0030: Top Ten 2001 Films

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  • 1) Mulholland Drive - Like most Lynch films, Mulholland Drive starts as if it might make some sort of sense. Of course, towards the end of Mulholland Drive, as toward the end of many of Lynch's films, one begins to reach the conclusion that nothing in the film will make sense. Then, to everybody's surprise, the film ends, and the entire experience makes perfect sense (at least, if you were keeping up with things). This film is dazzling, mesmerizing, thought provoking, captivating, confident, and completely satisfying. Naomi Watts probably deserves the Oscar for best actress. As much as I want to go on, I don't want to spoil this film for anybody, since any serious film fan should run to see this one, quite easily the best new movie I've seen this year.

  • 2) The Royal Tenenbaums - Inventive, odd, funny, and just barely this side of too-quirky-for-its-own-good, The Royal Tenenbaums manages to wring some true drama from the eccentric plot set-up. The sets and mise-en-scene are terrific, but the great rock soundtrack may just trump everything in this film. Wes Anderson amazingly continues to hit farther each time he steps up to bat.

  • 3) Moulin Rouge - What a year - we've been consistently deflated with false promises, sold a bill of high-costin' snore-inspirin' spectacles, drowned in a monochrome barrage of boredom. Pop down a few bucks and find salvation, brothers and sisters, for even including all its flaws and pretensions, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge is a orgasmic geysmic explosion of color splattering the black and white world that is 2001 cinema. This film throbs with life bloody life, baby, and you are simply dead if the first 30 minutes of this film don't spew your ya-yas out.

  • 4) Amelie - Since this delightful little film offers up a recipe for love, I'll offer a recipe for this film. Take 7 parts Emma and add 2 parts Run Lola Run. Simmer in a warm water bath of Paris while stirring in 1 part each of Ally McBeal and City of Lost Children. Garnish and serve. On an entirely non-critical note, I'll add here that France certainly produces the most beautiful actresses in the world, and that, after spending some time in Paris this summer, I was enthralled to see several locations I left behind on returning home. While not quite as enchanting as some of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's earlier work, Amelie is still quite fun and miles ahead of any other romantic comedy I've seen this year.

  • 5) Spirited Away - I have been a Miyazaki champion for some time, but even I was taken aback by Spirited Away. Sure, he has shown an amazing ability to tap into a young child's view of the world before, as in My Neighbor Totoro. He has exhibited an incredible imagination and power of imagery in films such as Kiki's Delivery Service, and with Princess Mononoke, he proved that his animation ability was up to the challenge of any computer. I'm not really shocked that he swirled all these streams together in his latest offering; I am stunned, however, by what seems to be a quantum leap of brilliance from a man who has already shown himself one of the few masters working today. Like Almodovar's Talk to Her, Hayao Miyazaki's take on a magical wonderland in Spirited Away is an amazing, surprising masterstroke that leaves even those of us who expect excellence from this fantastic director dumbfounded. With his careful yet never boring pacing, his startling, creative imagery, and his observant, daring directing that would be a highlight even in a live-action film, Miyazaki has not just created the greatest animation film in the last few years. He has created a timeless masterpiece for the ages.

  • 6) Mad Love - Wow, how did Oscar miss this one? This is a grand historical costume affair firmly in classic award-snatching mode, and it is marvelous. The photography and the costumes combine for frames that could hang in museums, the story is suitably grand, and the acting is stellar. In fact, why has hardly anybody heard of this film? Sure, the dialogue is in Spanish, but still...

  • 7) Intacto - With a striking, intelligent style, an incredibly intriguing high concept, and an emotionally resonant story that actually expands the great idea into a great story, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has created the finest feature debut of the year. What is luck? Are we responsible for it? Does every personal gain in the universe come about from someone's loss? Are we estranged from our parent (creator?) and now wish to avenge ourselves? Fresnadillo asks these questions while never giving the audience easy answers. In fact, his respect for the audience's intelligence is striking in a new director; he tells the story and expects you to keep up. The effort a viewer provides in following the plot also pulls him or her into the film, and the atmospheric film has enough mysterious, empty space to accommodate all. In one scene, Max Von Sydow sits down with a young challenger. Their arrangement brought to my fellow viewer's mind the seats around the chessboard where Sydow once played a game with the devil. That film, The Seventh Seal, worked with extracting myth from base reality and with pondering the metaphysical inside a narrative. Seeing that Intacto has many of the same goals, I'm sure that echo was intentional.

  • 8) Ghost World - Ghost World is an amazingly perceptive coming-of-age film for the present age of irony. Some criticism has hinted that the film simply skewers modern life, but I fear those critics have failed to penetrate Thora Birch's Enid, a girl who rolls her eyes at the world by day and dances to the television or cries into her pillow at night. Enid sneers at her surroundings, but by painting her world black, she is left huddled in the corner with no place to stand. As the film progresses, and her high school world fades, she becomes desperate to find a sliver of the world to belong to. Does she? No, but there is some guarded hope that she might. Illeana Douglas gives us perhaps the best laughs of 2001, Buscemi proves he can act beyond the creepy psyhco Bruckheimer usually presents him as, and Scarlett Johansson, the young girl from The Horse Whisperer, seems uncannily like a young Chloe Sevigny. This film is one drama that largely plays by the rules of the real world, and is all the more resonant because of it.

  • 9) Monsoon Wedding - You can spend days picking apart this film. The ending is too pat. Every move is telegraphed well in advance. The good are very good, while the bad are very bad. Still, this film (along with Ghost World) further highlights the Hollywood studios' current failure to produce any drama worth watching. Stripped of the extraneous crap the big players think we dumb viewers need to be drawn into a drama about real people, this film overcomes its weaknesses and emerges a triumphant celebration of family, hope, and the courage of taking risks. If it sounds touchy-feely, well, yes. It is touchy. It is feely. It is warm, and it is resplendent with life.

  • 10) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - A fine, fun film, Lord of the Rings shows what wonderful results you can get in an adventure film with great source material and a respected, talented director mixed in with a decent budget and good actors. The mythical world is especially breath-taking and perfectly realized, and if I'd like a bit more characterization our of the characters of Orlando Bloom and John Rhys-Davies, the fact that this film not only didn't suck but actually went a great way to meeting J.R.R. Tokien's vision is enough for me to forgive tons.




  • Films I Have Seen That Were Intentionally Left Off This List

  • In The Bedroom - A fine, if severely over-rated debut from director Todd Field, In The Bedroom almost manages to save it's Ordinary-People-meets-Crimes-and-Misdemeanors plot by a patient, lingering style and excellent performances from its surprising cast. Sure, huge chucks of this film are quite impressive, but the ending seems like it was added to a shorter film to bring it up to feature-length and stole quite a bit of visual style from the Coen's superior debut, Blood Simple. I'll keep my eye on Mr. Field, but I'm not quite ready to crown him the new king of art cinema yet... (Besides, I'm not entirely convinced that Hal Hartley isn't still using his headpiece).

  • The Man Who Wasn't There - If you believe that the Coen brothers are two of the funniest people living and breathing on this here planet, especially when they make people tawk all fun like, then you can probably ignore anything I am about to say. However, if you are a huge fan of the early work of these two obviously talented brothers who often of late have felt that their attempts at humor can be juvenile at times and work against the tone of some of their films, then read on. This really isn't a Coen brothers' film. Roger Deakins (the cinematographer) and Billy Bob Thornton own this film, and to the extent that this flick succeeds, the credit should go to these two individuals. While this film isn't the outright failure that O Brother Where Art Thou was (and again, if you loved that film, you can stop reading right now), it is nowhere near the early heights the brothers hit with Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing. Perhaps, by removing the tongue from the cheek, this might have been an extremely interesting, Kafkaesque film noir. Perhaps, if they had went all out with the humor, this may have played more like the genre-implosion of The Big Lebowski. Unfortunately, a compromise of sorts was attempted, and the film doesn't really quite survive this misguided try at creating an alloy. Not a complete failure, but frankly, this isn't worth half the attention the media has showered upon it. Still, Thornton and Deakins probably make this worth watching once...

  • Honorable Mentions

  • The Others - Unlike many modern twist films, this one stands up to scrutiny, and the scares and suspense still set off squirms long after the viewer learns to pay attention to the man hiding behind the curtain. Regardless of what Nicole Kidman says, The Others might very well contain her best performance, and the child acting is top-notch. Really, looking over the horror films of the past ten years or so, this easily ranks as one of the best, and could easily hold its own against any spooky house or ghost movie I know of. Let the public say what it will, viewing The Others and Open Your Eyes, I can only conclude that Alejandro Amenabar is the twisty, scary genius every one seems to have mistaken M. Night Shyamalan for. Here's to his continued success in Hollywood.

  • The Tailor Of Panama - Quite clever, this one. Dress it up like a slow-burning spy thriller. Load it up with tons of political commentary, making full-drawn characters double as symbols. Use a slightly vulgar and quite amoral James Bond five years later, when he has reached his unavoidable conclusions, as a living embodiment of American/European greed, arrogance, and twisted genius. Who to play the Bond character? Hell, while we're at it, we might as well have Bond himself do it! Oh, maybe we can cram a little humanity in there as well.... Before release, some feared that, with the peaceful transfer of the Panama Canal, The Tailor of Panama had become irrelevant. Boy, substitute "Middle East" for "Panama" and I bet they would finally find a clue. Insightful, and loaded with great performances (Brosnan is a revelation). Bulging with literary references, both to Fleming novels and to much higher-brow fare. A model of novel adaptation to film. Funny, too - If Austin Powers is the Bond spoof for college kids, surely this fits the bill for adults.

  • Apocalypse Now Redux - I'm not going to include this as a 2001 film since all the footage was shot in the 70s and the original film was released over twenty years ago, but Apocalypse Now Redux is a mesmerizing film. Better than the original? I'll very timidly claim not; while the added scenes certainly make the story more logical and fill in plenty of bits, the extra length isn't always justified by the revelations. Additionally, the character of Willard seems to grow confused with the additional scenes, and the infamous French plantation scenes simply do not live up to their legendary status. In fact, they are rather weak. Still, this serves as an interesting footnote to the original film and an intriguing, captivating film on its own. Were it a true 2001 release, it would easily claim a spot somewhere around the top of this list.

  • Gosford Park - Not really a stellar comeback for Altman, and certainly nothing much compared to his most recent hot streak (Short Cuts and The Player), Gosford Park is a perfectly fine piece of acting and directing from a cast and director that deliver modest pleasures. In fact, this film pretty much defines a "good", yet not "great", film. Not an artistic hair is out of place here, all work is performed admirably, and no daring revelations or artistically dazzling moments blaze across the screen. This is simply well-done and enjoyable, and some times, that is all that is needed. Not quite worthy of all the Oscar hoopla USA Films generated for it, but I suppose that could just make up for the fact that Short Cuts is still one of the most widely unseen masterpieces of the last decade.

  • Festival in Cannes - This little gem was a very nice surprise. Playing as a breezy version of The Player minus any murder intrigue, Festival follows a large cast of characters around the Cannes Festival trying to pull together money and talent for various film projects. They talk a lot, and that coupled with the subject will turn many viewers off, but I am sucker for a good inside look at the making of films, and I found the characters very interesting and true to life. Greta Scacchi positively glows on every frame she graces, and Anouk Aimee and Maximilian Schell give wonderfully natural performances playing off their real identities. Ron Silver brings a film producer to sympathetic life (no easy task), and Zack Norman was a revelation to me playing a scrappy low-on-the-ladder producer dying to get a film together. Perhaps the story line with Jenny Gabrielle as overnight sensation Blue was the weakest, but her story arc was still better than the main plot of many dramas. This may not be a major masterpiece, but I adored it; if 2001 wasn't already such a strong year, it would have certainly found a place on my top ten. As it is, it is still a film very much worth finding and enjoying.

  • Y tu Mama Tambien
  • Italian for Beginners

I agree totally! Moulin Rouge and Shrek are my favorite movies of the year so far. Well, I'm not sure if Shrek is #2 any more, I just saw Bridget Jones' Diary, and I really enjoyed that.

Hmm, I'm thinking I should probably check out Mulholland Drive, huh?
I read in another discussion that you haven't had much time to see movies this year, that's a shame, there have been some real gems.
By the way, are you planning to hold another Critical Concensus Awards? I would love it if you would.

Silly me, I meant Critical Underground.

If you have the chance to catch Mulholland Drive, I highly recommend it. A terrific film.

You know, I think I will bring the Critical Underground back to life for the alternative Oscars. I plan on having quite a bit more time on my hands soon, so maybe the CU will come back to life rearin' and kickin' again!

Our Lady of the Assassin arrived in town last Friday, so I'm hoping to catch that before it leaves. I had to choose between it and Mulholland last Friday, so I hope they hold Our Lady over for another week. Knock on wood.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Dude, The Others, excellent. I am glad to see it on this list. I was wondering what you thought of it. I know you think its better than The Sixth Sense (you posted that on my 'endings' list), but what else left an impression on you? Also, if Waking Life comes anywhere near you, rush to see it. I would really be interested to hear what you have to say.

Cool, nice to see you've had a chance to add to this list. Looking forward to your Mulholland Drive comments!

As soon as I gather my thoughts, I certainly will add comments to Mulholland Drive. It is easily the best new film I've seen this year - Stylish AND thought-provoking, with an Oscar-worthy performance from Naomi Watts to boot!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Ok, though often we agree Mr. Bangs, I must take some umbrage with your statement that the Others is a better movie than the Sixth Sense. I saw the Others a few weeks ago and I came away asking is that all there is? I suppose Kidman is ok in the role but the ending was far too predicatable and the movie was way too much atmosphere and not enough substance. I suppose the same could be said for the Sixth Sense but the ending of that worked much better for me. Neither is a classic but after watching the Sixth Sense I did at least want to view it again. All I wanted to do after watching The Others was maybe check out BeetleJuice again.

Umbrage unintended, my friend. I guessed the ending to The Sixth Sense while watching a pre-release trailer in the theatre. The Others at least held me a little longer than than (though true, I did anticipate it long before the ending). Additionally (and I could be opening a huge can of worms here), I find The Sixth Sense's "secret" quite unconvincing, even after the director tried to explain away all problems on the DVD. The Others made sense, IMHO.

Additionally, I rather enjoyed Kidman's "OK" performance, and while neither films exactly oozed substance, I did enjoy the Turn-of-the-Screw-like atmosphere The Others generated.

All in all, though, only my opinion. Not feeling that either film is a masterpiece, I probably wouldn't armwrestle anybody over it... :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I agree about The Man Who Wasn't There. Upon reflection, Man has decreased in stature in my mind, and that is usually a sign that the film was not as good as I originally thought. Also, I'm glad you gave Billy Bob his due.
PS: your write up has made me want to see MD more than I have ever.

I like early Coen brothers, as well as some of their later stuff. I've always felt like a bit of an outcast for liking The Hudsucker Proxy, for not liking The Big Lebowski, and for thinking Fargo is merely good. Would you be willing to expound on what you mean by "genre-implosion" in regards to Lebowski, and why you think O Brother Where Art Thou? is an outright failure?

The Big Lebowski sets up a very Raymond-Chandler The-Maltese-Falconesque structure, but then changes vital parts of the structure to collapse the entire genre. Instead of a sharp detective determined to solve a mystery, we get a fried-out Dude who really doesn't care much about the central mystery of the film. Even the mystery itself is deflated, proving non-essential to the film. If I recall correctly, the climax (or at least what would have been the climax in a Chandler film or novel) even occurs off-screen. The structure of the genre was built, but it was intentionally collapsed.

The brothers love to play with genre, but in The Big Lebowski, it never really develops into much. The comedy often works, but I doubt few really caught what they were trying to do with the genre, and of the ones who did, most I venture found the effect rather lacking. Still, a quite funny film at times.

O Brother is the closest the Coens have come to a straight-forward comedy, or at least I hope it is. If they really meant much from the Odyssey-like structure, then I fear it didn't translate well on the screen. Which leaves us with humor, one of the toughest elements to judge objectively. I felt the film wasn't very funny, recycling types of comedy that spiced earlier films but aren't really enough to stand as the whole stew themselves. If people found it hilarious, then I guess the film worked for them. I thought it a dismal failure.

Does any of that make sense? I'm typing during my lunch hour, so I am a bit pressed and hurried. If not, let me know, and I will type more later.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Actually, I just remembered that The Big Sleep is an even more apt comparison than The Maltese Falcon.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

O Brother is more of a straightfoward comedy than Raising Arizona?

Forgot about Raising. Call it a tie.

Thanks.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

That all makes sense. I must admit that the genre-play in Lebowski completely went over my head, so I was left with Lebowski-as-comedy which didn't really work for me (highly subjective, as noted). On the other hand, the comedy in O Brother did work for me (except for the Babyface Nelson bits), which explains our difference of opinion on that one. Once you feel that the comedy is working, then the whole Hayseed Odyssey becomes much more amusing.

Your thoughts on the failure of the Odyssey-like structure remind me of our Shakespeare in Love discussion, where I really liked the usage of many Shakespearian plot devices in building a modern story, while you thought (I think) they were mostly "look how clever we are" tricks. It's an interesting issue - when do references like these work, and when are they just showing off?

My comment about the Odyssey structure never amounting to much was mostly in context to the Coen's usual use of genre. They didn't subvert the genre, they didn't fully exploit it, heck, they didn't even mirror the Odyssey all *that* closely. This isn't really a fault; I followed up these comments by noting that we are then left with the humor. The fact that the structure in O Brother is really just a plot to hang the comic episodes on isn't a flaw - it was simply my way of pointing out that the film largely must then be viewed on how well the comic elements work or fail.

For me, the comedy relied quite a bit too heavily on laughing at the wacky hillbillies. Highly personal judgement, I agree, but the other interesting elements (such as Hayseed's love of verbosity or the cow incident, which wasn't hard to anticipate) just weren't developed enough to really work on their own. I personally believe the brothers fall back on this type of humor much more often than is effective. For me, enjoying Fargo largely amounted to ignoring the "funny" scenes involving how people around Fargo talk. I laughed for the first five minutes, then thought the entire vein was exhausted. What I liked about Fargo (and I agree with you; it is simply a good, not great Coen film) was largely despite its regional humor.

IMHO, there just wasn't much beyond that humor in O Brother to enjoy. Blood Simple had fun poking at the cowboyish character, but it didn't rely on this to carry the film, which is good since it would not have.

Like Hayseed, I fear I am now growing too verbose.

:)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

For me, the comedy relied quite a bit too heavily on laughing at the wacky hillbillies.

Ah, interesting! See, for me I felt enough affection for them that it didn't really feel like "laughing at." The affection changed the feel of the humor. I think you've made me realize where Fargo let me down. The comedic elements definitely felt like "laughing at." The movie had no heart. Big brain, no heart.

The sad thing is, I can forgive a film for laughing at its characters if it can truly keep me laughing at them. Fargo lost my laughs after a little while, and I'm afraid O Brother never really got them from the get-go. While Fargo had more to the film, I didn't feel O Brother had too much beyond the comedy, so when the comedy didn't work for me, the film didn't work for me. With Fargo, I can still enjoy other elements even after my eyes roll when most folks burst into laughter.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Oops, didn't really answer your final question, did I? I was probably avoiding it since I'm not really sure I want to fasten any hard-fast rules on the matter. In regards to Shakespeare in Love, a movie I have mellowed a tad bit toward, I would probably say the references work to the extent that they add something significant (humor, insight) or create an interesting updating or parralel to the original sources. So, largely, no doubt, a lot of it boiled down again to how funny the references were beyond a simple "Hey, I recognize what they're talking about there" level.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs (Dodging the bullet, er, question...)

Jim, I am so with you there. For me The Big Lebowski was disappointing. I actually got to see The Hudsucker Proxy theaterically in the 1 (or maybe 2) week(s) that it was there and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Fargo was a solid film but I didn't think it was the pinnacle of what the Coen's had achieved at the time or will have achieved by the time their career comes to a close.

Ah, the Coen Brothers. First let me start off by saying I have not yet seen The Man Who Wasn’t There. I am sure I will though. But I have seen the rest of their stuff and I actually liked a lot of it. Miller’s Crossing is a masterpiece and Fargo and Blood Simple are close behind. I usually do not like the boys when they do straight out Comedies. Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski just did not do it for me. O Brother on the other hand I found to be a very good movie. On the DVD they admit they made the most expensive MA and Pa Kettle movie ever made. It was funny but of course humor, as you point out, is so subjective. I agree the odyssey theme was just a little hook to lay some structure to it. Perhaps laughing at the hillbillies is easier for us up North.

The Brothers are best when they reign in their natural inclinations to add absurdity for just the sake of being absurd. I am sorry to hear that might not be the case with The Man Who Wasn’t There. They are wonderful filmmakers sometimes despite themselves.

A friend of mine observed that, among the people he knows, people from the NE US seem to not find O Brother as good as people from the rest of the US. I don't know if his sample is just too small or if this is a true trend. Just thought I'd mention it.

Interesting...

Of course, jgandcag, I believe, resides in the NE USA, while I, the O Brother hater, live in Oklahoma. So we just might be exceptions to that rule.

Very intriguing observation all the same. Thanks.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I, the O-Brother-is-not-so-greater, live in Ohio.

Perhaps there are three exceptions to every rule... :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Or five. My wife and I are from MA, and we both really liked it.

I believe Jim is another fan of Oh brother is a fellow New Englander. And my wife, who has lived all her life in massachusetts was a huge fan of that movie.

I enjoyed the new Coen brothers' movie but I have to say that it didn't blow me away either. The movies that I've seen this year that have been most impressive: Amelie(one of the most beautiful and wonderful movies I've ever seen, you'll never come out of a theater feeling so good) and Waking Life(now this is a trip). Unfortunately I haven't seen Mulhoulland Drive yet but I look forward to it.

I agree - Amelie is a great film. Unfortunately, Waking Life opened up here while I was with my wife in the hospital 24/7, and it was gone by the time we got out. I guess I'll be catching it on video...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I fell asleep quite a few times in Waking Life.

Hmm, I guess I should check out Amelie eh? France is having a splendid year in America. With a Friend Like Harry, Under the Sand, and The Adventures of Felix were all tres splendid, Amelie is being recieved very well, and The Brotherhood of the Wolf is getting good buzz. Perhaps Amelie may make it inot my top tier, I just hope I don't bulid it up too much in my head.
Always pleased to see you posting.
Nathaniel

Yeah, certainly check out Amelie; I think you will like it. All the same, do resist the temptation to build it up TOO much. It ain't the second coming or Christmas morning, but it is quite good, refreshing, and fun.

Thanks for the comments.

By the way, is The Brotherhood of the Wolf the film with the Crouching Tiger style martial arts in medieval France? I sadly must admit that the preview cracked me up. Maybe the film is better. Maybe I have the wrong film...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Indeed, that is the one. I saw the trailer as well, it did not impress me at the time. But than I read a few posts by French filmgoers, and they liked it a lot. I think it may turn into a weird little cult movie. But you never know.

Ah, The Royal Tenenbaums. I loved this one. Funny, you have it in the exact same place on your top ten that I do on mine. I have different films elsewhere, but Tenenbaums is in the same place.
Odd.

Well, at least until you have the chance to see Mulholland Drive... ;)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Hmm, funny, our reactions to In the Bedroom are one and the same. I thought it was a very well constructed film that has brilliant performances and in spots has a near mastery of its plot and affect on the viewer, then it collapses in the final twenty minutes.
Also, as for Lord of the Rings, I think they'll be developing the other characters in the next two films.

Thanks for the 15 Minutes reminder! Definitely have to add the "burning apartment" scene to my favorite action scenes list.

I also appreciate your Tailor of Panama review. While I persist in disliking it, you've given me some insights into why some reviewers have pegged it as "intelligent." While I caught the good performances, I missed much of the political symbolism of the characters that you suggest, along with the literary references (I don't recall catching any, although I haven't read Fleming). However, I still thought it was godawful slow right up to the climax, which I found unbelievable to the point of absurdity. Are we really supposed to swallow that we'd launch a all-out military assault on Panama without so much as a phone call between leaders? Something along the lines of "just wanted to see if you were still in power down there before we start BOMBING THE CAPITAL!" Anything! I'm all for pointing out U.S. interventionist folly, but come on!

Hmmm. Guess the ending didn't bother me so much. Why? Two possible reasons.

1) I found the film to be a bit more of a comedy than a true thriller, so the ending was more palatable to me much as Dr. Strangelove's ending is palatable to me.

2) I'm not sure what a phone call's purpose would be. To blow any surprise? To warn them in advance? To give them a chance to explain and thus ruin the invasion which was desired for reasons other than the stated ones? I guess I don't find this all that implausible. The actions fit the goals of the various countries. As to whether said countries would go to such extremes is a political can of worms I won't even open up here.

All the same, I hope you do persist in disliking it. I hope nothing short of a second viewing would ever change your mind. I certainly hope it takes more than the mad ramblings of an anonymous internet weirdo like me to do the trick... :)

I'm glad to see 15 Minutes' terrific apartment fire scene find a home on your action scenes list.!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Well, re-reading this post the next morning, perhaps I should have used the word, "satire," in place of the word, "comedy," above.

But you probably knew what I meant...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Fear not, from one anonymous internet weirdo to another, I'm adamant in my dislike. :-) I understand your first point, although even as satire I found Strangelove plausible, but not Tailor. As for your second point, I can envision plenty of miliary scenarios where you'd keep the element of surprise, but I think in the case of a suspected coup, there's at least an attempt to contact the supposedly deposed leader before you start dropping bombs. I'm also pretty sure that U.S. allies (not just the UK) get at least a little advance notice of our overt invasions (especially one as spectacular as this), if not some of our clandestine ones. While I find it perfectly realistic that the U.S. would initiate a low-profile operation on third-hand information, I can't imagine launching a "coming to a cable news network near you" air-assault without better intelligence. But maybe I give us too much credit...

I would agree IF the United States (in the film) wanted better intelligence. They didn't. If the coup turned out to be fake, they would have lost any half-way legit reason for the invasion, and thus, the canal. They didn't want to know, so they didn't dig too deep.

IMHO, natch.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Okay, I think I see where I might have disconnected on this one. I found it unbelievable that the real-life U.S. would act that way, especially in the information age. That the satirical U.S. acted that way was in keeping with character (if a country can have a character). Which isn't to say that the real-life U.S. isn't capable of some truly boneheaded moves, but that's slightly beside the point. I think I understand where you're coming from now.

I keep flip floping on Ghost World. At the moment, I like it a lot more than I did when I wrote my write up.

I really liked the film. At some point, I'll spare enough time to explain why above!

Work calls...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

There - I have posted write-ups for both Ghost World and Monsoon Wedding (which I caught last weekend after debating whether to watch it or Storytelling; I'm rather pleased with my decision).

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

"Italian For Beginners - Comments soon!" ...my butt.

Whoops! Darn, now I'm several months away from the film. Let's see what I can remember.

This is why I usually try to do the comments pretty soon after seeing the film - my porous memory...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Have you seen Donnie Darko by chance? Its an excellent film made this year, easily my favorite over Mullohand Drive (which by the way, at least from what I understand means nothing as a movie). Just wondering...

Nope, sadly, I haven't had the chance to watch Donnie Darko yet. All the stores around here have it on VHS, but not DVD, so it is sitting in my Netflix queue and hopefully will be in my player before too terribly long. I have heard nothing but great things about it, so thanks for the suggestion!

I am quite convinced that Mulholland Drive does make sense, despite what many say. Even Naomi Watts recently has been confessing that she does think it adds up, even though she denied it at first.

I've noticed that those who don't believe MD really means anything tend to value it much less than those of us who do. Interesting...

Thanks for the comments! I really think 2001 ended up being a great year for film. The ten above are great, and even my runners-up would make my top ten in most years...

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs