2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

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McBain Recommends
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Top 20 List
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The Blog:
Friday, October 24, 2003
from merlot:

Orange County (Kasdan)

I thought this was quite a blast. Jack Black was very funny. The rest of the major players held up their end of things, for the most part. Some of the minor parts were handed to great veterans (Catherine O’Hara, John Lithgow, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin). It is a good thing to find a comedy that actually makes me laugh. Is it full of clichés, yes, but so are lots of other films that are dull as mud.

The Weight of Water (Bigelow)

This film is confusing and a bit of a mess, but I liked it a lot anyway. Sean Penn is out of place here looking like a cross between Ace Ventura and George Hamilton. He is not a good choice for this character, but he does an adequate job. There are two stories here: a modern one with : a writer, his wife, his brother and the lover. They are going to check out the location of a long ago murder. The second story is about the murder itself.

I really liked the way Bigelow shot the two stories. She is one of those hit-or-miss directors, but mostly I like her. The heart of the film is Sarah Polley who is one of my very, very favorite actresses. She is terrific in this, as always. Elizabeth Hurley is much on display here, for those of you that are interested in such things.

The Pianist (Polanski)

This is a great film. I loved the cinematography and the fact that the protagonist is not a hero, knows it and does not make excuses for the fact. Neither does the film. Adrien Brody was heart-breaking in the role – all cocky and on top of the world in the beginning ; resigned to his survival at the end. Polanski did an incredible job. I never know what to expect in a film that is so highly proclaimed as great. This one deserves all the praise it has gotten.

Down With Love (Reed)

I loved the look of this film and was very impressed with how much work went into it. However, I really can’t say that the film impressed me that much overall. It is incredibly detailed and very cute. I’m not that turned on by cute (I wasn’t that thrilled with the zany comedies that this film is based on). Zellweger was a major drawback for me. I don’t like to be critical of physical appearance, but the whole premise of the film is that she is irresistible. She is not. In fact, in one crucial scene she is quite unattractive (was this the point here in this scene? She was sooo badly lit, that I can’t believe that it wasn’t on purpose). And why would any director put someone who is only skin and bones in a backless dress? I really do like her very much as an actress and I’m looking forward to Cold Mountain. She was also excellent in A Price Above Rubies, Chicago and Bridget Jones. Doris Day was just too perky for words but she was also unbelievably beautiful and could get away with it better.

The Royal Tenenbaums (Anderson)

I loved this. Not being a big fan of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, I had avoided seeing it. Anderson has proved himself to be an obsessive director. The detail work on this film is astounding – everything is perfect. The oddities never overshadowed the emotional story, they carried the story along further. Gene Hackman was great (as he is in everything he does).

Tully (Birmingham)

I highly recommend this film. It was shown at some festival as The Truth About Tully. It is basically about two brothers (one is a lothario, the other is the “serious” one) raised by their father on the family farm. The dad gets a letter about a $300,000 lien on the farm, which he has no idea about where it came from. Into the mix is thrown a neighbor girl who is back from school (she is friend to one brother, and is interested in the other). There’s not much dialog here – which I think is it’s grand achievement. I think some films fill space with words because the writer and director don’t trust the audience’s intelligence or the actors’ abilities to deliver the goods without stating the obvious (a major flaw in D.G. Green’s works – IMO – along with plot contrivances). I think people who like Green’s films will find much to like here. There isn’t a lot that’s new or different, it’s just that I liked the way it was delivered (note – it is not free of plot contrivances either, I just happen to like the ones here better).

La Silence de la Mer (1945 - Melville)

German officer/intellectual is assigned living quarters in a French farmhouse. The father and daughter who live there decide that the best way to deal with the reprehensible situation is not to speak to the officer, ever. So HE talks, on and on about everything: his childhood, philosophy, dreams, music etc. He believes in the high ideals of the Third Reich and thinks Germany will re-emerge as the world leader of culture and re-assert itself into a place of intellectual prominence. Until he visits Paris and gets a good dose of Nazi reality. Totally demoralized, he finally understands. Poignant film. Ever since seeing La Samurai (gorgeous film), I’ve been trying to track down all of Melville’s films. I came upon this one quite by accident in a library. I’m hoping that they release Bob le Flambeur on DVD soon, as The Good Thief was very good and Melville’s version can only be better.

Orphée (1950 - Cocteau)

Very dream-like. If you can leave your Matrix-jaded sensibilities behind you as you watch this, it can be a truly mesmerizing experience. It took me a little while to get into it. I’ve always liked Cocteau and I was quite taken with this film version of the legend of Orpheus. Death has never before or since looked so stylish or seductive.

Samurai 3 : Dual at Ganryu Island (1967 – Inagaki)

This was the final film in the Samurai Trilogy by Inagaki. I loved Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto and for my taste, is the best samurai film I’ve ever seen. The cinematography is fabulous (wide screen a must for these). I think that Samurai 3 is now my second favorite – it has the classic showdown between the ‘best of the best’ in it. Mifune was goofy and unkempt in 1 (and this is partially why the film has logged itself in the #1 slot). He turns in a fully rounded, mature performance in 3. He is all amused self-confidence. I found a lot here in common with Eastwood’s reluctant gunmen. If you haven’t seen these, please make the effort, as they are wonderful films (both in the story telling and the look of the films). Samurai 2 is not in the same class as 1 & 3, the character development is less interesting – look at it as a bridge from 1 to 3. Now, if I can only find Samurai Rebellion by Kobayashi, I might have a challenger for #1 (I am just starting on his Human Condition series, that may take me awhile to get thru).