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And while some critics, cinephiles & standard movie goers could simply dismiss many as total disasters, outright failures/mistakes, disappointments or just forgettable, I still enjoy them based on their own merit regardless of their unpopularity, dismal box office success, irrelevance or flawed imperfections.
In the still of the night, at the scene of a crime...
Anxiously awaited by both comic and cartoon fans alike, Sam Raimi brings the extremely popular 'Spider-man' to life on the big screen which is true-to-form and a very rewarding rendition of this much adored action hero. Tobey Maguire is perfectly cast and admirably pulls off the dual role of shy newsboy by day, crime-fighter extraordinaire by night with style and grace. Kirsten Dunst is equally endearing as Spidey's gal pal as there are more than one Kodak moments shared between the two which no doubt will be archived in cinematic annals if romance fans have their vote. Yet it is the title character's battle with the arch-enemy Green Goblin, effectively played by veteran actor Willem Dafoe, which provides the many suspenseful twists and turns evidenced in their high-flying acrobatic dealings courtesy of STA CGI. While the much welcomed side plot involving Spider-man's subdued alter-ego (the mild mannered newsboy Peter Parker) adds additional intrigue as he entangles with envious friend and rival Robert Franco for the affection of sweetheart Dunst, it is the humorous (borderline silly but still funny) antics provided by J.K. Simmons as Peter Parker's Daily Bugle boss that contributes a huge amount of laughs in this enjoyable adventure that certainly sets the standard for first rate comic book to big screen transitions.
An interesting look at infidelity
This infidelity yarn which is actually better than expected is no doubt due to the fine performances and chemistry of the two leads - Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Lane is more than sexy as the spouse who wanders and Gere surprisingly shines as the curious turned jealous then obsessive hubby in a story that takes a different and unexpected twist. An additional twist (if I may play with words) is the formidable tryst who is admirably played by the Frenchman Olivier Martinez. This versatile French actor may have dipped into a bit of his personal past when he sparred in the ring as a boxer to exchange both physical and more notably, mental blows with the respective leads. "Unfaithful" also has director Adrien Lynne returning to the infidelity theme he was successful in both his 1993 "Indecent Proposal" as well as his 1987 triumph, "Fatal Attraction" which is widely recognized as a landmark of the genre. He also attempts to surpass the steamy scenes from an earlier film - 9 1/2 Weeks - that infamously gave him notoriety among film censors but thankfully in this 2002 release the passion is far less bizarre while still being on quite sensual and passionate.
Y tu mamá también (2001)
More than interesting Mexican journey
A brilliant story of adolescent discovery about life, innocence, loneliness and responsibility. The majority of content is very adult in nature given the sexual material exhibited but certainly not gratuitous as it is extremely relevant to both the development of all the main characters and the plot of this pseudo-road picture. Yet many viewers may still be uncomfortable if not offended by some very graphic scenes and extremely harsh/raucous language. The story in itself covers a lot of territory - from young men's preoccupation with sex (including the absurd, the confused and the hysterical sides) to political, social unrest and poverty in Mexico. Extremely well done and thought out story.
Murder by Numbers (2002)
Convincing Sandra yarn
Sandra Bullock pulls off bully female detective quite well and script is enticing leaving viewer interested thoughtout. Two young male leads are equally convincing as the Leopold/Loeb-type character who taunt us with there lack of respect for the human condition. The final scence could have been done much better for credibility but it's forgivable.
Hollywood Ending (2002)
Still clinging to Woody
I'm a big Woody Allen fan so of course I found this movie within a movie delightful. It does not pack the wallop of some of Woody's finest but stills has that clever overlapping dialog and of course great zingers/one-liners.
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Fascinating and gripping film courtesy of Bollywood
Mira Nair's excellent and very original "Monsoon Wedding" was an absolute triumph for this viewer. I was extremely impressed by the multiple sub-plots which were written as simple stories yet packed a wallop when meshed into the rewarding finale. This served as a somewhat naive introduction to modern Indian culture via cinema but followed the dual language dialog with subtitles (of note were a little shabby) and enjoyed this zesty celebration of life and love. Very funny moments coupled cleverly with extremely serious matters in other quite delicate/risqué scenes - really captured the duality method of storytelling this most welcome to see in realistic comedy/dramas. My only reservation, albeit a slight one, was with some of the actors performances which weak and almost amateurish. Not in the case to of the key/lead roles but some of the supporting/minor characters. Otherwise a sweet and tremendous film experience!
The Cat's Meow (2001)
Delightful, fun...'cruise' of a tale
Really enjoyed screening Peter Bogdonovich's 'A Cat's Meow' which was certainly not a disappointment. This inventive story/script that was cleverly based on Hollywood myth/legend of a presumed love affair Charlie Chaplin had with William Randolph Heart's mistress, Marion Davies and had my interest fully. I was happy with the performances namely Eddie Izzard as the dashing and flamboyant Chaplin - and worthy direction but was hoping there could have been shots other than on the yacht...i.e. at the studio or the castle/ranch; that would have been a real treat. But for the twist they presented, I guess it served it's purpose - hence the title of course. A terrible habit I got into during the film was comparing it similarities to Robert Altman of how uses a numerous characters and intertwining story-lines yet at times can lead to disarray and inconsistencies (i.e. 'Ready to Wear', Shortcuts') while Bogdonovich's surpasses the challenge of an ensemble cast to generate and substantiate both the scene to scene intrigue and well-performed drama as well as focusing of the proposed love triangle. This film would be a delight for Caine/Welles enthusiasts and happy to see Bogdonovich triumph with a great film.
Better than average Bio-pic
While it obviously could be referred to as a boxing picture, this nice Michael Mann biographical effort is more a character study of the one of the most charismatic figures ever to step into the squared circle. Mr. Mann shifts gears appropriately from his heavy action yarns (Thief, Last of the Mohicans, Heat) to provide an insightful look into the life of this legendary boxer as Will Smith pulls off the title role rather well yet regrettably holds back much of the wit, humor and unpredictable antics Ali was known for. As a result, viewer's eyes actually will be more fixated on the dynamite supporting cast including Ron Silver as Ali's longtime trainer Angelo Dundee and Mario Van Peebles playing a formidable Malcolm X. Both of these memorable characters are only to be outdone by an almost unrecognizable Jon Voight as he dons the patented yellow ABC sport jacket and gives an incredible, Oscar nominated performance as the exuberant and controversial Howard Cosell who always seemed to be where Ali roamed the globe. While the film does span 10 years of the famous boxer's life, the major disappointment of the film is the 157 minute which could have been shortened by needles/monotonous training footage sequences.
Monster's Ball (2001)
Harsh look at deep south racism yet pulls unlikely twist when lead characters together played realistically by both Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton become involved through circumstances very much IN their control. Berry deservedly has been recognized with Oscar but Thornton is just as stellar who's character changes his tune for the better in a less than subtle way.
Lantana is a flowering tropical plant... and a very entertaining drama.
This solid, well acted story weaving in the woes of adult relationships should have Hollywood taking particular notice of this impressive and overlooked Australian effort starring Anthony LaPaglia and Barbara Hershey. This is a delicate and complicated story of men and women getting tangled in adultery that somehow is subtly meshed within a baffling murder mystery. This does get complex but still remains surprisingly credible and keeps viewer glued with interest and fascination. Geoffrey Rush lends a subdued yet solid support but it's Kerry Armstrong's performance that like this story will tug at your heart strings as well as challenge your thinking.