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John Q (2002)
Another dramatic cliche
It is really sad that a lot of today's writers and filmakers need to copy so much from glorious films of the past like "Dog day afternoon" and some others from more recent history, and then have the straight face to sell their movies as great original stories.
For John Q., a movie with a story that in the beginning is sold as a real life event but when you watch it, is just all but an endless collection of cliches and holes in its' script that only made it look nothing but a very annoying soap opera. And finally but not least, a good cast is not able to save anything. ......But by the way...Save what????
Hacerse el sueco (2001)
A nice and light comedy...
`Hacerse el Sueco' is the story of Bjorn (Peter Lohmeyer), a big German thieve who escapes to Havana, Cuba after being chased by justice authorities in Germany. Over there in Cuba he passes off by a college Sweden Literature professor (supposedly invited by Sweden embassy) to make a literature and social research in that location, just as a cover to safely return to his usual business.
Concha (Coralina Veloz), Alicia (Ketty de la Iglesia) and Amancio (Enrique Molina) is the Cuban family who offers house rental to this stranger who suddenly starts to change the world of these individuals and others involved in a very colorful Cuban neighborhood, a place where all action takes place.
The movie is a good Cuban production that reflects the reality of Cuban society these days with a very effective touch of light comedy and sometimes very ingenuous situations.
All characters perfectly complied with the purposed of the script especially Enrique Molina who gives an excellent, very real comedy performance as a frustrated waived ex-cop who needs more respect from people around his neighborhood.
The vision and narrative of director Daniel Diaz Torres is also quite effective since he based the movie in capting a natural comedy out of a dramatic Cuban reality.
Unfortunately, and this is the low point of the movie, the film took too much of unneeded film time, getting to a point where the resources of comedy, didn't help Diaz Torres that much since they had been repeating a lot specially after the second half of the film.
Menos es más (2000)
More of the same!!
There's not too much to say about a movie that is really a combination of so many repeated cliches, one after the other.
This is one of those two best friends stories where one of them has always had hidden love feelings for the other but is not corresponded like that due to a "super girl" that gets between them... and you should know the ending.
The movie itself does not have anything more than ordinary to show. Throughout the whole movie it just seems that you are in a film version of an MTV type of musical story or program or just another episode of dumb Latin soap operas.
The story is totally dull as well as the directing work of Pascal Jongen who does not make anything worth interesting. Finally, the acting performances are maybe the worst I've seen in my entire life.
One Night at McCool's (2001)
Nothing much to say......
There's always one of those days when you find a piece of "comedy" & "entertainment" film that simply does not entertain you or make you laugh at all, either the story, the characters, the gags used, etc.
One night at McCool's is just a sample of a tragic try to make a very crazy movie with a dark comic atmosphere that in my opinion just didn't work at all.
Liv Tyler, Paul Riser, Matt Dillon, John Goodman and specially Michael Douglas, make one of the worst all-around cast performances I've ever seen in my entire life.
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
What a pack of thieves!!!......
We've all seen and heard great and not-so-great stories or films about big thefts, great robbers and their abilities (in most of the cases) to fulfill impossible missions and also making us (in some good way) identify ourselves with characters not supposed to be doing good things after all. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1970), Bonnie and Clyde (1968), Bandits (2001) are only few samples of such lovely connection.
This time we have "Ocean's Eleven" the follow-up and highly anticipated film from the critically acclaimed and academy award winning director of "Traffic", Steven Soderbergh who makes a truly enjoyable movie and accepts the challenge (like not so many directors) to take this group of big stars to work this good as a big team for a big production.
The story is simple. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is a nice modern gangster who rounds up a gang of associates to make a huge theft of the three major Las Vegas casino's (Bellagio, The Mirage, and the MGM Grand) simultaneously during a boxing event. These gang associates are form by good actors such as Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould among others.
Director Soderbergh makes a very light and all-around well-done film with a very nice comic atmosphere that has no exaggerations in its plot.
The cinematography is very elegant and pretty effective for night-time in Las Vegas' environment. And finally, but not the least, the actors performances which without any hesitation you could say that are one of the better all-around cast performances seen for a long time.
The only observation I would say it is the fact that there are very few sections of the movie where there's a little bit of extra fantasy for certain situations but Mr. Soderbergh cover them all with a sense of humor that is truly magical.
Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
Could have been better....
(Check for a very little spoiler at the beginning)
`Behind Enemy Lines' is just another nice-ending US-against-the-world military & war story about an endangered navy pilot (Owen Wilson) who is shot down and strongly pursued by rebel troops at enemy lines in Bosnia just after being caught taking air pictures of a secret base.
Although Enemy Lines follows all kind of military clichés to the fullest, the movie is a good all-around technical production with a nice dark-blue cinematography based in cold & isolated mountain landscapes (already seen in another similar film like `Enemy at the gates') and the use of very good sound effects which are effective throughout the whole movie.
This movie could have been a better film if the story would have showed us something more interesting and Owen Wilson would have showed the audience the portrait of a real navy soldier.
Rat Race (2001)
Ladies & Gentleman...start your engines......
Rat Race is a comedy about the story of 6 strangers who are gathered (by chance) for a crazy winner-gets-it-all 2 million dollar race to Silver City, New Mexico, and all the things that could happen on a very wild road.
Most of the cast which include names such as John Cleese, Whoopie Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson and John Lovitz who all gave that extra character diversity that the film needed. Other names include Seth Green and Cuba Gooding Jr. in one of the stupidest acting performances I've ever seen in my entire life.
Some of Rat's jokes and comic situations were very funny but most of them just seemed to be forced all the time, taking away a great deal of originality.
Music is life...........
Songcatcher is a fantastic film about understanding culture and people throughout the beauty of music and the poetry of songs. Every beat and word represents something that in many ways is so personally related to people's lives, history and emotions.
This is the lovely story of Dr. Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer) a preeminent teacher musician who impulsively decides to run to visit her sister at a struggling rural school in the Appalachia, right after being denied of an anticipated promotion where she teaches. Over there (in the mountains) she founds a new meaning to her life by finding love and discovering very culturally important Scott-Irish ballads that she might use to save her promotion.
The whole cast performances are awesome, especially Janet McTeer who comes back with another tremendous performance and Aidan Quinn who hasn't been this good so far.
Writer/director Maggie Greenwald gives us a very fresh and tender story that describes so well all characters, situations with the very real and touching concept of music.
Finally, but not the least, David Mansfield music is fantastic. He amazingly takes excellent care of every musical detail related to the lives of these beautiful characters.
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Not exactly what I expected.....
Jeepers Creepers had a strong reputation as one of the scariest movies of 2001 and got a few good reviews too.
Jeepers is a horror movie about two colleges students Trish and Darry who find and become the chase of an evil creature on their way home from college. This creature eats humans to regenerate itself and its mission will be now to get something from Trish's brother Darry. A thing that surprisingly will be shown at the end of the film.
As a major horror movie, Jeepers' special make-up & visual effects are very good also the sound effects and score are very effective all the way.
But trying to mix extended doses of black humor to an already very weak story, makes the movie even more vulnerable, and of course, when that happens, most of the time, the film does lose its nature.
The dialogues are poor and seemed to be designed for `I-know-what-you ' minded teenagers who by the way are the target of these types of films.
Jeepers Creepers have a very few good moments but the whole movie didn't move ahead and was not what I expected.
Faa yeung nin wa (2000)
Love at its finest.....
Kar-wai Wong's In the mood for love is a very interesting expression of the beauty of love and relationships that goes beyond standards.
The whole point about this movie is the elegant and unique way about how this increasing and strong passion is beautifully described between these two strangers who both have to live with a great deal of disconformities with their spouses in each of their marriages. The story is quite simple but very rich in well-defined details based in an excellent cinematography (Christopher Doyle & Ping Bin Lee), a beautiful score (Mike Gallaso) and a magnificent direction, that all together make the whole movie an unforgettable experience.
This is definitely one of the better movies of 2001.