Movies Released in 2001 (in alphabetical order)

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Much has already written about A.I.'s legendary past: it was a pet project of the late Stanley Kubrick, who for years tried to get it made, without luck. You'd think he would have been able to just call up Steven Spielberg while he was alive and ask, "Hey, could I have $100 million to do this?" but instead Spielberg waited… read more!

Ali

Ali

An old teacher of mine once said that if you were to dramatize a famous person's life (i.e. make a "biopic"), it would be most effective to stage your story on one day - preferably a critical day of that person's life - rather than try to recount the entire cradle-to-grave scope of their existence. That's a bit extreme, but… read more!

Along Came a Spider

Along Came a Spider

Morgan Freeman reprises his Kiss the Girls role as Alex Cross, police detective and criminal profiler. After losing his partner in a wild chase (which is loaded with bad special effects but is fun to watch), Cross goes into semi-retirement, emerging only after the young daughter of a state senator is kidnapped by a crazed teacher (Michael Wincott). Cross is,… read more!

Amélie

Amélie

Set in a romanticized Paris where nobody smokes, there is no dog doo on the sidewalks, and famous landmarks are devoid of obnoxious tourists, Amélie is nevertheless a delightful modern-day riff on Jane Austen's Emma, wherein the optimistic daughter (Audrey Tautou) of an eccentric widower takes it upon herself to better the lives of those around her, even while denying… read more!

The American Astronaut

The American Astronaut

Wacky low-budget indie that lucked out by obtaining brief theatrical distribution in the US; writer/director/star McAbee must be on cloud nine. A black and white sci fi musical that some might describe as Eraserhead meets Flash Gordon (the old serial, not the campy '70s rehash), The American Astronaut's closest relative is actually the execrable '80s cult film The Forbidden Zone,… read more!

The Anniversary Party

The Anniversary Party

The idea behind The Anniversary Party sounds scary: two well-known character actors decide to write, direct and star in their own film, with an improvised script and many of their Hollywood friends co-starring. Yikes! Can you say "self-serving"? That was why I avoided it until it wound up at the local cheap theatre - but I'm glad I caught it.… read more!

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

This was one of those movies I wasn't excited about seeing, but I'd seen everything else, and it was a boring Sunday afternoon, so I thought "what the hey". I'd heard some critics call it lyrical and moving; others, mawkish and manipulative. I should have listened to that latter group. Okay, A Beautiful Mind isn't that bad. But it's just… read more!

Big Eden

Big Eden

I swear, I thought I was going to a free screening of Moulin Rouge! when I got stuck watching Big Eden instead. I was a little apprehensive about sitting through a gay romantic comedy, but I had a free evening, so I thought, what the hell. In the end, I wound up halfheartedly enjoying myself. Big Eden is the name… read more!

Blow

Blow

Blow follows the rise and inevitable fall of real-life drug dealer George Jung (Johnny Depp), an easy-going schmo with varying luck who started with a small marijuana-selling operation in late-'60s Los Angeles and became one of the key players in the popularization of cocaine in the decades following. Stylistically and thematically, this film falls somewhere between Goodfellas and Boogie Nights as another… read more!

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary

It seems Miramax has now officially given up any pretenses of distributing challenging films, and is now quite happy to serve up an endless array of trite romantic comedies set in foreign countries. After the worthless Chocolat, we now have Bridget Jones, a predictable bit of fluff with a terminal case of the cutes. There was apparently a bit of… read more!

Bully

Bully

If you hated Larry Clark's first film Kids, then you will hate Bully for those exact same reasons. I happened to like Kids, and I'm happy to see Clark return with his usual button-pushing gimmicks: sweaty sex, naked teenagers, pornographic language, physical brutality, and bucketfuls of drugs. Bully puts violence at the forefront, as it is based on actual recent… read more!

The Center of the World

The Center of the World

Director Wayne Wang and his three interesting cowriters - husband-and-wife novelists Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt and artist Miranda July - try to concoct a Last Tango in Paris for the Internet age, inserting a dark spin on Pretty Woman in the process. Richard (Peter Sarsgaard) is a lonely young computer whiz whose company has made him very rich. Florence… read more!

Chop Suey

Chop Suey

As suggested by its title, Chop Suey is an exotic mixture of many things. Something of a documentary, something of an autobiography, something of an essay about the relationship between photographer and model, famed shutterbug Bruce Weber's third feature (his previous work was Let's Get Lost, the moody documentary about late jazz trumpeter Chet Baker) is a wonderful mess. The… read more!

Chunhyang

Chunhyang

Cannily released by its American distributors to arrive in the wake of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, here we have yet another lavish Asian period drama, only this time without the martial arts. Set in feudal Korea, Chunhyang tells the simple story of the son of a provincial governor who falls for - and then secretly marries - the title character,… read more!

The Circle

The Circle

The Circle opens with a shot of an elderly Iranian woman at a maternity ward, deeply saddened by the news that her daughter has given birth to a girl, not a boy. The camera follows her downstairs as she bumps into another of her daughters and gives her the grim news to pass on. Then the camera follows that woman… read more!

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles

[Note: I wrote this review while employed at Paramount Pictures.] When I first saw the poster for this movie at work, with '80s icon Paul Hogan smiling in front of a smudge of fluorescent paint smears and a palm tree, I wondered, what decade are we in? Then I just felt bad. Bad for the aging Hogan, who after 13… read more!

Cure

Cure

Cure was released in its native Japan in 1997, yet took four years to make it to American art theatres. Out of Kurosawa's many films, it is the only one to even be released here (even though he's already made half a dozen since), and while the director is perplexed as to why this film was chosen as his "breakout",… read more!

Dancing at the Blue Iguana

Dancing at the Blue Iguana

So-so drama about a group of miserable strippers in LA's San Fernando Valley, this film stands out not only for giving you the chance to see several well-known actresses take their tops off, but for being that rare and risky bird: the workshop film. The actresses created their characters themselves, working with director Radford over several weeks of improvisation sessions;… read more!

The Deep End

The Deep End

I really enjoyed the first film by these two directors, Suture, a sleek film noir about twin brothers, with the novel twist of having one twin played by a black actor, and the other by a white actor, and only the audience is in on the joke: all the other characters can't tell them apart. That the film worked -… read more!

The Dish

The Dish

I only finally got around to seeing this film right before it went to video. Fine. Rent it. Because The Dish is a delight, a laid-back look at the four mellow scientists (led by Sam Neill) who ran the enormous satellite dish in Parkes, Australia and were responsible for transmitting the first live images from the Apollo 11 moon landing… read more!