Falling somewhere between the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury and This Is Spinal Tap, Winterbottom's doc-like comedy/drama chronicles 16 years of the music scene in Manchester, England, from the moment the Pistols played their first gig in town (with an audience of 42) to the closing of the legendary nightclub the Hacienda. It's all seen through the… read more!
Movies Released in 2002 (in alphabetical order)
Not since Kurt Cobain has there been a male recording artist as fetishized as Eminem. Is it the controversy surrounding his music? His dangerous attitude? His checkered past? Or is it just that he's beautiful to look at, and the macho hip-hop crowd won't admit it? Say what you will, there's a reason why more people paid to see 8… read more!
About a Boy
I liked this film a lot more than I thought I would. First, I must confess to having a soft spot for Hugh Grant. I remember his earlier, less cutesy performances in such films as Lair of the White Worm and Remains of the Day and longed to see him do something more interesting than the stuttering, lovable token Brit… read more!
Longtime Omaha, Nebraska resident Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is an ordinary old man who, finding himself retired and widowed, discovers that he had only defined himself by his job and his marriage. With them gone, he fears his life is meaningless. Eventually he decides on an impromptu road trip out to Denver, ostensibly to revisit the places of his past,… read more!
When I saw Being John Malkovich, I felt like the movie was smarter than I was. I knew it was saying something about power, celebrity and identity, but I couldn't exactly figure out what. And usually when I don't get something, I suspect that there's genius at work. Well, here comes Adaptation, the second collaboration between director Jonze and writer… read more!
All About Lily Chou-Chou
This film isn't really all about Lily Chou-Chou, a fictional Asian pop star with a rabid following to rival Björk's, but about two of her fans: a pair of junior high school boys in a depressed, semi-rural district in Japan. The story follows two years of the boys' lives and is divided into three sections: the first follows the growth… read more!
Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony
Ingratiating documentary about the protest songs that kept the dream alive for black South Africans as they slowly but successfully managed to topple the oppressive Apartheid regime. The music is great, of course, but director Hirsch spends too much time on the talking heads (all African musicians who were very active in the cause – thankfully, there are no white… read more!
Curiously flat biopic about Bob Crane, the disc jockey-turned actor best remembered for three things: starring in the TV series Hogan's Heroes, videotaping himself having sex with scores of women, and being murdered in 1979, days before his fiftieth birthday. Auto Focus mostly examines the relationship Crane had with John Carpenter (not the film director), who introduced him to both… read more!
The Believer falls into that weird, tiny category of films that, because nobody is interested in distributing them theatrically at first, wind up going straight to cable – and then, a year later, get that limited theatrical release after all. A hit at the 2001 Sundance Festival, The Believer tells the story – allegedly based on fact – of Danny… read more!
The Bourne Identity
Fairly entertaining, but nothing to write home about, this espionage-centered actioner tries to capture the paranoid cool of 1970s thrillers like The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, and The Day of the Jackal. It succeeds, to a certain extent, but it doesn't have a compelling enough political context to drive the point home. We all know there's plenty of shady people… read more!
Bowling for Columbine
After his 1989 documentary Roger & Me put Michael Moore on the map, he has emerged as America's lone media-savvy liberal spokesman. Which is pretty discouraging in a nation of 260 million. There must be somebody out there who can probe deeper and less divisively than Moore, but in the meantime I'm thankful that he exists. He is smart enough… read more!
Brotherhood of the Wolf
If you liked La Femme Nikita, which was junk, you will probably enjoy this silly, sadistic thriller, which is also junk. Brotherhood of the Wolf, reportedly based on legend, tells the story of a ferocious wolf-like creature terrorizing the countryside in 18th-century France, and the two men – a Parisian libertine who looks like a young Bruce Willis with a… read more!
Catch Me If You Can
Enjoyable if feather-light dramatization of the life of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenage con artist who, for four years in the 1960s, evaded the FBI while writing millions of dollars' worth of forged checks and posing as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer. Abagnale's story practically screamed, "This would make a great movie!" In the end, it… read more!
Ben Affleck is an amoral and strangely incompetent hotshot lawyer who, one busy morning when on his way to court (where he's finagling a deal for his bosses to wrest the deeds to a dead benefactor's multi-million-dollar charitable trust from the deceased's granddaughter), scrapes his car against that of Samuel L. Jackson, an honest but short-tempered insurance salesman who is… read more!
This low-budget indie is an understated look at the romantic ins and outs of four Asian-Americans living in Los Angeles: of the first three characters, Michael is a man of few words who secretly desires his tenant Lori; Lori, in turn, is involved with her yuppie boyfriend Justin. It's obvious that Michael and Lori are – more likely than not… read more!
One sharp cookie of a movie. Adapted from the catchy Kander-Ebb musical that Bob Fosse brought to Broadway in 1975 (from a 1927 play by Maurine Watkins, based on actual events) - can you follow all this? Anyway, Chicago is a fun, whip-smart musical about the allure and fleetingness of fame. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a struggling singer who,… read more!
This innocuous sci-fi fantasy, aimed for teens and below, concerns a young man (Jesse Bradford) who stumbles across a wristwatch created by his aloof inventor dad that can slow time to a crawl – allowing the wearer to move at lightning fast speeds. The old "I have a device that can stop time for anybody but me" gimmick is at… read more!
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
In order to explain why I liked this movie so much, I have to tell you that a) I have long been a big fan of The Gong Show; b) I think Sam Rockwell is one of the most entertaining screen actors around; and c) I have always liked the dramatic setup of a person living a normal life while… read more!
[Note: I wrote this review while employed at Paramount Pictures.] Britney Spears! In a return of the free Paramount screenings for employees after the post-9/11 moratorium (everybody's afraid the terrorists will bomb a movie studio, don't you know), I sat through this junk, hoping that it would at least be trashy enough to be a guilty pleasure. No such luck.… read more!
Any biopic about one of the twentieth century's most notorious serial killers, homosexual necrophiliac cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, is going to be disturbing. But writer/director Jacobson's quiet, low-budget account takes the high road, avoiding both movie-of-the-week melodrama and slasher exploitation by focusing on a couple of nights near the end of Dahmer's final killing spree, as the lonely psychopath flashes back… read more!