2003 log (12)

(3 Dec) The Happiness of the Katakuris (2002, Takashi Miike) 70
[ The Katakuris are a family that put the ‘funk’ in dysfunctional. They run a desperately unsuccessful inn in the country where guests finally show up, only for each to turn up dead in the morning. This sounds like a creepy thriller, or maybe a black comedy, but this wacky genre-blender actually owes more to Rodgers and Hammerstein than to Hitchcock! The actors/singers are all hysterical and the visuals are trippy (there are even Claymation sequences), with Miike once again proving to be an uncannily skilful and versatile filmmaker. ]

(3 Dec) Can’t You Hear the Wind Howling? (1997, Peter Meyer) 54
[ A so-so documentary about the short but legendary life of Robert Johnson, who came to represent the essence of Mississippi Delta blues and to influence musicians like Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. The film’s subject and music are fascinating but they’re not always well served by the blah re-enactments and Danny Glover’s hyperventilating narration. ]

(3 Dec) Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003, Peter Webber) 21
[ There’s no match for the exquisite dullness of bourgeois cinema, intensely preoccupied with period detail, solemn artists and thoughtful pale girls. Nothing of consequence has to happen, nothing of interest has to be said, it’s all about the appearance of meaning and the pretension of sophistication. Colin Firth is long-haired Dutch painter Vermeer, Scarlett Johansson wears a maid’s cap and mumbles an accent, and all around, boredom reigns supreme. ]

(4 Dec) Shichinin no samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa) [ review ] 96

(5 Dec) Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003, Sylvain Chomet) [ review ] 73

(5 Dec) The Last Samurai (2003, Edward Zwick) [ review ] 37

(5,6,7,8… Dec) Tenacious D: The Complete Master Works (2003, the D) [ review ] 100

(9 Dec) Perfect (2002, Michael Ninn) 35
[ A private detective screwing and/or killing robot babes! Bullet-time cumshots! The Devil and Jesus DPing an angel! Porn actors still can’t act a lick and you can only watch so much sex before it becomes repetitive and boring, but you gotta admire Private Media’s ambition. ]

(9 Dec) Forgotten Silver (1995, Peter Jackson) 64
(10 Dec) Bad Taste (1987, Peter Jackson) 51
(10 Dec) Braindead (1992, Peter Jackson) 62
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(11 Dec) Annie Brocoli dans les fonds marins (2003, Claude Brie) [ review ] 45

(12 Dec) Stuck on You (2003, Peter & Bobby Farrelly) [ review ] 47

(12 Dec) Something’s Gotta Give (2003, Nancy Meyers) [ review ] 61

(15 Dec) Il Cuore Altrove (2003, Pupi Avati) 33
[ 35 year old virgin Nello falls desperately in love with blind femme fatale Angela but, when he hears about a miraculous way to restore her eyesight, he worries that he’ll lose her. This contrived premise promises romance and melodrama, but it doesn’t deliver despite lavish cinematography and music. It’s hard to be moved by Nello’s foolish infatuation, especially as it grows increasingly obvious that Angela is only using him. As for the ending, it might have been more affecting if it wasn’t such a blatant “City Lights” rip-off. ]

(17 Dec) The Return of the King (2003, Peter Jackson) [ review ] 95

(18 Dec) Big Fish (2003, Tim Burton) [ review ] 72

(19 Dec) In America (2003, Jim Sheridan) [ review ] 93

(20 Oct) La Strada (1954, Federico Fellini) 88
[ Part of Les Chefs-d’oeuvre ]

(21 Dec) Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1998, Katsuhito Ishii) zzz
[ It tries to be a hipster yakuza flick, but it’s actually plodding, uninspired and resolutely unhip. ]

(22 Dec) Pieces of April (2003, Peter Hedges) 36
[ This movie is so Sundance it’s not even funny – literally. You got your shaky DV camerawork, you got your dysfunctional yet oh so colorful family, and a lot of “independent” spirit that’s really only rugged coating for a conventional, melodramatic comedy. There are some good actors here, notably Patricia Clarkson and Oliver Platt, but Katie Holmes is a bit shaky as “troubled girl” April. The characters are unappealling (only Derek Luke is endearing enough), the screenplay is too affected and the film’s “acerbic wit” falls flat. ]

(22 Dec) Stevie (2003, Steve James) 80
[ You watch movie-movies and see hopelessly white trash people caught in circles of abuse and that’s sad enough. But when you see the same pathetic patterns repeating through the lives of real people in a documentary like this one, it’s even sadder. We should hate Stevie: he’s an ignorant, racist, angry, drunken child molester. Yet as we spend time with him and learn about his horrible childhood, we start feeling sympathy towards him. It’s very confusing emotionally, and one of the most interesting things is how Steve James puts his own mixed feelings about Stevie right into his film. ]

(23 Dec) Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Chris Columbus) 52
[ The first film was fun enough, but this is just an uninspired rehash, despite amusing bits by Tim Curry and Rob Schneider. ]

(24 Dec) Men In Black II (2002, Barry Sonnenfeld) zzz
[ Stumbled upon it on TV, lasted only 15 minutes. Crappy FX, unfunny humor, Will Smith mugging for the camera… Ugh. ]

(Xmas) Cold Mountain (2003, Anthony Minghella) [ review ] 90

(27 Dec) Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, John Cameron Mitchell) [ review ] 91

(30 Dec) Paycheck (2003, John Woo) [ review ] 46

November / January