ALMOST FAMOUS /
One of the best films of the year, a coming-of-age tale in which
a youngster into music journalism is recruited by Rolling Stone
to report on the developments around the up-and-coming band Stillwater,
and has more misadventures along the way than anyone might have
first suspected. Charming, funny, focused, well acted, and completely
AMERICAN PSYCHO / (R)
Patrick Bateman lives in a circle of power and greed: two aspects
of life that drive him to murder, sex, drug use and, ultimately,
plain insanity. A strong performance by Christian Bale tops off
the brilliant screenplay, which puts a microscope under the skin
of society’s wealthiest employees and discovers a persona driven
into a realm of shallow impulses.
ANGELA'S ASHES /
Alan Parker's near-faithful adaptation of the classic memoirs of
Frank McCourt are not always successful as they would like to be.
The movie suffers from typical studio sentiment, which substitutes
the true heart of the story and its message.
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY /
Oliver Stone’s last film of the 1990s is also his worst, loaded
with boring convictions and incredibly bad editing. Like the sport
it focuses in, the movie is endless.
THE ART OF AMALIA /
A documentary detailing the life and success of International Fado
singer Amalia Rodriguez, who achieved monumental success in Europe
primarily because of the deep beauty of her voice. Very interesting,
particularly for those who have never heard of her before.
THE ART OF WAR /
A secret United Nations agent is asked to oversee treaty talks,
and is then accused of the assassination of one of its ambassadors.
A nice visual touch can not save the dreary, uninspired plot, though.
BATTLEFIELD EARTH / (R)
It has taken aliens over 1000 years to secure their ownership of
the planet Earth, and an outpost of “man animals” threatens to change
that. May star John Travolta, but the story is stupid, the pace
is dreary, and the texture is the cinematic equivalent of falling
face-first into the mud.
THE BEACH /
Ridiculous and pointless drama that shows Leonardo DiCaprio getting
lost in a wilderness with two friends, being hunted down by angered
islanders, and swimming with sharks.
A worker who wants desperately to woo a co-worker strikes a deal
with the devil, played by Elizabeth Hurley, to sell his soul in
exchange for any seven wishes. The comedic exploits are executed
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH /
A file clerk discovers an entrance to John Malkovich's brain through
a door behind a file cabinet, and inspires an endless parade of
comedy and wit as he attempts to make money off the discovery. Endlessly
BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE /
An FBI agent with talents in makeup assumes the role of Big Momma
in order to watch over an attractive female from being contacted
by an escaped criminal. The jokes are seldom funny, and Martin Lawrence
looks uncomfortable in this massive transformation.
BLESS THE CHILD /
A lackluster, would-be satanic thriller in which a miracle child
is born into a world in which a local cult is killing children and
looking for the one that can disrupt the rule of God. With "The
Omen," "Stigmata," "End Of Days," "The Ninth Gate" and "The Exorcist"
at his disposal, director Chuck Russel at least adopts a simple
but effective style.
BOILER ROOM /
A fantastic ensemble cast cannot begin to help this muddled mess
of a movie, which sews its fabric together out of scraps left over
from similar but much better movies about men’s pursuit of wealth.
BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 /
Four unsuspecting youngsters descend into the woods of Burkittsville
to study the authenticity of the creation of "The Blair Witch Project,"
and discover that there is a price to pay for all naive curiosities.
Not a brilliant film like its predecessor, but tense and paced well
enough to deserve reccomendation.
BOYS AND GIRLS /
The youth movie's equivalent of "When Harry Met Sally," in which
characters discuss, ponder, and act on impulse regarding their sexual
desires. Good character energy overrides the severely dry plot.
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES /
Tobey Maguire stars as a kid who has been raised by a doctor at
an orphanage, and is taught all the practices of medicine. When
a woman arrives to have an abortion, he falls for her and learns
to live life outside of what he considers home. Very thin when it
comes to the real details.
THE CELL /
When a social worker is asked to probe into the mind of a serial
killer to get answers on a victim using new technology, she finds
a sinister and foreboding world that is not so easy to crack. A
triumph of visuals, direction, style and cinematography. One of
the year's most innovative.
CHARLIE'S ANGELS /
The latest, and perhaps the worst, attempt to capitalize off the
success of an old television show, featuring three debutants as
espionage agents investigating the disappearance of a computer programmer.
CHICKEN RUN /
The first claymation effort from Dreamworks pictures is also one
of the most sophisticated, stylish and charming comedies to come
along in the past year. Fun for both children and adults.
A brilliant documentary about the art of collecting famous serial
killer memorabilia, particularly paintings done by them during their
terms in prison. A brutally honest effort that never overestimates
THE CONTENDER /
Joan Allen gives one of the best performances of her career here
as a senator in running for the Vice President position, who has
a militia of politicians so dead-set against her that they create
a vile sex scandal to discredit her image.
COYOTE UGLY /
One of the most obvious movie catastrophes in recent memory, a female
buddy picture that also tries to be coming-of-age and "Showgirls:
PG-13" all at the same time, but to no worthwhile avail.
THE CREW / (R)
One of the year's biggest insults to intelligence, a crime caper
in which retired mobsters with bad nicknames are confined to a plot
that operates like four or five episodes of the weekly soap opera.
DANCER IN THE DARK /
One of the most painful movies you will ever see, a poetic endeavor
about the failure of the American dream told through human drama,
catastrophe, and (!) lots of musical numbers. Bjork's performance
is a revelation.
Disney’s first-ever live action/digital animation combination tells
the story of Dinosaurs who are in search of water and food after
meteors destroy their homes. Not simply a movie, but an event.
DISNEY'S THE KID /
A crabby image consultant on the dead end of the social register
is visited by the child form of himself in order to reshape his
priorities in life. Sweet and nurturing,.
DROWNING MONA /
Killing Bette Midler off in the first ten minutes of any movie is
never a good sign, and in “Drowning Mona,” such an occurrence drains
the plot of its very core comedy. Jamie Lee Curtis, Danny DeVito
and Neve Campbell, who co-star, cannot compensate for the loss of
Midler’s great comedic prescience in this whodunit farse.
Six people, paired up in pointless ways, are en route to a karaoke
contest in one of the most muddled, unconvincing movies of the year.
Even Gwyneth Paltrow should have known better.
THE END OF THE AFFAIR /
Cold and impersonal drama where two lovers end their secret affair,
but the man is obsessed with her and will not give up so easily
to snag her from her husband. A beautiful production without the
depth or worthwhile substance to help it along.
ERIN BROCKOVICH /
Thirty-something Brockovish investigates a series of files thrown
onto her desk, and uncovers a case that could put PG&E in the red.
A highly poignant character study.
AN EXTREMELY GOOFY MOVIE /
Disney’s simple, sweet direct-to-video sequel doesn’t aim for classic
status, but has fun just by peering back into the live of the studio’s
most zany animated character.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER /
A wretchedly pretensious thriller that asks, "is it possible for
someone to develop an infatuation for someone who kills men for
a living?" Maybe, if the other person is just as demented.
FANTASIA 2000 /
A marvelous, nostalgic marriage of modern animation and classic
music, meant to further Walt Disney’s dream of keeping “Fantasia”
a consistent work-in-progress. Highlight of the IMAX feature: the
“Rhapsody In Blue” segment depicting New York during the depression.
FINAL DESTINATION /
When a group of teenagers cheat death by getting off a plane just
before it explodes in midair, the grim reaper goes in search of
those who escaped and take them to their demise. A rather exciting
THE FLINTSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS /
Stupid, unfunny, worthless effort of a comedy that journeys back
to the days in which Bedrock’s most well-known residents were still
living the single life.
Absurdity and sentiment meet head-to-head when “Frequency” tells
of a father and son who initiate contact with each other over a
radio, the catch being they are communicating from different time
periods. Slow and dreary.
GALAXY QUEST /
A team of actors from a former television show called "Galaxy Quest"
are sent on a mission to save aliens, who believe the actors are
real members of a space fleet. This satire of television fantasy
does not have the effectiveness of "Mystery Men," but succeeds in
other ways nonetheless.
GET CARTER /
Sylvester Stallone returns to the big screen from a four year abscence,
playing a mob enforcer on the hunt of men who may, or may have not,
been connected to the mysterious death of his brother. Nothing new
action-wise, but the story has an intriguing setup.
GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS /
Remade from a 1972 cult classic, “Gone In Sixty Seconds” is a long
and joyless action adventure, where speedy car chase scenes are
depleted of adrenaline and talented actors waste their fortes on
completely mechanical characters. Nicholas Cage stars, with Angelina
Jolie (rather unfairly) bringing up the rear.
Ridley Scott’s vast, beautiful Roman epic tells the tale of a Spanish
general who loses his title, is tossed into slavery, and then single-handedly
fights his way back to the person who took away everything from
him--the new emperor. One of the year’s only masterpieces.
HIGH FIDELITY /
One of the year’s few romance comedies to use strokes of realism
to guide along the story, which chronicles misadventures of a record-store
owner as his relationships falter and he struggles to come to terms
with their significance.
HOLLOW MAN /
Dazzling and detailed visual effects accomidate a thriller that,
alas, is littered by all the negative attire of a traditional summer
blockbuster: unstable characters, weak reasoning, an incoherent
plot, and sometimes, even general stupidity.
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS /
Completely botched live action attempt at classic Dr. Seuss material,
starring Jim Carrey in the lead as an antagonist whose hatred for
Christmas spurrs his audacity to rip away every sign of celebration
in the town below his cave. Spiritless.
THE HURRICANE /
Dramatic waves spray the story to life in "The Hurricane," based
on a painful tale of racism and hate that put an innocent man behind
bars for 19 years. Strong Oscar potential.
I DREAMED OF AFRICA /
Kim Basinger assumes the role of a woman who gives up her life in
Europe for the desolate, remote meadows of Africa. Shapeless, muddled,
confusing, and unconvincing.
KEEPING THE FAITH /
Edward Norton’s debut directing endeavor is a bright and humorous
comedy, with a story that shows men using their religious faith
as tools to help guide them through the intricate rivers of life
(especially when both of them fall in love with one of their old
girl pals). Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman give strong supporting
THE LAST BROADCAST /
The film that preceded the now-legendary “The Blair Witch Project”
is a detailed, vast journey into an eerie plot with, alas, not enough
backbone to give us the conclusion we deserve.
LITTLE NICKY /
Indeed the worst Adam Sandler picture ever conceived, a film about
the son of the devil who is beckoned on Earth to retrieve his rebellious
siblings before they turn New York City into a hell itself. Pointless,
irritating, and absolutely dreadful.
LOST SOULS /
A satanic thriller that has been anticipated in theaters for more
than a year, "Lost Souls" arrives with an unmistakable thud. Winona
Ryder stars as an exorcist, of sorts, who discovers that a famous
writer is destined to be the next antichrist, a fate which will
be bestowed on him on his 33rd birthday, which is coincidentally
just a few days away. Boring and saddled by stiff acting.
LUCKY NUMBERS /
A strong premise revolved around scamming the local lottery is squandered
away by laughless twists, obvious cliches, and performances from
John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow that lack any stable rhythm.
ME, MYSELF & IRENE /
Once again, Jim Carrey's unmistakable energetic screen prescience
is wasted away by a story that demands little insight and lacks
any plausible laughs. No wonder he was the perfect cast for the
Andy Kaufman role in "Man On The Moon."
MEET THE PARENTS /
The fears of every man's future in-laws are realized when Ben Stiller
plays Greg, a nurse who is just about to pop the question to his
lovely girlfriend, only to realize that the family he is marrying
into consists of a father who looks for any opportunity to offer
marriage disapproval. Confirms that Stiller is one of the finest
comedic actors around at the moment.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 /
Proving that even overblown stunts can be outdone, John Woo directs
and Tom Cruise stars in “Mission: Impossible 2,” a film that keeps
the plot simple, but leaves the mind in an utter state of disbelief
after a series of action scenes flout basic logic.
MISSION TO MARS /
“2001: A Space Odyssey” meats “Ishtar” in this movie about an expedition
to Mars, which drags on so long and unsteadily that we stare at
it in utter discomfort. The terrific visuals can’t even save us
from the highly underwhelming narrative.
THE NEXT BEST THING /
Madonna attempts to re-tackle her film career after “Evita”s success,
but seems to have gotten her priorities mixed up in this totally
moronic romance comedy in which a yoga instructor and her gay best
friend mistakenly sleep together, have a child, and then decide
to raise the baby together. Soap operas have more energy than this.
NEXT FRIDAY /
The sequel to "Friday" that no one needed, involving a day in the
life of Ice Cube, who visits his Uncle and finds fast enemies in
a neighbor's house full of drug dealers. Depressing and unfunny.
THE NINTH GATE /
Another in the long list of ridiculous satanic thrillers, but one
with a visual style that outmatches its narrative two to one. Roman
Polanski merely uses the story as an excuse to show off his highly
breathtaking cinematography and atmosphere, though, making the film
NOT OF THIS WORLD /
A touching little foreign film of highly-significant meaning, where
conflict and self-discovery are presented to characters who don’t
quite realize their lives are heading in ominous directions.
NURSE BETTY /
After witnessing the murder of her husband, a housewife played by
Renee Zellweger detatches from reality and descends heavily into
the logic of soap operas, which leads her to California so that
she can meet up with the fictitious characters that she somehow
believes she is connected to. A terrific exhibition of audacity
and sheer boldness.
NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS /
Eddie Murphy slips back into his comedic slump by trying to duplicate
his success with the "Nutty Professor" story, only this time around,
he adopts so many personas under the Klump name that the movie self-destructs.
THE PATRIOT /
A blood-soaked, incessantly gory clutter of a movie with Mel Gibson
at the helm that tries hard to pass itself off as a noble war epic
seethed in family values and national honor, and then expects us
not to distinguish its endless contradictions or vast narrative
THE PERFECT STORM /
An all-star cast featuring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg lead
a descent of fisherman into the northern waters of the Atlantic,
where storms are about to collide and their futures vanquished.
The clarity is muddled, the plot unfocused, and the disaster sequences
An independent feature from director John Swon, who tells the story
of an isolated mental patient who is brought out of solitude by
the kind and caring efforts of a new facility worker. Simple and
honest, but lacks sufficient details.
PITCH BLACK /
Vin Diesel gives a well-rounded performance in this somewhat misguided
movie where nocturnal aliens live beneath the planet, and a total
eclipse brings them up to the surface to feed on the humans who
have crashed into their atmosphere. Good tension builds for an hour,
and then is extinguished by slow action and idiotic character decisions.
PRINCESS MONONOKE /
The mythological anime film that was so warmly received in its native
country gets theatrical distribution here in the states: the first
time any Japanese cartoon has done so. Exciting, beautiful, and
READY TO RUMBLE /
Sort of zany comedy that doesn’t try very hard to pass its prime
topic (wrestling) off as some kind of realistic event. Generally
amusing and cheerful.
RED PLANET /
An expedition to the red planet quite different from the recent
"Mission To Mars," using an effective premise and tone to underscore
the monotonous events that take place on the surface there. Ultimately,
however, the result isn't the great improvement it might have been.
REINDEER GAMES /
A released prison inmate strikes up a romance with his cell-mate’s
long-distance girlfriend, then is forced by her brother to organize
a heist on a popular Indian casino during Christmas Eve. A travesty
of bloated suspense and plot twists that acts like a continuation
to the “Eye Of The Beholder” nightmare.
REMEMBER THE TITANS /
Two ethnically-separated schools are joined together much to the
displeasure of advocates of "race separation," which spurrs much
hatred among the ranks of the high school football team, but is
ultimately resolved by the compassion from the team's head coach
played by Denzel Washington. Observant.
RIDE WITH THE DEVIL /
Four guerillias side against their state in the civil war so that
their brotherhood, and therefore personal values, can survive the
brutality of the Civil War. The screenplay never clues us in to
what each of the characters stand for.
THE ROAD TO EL DORADO /
Dreamworks’ follow-up to “The Prince Of Egypt” features genuinely
bright animated spectacles, but not enough character development
to make up for its tiresome plot.
ROAD TRIP /
Amusing comedy in the grand tradition of a Farrely Brothers film.
The overall product is, however, more like an outtake, as some of
the later humor is side-saddled by a crude and negative tone that
leaves many feeling insulted.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT /
Totally uninspired courtroom drama in which two war buddies are
brought back together by an act that could place one of them behind
bars for the rest of his life. Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones
SCARY MOVIE /
It was inevitable for someone to come along and spoof all those
horror movies of the recent past, and the Wayans brothers' "Scary
Movie" does that in a nutshell. What it doesn't do, like every other
film spoof before it, is match its concept with significant humor.
Samuel L. Jackson stars in this modernization of the 1971 classic
blaxploitation film "Shaft," where the title character is in pursuit
of a witness to a heinous crime on behalf of the police department,
but follows no one's rules but his own. Extremely lacking in energy.
THE SIXTH DAY /
The issue of human cloning is given a cinematic twist in "The Sixth
Day," which takes place in the near future, when human cloning is
now possible, but has been outlawed because of the issues that even
today's society ponder. Arnold Schwarzenegger looks tired in the
role of an action star at this point, but the concept is fresh and
we have lots of fun regardless.
SNOW DAY /
A town is put on halt as snow covers the land and shuts down schools
and businesses for a holiday in the ice, where stories of fear,
revenge, and even love, jump into play. A simple idea is squandered
away in a script of vast stupidity.
SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS /
A reporter recalls the passionate romance he once had with a Japanese-American
when he sees her again at the trial of a fisherman he is covering.
The beautiful imagery of “Snow Falling On Cedars” is matched by
an equally-powerful narrative, but not a plausible tone.
THE SKULLS /
A lousy and overblown thriller that doesn’t even have the desire
to follow the “so good it’s bad” formula, but has enough stupidity
to claim that a college society can be highly secret, even if they
advertise with a big logo on the outside of their building.
Being withheld from critic screenings and the removal of the director's
name certainly did nothing to help this sci-fi epic, which is ugly,
fast and extremely boring from beginning to end.
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY /
A surreal, spellbinding Hitchcock-esque thriller starring Matt Damon
as a man whose survival is determined by the lives he takes, and
who he masquerades as. Great performances and passionate directing;
one of the best films of 1999.
A war movie fought in the minds of would-be soldiers rather than
directly on the battlefields. Irish actor Colin Ferrell portrays
a clever, alert soldier-in-training who wonders why war is at all
necessary to resolve issues between two countries, and if it is
necessary to fight, torture, and sometimes kill another just for
the benefit of resolving a nation's crisis. An irresistible, intriguing
TITAN A.E. /
The next step in animated films. Directing team Don Bluth and Gary
Goldman take to the stars with this rousing, exciting and endlessly
extravagant space epic, telling of mankind’s search of a lost space
craft launched into the stars when an alien ship destroyed Earth.
Contains many scenes of high visual vibrance.
Bruce Willis stars as a security guard who just happens to be the
sole survivor from a catastrophic train wreck, and the result prompts
a comic book dealer played by Samuel L. Jackson to relay his theories
on how super heroes may exist in our own dimension, and how those
with special powers may not even know about them. Filled with so
much lunacy that we are left in paralyzing boredom.
VERTICAL LIMIT /
An exciting adventure on the heights of a mountain, as a brother
races against time to save his trapped sister and two others from
an avalanche before they die under the blanket of cold. Solid cinematography,
an alert cast and great visual treats.
THE WATCHER /
An endeavor of the "style over substance" importance that doesn't
even treat the foreground properly. Keanu Reeves plays Griffin,
a woman killer who follows the departure of a detective from L.A.
to Chicago, and resumes the killings he is famous for in order to
completely overthrow the detective's search for psychological stability.
A big laugh.
WHAT LIES BENEATH /
After her daughter moves away for college, a bored and disconected
wife gets revived when she realizes that she is being stalked by
a ghost, and one who has a close relationship with her husband.
You've seen the trailers, you've seen it all.
WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM? /
Better question: what planet are these filmmakers from?
Four womanizers who come together every sunday to discuss the latest
sexual experiences have the tables turned on them when a woman who
shares similarities starts up a relationship with them and drives
a wedge between their friendships. Not funny or even mildly amusing;
THE WHOLE NINE YARDS /
Pointless, laughably bad mob comedy where a professional hit man
tries to rebuild his life after turning state’s evidence against
his mob family, but is put off track when a neighbor recognizes
him from a previous encounter.
WONDER BOYS /
Michael Douglas and Francis McDormand lead a stellar cast in this
gem of filmmaking that features a story we can all identify with,
characters we have met before, and a goal that all creative individuals
should set their sights on. One of the year’s best.
The growing awareness of Japanese anime in the mainstream American
market will undoubtedly help “X,” a beautifully-crafted movie that
has a compelling outlook on an Apocalypse, succeed here in the states
the way it has overseas.
The long-awaited film adaptation of the 37-year old comic book,
in which Homo-Sapiens have an uncertain future when a more evolved
and powerful form of humans begins surfacing in modern society.
It's concise narrative serves as a fitting introduction to a world
in which gifted individuals are reviled simply because they are
© 2000, David