almost famous
director: cameron crowe
It's a fine line between nostalgia and mawkishness, this movie doesn't even attempt to walk that line, instead it falls flat in the backyard of sickly sweet sentiment. The only time it attains more than one flat note is the anytime Phillip Seymour Hoffman is on the screen as Lester Bangs, the rest of the time we follow our protagonist (who seems nowhere near as smart or in love with music as exposition would lead us to believe) as he reacts to a world of stock characters and cliched saints, too much is played for laughs and it doesn't come off as, the words of one character, "real".
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  October 2000 [link] |  recommend

fat girl
director: catherine breillat
Fat Girl is an interesting raw movie about two young sisters discovering their sexuality, BUT DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR A FEEL GOOD/TITILATING/COMING OF AGE TYPE OF MOVIE. Catherine Breillat tells us just how much she hates men throughout the movie, and then whams you in the face with her agenda one more time with a horrific disturbing ending. It's worth one more sentence to say that relationship between the two sisters is beautifully portrayed and Anais Reboux is remarkable as the jaded beyond her years little Fat Girl.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  October 2001 [link] |  recommend

director: catherine hardwicke
This movie will ring true for anyone who ever tried to be like their cooler, badder friend and is artfully done so as not to be revolting and depressing despite all the scary things these girls do to themselves and each other. Evan Rachel Wood amazingly shifts back and forth from being a scared little girl to a crazed angry teen.
reviewed by: robin |  September 2003 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up

legally blonde 2: red, white & blonde
director: charles herman-wurmfeld
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blah - seeing that the word blonde was in the title twice should have been clue number one that this installment wasn't going to be repeating the kicky vibe of its predecessor. Oh how I wanted Elle to go to D.C. and show those Washington fat cats that the law needs some heart and highlights and that's exactly what she did but somewhere along I-95 the fun blew out the window.
reviewed by: rachel |  July 2003 [link] |  recommend

about a boy
director: chris & paul weitz
I really want to dislike Hugh Grant but that cheeky bastard keeps making it so difficult for me. The one-time Hollywood Freak is perfectly cast in this great adaptation of Nick Hornby's 1998 novel; the kid is amazing as well and the dialogue (the best of which is lifted straight from Hornby) keeps things moving along....very entertaining.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  May 2002 [link] |  recommend

harry potter & the chamber of secrets
director: chris columbus
The second Potter movie is pretty entertaining – or at least the first half is. For me, the second half just got bogged down with details where I would think, “Well, I guess I can see that happening. Maybe. Now why would they know to do this?”. (bonus, illegal third sentence: lets all play a drinking game where you’d drink everytime someone says, “Potter”)
reviewed by: rich |  November 2002 [link] |  recommend

director: chris hegedus & jehane noujaim
Very engrossing documentary about the woes and pitfalls of
the old new economy, which details the rise and fall of an
internet company started by two lifelong friends. It's the sort
of stuff that makes you cringe but you can't look away.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  May 2001 [link] |  recommend

a guy thing
director: chris koch
Paul (Jason Lee) has to choose between his square, controlling fiancee (Selma Blair) and her fun-loving, free-living cousin (Julia Stiles, who I have known was destined for me since the time I saw her on the 9) in this cartoony comedy driven by its stars' ample charisma. This is not exactly a "Lady or the Tiger" type situation, since most of us have done a lot worse than either of these ladies: rowr.
reviewed by: matthewS |  January 2003 [link] |  recommend

head of state
director: chris rock
Awfully dumb and moderately funny, HEAD OF STATE is set in an alternate reality, vaguely similar to our own, but where this shit makes a half a shred of sense. Chris Rock, like Jerry Seinfeld -- another stand-up comic turned "actor" -- overcomes his total lack of thespian skill by being hammily bad in a really enjoyable way (i.e. his hysterical reaction early in the film when his bike gets run over by a bus).
reviewed by: matthewS |  April 2003 [link] |  recommend

american movie
director: chris smith
So far, my favorite film of the year, a wonderful documentary about a man in Wisconsin and his 3 year quest to make a 30 minute straight to video horror film. It never pokes fun of it's subjects, it shows their lives for what they are and relishes in their triumphs.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

director: christian charles
oy - i chose this over "bowling for columbine" on saturday night and i spent the rest of the evening kicking myself. this film was tortuous due to the "subplot" about an amatuer comedian who was obnoxious, jerky, arrogant - everytime his face was onscreen i wanted to kill myself. altogether not what i expected from this film.
reviewed by: lisa may |  November 2002 [link] |  recommend

director: christine jeffs
I now feel compelled to dust off my old copy of the Bell Jar and read that "Daddy" poem in my best Macbeth witch meets Joan Crawford voice as Gwyneth Paltrow does so admirably (I only wish she read the whole poem). Gwyneth, with all her patrician charm, captures Sylvia's continuing descent into depression (helped by the fact that the movie appears to have been shot in a cave) and her precarious dance with life- I found myself on the edge of my seat whenever Sylvia was in a car or boat or near sharp objects wondering if the end was near.
reviewed by: robin |  October 2003 [link] |  recommend

brotherhood of the wolf
director: christophe gans
Yeah, I feel a little duped by this one; for some reason I got the idea that this was going to be about werewolves and karate (which would have been the best thing since….well, you know). SPOILER WARNING. I really hate movies when there’s an asskicking character and when someone finally lands a punch on them you know they’re going to be dead within ten minutes.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  February 2002 [link] |  recommend

best in show
director: christopher guest
Yet another amazing "mockumentary" from director Guest and most of the cast from 1997's brilliant "Waiting For Guffman". Always straddling that fine line between perfect satire and painful reality, this is easily the funniest movie I've seen this year; without being too mean towards the people it pokes fun of, the film manages to be comedy of the highest order.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  October 2000 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

a mighty wind
director: christopher guest
I saw this film under impossibly biased circumstances, which means 'liquor-soaked sneak preview audience including many people who were in the film itself', but I tried to keep an objective mindset throughout the constant laughter. That said, it's silliness as usual from Guest and the gang, but it feels more rushed then 'Best In Show" & 'Waiting Guffman', with no real quality time spent on any one character, but as comedies go, you could still do far worse!
reviewed by: eric w |  April 2003 [link] |  recommend

way of the gun, the
director: christopher mcquarrie
Despite an incredible opening (featuring what I believe to be the filthiest line of dialogue uttered in the history of popular cinema) and entertainingly bloody final half hour this film falls a little flat. There’s just enough here to make me really want to like this film, leads Ryan Phillippe and Benecio DelToro are amazing as two sociopaths who concoct a half-assed kidnapping scheme that you just know has to go horribly wrong….just rent it.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  September 2000 [link] |  recommend

director: christopher nolan
This film rises above it's gimmicky device to be one of the best films I have seen in the past year. Suspense, plot twists, and unlikely humor abound in this terrific film noir about a man with short term memory searching for his wife's killer... I really loved this movie.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  March 2001 [link] |  recommend

director: christopher nolan
I'm sure this all looked pretty great on paper; the director of Memento and Al Pacino (creator of the Hoo-Ha School of Self-Parody) in a remake of Erik Skjoldbjærg's 1997 thriller. What we get in an exercise in the very OK, Pacino is pretty great and Robin Williams manages to use his natural creepiness; entertaining but nothing that sticks with you.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  June 2002 [link] |  recommend

batman begins
director: christopher nolan
Batman is the dark star of this show; finally, no longer will the villains take over concept or screen-time, as a highly-skilled director clearly waged war on the fuck-ups of Hollywood superhero films (not just the four cape & cowl pix prior) and nailed the target right in the gut, just as Bale's ‘Bats' does when he takes it to the punks who fucked-up his town with their paltry criminal offerings (fave line (with, um, intensity): “Do I look like a cop?”).
The story of Bruce Wayne/Batman is finally re-told in an original way that honors all previous tales on the birth of the Dark Knight, yet this time with no glamorous slo-mo falling popcorn or perfectly-lit street-corner crime scenes: this Gotham might as well be today's America, and despite the several scenes in which Nolan and Bale illustrate that Bruce Wayne is clearly guided by a deep demonic will and is quite possibly criminally insane himself (the main show-villain IS a psychiatrist, no less), you may leave the theater very much wishing this particular Batman was around to help save us from our own corrupt reality, nuts or not...pick up Miller/Mazzuchelli's "Batman: Year One" for another take on the genesis of Batman (or "Batman: Son of the Demon" for more on the development of Ra's al Ghul (left neatly open by director Nolan), but this film one will inform both public and fanboy quite nicely that we can expect some serious shit to go down in Gotham from the next two sequels by the team that made Batman Begins.
reviewed by: alec |  June 2005 [link] |  recommend 5 thumbs up

million dollar baby
director: clint eastwood
Breathe in deeply the cold air that makes you cry. Remember this feeling, for one day, the fight will not be so easy.
reviewed by: tim |  January 2005 [link] |  recommend 1 thumbs up

mystic river
director: clint eastwood
Clint Eastwood (aka "The Man", and not in an establishment, white-man old-boy's-club kinda way a-la Dick Cheney) directs a dream ensemble of actors in a film which presents a complex story in such a simple, objective way that you can't help but draw your own emotions and knowledge of relationships into it while coming to your own conclusions about what's important in life and what isn't. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden (good lawd I want her to have my children) and especially Tim Robbins all deserve Best and/or Best Supporting Actor/Actress nominations (not to mention Senor Eastwood for his direction) for their work in this film, which will make you appreciate all that you have in life -- no matter how much or how little it may be -- and, after seeing it, will make you want to call all of your friends and say, "I'm so glad you're my friend and I'm so unbelieveably grateful that you're in my life".
reviewed by: chris |  October 2003 [link] |  recommend 2 thumbs up

the transporter
director: corey yuen
THE TRANSPORTER gets high marks for athletic kung-fu, colorful 'splosions, and a truck chase that might either be a rip-off of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK or an homage to it -- but the plot and dialogue are a good deal dumber than necessary. As the rice-dreamy damsel in distress, Qi Shu is so winsome, so foine, and so dependent on her man that I bet her performance sparks increased interest in Asian mail-order brides.
reviewed by: matthewS |  October 2002 [link] |  recommend

8 mile
director: curtis hanson
Eminem plays a barely-fictional version of himself trying to make a name as a rapper in bombed-out Motown while struggling with rival thug mcs, his screwed-up (but loving) mom, scenester users who pretend to be his friends, and, like, poverty or whatever. As an actor, Em handles the spectrum of moods from pent-up rage to explosive rage with facility.
reviewed by: matthewS |  November 2002 [link] |  recommend 4 thumbs up

wonder boys
director: curtis hanson
Well made, entertaining comedy about a college English professor who can't complete his second novel, his troubled student, and the "lost weekend" that may or may not straighten out their lives. The film moves along rapidly, giving you characters who aren't necessarily likable but are interesting; this works due to the perfect casting including Tobey Maguire, Michael Douglas (taking a break from crap), and Frances MacDormand.
reviewed by: JohnLawton |  July 2000 [link] |  recommend

in her shoes
director: curtis hanson
reviewed by: jen |  October 2005 [link] |  recommend

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