Category Archives: 2003

Touching the Void (2003)

I didn’t put a knot into the end of the rope. If there was nothing down there, I would fall, and it would be quick.

— Joe Simpson

Kevin MacDonald’s film, Touching the Void has been on lips of film buffs everywhere saying that anybody who hasn’t seen it should. I have heard nothing but praise for this documentary that infuses re-enactments to the talking heads. I thought that it was a harrowing account of survival, but I thought it was anticlimactic.

This movie re-tells the story of three people trying to attempt to climb the 20,813 ft Siula Grande Mountain in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Based on the book of the same name; Joe Simpson, Simon Yates and Richard Hawking recounts their harrowing seven days ordeal. As the talking heads are speaking, the events are dramatized with Brendan Mackey as Joe, Nicholas Aaron as Simon and Oliie Ryall as Richard.

Other climbers had attempted to climb to the summit of Siula Grande. These relative strangers could together to climb it. Richard stays behind at the base camp while Joe and Simon climb up. They want to climb the mountain Alpine style, which means that they are climbing the mountain non-stop with their essentials taken with them.

Joe is the climber and Simon is taken the slack to him. They get a feel of the terrain which was mostly very steep with rocky portions in them. On the second day, a powerful storm hits the climbers where the snow froze on contact with their clothing. They didn’t realize that not having enough gas to melt the snow for water or having adequate food with prove crucial for what was about to come up when they dug a cave to sleep in.

The storm passes the next day and they climb up to the summit. They bask in the glory of their feat. When the two try to find a way back down, a patch of clouds roll in, losing their way down the mountain. They are taken to the most dangerous part of the mountain where on the descent down, Joe looses his grip and begins to fall. He stops only to find that he broke his leg that shattered his kneecap in half.

Simon tries to find a way to get an injured Joe down the mountain alive without causing more to the leg. Simon decides to have all of the available rope they have to give enough slack for Joe to slide down the mountain. The trouble is that by nightfall, Simon lowered Joe so much that Joe was dangling off the side of the mountain.

I thought that this was a good movie, but I had a bring problem with the people recounting the story. This is the same problem that I had with Man on Wire where they have the person there with an actor re-enacting what is being said. It took away the suspense of did this person survive this ordeal. For me the first thirty was mind-numbingly boring that I almost turned the movie off. I thought when is the guy gonna break his leg already. I also had a problem with the over-swelling score. Cue the violins. Come on, every time that a tense moment comes up the score had to suck the tension out of the moments.

Judgment: All in all, I’m glad that I saw it, but it’s not the greatest documentary of all time.

Rating: ****

Finding Nemo (2003)

If this is some kind of practical joke, it’s not funny, and I know funny. I’m a clownfish.

— Marlin

The last couple of Pixar movies that I have reviewed, I had a lukewarm response to most of them. The creators are trying to have the action more grounded, but they always have to cock it up with putting kiddy stuff in it. Finding Nemo is the last great Pixar movie in my opinion. This #149 Move of All-Time on IMDb won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was well deserved.

A clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) moves his wife, Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) and their 400 eggs to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. When they get there, the community is threatened by a barracuda that takes Coral and almost of all of her 400 eggs, saved one.

Marlin tries everything in his power to protect his son, Nemo, perhaps overprotecting him. It’s understandable. Nemo is eager to go to his first day of school. Marlin is worried that the children are going to make fun of Nemo’s shorter fin, which they call his lucky fin.

His new friends want to explore the open ocean, which is forbidden. When Marlin comes to take Nemo away, Nemo wanted to be on his own. He swims up to a boat near by. Nemo is caught by the swimmers and taken with them.

Frantically searching for Nemo, Marlin bumps into the scatterbrain Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to tries to take him to where the boat was last seen.

A shark sneaks up to the duo, Bruce (Barry Humphries). He brings the two into a Sharks Anonymous meeting with Anchor (Eric Bana) and Chum (Bruce Spence). Marlin sees a clue to help find Nemo. One of the divers drops his mask with his contact information on it. He needs someone that could read it. That someone is closer then he might think.

Nemo wakes up in a fish tank at a dentist’s office. Nemo meets the creatures that inhabit the tank Bloat (Brad Garrett), Gurgle (Austin Pendleton), Bubbles (Stephen Root), Peach (Alison Janney), Deb (Vicki Lewis), Jacques (Joe Ranft) and Gill (Willem Dafoe). A pelican, Nigel (Geoffrey Rush) pops by the office window to chat about the goings on at the office.

Nemo learns that he is going to be the pet of the dentist’s niece, Darla for her birthday. He has limited time to escape before he is torn away from his father forever.

The look of this movie is absolutely gorgeous. The effects of the water, the sun rays beaming into the water, the vibrant colors of the Great Barrier Reef were fantastic. The textures of the landscape made my jaw drop. I swear, I thought that some scenes were live action. At the end of the movie, I weep like a baby. I hate myself for crying. I’m a sucker to a final reunion. It’s not like I’m spoiling the ending. It’s obvious.

Judgment: If you want to watch the best Pixar movie of the Aughties, watch this .

Rating: ****1/2

FB Recommendation: The Station Agent (2003)

It’s funny how people see me and treat me, since I’m really just a simple, boring person.

— Finbar McBride

It has been a long time since I have given an FB Recommendation to a film. This time around I offer actor Tom McCarthy’s debut movie, The Station Agent. When this movie was released in 2003, there was considerable buzz surrounding the film. It was nominated for numerous awards including the Independent Spirit Awards and Screen Actor Guild Awards. Too bad that the Oscars didn’t recognize this gem of a movie.

An introverted dwarf, Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) inherits a train depot in Newfoundland, New Jersey when a business partner suddenly dies from a heart attack. Finbar is perfectly content with this lonely existence when he meets Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who sells Cuban food out of his father’s truck. Joe is an annoyance for Finbar who doesn’t want anything to do with him.

Walking down a windy road one day, Finbar is almost run over by Olivia (Patricia Clarkson). Olivia tries to apologize to Finbar, but like with Joe, he doesn’t want to have any contact with her. These three souls come together in an organic way and learn what make each other tick.

The longer Finbar stays in Newfoundland, the more his world expands with him befriending the pregnant librarian Emily (Michelle Williams) or a chubby black girl, Cleo (Raven Goodwin).

This movie is much understated. It’s not trying to jam social issues down your throat. It’s not trying to overtly indie with it’s look or story. A quiet movie has nuanced performances from all of the actors involved.

Rating: ****1/2

The School of Rock (2003)


I pledge allegiance… to the band… of Mr. Schneebly… and will not fight him… for creative control… and will defer to him on all issues related to the musical direction of the band.

— Dewey Finn

To purge myself of the horror movie binge that I’ve been in for the past week, I wanted to watch a comedy. The School of Rock was a movie that I intended to see; because the positive buzz, it received a couple of years ago. It’s a breath of fresh rockin’ air.

Jack Black delivers a solid comedic performance as Dewey Finn, a slacker rock guitarist that is crashing on his friend’s, Ned Schneebly (Mike White) couch. Ned’s frigid girlfriend, Patty (Sarah Silverman) wants to kick him out unless he gets a job to pay the rent.

His band, No Vacancy decides to let him go, because of his showboating, the twenty-minute solos and him stage diving to no one. Desperate to find work, he wants to sell one of his Gibson guitars. Fate comes in when Dewey answers a call that was meant for Ned for a substitute teacher job from the principal of Horace Green Prep, Rosalie Mullins (Joan Cusack).

Dewey pretends to be Ned to get a job. When he goes into the classroom, he is hung over from the night before and he doesn’t want to teach the kids anything. Dewey learns that every Tuesday, the kids have music class. He likes what he hears, but he doesn’t like their stuffy type of music. He wants to teach the kids the fundamentals of rock.

Now that he is band-less, he shapes the kids to be his band so he could make it for Battle of the Bands in three weeks. It’s a secret project.

I am not a rock listener, per se, but I love watching people dealing with rock. It’s weird. I thought that the kids were very good. Jack Black was playing Jack Black, but turned up to eleven. I loved that he was Mr. Chips for the 2000s.

Judgment: A kick ass movie that makes you want to rock.

Rating: ****

Wrong Turn (2003)


We are never going into the woods again!

— Scott

On a whim, watching Wrong Turn was a session of visual torture. In the mood for a horror film, this film was a different kind of horror. It’s surprising that money was spent on the pile of excrement.

The slapdash plot takes place in West Virginia, where Chris Flynn (Desmond Harrington), a medical student running late for a seven o’clock at night interview when he takes a “wrong turn” and crashes into another car.

The other car is also stranded when barbed wire flattens all of their tires. It belongs to Francine’s (Lindy Booth), mother and has her boyfriend, Evan (Kevin Zegers), other couple, Scott and Carly (Jeremy Sisto, Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Jessie (Eliza Dushku).

They try to find help when the group is stalked and picked off one by one by a group of inbred cannibalistic hillbillies; Three Finger (Julian Richings), Saw-Tooth (Garry Robbins) and One-Eye (Ted Clark).

The movie was claustrophobic and not in a suspenseful way. It was tired. It does not anything new to display. Everybody knows that the lead person is going to live, and all of the supporting people are going to die a horrible death. The storyline is not interesting. It’s contrived.

The movie is predictable. You can see the “frights” coming from a mile away. It’s an awful movie all around.

The performances were atrocious across the board with Harrington’s deadpan delivery. It made you wonder if he was a zombie. Dushku was the same in every role that she is in. Boring. Sisto was spaced out cowboy that got on my nerves. Chriqui was blubbering mess that when her time came. I was happy. Booth and Zegers were fine cause they were killed first.

A pointless movie.

Judgment: The only way that you could enjoy this movie is rooting for the inbred killers.

Rating: *1/2

Thirteen (2003)


Would you like me to model my new thong? Great for pooping on the go!

— Tracy

Written by director, Catherine Hardwicke and one of the stars of the film, Nikki Reed, Thirteen is a fictionalized account taken from Nikki’s real life.  It has been years since its release that I have seen it. I still love this movie.

Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is an innocent thirteen-year-old girl that is trying to fit in the cool kids. She befriends the bad girl of the school, Evie (Reed) by stealing a woman’s wallet. She descend into a downward spiral of drugs, sex and alcohol.

The more time that Tracy spends with Evie, the more nasty she gets to her mother, Melanie (Holly Hunter), a hairdresser and former alcoholic that is trying to penetrate girl world. She seeks solace to her boyfriend, Brady (Jeremy Sisto).

I know that the average teen wouldn’t expierence a quarter of the shit that Tracy and Evie have done in this movie. I could have happen.

The organic camerawork make the movie feel like a documentary. It felt so raw and real. A great flick.

Judgment: If you want to reach out to your teenage daughter, you must watch this movie together.

Rating: ****1/2

The Brown Bunny (2003)


I’m not going to be okay, Bud.

— Daisy

The Brown Bunny will live in cinema history as “the worst film to be ever shown at Cannes.” Those were the immortal words of well-respected film critic, Roger Ebert ‘s take on Vincent Gallo’s directorial debut when it was shown there in 2003. This lead to a war of words between Gallo and Ebert.

I wanted to see this movie to see what the fuss was about. Is it the worst movie ever? No, probably top ten.

Bud Clay (Gallo) is a mopey,  introspective motorcycle racer that is taking a cross country trek from New Hampshire to California. He is drawn to have closure with his lost love, the crack whore, Daisy (Chloë Sevigny).

His journey is marred with him trying to replace Daisy with different women; Violet, Rose, and Lilly (Anna Vareschi, Elizabeth Blake, Cheryl Tiegs) that has disastrous results. When the lovers finally meet, there is the infamous un-simulated scene where Daisy is blowing Bud. After he comes, it is revealed that she is a ghost. What? That sequence doesn’t make any kind of logical scene. As a matter of fact, this whole movie doesn’t make sense.

My take on this movie is that this is not even a movie. This is self-indulgent crap presented as an arthouse fonder. The camerawork is shaky, out-of-focus, and grainy. Lens flare galore with some saturation, trying to make it harken back to the seventies. Gag me.

Where was the fucking microphone? Was it even present? I thought I had a defective copy of the movie. No. Turning up the volume to full blast, I still couldn’t hear shit. Get a fucking camera with a mic built in! Something.

There was barely any dialogue in this movie. Just moments of utter silence, Bud’s face, Bud’s face in the mirror, Bud’s eyes, the road, road signs, the bumpers of vehicles ahead of him, and people looking longingly at each other. What the fuck?

I am trying to understand the motives of Gallo. Was he trying to convey the mundane moments of Bud’s life? I need answers.

Judgment: A big waste of time. An abysmal movie. I want my hour and half back, Mr. Gallo. You fucking hack!

Rating: * (I wish I could give this a zero.)

FB Recommendation: “Shattered Glass (2003)”


Are you mad at me?

— Stephen Glass

It has been a long time since a FB Recommnedation was written. Having a busy weekend with Dtv switch, preparing for a family vactation and celebrating my baby brother’s birthday, I haven’t watched any movies.

I would like to suggest writer/director Billy Ray’s debut film, Shattered Glass; starring Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsagaard, and Hank Azaria.

Based on a 1998 Vanity Fair article by H.G. Bissinger, this movie recounts the true life story of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) that is caught fabricated numerous articles during his time at the New Republic. He is found out by two journalists from a rival web magazine.

Released in 2003, it generated some buzz from Sarsagaard’s performance as the editor of the New Republic that is betrayed by Stephen Glass fabricated articles that he thought were fact.

Judgment: If you want to see a solid movie about journalism, rent this movie.

Rating: ****

Ong-Bak (2003)

Come on! Fuck Muay Thai!
–Big Bear

I heard about Prachya Pinkaew’s Ong-bak for a couple of months now from different podcasts. I wanted to check out the movie. I thought that it was a good movie, but I have some hang ups with it. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I’m not Thai or Buddhist in any way, but some of the themes of the movies were completely lost on me.

The story revolves around a young Muay Thai warrior, Ting (Tony Jaa) sets out on a journey to Bangkok to retrieve the stolen head of Buddha that Komtuan (Suchao Pongwilai), a Bangkok drug dealer, stole in the middle of the night.

It’s important to get the head back or their holy village will face imminent disaster. Ting meets a scam artist and former resident of the village, Humlae/George (Petchtai Wongkamlao) which Ting calls “Dirty Balls.” The reason behind the nickname is never explained.

Dirty Ball’s shrieking harpy of a partner in crime, Muay Lek (Pumwaree Yodkamol?) tags along on their journey.

Ting is so determined to find the head and get back to the village that he stumbles into an underground Muay Thai fighting ring where the local crime boss and muscle-head henchman watch overhead.

The movie is so cool with the action sequences, but I thought showing the cool acrobatic moves in three different angles really irritated me to no end. The women in this movie were yelling so much that I wanted to go deaf than hear them cry like banshees.

If this sounds prejudiced– I’m sorry– but why do some people in Southern Asiatic countries have to scream all of their lines?

Some of Ting’s opponents have some of the most ridiculous hairdos I have ever seen. They look like reject members of Twisted Sister.

Judgment: If you want to see a tuk-tuk chase, a guy smoking from his trache hole or flaming legs of fury, then see this movie. Preferably in a low volume.

Rating: ****

The Mudge Boy (2003)

I heard some raves about Emile Hirsch’s performance in 2003’s, The Mudge Boy. People were complaining that this was a depressing, disturbing movie. I agree with the latter part.

When we meet Duncan Midge (Hirsch), his father, Edgar (Richard Jenkins) catches him with a cock in his mouth. No, not that. Get your head out of the gutter, people. He has his pet chicken named Chicken’s head in his mouth.

This is a broken family after the matriarch, Lydia (Sandra Gartner) dies of a heart attack while riding her bike in the country road. Edgar sees the very same traits in his sensitive son.

The Mudges live in small town America were young gay boys like Duncan have no outlet of normalcy. He begins to act out by dressing up in his mother’s furs and hangs out with the wrong crowd.

Duncan forms an unlikely friendship with the cocky troublemaker, Perry (Tom Guiry). Perry and his band of cronies try to teach Duncan how not to play and be friends with chickens. They wanted him to be cool like them.

Perry tries to flaunt his masculinity and heterosexuality in front of Duncan face when he showed him his privates. The more time that Duncan and Perry spend together, the closer they get to each other.

Whenever somebody makes fun of Duncan, Perry would defend him. They begin to grow closer to each other. Perry doesn’t want to have feelings for another boy and he acts out.

Edgar tries to make a man out of Duncan by forcing him to do more manly chores around the farm.

There are some scenes in this film that are very disturbing. There is a scene between Duncan and Perry when Perry forces himself on Duncan. He doesn’t rape him, but he does have sex with him.

I have to point out that I do not condone this behavior. Also, Perry does not use protection. I don’t care where you are, if you are discovering boy for the first time, do not have unprotected sex.

There is also a scene towards the end of the film when Duncan harms a chicken that freaked me out. People are talking about the merits of that scene. Was Duncan trying to end the grieving process of his mother? Was he trying to prove his maleness to Perry and his friends? Was Duncan trying to suppress his homosexuality by doing this act?

Both Duncan and Edgar try move on the their lives without Lydia.

If you have a strong stomach for disturbing subject matter, then I would suggest this film.

My rating: *** stars.

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