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Dear Valued Subscribers,

Many of you have noticed that I have been strangely silent over the past few weeks. Thousands of concerned emails have flooded my inbox, checking on my whereabouts and recent goings-on. Lest any of you worry, I'm announcing that I'm back on the scene and badder than ever. The last few weeks have been crazy busy for yours truly, as I have sequestered myself in a state of isolation contemplating just what went happened in the last year of the millennium. The year 2000 saw its ups and downs just like any year, but overall the quality of films released this year just slightly exceeded the taste of a three day-old hot dog grilling at your local Shell station. Many tent pole films ("Charlie's Angels", "The Perfect Storm") came and went and America collectively groaned "Borrrrring!" I couldn't agree more, but a few films released this year will stand the test of time and be remembered as Classic by our children's children. Unfortunately, 2001 isn't shaping up to be any more promising (especially with the looming strike by The Writer's Guild and SAG), but I'm the type that is abound with endless optimism. So kick back your heels and prepare to be rocked by The Grahammys, 2001 style. Without further ado, I humbly present to you...

Top Ten Films of 2000
Just A Bit Outside: James Toback's improvisational "
Black and White" is a fascinating snapshot of white kids' infatuation with hip-hop culture (and Downey Jr.'s beatdown at the hands of Mike Tyson rivals the ABC's famous "Agony of Defeat" shot for Best Moment Ever Caught On Film); Stephen Frears' adaptation of "High Fidelity" faithfully transmits the theme of musical obsession as a mask for emotional immaturity, DESPITE moving the story's location from London to Chicago (mainly thanks to John Cusack's considerable charm and comic timing); Julien Temple's "The Filth and The Fury" documents the rise and fall of The Sex Pistols through the use of thrilling, never-before-aired concert footage and recent interviews with the surviving bandmembers.

10) "Time Code" (written/directed by Mike Figgis) - Unfairly pigeonholed by the press as nothing more than an experimental movie with a plot that goes nowhere, Figgis' latest film envelops and absorbs those viewers willing to give it a chance. Using a revolutionary narrative approach (four separate, single-take shots on the screen simultaneously), Figgis manipulates each take's audio to help guide the audience through a highly atypical (or is it?) day in a Hollywood production company.

9) "
Gladiator" (directed by Ridley Scott) - Upon second viewing, the story isn't all that. It has plot holes (the most glaring of which involves Lucilla's turn from power-hungry supervixen into a hangdog for Maximus) and, from what I hear, is basically a rehash of 1964's "The Fall of The Roman Empire." But you cannot deny the overall power and beauty of this visually sumptuous pic, not to mention Russell Crowe's breakthrough into mega-movie stardom with his ultra bad-ass performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius. Ridley Scott rocks.

8) "
The Virgin Suicides" (written/directed by Sofia Coppola) - A rare film in that the narrative does not drive the plot. This is precisely the reason that the film got a tepid response at the box office; people are used to seeing films with an actual story arc. But Coppola's directorial debut is memorable because it is the filmic equivalent of flipping through an old high school yearbook; you can't quite remember all of the details of what happened, but certain images burn themselves into your mind, never to be forgotten.

7) "
The Way of the Gun" (written/directed by Christopher McQuarrie) - The best Quentin Tarantino movie that QT didn't write. The writer of "The Usual Suspects" dazzles in his directorial debut filled with anti-heroes, gunfights and heavy doses of nefarious behaviour. McQuarrie takes the notion of the double-cross and makes it laughable, as this film is filled with triple, quadruple, and even quintuple-crosses. And just to prove that irony is still alive, the Mexican standoff that occurs near the end of the film actually takes place in Mexico.

6) "
Pitch Black" (written/directed by David Twohy) - Vin Diesel went from being a guy with a cool voice to being Best Ever (TM) in this minimalist sci-fi masterpiece. His eerie voice-over that begins the movie is alone worth the price of the DVD (and he does commentary!). Twohy utilizes a filter that bleaches out all of the color from the barren (or so we think) planet that the space travelers crash-land on; Steven Soderbergh used a similar filter to shoot his Mexican scenes in Traffic. This movie is a smart and sleek amalgamation of B-movie staples "Tremors" and "Alien."

5) "
Chuck and Buck" (directed by Miguel Arteta) - Ooodly ooodly fun fun fun. Yeah right. This twisted tale of obsession is ooodly ooodly creepy creepy creepy. The intimacy of the actors' performances is captured with exquisite beauty on digital video, and Mike White's portrayal of uber sad-sack Buck is thoroughly engrossing and disturbing. Definitely not for the squeamish or easily upset, its closest relative is Todd Solondz's 1998 weirdo extravaganza "Happiness."

4) "
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (directed by Ang Lee) - Crouching Tigs Hidden Smiggs. Ang Lee rebounds from the wretched "Ride With The Devil" with the best wire-fu movie since "The Matrix." You have to love filmmakers who shoot for delivering the audience an epic tale and hit the mark. Even though Ang Lee bit "A Chinese Ghost Story" with the treetop adventures of Chow Yun Fat and Zhang Ziyi, this scene still has some of the most beautiful cinematography ever committed to film. A totally enjoyable filmgoing experience.

3) "
You Can Count On Me" (directed by Kenneth Lonergan) - The American independent "talkie" movies reached their peak in the early and mid 1990's with treasures such as "Before Sunrise" and "Sex, Lies and Videotape." The movement has all but died, but Kenneth Lonergan's debut fulfills all of the promise of the genre. Mark Ruffalo (2001 Grahammy Award Winner for Best Actor) and Laura Linney (The Truman Show, Primal Fear) star as siblings who are quite different and surprisingly similar at the same time. Ultimately, the film resoundingly succeeds at portraying the unique bond between siblings and how no one in the world really knows you better than the one(s) you grew up with.

2) "
Traffic" (directed by Steven Soderbergh) - Flat out, Steven SoderBest is the best director making movies today. He languished for a few years with the stigma of being a wunderkind who would never quite live up to the potential shown in his Palme D'Or winning "Sex, Lies and Videotape." The truth is he was refining his craft with underrated masterpieces such as "King Of The Hill" and "Gray's Anatomy." Hollywood finally gave him a shot with "Out of Sight" and he's been money ever since. "Traffic" is his crowning achievement. The government refuses to admit that the drug war that began escalating in the Reagan years is an atrocity on the level of Vietnam -- many lives are being lost every day and the government is oblivious and unable to do anything to stop it. SoderBest unflinchingly weaves five loosely threaded stories together that collectively represent a microcosm of the stranglehold that drugs have on our society. From teenage experimentation to border struggles to how the government unsuccessfully tries to get a grasp on the situation at hand, "Traffic" tells it like it is without bias in any direction (reminiscent of Tim Robbins' powerful "Dead Man Walking" in its refusal to take sides). And I haven't even gotten to the performances yet. Benicio Del Toro (who also appears in this year's #7 movie, "The Way Of The Gun"), Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, Catherine Zeta-Hottie, Erika Christensen -- I could keep going. "Traffic" sports the best ensemble cast since "The Thin Red Line." It should win the Best Picture Oscar this March 25th if Brockies doesn't steal too many votes away...

1) "
Requiem For A Dream" (written/directed by Darren Aronofsky) - I don't even know where to start with this one. How about by saying that I was unable to even stand up when this movie ended? How about by saying that it was so intense that it gave my brother a nosebleed? How about by saying that I know for a fact that I'll never see another film that tops this one in style, presentation, or sheer heartache delivered? No words that I could ever write can possibly convey the mind-numbing and emotionally draining roller coaster that this film takes you on. Actually, the roller coaster analogy is way off -- it's more like going skydiving with a parachute that you don't realize is faulty. You spend a few anxious minutes climbing to a height where the world looks perfectly beautiful and peaceful, but after the initial elation and rush of leaping from the plane, you quickly realize that your parachute is broken and you're only a few moments from plummeting helplessly into the ground. That's how intense this story is. Aronofsky's sophomore effort is a faithful retelling of Hubert Selby Jr.'s semi-autobiographical tale of his harrowing descent into drug addiction. But it shouldn't be compared or categorized with other "drug" movies (even great ones like "Drugstore Cowboy" or "Leaving Las Vegas"), for it's more about America's addiction to addiction, if that makes any sense. Think about it, we're probably all addicted to something. Whether it's a tangible and clinically recognized form of addiction (caffeine, cigarettes, heroin, whatevs) or something a little more ambiguous (approval, love, success), we all have our addictions that we need help in fighting. By focusing on drugs, however, Aronofsky is able to crystallize and capture the moment where a habit turns into an addiction. The four main characters (Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans) each experience their own equally bone-chilling journey from jubilation to desperation, culminating in a final 15 minutes of film that will leave your heart and soul aching in despair. For these four individuals, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no Hollywood ending where everything miraculously turns out okay. Aronofsky is on par with David Fincher to become the most influential director since Stanley Kubrick; no matter what his career holds in store for him, "Requiem For A Dream" is a parable of nightmarish proportions that is impossible to ever forget. Best.

I find your theories interesting, where can I learn more about your thoughts on the year 2000?