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

2000 Eyes: Deterrence

[Written for Film.com]

The concept is a little gem out of the B-movie sourcebook: In the year 2008, the president of the United States is waylaid in a small Colorado roadhouse by a massive snowstorm. At that exact moment, the new leader of Iraq—evidently no improvement over the previous leader of Iraq—launches an invasion force into an easily overrun Kuwait. The president, flanked by a couple of aides and a group of very frightened diners, must instantly make a decision on the greatest weapon in the strategic arsenal: nuclear attack.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Tom Keogh, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: The Contender

[Written for Film.com]

With Aaron Sorkin running around holding an armful of Emmys and basking in the love of a nationwide TV audience for creating NBC’s “The West Wing,” the idea of releasing a lesser political drama on movie screens right now is risky business. The Contender indeed looks narrow and one-dimensional by comparison to the layered drama and comedy of Sorkin’s show, though this new film by former critic Rod Lurie (Deterrence) does help clarify what it is that Sorkin does so well simply because Lurie isn’t doing it here.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson

2000 Eyes: Amores Perros

[Written for The Stranger]

A dinged-up Grand Marquis rockets through Mexico City traffic, straddling the white line; two young guys inside, very hyper, have a dog gushing blood in the back seat, and, a couple of car lengths behind, some character in a van sticking a pistol out the window and trying to punch a bullet at them. Amores Perros, the most exciting rival of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the recent foreign-film Oscar race, begins at a screaming dead run and maintains one kind of intensity or another over the next two and a half hours.

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

2000 Eyes: Lucky Numbers

[Written for Film.com]

The critical reaction to Sally Field’s directing debut, Beautiful, was interesting. That film — admittedly a mess — presented a self-centered, vain, cutthroat main character, a beauty contestant played by Minnie Driver. The response to the movie showed virtually no recognition that such a character might be presented as a source of satire, or be set up for eventual redemption (which, of course, she was). Instead, critics and audiences alike seemed outraged that anyone would presume to place such a lowlife at the center of a film. (We have come a long way from the anti-heroes of the 1970s, folks.)

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

2000 Eyes: Yi Yi (aka A-One and a-Two)

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

Edward Yang’s work on this nearly-three-hour family drama from Taiwan won him the Best Director award from the Cannes 2000 jury. Quiet, patient, undemonstrative, Yi Yi is no tour de force à la Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, nor an emotional tone poem like Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, but its large, astutely chosen cast is beautifully observed, and Yang’s visual intelligence — whether focused on a verdant park or the Fassbinder-like frame spaces where life is lived in a modern, suddenly Westernized city — is formidable.

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

2000 Eyes: Holy Smoke!

[Written for The Stranger]

Recklessness, combined with a passionate, headstrong commitment to see things through to the end, can be deliriously exciting to brush up against, or it can be ruthlessly self-absorbed. No filmmaker balances between these poles, and is more daringly reckless, than Jane Campion. Her characters are often so wrapped up in their own certainties, they barely communicate with the outside world. (Campion’s most famous heroine is a mute, after all.) But her films are a constant stream of glorious, thought-provoking images, racing from one to the next without waiting for the audience to catch up.

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

2000 Eyes: Titanic Town

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

“We thought we’d left the Troubles behind,” voices 16-year-old Annie McPhelimy (Nuala O’Neill) in the opening moments. “They were just starting.” Her family moves into a modest brick home in Andersonstown, a Catholic district of West Belfast in 1972, to escape the violence of their previous neighborhood, but it isn’t long before an IRA guerrilla is poised on their porch firing into the streets. Bernie (Julie Walters) charges out like a mother bear, chasing him off more out of foolhardy temperament than actual courage.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Bruce Reid

2000 Eyes: The Ninth Gate

[Written for The Stranger]

Johnny Depp, seedier and more aged than he’s ever played before, stars as a dealer in antique books. When one of his wealthier clients wants him to track down the three remaining copies of a book that, legend has it, was co-written by Lucifer, he has every reason to be suspicious (not the least being that the client is played by Frank Langella). But the paycheck is large enough to overcome his concerns, so Depp flies off to Europe, and the body count starts to rise.

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

2000 Eyes: Two Family House

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

There’s an engaging modesty to Raymond De Felitta’s Sundance Audience Winner Two Family House, a sweet little romantic drama set in the insular Italian and Irish neighborhoods of 1956 Staten Island and narrated with the conversational ease of a bar story.

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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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