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

2000 Eyes: Gladiator

[Written for Film.com]

Gladiator, a blockbuster-budgeted behemoth about ancient Rome, begins with a lyrical closeup of a man’s hand rippling through the wheat in a sun-dappled field. Yes, this has the look of director Ridley Scott, in that exciting/maddening way of his: it’s an image that could come from a tone poem, or from a TV commercial. Scott has always had both sides to his directorial personality, which I think is why I have a hard time referring to Alien and Blade Runner as classics (having never gotten over the thud of disappointment I felt on their opening days). In fact, for a highly regarded filmmaker, Scott has an awful lot to answer for, including G.I. Jane, 1492, and that horned fantasy Legend.

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

2000 Eyes: Hamlet

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

This is not your father’s Hamlet. The present melancholy Dane is son of the deceased chairman of Denmark Corporation. His castle is a sleek but alienating New York highrise dotted with omnipresent surveillance cameras, his kingdom city streets lined with paparazzi and tabloid reporters.

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

2000 Eyes: Time Code

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

Some movies become milestones on the basis of quality; others, for being where they are when they are. Mike Figgis’s Time Code is assured of qualifying in the second category. As for the former, the outlook is dubious, but let’s be generous and say that time will tell.

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

2000 Eyes: Following

[Written for The Stranger]

An unnamed, unemployed young man (Jeremy Theobald) fills up his empty days stalking random people, following them from a distance as they go about their daily routine. He justifies this pathetic habit by telling himself that he’s a writer, and this will be good research for his fiction, even though his output to date consists only of staring at his typewriter, the one object in his dingy, unpainted flat that appears not to have been plucked out of a garbage bin.

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

2000 Eyes: The Woman Chaser

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Los Angeles, circa 1950. The mood is set with sharp b&w photography, kitschy Polynesian-tinged lounge music and salsa-laced jazz. The Capitol Records building looms large in the background of impeccably composed shots. Patrick Warburton (doomed to spend his life remembered as Puddy from the sitcom Seinfeld) strides onscreen, jaw locked in single-minded determination, voiceover narration dripping with matter-of-fact contempt for the chumps he’s about to fleece with his newly purchased used car lot. “Isn’t making money the reason for existence?” he explains with deadpan sincerity.

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

2000 Eyes: Road Trip

[Written for Film.com]

Summer’s here as far as Hollywood is concerned: put down that Harold Bloom tome and rediscover the smartass, breast-obsessed 13-year-old boy within. As for rediscovering one’s inner 13-year-old girl, well … autumn will be here before you know it.

As if enshrouded in mythology, the silly story of Road Trip is narrated by a perpetual college student, Barry (Tom Green), who recalls the epic journey of four pals traveling almost 2,000 miles to salvage a longtime romance. Sweet, no? No. The tale begins with Josh (Breckin Meyer of Go), who is going to a New York university while his girlfriend Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard) attends another in Texas. It’s their first major separation since the age of 5, and it weighs on them.

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

2000 Eyes: Quills

[Written for The Stranger]

The Marquis de Sade has been many things to many people, but the fact remains that he wrote for one person only: himself. It’s this very monomania that gives his works their coldly granitic fascination, page after page of mechanized sexual debasement hewn out like so many identical slabs of stone, and it’s also why he can disturb the most open-minded reader. Quills, the new movie loosely (very loosely) based upon the latter years of de Sade’s life, seeks to rehabilitate his image into that of Brave Soldier in the Noble Battle against Hypocrisy. This not only flattens and dulls the film’s subject, it also makes for one hell of a hypocritical movie in its own right.

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

2000 Eyes: Cast Away

[Written for The Herald]

Robinson Crusoe lives again, in the utterly engrossing desert island drama Cast Away.

This film works for a variety of reasons. But one of the best is the simple dilemma that Mr. Crusoe faced in Daniel Defoe’s novel: how to survive in sandswept isolation (without the tribal councils of Survivor, yet). Cast Away began as the brainchild of actor-producer Tom Hanks, who nurtured the idea with screenwriter William Broyles (Apollo 13) and his Oscar-winning Forrest Gump director, Robert Zemeckis. The result is something close to the best of big Hollywood picture-making.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Kathleen Murphy, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Dancer in the Dark

[Written for Reel.com]

How strange that two of the movies I’ve liked best and been most surprised by at Cannes 2000 should turn out to be mutant forms of the musical. The Coens’ song-filled O Brother, Where Art Thou? taps into the power of mythic storytelling, the kind of exhilarating power that drives journeys from Homer’s Odyssey to Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels — both sources for O Brother’s down-and-dirty musical drift through an economically depressed America teetering on a future we’ve come, for better and worse, to live in.     

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

2000 Eyes: Charlie’s Angels

[Written for Film.com]

The development of the MTV style has brought us to Armageddon (a two-and-a-half-hour coming attractions trailer for itself) and The Cell (corrupt visual extravagance), so it is very tempting for critics to despair over the kudzu-like growth of this moviemaking approach. On the other hand, the world of music video also planted the seeds of Seven and Being John Malkovich, so it is not entirely a dead end. And now it has brought us to Charlie’s Angels.

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