06 January 2003

Top 5

My annual Top 5 list, also to be found here.

1. About A Boy
2. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
3. Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens)
4. Y Tu Mamá También
5. Insomnia

It was really tough knocking out the two 4-Star Spielberg films this year, Catch Me If You Can and Minority Report, but I really felt these 5 films were the cream of the crop this year. Insomnia got the edge for the immersive, miasmic atmosphere it was able to maintain for 2 hours. Honorable mention should go to Enigma and Punch-Drunk Love for being excellent, if slightly flawed, films.
Just One?

Chicago: 3.5 Stars. A wonderful reproduction of the Broadway musical, brought to life by exceptional performances by Renée Zellweger (Roxie), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma), and Richard Gere (Billy Flynn). Also notable were Queen Latifah (Mama) and John C. Reilly (Amos), who steals the movie with a heartrending performance of "Cellophane Man." This movie doesn't really explore the film possiblities as fully as Moulin Rouge did and more feels like a shot version of the stage production, although all of the musical numbers are shown as quasi-dream sequences. I thought it slowed down a bit in the middle, but otherwise was a pretty damned solid effort. Kudos to Taye Diggs for managing to grip the audience with every spoken word of dialogue. He needs someone to write him a decent starring vehicle. Also, keep your eye out for original Broadway-Velma Chita Rivera in a bit part.

03 January 2003

Christmas Tradition for Jews

Catch Me If You Can: 4 Stars. Totally solid film from Señor Spielbergo. For the last 30 years, all this guy has done is crank out wonderful films (except The Lost World), and this one is no exception. Leonardo DiCaprio is perfectly cast as Frank Abignale, Jr., the chameleonesque teenager who poses as a Pan Am airline pilot, a Harvard-educated doctor, and a lawyer who cashed more than $4 million worth of counterfeit checks before his 19th birthday. Spielberg, resisting the urge to end this film on a truly dramatic moment, tells the full (albeit dramatized, with licence) story of Abignale. A fantastic effort that'll earn Spielberg a few more academy award nominations, and possibly the award itself, amidst a weak field, to DiCaprio. Kudos to Jennifer Garner for playing a teen beauty queen turned high-priced hooker in one of the most entertaining scenes in the film. It's worth noting that even this wonderful film couldn't beat out TTT.

Analyze That: 2 Stars. Ugh. How they could go from such an entertaining film to this dreck is almost astonishing. Director Harold Ramis should be ashamed. If it weren't for DeNiro's mugging to the camera, this movie wouldn't be worth the film it's projected on.

Star Trek 10: Nemesis: 3.5 Stars. Wow. The rule that even-numbered Star Trek films are the good ones is clearly being held to by the Trek producing machine. This one rivals ST8: First Contact as the best Next Generation film and may be as good as ST6: The Undiscovered Country, my second favorite of the series to ST2: The Wrath of Khan. As per usual, they gave Data (Brent Spiner) too much screen time and Worf (Michael Dorn) not enough, but since Spiner helped come up with the story, that's hardly a surprise. The story was great; the acting was great (even Troi (Marina Sirtis), Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Riker (William Frakes) were watchable); and the end was superlative. Kudos to Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers' Diz) for playing the hottest Romulan on record.

Solaris: 2.5 Stars. There were a lot of good ideas in this Steven Soderburgh-penned adaptation of the Stanislaw Lem novel. Unfortunately good ideas do not a great film make. The story here was a bit too thin; some more exposition would have been nice, and the end was just confusing and unsatisfying. Nice to see Jeremy Davies getting work, even if in a bit part.