Movies: the Amy-list, part II
So it’s a rainy, quiet Saturday afternoon (the kind that makes you want to spend your day indoors, reading or coding) and I’ve brought my latest little project (hello, boredelf!) up as far as I can without getting Gareth to change some file privs for me.
I eventually wandered out to the mailbox, to see if anything interesting had arrived with today’s fresh infusion of junk mail. That’s one thing that can be said about Netflix: I check the mail more regularly now than I did a month or so ago. Sure enough, there was a DVD from them, waiting patiently for me to claim it.It was Insomnia, a movie that’s been on my ‘see-it’ list for quite some time now.
It made me curious, so I went back to the cat.net archives and found the 9 September 2001 entry, Movies: the Amy-list I posted about my ‘to-see’ list. Most of them were movies that I honestly never expected to see, but planned to do my best to try to find, anyhow.
Of the 39 films that I listed, I have seen 22:
- All About My Mother
- Pedro Almodóvar’s homage to women was, quite honestly, nothing at all like what I expected. Only after I watched the movie did I do some research about his filmmaking style, and learned about the quirkiness that is inherent in all of his movies.
- An Ideal Husband
- How did the fact that this was an Oscar Wilde re-interpretation escape me? Jeff and I both were just howling at this one; the dialogue was blade-sharp and Minnie Driver, especially, was well-cast.
- Before Sunrise
- Wins the award for my “schmoo” movie of the year. I loved it. I loved it. Period. He leaves the final ending of this movie open for interpretation, but if you want to get the final answer on the subject, you’ll have to see Waking Life when it comes out on DVD.
- Beyond Silence
- What? A non-melodramatic film about a Deaf family that doesn’t star Marlee Matlin? Oh, wait, the film was German…I suppose that’s why. Either way, nice subject, engaging, deftly handled, but it just doesn’t have the staying power of some of the other films on this list.
- Only the second movie in my life where I’ve had to pause the film to get a breath of fresh air. (The first was Requiem for a Dream.) Intense, both visually and emotionally. Absolutely not for the squeamish. Quite possibly one of the five best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. These guys went on to direct The Matrix—this film is just as good.
- A slick, subtle little number that never had a chance in hell of getting an American audience. One of the best character studies I’ve seen in a long time; this is one I’d willingly watch again.
- Dancer in the Dark
- I started watching this one, had some chores come up, but never actually got to finish it. I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the film in its entirety.
- Farewell My Concubine
- Beautifully done, exhausting in detail, this one left me brain-dead and mushy due to its scope and intensity. Though, honestly, I didn’t really like it that much, its artistic power and quality cannot be denied. I’m glad I saw it, but I doubt that I will ever watch it again.
- Felicia’s Journey
- Speaking of character studies, this is another little sly one. Quite a dark little tale; better if you don’t know how it ends.
- Grosse Pointe Blank
- I’ve actually seen this one already; it was on my list for Jeff to see.
- Hilary and Jackie
- Again, another lovely film with vision and power, but one that I’m not sure I could sit through again. The main actresses were stunning, and they even took the time to get the musicianship right, but it was not a film that I enjoyed. A painful story told with the prerequisite punches thrown.
- The Hurricane
- Deserved the acclaim it received. Denzel Washington had about as much chance in the Best Actor category as all of the other Best Picture nominees did against Schindler’s List the year it was released: no chance whatsoever. Any other year (read: any year that didn’t have Kevin Spacey playing the lead in American Beauty), Washington would’ve come home with a well-earned statuette.
- The Ice Storm
- No, for those of you who don’t know, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was not director Ang Lee’s first film. Wickedly sharp, devastating, and chilly, this is one of those films that is so dead-on that you squirm while watching it. A very good cast—Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, and Elijah Wood. Whoever said that 70’s were the ‘good old days’ hasn’t seen this.
- The Insider
- Good. But, I think, overrated. Sure, Russell Crowe plays a really convincing physical wimp (although anyone who’s seen him in Gladiator knows better), but the pacing of the film really fell apart in about the last forty-five minutes. The editing team made the mistake of trying to present everything, instead of honing the finale into something shorter and with more power. A good nominee for Best Picture, but would not have been a good choice for winner.
- Life Is Beautiful
- Started watching. Didn’t feel well. Didn’t finish. Will return to it later.
- The Limey
- I adore Steven Soderbergh. While I appreciate this for being a good film, it’s last on my list of Soderbergh films. Understated, quiet—perhaps a little too much so—but nevertheless competent and insightful.
- Little Voice
- Cute, fluffy goodness—probably the greatest surprise in the film was learning afterwards that the lead actress actually did all of her own singing in the film. Given the storyline, that’s quite impressive.
- The Opposite of Sex
- Ahhh, Christina Ricci. I don’t think she takes roles that aren’t at least a little devious or out of the mainstream—and that’s precisely why I enjoy watching her. She literally makes this film work. The biting script doesn’t hurt matters, either.
- Scent of Green Papaya
- Pretty, but so understated and subtle as to almost be wholly silent. I found it to be a bit overrated; I thought the ending was a bit contrived.
- Shadow of the Vampire
- Willem Dafoe just creeps me out. I get the sense that he had just a little too much fun playing Max Schreck. Jeff and I were both a little surprised and discomfited by the ending, which didn’t happen at the time or in the manner that we expected.
- Ulee’s Gold
- One of the better character studies I’ve seen lately. Peter Fonda embodied the suave California-boy image in his younger days; as he has aged, he’s no longer able to hold on to that niche. In this, he plays completely against type; a nuanced portrait of a slowly-healing man results. Shamefully overlooked in box office and awards.
- Xiu Xiu
- One of the more difficult films I’ve seen lately. Ever started watching a film with a pit of dread in your stomach because you know that no matter how much you care about the lead character, that very bad things are going to happen to them? This is that movie. I knew it would be devastating and yet I watched it anyway. (Is this a sickness of mine?)
Still to go: Angela’s Ashes, The Celebration, Cry the Beloved Country, Dead Man Walking, Fresh, Hurlyburly, Insomnia, Iron Giant, The Journey of August King, Quiz Show, Living In Oblivion, Mrs. Brown, Secrets and Lies, The Sweet Hereafter, Tumbleweeds (‘99), Un Air de Famille, The War Zone