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My Top Ten For 2002
1. What Time Is It There? (Tsai). One of the most beautiful films about loss I've ever seen: an art-house picture that's every bit as genuine and touching as it is poetic and entrancing. There are echoes of Wong Kar-Wai in there - compare Wong's interest in the minutiae of life and memories and Tsai's hero (literally) fiddling with clocks. The ending still causes shivers every time I think of it. This is the father-son film of the year.
2. Spirited Away (Miyazaki). If you look at my Top Ten lists, you'll notice Miyazaki's name several times - he's really, really good. While you'd think it's targeted at kids, this dreamlike film is actually for adults (the point of the movie is for a little girl to save her gluttonous folks), resulting a picture that is dark, haunting and poignant. The final sequence with Sen and NoFace waiting for the subway is unforgettable ... and sad. And to whoever had his foot shoved in my shoulder during the screening: may you turn into a giant duck with a leaf on your head.
3. Minority Report (Spielberg). Like A.I. in that there are about three different endings - the man just doesn't know when to stop - but the first 3/4 is some of the greatest moviemaking I've seen in a long, long time.
4. The Piano Teacher (Haneke). Icky psychosexual material from the 'art house bully' - it's also the first of his films that really had an impact on me. I predict Haneke, more than another other filmmaker not named Gaspar Noe, will one day make a film as potent and vile as Salo, which remains the last great disturbing work by a major talent (Dead Ringers, a personal favorite, came close). Give Huppert an Oscar.
5. 24 Hour Party People (Winterbottom). What an endearing bunch of loons. Wish I would have recognized that on the first viewing....
6. Ichi the Killer (Miike). Tongue-in-cheek action picture from Miike with a 'superhero' not unlike the Columbine kids, playing video games when he isn't avenging 'evil.' Great companion piece to Battle Royale. Haven't seen the animated series yet....
7. Visitor Q (Miike). Second Miike film on the list, this time he's satirizing the shaky state of homelife in Japan. When I wasn't gagging I was laughing - this is the kind of provocative social commentary that I'm just a sucker for. Homage to Pasolini noted.
8. Catch Me If You Can (Spielberg). Hanks and DiCaprio tear through this fun, bright, and timely movie about a young con man and the life he invents for himself with fake checks and alternate identities - he gets caught and imprisoned but wins anyway. It's the sunny side to Cantet's dark Time Out. Convenient, too, how this surfaced during the Year of Corporate Fraud but as Mr. King said, only in America....
9. Frailty (Paxton). Take your arms and make a circle with them. Look at the space in between. You know how big that space is? That's how big this movie's balls are.
10. Time Out (Cantet). Disturbing look at modern working conditions, and quite uncomfortable to watch - Cantet's "hero" is an enigmatic figure whose self-deception threatens to ruin his family life and friends. Might have ranked much higher had the last act not run on a bit. Somewhere in the theoretical hereafter, Deleuze, Guattari and Bourdieu are pleased.
Honorable Mentions: The Son's Room (Moretti), Bowling For Columbine (Moore), Russian Ark (Sokurov), Spellbound (Blitz), Punch-Drunk Love (Anderson), Six Days (Wong), XXX (Cohen), City of God (Meirelles & Lund), Animal Crossing (Miyamoto, Eguchi & Nogami), La Marionette (Payet)
The Worst Films of the Year (or, those that made me sick and/or nauseous)
In no real order.
1. Pumpkin (Broder & Abrams): It takes a lot to offend me, but this movie is so misguided and moronic it actually did. Loses even more points for stealing (poorly) from Heathers. Repugnant.
2. Storytelling (Solondz): Todd S. has his label of 'De Facto Social Moralist' taken away from him by Takashi Miike, who actually makes films that are entertaining and tongue-in-cheek and bleak and amusing instead of stupid and foolish.
3. The Good Girl (Arteta): it's a good thing that Sartre / never worked at Wal-Mart / cuz goddamn Mike White / this ain't fuckin' art
4. 8 Mile (Hanson): Someone called this the longest Eminem music video - I call it Cool As Ice '02 (thanks to Odie for reminding me of that vehicle). "Drop the zero and get with Mekhi" since he's the best one in there.
5. Spider-Man (Raimi): An acquaintance walked out after the first half-hour ... and he actually collects Spider-Man comics and crap. The acting is bad beyond reason.
6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Zwick): There is NO WAY a guy that good-looking is going with that big fat obnoxious woman and tolerating her irritating family. N-O W-A-Y. Quoth Mr. Panayides, "Greek people really aren't like that." Good enough for me.
7. Harvard Man (Toback): Why do people keep casting that Adrian dude to be in their films? Shouldn't he be in a Calvin Klein catalog and pouting there? And what's Toback doing these days, anyway?
8. Red Dragon (Ratner): And this was necessary because ... ? Lecter is like a Batman villain now: "The Cannibal!" BIF! POW! ZOT!
9. Road to Perdition (Mendes): This is the Mendes film to dislike, people. Look at it! Look at how the movie deals with problems by killing everyone! Look at the wasted talent! Look at Jude Law making fun of the movie while he's in it.
10. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (Care): Could have been renamed The Screwed Up Lives of Mentally Ill Child Deviants. On the DVD there is a deleted scene where Siegfried & Roy's pets sue Kieran Culkin's estate for psychological trauma ("But he invaded our home!").
11. The Cat's Meow (Bogdanovich): Chaplin gets turned into an idiotic whoremonger, Kirsten Dunst appears on my list twice and Jennifer Tilly is given a role where she isn't an animated Medusa. Joanne Lumley is much cooler when she's a fumbling alcoholic. "Patsy, dahling!"
12. Solaris (Soderbergh): Agreeing with the filmgoing public? For once, yes! Next for Steven + George: Ordet (with G.C. playin' the mad priest who's a lot like J.C.), The Seventh Seal (wit' the Cloonsta playin' the Max Von Sydow role, only instead of chess, he and Death play Halo on the XBox) and A Man Escaped (Da Cloon in jail! Life be all meaningless, yo. Co-starring Ja Rule and Jay-Z as 'Punchy McPunch').
13. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Clooney) and the last hour of Adaptation. (Jonze): Charlie Kaufman is on my shit list, especially for ruining (for the sake of a joke), what could have been the best film of the year.
Plus: Unfaithful (Lyne), Scooby-Doo (Gosnell), 'R-Xmas (Ferrara), the putrid Igby Goes Down (Steers), Chicago (Marshall)
The 2002 William Thomas "Cool Without Being Good" Award Goes To: About a Boy (Weitz & Weitz). Last year's recipient was Ocean's 11.
Best Starlet-Stalker Song (that I still adore): "Zooey Deschanel" by Windsor Bellephone. Catchy stuff.
Why yes, I do find it funny that an ungodly amount of people wind up at this site looking for "sm porn" or "sm sex." Krafft-Ebing would blush.
© Copyright 2017 Matthew Lotti.