THE NEW GUY (2002)

Directed By: Ed Decter
Written By: David Kendall
Cinematography: Michael D. O’Shea
Editor: David Rennie 

Cast: DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Parry Shen, Jerod Mixon, Sunny Mabrey, Ross Patterson, Lyle Lovett, Eddie Griffin, Ileana Douglas, Kurt fuller, Matt shogun, M.C. Gainey, Julius Carry, Geoffrey Lewis, Horatio Sanz, Gene Simmons, Kool Moe Dee, Tommy Lee, Henry Rollins, Jermaine Dupri, Jerry O’Connell, Charlie O’Connell, Tony Hawk, Rob Van Winkle 

A high school senior branded uncool in the ninth grade gets himself expelled so he changes his image to cool kid at the town’s other high school.


The film is strange as it is a teen comedy that seems at times to be more of a spoof. Then it just becomes more of a wacky comedy that comes off more as abstract and slapstick but still makes little sense.

Though considering it is directed by a noted comedy writer. Who coincidentally didn’t write the script. So that the film feels cut up from a decidedly longer and more coherent film. Though it doesn’t matter as this is a film you just watch and have fun with what it offers. 

It’s also a movie that is built to build off of trends of the time.

Which would explain the strange number of cameos by rock stars and skaters and recognizable celebrities playing themselves and others throughout for no real reason. 

Though it might hint at, What does end up being truthful about the movie is the character’s passion for music. As it seems to almost be their everything. 

For instance, Lyle Lovett’s Father character makes no sense at all, but he is in the movie throughout. As the Square dad who seems to try to relate and overreact  to his son and his actions 

While the film feels like it got cut to pieces as some storylines and characters disappear or are never resolved. So that instead of plot or character the film tries to give you a Greatest hits version of the story. 

Which makes it feel more like a Frankenstein of teen film cliches. You have seen before Only more heightened and campy comedically. There is even a scene where Eliza Dushku’s character goes to apologize to an old friend who she has shunned and snubbed only for that friend to say “I know” before she can say anything 

Most of the female roles here are more as sex objects and hook up’s. Even Dushku the female lead has two scenes of first her trying in various scantily Clad outfits like bikinis and another scene of her riding a mechanical bull suggestively. More for a male teenage audience. Though she is both the love interest and sex symbol of the film.

The film builds off star Dj Qualls fame from ROAD TRIP. As an early version of McLovin from SUPERBAD. As his character goes from

Dork to cool in a new attitude and look with a lot of Farrelly brothers style comedy. That is gross yet heartwarming and manages to win the Audience over.

The film gave DJ Qualls the rare odd Leading man role. Even if the film Tries to play like more of an ensemble at times. 

Sure the film’s humor is lowbrow but still comes off as innocent or like it doesn’t know any better. Though with it’s juvenile humor it’s

Perfect for its intended audience. Though definitely a testament to the time period in which it was made.

It is filled to the brim with what was hip, but trends change so fast that by the time the film Actually was released. It felt a little past its Time to the audience and worse the film is so low stakes. It doesn’t Make its Mark. 

If anything this movie is more. A guilty pleasure that gets by because of its Silly and fun attitude. This film is put together very loosely with plenty of gags meant to tie the story and characters together with a moral lesson of not labeling and not believing in whatever labels you are branded with. 

GRADE: C

THE TUXEDO (2002)

Directed By: Kevin Donovan 
Written By: Michael J. Wilson &  Michael Leeson 
Story By: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi & Michael J. Wilson 
Cinematography By: Stephen F. Windon 
Editor: Craig P. Herring 

Cast: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Debi Mazar, Jason Issacs, Peter Stomare, Romany Malco, Ritchie Coster 

Jimmy Tong is just a lowly chauffeur for millionaire Clark Devlin, until Devlin has an accident that puts him in the hospital. Tong is sent back to fetch some things for Devlin and unknowingly tries on Devlin’s tuxedo and finds that it gives extraordinary powers to anyone that dons the suit. This discovery thrusts Tong into world of international intrigue and espionage and pairs him with an inexperienced partner.


This is another Jackie Chan American comedy. That usually requires him to either team up with another star of some sort or kids. This film takes more of a middle ground by not being aimed at children as some of the material is more trying to be aimed at an older or maybe even teenage audience with a light touch. Even though one can only see it appealing more to a younger audience. 

Now the film tries to go with what works for him, teaming him up with someone else in action-comedy. Though by this time it seems like he was starring in the same movies. Only with different partners and each time seems to lower the level of quality and appeal. As after the SHANGHAI NOON’s and RUSH HOUR’s none of the other films warranted a sequel.

This time they have him teaming up with Jennifer Love Hewitt an attractive teenage partner. This also leads the film to hint at an improbable suggestion of romance between the two of them. Though he seems a bit long in the tooth for the role.

She seems here more to be the eye candy and comedic prop at times, but at least she has more to do in her role than She usually does Especially physically.

The film has a funny premise as an action-comedy. Where Jackie Chan seems more comfortable with this material. As his character isn’t a natural fighter. All the king fun and stunt hijinks are due to a gadget-laden tuxedo that he never quite gets the handle on that even has him dancing like James brown at a James Brown concert. After accidentally knocking him out. Again this shows you the level of humor.

The film is largely forgettable but is entertaining for what it is worth. It will have you rolling your eyes a bunch. After all, It’s a silly, fun movie you don’t watch for filmmaking.

I will admit the only reason I really wanted to watch the movie for was Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jason Issacs who I am a fan of, here he plays a James Bond-ish secret agent who becomes incapacitated, and Jackie Chan as his bumbling chauffeur has to take over in the mission and through a case of mistaken identity.

This wouldn’t be the type of film one would usually Watch. As you can never take anything in this film seriously especially the threats. Even the New York of the film is obviously In Sets and filmed in Canada.

Seems like a grown up film made for kids. That is how ridiculous and silly the situations and plot are at times.

Luckily in the film when in doubt cut to a shot of jennifer love Hewitt in a tight outfit and low neckline. The film seems to contain less action fight sequences then stunt physical comedy sequences which when Jason issacs wears the suit is special effects but when Jackie Chan dies it it is actual live stunts work, but is filmed the same way so it might as well be special effects

This movie is only worth watching for fans of Jackie Chan exclusively.

Grade: C

SPUN (2002)

Directed & Edited By: Jonas Akerlund 
Written By: Will De La Santos & Creighton Vero 
Cinematography By: Eric Broms


Cast: Jason Schwartzmen, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Josh Peck, Patrick Fugit, Debbie Harry, China Chow, Charlotte Ayana, Julia Mendoza, Eric Roberts, Nicholas Gonzalez, Larry Drake, Rob Halford, Tony Kaye, Ron Jeremy, Billy Corgan 

A drug dealer introduces one of his customers, a ‘speed freak’, to the man who runs the meth lab. A crazy three-day adventure ensues.


This film is just a dirty as the characters it portrays it seems to be trying to send the message of drawing you in with the visuals and showing you the life of a tweaker so you can see how pathetic and disgusting the life is but at times it seems to also make some characters mythically cool like the character of the cook played by Mickey Rourke.. 


Worse all the bad things seem to be played more for comedy than anything else like telling a story. I wanted to like the film but only found a few things noteworthy or fascinating.


Like most movies that involve drugs as central to the plot and addicts as most of the main characters, there is a lot of misadventures that you think are going to add up to something like a plot but it ends up the movie doesn’t really have anything to say. 


Sure visually it is great and the cast is likable but they need better material they inhabit the characters but if the characters are just there with nothing to do then it’s just like the life of tweakers a waste.

The movie is directed by Jonas Akerlund who has directed videos for Madonna, He certainly has an eye for visuals but he needs to find material that matches his eye here he doesn’t find it. There seems to be an epidemic with foreign directors when they make American movies they seem to like to direct stories that focus on the underground and the downtrodden there are little joy’s and mostly bleak existences which is there right to do but at least make it dramatic or interesting that would be nice instead of making it seem like a photoshoot with a theme no substance and all deteriorating gloss. 


 There are some really gross scenes like Mena Suvari having a bowel movement or John Leguizamo’s constant masturbating or the castration of Patrick fugit I can understand the need to be shocking with your dark comedy to be noticed and make a statement.

A drug dealer introduces one of his customers, a ‘speed freak’, to the man who runs the meth lab. A crazy three-day adventure ensues.


it’s just a wasted endeavor here, in fact, the most interesting character is in the movie but really doesn’t do too much and that is Mickey Rourke the movie isn’t all bad it‘s worth a watch but it’s not as good or revolutionary as it thinks it is. 


You get to see The strippers, The dealers, Porn shops, and all the usual taboo material. But for some reason it seems rather tame and not cutting edge. 

The film has a certain hyper stylization in a kind of trash culture. Trying to glamorize it. It’s distracting though while the film tries to offer characterizations to give us in the audience, people to care about and follow. It also uses then and their pathetic was as folly for humor more than anything else.

It also was the beginning of what seems to be Brittany Murphy’s third act where she seemed to play floozies, addicts and simpletons. Ladies who just seemed off. As she is attractive but seems so out of it that you wonder if it is method acting.

As depending when you were introduced to her as an actress. At first she was a child star then she grew up and played supporting characters and then leads that were more romantic comedic or comedic then she changed her look a bit and became more dramatic. Then the third act of her career came in films like THE DEAD GIRL and SIN CITY. If you watched her grow from a Child actress to here. You wondered if this was a new phase in her career or developing a type to play. As she went fro. Cute to sexy to skanky. Though still walking to the best fi her own drummer.


The film was originally intended to be a documentary on Meth Cooks. Instead, they just took the story of a meth addict (Co-Writer Will De La Santos) and his experiences chauffering a meth cook around town in Eugene, Oregan for three days. They just embellished the stories to be more cinematic. 


 GRADE: C-

QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (2002)

Directed By: Michael Rymer
Written By: Scott Abbott & Michael Petroni
Based on the Novels “THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES” Written By: Anne Rice Cinematography: Ian Baker
Editor: Dany Cooper

Cast: Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moureau, Vincent Perez, Lena Olin, Paul McCann, Claudia Black, Bruce Spence, Matthew Newton, Christian Norton 

In this loose sequel to Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), the vampire Lestat becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the equally beautiful and monstrous queen of all vampires.


While the film is lackluster in certain aspects it does provide a sequel to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and is a continuation of the vampire chronicles In The series of books by Anne Rice 

Though the fanfare for this film Seems to be In The legacy of singer and actress Aaliyah who plays the title role and who does before the film could be completed. As this was a great star-making role for her and at the time one of the few modern horror films. To have an African American in a prominent role. So that also helped bring more people of color to be fans of the film. As it at least had representation even if she is the villain in the end 

Narrative wise it is interesting that one of the scariest characters in the previous tale INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was now the protagonist and more on the run from a more powerful vampire. Even as he has brought about her comeback. Due In part by his arrogance of becoming. A rock star despite vampires usually staying out of the limelight due to being immortal. 

The music isn’t very good and the film comes off as low budget trying to seem bigger and Stuart Townsend in the lead isn’t as charismatic as Tom Cruise who played the role first. He doesn’t even approach flamboyance. Though he does appear scared of the all too powerful vampire played by Aaliyah.

The way they incorporate her into the film is creative considering she wasn’t quite done filming all of her scenes. Though whenever her character seems to move the movements all seem to have a voice of chant. Which comes off as enchanting and freaky.

One of the few aspects that does work here is that it delves more into the history of the vampires and sets up a kind of mythology for them. 

The film is somewhat entertaining though ultimately a failure. Especially as at parts it tries to form a romance between Lestat and a human. That feels forced in this type of film. Especially when there is a mroe important matter at hand. 

In the end, even though the quality of the film feels like mroe a straight to video film for the times. The tragedy that happened catapulted the film into theaters and stands as a kind of living embodiment and dedication to the memory of queen Aaliyah.

Grade: D+

OPEN HEARTS (2002)

Directed By: Susanne Bier
Written By: Anders Thomas Jensen
Cinematography By: Morten Soborg
Editor: Pernille Bech Christensen & Thomas Krag

Cast: Sonja Richter, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicholaj Lie Kaas, Paprika Steen 

When you watch a Susanne Bier film you know you will be put on an emotional path that is in your face the whole time. the film and characters are raw which is emphasized by the grainy film she uses and the fact that most of the scenes are done in full close-up on the character’s faces. it helps that she tends to cast beautiful actors too.

I have seen her Films before this one BROTHERS was my first followed by her English language debut THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE. so I knew what to expect watching this film and i was still blown away. Now describing the plot of most of her films they sound like corny melodramas and the plots are, but they are also real. they are so full of emotion and address the things that are not seen in the film’s American counterparts.

The characters here feel full and real and are not afraid to show their unlikeable sides and decisions whereas other films would try to make every character lovable and likable. The thing that amazes me about her films is that on paper they are not the films I would normally watch or enjoy, but through her talented filmmaking and gut-punching scripts she makes them rewarding and essential viewing.

Sonja Richter is so beautiful a virtual screen goddess, Yet, she downplays her beauty for actually fully realizing an emotionally needy young woman. Who is engaged to be married when her boyfriend gets into an accident and ends up paralyzed in the hospital.

The female driver of the other car is so stunned she sends her husband. A doctor to talk to the young woman. Soon they become friends and he becomes her go-to friend especially when her boyfriend refuses to see her. Soon they are becoming more than friends and fall deep in love though they both feel guilty about the situation they go full speed ahead. It is here where the film becomes interesting as it explores all sides of this triangle. It even shows the effects it has on his children.

The film has no heroes, no villains just real people who make mistakes, change their minds, and don’t know what the right decisions are. The film is a multi-layered love story. that is sweet one minute and dark the next with little to no sentimentality. It’s such a gritty love story that scrapes the heart at times. It becomes hard to watch, but you must see ith through to see what happens. How will it end?

Mads Mikkelsen plays the husband he truly shows range as i have usually seen him only as a one-eyed Viking in and a villain in CASINO ROYALE. So him playing a compassionate family man who falls out of love with his wife for an unstable young woman and how it pains him to do it, is so moving.

The film is a DOGME 95 Film which is a decree that is summarized below. As with most DOGME films this one cheats on the rules a bit. but generally stays on with its doctrine. IT’s definitely worth watching and stay true to its artistic spirit.

The goal of the Dogme collective is to purify filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post-production modifications, and other technical gimmicks.

The filmmakers concentrate on the story and the actors’ performances. They believe this approach may better engage the audience, as they are not alienated or distracted by overproduction. To this end, Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg produced ten rules to which any Dogme film must conform. These rules, referred to as the “Vow of Chastity,” are as follows:[1]

1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.

2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed, i.e., diegetic.

3. The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.

4. The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).

5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.

6 .The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)

7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).

8. Genre movies are not acceptable.

9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.

10. The director must not be credited. (Thanks to Wikipedia) a definite addition to the Film Library

GRADE: A

THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002)

Written & Directed by: Peter Mullan
Cinematography: Nigel Willoghby
Editor: Colin Monie

Cast: Anne-Marie Duff, Nora-Jane Noone, Dorothy Duffy, Eileen Walsh, Mary Murray, Brita Smith, Frances Healy, Geraldine Ewan, Phyllis Macmahon, Eithne Mcguniess

Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.


This is a harrowing story of survival and injustice. Where young women were forced into indentured slavery to a degree. As they were made to be subservient to priests and nuns at monasteries and convents. For supposedly being bad girls but usually see being attacked or abused sexually or even thought if for being non chaste.

In the first act of the film, we see the three characters who we will follow their daily lives and what lead them to be Sent to this asylum. The next act is their lives in the asylum and the third act is an escape attempt. 

Then once sent away being made to be tortured and abused by the church. From molesting and raping priests In Servitude. While the church makes money off of their slave labor. 

This film allows us to be brought into the situation by three protagonists who are sent there we see what leads them here before interacting with one another as we hear snippets of other women’s stories while being preyed upon by the nuns who are the main tormentors. As they believe the girls deserve it as sinners and that they themselves are in service to god. So they are the more mighty.

The film is a powerful historical dramatization as well as a strong movie that doesn’t offer any conventional Cookie cutter answers or depictions. Even when some are released there are no emotional goodbyes or promises to help get them out. It makes you want to learn more about the history of the subjects the film offers. As it is such an immersive experience.

This film easily could have gone into exploitation. Though luckily the film is meant to show what they go through without getting bogged down in any graphic depictions of sex and violence.

Though it does manage to keep the tension high and filled with drama. We watch the Female protagonists and see how each in their own way survives and gets released or makes their getaway. How it scars then and haunts one especially even past their supposed escape.

The film is hard to sit through due to the victimization that went on until the 1960s and was never brought justice. As the audience watches, they can feel the pain

What makes this move unsettling is the fact that It’s a true story. Which is also what makes it so unforgettable. It’s a history lesson and a survival story about a time no one really talks about and you see and experience the horrors of the characters. Though the actual people who survived the asylum said it was much worse then depicted. 

Grade:B+

ABOUT SCHMIDT (2002)

about-schmidt

Directed By: Alexander Payne
Written By: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Based on the Novel By: Louis Begley
Cinematography: James Glennon
Editor: Kevin Tent 


Cast: Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, Dermont Mulroney, Hope Davis, June Sqibb, Howard Hesseman, Harry Groener, Connie Ray, Len Cariou 


Warren Schmidt has led a safe, predictable life working in the insurance industry in Omaha, Nebraska for many years, yet now faces retirement. At the same time, he is forced to take a hard look at his wife, his life, and his relationship with his estranged daughter. An often hilarious series of events follow as Schmidt embarks on an unpredictable RV journey to attend his daughter’s wedding in Denver, Colorado

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GERRY (2002)

gerry1

Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Cinematography: Harris Savides
Written & Edited By: Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon & Casey Affleck 


Cast: Matt Damon, Casey Affleck 


Two friends that call each other Gerry decide to hide in the wilderness in order to see something. However, they do not find what they’re looking for. They decide to return to the car but they get lost in the desert, without water, supplies or a compass. Now they have to walk, trying to find the road to survive.
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THE SWEETEST THING (2002)

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Directed By: Roger Kumble
Written By: Nancy Pimental
Cinematography By: Anthony B. Richmond
Editor: David Rennie & Wendy Greene Bricmont

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Thomas Jane, Jason Bateman, Parker Posey, Frank Grillo

To ease their roommate through a relationship-induced depression, Christina Walters and Courtney Rockcliffe take her out on the town. During their attempts to find her “Mr. Right Now”, Christina meets Peter Donahue. Missing her opportunity with him that night, Christina is talked into pursuing him to his brother’s wedding.

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PANIC ROOM (2005)

panicroom

Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: David Koep
Cinematography: Conrad W. Hall & Darius Khondji
Editor: James Haygood & Angus Wall 


Cast: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam, Patrick Bauchau, Ann Magnuson, Paul Schulze, Mel Rodriguez, Ian Buchanan 


Recently divorced Meg Altman and her daughter Sarah have bought a new home in New York. On their tour around the mansion, they come across the panic room. A room so secure, that no one can get in. When three burglars break in, Meg makes a move to the panic room. But all her troubles don’t stop there. The criminals know where she is, and what they require the most in the house is in that very room.

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