Films '96+

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Films of 2000

# Film Title Date Rating Frogs One Word Buy at
1 Sleepy Hollow 7 January 2000 80% ****+ Weird Buy!
A most odd movie, Sleepy Hollow is funny a lot of the time but has a few suspenseful and scary moments. Johnny Depp is great as the highly peculiar young investigator, trying to be mysterious like Sherlock Holmes, but really terribly uncertain of himself. Christina Ricci is stunning as his co-star. A most amusing film, well worth seeing.
2 Blue Streak 11 January 2000 70% **** Opposites Buy!
Funny cop comedy with a twist! Stars Martin Lawrence as a thief who ends up masquerading as a police officer.
3 Ordinary Decent Criminal 14 January 2000 90% ***** Brilliant! Buy!
Excellent Irish crime drama starring Kevin Spacey (doing a really surprisingly good Irish accent), Linda Fiorentino, Helen Baxendale, and a whole bunch of local (Irish) actors. Michael Lynch (Spacey) is the head of a group of Dublin thieves who do the 'jobs' nobody else dares attempt. Lynch's ego is only satisfied by doing bigger and bigger 'jobs', becoming more and more famous through a high-profile court case, and becomes obsessed with having his fame live on past his lifetime like a great master artist. He takes great satisfaction from out-witting the Gardaí (the police), and the IRA who are trying to get a cut of his operation. Somewhat like an Irish equivalent of The Thomas Crown Affair. All-in-all, the best Irish film I've seen. Definitely worth a trip to the cinema.
4 The Bone Collector 15 January 2000 75% **** Unpleasant Buy!
Good thriller with a great cast headed up by Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, both of whom are excellent. Very difficult to predict; lots of misdirection. Clever plot with a bit of a new angle on the crime thriller. A bit nasty at times, but really well worth seeing if you're not too faint-hearted.
5 Bringing Out the Dead 20 January 2000 70% **** Insanity Buy!
A most unusual movie, I can't think of a single character who wasn't on or, moreso, over the edge. Intelligent ideas lurk beneath the insanity and that, along with an impressive cast list (particularly notable are Nicholas Cage, John Goodman, Patricia Arquette and Ving Rhames) and a lot of very funny dark humour, succeeds in making this a really good movie, worthwhile seeing. Definitely a thumbs up for Scorsese.
6 American Beauty 26 January 2000 95% ***** Thoughtful Buy!
American Beauty is a highly intelligent movie with a clever balance of humour and seriousness. Every major character has a story, all of which are deftly interwoven, resulting in a touching, wonderfully funny film. One might imagine that seven or eight stories might crowd the plot of the movie, and yet American Beauty presents us with them with ease, and without seeming rushed or overfull. Kevin Spacey (as Lester Burnham) was truly brilliant as he always is; perhaps even better than usual. In fact, the casting is flawless, especially the seven or eight major characters — Spacey as Lester, Annette Bening as Lester's wife, Carolyn, Thora Birch as their daughter, Jane, Mena Suvari (who played Heather in American Pie with great grace and skill) as Jane's friend Angela Hayes, Wes Bently as Ricky Fitts, Chris Cooper as his father, Colonel Fitts, Allison Janney as his mother, Barbara, and Peter Gallagher as Buddy Kane. Quantum Leap fans also get the surprise of a small rôle for Scott Bakula! Through an unusual set of circumstances, I ended up being given a couple of tickets to an exclusive preview screening (the release date of American Beauty for the UK and Ireland is 4 February 2000) of American Beauty. What a film! ... and to get to see it almost a week and a half before the rest of the country, and free of charge... You can't get a better deal than that. This is a thoughtful, contemplative movie, a beautiful and funny movie, and more than worthy of your time and money to go and see it.
7 Double Jeopardy 29 January 2000 70% **** Deception Buy!
Ashley Judd (known to all Star Trek fans as Ensign Robin Lefler from "The Game", an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation) stars beside Tommy Lee Jones and Bruce Greenwood in this story of a woman sent away for 6 years for murdering her husband who in fact faked his death (this may sound like a spoiler, but it's revealed in every trailer!). Through a rather silly legal loophole, it transpires that since she can't be tried twice for the same crime she can now hunt him down and kill him in broad daylight and walk away scott free. Ashley Judd, who is greatly changed since her Star Trek appearance, carries off her rôle with ease and style, and Tommy Lee Jones (perhaps getting a little type-cast) is very good as always. Bruce Greenwood is very good at being evil and switching in and out of a New Orleans accent — pretty much all his character calls for. A slightly weak premise, and occasionally pithy scripting don't really take away much from this movie. It's not a deadly serious intellectual movie, and isn't meant to be. It's an enjoyable hour and three quarters at the cinema.
8 Stigmata 30 January 2000 60% ***+ Graphic Buy!
With a cast headed up by three excellent actors, Patricia Arquette (Frankie Page), Gabriel Byrne (Fr. Andrew Kiernan) and Jonathan Pryce (Cardinal Daniel Houseman), it would be difficult to have made a bad movie. While it was rather horribly graphic at times in depiction of the nails being driven through hands and feet (done in short flashes, but nonetheless very disturbing imagery) — and I think it was gratuitous — it was nonetheless a good film. The plot is quite clever if a little bit predictable, and anyone not from the Vatican will probably find it enjoyable. The script is well written, and the acting is excellent. Worth seeing, but beware, there are highly unpleasant bits as mentioned above. I have marked it down in rating by 5 or 10% for the gratuitous violence.
9 The Limey 3 February 2000 65% ***+ Revenge Buy!
Cockney criminal Wilson (Terrence Stamp) arrives in L.A. to avenge the death of his daughter who he believes was the victim of a hit. Unusual, initially confusing visual style quite abstract yet quite effective. Based as much in the mind of Wilson as in the events in the world around him. Starts off very slowly and maintains mostly a relatively ponderous pace, however not tedious. Several people left the cinema in the middle — very silly of them. Good if a bit eccentric and probably appealing to a smaller audience than most. Definitely not mainstream.
10 Summer of Sam 7 February 2000 60% ***+ Forgettable Buy!
While Summer of Sam is unquestionably "good", it is not really a movie which is likely to stay vivid in my memory. It contains an intriguing study of a man driven insane by his tiny insect-infested appartment and the neighbour's dog which never, ever shuts up, but in fact most of the movie is about the effects of the killer's reign of terror on the inhabitants of a fairly poor Italian neighbourhood of New York. It does this rather well, and there are a number of sub-plots to make things more interesting. The fact that a 142 minute film didn't really seem terribly long says quite a lot for it. It obviously kept my attention. The cast contains a few recogniseable faces, but only one big name — Mira Sorvino. Mira is somewhat disappointing in this film. I think perhaps it was not the right rôle for her. Her make-up and wardrobe is such that she doesn't look half as good as usual, and she doesn't seem to give the part her best performance. Perhaps this is all on purpose, and I am misinterpretting, but I think it was somehow lacking. Overall, Summer of Sam gets a thumbs up, but is not the most exciting film around. If you're a Spike Lee fan, you'll want to see it, but it's non-essential viewing for anyone else — not bad at all; really quite good, but nothing terribly exciting.
11 The Beach 11 February 2000 65% ***+ Paradise Buy!
Many have dismissed The Beach as a contentless DiCaprio vehicle. I think there's more to it than that. The soundtrack is highly evocative and the cinematography is stunning in places. The street scenes are amazingly claustrophobic, conveying very cleverly the way Richard feels at the time. Overall, I think the plot is fairly interesting and the casting very good — especially the lesser-known members of the cast, notably Virginie Ledoyen and Guillaume Canet. It's an enjoyable two hours if only for the music and cinematography!
12 Toy Story 2 11 February 2000 95% ***** Hillarious! Buy!
Toy Story 2 is an absolutely side-splittingly funny movie! If you can watch it without cracking up with laughter, you are unusual indeed. There's a perfect mix of jokes for the kids and subtle humour for the adults which will fly over the heads of all the kids. They've done it again. Pixar have created a movie which the kids think is a kids' movie and the adults know is more than that. The CGI is better than ever, surpassing the imagery of both Toy Story and A Bug's Life. Casting is inspired, with such wonderfully recogniseable voices as Joan Cusack and Kelsey Grammer added to the voices we know from the first movie. This is joint best movie of the year (with American Beauty) so far!
13 House on Haunted Hill 12 February 2000 65% ***+ Scary Buy!
I'm not a fan of horror movies at all, but House on Haunted Hill was quite good. It was rather horrible in places and very scary indeed (the scariest thing since Event Horizon, which is saying a lot). Unlike Event Horizon, however, it is infused with humour in many places. I would imagine that, if you are a fan of horror movies or just like being scared, this is a movie you will rate highly.
14 The Bachelor 20 February 2000 65% ***+ Ludicrous Buy!
I wasn't expecting a lot when I went in to see The Bachelor. In fact, I feared that it might be truly terrible. I was not inspired with a great degree of confidence by the fact that the star of the film is sidekick boy himself, Chris O'Donnell. In fact, it was quite amusing. There were some good jokes and quite a lot of very funny situations. It wasn't brilliant, but it was a lot better than expected. On top of that, it also stars the wonderful Renée Zellweger.
15 The Talented Mr. Ripley 26 February 2000 75% **** Disturbing Buy!
The Talented Mr. Ripley is a movie which explores the mind of a twisted and tortured character played by Matt Damon (expanding his repertoire). He is not a pleasant character, and while the plot is intricate and intriguing, the casting excellent (especially Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, but right across the board) and the scripting very good, I left the cinema with mixed feelings about the film. It is very good indeed, but not so enjoyable as Minghella's earlier film The English Patient.
16 Mystery Men 27 February 2000 65% ***+ Juvenile Buy!
Mystery Men is another of those movies which the kids all think is for them but which has jokes which will only be noticed by adults. It has several rather good actors in it including the obvious ones like Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, Janeane Garofalo and Ben Stiller, but also to be found in Mystery Men is Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black), in a surprisingly small part, and not even mentioned in any trailers, posters, etc. It is very juvenile in places, but it's got good jokes and a bizarre plot, and it really is rather a clever take-off of superhero movies.
17 Three Kings 3 March 2000 80% ****+ Surprising Buy!
From watching the trailers I was looking forward to a humourous movie with plenty of good jokes, and overall a fun movie. I wasn't expecting my mind to be excercised in the slightest! I was surprised to find that, while Three Kings is humourous with plenty of jokes, it's actually quite a serious movie in some ways. Parts are actually completely serious. This was unexpected, but it was not negative. I enjoyed the film, but it was not just mindless fun. The scripting is excellent and the acting and directing quick, clever and stylish.
18 Run Lola Run 5 March 2000 85% ****+ Options Buy!
Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt is the original German title) is a lightning-paced German movie about a girl who must get 10,000 marks (roughly $5000 US) within 20 minutes to save her long-term boyfriend's life. It is hectic and frantic, and has a lot of energy as it goes through three cycles — each of which the same story but with Lola making slightly different choices. It is a nice look at the idea that the tiniest of choices can have huge effects (the branching universes idea; the butterfly effect; etc.). Don't let the fact that it's in German put you off. It is well subtitled (except for one or two places where there's slight mis-translations, but they are of no consequence to the movie). Lola Rennt (literally, Lola Runs) is an excellent movie, well worth seeing whether you listen to the dialogue or read the subtitles (or a bit of both!).
19 The Green Mile 5 March 2000 90% ***** Miracles Buy!
Tom Hanks stars with relative newcomer Michael Clarke Duncan and a long list of great actors in this epic 3 hour 8 minute movie made from a Stephen King novel. I had heard that The Green Mile was good but an hour too long. What I found was far from it. The film has a relaxed, steady pace, but in no way did it seem drawn out or overly long. In fact, I have been to 90 minute movies which seemed longer than this. The three-and-a-bit hours flew by as the plot and characters enthralled me. Truly brilliant.
20 The End of the Affair 7 March 2000 80% ****+ Obsession Buy!
The End of the Affair is widely held to be semi-autobiographical despite Greene's rejection of the idea. Whether it is or not, the movie is quite intriguing and the writing is unmistakably Graham Greene's. That alone is enough to see that Jordan has put together a faithful rendering of the novel. Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Jordan-stalwart Stephen Rea all give outstanding performances, giving life to a trio of very unusual characters. Fiennes plays Maurice Bendrix, the Greene-analogue character, a thoroughly self-centred, hate-filled character. He is not a likeable character, and yet through Feinnes' acting and Jordan's directing (not to mention Greene's writing) we are made feel that we can understand him, at least to some degree, and partially identify with him. Moore plays Sarah Miles, the character trapped between her predictable, reliable husband and her passion for Maurice Bendrix. She is also a character who we cannot fully be comfortable with as she too has a very selfish side to her, thinking only of her passion for Bendrix and never of her husband, Henry Miles (Stephen Rea). Henry is kind, considerate, virtuous; by far the most pleasant character, however he is also a figure of contempt because of his excessive passivity which seems slightly pathetic at times.
21 Hurlyburly 10 March 2000 75% **** Analysis Buy!
Hurlyburly is a completely dialogue-centric film (more of a transfer of a play to the screen than a movie) matched perfectly with a cast of the best and most focused actors in the business. It does not have a plot so much as an analysis. The characters, especially Eddie and Phil (Penn and Palminteri), are in constant search of satisfaction for their desperate need to understand life; to receive satisfaction for their manic pleas for clarification. There are only two characters who are not in a constant state of confusion and worry, Mickey and Donna (Spacey and Paquin), and yet Mickey is cool to the extent of being cold, suggesting that this is a defense mechanism, and Donna is a runaway who ends up in a very dubious situation living at Mickey and Eddie's place (where almost every scene in the movie takes place). Billed as a dark comedy, the only comedy is edgy, uneasy quips by which the characters attempt to lighten the load of their desperation. It is very dark, and the acting is of absolutely the highest standard. I was initially surprised that a film starring such popular actors as Spacey, Penn and Ryan could be released only in one cinema, the IFC (Irish Film Centre) which specialises in less mainstream films, however having seen it I am not surprised. A film so completely based on dialogue and with such a dark and analytical nature would not do well in a general release.
22 The Insider 11 March 2000 75% **** Truth Buy!
The Insider is based on the true story of a tobacco company executive (Jeffrey Wigand, played by Russell Crowe) who tries to blow the whistle on the tobacco companies. The film is centred around his relationship with a "60 Minutes" producer (Lowell Bergman, played by Al Pacino) and the events which follow his decision. While it is at times a bit slow moving, and it perhaps runs just a little too long, this can be forgiven since it is attempting to bring a true story to the screen, a rather more difficult task (to do it well and truthfully and yet still make it interesting) than for a work of fiction. The acting is excellent, but with Pacino and Crowe starring, that's to be expected!
23 Superstar 18 March 2000 60% ***+ Unlikely Buy!
I had a glance through the reviews of Superstar on IMDb and was surprised. Almost all were by self-professed SNL fans, and most were quite negative. On the other hand, there were a good number of very positive comments. I think, perhaps, only having seen SNL once or perhaps twice in my life (it doesn't air here, and when it used to it was in the middle of the night) actually let me appreciate it more. I found it very funny quite a lot of the time (with quite a few lame gags too, but all the same overall good). I particularly liked the stoned-seeming Jesus character. The reviews which were negative about the film mostly stated points such as the gags being old, overused, etc. To me they were not 'old', since I had never seen them on SNL. I might hold a different view if I had seen them all before. Weighing in at just over 80 minutes, it is a very short movie indeed by today's standards, but it's probably about right. The plot and jokes could not have carried it much further.
24 Being John Malkovich 19 March 2000 85% ****+ Bizarre Buy!
Being John Malkovich is a highly unusual movie, a very original idea, a most intriguing premise and the product of the idea is a fast-moving and captivating plot with a hillariously funny script! It is a Wonderland-like adventure into a truly bizarre world, especially when Malkovich goes into ... well, Malkovich. Confused yet? I'm not surprised. The casting is also brilliant, featuring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean and (surprise, surprise) John Malkovich. This is one not to miss!
25 A Clockwork Orange 23 March 2000 70% **** Society Buy!
A truly bizarre film by Stanley Kubrik. As usual, it's hard to say whether Kubrick is a genius making profound arguments with great subtlety or whether it's mostly meaningless and just for shock value. Certainly better than Eyes Wide Shut, but with a similar aim (seemingly) of shocking the audience. A Clockwork Orange does at least have some overt social comments, but it's hard to know how much of what Kubrick intended to get across is being caught. I have mixed feelings about Kubrick's work in general.
26 Girl, Interrupted 25 March 2000 85% ****+ Sanity Buy!
Girl, Interrupted is a charming drama about a girl sent away (although ostensibly having signed herself in) to a mental institution in the 60's. Winona Ryder (who doesn't seem to have aged at all over the past ten years) and Angelina Jolie (with a hairdo which makes her look amazingly different) lead an excellent cast, and they lead it with style! See it if you haven't already.
27 The Cider House Rules 26 March 2000 85% ****+ Outstanding Buy!
The Cider House Rules is a wonderful drama, full of heart. Tobey Maguire is outstanding as Homer Wells, the character around whom the story revolves, as is Charlize Theron as the beautiful and charming love interest, Candy Kendall (I sense a pun involving an energy bar [Kendall Mint Cake]). Michael Caine gives a performance which, except for the abominable attempt at an American accent, is deserving of the Oscar he received for it (and his Oscar acceptance speech was good too =). This movie is a journey of self-discovery for Homer Wells, and it is touching and subtle in spite of the fact that it deals with some pretty heavy issues. The skill with which they are dealt with means that they do not weigh down the film. Excellent!
28 Any Given Sunday 31 March 2000 50% *** Mediocre Buy!
This movie is ultra-American. It is absolutely obsessed with American football. It is hard to tell whether, overall, it is a damnation or a celebration of the sport and the entire industry surrounding it. At the same time as showing the repugnant side of the business and the game, it seems to celebrate the warrior/gladiator hero aspect. To me, the way the utterly horrific injuries (the eye bit in particular) are treated almost as mundane and of lesser importance than winning the game is repulsive. I'm not sure whether this is a deliberate negative depiction or whether we're all meant to cheer them on for being such brave and wonderful folks for letting the game go on. The best bits about this movie are Al Pacino in his monologues, however he's not on top form here, and really the rest of the movie is mostly a blur of repetitive American football fluff. It's a pity that the movie isn't better. It has some really great people in it (especially notable are Mr. Pacino himself, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid and James Woods), and they really deserve a better script. Then again, maybe I'm missing the warm patriotic feeling that should be inspired in me if I were an American and had been brought up with American football as a national institution.
29 Joan of Arc 2 April 2000 65% ***+ Fervour Buy!
While it wasn't too bad a film, I was expecting more. It was rather thin on plot, to the extent that it was all a bit of a haze as to which battle was which, and what rather minor plot-points occurred between them. It's hard to say whether Milla Jovovich is totally overacting or whether it's the director's fault... or if, in fact, it's true to how Joan of Arc actually was. Anyway, it was alright but not great as an entertainment. By the way, the title was different in the USA (as indicated by IMDb and
30 Lake Placid 3 April 2000 80% ****+ Fun Buy!
When I saw the trailers, I thought, "Oh no, not another awful high-budget flop attempt at a scary movie with a low-budget plot!", but I then heard that it was in fact intended to be a comic thriller/horror, and was said to be very good... so I went to see it when it came out here. It was all I'd heard. It really does what it sets out to do well. It's scary in places (although the scariest bit in the movie turns out to be a beaver -- you'll have to see for yourself!) and very funny often. It's also got a cast lead by three actors who interact really well: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda and Oliver Platt. Overall, great fun.
31 Love's Labour's Lost 4 April 2000 85% ****+ Surprising! Buy!
Kenneth Brannagh has managed to do something really unusual here. Not only has he uprooted a Shakespeare play and planted it in a different time (this has been done, for example Romeo + Juliet), but also he's turned it into a musical. The surprising thing is that it all meshes so well; Shakespeare's words, 30's musical songs and dance, and a wartime setting with the Narator's part played by... of all things, propoganda newsreels! Actually, there are other surprises in store in Love's Labour's Lost. One is that Kenneth Brannagh can actually sing and dance well. By far the most surprising thing, however, is that Alicia Silverstone, who was utterly hideously pathetic in Batman & Robin was actually very good indeed. She acted well, and can also sing and dance with surprising skill. This is a great film for fans of Shakespeare or of musicals, and it's full of laughs too!
32 Rear Window 5 April 2000 70% **** Clever Buy!
This really is truly a very clever film. It has weathered rather well, in spite of the fear element being slightly diminished in the face of current thrillers. It is unusual in that almost the entire film is set in L. B. Jeffries' (James Stewart) appartment, where he is confined by a broken leg in a cast which has him in a wheelchair, with practically all outside scenes seen as by him, with no sound other than what he hears from across the square behind his appartment building. It is also a masterful use of the unseen. Nothing concrete is ever witnessed directly, only inferred. The showing was of a newly restored print of Alfred Hitchcock's classic.
33 Erin Brockovich 9 April 2000 90% ***** Brilliant Buy!
I can't believe that Mr. Ebert (or so I hear) wrote this a review where he continuously compared it unfavourably with A Civil Action. A Civil Action was a film with potential which totally flopped in the second half. Erin Brockovich is in a totally different league! It's clever, got plenty of plot, a good script, great casting and it's touching and funny. I'm sometimes dismissive of Julia Roberts. I think she's turned in some pretty mediocre performances in her time... but there's nothing mediocre about this one. She stands out as bright as any star in this one, the full force of her charisma coming through. Excellent!
34 High Fidelity 22 April 2000 85% ****+ Analysis Buy!
This rather clever movie uses John Cusack wonderfully, letting him loose on lots of narrative/monologues about his life (his character, Rob Gordon's life, that is); past and present. Not only do we have the inimitable John Cusack (so perfectly suited for his rôle) in High Fidelity, but also we have surprise unadvertised (at least not obviously) appearances from both his brilliant sister Joan, Tim Robbins and Bruce Springsteen (huh? Yes, Bruce Springsteen...), not to mention Catherine Zeta-Jones (and really, she's not terribly worth mentioning in this movie). If you liked John Cusack's self-analytical narrative in Grosse Pointe Blank, you'll like this!
35 The Virgin Suicides 22 April 2000 85% ****+ Inexplicable Buy!
Sofia Coppola's first directorial offering is more than worthy! It was chosen to open the San Francisco International Film Festival and it was not because of her dad (Francis Ford Coppola). The tale is a very odd one, but it has been lovingly crafted into a cinematically stunning and generally intriguing movie. James Woods plays the part of ineffectual father very well, and Kirsten Dunst is stunning; glowing as the appropriately named Lux.
36 Frequency 2 May 2000 80% ****+ Changes Buy!
Frequency is really a very enjoyable movie once you get past the slightly silly premise. The cast is excellent despite being mostly unknown other than Dennis Quaid, always a good stalwart (who seems to be undergoing a bit of a revival at the moment). It is exciting and touching, thrilling and intriguing. The characters are well developed and the plot is to be applauded for being enthralling -- suspending our disbelief where the premise provides plenty to disbelieve. Well worth seeing.
37 Romeo Must Die 3 May 2000 75% **** Triad Buy!
If you are looking for an enjoyable martial arts/action movie with some well-placed humour, this is where to look. The fact that it has Jet Li and Delroy Lindo in it should be enough to tell you it's probably worth a watch, but Romeo Must Die combines great action and martial arts with a charming Romeo and Juliet style subplot. It's not an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet though, so don't go expecting one!
38 28 Days 9 May 2000 85% ****+ Rehab Buy!
I really like Sandra Bullock. I think she was absolutely wonderful in Speed (1994), While You Were Sleeping (1995), and Forces of Nature (1999), but she is generally considered to be a bit of a light-weight or perhaps just being who she is, not acting. Based on what I'd seen before, I had to admit that this was indeed a possibility. She was wonderful, but her characters were all essentially the same. 28 Days shatters that illusion, and I'm happy to see it shattered. Sandra Bullock turns in an excellent and very moving performance as unlike her previous rôles as one could imagine. She is supported by a wonderful and talented cast including many relative unknowns but with a few well-known names like Viggo Mortensen and the brilliant Steve Buscemi. 28 Days is a charming and moving movie.
39 Where the Heart Is 10 May 2000 70% **** Wal-Mart Buy!
Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd star in a heart-warming tale about a naïve, pregnant young girl abandoned at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, by her irresponsible white trash boyfriend. It's a charming movie, filled with humour and pathos, jubilation and disappointment. It is only occasionally a little bit slow. Perhaps not for everyone, and it will be dismissed as a "chick flick" by many, it is nonetheless most enjoyable.
40 U-571 15 May 2000 90% ***** Outstanding! Buy!
A wonderful action-filled submarine movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton and Harvey Keitel and set during the second world war. It's an interesting counterpart to the ultra-modern, ultra-high-tech Crimson Tide (1995) and, the ultimate submarine movie, The Hunt for Red October (1990), both set in the present. The plot revolves around a group of American submariners thrown into the middle of the side of the war effort involving secrecy, intelligence, encryption and misinformation. Their mission is to capture the Enigma machine and code books from a crippled German submarine, U-571, and get it back to the allies without the Germans knowing (for if they know, they will change their codes and cryptosystem). Things do not go exactly as planned! Based loosely on real events in as much as it is true that during the war effort the allied war effort was being badly hurt by the destruction of their supply lines in the Atlantic, and extreme measures were used to capture the Enigma machine and to keep knowledge of its capture from the Germans. U-571 is not factual, but it is a really good, exciting action movie. This movie must be seen!
41 Keeping the Faith 18 May 2000 90% ***** Bouyant Buy!
What do you get when you put together a priest, a rabbi, and the girl they both grew up with who returns home a hyper-successful business-person? A charming upbeat romantic comedy with far more substance than most in the plot department. Couple that with Edward Norton, Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman, and you have one hell of a film! Hillarious and moving. Brilliant.
42 Battlefield Earth 20 May 2000 75% **** Rebellion Buy!
The effects are pretty good, the acting's not bad, it's got a good action-packed plot, and there wasn't any Scientolofy recruitment stuff in it — all definite pluses! More the fault of the director or script writer than L. Ron Hubbard, perhaps, but not only does it have an awful lot in common with Independence Day, but also they insist on forcibly reminding you of the fact at terribly similar moments by using almost exactly the same music! The first three quarters of a bar are the same, and you keep expecting it to be ID4 music, but then they change a note or two, presumably to avoid being sued for copyright infringement. All that said, though, the pluses outweigh the minuses. It's a good, fun movie.
43 Dinosaur 20 May 2000 55% *** Thin Buy!
Disney's prehistoric offering for the summer is a bit fosilised in its plot. The CGI is brilliant, ultra-realism at its best most of the time, but while it's a wonderful piece of eye candy, that's not enough to support a whole movie these days. The plot was a total The Land Before Time rehash with just a few minor plot variations, and the cute dinosaurs and cute simians aren't enough to make up for the lack of substance. It is meant to be a kids' movie, and I guess the kids probably enjoyed it. I'm perhaps too used to supposed kids' movies which appeal greatly to all ages (e.g. Toy Story, The Lion King, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2). Still, I had to see it for the CGI anyway!
44 Gladiator 20 May 2000 90% ***** Roman Buy!
Gladiator is really a wonderful movie. It is action-packed and exciting, and fills a long run-time without flagging at any point. Russell Crowe acts to his usual high (non-melodramatic) standard, and the plot's there to support him, along with a great cast. Well worth seeing.
45 Mission: Impossible 2 (M:I-2) 26 May 2000 85% ****+ Action! Buy!
Mission: Impossible (the first movie; 1996) was a big disappointment, managing to be both boring and confusing, but when I saw that John Woo was the director of M:I-2 and, what's more, he specifically said that it would be less confusing than the first movie, my hopes for the sequel increased hugely. It did not let me down. It was one of the most action-packed movies I've seen in a long time... and oh, what action. Woo is truly a master of the action movie. The fight/chase scenes, stunts (supposedly done for the most part without stunt men) and cinematography are breathtaking. The plot's easy to follow and perfectly adequate for what is, after all, an action movie. See it!
46 Road Trip 27 May 2000 60% ***+ Frat Buy!
Frat house humour, but amusing frat house humour. It was actually better than I'd expected it to be (I hadn't intended to see it that day -- I missed the film I wanted to see, Shanghai Noon, due to the train I was on being delayed), but it's mostly quite forgettable. Not a bad no-brainer.
47 Shanghai Noon 5 June 2000 75% **** Chan Buy!
Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson head up a cast in a comedy with a bit of a new angle -- sort of a oriental/wild west cross-over story. The trailers looked pretty mediocre, but I was told it was great so went to see it. I enjoyed it greatly. It really is very funny, and Chan's meld of martial arts and (often slapstick) comedy works very well. Chan and Wilson also have a great on-screen rapport. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this movie to comedy fans.
48 Small Time Crooks 9 June 2000 75% **** Droll Buy!
Actually, Woody Allen's latest offering is much more to my taste than most of his films. It was really very funny indeed. Well worth seeing; not just for Woody fans.
49 Gone In 60 Seconds 9 June 2000 90% ***** Turbo-charged! Buy!
Wow! What an adreniline rush. This is one action-packed roller-coaster-ride of a movie you do not want to miss. The formiddable cast (especially Cage, Jolie, Duvall and Lindo) augment a simple yet clever plot (Memphis Raines (Cage) must steal and deliver 50 specific cars within 4 days to get his kid brother off the hook with an evil English guy (you can't go wrong with an evil English guy ;-) nicknamed The Carpenter) and, well, just tonnes and tonnes of edge-of-your-seat action. See it! I mean it.
50 Boys and Girls 17 June 2000 80% ****+ Charming Buy!
The stunning Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black) once again graces the screen in this upbeat romantic comedy, also starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. (She's All That), in a rôle which starts out very different from his usual fare, but becomes less so as the film goes on, and the inimitable Jason Biggs of American Pie fame. The trailers for the movie didn't do it justice at all, focusing, as they did, on a rather irrelevant scene which is actually only an end-credits gag. It is in fact a most enjoyable and charming movie with many tasteful humourous moments and also moments to pull the heart strings. Claire Forlani has immense charisma and screen presence as always, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. is very creditable (and credible). Definitely one to see.
51 Shaft 17 June 2000 75% **** Twangy! Buy!
Who can possibly resist going to see what on earth they've done to Shaft in modern movie form? Well, I couldn't. I thought the trailers seemed a bit cheesy... but then I guess Shaft is meant to be a little cheesy! Samuel L. Jackson is perfect as the hip and together cop who holds justice above the law, rules or regulations, and stands up for what's right. Interestingly enough, the same things which made him excellent in his part in Pulp Fiction make him the perfect actor to play John Shaft. Complete with that amazingly recogniseable theme tune (pretty much unaltered from the original, which is unusual for modern movie versions of 70's movies and TV series!), Mr. Jackson, some nice cheesy one-liners and a nice plot, this is worthwhile seeing.
52 Me, Myself & Irene 24 June 2000 40% **+ Low Buy!
Funny in places, but too many disgusting moments, including one image you'll want to forget, but will have difficulty dislodging from your memory.
53 Titan A.E. 24 June 2000 60% ***+ Insubstantial Buy!
A clever combination of animation, raytraced CGI, and loud music, Titan A.E. is nice eyecandy, and quite fun, but really when you get down to it not all that great. Fun mental distraction for a boring afternoon/evening.
54 Chicken Run 25 June 2000 75% **** Amusing Buy!
Funny claymation film about chickens in a rather grim and terrifying (for them at least) chicken farm and their attempts to escape. Full of references to wartime escape movies. Not as funny as Wallace and Grommit, but worth seeing.
55 The Perfect Storm 12 July 2000 75% **** Exciting Buy!
Full of computer-generated over-the-top waves, the effects are rather impressive, the story quite exciting, and with some nice characterisation and romantic themes, The Perfect Storm is a good film, worth seeing, but not a must see. Needless to say, if you love George Clooney, you'll want to see this, and if you hate him, you'll want to give it a miss, but if you don't have strong opinions either way then my recommendation stands.
56 X-Men 15 July 2000 70% **** Open-ended Buy!
For somebody, like me, who had neither read the comic strips, nor seen the cartoon, X-Men was a little confusing. It was full of all sorts of characters who were not really introduced at all; it was assumed that the audience knew all about them already. It seemed in other ways as if it was made to be taken more as part of a bigger picture (sequels, eh?) than on its own as a movie in and of itself. I would have been even more baffled if not for the fact that my (wonderful, intelligent, beautiful, funny, charming) girlfriend (ok, I'll stop now), who was familiar with the comics and cartoons, was giving me occasional bits of information about who was who and what was going on during the movie (normally, I prefer not to have explanations during a movie, but they were welcome during X-Men!). The effects were good, of course. The fights were, I'm told, "realistic" in terms of the X-Men canon, if a little less than spectacular. The story probably had more impact if you were familiar with the basis of the movie.
57 Scary Movie 16 July 2000 20% *+ Abominable! Buy!
The trailers for Scary Movie are great. They're hillarious. They heralded a great, funny movie to come. It couldn't be farther from the truth!!! First of all, every single funny joke in the movie is in the trailer. By seeing the trailer, you've seen all the good bits free of charge. There's nothing more to see. Secondly, the film itself contains some of the most crude and imbecilic humour ever to splatter against the silver screen combined with some really vile and uncalled for imagery fit to turn the stomach and make you want to be anywhere but in the cinema watching the movie. This gets the accolade of "Second Worst Film of All Time" from me. Don't see this movie. You will only know how much you ought to thank me for this recommendation if you fail to take my advice and subject yourself to the diabolical and sickening trash which they're marketting as a funny movie. Ok, I'll get off my soap box now, but keep in mind, let the buyer beware.
58 Coyote Ugly 6 August 2000 70% **** Surprising Buy!
The trailers for Coyote Ugly were hard to judge. It looked like it might be a fast-moving fun movie, but it was also hard to see where a plot would fit into the picture (it was not in any way represented in the trailer). In fact, Coyote Ugly has more than meets the eye. It isn't a bad story at all, with a charming romantic theme, and the characters are not one-dimensional. On top of that, it is indeed fun and fast-moving.
59 Rules of Engagement 12 September 2000 75% **** Legal Buy!
Rules of Engagement is another military legal drama. Some may have had enough with A Few Good Men (1992), Courage Under Fire and The General's Daughter, but I rather like a good courtroom drama, especially if there's an interesting and difficult case. Of those other three, Rules of Engagement is really most like Courage Under Fire in that it is about an action that occurred in battle, and there is a great deal of doubt as to whether any crime was committed. In Rules of Engagement, we find out what really happened quite early on, but the problem is lack of proof (including vanishing evidence) to support the case of Samuel L. Jackson's character, Colonel Terry L. Childers. Tommy Lee Jones, as Colonel Hayes Hodges, must get him off the hook.
60 Final Destination 17 September 2000 75% **** Funny Buy!
I don't think it was intentional, but Final Destination manages to be really rather funny (through being over the top) while also being quite scary at times. It builds suspense rather well; you know a character is doomed, and you keep seeing what you think will kill them, but it takes so long for it to actually happen, in some bizarre and unlikely way you didn't think of. It's meant to be putting forward a theory that if you cheat death and miss "your time", then there will be a huge impetus for something to happen to you... but it's mostly just funny! A fairly original plot overall, and some great effects. Worth seeing, for the laugh as well as the fright.
61 O Brother, Where Art Thou? 22 September 2000 60% ***+ Slow Buy!
This movie was quite different from what I was expecting. It was pretty good, with some moments which were absolutely hillarious, but also containing some fairly lame jokes, and the overall pace was a little bit slow. Worth seeing, but not a must see.
62 Snatch 24 September 2000 80% ****+ Interwoven Buy!
Much like Pulp Fiction (1994) and his previous film, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie's latest offering presents a story filled with seemingly unconnected (groups of) characters who all end up connected through an ironic series of events, often hillarious. It certainly lives up to the legacy of its predecessor. It's fast-paced, exciting and hillarious. Some of the accents may be difficult for those across the pond, and in fact probably the hardest to understand is, ironically, played by Brad Pitt! Well worth seeing.
63 Space Cowboys 26 September 2000 70% **** Improbable Buy!
Space Cowboys was good fun. Hugely improbable and in places rather implausible, but in a way which didn't really detract from the enjoyment of the movie. It's got a good cast, at least in the lead rôles (some of the minor characters are a bit wooden...) and an amusing story, plus good effects (good in that you don't even think about them).
64 Saltwater 29 September 2000 85% ****+ Irish Buy!
A very Irish film, despite BBC Films being the main production company, Saltwater is really rather good. It focuses on an Italian-Irish family who run a chip shop in some unnamed small Irish town (but we see plenty of recogniseable scenes from the region around Dublin including the unnamed college being UCD). Hard times are upon them, with the off-season meaning little custom for the chipper, and the father, George, who has an irrational dislike of "the bank", has a loan to repay to the local bookie, Simple Simon, who has managed to get his finger into pretty much every pie in the town. When the father asks for a break in payments "just 'til the season picks up", Simple Simon 'suggests' that he become a partner in the chip shop -- "Just for six months. Then I'm out." These circumstances lead the elder son to desperate measures, and the events following this, along side the story of the younger son, Joe, falling in with a very unpleasant new boy at school who commits a terrible crime which Joe witnesses, but has trouble coming to terms with, constitute the major themes of the film. It's got a really good story, excellent acting, and some laughs, and any Irish person will identify with bits of it; indeed, it has some very down-to-earth images of life, and probably anybody will identify with some of it, being reminded of events in or peripheral to their own lives. The hand of the BBC in this has not in any way diluted the genuine Irishness of it. Well done. Well worth seeing.
65 Hollow Man 1 October 2000 70% **** Fun Buy!
Utterly full of holes, but fun nonetheless. Kevin Bacon (aka "Werepig" -- don't ask) plays a scientist who ends up terrorising the world at large and his colleagues when he makes himself invisible.
66 Nurse Betty 2 October 2000 75% **** Unusual Buy!
A rather unusual comedy-thriller (with a horribly dodgy-sounding name, but in fact not at all so) about a housewife who, when she witnesses her husband's brutal killing, experiences a strange form of amnesia where she thinks her favourite soap star, a doctor played by an actor played by Greg Kinnear (uh, yeah, that's right), is a real person, who she is in love with and who she decides to find and live happily ever after with. The actor is not the perfect guy that the character is (or at least such is her view of the character), and throw in a couple of hitmen chasing her across the country, and the plot thickens. The result is rather an unusual and clever comedy-thriller with a great cast to pull it off.
67 Where the Money Is 6 October 2000 80% ****+ Heist Buy!
A very enjoyable, charming, relaxing heist movie starring the inimitable Paul Newman, Linda Fiorentino and, peripherally, Dermot Mulroney. Well worth seeing.
68 Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows 27 October 2000 70% **** Scary Buy!
BW2 is a bit hard to rate. It was a little hard to follow in places, and it had some rather superfluous elements, but it was rather good, and it was rather scary. I think the first movie was rather more original and cleverly done, but this is still quite clever.
69 Bedazzled 29 October 2000 90% ***** Devilish Buy!
A nice simple but ingenious idea woven into a clever plot and wonderfully scripted... plus convincing acting, irresistible humour and more. See it. Make sure to see it.
70 Remember the Titans 2 November 2000 80% ****+ Race Buy!
A good cast led by the inimitable Denzel Washington bring life to this touching story. The theme is race discrimination and about people, individuals, seeing past that. This is more than just a political piece, however. It is humourous, touching and poignant. Worth seeing.
71 The Ladies Man 2 November 2000 30% ** Abominable Buy!
SNL yet again take some stupid gag character from the show and inflate the already sketchy (no pun intended) idea to such an extent that all the flaws are shoved right in your face. That is to say: maybe it was funny in sketches, maybe not, but really... turning it into a film? What's the story here? Mind you, it seems that they make money out of this stuff... and in the cinema I was in, one hideously unintelligent member of the audience could hardly control his laughter and kept repeating lines and cracking up. Oh dear. Not worth wasting your time over at all, unless you're that guy from the audience.
72 Meet the Parents 2 November 2000 75% **** Nightmarish Buy!
How badly could things really go when meeting your girlfriend's parents...? Well... this movie embodies quite an avid imagination of how bad it could be. Thankfully, I've already met my girlfriend's parents, or I think this movie might have scared me significantly! De Niro and Stiller lead a convincing cast of familiar faces in this very amusing romantic comedy.
73 Pitch Black 12 November 2000 80% ****+ Alien Buy!
Sort of an Aliens-meets-mutant-Flipper-the-dolphin-with-wings, Pitch Black is really a very good sci-fi thriller flick... and I'm kidding about Flipper. A bunch of Australians have bad luck colonising the galaxy when not only does their ship crash land on an unknown planet, but also their cargo of vicious merciless multiple murderer ends up loose, and they get attacked by swarms of vicious night-time sonar aliens. Ok, I'm being sarcastic, but really it's just too easy to make jokes about. Despite being amusing in so many ways, it's actually an excellent sci-fi thriller/horror movie in the Alien vein with convincing effects (some outstandingly good), not-bad acting, and a pretty solid story. Worth seeing.
74 The Yards 18 November 2000 75% **** Corruption Buy!
Mark Wahlberg plays a young New Yorker just out of prison for stealing a couple of cars who really honestly wants to wipe the slate clean and make an honest living. A need to earn an immediate living and an unwillingness on the part of him and of his mother to take any charity from his uncle leads him to become embroiled in the darker side of the family business. A good solid plot and excellent acting from Wahlberg along with James Caan, Charlize Theron, Joaquin Phoenix and others. Well worth seeing.
75 Loser 18 November 2000 80% ****+ Reassuring Buy!
Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari and Greg Kinnear are all excellent as always when they lead the cast in this funny and touching romantic comedy which reassures us that the unpopular dorky guy really can get the girl.
76 Wonder Boys 19 November 2000 90% ***** Outstanding Buy!
Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. and Frances McDormand lead the cast in this wonderfully rich story based around the lives of a middle-aged writer/professor, his affair with his boss' wife, a brilliant young writer in his class/workshop, a female student -- also a gifted writer -- who rents a room in his house, his failed marriage, his editor, and ... well, really I don't want to tell you any more. I could also say that it is a story about rediscovering oneself, but then you'd think I was horribly pretentious like most critics, so I'd better not. The acting is absolutely top-notch, with especially notable performances from ... well, all of the actors mentioned above. This is an absolutely excellent movie. See it!
77 What Lies Beneath 23 November 2000 80% ****+ Chilling Buy!
An excellent thriller, What Lies Beneath is trully chilling at times. The bath scenes will have you on the edge of your seat. Harrison Ford as you've never seen him before.
78 The Way of the Gun 24 November 2000 75% **** Stylish Buy!
In some ways a typical "commit a crime, find out you're in deeper than you thought, run south of the border, get into a right mess" flick, The Way of the Gun is nonetheless so much more than that. The story is quite complex, and in particular the motives of all the different characters (and every character has their motive and their goal) don't become clear until the end, and perhaps not fully even then. On top of all this, it's got some absolutely wonderful stylised gun fights. Well worth seeing.
79 Memento 25 November 2000 75% **** Memory Buy!
The whole film goes backwards. It's quite typical for a film or a book or whatever to give you a look at the ending at the start, and then work towards it. What makes Memento different is that it starts at the end and steadily works to towards the start! It perfectly gives the effect of putting us in the same boat as Guy Pearce's character, only able to judge the current situation by the evidence now revealed to us. We get a bigger picture as we find out what happened before, eventually gaining an understanding of the ending when we reach the start. We are constantly given a different understanding or interpretation of the facts, and must revise what we know again and again. Nothing can be guaranteed to be what it seems. Definitely worth seeing if you're in the mood for a film which makes you think.
80 Charlie's Angels 25 November 2000 85% ****+ Fun! Buy!
This movie is just plain fun. I mean, what more can you ask for? Action, humour, and Drew Barrymore? Well, Bill Murray's very good in it too, as are Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. Wonderful one-liners, corny as hell (but it's meant to be!), and did I mention that Drew Barrymore's exceedingly cool? My girlfriend and I wanted to see this movie together, but unfortunately didn't have time while we were on the same continent. Instead, she saw it with her family and I saw it with friends. You should see it too.
81 The Cell 26 November 2000 50% *** Horrible Buy!
The Cell is deeply psychological and very disturbing. The imagery is most discomforting, and some scenes are gratuitously horrible. There were bits I could not watch. The "bad guy" is truly scary. His mind as represented in The Cell is deranged and twisted beyond belief. It makes me wonder could the writer or director truly be sane. I cannot recommend this movie.
82 The Grinch 3 December 2000 40% **+ Disappointing Buy!
I perhaps shouldn't say "disappointing" because I hadn't really much in the way of hope for this movie. I went along against my better judgement with some friends who wanted to see it. There were some funny bits, but there was also a lot of cringe-inducing stuff, especially the completely uncalled for singing of the dreadful little girl, Cindy Lu. It was agreed by all present that the songs were hideous. Yet another film turned into a Carrey vehicle.
83 The Skulls 5 December 2000 75% **** Subversion Buy!
Really rather a good film about a college student who gets tangled up in a very sinister secret society. Fun and not too terribly mentally stretching! Just a little bit silly in places (especially the rowing races... I don't know a lot about rowing, but hell even I can pick masses of holes in their representation; in fact, it was hillariously badly done), but still good overall.
84 Red Planet 9 December 2000 65% ***+ Surprising Buy!
I'd heard bad things about Red Planet, and maybe that lowered my expectations, but really I thought it was quite good. Sure, there were some dodgy bits of science, but it wasn't so outlandishly ridiculous as I'd been lead to believe. I thought it was a pretty good story and quite enjoyable.
85 The 6th Day 17 December 2000 75% **** Cloning Buy!
The 6th Day is both a fun action movie with the inimitable Arnie at the helm and a movie which presents some interesting ideas. What if an evil corporate overlord could use human cloning (coupled with stupidly unrealistic storage of minds, and absolutely ludicrous idea of "genetic blanks", but suspend disbelief a bit for that!) to to rule the world? If we stipulate the existence of such unlikely technologies, we have an interesting situation where the evil henchmen care more about their clothes than their body/life, since they can always be restored as a clone. Ok, so the stipulation's a bit much, but it does make you think a bit, and it's an enjoyable action flick too!
86 The Family Man 26 December 2000 85% ****+ Heart-warming Buy!
The Family Man is a heart-warming tale about a man who becomes an ultra-successful but cold-hearted mercenary b***ard investment banker, president of an influential wall-street company. He completely loses track of (if he ever knew) what's really important. Through a magical turn of events, he goes on a journey of self-discovery and finds out what's really important in life. It's not an easy road, and he falters more than once, but in the end he realises that wealth and power are irrelevant if you're not happy. He finally figures out (it takes him a while; he's a bit thick! At times so much so that you want to beat some sense into him) that love is what matters, not money... but is it too late for him to do anything about it...? I love the sentiments and the message of this movie, but then I'm an incurable romantic and a big softie. Nicholas Cage and Téa Leoni are wonderful, and supported by an excellent cast including the girl who plays his precocious young daughter.
87 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 30 December 2000 90% ***** Fantastic Buy!
A Chinese fairy-tale-like story with amazing effects, fantastic stylised fighting and wonderful cinematography. Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh are excellent in the lead rôles. It is an epic story, and a wonderful film. This is one film which you must see!

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