Category Archives: 2002

The Hours (2002)

Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast.

— Virginia Woolf

The adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s book, The Hours garnered nine Oscar nominations in 2002 and it was won for Nicole Kidman as Best Actress for playing Virginia Woolf I haven’t seen this movie in years. I turned to it when it was on cable and watched it. I didn’t much care for it, because it was so dreary and depressing that I wanted to kill myself after watching it.  I shouldn’t have been as harsh as I been, but it is not an enjoyable film to sit through.

Three seemingly separate stories from three different twenty-four hour periods that are woven together in this movie. It tells the day in 1923 of English writer, Virginia Woolf (Kidman) who is inspired to write the manuscript for her début novel, Mrs. Dalloway. It tells the story about a woman named Clarissa who is hosting a party, but she feels constrained by society’s rules that she is unhappy.

Virginia is subjected to live in countryside because of her history of mental illness and her attempts to kill herself. This worries Virginia’s husband, Leonard (Stephen Dillane) to no end that he has to change his life for her. When a visit from her sister, Vanessa (Miranda Richardson) shows her what she should do to her heroine in the end of her novel.

A depressed pregnant housewife in 1951 Los Angles reads Mrs. Dalloway, Sarah Brown (Julianne Moore) as her only mission is bake a cake for her husband, Dan (John C. Reilly) for his birthday. She feels that she living someone else’s life and not her own. She tries to hide it from her son, Richie (Jack Rovello) who wants to help his mommy out with the cake. The only break in her mundane day was when her neighbor, Kitty (Toni Collette) comes by the hospital to her some upsetting news. Sarah’s only escape is the book as a key to a better life.

Lastly, in 2001 is a modern of “Mrs. Dalloway”, Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) who is helping plan the party of her longtime friend who is stricken with full-blown AIDS, Richard (Ed Harris) who is receiving the Carruther’s prize for his poetry. Clarissa is running around trying to make Richard comfortable when he is slowing losing his mind as his body deteriorates. Clarissa’s girlfriend, Sally (Alison Janney) tried to lend a hand for the preparation, but Clarissa wants to do everything herself. Trying to please Richard could drive a wedge between Sally, Clarissa’s daughter, Julia (Claire Danes) or Richard’s ex-boyfriend, Louis (Jeff Daniels).

As I said before, this movie is dark and dreary about living an authentic life when you are given the role that you have to play. I understand that the movie tried to have that “ah-ha moment”, but I feel like it wasn’t earned in that respect. Almost everybody dwells on death, depression, mental illness, heartbreak, regret that when they have a change of heart seems cheap.

Seeing this movie again, I understand that it was Oscar baity when the serious drama, having a real person in the movie, setting it in different time periods. The characters were not that interesting to me. They seemed flat. The dialogue that they were saying was beautiful, but it felt out of place for me.

I cannot understand why Nicole Kidman won the Oscar for this. I cannot be because of the fake nose, matronly clothes and floppy hats. I cannot be just that scene in the train station alone. It has to be all encompassing. I think Julianne got shafted because they seemed like similar roles. They are polar opposites. Cathy wanted to be a part of the American dream, while Sarah wants to escape it. Meryl was doing her thing. She was solid in the movie. I didn’t like Clarissa.

Judgment: The movie is like looking at a beautiful. Think about it.

Rating: ***

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Far From Heaven (2002)

Oh, Raymond, Mrs. Whitaker sounds so formal! Won’t you please… ask me to dance?

— Cathy Whitaker

Writer/director, Todd Haynes wanted to make an homage of the Douglas Dirk bedroom melodramas of the 1950s. He created Far From Heaven, which garnered Julianne Moore another Oscar nomination for Best Actress. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. This was my favorite film of 2002 and I still stand by it.

This story is about a typical American family on the surface. There is the breadwinner of this Connecticut family, Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) who is one of the sales executives at a company called Magnatech. His wife, Cathy (Moore) is the perfect homemaker that reminds you of Donna Reed. She juggles her wifely duties as mother to David (Ryan Ward) and Janice (Lindsay Andretta). Cathy is assisted by her trusty housekeeper, Sybil (Viola Davis) who watches the kids when has an errand to run or plans a cocktail party with her friend, Eleanor (Patricia Clarkson).

During the night of one of Cathy’s planned soirees, she is pulled from attending when she receives a call to pick up her husband from the police station for an incident earlier in the evening. On the drive home, the audience realizes that there are cracks in the foundation of the Whitaker marriage. Cathy tries her best to be close to her husband, who brushes her off. She concludes that it is just stress from work.

A reporter from the Weekly Gazette, Mrs. Leacock (Bette Henritze) comes by the house to interview Cathy for the couple being named Mr. and Mrs. Magnatech 1957. Cathy’s attention is distracted when a strange man is lurking in her backyard. She goes to see Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), the son of their old gardener who recently passed away. He is their new gardener and they introduce each other.

Frank pulls himself away from his family by diving head first into a big project that he has to do for work, going to the movies or hanging out in back alley bars. Cathy is jealous that her girlfriends could be intimate with their husbands and hers barely shows her any affection.

During another late night working for Frank, Cathy decides to take his dinner over to his office. When she arrives, she is in for the shock of her life when she sees Frank kissing another man. She is devastated as her seemingly perfect life is crumbling down around her.

Can I say that I love this movie? I love this movie. I’m not familiar with the bedroom melodramas of Sirk’s, but this movie makes me want to visit those movies that inspired this one. Todd Hayes created a fantastic movie with the classic title sequence and end credit, the luscious cinematography, the marvelous score by Elmer Bernstein, Sandy Powell’s costumes, the vibrant colors and the type of film Hayes used. It feels authentic, like it was a lost movie from that time. The subjects addressed in this film would be too taboo for audiences to see.

I want to highlight Haynes words. His original script was very nuanced. No word felt out of place. Being delivered by these wonderful actors is something to marvel. Moore was radiant. She portrayed Cathy as a typical housewife, but she has progressive feelings for the Negroes or women’s rights. With Cathy’s world was crumbling around her, she put on a brave face covering her inner pain. Moore was subdued in her portrayal of Cathy that I was rooting for her to win the Oscar, but she was denied.

A special mention has to go Dennis Quaid who I thought was robbed for a nomination for Best Supporting Actor and I continue to talk about the egregious error to this day. He was so good playing a tortured husband torn between the way society wants him and how he is feeling on the inside.

Judgment: Bravo, Todd Haynes for creating this very skilful work for us to revel in.

Rating: *****

Gangs of New York (2002)

I took the father, now I’ll take the son.

— Bill the Butcher

I have been meaning to watch Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, but I didn’t want to devote the time to it. When I saw the “Top Five Irish Films” on Matt’s site, CyniCritics, I thought I would visit this movie. It stirred up controversy when it was campaign to pick up any of its ten Oscar nominations in 2002 when it something happened to make it shut out in every single category. I felt bad that it went home empty-handed. Looking at it now, I kinda see why.

Taking place during Civil War era New York City, the film focuses on Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man returning back to his old stomping ground at the Five Points. where sixteen years earlier, he witnessed his father, Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), the leader of the Dead Rabbits get killed by a rival gang leader, the head of the Natives, William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis).

An old friend of his, Johnny (Henry Thomas) tells about the disintegration of the city. The name “Dead Rabbits” was never spoken of again. The members of the Dead Rabbits integrated into the Natives. The city has been divided with no clear leader to rise up against Bill and his regime. The climate of the city is ripe with tension from the Natives having boatloads of Irishman coming to the city, blacks being somewhat free and Abraham Lincoln being vilified as a traitor.

After the duo loots a house where rival fire bridges are fighting to see who would put out the fire, they bump into Bill. Bill doesn’t know anything about the son of Priest Vallon coming back, even though his gang sent him away to Hellgate: House of Reform. Every year, Bill pays tribute to the anniversary of killing Priest in a ritual every year, which he relays to his new protégé, Amsterdam that he lets him run his shady dealings.

Amsterdam tries to live out the adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” As an assassin tried to kill Bill, Amsterdam stops him for succeeding in what he wanted to do. They become closer. When an ally betrays Amsterdam, he is forced to regroup the old gang to rise up against Bill.

I know that Scorsese wanted to make a movie that chronicle the shaping of New York City the way that is today. I get it, but I thought this movie did not get the point across. I did not care about any of the characters. It was a typical revenge story set in the 19th century. I spent almost three hours of buildup to get premature ejaculation. What I mean by that is that I thought the big showdown was anti-climatic. Shit. It was literally two minutes. What a disappointment.

Judgment: Have you read my last paragraph?

Rating: **1/2

28 Days Later… (2002)

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He was full of plans. Have you got any plans, Jim? Do you want us to find a cure and save the world or just fall in love and fuck? Plans are pointless. Staying alive’s as good as it gets.

— Selena

It has been years since laying eyes on 28 Days Later… Seeing it again last night, I realized I love it even more than the first time that I saw it.

Danny Boyle has an eye of turning the typical zombie movie genre on its head. He created something rather unique that elevated the genre as a whole to another level.

Jim (Cillian Murphy), a man wakes from a short coma finds himself the last man in London. The streets are empty, littered with trash, overturned cars and piles of dead bodies.

Jim wanders around the cityscape until he goes to a church where there are more dead bodies and the “infected” are. The infected are people that contracted a rage virus that broke out when a bunch of activists tried to free infected laboratory chimpanzees and the virus gets out. This could be an allegory to the AIDS epidemic.

He encountered more of the infected as Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) help out Jim by disposing of them with gas bombs, guns, baseball bats and machetes.

I enjoyed the endless amounts of blood and gore. It was humorous. It was tense and suspenseful like good horror movie should be. Boyle’s signature moves worked well here with the double speed shots, and the quick cuts.

This is a road trip movie that speaks to the survival of the human race. What happens when the world as you know it is gone forever? How can you survive? By any mean necessary.

Judgment: If you want to see a solid zombie flick that pushes the limits of the genre, check this movie out.

Rating: ****1/2

Hero (2002)

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Your Majesty, my task is completed now. My decision will cause the deaths of many and Your Majesty will live on. A dead man begs you to remember; a warrior’s ultimate act is to lay down his sword.

— Nameless

Nominated for an Academy Award in 2002 for Best Foreign Language Film. Hero took two full years to get to the States. This film came out on the heels of the massive success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Being that this movie was Jet Li’s last epic action movie. We went out whimper, instead a roar. This movie was a real disappointment.

Dramatically recreating the history of China when a Nameless warrior (Jet Li) is summoned by the tyrannical King of Qin (Daoming Chen), who is trying to conquer the other six provinces. Being that he is targeted by the other provinces, he tries to keep himself from being assassinated.

Inching closer and closer to the King, Nameless recounts his trek from defeating three of the most ruthless assassins of all of the land;  Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung).

There is a plot twist that derailed the thrust of the story in my mind. It became a “howcatchhim”.

The visuals were fantastic. No question. The integration of elements were good, but sometimes overwhelmed the scene.

Rating: I don’t think that I could recommend this movie. It’s pretty to look at.

Rating: ***

Spirited Away (2002)

The tunnel led Chichiro to a mysterious town.

I wanted to see Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away for awhile ever since it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002. It is currently on number 60 of Top 250 on IMDB. I can understand why people think that this is a great movie, but I have some problems with some of the voices in the English dubbed version that I had.

This movie centers around a mousy ten-year-old girl, named Chichiro (English voice by Daveigh Chase) is moving with her parents (Lauren Holly, Michael Chiklis) when her father decides to make a shortcut through a deep forest. On the other side, they see a tunnel. Curious the family walks through the tunnel to find an abandoned amusement park.

In instance, they follow curiously looks around until the father smells some food. The parents gorge on the free food until they are turned into pigs, literally.

Chichiro tries to find somebody to help her parents. She meets Haku (Jason Marsden), a spirit guide that helps her try to find a way to save her parents.

Chichiro has to work for the bathhouse that is for the spirits residing in the land.

She meets wacky characters like Kamajii (David Ogden Stiers), Lin (Susan Egan), Yubaba (Suzanne Pleshette), and No Face (Bob Bergen).

I have a problem with the leads girl’s voice. It was so screechy that I wanted to turn the movie off. Also, the first thirty minutes of the film moved at the pace of snails having sex. So slow. I was up and down with this movie.

Judgment: If you are into anime movie with effed up looking character, I would suggest this movie.

Rating: ***1/2

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