Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Billy Elliot (2000)
A nearly flawless drama
This is one of those really great dramas that only come around maybe once a year. This is my pick for the best drama of 2000. Filled with amazing characters, a great plot, and circumstances that seem too real, the wonderfully underplayed value of it takes precedence over anything set against it.
There are some great performances here, so let's get to em.
Jamie Bell plays the lead role, in an astonishing performance. Amazing dance routines done in perfect sync, I can just imagine the time he had memorizing all the steps. A knockout performance, with some of the most dramatic scenes played out with perfect honesty and realism.
Another notable performance comes from Julie Walters, who plays Mrs. Wilkinson, the dance instructor in the mining town where Billy lives. Once a great dancer but now forced to work in the bottom floor of a boxing hall, she plays her part wonderfully, showing the lack of compassion and jadedness without words but only through expressions, deep hurt lying beneath all that scorn, but love shining through as she sees Billy's true talent.
Finally, performance wise, we have Gary Lewis, who plays Billy's father. With wonderful scenes that play themselves out with harsh reality, I never tire of seeing the hurt in his eyes when he sees that his little boy isn't going to be a boxer or a football player, but a dancer, then seeing him again with the love and appreciation for his dancing son. Some things must be experienced, and the deep hurt he carries about the death of his wife is one of those. Greatness all around.
The one problem I did have with this movie is that it is first of all rated R. Why?! If it weren't for the few (and very effective) uses of the 'F' word, it would've gotten a PG-13 rating. It so strongly needs the 'F' word, yet it needs to be seen by a PG-13 audience! This is a move that truly should be shown to middle schoolers all over the country, showing that you should believe in yourself and no one else. Follow your dreams. Not only is this message not shoved down your throat (as some other movies shamelessly do), but it is done in such a way that you truly believe it. You want good things to happen, and you get that, but not spotless and clean. Nothing is done easily, and there will always be someone who will try and stop your dreams from coming true.
Another (and the only other problem) are the accents. The British definitely have a style of speaking all their own, and it sometimes took a moment for all the dialogue to register. Sometimes I'd miss half a scene, trying to decipher out exactly what was said. However, the tones and emotions of most scenes were enough to let you know what was said. Everything didn't have to be spelt out, but I can imagine that after I get this DVD I will sit down with the captions on, just to know I didn't miss anything. This is one of the only complaints I have for another favorite of mine, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Billy Elliot is a true rag-to-riches story that unfolds amazingly well without pulling your heartstrings shamelessly as other movies love to do. I recommend this to all, expect to be entertained with great plot twists as well as interesting characters, wonderful dialogue, and a story that can never grow old: Follow your dreams.
Cleopatra's Second Husband (1998)
Creepiness at its best
Meet Robert. An amazingly complex and lonely man, he's married to Hallie who, really, he can't stand. She controls him, and if he doesn't like it, she does it anyway.
Meet Zack. He's friend of a friend, who, along with his girlfriend Sophie, come over to Robert's to house-sit while Robert and Hallie go on vacation.
Here's the setup, and the payoff is one of the creepiest, darkest movies I've ever seen. As far as disturbing, Dancer in the Dark is nothing compared to this. As far as creepiness, Misery's got nothing on this one.
Benjamin Franklin once said, `House guests are like fish. After three days, they begin to spoil.' You'll see why in this plunge into darkness. Something's just not right the entire 92 minutes, and there's nothing you can do to change it. You can only watch as someone gets run over time and again, and the revenge is so raw, so amazing, you wonder exactly what can stop it. You wonder, can it be stopped? Some things are like runaway locomotives: you only hope you can lay enough track down in time for it not to derail.
Some reviews of this strange movie think of it as without payoff. And I for one think the payoff is in the effect it leaves with you. The stark sadness to the utter creepiness of the ending, it's not a surprise that this movie is like cancer: it eats away at you, and when you least expect it, you look around and see that everything's changed. You can't look at anything the same anymore. Who switched everything around? It's like those situations you find yourself in where you go, `How did this all get started?' and you find yourself without an answer.
To recommend this film I think would take an act of real nerve. It's not something you can tell your best friends who thought Mission: Impossible 2 was great about. It's not something you can even tell the friends who like off-the-wall or foreign films. You just have to experience the slow build-up of this intricate (and edge-of-your-seat) plot that makes you wonder, `Is it over? Isn't this enough? Can't you just lay off?' but when it doesn't, when it keeps barreling ahead, towards the end of the track that leads to the bottomless canyon, the train is movie, you are a reluctant passenger on it, and before you know it, the movie has brought you over the edge.
SLC Punk! (1998)
Amazingly interesting, funny and provocative
I for one loved this film. I bought the DVD (which has wonderful commentary by the director and Matthew Lillard) and was very pleased with it. I rented it because a friend of mine recommended it to me. I was blown away. Stevo (main character) and his outlook on life are truly his own. Listening to the commentary, I understood it even more. Stevo has just been through four years of pre-law. His best friend Heroin Bob (named so not because he does the drug, but because of his fear of needles) are living in Salt Lake City in 1985. They don't know where their lives are going, and have decided to take this post-college time for one thing: nothing. They want nothing other than to goof off and have a good time. But its not what its cracked up to be, as Stevo slowly finds out.
The writing is excellent, the characters are funny and interesting. Mike, the nerd-looking punk, the most hardcore of them all. Mark, the german whose family was killed in a plane crash when he was five and now lives off the insurance money. Trish, the "Bohemian Moon-Goddess" and Bob's love interest. The story moves great with satirical comment and insight from Stevo. In the end, he learns things he never thought he would, things that will forever change him from what he used to be.
The acting is superb, especially from Lillard, and the tragedy scene at the end gets me every time (VERY emotional). I can't say enough about it. The acid-taking sequence is one of the most true-to-life portrayals of the drug. I was very impressed. Highly recommended!
Epic in scope, film, and score
Are there truly words to describe this film? It involves an entire list of main characters. One would think that these characters, in their complexity and their faults would only confuse the viewer. And this is the exact opposite.
Be assured that Paul Thomas Anderson, no matter how crazy or eclectic the movie seems to drift toward, is always in control. He has an amazing ability to pace, to keep the movie moving while still holding that beautiful tension, such as moments before the game show begins, or the sadness of Julianne Moore holding onto her dying husband near his final moments.
In short, its one long day in the San Fernando Valley. Around the intersection of Magnolia Ave, strange things happen. People live. People die. And the frogs...well, the frogs, those you have to see for yourself.
Involving a Game Show Host (Phillip Baker Hall), his strung-out daughter (Melinda Dillon), a clumsy cop (John C. Reilly), and a teacher of seduce methods (Tom Cruise), who just so happens to be the son of a dying man (Jason Robards). Along with the dying man's crazy wife (Julianne Moore), the 1960's Quiz Kid (William H. Macy) whose life hasn't turned out the way he wanted it, and the new Quiz Kid (Jeremy Blackman) who doesn't want to be the smart one anymore. These are the stars of this film. Watch their world get torn down, built up, and torn down again.
Some movies, you say, "that would never happen" or, "that could never happen". But two things the movie wants you to understand: It did happen. And, as the book says, 'we may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us'. These two points will haunt everyone in the film, and they will learn from what they forgot or want to forget before its over.
Some people don't like this film. I've seen it twice, and on both occasions people have walked out. There is a lot of language. There is a lot of drama, there is a lot of artistry. This is NOT Mission Impossible. This is NOT Hollywood fluff. This film goes places that others wouldn't dare. The denouement (the ending where everything wraps up) is more beautiful, not just the frogs, not just the madness, but the way that Aimee Mann's soundtrack goes along with everything. It will explain everything on levels that you can't fathom. And when you leave the theatre, you will realize what magic you just witnessed. Paul Thomas Anderson has done it. Again.