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Screening Log - click for reviews, when applicable. Titles of short films listed in bold.

 

01. Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1943) 77 [This must have served as a faster, looser, cruder antidote to the cute Disney antics and the self-referential Warner Bros. hijinks of the era. Though, like many Avery cartoons, its coyness sometimes gets the best of itself, the madcap pacing and consistency of the gags in this cartoon make it a near-classic.]

The Cat in the Hat (Bo Welch, 2003) 44 [Dakota Fanning was my prime interest here, which might not be surprising, since I enjoyed her similar turns as tightly wound, control freaks in I Am Sam and Uptown Girls. Myers is something to behold here, and while I don't exactly find him laugh out loud funny, I can't deny that he has a certain charisma that comes through the pounds of makeup he wears (quite unlike Jim Carrey's Grinch). The set designs and special effects of this movie almost make it okay that there's less a script than a concept.]

Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff, 2003) 30 [This is a one-joke movie, and I unfortunately didn't find that central gag too funny. I appreciate the way that Zwigoff approximates his lead character's beer goggles with a consistently disaffected tone, but find it frustrating that he never really develops the concept beyond that. While there's a certain triumph in never selling out, it also keeps the film from working either as a moving Christmas fable or a parody of one.] 

 

02. The Goodbye Girl (Herbert Ross, 1977) 45 [Sitcom material, inexplicably cast on the big screen (and apparently well-received, at that). Endless scenes of the two leads pretending to hate each other as they fall for each other don't really add up to much when it's over. As witty as Neil Simon can be, the main reason he seems to have his characters talk in this manner is so the audience admire what a witty script he's turned out. Everything about it, especially the frequent emotional crises, seems phony, but it's diverting nonetheless.]

Last Chants for a Slow Dance (dead end) (Jon Jost, 1977) 79 [It's unfortunate that Jost isn't a better known figure. I haven't yet seen any of his other work, but this largely forgotten road movie, which fits in the tradition of greats like Badlands, is a sometimes rough, but unmistakably visionary work. It kind of feels like the sort of thing Brakhage might turn out if he were pressed into making a narrative feature about a psychopathic drifter. The camera has a tenuous hold on reality, and even though the majority of the movie is composed of almost documentary-like long takes, at every turn it threatens to fall into a complete abstraction of the anti-hero's muddled journey. I can't think of a film that better captures the feeling of driving down a seemingly endless stretch of highway at 3 A.M. with a folk song on the radio that ironically comments on the mistakes you've made.]

 

03. Camille (George Cukor, 1936) 62 [Thankfully Garbo stars in this routine melodrama. She manages to make her seemingly unsympathetic character someone downright enchanting despite her fatalistic bent. Cukor's presence ensures a degree of restraint during many of the scenes that might have boiled over, and the supporting cast is generally admirable, in that they let Garbo steal the show.]

The Recruit (Roger Donaldson, 2003) 40 [Though it certainly wears out its welcome, and though it's too "cool" by half (the parentheses there because it never exactly achieves cool, though not for want of trying), this CIA-thriller moves along nicely for an hour or so. Once it begins working overtime to surprise us with intrigue, it falls into less successful territory. Pacino is clearly phoning it in here, but Farrell does an adequate job playing against him. Unfortunately, for all of the conspiracy theories that the movie hints at, it never once really manages to create a paranoid atmosphere.] 

 

04. Basic (John McTiernan, 2003) 57 [McTiernan's chaotic visual style, Ribisi's riveting supporting performance, and a script that becomes so convoluted that its twists become fun instead of frustrating are just a few reasons to seek out this adequately made military action thriller. It employs conflicting first hand accounts in a way that recalls Rashomon, and if it can't really bear the weight of a comparison, what can? Travolta and Nielsen, as the dueling investigators, have good chemistry together, and the script makes their sexual attraction apparent without slowing down the action.]

Blitz Wolf (Tex Avery, 1942) 63 / The Early Bird Dood It! (Tex Avery, 1942) 41 / Dumb-Hounded (Tex Avery, 1943) 36 / Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1943) 75 / Who Killed Who? (Tex Avery, 1943) 57 / One Ham's Family (Tex Avery, 1943) 38 [The downfall of many of these Avery shorts is that they aren't really funny enough that their frequent self-referential moments are absorbed into their comic tornado seamlessly. When Droopy notes, "I continue to do this to him for the rest of the picture," it's more depressing than gut-busting because you know that he will indeed continue to do that, and it won't get any funnier. Of the shorts I watched Blitz Wolf, which features one of the more amusing animated caricatures of Hitler and a pretty pointed satire of Disney's Three Little Pigs, is probably most indicative of the virtues and the weaknesses that run consistently throughout the bunch.]

 

05. He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (Laetitia Colombani, 2002) 37 [Starting out as a seeming romantic comedy, then developing into a somewhat clumsy and gimmicky study of erotomania (... sounds like a lost Russ Meyer movie...), this French flick doesn't really settle on a tone long enough to be successful at anything. At least it finds a use for the creepiness that made Tautou so off-putting in Amelie. Sophie Guillemin is enchanting, once again.]

Levity (Ed Solomon , 2003) 64 [Though it's a bit too thematically simple to register as a profound movie, the consistent generosity toward the actors and the characters they played here made this impossible to resist. In the way it presents a closed off world and the way it consistently pairs off characters at just the right moments, it strains credibility, but literal things don't need to be high on its list of priorities for it to work (which makes the literal presence of the lead's guilt all the more lamentable).  It feels a bit familiar, since Thornton's treading familiar territory, but he's allowed to do fundamental things (e.g. become a sex object) that some of his similar, standoffish roles couldn't fathom. Roger Deakins shot it, and it shows.]

She Done Him Wrong (Lowell Sherman, 1933) 52 [Snappy banter and not much more. Fortunately, it's good banter, even if it's half-recycled from the rest of West's vehicles. Really, her movies are about assuming an attitude for a while, and on that level it works in spite of its clichťd characters and shopworn plot. At just over an hour long, it gets done before anything has a chance to go very wrong.]

 

06. Honey (Bille Woodruff, 2003) 56 [A solid entry in a difficult genre, this urban dance inspirational drama is notable mostly because of an exceptionally likable turn by Jessica Alba. Though the movie expects her to flex her abs more than her acting muscles, she still exudes charisma and determination in every scene. Kudos are deserved since the film avoids most of the traps that these things usually fall into. Although she's a member of a minority and lives in the Bronx, she's not personally in danger of financial ruin if her dance career doesn't pan out. Instead, her quest is driven by altruistic goals. I'm also thankful that a few key dramatic, but likely routine, scenes were shuttled off screen, ensuring the movie maintained its poppy vibe throughout. A colorful, brief cameo by Missy Elliott is the film's equivalent of Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love and twice as lively. Admittedly, it doesn't have the sheer melodramatic momentum of Save the Last Dance, but it is a heck of a lot more fun.]

Timeline (Richard Donner, 2003) 61 [Exceptionally streamlined as far as modern action epics go, and all the better for it. Amusing subtext about the way that scientific theory becomes life-threatening folly upon application to the real world lightens things considerably, and the way that time travel is discovered here (quite by accident), only enhances that feeling. Though it's certainly predictable, as most films involving time travel are, it still left me more than satisfied when it played out.]

The Missing (Ron Howard, 2003) 41 [I'd be hard pressed to think of many westerns that were less interested in the actual landscape they take place on than this one. It seems Howard sees the backdrops he stages his action on as rather anonymous set pieces. Nowhere is this more noticable than in the ineptly staged river rescue. Worse yet, when the script introduces elements like the contrast between Indian mysticism and ďmodernĒ medicine, it seems arbitrary. This is a movie has themes just for the sake of having themes. That being said, there are things here that work. The suggestion of Blanchett's possible molestation as a child is handled with surprising subtlety and the idea that her younger daughter is stronger than her older one mostly because sheís less aware of the realities of the world is a surprisingly fresh characterization.]

Something's Gotta Give (Nancy Meyers, 2003) 75 [Two stellar lead performances and solid support make this an exceptionally pleasant experience. It seems there are obvious stumbles around the start of the third act, but thatís probably more because the film is removing itself from its blissful, hermetically sealed Hamptons environment. Thereís so much wisdom and talent captured in Jack and Dianeís performances that they donít make up for the inconsistent material so much as they become it. Itís a pleasure for those who have watched them mature as actors over the years to see them gratified and embraced by a film in this way. I suppose it's second-rate Woody Allen, but Woody himself really isn't turning out second-rate Woody Allen movies consistently these days, so I'll take what I can get.]

 

07. Cradle 2 the Grave (Andrzej Bartkowiak, 2003) 37 [This fairly generic action romp is enlivened somewhat by its cast, but it still isnít enough to really make it worthwhile. The fight scenes are surprisingly dull for a movie starting Jet Li. Thereís no sense of physical or emotional weight because everything obviously product. Itís energetic product (so much intercutting!), though, so that helps.]

The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy, 2003) 54 [Quite charming in its opening act, in which friendship slowly forms in an unlikely situation (is there any other kind of situation in movies like this?), this film stumbles a bit when it tries to convince us that thereís genuine pathos to contend with. It seems Peter Dinklage isnít a powerful enough dramatic actor to sell his characterís downward spiral, but since even the generally sensational Patricia Clarkson canít make her breakdown work, one suspects the script is mostly to blame. Though it remains likeable throughout, when a film is pitched on so small a scale, miscalculations of character seem to take a greater toll.]

The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, 2003) 34 [The glorious energy of the first five minutes here quickly evaporates, leaving behind only the melancholy husk of its memory. The visuals here are extravagantly ugly, which might explain their mass appeal, but they left me cold. The gags mostly ape Tati, but since animation has no physicality, they pretty much miss the point of what makes Tatiís films so wonderful. When it gets around to taking on the shape of a standard rescue caper, it disappoints on yet another level.]

The Last Samurai (Edward Zwick, 2003) 60 [Tom Cruise is wonderful here, despite material thatís far too vapid to be so self-serious. He, unlike the rest of the cast, seems alive and spontaneous in a film that trades respect for energy (ninja attack excluded). The rousing score and splendid cinematography are just about the best to hit screens this year and the production values are impressive, but theyíre in the service of a story thatís difficult to take seriously at all (much less earn the designation of Important). What is up with that ending?]

Daredevil (Mark Steven Johnson, 2003) 48 [This routine comic book adaptation (funny typing thatÖ) doesnít have much in the way of vision or even ambition, but it goes through the motions with an unembarrassed charm. It doesnít even seem to be trying to wow us. Everything we see here, weíve seen before in better, and worse, comic book films, so itís tough to be excited. Still, one canít really deny that it manages to hold together, work us over with its starsí charisma, and give some sort of impression of what the comic book is about.]

 

08. Bring it On (Peyton Reed, 2000) 67 [Letís hope Peyton Reed doesnít wake up one day to find himself an artist who needs to accomplish more than heís been doing. His last two endlessly cheerful quasi-musical social satires are close to the height of modern Hollywood comedy, sad as it is to say. Though itís an obvious examination of white cultureís thankless appropriation of black culture, such subtext never overtakes the text, which is mostly about catty dialogue and perky teen ebullience. Itís tough not to like a movie that not only makes it okay to cheer for the rich kids, but boldly emblazons ďRCHĒ across the fronts of their uniforms.]

That's Entertainment! III (Bud Friedgen & Michael J. Sheridan, 1994) 69 [This interesting contrast between Hollywood self-flattery and exposť of the studio system isnít wholly successful as either. Still, the invaluable collection of clips provided here (many of them never before seen) overcomes any such lack of direction. Some of the material, such as a presentation of Ava Gardnerís original vocal track from Show Boat really does drive home the impression that the studio system was a committee driven entity that placed the value of the finished product above the egos or talents of those involved in its making.]

 

09. The Hotel New Hampshire (Tony Richardson, 1984) 40 [This terminally confused, but mildly enjoyable, sex fantasy suffers the same fate of many other adaptations of John Irving novels. It forces so much narrative incident upon the audience that thereís no chance for the whimsy inherent in Irvingís work to feel natural. Richardsonís direction doesnít help much. He takes far too much naughty delight in the erotic escapades of his characters for them to carry any weight. The last half hour or so of the movie stumbles most. It attempts to present dozens of resolutions and catharses, but they end up canceling each other out almost completely.]

 

10. The Legend of Leigh Bowery (Charles Atlas, 2002) 44 [I was misdirected by an usher at the theater, so I ended up seeing this rowdy, inconsequential documentary by mistake. Worse things have happened, I suppose. Certainly, to call the subject matter here colorful is a gross understatement, but itís frustrating that even with the most spectacular procession of costumes in any movie this year, Atlas canít make his movie feel like more than a procession of talking heads. Like so many biographical docs, the movie stumbles the most when it tries to convince us that the large events in the subjectís life were large events in the lives of everyone.]

A Touch of Class (Melvin Frank, 1973) 57 [Jackson is far more chipper here than in film I can remember, but George Segal is as bland as ever. Itís obviously inspired by the great romantic comedies of the Ď40s, but it only exhibits their flair sporadically. The downbeat ending is a change of pace, but considering whatís come before it seems a desperate spin on the story. Inferior imitators such as Just Married show how bad this genre can get, so itís easy to settle for respectability and competence.]

 

11. Malibu's Most Wanted (John Whitesell, 2003) 35 [There's something about Anthony Anderson's presence in a film that guarantees mediocrity, at best. This comedy about racial identity is diverting in its best moments and strained in the rest. Most of the laughs that I found here came courtesy of Regina Hall's lively performance, but the price of admission to see it is too high, I'm afraid.]

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (Andre Heller & Othmar Schmiderer, 2002) 39 [Historically important and cinematically dead, this documentary seems at first the disorganized ramble of a woman who hasn't fully come to terms with her place in history. As it proceeds, however, and she grows more introspective, it gains power and worth. The final half hour of the movie, during which she describes Hitler's final hours, are powerful, indeed. Whether the rest of the film has the same appeal is debatable, however.] 

The Sea (Baltasar Kormakur, 2002) 36 [This bleak family drama encourages us to hate just about everyone in it. It's tough to disagree. Though the Icelandic setting is a fairly unique backdrop for a film, it doesn't seem to be especially distinguished from any other cold climate interested in fishing. It's a supremely cynical movie that still wants to moralize, and I can think of few films that manage that balancing act.]

 

12. Lessons of Darkness (Werner Herzog, 1992) 92

Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (Robert Aldrich, 1964) 71 [Though it doesn't reach the heights of Baby Jane (Olivia de Havilland doesn't have any of Joan Crawford's more grotesque attributes), this Southern Gothic melodrama works, and not just as kitsch. Like Baby Jane, it has a longing for the glamour of the past that makes Bette Davis' frenzied performance strangely touching and relevant beyond the boundaries of this film's story. Her characters' dementia in these two movies undoubtedly owes a debt to Swanson's performance in Sunset Blvd., but in many ways it's better.] 

Jesus, You Know (Ulrich Seidl, 2003) 52

Stuck on You (Peter & Bobby Farrelly, 2003) 60 [The laughs here are rather infrequent, and when they do come, they seem rooted in our familiarity with the characters instead of the situations that arise. This suggests that the filmmakers aren't really making comedies any more, which is fine, I suppose, but they unmistakably still go for laughs from time to time, and the results are generally dire (e.g. the poorly staged Siamese twin fight scene is dull, but the embarrassed aftermath inspires a chuckle) . Actually, most of the technical aspects of this film are shoddy, often to the point of distraction. Still, there's that unmistakable sense of goodwill toward the characters that's present in most of the Farrelly Bros.' movies (Me, Myself & Irene excepted), which makes me forgiving.] 

 

13. The Princess Blade (Sato Shinsuke, 2001) 33 [This hopelessly generic chop-socky flick doesn't even have much in the way of good action. The revenge plot, is inane, the cast nondescript, and the direction uninspired. It's the sort of foreign film that gives mindless Hollywood fare a good name.]

Assassination Tango (Robert Duvall, 2002) 59 [Though it isn't as intense an experience as Duvall's The Apostle, this film shares with that one a tendency for long, conversational scenes and idiosyncratic characters that still feel lived in. The assassinations and tangos here stay distinct from one another, and that somehow deepens the main character's dilemma (he's living a double life). Duvall has a tendency in his acting to make the people he plays more than the sum of their quirks, and this film works in a similar, cumulative way. Its vision of life seems to have been built as much from the plans as the diversions.]

 

14. Cheaper By the Dozen (Shawn Levy, 2003) 27 [There's a complete unwillingness to tackle the reality of the situation (having a dozen children) here, and that turns the film into meaningless, often crass slapstick, that unfortunately isn't even funny. Director Levy is a hack, no doubt. He demonstrates no ability to corral his troupe of young actors. The scenes where they all speak at once are amazingly amateurish. Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin have little to do as parents. The script is too dumb to either let them regret having twelve kids in the first place or take out their considerable frustrations on them. Since there's never the threat of them becoming less than perfect parental units, there's no drama here.]

Girl With a Pearl Earring (Peter Webber, 2003) 70

Together (Chen Kaige, 2002) 69 [On paper, this film's plot seems incredibly trite, but Chen Kaige imbues his characters with both unfettered admiration and surprising complexities. There's a real sense of community here, and considerable tension mined from the suggestion that they might not collectively be able to nurture the young artist in their midst to his creative fruition (perhaps because it's so easy to genuinely like him). By the time its climax occurred, the film had gathered so much emotional baggage that the cathartic release of the final montage seemed a real relief.] 

Tears of the Sun (Antoine Fuqua, 2003) 34 [The good intentions of this would-be action movie keep it from really ever becoming an action movie, but its nods in that direction sort of defuse its ability to do good. It's even harder than it sounds to buy Bruce Willis' spiritual conversion (much less Monica Bellucci 's) since the script never really gives him a moment to express himself. He only, suddenly, realizes he needs to do what's Right, and if the world was that simple, we wouldn't have problems like those that exist here.]

 

15. Agent Cody Banks (Harald Zwart, 2003) 34 [Too slick to be good, this teen spy caper still has some diverting moments. The humorous sequence in which we find the young man is still unprepared for romantic entanglements, for example, works well. Unfortunately, the majority of it obsessed with destruction and looking "cool". A film with production values this bad doesn't look cool at all, though.]

Big Fish (Tim Burton, 2003) 31

Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003) 92 [Though it's shot in the 1.33 aspect ratio, I couldn't help but feel a little of Elephant's impact is lost on a television screen. Since the movie depends so much on establishing an oppressive, inescapable environment, it loses something when you're not so intimidated by the sheer size of the image. Otherwise, my third viewing seemed to confirm for me that this is the film of the year.] 

 

16. Chaos (Coline Serreau, 2001) 25 [The unusual directions that this drama goes in would make one think it would manage to maintain a decent level of interest. It doesn't. The techniques that Serreau in an attempt to amp up her film's energy level are horribly inept. She doesn't have any noticeable visual chops either. The type of DV photography used here isn't even uniquely unattractive. I didn't feel much while watching. Ever.]

Lorenzo's Oil (George Miller, 1992) 68 [Almost a movie in its own genre, this medical melodrama is so explosively calculated, so unrelenting and still, against all odds, so smart that it at times threatens to bust out of any category you could put it into. That makes its lapses into conventionality that much more unfortunate, however. Still, the two lead performances, which depict intelligent people faced with a seemingly insurmountable task, are distinct because they never lapse into emotional territory that's simple to define.]

 

17. XX/XY (Austin Chick, 2002) 37 [Instantly forgettable indie fare thatís really only worthwhile for fans of Mark Ruffalo. The actor turns in an adequate, typically scruffy, performance in this drama similar to The Big Chill. Tension arises when the disappointed filmmaker he plays considers leaving a girlfriend who bought him a Claire Denis boxed set for an old fling. The majority of the movie plays out in a flashback to 1993, which must be nostalgic for someone, somewhere.]

 

18. The Battle of Shaker Heights (Efram Potelle & Kyle Rankin, 2003) 32 [At least no one can say it's not earnest...]

Hell's Highway: The True Story of Highway Safety Films (Bret Wood, 2003) 25 [It's tough to imagine a much less satisfying film on the titular subject matter. I suppose it deserves kudos for showing us the ulterior motives of safety film makers, but I was rather disappointed by the generally staid tone adopted here. It's sad when the most shocking moment in a film about traffic accidents is culled from a warning film about child molesters.]

 

19. Destino (Dominique Monfrey, 2003) 79 [Gosh, I can barely remember what this was, but I remember adoring it while I was watching. The visuals, which are a Dali painting come to life, are remarkably and consistently suggestive, and the song on the soundtrack not only enhances them, but also calls to mind old-school Disney films. I hope one way or another this gets released to the home video market so I can analyze and revisit it.] 

Calendar Girls (Nigel Cole, 2003) 30 [That this feelgood comedy came from the director of the murky Saving Grace should have been warning enough for me... It's mostly surprising in the ways it is confused. There's an avaricious streak running throughout it that is never called out. The Hollywood sequence, in which the girls fawn over limos and hotel rooms is grotesque. There's surprisingly little drama here, and most of what exists is relayed through the ability of the women to synchronize their tai-chi lesson.]

House of Sand and Fog (Vadim Perelman, 2003) 57 [Compelling and solidly acted, but increasingly confused politically, until it starts to feel like an assertion that immigrants ought to stay home and Americans don't understand what a bounty they have. It strains believability from the start, but about two-thirds of the way through, it escalates its conflict and ceases to be convincing at all. The actors are game here, but they are all forced to play cartoons, each flawed in grotesque ways that happen to play off of each others' idiosyncrasies. It makes for relatively engaging human drama, but as a statement of political importance, which seems to be the primary aim here, it comes up short.]

 

20. Mona Lisa Smile (Mike Newell, 2003) 41 [The distance between its film's level of ambition and level of realized ambition is fairly vast, which is surprising because the degree of difficulty doesn't seem that absurdly high in the first place. It's trying to evenhandedly ratify both traditional female decorum and feminist empowerment, but above all else it's a Julia Roberts movie (sadly not a Mike Newell movie...), which means it keeps making supposedly audience-pleasing concessions that don't have anything to do with either paradigm. I enjoyed several of the performances, especially Julia Stiles', who radiates a great deal more poise and maturity than her mentor, and found it easy to like once I realized it wasn't actually going to be a very good film.] 

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003) 61 [I can't help but feel like I like this film grudgingly. It's clearly the least impressive in the series to me (primarily because Jackson seems to have run out of new sights to show us), and the plot is more a conclusion of what's come before than a development of it. I suppose a lot of it has to do with my fatigue as a viewer... I simply don't need to spend untold hours watching this story unfold, even if it's being presented with top-notch production values, an unusual degree of seriousness, and a genuine sense of vastness. Several times during the longueurs here, I found myself longing for something like Dead Alive's ghastly mother figure to offset the stoical mood. That being said, it doesn't feel like it's ever betraying what's come before (even if the sense of wonder has been considerably reduced by now).]

 

21. Alice Adams (George Stevens, 1935) 73 [Katherine Hepburn is as good here as I've ever seen. Whenever Stevens cuts to a pained close-up of her, suddenly her haughty regard for her family is no longer a concern. Her hurt from being rebuked is more than apparent, and the movie's precise form of drama becomes perceptible. It's not quite as good as Terrence Davies' The House of Mirth and presenting the obstacles of American upward mobility, but at the same time it's free from that film's intentional atmosphere of a recycled Europe. In this film's Midwest setting, advancement is a real possibility for Alice, but by no means guaranteed. The ending is a bit disappointing, I suppose, but that's a small concession for what's come before.] 

Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933) 77 [In its opening scenes, it seems as if it might be striving for some sort of potent satire. There's a cohesive, if nonsensical, narrative and a genuine attempt to establish character motivations (except for Groucho, who remains anarchic as ever). It keeps getting caught up in diversions that undercut its ability to work wholeheartedly as an attack on the system, even though it's consistently funny. As the movie continues, and chaos is allowed to take over, it reaches the  kind of comic nirvana rarely seen in live action filmmaking (Hellzapoppin' comes to mind...).]

 

22. Willard (Glen Morgan, 2003) 42 [Though it has its fair share of dull stretches, the sheer oddity of the film's concept and Crispin Glover's personification of his character carry this one through them. It's one of those PG-13 horror films, which guarantees there won't be much gore, and that doesn't help, especially since the film's attempts to suggest the happenings might all be in the head of the lead character aren't very compelling or well-staged.] 

Piglet's Big Movie (Francis Glebas, 2003) 36 [Sort of okay, for what it is, I suppose, since the Pooh cartoons never really had stellar animation or great storylines to begin with. It's mildly charming, mostly thanks to familiarity with the cast, but I have to say that the sight that will most likely stay with me when I remember this thing is that of Carly Simon hopping around like a girl on a fence, as she does in the closing, inexplicable, music video.]

The Life of David Gale (Alan Parker, 2003) 48 [If nothing else, it's outrageous. I have to say that I was never bored while watching this movie. It is probably folly, especially since it has retarded contrivances like the one where the protagonist's car breaks down during the final cliffhanger, but there's a real unpredictability about it. Furthermore, the cast is committed to the film's wacko vision, which helps a lot. I can't really discern what side of the political fence it ultimately falls on, which only helps my opinion of it.]

Trial and Error (Jonathan Lynn, 1997) 40 [There are so many shoddy scenes scattered about here that it's remarkable that Lynn still manages to elicit sympathy for his characters. It's predictable as anything, but there are plenty of fine moments here (most of them occurring when Charlize Theron is on screen). It's sad that it takes shortcuts in making us dislike some characters (e.g. the rich fiancťe), since that undermines our ability to embrace the others.]

 

23. The War Game (Peter Watkins, 1965) 77 [No small feat here, this pseudo-documentary manages to be funny, serious, scary, and politically charged all at once. Watkins fully relays the grip that Cold War anxiety had on people during the era (to a greater extent than Morris does in The Fog of War, for sure)

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, 1996) 74

 

24. The Fog of War (Errol Morris, 2003) 54

Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003) 67

Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967) 80

 

25. Force of Evil (Abraham Polonsky, 1948) 70

Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1987) 63

Platform (Jia Zhang Ke, 2000) 65

 

26. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974) 70

Paycheck (John Woo, 2003) 64

Cold Mountain (Anthony Minghella, 2003) 76

The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand, 2003) 24

 

27. Peter Pan (P.J. Hogan, 2003) 61 

 

28. I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock, 1953) 57

Shanghai Knights (David Dobkin, 2003) 41

The Man on the Train (Patrice Leconte, 2002) 35

 

29. Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963) 90

Japanese Story (Sue Brooks, 2003) 66

 

30. Elf (John Favreau, 2003) 33

A Guy Thing (Chris Koch, 2003) 28

What? (Roman Polanski, 1972) 59

 

31. Morning Glory (Lowell Sherman, 1933) 68

The Cuckoo (Aleksandr Rogozhkin, 2002) 42

Duel in the Sun (King Vidor, 1946) 64

Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995) 90

How to Deal (Claire Kilner, 2003) 67

 

 

 

 

 

January 2003 - February 2003 - March 2003 - April 2003 - May 2003 - June 2003 - July 2003 - August 2003 - September 2003 - October 2003 - November 2003 - December 2003