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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.
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.
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.
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.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Quirky, surprising and off-beat... sounds like a Wes Anderson film
Packed with some solid stars (both comedic and straight-laced), 'The Royal Tenenbaums' is a delightful and much slanted look at the coessential dysfunctional family that could be from Anywhere, USA. Well, actually it could be from anywhere in the galaxy as you may not come across a more strange slew of characters in one place anywhere on God's green earth. For openers, Gene Hackman plays a hysterical deadbeat dad who had been alienated by the rest of his bizarre family for ignorance to them and vulgarity to others which can include even us the audience. Yet at the same time the viewer will be sympathetic to him and his mischievous routine and rebellious nature given his sly warmheartedness and charm. The trio of the children's life stories (wild and wholly tales portrayed in retrospect and real-time by Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow & Luke Wilson) surround this rude and complex father shortcomings in spectacular fashion while combative yet dignified mom played by Angelica Houston is a steady presence amongst the chaos. Owen Wilson and Bill Murray round out the supporting cast for this fun-filled comedy. It's a good idea to screen early Anderson efforts like Rushmore and/or Bottle Rocket to prep for the amount of quirkiness thrown at you in this romp but designed to even challenge the zaniest of viewers on its own.
Spy Game (2001)
Top notch thriller which takes you for a nice ride
Excellent thriller with new millennium A-list star Brad Pitt teaming with 70's A-lister Robert Redford (smartly casted in a 'Buddy picture' after Pitt took direction from Redford in his memorable yet under-appreciated "A River Runs Through it" from 1994) in an entertaining spy film directed by action-obsessed Tony Scott which will have you at times on the edge of your seat. Scott rewards his action hungry audience in calculated doses as the picture is laced with lots of intrigue, and second guessing including a clever use of flashback sequences for additional suspense to this international thriller. Catherine McCormack is appealing as the love interest for Pitt's character which goes beyond obligatory since the joining of the two conflicts with his mentor's guidelines for espionage survival. The chemistry of all the players along with Scott's exciting action input make this an above average Pitt/Redford 'Buddy flick'.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
This is an outstanding motion picture telling the powerful story of the rise & fall, then subsequent triumphant rise again of Dr. John Nash. Russell Crowe is outstanding as the compelling lead. Film is visually stunning throughout as it covers over 40 years of Nash's amazing brilliant and often tragic life; a sincere tribute to a genuinely unique and interesting life struggle. Jennifer Connelly delivers a memorable performance as well giving brave portrayal of Nash's wife, which earned her a well-deserved Oscar in the female lead category. Yet the major credit for this well-crafted motion picture is the inventive collaboration of director Ron Howard's vision with the skilled production talents of Brian Grazer who took home Oscar that same year for Best Director and Best Picture respectively. Through their collective efforts they utilized Akiva Goldsman's Oscar winning screenplay in a clever and imaginative way to transform this sympathetic yet complex story into a delightful, pleasing to the eye treat that will engage all that screen this powerful biography of a brilliant yet flawed professor.