Archive for the “2002” Category

2002

May 10, 2009
Netflix DVD
France / Portugal
French
92 Minutes
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Catherine Breillat [Last Tango In Paris; A Real Young Girl; 36 Fillette; Perfect Love; Romance; Fat Girl; Brief Crossing; The Last Mistress]

A female director struggles to get a scene of sexual intercourse on film.

**^ Ebert
**^ Berardinelli
B+ Schwarzbaum
6.3 Metacritic
5.9 IMDB

Sex Is Comedy @ Amazon

SEX IS COMEDY

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2002

February 16, 2003

Camera Cinema Club

USA

English

92 minutes

Documentary about the Weathermen, a group of radical early 70s young people who claimed responsibility for a host of bombings around the US to protest the Vietnam War specifically and the capitalist form of government in general. Although I’m too young to remember the actual events, I knew about their existence, but not the extent of their bombing targets. This film has archival footage and recent interviews with the subjects. A fascinating look at how a youthful movement can take people in directions they didn’t plan on. The filmmaker was a guy named Sam Green who was probably the best guest the Camera Cinema Club has ever had. Young and thoughtful and even-tempered, he makes me optimistic about the future of the genre.

There was a bit too much harsh war footage, but I suppose that was to get us in the right frame of mind to see why these people went to such extremes to try and halt the war. A lot of blood. They also captured pretty well the free love society that The Weathermen wanted to live. It was very well done and can be seen this year at the upcoming Cinequest 2003. I highly recommend it.

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2002

November 20, 2002

Camera 7

USA

English

In Life And Love, Expect The Unexpected–MOONLIGHT MILE.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Ellen Pompeo.

Surprisingly, when looking at that cast above, the true revelation of this film is Pompeo who plays a fragile, but tough-acting postal carrier/bartender. She is unconventionally beautiful, tragic, and brave. This is the first time I’ve seen her, but she’s slated to be in a whole bunch of films coming out soon. I can’t wait to see her again.

Gyllenhaal’s fiance, the daughter of Hoffman and Sarandon, has been killed during a coffeeshop confrontation. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This happens before the film starts. The movie then traces how the family and friends find a way to get through the tragedy without pushing each other away.

With subject matter like this, it’s not like the sadness is going to be a surprise. We know there will be drunken memories, secrets unearthed, guilt about interactions, friends who know how to say exactly the wrong thing, and the inability to move on afterwards. What was a pleasant surprise for me was just how funny the dialogue was. Sarandon has cornered the market on the cynical, brassy, who gives a shit middle aged woman character, and Hunter could be a tough District Attorney, who spouts expletives, in her sleep.

There are several incredibly memorable snippets of dialogue.

Sarandon to Gyllenhaal: You want to know how we ended up together? I do four things before going to sleep. I drop my robe, crawl between the sheets, turn on my left side, and back my ass up. He finds me there and holds me. No matter what we’ve been arguing about or what kind of mood we’re in, I know I’ve found home in his arms.

Pompeo to Gyllenhaal during an profoundly touching moment: Why me?

Gyllenhaal to Pompeo during an argument: You let people learn 60% of you, but it’s the other 40% that’s important!

This film was actually much better than I thought it would be. The music was all 70s inspired, and it was fun to see the huge cars and clothing of that era. Gyllenhaal has developed into quite an actor, his eyes seemingly three sizes too big for his head. Hoffman is hyperly anal and Sarandon is the voice of reason. Tears aplenty here.

6.0 Critical Consensus

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2002

July 27, 2002

Century 21

USA

English

The Road To Perdition–Every Father Is A Hero To His Son

Tom Hanks. Paul Newman. Jude Law. Jennifer Jason Leigh. Stanley Tucci. Dylan Baker. Shot by Connie Hall. Directed by Sam Mendes.

12-year-old son discovers that his father is a hitman.

The cast and crew is among the most decorated in film history. It would probably be harder for this film to turn out poorly, than to turn out fabulous. The pacing is slow, the mood dreary and cold. It was filmed in small towns around Lake Michigan, where I spent much of my formative years. The photography is perfect. Every craftsperson is at the top of their game, except the music, which I swear was note-for-note the same score as SIX FEET UNDER. This actually took me out of the film from time to time. However, with the exception of the music, this was the result of brilliant filmmakers put together in the service of a pretty good story.

While I was sitting in the theater, I was mesmerized. The performances were fantastic. Tom Hanks should be the most hated man in Hollywood. He makes everything seem so effortless. But I am more convinced than ever that he deserves every accolade, every penny, and every drop of power that he now enjoys in Hollywood. He is an actual actor. He isn’t a movie star. His face shows us what’s going on inside him, even though his role here is quieter than usual. Paul Newman brings the sheer force of his Hollywood history to his role. He is full of integrity because we ‘know’ him through his countless other roles. In this role he has some unearned integrity that oozes from him, even though his profession is not one we should aspire to. Jude Law plays another hitman, who, by enjoying his profession gleefully, is more of a monster than Hanks, even though they basically do the exact same thing. So while I sat there watching, I was happy as can be.

I’ve had four days to think about this film. And the more I think, the less I like it. It’s not with the acting or the direction and it sure as hell isn’t the way it was shot. It’s the story and the lack of character development. This is one film where the negative comments you read from people seem to have much more truth behind them than the positive one you felt while watching. I feel sort of betrayed.

There is Catholic imagery that only shows up to prove that Hanks’ character is good. Leigh is among our greatest actresses but she has such little character development as to be a ghost. We should welcome her because when she isn’t onscreen, there are no females to take her place. This movie was shot in that one rare area of the Midwest where women don’t exist, I suppose. The character that Law plays only magnifies the problem with the central part of the film. That Hanks is loyal and doing his job because Newman helped him when he was younger. Hanks is a family man who prays and keeps his business separate from his home life. He doesn’t relish the violence he has to inflict in the name of Newman. Law, on the other hand, is happy, joyful; he poses his victims for photographs. He has no family and we don’t see him in church, therefore he is somehow a worse hitman. Both Law and Hanks work for the same man. They both kill people for a living. Law is creepy and has bad teeth and lives alone. Hanks dresses like a businessman, is well groomed and loves his family. This alone somehow makes Hanks a better man. The victims of Hanks are unknown to us, while the victims of Law are beloved by us.

My basic problem is that Hanks does not earn the love that we as the audience give him. It doesn’t matter that he had a bad childhood, he is a killer, but we think he’s cool. When Law kills someone, we see blood and hear screams. When Hanks does, it’s clean, often off-camera, and the music takes over.

This film isn’t without its charms. A scene where Newman and Hanks talk about the son’s discovery is quiet and says more without dialogue than more typically wordy films would. “He saw everything,” says Hanks. Newman answers, “It’s tough to see that for the first time, but then you turned out.” Is Hanks pissed that Newman forced him into the family business? Does Hanks think he’s messed up and didn’t ‘turn out’? Was Newman apologizing for Hanks having seen the same thing his son did all those years ago? We are forced to make up our own conclusions, which makes the film good. There is a shot outside in the rain in Chicago when Newman is surrounded by his men and Hanks is in the shadows that I may never forget. The time period is faithfully rendered, with the exception of choppy CGI work when we see old-town Chicago.

A better story having characters who don’t appear to have a checklist of character traits, but simply are characters would have made the film less obvious and more thought provoking. We are told what to think by scenes in a family’s kitchen and at church. Bad guys smoke and aren’t attractive. Good guys are quiet and have families.

The praise for this film is way overboard. It will surely be nominated for multiple Oscars. I’d give a nomination to Conrad Hall for the photography and Hanks for inhabiting his role.

7.8 Critical Consensus

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Written by Michael W. Cummins