Myra's Movies 2001

I run an informal movie club at work. Almost every week go to a film at the Arts Picture House, the local artsy cinema. The films I saw in 2001 are:

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Aging pair of marial arts experts confront danger in the form of a young upstart. The fight scenes are fantastic. I didn't feel much empathy for the characters, but the action and scenery make it worth seeing.

Blackboards

Teachers with blackboards strapped to their backs wander ceaslessly over the mountains of Iran looking for pupils. The film gives some insight into how life is in this part of the world, but as a story it never got interesting.

Shadow of the Vampire

"Nosferatu actually was a vampire!" is the premise of this beautifully shot B&W film. Some amusing, interesting, and scary scenes. OK but not great.

You can Count on me

Brother comes to stay with sister and her son. Lots of family interactions. OK but not great.

Bridget Jones's Diary

All about Bridget and her career and romantic woes. I really enjoyed this, as I felt I understood Bridget.

Bread and Roses

Union organizer in LA tries to get a better deal for the mostly Latin American immigrant office cleaners. Equally about union organizing and personal interactions between office workers and romance between organizer and Maya, a new arrival. Enjoyable.

A One and a Two

About families in Taiwan. Long and slow. OK but not great.

2001 A Space Odyssey

Three episodes. Proto-men discover weapons. VIP goes to investigate momolith found buried on moon. And the last, most famous one, where astronauts battle HAL the recalcitrant computer and Dave goes on a trip. Worth seeing on the big screen at least once in your life.

The King is Alive

Tour bus breaks down in the African Desert. To pass the time the tourists practice King Lear. Much animosity between the players. A bit pretentious, especially at the end, but it left me thinking about various scenes for days after.

The Dish

Cute film about Australian team who relay TV signals from the capsule heading to the moon. Don't look for any deep meaning here.

Merci pour le Chocolat

Murder mystery. Some nice camera work, but far too many plot holes.

Shrek

Shrek is an orge who joins up with a smart-ass donkey to rescue princess Fiona from a faraway castle. However, Fiona has a little secret... This is an amazingly funny movie, definitely worth seeing.

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft saves the world. Plenty of action, not all that much in the way of plot. It's good for men who like to ogle well-endowed women, but has little else to recommend it.

Evolution

Alien craft lands and things start evolving at a breakneck pace out of the microbes attached to it. Amusing light comedy with some fun creatures.

Together

Swedish movie about a woman who leaves her abusive, often-drunk husband to go live with hir brother in a commune. Realistic and often very funny movie about the affects people have on each other. Recommended.

Iron Ladies

A Thai voleyball team composed of gays, transexuals, and transvestites overcomes all sorts of obstacles to get their big chance at the Thai national tournament. Light, feel-good movie.

Me You Them

A woman in rural Brazil collects several men, not through deceit, but through absolute honesty. Good music, some atmospheric shots, but overall not very satisfying. A bit too slow.

Tears of the Black Tiger

A Thai homage/send-up of the cowboy movie. Nicely shot, with color-drenched sets. In places really funny. The explicitness of the violence contrasts markedly with the completely absence of sex, despite there being a strong romantic subtheme to this movie. Recommended, as long as you can stomach overdone violence.

A Time for Drunken Horses

It's a hard life for Kurds in Iran. 12 year old Ayoub is left as the head of his family, taking care of smaller sisters and a handicapped brother. He does his best to provide for them, trying to earn money by smuggling goods across the border to Iraq. This sounds like it would be a very depressing movie, but it isn't: what strikes you is the strength of the characters as they somehow manage to cope with all that's thrown at them. Recommended.

Moulin Rouge

Young poet gets caught up in the heady world of the Moulin Rouge and falls in love with the star of the show. There are many hyperactive visuals that almost make you seasick, many moments of high comedy, and equal moments of deep tragedy. In my opinion, the mix didn't really work. It did have some very nice bits, though: the Police song "Roxanne" done as a tango, and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" as you've never seen it before.

Le Gout des Autres

French movie about a successful businessman and factory owner who is married to an interior decorator whose idea of style is overplump furniture and flower patterns. He falls for an actress and discovers a new world that he wants to become a part of. The characters struck me as being very real. Recommended.

A.I.

David is a robot boy programmed to love unconditioanlly. But what happens to him when he's rejected by his adopting mother? This is a film in several parts. Most of these parts are interesting, except for the last one, which is slow and sickeningly sweet. Interesting in parts but not great.

Enigma

Expert code-cracker is called in to repeat his success in cracking a code. As a computer scientist I'm interested in the code-cracking bit, but this was giving minimal screen time. Instead we get a romance and a detective story. The romance aspect of it is OK, but the detective bit is very unsatisfying, as every step our hero makes is anticipated by the suave, handsome, slimy secret service man.

Amelie

Amelie enjoys making others happy, but when she begins to be attracted to a cute young guy who is also interested in her, she can't quite bring herself to actually spend any time with the guy to see if her fantasies can come true. Some very nice camera work and special effects. A very enjoyable movie.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Mildred lives for her daughter, who treats her like dirt. Film beautifully shot in B&W and with some very witty repartee in places, but the characters are so extreme that I really couldn't believe them.

The Pledge

There's a child killer on the loose and Jack Nicholson as a newly retired cop has made a pledge to track him down. The next few years of his life is guided by this, and we watch the effect this obsession has on him and those around him. This should have been an excellent character study, but somehow it just didn't grab me.

The Man Who Wasn't There

Beautifully shot in B&W, this is the story of a barber who, in trying to get ahead, makes some decisions that slowly tear his life apart. Some wryly funny scenes, but I didn't feel for any of the characters so didn't end up liking it all that much.

The Circle

This film follows several Iranian women who have just gotten out of prison, as they try their hardest to come back into society, but everything is against them. I was moved by this, but I am very glad I'm not a woman in Iran.

Ghost World

Teenage girl, just graduated from high school, doesn't know what to do with her life. So, having no plan, she just does whatever the hell she feels like at the moment, ending up hurting everyone who cares about her. Very believable. Recommended.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry has a reputation that he doesn't really think he can live up to. But the entire magical world is threatened, and he must act. The books were fun to read, but the movie version was pretty dull. I didn't empathize with any of the characters.

La Ville est Tranquille

Lots of things are happening in Marseilles, people love and live and try to get by. This film tells several stories which have very little to do with one another. It was too long and had too many characters and plots. Eliminating a few of the plots would have made for a better movie.

Kandahar

An Afghani woman returns to her country to try to give her sister, who has stayed behind and who has threatened to commit suicide during the eclipse, a reason to live. Unfortunately her sister is in Kandahar, which proves to be very difficult to get to. As we follow her quest we learn much about life in Afghanistan and the hardships women especially face there. Recommended.

Gohatto

Japanese movie about homosexual love amongst the samurai. The film looks beautiful and has interesting music, but the actors fail to show any evidence of the strong emotions they are supposed to be feeling. And don't tell me that this is just a cultural difference: I've seen plenty of Japanese movies, and none have been so devoid of emotion as this one.

My Top Ten (of movies I've seen in 2001)

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Bridget Jones's Diary
Shrek
A Time for Drunken Horses
Together
Le Gout des Autres
Amelie
The Circle
Ghost World
Kandahar

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