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The Best Umpteen Movies of 2002

Pumpkin
Such a strange movie. Christina Ricci is as creepy and endearing as ever and Hank Harris manages to poke fun at the retarded without insulting them. The movie does not preach about the handicapped or about society or anything; it's a nifty little comedy that makes fun of absolutely everything, but stays so cute and charming, you simply can't get mad at it. It is funny in an original way which is dry and slapstick, intelligent and crass.

The Ring
If you went to the Saturday 8:30 PM show at the United Artist 14 in the east village on opening weekend, then I don't need to tell you how much I liked this movie. I was the annoying prick down in the pit that kept screaming at every fucking little thing. This movie was a blast, scary in all the right places and just gory enough. And it proves the age-old point: If someone throws their child down a well they probably had a damn good reason for doing it.

Bowling For Columbine
It's nice to see Michael Moore finally getting some respect what with the Cannes Award (55th Anniversary Prize) and the probable Oscar win he might become a little more than simply a pudgy left wing joke. This is great movie often times too preachy and a little over the top in places but generally entertaining and expertly made.

El Boa
There's a simplicity to El Boa that standard American audiences will, no doubt, find almost boring and predictable. However, simplicity is the foundation of grace and El Boa is a truly graceful movie. One can never say too much about the writing of a movie when it's in a foreign language but it seemed pretty effortless to me. While there are a few heavy-handed aspects to this movie that feel unnecessary, overall it is a tight movie and very stirring. Additionally El Boa proves, yet again, that little kids CAN actually act; it's just little American kids that suck so much.

Punch-Drunk Love
A lot of indie directors came out with their third attempt at film after two spectacular showings (Payne - About Schmidt, Solondz - Story Telling, to name two that I can think of right now). Paul Thomas Anderson faired the best of them all, I think, producing a clever well-made movie. He is his own downfall, however, and I fear that Punch-Drunk Love is a sign that he will never rise to a bar that he himself has set.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Even my boyfriend, who loves Joni Mitchell and has a quasi-hysterical fear of flying, dug The Two Towers. Sure, it's about 45 minutes too long. Sure, the acting is pretty much swill and sure, that thing that Legolas did, skateboarding down some stairs on a shield while rapid firing arrows, was utterly unforgivable but this is a damn fine movie regardless. It's sweeping and grand and magical and all of those stupid words they keep using in the previews. Don't be so jaded as to hate it simply because it's so big; down that path lies only madness and angst.

Intacto
This is one of those movies that grow on you the further you get away from it. It is definitely something of a sophomoric effort and comes across as such but it brims with so much passion and energy that all of its faults fall away in the face of its tireless creativity.

Lovely and Amazing
No one has ever told anyone off with quite as much panache as Kathryn Keener does in Lovely and Amazing. This is a fabulous ensemble cast and the story is wry and true-to-life just the way I like it. I suppose it's a chic flick since there's like, all of two men and only one near-death experience but still it's a nice sweet ride. And it makes me really wish I could hang out with Kathryn Keener sometime.

Bartleby
So, I'm a whore for Crispin Glover, so what? I love the guy. He's creepy in such a chic way. Bartleby was like the sleeper's sleeper movie of the summer. I think about 40 people saw it nation-wide. The idea that anyone thought The Most Boring Story in History would make a good movie is weird enough. The fact that they were right is simply sweet justice.

Y Tu Mama Tambien
The best road trip movie I've ever seen. And that one kid, Gael Gacia Bernal (who can now be seen in the latest Levis ad, soaking wet and wearing no underwear), is damn dreamy even if he does have that nasty Mexican moustache that has always creeped me out. It's gritty and edgy much like Amorres Perros, just with much less blood and fewer dead dogs. Mexico is fast becoming a staple of the foreign film empire. While Spain is growing crafty, and France - intriguing, Mexico is getting down and dirty and entertaining. I wonder what they're going to come up with next.

Hell House
One of the creepiest movies I've seen in years and undoubtedly the best documentary. It's actually worth watching several times just to pick up on all the things you missed the first time around. One of the best that I overlooked was that when the kids are trying to draw a pentagram on the floor of the Satanic Cult Sacrifice Room they accidentally draw a Star of David. Hell House is now out on DVD so just go and see it already!

Roger Dodger
Roger Dodger is as charming as Campbell Scott himself (and that is damned charming, let me tell you). It's clever and insightful and should have gotten far more play than it did. What makes the movie so good is that there aren't any tricks to it. It's just a simple story built off of some rather archetypal characters. Roger Dodger goes to show that in the modern era of filmmaking with fast edits, gritty cinematography, and uncomfortable, edgy subjects, sometimes the simplest and oldest storytelling methods work the best.

Far From Heaven
Far From Heaven tackled a much clichéd era and even more clichéd subject matter: A nineteen fifties housewife is seduced by her black gardener because she catches her idyllic nineteen fifties husband sucking off some nubile office boy. The premise is as timeless now as it was in the days of yore. The movie (quite cleverly) tries to cover the over used subject of the persecuted liberal in a starched collar neighborhood by embellishing the cliché of the nuclear family to darkly humorous lengths (their son actually says "Golly-Gee" a number of times and it's really creepy). While Julianne Moore acts the hell out of her part, producing what will probably be her finest hour in her long-destined career, the rest of the movie never quite lives up to its leading lady's performance. Still, the directing by Todd Haynes is inspired and the costumes are a thing of absolute brilliance.

Spirited Away
This is undoubtedly my favorite movie of the year. It isn't just a kid's movie that adults will like; it's a kid's movie that will remind adults what it is to be a kid-- with all the awe and gasping that goes along with childhood.

The Pianist
One of the most depressing, but somehow not, movies I've ever seen. The Pianist has already won the most prestigious award given out for film (the Golden Palm at Cannes), which is nice since it's not getting any more accolades (Spielberg's kind of got the vice grip on Hollywood over holocaust movies). It is one of the only movies I've ever seen that is presented in the first-person point-of-view. Wladyslaw Szpilman, the pianist himself, is in every single scene in the movie and the audience sees only what he sees. And while there is no narration, Szpilman is very obviously telling the story. From a directorial standpoint the movie is a marvel and the acting by Adrien Brody is superb. The Pianist makes Schindler's List look downright hammy and contrived.

Max
This is my bid for best film this past year. Granted I didn't see all of what are supposed to be the best but Max really pulled together the necessary elements of film; technically it's an achievement and the acting and writing are superb. Noah Taylor especially deserves many, many blowjobs for his excellent portrayal of Hitler.

And I just wouldn't be me if I didn't sharpen my claws a little on the pathetic, the pitiful and the unwary.

The Truth About Charlie
Not having seen Star Trek: Nemesis or Swept Away, The Truth About Charlie takes the lemon cake with lemon frosting all covered in sour candy lemons. Marky Mark is looking a lot more funky these days. He's got these jowls that give his otherwise youthful face a melting candle-waxy look-and Christ! that man can't act to save his life! Tim Robbins sits through the whole movie with this idiotic tooth-clenching grin as though he keeps telling himself this is all a terrible, terrible dream-you wish. Thandia Newton is cute, but that's it, just cute, befuddled, annoying, and boring… but cute! I've never heard an audience laugh so derisively at a movie to quite the extent that The Truth About Charlie was laughed off the screen.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
The thing about Star Wars is it doesn't even suck enough to be the worst movie of the year; it's that bad. It's awful in the way that a low quality ice cream will produce a really terrible version of vanilla. It defines a whole new level of suckitude. It's as though this movie sucks in a different dimension from the others; like it's sucking at levels beyond the range of human hearing; it's a movie that even your dog will hate.

We Were Soldiers
I'm getting really sick of Mel Gibson trying to reinvent himself as the corn-husking good old boy Middle America wants him to be. First The Patriot, then What Women Want, then Signs, now this? Ugh-- I think he realizes that Braveheart was his magnum opus so he's just doing schlock to pay the bills. Please, Mel, please! Just stop already. I have no idea what We Were Soldiers was trying to accomplish or what its message was supposed to be but in the end I'm almost offended that this movie was made. Needlessly violent and painfully preachy this movie accomplishes nothing except disgust.

Road To Perdition
The most boring, pointless movie of the year. They used lots of rain and dark lighting, thinking that would automatically make the movie dark and deep. There is no backbone to the thing; it's a limp fish of a movie. Tom Hanks is starting to get desperate.

Goldmember
Stupid. So Goddamned stupid.

Coming up next month:
"Somewhere, deep in Mormon-land, the sun isn't dancing, it's sort of jerking and limping rhythmically"

--B.C. Edwards
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[email protected] | January 2003 | Issue 34
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