There is no vertical limit on inanity, a principle aptly proved by this unbelievable mountain climbing movie. It begins on sacred cinematic ground, Monument Valley, where the air is defiled by three climbers singing the old Eagles tune “Take It to the Limit.” They are a family: siblings Peter and Annie Garrett (Chris O’Donnell and Robin Tunney) and their father (Stuart Wilson). While hanging from one of the mesas, they are caught in a spectacular fall, and Peter must make a decision that changes their lives.
There’s a 1948 movie with the wonderful title Night Has a Thousand Eyes. What beauty, mystery, and resonance that promises — not even considering that the film’s cast included lambent-eyed Gail Russell, who elsewhere inspired Ray Milland to compose “Stella by Starlight.” How regrettable that the movie isn’t very good. And yet that title. A few decades back in the previous millennium some enterprising New Yorkers borrowed part of it for a lively movie journal, The Thousand Eyes. If they hadn’t, it’s doubtful Parallax View would have hit upon 2000 Eyes as the name for our project commencing this Friday — a lookback twenty years to the dawn of this millennium, to remind ourselves what movies were coming out that year and what we wrote about them.
You could say — all right, we could say — that this collaborative action is a quest for beauty, mystery, and resonance we didn’t necessarily recognize while living out the year. But we needn’t be so hi-falutin. The reviews to be posted here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the next few months encompass first-time sightings of classics-to-be, and of some films that two intervening decades have effectively confirmed as great. There are also first sightings of pictures no one has given a second thought, and not without reason. Yet being reminded of the movies in the latter category, their sensations, derelictions, and sometimes woeful shortfall, is almost as worthwhile as nodding respectfully before the crowning achievements. They were part of the texture of filmmaking and filmgoing in 2000 A.D., part of our lives.
All these reviews are contemporaneous; nothing newly written, apart from the occasional 2020 afterword. All were composed or dashed off innocent of any awareness that Gladiator, for instance, was going to be in contention for a slew of Academy Awards and win the big one, or that Alejandro González Iñárritu, neophyte director of Amores Perros, would emerge as a master of both intimate art cinema and the Hollywood epic. That’s refreshing. What’s just as satisfying is to stumble across in-passing mention of a new performer, more often than not in a subsidiary role, whom we now take for granted as a mainstay of screen acting (Peter Mullan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, to name three); or to be reminded of the career window within which certain previously respected players were, let’s say, finding it a challenge to be taken seriously. In a related phenomenon, casual, in-the-moment references to social or pop-cultural events or trends everyone was plugged into now verge on mystifying (totally mystifying for anyone born since our landmark year). How did that ever get to be ephemeral?
We’ve enjoyed resurrecting these reports on the passing movie scene, as witnessed by 2000 eyes. We hope you enjoy reading them.