Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Pola X

[Written for Film.com]

Herman Melville’s novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities, was widely reviled when it was published, just as Leos Carax’s film of Pierre has been generally maligned. Melville’s book came along in the wide wake of a little thing called Moby-Dick, and even if it had not, it’s a very strange novel—seemingly a put-on of a certain kind of fruity romantic tale, but stretched past the point of parody. It’s weird, but interesting-weird.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Miss Julie

[Written for Amazon.com]

The fascination of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, as play or film, resides in the quicksilver shifts of power and vulnerability, assurance and desperation, seducer and seducee, almost from line to line — in the text and, ideally, in the performances of two equally matched actors. One Midsummer’s Eve, in the scullery of a country manor, the aristocratic daughter of the house and the major-domo Jean conduct a kind of mating dance on a killing ground. Each is clearly attracted to the other; each, just as clearly, resents and despises the other. Jean wants revenge for a lifetime serving “betters” whom — so he believes — he outstrips in enterprise and imagination. Miss Julie craves more or less equally the thrill of bringing him off his high horse and rolling around in the mud with him.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Bruce Reid, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Madadayo

[Written for The Stranger]

We (and by we I mean all of us, not just those people) succumb so easily to the extremes when contemplating our demise: apocalypse or enfeebled withering. A bang or a whimper were the only options Eliot gave for the world’s end; burn out or fade away, as rock and roll fans rewrote the line. In truth, however, most of us do not die in either flames or impenetrable shadow. We stumble along, perhaps weaker, and needing a cane for support, but also hopefully wiser and more patient, and at one point in the midst of our going on comes neither of the drastic poles, but merely a cessation. I do not know what Akira Kurosawa’s final days or hours were like, I do not know how peaceably he met his fate. But I am certain he reached it with a greater serenity than most of us, for in his final film he’d given himself a marvelous reminder of the nobility of carrying on.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Shaft

[Written for Fim.com]

In this remake, Richard Roundtree, the original John Shaft, graciously passes the torch to Samuel L. Jackson. The new film’s director, John Singleton, gives Roundtree some major respect, including a scene where Roundtree exits a Harlem bar with two foxy ladies on his arms. Right on: after all these years, still a sex machine to the chicks. (That’s Gordon Parks, the distinguished American artist and director of the first Shaft, in a cameo at the same bar.)

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Joe Gould’s Secret

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Joe Gould (Ian Holm), a scruffy, disheveled little man, is a homeless bohemian in a tattered secondhand suit and a grizzled gray beard on the streets of 1940s New York. The profane would-be poet, street critic, and professional party guest is famous among the Greenwich Village literati for his colorful stories and explosive personality, but legendary for his oft-discussed but little seen opus “The Oral History of Our Time,” a collection of conversations had and heard and dutifully recorded for posterity by Gould and stashed around the city.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Where the Money Is

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

The old guy transferred from the state pen doesn’t move much and says less. Nothing at all, actually. He’s had a stroke. That’s why he’s slumped in a wheelchair in another mossy state facility, a geriatric sanitarium, instead of occupying a cell. But his nurse, Carol (Linda Fiorentino), can’t accept that there’s nothing going on inside Henry’s sagging body and unresponsive brain. For one thing, he’s a legendary felon who led the law a merry chase for thirty years — hiring on to banks as a security adviser, for instance, then emptying their vaults. For another — and this is what really counts — he’s played by Paul Newman, fergodsake, and we just know that when he makes his move it’ll be a good one.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Dr. T and the Women

[Written for The Herald]

There are two parts to the title Dr. T and the Women. Let’s take each part separately.

The women are the ladies in the orbit of Dr. Sully Travis, a Dallas gynecologist. Dr. T has a wife (Farrah Fawcett) who is quietly losing her mind, a sister-in-law (Laura Dern) with Ivana Trump inclinations, and two daughters. The elder daughter (Kate Hudson, of Almost Famous), a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, is about to get married, causing much hullabaloo; the younger daughter (Tara Reid, from American Pie) gives tours of the JFK assassination plaza, and sees conspiracies wherever she looks. A golf pro (Helen Hunt) at Dr. T’s country club also figures in his life, as a possible new direction for his emotional energy.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: The Golden Bowl

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

James Ivory, as a writer in the Cannes-Matin notes, has become a genre unto himself, and you couldn’t ask for a more thoroughgoing manifestation of that genre than The Golden Bowl. Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from one of Henry James’s most intricate novels, mounted in exquisite European locations and handsomely photographed as ever by Tony Pierce-Roberts, this latest Merchant Ivory production will neither disappoint devotées nor persuade unbelievers to take an adjacent pew. In both cases, that’s because The Golden Bowl is more a Cliff’s Notes version of Henry James than the real thing (to coin a phrase).

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Love and Basketball

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2000]

Monica (Sanaa Lathan) is a fierce, hot-tempered competitor whose tomboy years of playground ball with the boys have given her a more aggressive game than women’s basketball refs like to see. Cocky nextdoor neighbor Quincy (Omar Epps) is the son of an NBA player with pro dreams who becomes a high school and college star athlete, playing just as rough a game to the cheers of fans. We know they’re destined for one-on-one from their first meeting as grade school kids in a driveway game of pick-up. Monica so outplays the flabbergasted Quincy that he shoves her off the court, giving her a combination battle scar and love memento she wears with pride.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: The Legend of Bagger Vance

[Written for Film.com]

As an actor and director, Robert Redford seems sincerely and deeply drawn to American mythology, from the mystic fishermen of A River Runs Through It to those western archetypes the Sundance Kid and Jeremiah Johnson to that most sacred of literary mysteries, The Great Gatsby. Every minute of The Natural oozes with the urge to create myth out of Americana, which may be why that movie feels like a Redford film even though it was directed by Barry Levinson.

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