Archive for March, 2003

2002

March 29, 2003

Video

UK / USA / France / Germany

English

101 minutes

Growing Up Has Nothing To Do With Age — ABOUT A BOY.

An idle playboy, who exploits single mothers, learns about commitment when he is forced to befriend an unhappy 12-year-old boy.

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7.9 Critical Consensus

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2002

March 26, 2003

Camera 7

USA

English

101 minutes

On The Road To The Perfect Life, Sam & Alex Took A Little Detour — LAUREL CANYON.

Kate Beckinsale. Frances McDormand. Christian Bale.

Ultimately empty story about a repressed, yet happy seeming couple, and how they change while staying with his mother in her bohemian hillside home in Los Angeles. McDormand has a kind of charisma where you can see her actually pulling off this charming character. She affects everyone she meets. The carefree life she’s chosen as a record producer can’t help but make a couple of doctors envious. She is magnetic. And Beckinsale is a goddess so at least we have something to look at. There is a sexy honest all-talking scene that takes place in a car that is very memorable. Fun while it lasted, but doesn’t leave you with much to think about afterwards.

6.0 Critical Consensus

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(City Of God)

2002

March 26, 2003

Camera 7

Brazil / France / USA

Portuguese

130 minutes

Fantastic, though overly violent, fact-based story about a section of slums outside the beautiful beach towns of Brazil. Kids learn to kill at a shockingly early age. It was fast-paced and colorful and the narrator was a kid trying to stay on the straight and narrow. Very, very well done.

8.5 Critical Consensus

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2002

March 21, 2003

Towne Theater

USA

English

127 minutes

For Anyone Who’s Ever Fallen In Love With A Book — STONE READER.

Upon second viewing, the problems were a bit bigger, but it was nice to watch with a new crowd who was completely captivated. It spawned another vigorous post-film discussion about books, which can’t be a bad thing.

Previously written:

This was one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Not because of its skill, but because it takes an unfilmable subject (the love of reading), and somehow expresses that love to us through the narration and actions of its bumbling director. Mark Moskowitz bought a book in 1972 because the NYTimes Book Review raved about it. He couldn’t get through it but he picked it up 20 years later and found it to be a masterpiece. So he did what we all do–he went online to buy all of the author’s other works. There were none. The original book is no longer in print. What makes someone so brilliant stop writing? He began to start a list of “one and done” authors including Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. He sets off to find out what happened to this author. He interviews writing teachers, agents, book jacket designers, the guy who wrote the original review. I’m purposely not telling you what the book was because that really isn’t the point. When you see Mark talking with friends and others about books that have touched him, you smile in recognition. He goes to his grammar school library with a buddy and they take books off the shelf one at a time and smile in recollection. This film was fabulous and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’ve ever thought you were the only person who had a book change their life, you must see this. Mark ends up sort of rapping with other people about the books they enjoyed rather than interviewing them. Absolutely fabulous.

~Best Documentary of 2002–Independent Spirit Award Nomination

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2003

March 19, 2003

Trio

English

Documentary about the period of American cinema between the release of Bonnie and Clyde and the release of Raging Bull in 1980. Based on the fantastic book of the same name.

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2002

March 18, 2003

Century Mountain View

USA

English

125 minutes

Jack Nicholson. Hope Davis. Dermot Mulroney. Kathy Bates.

In what may be Nicholson’s quietest performance, he plays a newly retired actuary. He finds himself alone and in an RV driving around the country all the while writing letters to a child he sponsored in Africa. It is basically the story of a man whose life did not measure up to the dreams he had for it. His career, wife, and daughter all grew at their own pace, not his. Bates is terrific as the tactless mother of the man his daughter is about to marry. The same director as ELECTION, he is a master at capturing the slow pace of the midwest, often using local actors. It was funny in the darkest of ways.

8.8 Critical Consensus

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2002

March 18, 2003

Century Mountain View

USA

English

114 minutes

Always — The Hours.

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, Toni Collette, Ed Harris, Allison Janney, Claire Danes, and Jeff Daniels.

Those guys could read the phone book and it would be at least above-average. Absolutely depressing from start to finish. Kidman plays Virginia Woolf, Moore plays a 1950s housewife reading Mrs. Dalloway, and Streep is a woman in the present-day who seems to be living Mrs. Dalloway’s life. Each woman is in mental agony about their “lives of no consequence”. The cast is chock-full of strong women and it was nice to see that none of them relied upon men for their happiness. But then again, there wasn’t that much happiness to see. The music is perfect and the cuts between decades turned out to be easy to follow. It was very well acted. Kidman was frail, Moore was boiling beneath the surface, and Streep was at the end of her rope. Not a happy day at the movies, but well done.

~~Oscar Nominations: Costumes, Director Stephen Daldry, Editing, Score, Picture, Harris, Moore, Kidman, Adapted Screenplay David Hare.

7.9 Critical Consensus

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2003

March 17, 2003

ABC

USA

English

150 minutes

Yes, this breaks my rule of inclusion onto this list. It was broadcast on ABC’s Wonderful World of Disney and was broken up by commercials, which I fast forwarded through. However, the chances of a new theatrical version of one of the three best musicals of all time (WEST SIDE STORY, GUYS & DOLLS) being released is next to nil. The songs were great, Matthew Broderick was great, the Shipoopi was great, and even the dancing was great. I was in this twice and did backstage work on a third occassion. It was a lot of fun to sing along. More magical than I thought it would be.

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2002

March 16, 2003

Camera 7

UK / Germany

English / Hindi / Punjabi

112 minutes

Who Wants To Cook Aloo Gobi When You Can Bend A Ball Like Beckham — BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.

The crowd-pleasing film of the year. When you hear a critic say “This Year’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding” they couldn’t be more right on. In no way does that mean it’s great. It has nothing to offend anyone, has a good message, and everything works out exactly as you think it will at the end. I must say it was more entertaining to me than MBFGWedding. An Indian girl living in London wants to play soccer. Her hero is David Beckham, England’s greatest soccer player. The title refers to his skill at kicking a free kick over the line of defenders and having it curve just enough to go under the cross-bar of the goal. Her traditional parents forbid her to wear shorts, never mind play sports in front of men. But she is good and she secretly joins the team. The typical funny stuff happens when she is seen hugging what appears to be a white boy at a bus stop, when people find out about her passion, when she falls for the hunky coach. We’ve seen all of it before, but the lead actress makes it all okay. Plus it has a message of girl power that the Spice Girls could only hint at. This is a winner and I saw it in an entirely fully theater. The kids loved it, the parents loved it. It was fun.

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2003

March 16, 2003

P.O.V.

English

83 minutes

Documentary about Bayard Rustin who studied Pacifism under Ghandi, was the first to be arrested for not giving up his seat on a bus, organized the first March on Washington, helped Lyndon Johnson with his Civil Rights legislation, and is largely unknown. For a white guy from the suburbs, I know more than most about the Civil Rights Movement but I had no idea that this person existed. The reason for his obscurity is that he was openly gay. A stupid mistake in the back of a car with two men in Pasadena followed him around for the rest of his days. He was charming, brilliant, and good-looking. It’s a shame that he isn’t remembered in the same way that other pioneers of the struggle are. An engaging subject makes an engaging documentary.

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2002

March 16, 2003

Camera Club

USA

English

127 minutes

For Anyone Who’s Ever Fallen In Love With A Book — STONE READER.

This was one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Not because of its skill, but because it takes an unfilmable subject (the love of reading), and somehow expresses that love to us through the narration and actions of its bumbling director. Mark Moskowitz bought a book in 1972 because the NYTimes Book Review raved about it. He couldn’t get through it but he picked it up 20 years later and found it to be a masterpiece. So he did what we all do–he went online to buy all of the author’s other works. There were none. The original book is no longer in print. What makes someone so brilliant stop writing? He began to start a list of “one and done” authors including Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. He sets off to find out what happened to this author. He interviews writing teachers, agents, book jacket designers, the guy who wrote the original review. I’m purposely not telling you what the book was because that really isn’t the point. When you see Mark talking with friends and others about books that have touched him, you smile in recognition. He goes to his grammar school library with a buddy and they take books off the shelf one at a time and smile in recollection. This film was fabulous and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’ve ever thought you were the only person who had a book change their life, you must see this. Mark ends up sort of rapping with other people about the books they enjoyed rather than interviewing them. Absolutely fabulous.

~Best Documentary of 2002–Independent Spirit Award Nomination

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2003

March 15, 2003

PBS

USA

English

53 minutes

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old from Chicago in Mississippi for the summer visiting family. Witnesses say that he whistled at the grocery store owner’s wife while buying a soda pop. He was dragged from his home that night and never seen alive again. A compelling argument can be made that Till caused so much outrage among both black and white that it actually jump-started the Civil Rights movement. This can be traced back to one of those decisions that seems ridiculous at the time, but has proven to have perhaps changed history. Till’s mother decided to leave Emmitt’s coffin open while the ten thousand mourners filed past in Chicago. The sight of his beaten and shot and water-damaged body was more than most could take. People began forming groups, the photos were published in independent papers.

There was a trial and the two men who witnesses say dragged him out of bed and who owned the truck that their servant was seen washing blood from were found innocent after less than 90 minutes. Members of the jury were heard to tell each other jokes. They also claim to have come to their decision after about five minutes but didn’t think it would look good so they waited nearly 90. The two men were released, the white townspeople rejoiced, the overweight sheriff told blacks “that’s what you niggers get for telling the NAACP”. The two men later sold their story to a magazine where they admitted everything they had been accused of. Chilling.

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2002

March 14, 2003

DVD

USA

English

104 minutes

If You Want To Feel The Rush You Have To Take The Risk — BLUE CRUSH.

Three hotties (one blonde, one half-asian, one Puerto Rican) surf and clean rooms on Oahu. Great surfing footage may not make up for lines such as “you flew here, we grew here” as the locals beat up a tourist. None of the women are victims and it tries to express an island way of life, but getting past the dialogue is hard. Great underwater photography of people getting worked by big waves.

6.0 Critical Consensus

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2001

March 11, 2003

Sundance

USA

English

97 minutes

On The Long Island Expressway, There Are Lanes Going East, Lanes Going West, And Lanes Going Straight To Hell — L.I.E.

~Best Actor of 2001 for Brian Cox–Boston Society of Film Critics, Independent Spirit Award Nomination

~Best New Filmmaker of 2001 for Michael Cuesta–Boston Society of Film Critics

~Best Debut Performance of 2001 for Paul Franklin Dano–Independent Spirit Award Winner

~Best Director of 2001 for Michael Cuesta–Independent Spirit Award Nomination

~Best Film of 2001–Independent Spirit Award Nomination, Sundance Grand Jury Nomination

~Best First Screenplay of 2001–Independent Spirit Award Nomination

~Best Supporting Actor of 2001 for Billy Kay–Independent Spirit Award Nomination

7.9 Critical Consensus

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2003

March 9, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

Japan

Japanese

118 minutes

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2003

March 9, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

Australia

English

30 minutes

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2003

March 9, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English / Greek

58 minutes

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

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2003

March 9, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

92 minutes

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

English

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2002

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

English

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

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2000

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

English

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

English

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

English

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2003

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

English

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2002

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

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2002

March 5, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

Hungary

Hungarian

75 minutes

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2002

March 8, 2003

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

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Written by Michael W. Cummins