January 1st, 2002

NPA

(no subject)

December 31, 2001

"Brand new year, same old troubles
Stroke of midnight won't change a thing."

-From the song "Brand New Year" by the Bottle Rockets, written by S. Taylor and B. Henneman, ©1999.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

For the record, at the stroke of midnight I was in my car, on my way from a movie theatre to a friend's apartment. As soon as the radio countdown was over, I turned on the above-quoted song.

Saw "In The Bedroom" and "A Beautiful Mind". "In the Bedroom", directed by Todd Field, is one of the small, character-driven dramas that American independent film does so well, and this is a well-done example of the genre. Field does well by not showing us the obvious moments, but rather the bits that other films would edit out as insignificant, each, in its way, revealing some bit of character. Ultimately, though, the proceedings are undercut to the point of being undone by a lack of urgency-everything seems predetermined and in no real hurry to get where it knows it will end up.

"A Beautiful Mind", directed by Ron Howard, is saved by good acting. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly present very good portrayals of John Nash and his wife Alicia, as well as fine work from Ed Harris, Paul Bettany, and Christopher Plummer. However, nearly everything else in the film doesn't work all that well-there's a central conceit used to middling effect; Akiva Goldsman's (the guy who really ruined the Batman franchise) script is often a bit mealy-mouthed, using too many words when a good silence would probably do, and the entire thing almost comes tumbling down entirely under the weight of Howard's direction-a sense of "you are watching an important movie" pervades almost every scene. Still, it is worth seeing for the performances, especially Connelly's-this should, finally, elevate her into the higher caste of young actress that she deserves (and has for years, as best typified by 2000's "Requiem For A Dream").

With these two included in the tally, the total number of films I saw in 2001 was 97. I will be contacting the winner of the pool personally to arrange prizes, etc. I'd also like to take this opportunity to throw open the 2002 Movie Pool. Same rules apply-guess the total number of films I see in theatres in calendar 2002, win a prize. Send your entries to johnsmoviepool@aol.com by my birthday (12/19). Anyone interested in seeing the entire list of 97 for 2001 can contact me at that address as well.

I will not be able to give a year in review for film until I see all the late-release prestige films of 2001 ("Black Hawk Down" and "Monster's Ball", for example), and that could be as late as February. But a review, with Top and Bottom Tens, is forthcoming.

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JHR
1/1/2002 6:29 AM