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House of Sand and Fog (2003)
Did anyone else catch the connection to "Nostromo" by Joseph Conrad? The basic idea being the main character and those around him are destroyed by the obsession with a possession. This theme has now been used in American movies at least three times that I can think of--
1)Apocalypse Now (Brando's character is also called "Kurtz") 2)Alien (the spaceship is also called "The Nostromo") 3)Lord of the Rings trilogy (I always thought Tolkien borrowed heavily from Conrad and other authors in writing his "masterwork")
Also, as to the folks that have commented that they are disturbed by the film being about characters from an "Axis of Evil" country (i.e., Iranians), I would again point out that Kingsley and his family are portrayed as fleeing Iran when the Shah was overthrown. They are victims just like Jennifer C.'s character.
Especially after seeing Matchstick Men, which I thoroughly enjoyed until that film got to its' obviously tacked-on "happy ending" (undoubtedly demanded by the studio/distributor for marketing purposes), it was refreshing to see an uncompromising tragedy that was consistent from beginning to end.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
After all the complaints Lucas got for Episode I about ethnic slurs that harked back to films of the 1930's, I am amazed that no one has focused on the obvious one in SM2. I do not think it is a spoiler to reveal that Peter Parker's landlord is portrayed as a money-grubbing, grasping Eastern European Jew. I found these scenes very distracting and disturbing for that reason and I felt such a slur was entirely uncalled for. Other than that glaring problem, I agree with the other comments that this film is far better than SM1. The Jonah Jameson scenes are always the best part of the film, IMHO, and he is fortunately given far more of them in SM2.
Minority Report (2002)
Spielberg is getting like Kevin Smith
Spoiler Alert Just as Kevin Smith's films presume a thorough knowledge of recent films (especially, of course, the Star Wars films), Spielberg, both in A.I. and now Minority Report, is beginning to make multiple references to other films. The ones I had noticed that weren't in the trivia section were:
1)The umbrella scene outside the mall, which brought to mind not only Hitchcock but also the wicker basket scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
2)Tom Cruise being set upon by the jetpack precrime officers in the alley was like Dorothy and the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz.
3)The scene in which Det. Witwer explains the unsolved crime to Director Burgess and gets shot for his trouble is almost a scene-for-scene reshoot of Jack Vincennes explaining his unsolved crime to Capt. Dudley in L.A. Confidential.