERICAN PIMP - documentary by Hughes brothers with very narrow (big city) interviews; more interesting for what it doesn't say than does -that is, profound ignorance and indictment of society thruout.
00 AN EVERLASTING PEACE - seriously political comedy makes its point about 'the troubles' as insane aylum barbers Catholic wBMcEvoy and Protestant BFO'Byrne go 'hairpiece entrepreneurs'; dBLevinson AFriel CConvey BConnolly
00 A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES - Iranian wpdBGhobadi takes harsh, real-life situations in set-upon, 'outlaw' Kurdish-village survival-by-smuggling (Iran-Iraq) into unbelievably great filmmaking -debut to boot!
00 A TRIAL IN PRAGUE - wdZJustman's excellent documentary on Stalinist 'extirpation of dialectal defects'; 14 fundamentally idealistic 'true-believers in communism from early on' are found (1952) to be 'enemies of the state' -11 Jewish -and
00 BALLAD OF RAMBLIN' JACK - inflated, but still great labor of love (by daughter Aiyana) of Brooklyn-born (Elliott Adnopoz) renegade, 'real guitar-pickin', WGuthrie-acolyte/friend/successor/legend Jack Elliott
00 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE - worth seeing; broad, very near scatter-shot, dark, multiple-relationships comedy on the futility of ethnic warfare -centered (in England) on Bosnian conflict; excellent production supercedes script; wdJasminDisdar; Brit
00 BEAU TRAVAIL - dCDenis' Billy Budd is NOT FOR EVERYONE; Sgt (DLavant) feeds visceral threat to his austerely ritualized Fr Foreign Legion raisond'etre (Djibouti) by new recruit (GColin); elegaic thruout; MSubor MTDassa Fr.
00 BEST IN SHOW - just great fun thruout; writer/actors ELevy/CGuest strike again in dog show mockumentary which leaves no one out; dCGuest MMcKean JMHiggins PPosey MHitchcock CO'Hara FWillard JPiddick JCoolidge PCranshaw ;
00 BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY - A Digital Odyssey Into Electronic Dance Culture; JReiss documentary captures completely the techno-pop and 'rave' idiom and scene, and even some of its history and technology.
00 BROWN'S REQUIEM - flawed but ultimately engrossing 'noir' crime debut film (bJEllroy dJFreeland) much better than criticised badly; ex-cop-turned-detective MRooker very nearly gets in over his head, but does OK!
00 BUTTERFLY - SUPERIOR THRUOUT; small boy's bright and hungry mind growing under liberal small-town instructor is eventually corrupted under Franco's harrowing dictatorship; bMRivas sRAzcona dJLCuerda FFernanGomez ManuelLozano; Sp.
00 CALLE 54 - "dFTrueba pays [GREAT!] tribute to the luminaries of Latin jazz" (LAT)
00 CELL - ALL STOPS OUT 'PERFORMANCE ART'-STAGEY SEX/HORROR/SCI-FI; laboratory channeler JLopez enters VD'Onofrio's killer schizophrenia to save his next victim; clothingEIshioka/ANapier, mHShore sMProtosevich cPLaufer dTSingh VVaughn
00 CHILDREN OF CHABANNES - documentary; isolated Vichy-France town of staunchly 'republique', non-ethnic, essentially non-religious cast saves 400 Jewish children from Nazis; [nothing learned: war ends; children become Jewish again.]
00 CHOCOLAT - Hollywood makes excellent 'French'fable! -irreligious, unmarried-mother, sub-magical-realism drifter chocolatiere JBinoche brings life to staid French town; dLHallstrom JDench AMolina LOlin JDepp
00 COTTON MARY - historically interesting but badly script/paced(?), curious take on side-effects (bad) of Christianity in India thru raj-mentality English family; sAViets dIMerchant MJaffrey GScacchi
00 CHUCK AND BUCK - excellent production, not for everyone, one-flaw screenplay; severe sociopathy develops out of early boyhood sex-play (waMWhite CWeitz), but 'too pat a wrap' kills film; dMArteta BColt LOntiveros
00 CROUPIER - neat, little 'shaggy dog' story takes 'ex-croupier gone writer' into inadvertent voice-over story about himself -his aloofness, observations and ultimately being taken in by his own self-inflating father; dMHodges COwen GMcKee
AKingston AMorton KHardie
00 DARK DAYS documentarian Marc Singer goes into lives of the homeless living in NY city's Amtrak railway underground.
00 DEVIL'S ISLAND - masterpiece thruout! late 50's Camp Thule Iceland WWII-quonset/ghetto-life as hard core of sub-funny, cris-de-coeur rage against ignorance, arrogance, religion, war, commercialism (American democracy?), you name it; sEKarason
00 DROWNING MONA - loses some steam, but overall, intelligent fun-stuff with some great characterizations; unloved, 'gone sociopath' BMidler gets everyone to hate her -some to plan her death;
00 DUDE! WHERE'S MY CAR? - fun stuff! -need a really funny, really stupid (and even clean!) laugh? Take a day off! This is your film!
00 EAST IS EAST - small but excellent film; good-hearted Pakistani immigrant tries to shoehorn family into old country religion and marriage despite own forgotten duplicitously bigamous past; OmPuri LindaBassett; Eng.
00 EAST-WEST - romantic pot-boiler; 1917 revolution expatriates return to help Stalinist Mother Russia WWII recovery; alienations, beatings, double-dealings follow cold-war captives; dRWargnier SBonnaire OMenchikov CDeneuve SBodrovJr
00 EYES OF TAMMY FAYE - americana: first-rate production thruout on the rise and fall of TF and Jim Bakker's 70's-80's southern US radio/tv evangelism; dFBailey/RBarbato
00? HAPPENSTANCE - 'butterfly wing-beating' love-story fantasy; pointed opening: ATautou and Faudel will fall in love; pointed ending: they do; entrancing thruout -everything 'chaotic' happens in-between; wdLFirode Fr.
00 HEART OF LIGHT - impressive thruout, but memorable primarily as first Greenlandic film(?); native loses his 'native' way under modern civilization; clumsy hunt becomes 'magical realism' spiritual quest; returns him to 'native' integrity.
00 HOUSE OF MIRTH - excellent EWharton potboiler on realities, excesses and hypocracies of the very well-to-do and turn-of-century times in Glasgow recast (wdTDavies) as NYC; GAnderson LLinney JodhiMay EMcGovern -miscast EStoltz DAckroyd
00 HUMAN RESOURCES - engrossing, first-rate 'human interest' production; trainee-son of close-to-retiring man thankful-to-have-a-production-line-job cuts teeth on underhanded management; wdLCantet JLespert and non-actors; Fr;
00 INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS - documentary interviews many of 10,000 Jewish children spared Nazis by fosters in Britain; excellently covers aspects untouched by other 'holocaust' films; cDLenzner sdMJHarris
00 JOE GOULD'S SECRET - labor-of-love excellent thruout; 40's New Yorker mag's wJMitchell's (dSTucci) Greenwich Village character study: rise and fall of weltschmerz-bitten, society drop-out IHolmes' Joe Gould; sHRodman PClarkson HDavis
00 JUDY BERLIN - b&w little gem excellently crafted thruout; wdEMendelsohn 'macguffins' solar eclipse into rueful exploration of life's vicissitudes (Babylon, NY) AHarnick EFalco MadeleineKahn! BDishy BBarrie BHenritze
00 LA NINA DE TUS OJOS - (The Girl of Your Dreams) - seriously dark farce; politically 'neutral' Spanish film company is invited to 1938 Germany to film german version of spanish musical; crew's neutrality crumbles under Nazi realities; dFTrueba;
00 LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG - excellent documentary by AvivaKempner; films and talking heads on Greenberg's background, him and baseball, and 'the times' from late '20s thru time of his death in '84.
00 MY BEST FIEND - excellent documentary by dWerner Herzog on his relationship and the making of five films with actor Klaus Kinski
00 NATURAL HISTORY OF CHICKENS (THE) - "In-depth look goes behind the feathers of the poultry industry" [and elsewhere] (LAT) dMLewis
00 NOWHERE TO HIDE - controlled craftmanship thruout -style, humor, violence, cinematography, music etc, as to very nearly supercede ALL 'detective and adversary' chases; wdLMYung-Se PJoong-Hoon JDong-Kun ASung-Ki CJi-Woo; Korea
00 O BROTHER , WHERE ART THOU? - Homer's Ulysses brilliantly produced via tongue-in-cheek comedy of three 30's Miss chain-gang escapees on lam; essence intact thruout; wpdCoenBros GClooney JTurturro TBNelson CDurning MBadalucco
00 ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER - dKMacdonald's superior documentary - "the kidnapping and deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the '72 Munich Olympics; Committe hubris, Israeli bitterness, Palestinian pride, German ineptitude and malfeasance"
00 ONEGIN - excellent; Pushkin integrity intact thruout; Fiennes wonder: mMagnusF dMarthaF; Onegin (Ralph) eventually suffers dismissing LTyler's intelligence, integrity and declared love out of his 18th cent Russian jadedness; makes END OF THE
AFFAIR a TV production
00 OPPORTUNISTS, THE - circumstances turn armed-car station robbery into fairy-tale ending for in-debt, family-concerned, loser-going-straight ex-safecracker CWalken and loser friends PMcDonald DLogue; sdMConnell cTManiaci; CLauper TNoonan
00 ORPHANS - wdPMullan cGSCameron; mother's death is macguffin of TERRIFIC 'damaged everyman' (three sons and daughter) iconoclastically dark-comedy misanthropy, cruelty, absurdity, inhumanity, weltschmerz and redemption; DHenshall SMcCole
RStevenson GLewis FGallagher; Scot
00 RED DWARF, THE - outrageously surreal, funny and empathic masterpiece; law-clerk hates dwarf-life; dull-job letter-writing precipitates finding love, adventure and 'self' in circus; cDElsen wdYLeMmoine JeanYvesThual AEkberg AChevrier;
00 ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, ADVENTURES OF - not quite the same, but allowing for the demands of film, still nostalgic and charming, and done by a crew of dedicated believers; JayWard pJRosenthal paRDeNiro dDMcAnuff RQuaid RRusso JAlexander KThompson
00 ROMEO MUST DIE - serves as documentary: perhaps the one film ever most crudely making stupid buffoons of Afro-Americans; the audience, Black and white, enjoyed it immensely -so much for our educational system.
00 RUNNING ON THE SUN excellent documentary on annual running of the 'Badwater 135' (miles) across Mojave Desert.
00 SHOWER - flawless production; humor, pathos, 'changing times' ministories; 'big city' elder son visits father, owner of neighborhood bathhouse with younger, retarded son; discovers 'human condition'; adopts brother when father dies; dZhangYang;
00 SMILING FISH AND GOAT ON FIRE - because 'worth-while' for only $40k; title producer-writer, really close bros Derick/Steve Martini 'mature' thru new romances and some asides on Black film history (BillHenderson) and charming ending;
00 SOLAS bitter, pregnant 35-yr old alcoholic is 'resurrected' by small kindnesses of 'grandfather' neighbor and mother awaiting surgery recovery of family-brutalizing peasant father; wdBZembrano AFernandez MGaliana CAlvarez-Novoa PDeOsca
00 SOUND AND FURY - an exceptional documentary on 'socially-obscured' deafness and its essential correction by cochlear implant; 'the human condition' argued as 'lifestyle-and-quality improvement' vs 'cultural loss'; dJAronson
00 STATE AND MAIN - really great, intelligent comedy on cutting production costs by filming in 'perfect' town -precipitates complete script rewrite etc 'denuding' all; sdDMamet cOStapleton ABaldwin CDurning PSHoffman PLuPone WHMacy SJParker
00 SUCH A LONG JOURNEY - excellent film sprawls across bank clerk's richer, Bombay childhood, 1971 Parsi/Indian life and happenstantial involvement as War takes East Pakistan into Bangladesh; bRMistry sSTaraporevala dSGunnarsson RSeth
SRazdan OPuri; Can.
00 TIGERLAND excellent production thruout; subtle anti-war film turns solely on renegade CFarrell vs dehumanization inherent of boot-camp prep for Nam; real-life basis sRKlavan dJSchumacher MDavis CCollinsJr TGuiry SWhigham
00 TIME REGAINED (LE TEMPS RETROUVE) - masterpiece, Proustian evocation; 'the human condition as fin-de-ciecle thru WWI manners, morals and affectations of French aristocracy and the well-connected'; dRRuiz CDeneuve EBeart JMalkovich VPerez
00 WINTER SLEEPERS - fast-paced 'accidental death' mystery set in ski resort -characters affecting each other in innocence and circumstantiality; resolved 'deus ex machina'; production BRILLIANT thruout; dTTwyker Ger.
00 WOUNDS (THE) - excellent thruout; two teenage Serbian boys grow up 'acceptably vicious and criminal' -eventually kill each other reflecting ever-present 'pay back' of warring Yugoslavian chaotic multiculturalism; wdSDragojevic DPekic
00 YARDS (THE) unusually serious AND good Hollywood film thruout; MWahlburg serves time for train maintenance contract-rigging cousin JPhoenix who sets him up again -but Wahlberg blows whistle; JCaan CTheron FDunaway EBurstyn cHSavides dJGray
00 YI YI (A One and a Two) - not for every one; brilliant 3 hr paced production of dourly existential, sweet-sour view on all aspects of life -Americanized Taiwan in particular; wdEYang mPKaili cYWeihan eCBowen;
00 YOU CAN COUNT ON ME - some really great dialog and characterization (wdKLonergan): the human condition turning on drifter/idealist MRufallo visiting his prosaic small-eastern-town bank-emp sister LLinney and her son RCaulkin,
earlier films that made it?"
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'last days' of Italian facism; aristocracy prefacing 'final solution';
May 26, 2003 Los Angeles Times
Hollywood Plays to the Pimply
Blockbuster-driven MBAs have killed movie creativity.
By Frank Pierson
Hollywood was once a small company town, where everybody knew everybody, and if you dropped your pants at a party or punched a reporter or danced with a prostitute in the parking lot, it wasn't on "Entertainment Tonight" tonight.
It was even hard to get arrested. Every studio had a publicity department that paid the Los Angeles cops to stay away from show-business people. The police didn't arrest movie people. They drove them home.
We all went down to the film factories every day (at Warner Bros. even actors, directors and writers punched a time clock until the mid-1940s). We ate in the studio commissary, where the writers' table was preferred seating because the jokes were better
there. If the New York writers were in town, slumming — sneering at the movies and cashing big, fat paychecks — you found yourself sitting next to Dorothy Parker or F. Scott Fitzgerald.
You could wander off to a sound stage and watch John Huston or Willy Wyler shooting a scene with Bogart or Hepburn or Peck. No security. We all knew each other.
It was up close, and personal.
Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia, was a legendary bully who admired Mussolini and had his office designed to resemble Mussolini's — with a long approach into blinding lights and himself behind a desk, raised a foot above the floor, ranks of Oscars his
studio had won behind him. He said he made only pictures that he wanted to see, and once the public stopped wanting to see what he liked, he'd quit. Not for him delegating decisions to demographers, pollsters and marketing experts. Nobody knew what a
demographer was in those days.
It was up close, and personal.
Then, in the 1960s, when the glove salesmen and carnival touts who built the studios began to grow old and retire, their grip on the business loosened. For a while, independent producers flourished. New companies, new writers and directors burst the
bonds of studio-imposed style.
The '60s and the '70s produced movies now looked upon as a golden age: "The Godfather," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Dr. Strangelove," "Taxi Driver," "Chinatown," "Clockwork Orange," "Annie Hall," "Midnight Cowboy," "MASH," "Bonnie and Clyde" and
a couple I like, "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Cool Hand Luke." Even "Easy Rider," which symbolized the anarchistic spirit of that drug-ridden time, was a Columbia release.
Then, on Wall Street, it began to be noticed that a single blockbuster movie could make in a weekend what a substantial business made in a year.
Warner Bros. was bought by Seven Arts, Seven Arts was bought by Kinney Shoes, and the whole mess now is owned by AOL Time Warner (as are HBO, Warner Books, Turner networks and CNN). Viacom owns Paramount, CBS, Showtime cable and Blockbuster. Of the
100-odd prime-time shows that will premiere on the four networks this fall and winter, more than 30 — including CBS newsmagazines — will be made by companies owned by Viacom. An additional 25 or so will be made by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which owns
the Fox network.
We had been having too much fun to notice: The barbarians were inside the gate. The polo games, the writers' table, Jack Warner's lunchtime tennis matches with Errol Flynn, the cops as our friends, all were a thing of the past.
We began to see Harvard Business School MBAs sit in on story conferences. Lawyers multiplied.
As the huge debt created by mergers was added to the rising costs of making little but blockbusters, the risks of making a film forced the businessmen to be risk-averse, to play to the least critical audience: teenage boys with disposable income.
The problem is how to keep this "average" moviegoer, male, 16 to 25, high school education at best, doesn't read books, gets his news from the 11 o'clock news if he bothers at all, never heard of Mussolini and thinks Korea is another part of downtown
L.A. This pimply, oversexed slob with the attention span of a chicken, how do we keep him awake and interested while staying awake and interested ourselves?
It's not just Hollywood. What has happened here has happened to us all because the focus of international business has shifted from production to distribution. Whoever controls distribution shapes what is produced — to what will fit under the seat or in
the overhead compartment. Today, agribusinesses have researchers trying to produce cube-shaped tomatoes that will be easier to pack in boxes (and that probably will taste like the boxes). Watch the odd, the old, the personal, the traditional, the
idiosyncratic, the family-made or the regional disappear from supermarket shelves that are rented by the foot to international companies that then stock them with their own water and sugar products.
As the movie business has changed, liberal critics have raised the alarm over corporate censorship. But the danger of censorship in the United States of America is less from business or the religious right or the self-righteous left than from
self-censorship by artists themselves, who simply give up. If we can't see a way to get our story told, what is the point of trying? I wonder how many fine, inspiring ideas are strangled in the womb of the imagination because there's no way past the
gates of commerce.
To the studios today, the art of film and TV is a byproduct of their main business, a side effect, and like most side effects, more likely to be a noxious nuisance than a benefit.
But movies are more than a commodity. Movies are to our civilization what dreams and ideals are to individual lives: They express the mystery and help define the nature of who we are and what we are becoming.
We need writers with ideas and passion, who write with force and conviction; directors who have minds enriched by their lives and not a library of stunts and special effects. They must be centered in their feelings and ideas in the culture and society,
not in comparing grosses and applauding computer-generated ballets of violence.
We need it like we need clean drinking water and roads, green parks and libraries; it is as important as the breath of democratic life. Somehow we need to keep alive in our hearts the vision of community, shared interests and understanding of our
neighbors' needs, the sense of connection this fractionated society is losing.
We need to recapture the spirit of Main Street. Up close. And personal.
Frank Pierson, who wrote "Cat Ballou," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Dog Day Afternoon," among other films, is president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This is adapted from a speech to the graduating class of USC's film school.
2001 [Special 'The Economist Magazine Publications's-]
THE WORLD IN 2001 - North America (p37)
The end of talent
by Ben Stein
"Box-office takings are falling. Cinema chains are going bankrupt"
In a story of another empire, not as great as Hollywood, long ago, according to Gibbon, the Roman Emperor Constantine won a battle against some weirdo barbarians. He wanted to have a triumphal arch built (No PC problems then about "triumphalism"). His
imperial ministers reported to him that unfortunately there could not be an arch built with bas relief statuary of his victorious battle because there simply were no artisans left in the empire with the skill to make the needed figures. The Emperor
Constantine stewed about this for a time; and then said, "Well, strike the reliefs off some other arches and put them on mine."
So it will be in Hollywood in the coming year. There are legions of problems, but the worst, most desperate problem is that Hollywood no longer has the talent pool to make great movies. When one sees a movie like "American Beauty", and perceives its
utter emptiness, lack of connection with reality, its pretentiousness, one can only cry for the Hollywood that used to make movies that said something. But "American Beauty" was a major Oscar winner. For those who want to feel sad about what Hollywood
has become, rent "Gentleman's Agreement" with Gregory Peck, a pre-1950s story about American anti-Semitism, and then compare it with "American Beauty", or on the exact same subject of suburban banality, see the immortal "Rebel Without a Cause". You will
be amazed at the raw power of one and the fey flaccidity of the other.
Unless one sees a steady diet of Hollywood fare, it is hard to grasp how close to the bottom of the barrel creatively, dramatically and morally Hollywood has got. Try a "youth comedy" called "Mall Rats", about two losers who hang out of a shopping mall
getting their kicks (and I am not making this up) by wiping their hands on their rectums and then shaking hands with grown-ups. This is a major Hollywood release, or "Road Trip" in which a young girl is a hero for making a fake bomb threat to help her
inamorata avoid missing a test he is late for. In the same movie we are told that the way for a white boy to have his first sexual experience is to find the (supposedly) wanton black woman; the way to make your parents hate you forever is to bring a
black girl home and tell your parents you are engaged. Does this strike at Hollywood's pretence of moral superiority, especially on race issues? No matter. The movie made money. And it was sort of funny. And if even the great and powerful Star Wars
movies can show shucking and jiving blacks from outer space ("Jar Jar Binks" in the prequel to "Star Wars"), how can a little winking youth comedy be blamed?
It would be easy to say that Hollywood's product has always been uneven. But we may reach a stage soon when there will be basically no new movies for adults or discriminating young adults. There are scatological movies for kids, and pretentious, foolish
movies for adults, and slasher movies that show how much fun it is to kill. And little else.
Tommy is the future
The future of entertainment is my 13-year-old son's room. He has a TV showing wrestling and Comedy Central (for which I work as a game show host). What gets his attention is a stunningly complex video game he plays on the web called Everquest, with which
he can interact 24/7 to his violent heart's content. Tommy Stein hardly wants to go to movies any longer. He gets his jollies on his computer screen. As goes Tommy, so goes the nation. Box-office takings are falling catastrophically. Cinema chains are
going into bankruptcy. Tommy and his pals are online. In desperation, the studios look for ever more violent fare to compete with Everquest. But Congress is after them to stop. And no matter how vile and violent movies get, they are not interactive. What
will the studios do when they lose their last bastion of consumer kids of Tommy's age to the computer? They long since lost the parents and grandparents. And the older brothers of Tommy's pals are drifting away.
Can anyone recall days when a whole family went to see great adventure movies like "High Noon" or the original "Star Wars" or the great British comedies? How often do you see a family in a theatre today? Hollywood faces avast army of challenges beyond
its artistic collapse (which is not total, see the recent "October Sky"). There are computer programs soon to be widely available which will allow people to buy a DVD and then send it to their friends who can then send it to their friends until no one at
all has to pay for the DVD at the store any longer. Piracy is everywhere and uncontrolled. And there is the endless problem of costs. Twenty five years ago, a rare movie cost $10m to make and a few million more to market. Now it is standard for movies to
cost $100m to make and market, yet precious few survive more than a week in the theatres. The utter inability of Hollywood to control costs cannot go on in a world of falling box-office takings.
But the root of all of Hollywood's movie problems is that Hollywood can barely make a good movie any longer. Maybe this would change if outsiders from say Easton, Maryland, or Muncie, Indiana, were ever allowed into the Hollywood circle instead of the
usual intake from New York and the children of Hollywood powers. But for now, the situation shows little hope of improvement: 2001 may well see a crisis as actors go on strike against a studio system that is haemorrhaging from its own inability to make
movies that find an appreciative audience. Oh, and striking off the other guy's statues and using them? That's already been tried. Look at the stream of sequels and remakes that will stream out of Hollywood in the year ahead. It won't help.
March 9, 2002 Los Angeles Times
Gladly Giving Up A Few Pounds
By David Gritten
Films - Robert Altman is just the latest example of Hollywood players finding favorable working conditions in Britain
"English actors are unquestionably the best," he told a British journalist. To another, he proclaimed: "I love British actors. They're trained so well, and they have the right attitude." When I visited him on the "Gosford Park" set last summer, he told
me it was the best experience of his directing career, which goes back more than 40 years. He has since repeated the claim.
One could dismiss all this as flattering courtesies for the benefit of the British media, but Altman is no flatterer, and he has also voiced more extreme opinions for the benefit of wider audiences. He has returned recently to one of his pet peeves:
Hollywood. "They sell shoes, I make gloves: We're not in the same business," he said to one interviewer. To another, he remarked: "I couldn't tell you the name, right now, of a person who runs a major Hollywood studio." His comments come at an odd time,
given that he presumably hopes academy members will award him a best director Oscar for "Gosford Park."
As usual, Altman didn't just leave it at that. On a panel at the Berlin . Film Festival earlier this year, Altman remarked: "I'm proud to say [President] Bush has never seen any of my films." In other interviews, he has called Bush "embarrassing,"
adding: "I'd be happy to stay here in England. There's nothing in America I'd miss at all."
Well, Altman likes to ruffle feathers and nurse grudges. But he is also among a handful of distinctive, indisputably great film directors of the last half-century, and when he talks of the conditions in which he does his work, attention must be paid. In
particular, his comments about the advantages of working in Britain merit scrutiny.
It should be remembered that "Gosford Park" with its huge ensemble cast, could never have been made in Hollywood with leading American actors; its budget would have been prohibitive. But Altman was able to commandeer the cream of Britain's acting
profession -distinguished names like Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Alan Bates, Helen Mirren, Derek Jacobi and Eileen Atkins- and compensate them in a way that would gladden the heart of a Marxist economist.