July 2003 Archives

If you think the subject of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat is the genocide in 1915 of 1.5 million Armenians by Turks (as most critics seem to believe), you’ll find the movie a confused mess. But reducing the film to that summary is akin to saying the director’s The Sweet Hereafter was about a bus accident, or that his Exotica was about strippers.

Fixing Flawed Films

Give me a pair of scissors and some tape and I can significantly improve some movies — those whose major flaws are easily corrected with some minor surgery. The movies might not be great when I’m done with them, but they’ll be a hell of a lot better than what I started with. Phone Booth is one example. I watched the movie and thought, “How did they fuck that up?”

Difficult Listening

Metallica seems to be trying to re-claim something on St. Anger, making a statement that the three-album “rock” (as opposed to “metal”) phase the band went through starting with Metallica was a detour rather than a destination. And it is quite a statement, although not very successful. Plus: Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief

My Jerry Lewis

The very thought of Rowan Atkinson was funny enough to make me laugh. Because Atkinson is such a distinctive performer, I could visualize the scenes the writer described, and damn were they funny. For the life of me, I can’t think of any other performer who has this type of effect on me — or at least this type of positive impact.

Two Holes in One

I had more fun at Holes at age 32 than I’ve had at an “adult” movie in ages, and Louis Sachar’s screenplay features a number of subtle but important improvements on his novel, and it’s a model of efficiency and pacing. It’s going to take a damned good batch of movies to knock Holes off my list of 2003 favorites.

The irony of the success of Michael Lewis’ wonderful Moneyball is that it should bring the Oakland A’s back to earth. The justice is that Oakland’s demise doesn’t appear imminent. This is baseball, after all, and there’s no reason to change something just because it’s never worked very well.

Dismiss Monster Magnet at your peril. It’s certainly not difficult, but it’s unwise. The band might be all that rock and roll has left. The five-piece New Jersey outfit has taken the Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin torch that Soundgarden carried in the early 1990s and stripped the 1970s-style heavy metal of its grungier self-loathing and self-importance of the past decade. By re-claiming heavy music from rap metal and what passes for “alternative” these days, Monster Magnet might just be the savior of good ol’ rock and roll.

Much of what’s been written about Hulk is true: It’s boring, lead Eric Bana gives a lifeless performance, the titular CGI creature looks more like a rubber ball than several hundred pounds of flesh and bone, and the script has all the sharpness and bite of flat soda. But there is a more fundamental problem with the project: the source material.

The Matrix was well-made but so expository that it was narratively dead. The Matrix Reloaded is messy but an improvement, because unlike the first part of the trilogy, something actually feels at-stake in The Matrix this time around.

All the Rage

There was a moment early in the airless 28 Days Later when I knew that the movie was going to be something special — one of those little expert touches that tells you the filmmakers understand the power of the material and are in complete control of it.

100 Favorite Movies

Top 20 (roughly in order of preference)

  1. Magnolia. 1999. Anderson, Paul Thomas. Essay, essay, essay, and commentary track.
  2. Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control. 1997. Morris, Errol.
  3. Calendar. 1993. Egoyan, Atom. Essay.
  4. Memento. 2001. Nolan, Christopher. Essay and aborted essay.
  5. Antonia’s Line. 1995. Gorris, Marleen.
  6. Trees Lounge. 1996. Buscemi, Steve.
  7. Before the Rain. 1994. Manchevski, Milcho.
  8. Sweet Hereafter, The. 1997. Egoyan, Atom.
  9. Pan’s Labyrinth. 2006. Del Toro, Guillermo. Brief commentary track.
  10. Vertigo. 1958. Hitchcock, Alfred.
  11. Picnic at Hanging Rock. 1975. Weir, Peter. Essay.
  12. Crumb. 1994. Zwigoff, Terry.
  13. Truman Show, The. 1998. Weir, Peter. Brief commentary track.
  14. Monster in a Box. 1992. Broomfield, Nick. Essay.
  15. Requiem for a Dream. 2000. Aronofsky, Darren. Essay.
  16. Three Colors: Blue. 1993. Kieslowski, Krzysztof. Commentary track and essay.
  17. No Country for Old Men. 2007. Coen, Ethan, and Joel Coen. Essay.
  18. Fearless. 1993. Weir, Peter. Essay.
  19. Spider Forest (Geomi sup). 2004. Song, Il-gon. Essay.
  20. Batman Begins. 2005. Nolan, Christopher. Essay.