Seen in 2001

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Tags: 
  • December
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) ... Listed here.
  • The Deer Hunter (1978) ... Listed here.
  • Harry Potter (2001) ... Listed here.
  • The Exorcist (1973) ... Listed here.
  • NausicaƤ (1984) ... Listed here.
  • The Wedding Planner (2001) ... For the first thirty minutes I thought I might be in for a pleasant surprise. It was endearing enough, with some funny lines. Then in rapidly mires itself in mediocrity.
  • Casino (1995) ... Listed here.
  • The Hurricane (1999) ... I loved this movie for exactly one day. I couldn't imagine a performance that rivalled Russell Crowe's in The Insider, but Denzel Washington certainly made that Oscar race a toss-up in my mind (even if Spacey won the whole schmeer). Some of the best stories are true, and this seemed like a terrific rendition of Rubin Carter's story. For one day only. The next day I started poking around for innaccuracies, as I often do with "true" stories. I found some fairly disturbing counterpoints. I found much more documentation labmasting the accuracy of the movie than I found supporting it. Can anybody offer counterpoints to these counterpoints, or should I stick with feeling misled and manipulated?
  • Badlands (1973) ... Listed here.
  • West Side Story (1961) ... Listed here.
  • U-Turn (1997) ... I had no idea how common finger-removal via pruning shears was in late 90s movies, this being the second movie I've seen in the past couple weeks to feature such an act. Didn't really care for this one - very bad things happening to very bad people. Although the diner scene where Claire Danes and Joaquin Phoenix are introduced was pretty funny, as was the running joke, "you should be more careful."
  • Rules of Engagement (2000) ... Much better than I thought it would be. I kept waiting for some typical courtroom drama surprise evidence or testimony to arrive, but it never does. I had no problem believing any of the characters, their motivations, or that they have real-life counterparts.
  • November
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) ... I've watched a bit of Hitchcock lately, and this is the only one from my recent batch that I didn't like. I think it's just too damn old for me. And it really should be called The Extended Family and Their Friends That Knew Too Much. Not tense, too stagey.
  • Hamlet (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Bound (1996) ... Listed here.
  • Yi Yi (2000) ... Listed here.
  • The Birds (1963) ... Listed here.
  • Kundun (1997) ... Listed here.
  • October
  • Strangers on a Train (1951) ... Listed here.
  • Amistad (1997) ... Except when the British naval officer takes the stand, I thought this was a fairly unremarkable courtroom drama. A shame, given the source material. However, all the scenes that take place on ships are marvelous, and make the movie worth checking out. Unfortunately, they only comprise a small part of the film.
  • The Thin Red Line (1998) ... Except for the liberal use of the sky-cam and the National Geographic-cam ("see how beautiful nature is? see how ugly war is?") this movie brings nothing new to the war genre. It poses, proselytizes, and plods.
  • The 400 Blows (1959) ... I can see why film school grads drool over this one. It has it all: beautifully shot in a new (at the time) aspect ratio, adolescent angnt, alienation at home and at school, the sense of inevitability about our hero's doomed pursuits, an ironic title, failed (or at least naive) aspirations, ambiguous ending . . . and boring. I certainly can't deny its historical importance, but I could have passed on this one. If this doesn't prove that I'm a philistine, nothing will.
  • The Mummy Returns (2001) ... The double-decker bus chase was pretty darn good, but otherwise I'd say this fell short of the original, which was itself at best a guilty pleasure.
  • Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) ... Listed here.
  • The Emperor's New Groove (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Once Upon a Time in China (1991) ... Listed here.
  • The Tailor of Panama (2001) ... I expect to be in the minority on this one, but GAH! I was so unimpressed. Some decent performances, but the first 4/5ths of the movie shoots itself in the foot with the agonizingly slow pacing, while the final 4/5ths shoots itself in the head with implausibility. Posthumously, I read one review that opined that this movie might be "too smart" for many. Please. I may not be the sharpest stick in the eye, but I didn't have to be to keep up with (and not think much of) this movie. Alas.
  • 15 Minutes (2001) ... Listed here.
  • A Knight's Tale (2001) ... Just too goofy for me, I'm afraid. But I I have a sneaking suspicion I would have liked it as a teenager. I'm turning curmudgeonly. Regarding the classic rock soundtrack, Helgeland points out that an orchestral score would have been equally anachronistic, since orchestras hadn't been invented yet either. A point I hadn't considered while giggling about it. Perhaps, on a different night, a guilty pleasure.
  • September
  • Spy Kids (2001) ... Listed here.
  • The Enemy at the Gates (2001) ... Good acting, compelling premise, some tense cat-and-mouse sequences, epic backdrop. Disappointingly, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. I think the big weakness of this film was in the pacing, which served to eliminate most of the tension.
  • Hannibal (2001) ... Ick.
  • The Mexican (2001) ... The chemistry between Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini was terrific. I eagerly awaited their return to the screen every time the story switched away from them. But the movie was too long, and could have used a more stringent editing hand. Also the darkness of the final third is unpleasantly incongruent with the tone set by the first two thirds. Nonetheless, the redeeming portions of this movie make it worth checking out as a rental.
  • Snatch (2000) ... Dennis Farina and Brad Pitt were terrific, but everybody else was just too flat. It had many of the elements of Ritchie's debut, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, but the plight of the bumbling boxing promoters just didn't have quite as much heart (not that I'd expect heart in these types of movies) as the plight of the bumbling poker players. The body count is higher, but we care less.
  • August
  • Unbreakable (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Requiem for a Dream (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Payback (1999) ... Listed here.
  • Traffic (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Shrek (2001) ... Listed here.
  • Along Came a Spider (2001) ... Morgan Freeman should be in every movie (except Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). What a pro. I'm sure this movie would fall apart if scrutinized too closely, but it holds together quite well on a casual viewing, and even has some nice "oh so that's how they explain that thing that would have bugged me" moments.
  • French Kiss (1995) ... If you like Kevin Kline (as I do), you *might* want to watch this, but probably not. Within 5 minutes of the end, I'd forgotten most of this non-movie. Ah well. I think I have to admit that I just don't like Meg Ryan.
  • Blow (2001) ... You'd think a drug dealer's life would be more exciting. Good performances, but a surprisingly unengaging story.
  • Someone Like You... (2001) ... Even more forgettable than French Kiss. Hugh Jackman was the only enjoyable part of this movie.
  • July
  • The Gift (2000) ... This movie had some great performances and much promise. Unfortunately, the plot was far too linear and predictable, and our heroine (played wonderfully, as always, by Cate Blanchett) had some emotional blind spots were just too jarring. And I could only accept/believe some of the villian's actions. Worth a rental on a slow night, but I wouldn't go beyond that.
  • My Left Foot (1989) ... Listed here.
  • Diner (1982) ... Listed here.
  • Ben Hur (1959) ... Listed here and here.
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938) ... Listed here.
  • Yojimbo (1961) ... Listed here.
  • This is Spinal Tap (1984) ... Listed here.
  • Slapshot (1977) ... An on-the-way-out hockey team finds new life by brawling their way through games. Quirky characters abound. The finale goes a good way toward redeeming this movie, but for me the rest of it was too dated to be enjoyable. Newman's trademark antihero character wears thin here. I'm glad I watched it, but I can't go so far as to recommend it.
  • June
  • Notorious (1946) ... Listed here.
  • Panic (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Eyes Wide Shut (1999) ... Originally I wasn't going to list this, as my first impression was somewhat negative. But I suspect I'd like it more if I were to watch it again (as is often the case with Kubrick (according to Speilberg)). Also, as it's stewed in my mind I've come to appreciate the alientation and frustration embodied in Cruise's character. And it's struck me as bizarre/interesting that a movie centered around sex could be so asexual. The exposition at the end still bugs me though (update: and I've since de-listed it and moved it back into the 2001 pool).
  • Spartacus (1960) ... Listed here.
  • Not One Less (1999) ... Listed here.
  • Girlfight (2000) ... A "misunderstood youth that finds happiness and/or success in the face of adversity" story that gets it right without being trite. And as an added bonus, my wife, who hates boxing, thought the boxing scenes in this movie were well done and enjoyable (they seemed realistic without seeming particularly violent).
  • Double Indemnity (1944) ... Listed here.
  • The Right Stuff (1983) ... Listed here.
  • Arlington Road (1999) ... This could have been a terrific modern tragedy, but it lost big points for the implausible climax (way too many places for the big plan to go awry). It also builds quite slowly, which I enjoyed, but might be a turn-off for some.
  • April - May
  • Vertical Limit (2000) ... Some great stunts with some excitement, but the opening scene upon which the Chris O'Donnell/Robin Tunney tension is derived didn't work for me at all. Bad use of green screen, and poor acting. In fact, I thought Tunney turned in a weak performance, so it was hard to get caught up in her plight.
  • Best in Show (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Swimming With Sharks (1994) ... Listed here.
  • The Big Sleep (1946) ... I enjoyed Bogart and Bacall, but the plot was a bit too convoluted for my short modern attention span. I didn't feel quite so bad when I found out from one of the "making of" features that even Chandler couldn't figure out who killed one of the secondary characters.
  • My Life as a Dog (1985) ... Listed here.
  • Local Hero (1983) ... Listed here.
  • Gone With the Wind (1939) ... Listed here.
  • Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out (1992), The Wrong Trousers (1993), & A Close Shave (1995) ... Listed here.
  • Quills (2000) ... Some good performances, particularly Winslet, but I found the "Sade as First Amendment Martyr" theme fairly absurd.
  • Girl, Interrupted (1999) ... I was worried this was just going to be One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest rehashed poorly, but aside from taking place in a mental hospital, there are few similiarities. The performances were pretty strong, and I particularly enjoyed the treatment of the hospital staff; too often these types of authority roles have villianous undertones.
  • The Verdict (1982) ... Listed here.
  • Memento (2000) ... Listed here.
  • What Women Want (2000) ... Not bad, but I saw this movie only a few months ago, and it's already mostly vanished from my memory. So it was fun enough the day after to earn it a tier 2 placeholder, but it's ephemeral nature earns it a final resting place here in tier 3.
  • Hollow Man (2000) ... Some great effects. Verhoeven voyeurism taken to its natural extreme. I always feel somewhat unclean after watching one of his movies. Not sure if that's a compliment. I didn't hate it, but I can't go so far as to recommend it.
  • Remember the Titans (2000) ... A pleasant surprise of a sports movie.
  • The Sixth Day (2000) ... Listed here.
  • Blair Witch 2 (2000) ... I expected to hate this, and instead I found myself indifferent. And while I didn't have time to listen to the whole thing, Joe Berlinger's audio track on the DVD was very interesting. He's obviously a very intelligent guy who set out to make a good, multi-levelled movie. It just didn't come out that way, and I think you can blame the acting and the ending the studio foisted on him.
  • Billy Elliot (2000) ... Listed here.
  • January - March
  • The Patriot (2000) ... I heard some pretty scathing reviews of this movie, but I didn't think it was that bad. In some senses I think Mel Gibson's reluctant hero routine works better here than in Braveheart (which I liked). The historical liberties and distortions were too much for me - in particular, I thought it was tasteless at best to transpose a Nazi atrocity (the church scene) onto the British).
  • The Perfect Storm (2000) ... The star of this movie was too-much the storm. The actors seemed overwhelmed by it as well. And while knowing the outcome doesn't always have this effect on me, here it made the whole movie feel flat. The side-story of the small vacation boat was quite gripping though.
  • Pitch Black (2000) ... I thought Vin Diesel's character elevated this movie from B-grade science fiction to something a bit higher. But not quite high enough. I think my big problem with the aliens here was their dumb-brutishness. No cunning. No real sense of malevolence.
  • The Red Violin (1998) ... The sub-stories that comprise the history of the violin are tales of love lost, obsession, innocence destroyed, etc. All powerful themes, which should invoke powerful feelings. But they were ultimately emotionally unengaging. And I found the ending of the movie unsatisfying in relation to the prophecy. Beautifully filmed, but that isn't enough here.
  • Space Cowboys (2000) ... Fun to watch the old pros at work, but this dragged too often for me, and I found Eastwood's character too insufferable to root for.
  • Bedazzled (2000) ... What can I say? I like Brendan Fraser. I was sufficiently amused. I had this listed under Tier 3 Lightweights, but I couldn't stand the guilt.
  • U-571 (2000) ... The comparisons to Das Boot are inevitable; sadly U-571 is overshadowed in every aspect. Rent this if you've watched Das Boot enough times to be bored by it. :-)
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999) ... Really nails some bits, and the songs are fantastic. The whole Saddam Hussein thing dragged the whole thing down, unfortunately.

I've just watched U-571, and I agree with you fully: merely adequate.

A shame, really; I'd heard such good things. If it had been a little worse I would have moved it to my "disappointing" list.

Well, I think The Perfect Storm was a really good film.

Well, I did think the fishhook scene was terrific.

I concur Jim. I thought The Perfect Storm was so-so.

I agree with Jim on The Perfect Storm with why I didn't like it. It was too boring, and I wanted to leave the drive-in before it was over. But I stayed for Scary Movie, which was another dissapointment.

Jim, I notice my recommendations on another list seems to have been influential in some of your recent viewing choices. Hopefully I have not sent you down too many wrong avenues.

Yeah, your suggestions on my "to see" list were quite influential in building my Netflix queue. I think all the "wife-friendly" movies that were available made it into the top half of the queue (which runs about 70 movies deep). And your influence has certainly been beneficial, thanks! I've also been trying to take a page out of your book in that I've been adding comments to my lists. But it's taking me awhile. Still, I think many of the new additions have comments, so you can see what I thought. But off the top of my head, I think the movie that I liked the least (but still liked) was The Big Sleep. Simply, embarrassingly, it was too convoluted for me. I loved Gone With the Wind, which I believe was your #1 recommendation.

I have noticed your comments and was pleased to see them. It is very difficult for hewriter to always come up with comments but it is so much better for the reader, dont you think? As to the Big Sleep, funny you should mention it as I recently re-watched most of it and I was wondering about the recommendation. To be honest the convulted nature of the plot comes directly from the Chandler novel as the movie is pretty faithful to the book. I had read the book before i originally saw the movie so that helps in following the plot.
I might need to clone this list as i have been on a bit of a movie-watching spree lately. I think I am almost ready to do my top movies of 2000.

I agree on both counts regarding the comments. I sometimes have a very hard time coming up with something to say. Gives me new respect for professional critics. It's especially hard to "backfill" and put comments on movies I haven't seen in a long time. But I do think it makes the list much more enjoyable. I find myself pining for comments on the various "recently seen" lists on Listology that only document what movies the writer has seen, but not how they felt about them.

I'll keep an eye out for your clone, if you do one, and your forthcoming "best of 2000" list. I think your lists are terrific, so I'm always watchful for new ones.

So, Jim are you getting this recent spate of films via NetFlix?

Yup, except for Panic all the June movies came via NetFlix. So I did 8 in a month (3 out at a time for $20/month). I guess that's not too bad considering I'm on the east coast. Still, considering that I always send the movies back within two days of receiving them, I'd hoped to do a bit better than that. I guess at 8/month it's $2.50/movie, which is cheaper than locally (at $3/movie), but still. I'm thinking about trying RentMyDVD.com, since I'm a little irritated by the fact that 19 of the 64 items (almost a third!) in my queue have a waiting period. RentMyDVD.com also has an east coast distribution center, so I'm wondering if the latency would be better. I wouldn't describe myself as dissatisfied with NetFlix, it's just that I could be more satisfied.

It seems besides having the same first name we share other things like our mild dissatifaction with Netflix and an East Coast resdience. I have been a member since March 22nd. I have seen 25 movies in that time. So that averages out to just under 8 movies a month. I dont always get to view them too quickly but I just got a DVD for our Summer residence so that should help. I like the idea of RentmyDVD but I am not sure about the 2 out movie or 4 out movie option. If you go that way please let me know how it goes.

I keep hoping to clone this list and comment on all the movies I have seen lately....maybe someday...

I'll definitely let you know if I try RentMyDVD. The only thing stopping me right now is that I don't want to lose the time I've invested populating my NetFlix queue. And I'm going to be away for a couple (fairly short) stretches in July and August. But if nothing changes by Sept. I'll probably give RentMyDVD a shot.

I'd love to see your clone of this list, if you get around to it. I kinda like this system I have now, where I can list movies that I like, or just comment in-line on movies that aren't really list-worthy. And I get a running log of what I've seen when.

Jim, is everything from The Tailor of Panama on down intentionally tagged as light gray?

Nope, definitely an error. Is it fixed now (the problem wasn't showing up on my browser of choice)?

Looks good now!