2K1 GRAHAMMY AWARDS (FILM
Dear Valued Subscribers,
I find your theories interesting, where can
I learn more about your thoughts on the year 2000?
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
Top Ten Films of
Just A Bit Outside: James Toback's
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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."
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."
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.
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...
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.