2002 Movies

 

A Beautiful Mind HHHH (2/16)

In the Bedroom HHHH (1/19)

Road to Perdition HHHH (8/3)

Bowling for Columbine HHHH (11/23)

Last Orders HHHH (3/23)

 

Cat's Meow HHH (5/5)

Beauty and the Beast: IMAX Edition HHH (1/17)

Big Fat Greek Wedding HHH (4/20)

Kissing Jessica Stein HHH (4/6)

A Walk to Remember HHH (2/9)

Y tu mamá también HHH (5/23)

Minority Report HHH (7/2)

Austin Powers in Goldmember HHH (7/26)

 

Unfaithful HH (6/8)

Insomnia HH (6/18)

Mr. Deeds HH (6/29)

 

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones H (6/5)

Die Another Day H (11/29)

 

Gosford Park M (1/3)

 

 

Guide

Masterpiece HHHHH

Excellent       HHHH

Good            HHH

Fair                HH

Poor              H

Bomb           M

 

 

A Beautiful Mind HHHH

By the end of this film, I had completely forgotten this was directed by Ron Howard. Actor Russell Crowe belts one out of the park in this tale of physicist John Nash. As his schizophrenia appears things go from strange to unreal. A most inventive use of narrative is employed here to reveal the depth of schizophrenia. Also starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and Christopher. We should all be thankful for the sanity we have.

 

In the Bedroom HHHH

A love story that goes strangely awry when a divorced woman's husband returns and disrupts the lives of another family. Pay attention or you'll miss the subtle shades that permeate the New England town and its quietness. A movie you'll be discussing long after the credits end. Starring Tom Wilkinson (remember him from "The Full Monty"?), Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl, William Mapother, and Marisa Tomei.

 

Road to Perdition HHHH

Director Sam Mendes once again takes us down the path of disillusionment. This time the theme is fathers and sons. The theme is patriarchal with very few women involved. Set in the winter of 1931, a quiet mob enforcer (Tom Hanks) inadvertently takes his son (Tyler Hoechlin) to a mob hit. The ball is in motion and nasty revenge ensues. There's a sinister hit man/photographer (Jude Law) that resembles the famous crime photographer Weegee. Surely to make an indelible impression at Oscar time. Also starring Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Stanley Tucci. There are a couple lines of dialogue such as "Sons were put on this earth to trouble their fathers" that make one want to wince, but overall the period seems genuine and foreboding. Stunning cinematography by the great Conrad L. Hall.

 

Bowling for Columbine HHHH

Writer/director Michael Moore's ambitious docu-comedy about America and its love of guns and violence. He does his best work showing the irony of banks giving out guns for opening new accounts and a hilarious animated history of the United States. The funniest moments are within an interview with John Nichols, the brother of Oklahoma City Bomber suspect, Terry Nichols. Unfortunately, his ambush on NRA president Charleton Heston somehow misses the bull's-eye. While he tries to play connect the dots with Welfare reform and an unfortunate shooting, he seems to be stretching the limits with credulity. He never goes to the Center of Disease Control, which has very interesting data on the problem. Still, he offers plenty to chew on with no real answers. Also starring Dick Clark, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Marilyn Manson (who is much less scarier than the others).

 

Last Orders HHHH

Poor pub mate (Michael Caine) has died and his 4 mates (Tom Courtney, David Hemmings, Bob Hoskins, and Ray Winston) must carry out his last orders to have his ashes sprinkled out to sea. A dude flick if there is such a thing. Nice work by cinematographer Brian Tufano especially as his camera shifts back and forth and around in several automobile sequences.

 

Cat's Meow HHH

After a long hiatus, director Peter Bogdanovich returns with a Hollywood mystery that was hushed up way back when newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Edward Herrmann) may or may not have accidentally killed Thomas Ince (Cary Elwes) aboard his yacht. Along for the ride are his beautiful lover, Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst), comedic actor Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), the gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Jennifer Tilly) and various other assorted characters. A great period piece with a full sense of mis-en-scene.

 

Beauty and the Beast: IMAX Edition HHH

You would think that bigger is better, but you'd be mistaken. For some reason or another the aspect ratio of Imax flattens out the original widescreen story that is more of a musical than a breathtaking travelogue. The added song "Human Again" does nothing to justify or add to the story and Disney was wise to have edited it out in the original release. Despite all this it's still a great movie to take kids to. With the voices of Robby Benson, Paige O'Hara, Angela Lansbury, Richard White, and yes you heard right, Jerry Orbach.

 

Big Fat Greek Wedding HHH

Opah!!!! Surely one of the most entertaining and least heard-of movies of 2002. A homely young woman (Nia Vardalos) working for her overbearing father (Michael Constantine) in a restaurant finds her true calling when she goes back to school. The warm relationships between family and in-laws, along with the neighbors brings joy to the fine art of movie watching. It's a joy to see Andrea Martin returning to her comedic beginnings. Pay attention to the story she tells about a growth she had. Also featuring Ian Miller and Lainie Kazan.

 

Kissing Jessica Stein HHH

A kind of twist on last year's "The Diary of Bridget Jones". Poor Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) remains single and a handful of male suitors are being foisted on her. Still her interests lie elsewhere. You'll have to stay to the bitter end of the credits to hear jazz pianist Diana Krall belt out "Devil May Care". Also starring Heather Jurgenson and Tovah Feldshuh.

 

A Walk to Remember HHH

Not that you'll remember this movie a week from now, still it stars an amazing performance by Mandy Moore as a young man (Shane West) she falls in love with. Meanwhile her overprotective father (Peter Coyote) keeps a watchful eye on things. This walk will keep you entertained.

 

Y tu mamá también HHH

The title translates "And Your Mama Too". Two young Mexican adolescents (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) find their true sexual identity in the openly brazen coming-of-age film. They pick up a young woman (Marible Verdu) on a road trip to a mythical beach. There are plenty of sexual hijinx along the way, but it is treated in a very adult manner that doesn't create the usual "American Pie" giggles. The climax of the movie makes you wonder why you haven't seen this before. Sure to make some people squirm, but then again, that's always a good indicator of what your boundaries are. Oh yeah, and your mama too!!!!!

 

Minority Report HHH

Director Steven Spielberg just doesn't know what to do with the sci-fi genre. In his second attempt after the controversial "AI: Artificial Intelligence", he takes on the novel by Phillip K. Dick. This time a cop (Tom Cruise) finds himself the criminal. There are some interesting concepts of the future including vertical roadways, consumer oriented advertising signs, and wickedly creepy retinal-scanning spiders. Still that doesn't make up for the lackluster last half-hour of the movie as it runs out of steam and goes into predictability mode. Whether or not this becomes a sci-fi classic that "Blade Runner" became is highly doubtful. Also featuring an ever sinister Colin Farrell, Max Von Sydow, and Sinead O'Connor wanna-be Samantha Morton.

 

Austin Powers in Goldmember HHH

Yeah Baby!! Writer/Actor Mike Meyers in the third installation of Austin Powers. Better than the first, but not as good as the original, sends up another spy spoof making fun of the 1970's. As Dr Evil (Meyers) and a nasty weird Dutch villain by the name of Goldmember (Meyers again), who has suffered a traumatic smelting accident goes about in a madcap scheme of world domination. It's all silly nonsense with Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) stealing the show. Also starring Beycone Knowles as his foxy sidekick, and a horde of cameos. Don't blink or you'll miss Katie Couric. Okay, time's up!

 

Unfaithful HH

I'm getting a bit tired of director Adrian Lynne's sexual hijinx in freight elevators, but I guess if you have to have a trademark, it could be worse. This time a bored housewife (Diane Lane) goes for bookwormish poet (Paul Martel). Meanwhile her husband (Richard Gere) suspects the worst. The big problem with this film is not the story, but they don't know where to end it. Also starring Erik Per Sullivan, Dominic Chinase, and Chad Lowe.

 

Insomnia HH

This may cure your insomnia, if you can stay awake and pay attention to the foggiest of all mysteries. A somewhat corrupt police detective goes in search of a serial killer (Robin Williams). During his investigation a mishap occurs in a pea soup scene of fog. The serial killer sees the accident and the chase is on. You'll be scratching your head as to how the clues are revealed, but Hillary Swanks does her best. Still the beautiful scenery of Vancouver steals the show. Based on a Norwegian thriller of the same name.

 

Mr. Deeds HH

Another remake comes to town. This time it's Adam Sandler's vehicle to drive around in. After his uncle freezes on top of a mountain summit, the only heir to the mogul is Mr. Deeds (Sandler). Of course there's the nefarious underling (Peter Gallagher) who tries to steal the company. A sneaky foot-fetished butler (John Turturro) steals the show. This remake does its best to bring a little entertainment to the big screen. Unfortunately the slapstick violence goes way over the top and the loud thud and smacks make you wince instead of laughing. Also starring Winona Ryder, Steve Buscemi, and Conchata Ferrell.

 

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones - (Digital Projection Viewing) H

Writer/Director George Lucas has such contempt for the movie going public that this fifth installment of the Star Wars "nonology" reinforces my original idea that he represents everything wrong in American Cinema. Lucas has removed any feeling or emotion that was present in the first 3 episodes and replaced them with state-of-the art special effects to distract from his sloppy writing and editing. Don't look for any acting either! In this go round Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) is transferred to a hideout by Anakin Skywalker(Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Won Konobi (Ewan McGregor). After a ridiculous high speed chase that looks like a leftover set from "Blade Runner", she is then transported to her idyllic hideout. It is here that the computer-aided backdrop is most noticeable as Lake Como, Italy bears little resemblance to the hi-tech cinematography that precedes it. There are more chases and other feats of physic-defying stunts, but in the end it is just another marketing ploy to sell more Star Wars merchandise. Also starring Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, and oh yeah Jimmy Smits.

 

Die Another Day H

You’ll wish you had after seeing the 20th installation of the James Bond series. At last this moneymaker has run out of steam. The JB formula is still there, but it’s mostly stale. This time they’ve added a flying bullet in the opening sequence, big whoop! There’s also an idiotic special effect first seen in “The Abyss” many, many years ago.  Halle Berry is just wrong for a Bond girl, and she seems bored, as does Pierce Brosnan. The only redeeming villain is Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike). There are plenty of explosions, but they’re all meaningless. Madonna pops up as does John Cleese, and Judi Dench is just picking up her paycheck. I was hoping Austin Powers and Dr. Evil would show up to add some life to this, but no such luck.

 

Gosford Park M

More like Godawful Park. Movie auteur Robert Altman misses the boat in this whodunit genre. Despite a superb ensemble, Altman manages to produce one of the most boring motion pictures ever to come across the silver screen. A fine set of guests is invited to a lavish party when the host (Michael Gambon) is murdered. Whodunit? Who cares!!! The servants roam from room to room whilst the guests cavort or go on and on about nothing of any real significance. There's Maggie Smith doing her usual stuffy Maggie Smith, Kirsten Scott Thomas playing Kirsten Scott Thomas. The talents of Emily Watson, and others are wasted. You'll wish you'd been left off this guest list.

 

© 2002, 2003 David Burnham

H

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