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FILMS SEEN IN 2003
 
here's my rating system by the by.
 
November
(didn't keep track of all the films seen)
 
Chinatown (1974) Dir: Roman Polanski  [96]
 
[What a brilliant film. Definitely one of the finest of the noir genre. Perhaps it should have won a few more Oscars, although I can't really argue about that. An undisputed classic. Click on the link for my review.]
 

 Pi (1998) Dir: Darren Aronofsky [82]
 
[Aronofsky's award-winning debut proves to be an utterly hypnotic and unique film about alienation, paranoia and obssesive madness. Making use of several innovative filmaking techniques like frantic, rapidly cut editing and peculiar camera angles,  the film instantly grabs your attention and never lets go. One of the elements I most liked about it was that it was filmed in raw, grainy black and white which managed to transport you right into the deteriorated mind of the central character, who, at the same time, was remarkably played by Sean Gullette. This often disturbing and unpleasant picture looks and sounds like no other movies does. Though not as good as Aronofsky's would be next film, Requiem for a Dream, Pi is a highly original worthwile film. Astonishing.]
 

 Spider-Man  (2002) Dir: Sam Raimi (6th viewing) [76]

[There's no getting around it; Spider-Man is a triumph indeed. Sam Raimi, with both passion and love for the source material,  perfectly captures the essence of the comic-books, turning this movie into an exhilarating roller coaster ride. I was a bit skeptical about Tobey Maguire being chosen for the lead role but he exceeds all expectations and gets into Peter Parker's shoes with incredible ease, and this is clear every time I watch the film. Willem Dafoe is also eerily convincing as Spidey's archenemy, the Green Goblin, and Kirsten Dunst doesn't disappoint as Parker's love interest. The visual effects are amazing although at times they do tend to be a bit... cartoony would be the right word, wouldn't it.  Despite the fact that this is mostly an action movie, it still manages to be a clever one with brains, soul and heart. This is arguably one of the finest superhero comic book adaptations ever made. It's awe-inspiring, incredible, splendid and, although it does feel a tad uneven at times, the movie leaves you hungry for more... bring on the second one!]


Commando (1985) Dir: Mark L. Lester (3rd viewing)  If taken seriously: * If not: ********* [13 or 100000]

[Absolute perfection. That's all I can say about this movie, which is undoubtedly one of Arnold's best. The screenplay, written by Steven E de Souza is splendid for an action movie. Granted, it's not as magnificent as a Shakespeare play, but not taking itself too seriously it manages to capture an almost self-parodying sense which proves to be very effective. He maintains an excellent balance of hardcore action while at the same time creating a lovely spoof of the action genre.
Making use of extremely cheesy yet ingenious one-liners, you can't help but laugh at them because of their extreme cleverness and their right-time delivery. Arnold Schwarzenegger is great in the role of John Matrix, and with his Austrian accent and pumped-up body, he's the essential action hero for a movie like this. Sure, the movie's bad, but that's because it sets out to be one: it's predictable, far-fetched, unoriginal and very clichéd, but evidently the creators were bearing this in mind.
All in all, if you enjoy action movies then this is the right won't fail to satisfy you. It's corny, manipulative, violent and mindless fun; guaranteed to entertain you for a couple of hours. Perhaps the best of the worst there is.]


The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) Dir: Guy Hamilton (Countless viewings) [63]

[This was the first Bond movie I ever saw, if I remember rightly. I think I first saw it when I was around four or five, in my late grandfather's house, on a BETA tape. Ah... those were the days. Since then I began to watch this film almost every time I stayed round my grandfather's house, with him and my brother, curled up in the coach. I loved it as a kid. How many times have I seen this movie? The truth is that I do not really know, but about ten to twelve is a pretty close approach. The Man with the Golden Gun simply has to be the most underrated James Bond film of all. Perfect it is not - far from it, in fact - but it's a film that, despite not taking itself too seriously, manages to excite and entertain the viewer for a couple of hours. Of course it's flawed; its script is rather weak and predictable, there are some scenes which may be either laughable or merely uncalled for (the whistle effect during the otherwise fascinating car stunt is sort of silly) and some of the subplots thrown in fail to convince. And Roger Moore isn't exactly the greatest actor of all, either (nor the finest Bond, for that matter). Nonetheless, The Man with the Golden Gun wanders off from the normalities of the franchise and takes a goofy approach to the action genre (as seen in the boat chase sequence, for example), and there's no denying that Christopher Lee's performance as the sinister Francisco Scaramanga is probably the strongest quality of the film. He's definitely one of the most unforgettable villains in the Bond franchise, and his little helper Nick-Nack is also damn good. One of my favourite scenes in the film is the one in the Karate school (even though it's a blatantly unashamed rip-off of Bruce Lee's pulp films of the '70s), simply because of its excitement and sheer 'coolness', if you may. Sheriff JW Pepper, who was also seen in Live and Let Die, has a lot of funny comments to make which provide the film with a light, easy-going tone that proves to be reasonably effective (his chemistry with Moore is non-existent, though). And Britt Ekland is a very poor actress, yet I recall that in my earlier years she made me go all funny inside. If you're wondering, she still did, and whilst she's not the best Bond girl, there's no getting around it: she's irresistible. On the whole, The Man with the Golden Gun suffers from its weaknesses but still manages to plunge the viewer into an adventure that, as forgettable as though it may be, is easy and very fun to watch. Definitely not the worst of the series (I believe that title should go to Moonraker, thank you very much) and definitely not the best, The Man with the Golden Gun is an above average film that I still like a lot, be it because of pure nostalgia or because of my liking of the Bond series. Either way, The Man with the Golden Gun still holds a particular place in my film-watching memories.]


 
A Night at the Opera (1935) Dir: Sam Wood [85]

[Terrific film, and one of the Marx Brothers finest. This is, I believe, the fifth Marx film I've seen (the others being Duck Soup, A Night in Casablanca, Room Service and Go West of which I can't recall much as I saw it at an earlier age). The slapstick comedy and philosophising genius of Groucho is all there, but the pointless romantic subplot somehow let down the film a bit. I give it five stars because, let's just say, I'm feeling generous. Click on the link for the full review.]


 
Robocop 3 (1992) Dir: Fred Dekker [09]

[First of all I have two confessions to make: one, I haven't seen any other Robocop films, and two, I didn't see all of this one, simply because I couldn't. There are times in which enough is enough, and for me, it was sufficient watching this piece of visual diarrhea for half an hour to comprehend that it was, well, a very bad film. Idiotic, moronic, implausible, tedious, repetitive, unoriginal, unexciting, soulless, unimpressive, cheesy and unintentionally homo-erotic, ths film is pure garbage. What can I say? To quote a line from the movie: "Try again, creeps!"]

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Dir: Stanley Kubrick (4th viewing) [98]

[This time around I admired the film more than ever. The usage of silence, the allegorical menaing of it all, the strange beauty and the psychological terror were all phenomenally used. Kubrick's trademark tracking shots impressed me like never before and the special effects reminded me of the magic you can create with solely a bunch of miniatures and a lot of creativity. I loved, loved, loved the ending. A true classic. Click on the link above for full review.] 


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Dir: Peter Jackson (4th viewing) [89]

[The Two Towers doesn't just surpass the original in every single aspect, rather, it dwarfs it. Immense in terms of scope and grandeur, The Two Towers doesn't bother with providing the audience a re-telling of what occurred in the original, as it immeditaely plunges us into the middle of the story. The core story of the film is much darker and uglier than in the original; there is a palpable sense of cruelty and malevolence in the film, and the intimacy and togetherness which was in the first film is now lacking, as the central characters have all ruptured; but, of course, this was all meant to be the way it is. The film introduces us to Gollum, the most effective and credible computer-generated character to have ever been put on cellulloid so far. Acting-wise, the actors seem even more confident in their roles, and for me, it is Sean Astin who seems to have flourished a powerful assurance to the role of Sam. Granted, the rest of the cast also do a very fine job; Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Bernard Hill and Ian Mckellen just to name a few are all remarkable. But it is Peter Jackson's direction which makes the film so special. The Battle of Helm's Deep is arguably the most skillfully executed and breathtaking battle scene in the history of cinema; seldom have I been as impressed as when I contemplated that particular sequence, utterly in awe. The CGI characters are all well done, the set pieces are unbelievable and the cinematography is no exception: once again, it manages to capture a sense of awe and beauty very few others could, with its abundant aerial shots, elegantly sweeping camera moves and extreme close-ups. The Two Towers is a colossal film. It's all about spectacle, and this one has plenty of it. I can't believe I haven't bought the EE yet.]


Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (2003) Dir: Peter Weir [78]

[I liked this film very much, perhaps a little bit more than I thought I would do. While I have not seen other films by Peter Weir such as Picnic at Hanging Rock or Dead Poets Society (though I plan to), I could tell by merely looking at the execution of the film that he is indeed an excellent director. While the film has been publicised as an adventure type of one (some have said it's like Gladiator but on water - I simply could not disagree more), the development and flourishment of the characters matters a lot more than the rest of the elements, even more so than the epic battle sequences. Russell Crowe is brilliant in the role of Jack Aubrey, the ship captain, who maintains a relationship (key in some of the film's stand-out moments) with the surgeon Dr Stephen (a phenomenal performance by Paul Bettany). The characters are usually the film's greatest strength, yet one of the elements that I admired the most was the cinematography; the images are usually painted in a stark greyish, blue colour, giving the whole film a desaturated look which suits the mood of the film perfectly. When the viewer is transported below the decks, the he feels claustrophobic and tense, alike the sailors themselves; when there's a storm, the rain and the cold can almost be touched. And there are scenes in the Galapago Islands that are simply spellbinding. The somewhat slow pace of the film may annoy (or even put to sleep) some viewers, whereas other will simply find it tedious, but I thought it was appropriate and suitable for a film like this. The battle scenes are very well done - they're bloody, chaotic, noisy and on the whole superbly realised, with special effects provided by WETA. Evolution plays a very important role in the film, and it is the great variety of themes that can be found (self-sacrifice, friendship, etc) that manage to give the viewer a more profound look into the lives of the characters. On the whole, Master and Commander does not disappoint: as a historical account, it convinces, but as a film, it stuns. Meticulously crafted, finely acted and incredibly realised, the film may not be perfect but it sure is a very good one. Just you wait until the Oscar nominations come.]

December

The Usual Suspects (1995) Dir: Brian Synger [89]

Kids (1995) Dir: Larry Clark [34]

[What a piece of shit. Click on the link above for my review.]


The Evil Dead (1981) Dir: Sam Raimi [67]

[Watching The Evil Dead for the first time with a bunch of friends was a blast. We had so much fun it was unbelievable -  we screamed, we laughed, we jumped in horror. While Raimi's film may be severely flawed (it's often too monotonous for its own good, some special effects fail to truly convince) there's no denying that it's one hell of a fun ride. What struck me most was how the director overcame his limitations and made the entire thing look more grand. The camerawork was stunning (especially for a low budget film like this, and the final shot is exceptional) - upside down takes, blood and mud covering the camera lenses, great tracking shots, etc. Ash (Bruce Campbell) makes for one of the greatest and biggest ass-kicking heroes in the history of cinema and there are scenes which are as bewildering as they're funny (see: the raping Orgasmatree). The zombie make-up effects are for the most part well done, but it is the stop motion shots at the end which prove to be the coolest. Yes, the film has some negative facets, however. The acting is not exactly estellar andthe film is sometimes too clichéd (one may assume that it's all deliberately done, nonetheless, as The Evil Dead is as unoriginal and cheesy as you can get). That said, these minor cons I had about it do not prevent the film from being a horrifically entertaining and amazing film, which shows comedic horror at its best. While not an extraordinary film, it sure has character.]


Stalker (1979) Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky [91]

[This film introduced me to the genius of Tarkovsky, and, I must say, it's fantastic. I'll hopefully be seeing Solaris and The Sacrifice soon. Click on the link for my review.]


Les Diaboliques (1954) Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot [88]

[I loved the Hitchcokian feel to it and all the twists and turns. Great building up of the suspense and some truly horrifying images. The finale is a knockout. Review coming soon.]


Arachnophobia (1990) Dir: Frank Marshall [48]

[I remember seeing this one as a kid, but this time round I wasn't very impressed by it. Terribly clichéd (for the good or for the bad), overly-familiar and not suspenseful by any means, I guess the only good thing about it was John Goodman as the exterminator. But that's about it. It may be silly fun, but I'd take Eight-Legged Freaks over it anyday.]


 Sleuth (1972) Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (2nd viewing) [91]

[Liked it much more than the first time, and admired its dialogue to a larger extent. One of my favourites - shame it's so underseen. Click on link for my review.]


Back to the Future Part II (1989) Dir: Robert Zemeckis (6th viewing) [72]

[Having not seen this one for a while, I decided to check it out once again. I know many people seem to dislike the second part of the trilogy - why I don't really know - but it has to be said that it is incredibly entertaining from beginning to end. I loved the jokes and the ceaseless self-referencing, the crazy make-up work they do with all the actors, the deliberate monotony of some scenes or the repetition of others that we saw in the first movie, the future, the aero-skateboards, Michael Jackson, little Elijah Wood, the clever sarcasm, the score, the humour; everything. It's way far from being perfect, but the film knows what it is and what it has to do; it's constantly aware of itself and thus it doesn't take itself too seriously and, although it may not be as intricate or perplexing as the original, the second part in the Back to the Future trilogy has a lot to offer.]


Live and Let Die (1974) Dir: Guy Hamilton [41]

[Roger Moore is bland as ever; the action is nothing special (the stunt with the crocodiles is pretty good, though), the whole thing related to the voodoo-practising sect is rather idiotic and unsuitable and, well, nothing impresses (apart from John Barry's score and the title song - excluding those two things, there is nothing new we haven't seen before). While it doesn't reach the level of absolute and utter stupidity of Moonraker, Live and Let Die is a merely passable film - only die-hard 007 fans will like it. And the blowing-up death scene is unintentionally funny.]


Hook (1991) Dir: Steven Spielberg (Countless viewings, probably more than 12) [45]

[The reason for my countless viewings is that this film was a childhood favourite of mine - in fact, I think it was the first film I ever saw in cinemas. However, with my latest viewing (I hadn't seen it in some time) I've realised that the film is so-so; possibly the worst Spielberg film I've seen. Yes, so Dustin Hoffman is truly great as Hook, and John Williams's score is, as always, very fine; but as a whole the film doesn't work. Robin Williams is in the wrong role, Julia Roberts is plain annoying as Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys are turned into mere punks (even though Roofio has his charm) and the film when looked at from an overall level just fails to fully satisfy. It constantly delves from the serious to the utterly silly; it follows no route and goes where we least expect it to go (which is precisely where we don't want it to go). The magic that was meant to be ever-present in the film is nowhere to be found, some of the special effects look dated, the story has many clichéd parts and moments that are made to be funny yet they're not. A total misfire from Spielberg -  thank God this is not the film he will be remembered for.]

 


 

Thunderball (1965) Dir: Terence Young [43]

 

[This James Bond film is more of the same -  action scenes, explosions, gratuitous sex and a couple of one-liners. Formulaic, lacking any true sense of excitement and tedious, the film has nothing new to offer. Needless to say, the best thing about it is John Barry's score. Someone once said that if a film has a good villain then the film must be good, too; while that is often the case (Harry Lime The Third Man, Hannibal Lecter The Silence of the Lambs), the theory can be correct, too, if it's the opposite, since the villain in the film is poorly illustrated and completely uninteresting, besides being bizarrely under whelming. By the way, I've come to the conclusion that James Bond humps an average of 2.6 women per film.]

 


 

 

Die Hard (1988) Dir: John McTiernan (7th viewing) [84]

 

[Without a doubt the epitome of '80s action flicks (if we were to exclude Raiders of the Lost Ark - or to consider it to be a mere adventure film and not an action one), Die Hard revolutionised the whole genre by portraying the main hero as a flawed and vulnerable individual -- unlike the Schwarzeneggers, the Norrises, the Stallones and the Seagals the public had so got used to seeing; pumped up macho men armed to the teeth with nothing to lose and nothing to win -- while at the same time introducing Bruce Willis to everyone, who, with his physique, sarcasm and memorable one-liner (yee-pee-kayee, motherfucker!), made for the indispensable action movie hero. The action soars, the explosions astound, the tension is magnificently built up and Alan Rickman, as a German terrorist, proves to be one of the finest villains in the history of cinema. The late Michael Kamen's score is also very atmospheric and suitable for a film like this; the violence is interminably bloody and the sheer adrenaline-pumping exhilaration of it all is rather enthralling. Needless to say, this is essential viewing for testosterone-filled macho men - and, if you've already seen it, do not hesiate: turn on your DVD player and watch it again for the umpteenth time.]

 


 

 

In America (2003) Dir: Jim Sheridan [83]

 

[One of the finest films of 2003! Click on the link above for my review.]

 


 

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Dir: Peter Jackson [97]

 

[So it has come to an end. And in what a way. Peter Jackson has created a film that's passionate, colossal, monumental, overwhelming, flattering, deeply emotional, unrepeatable and gargantuan in every sense.  I just can't imagine that it exceeded my expectations (and how!); there is so much to see, so much to hear and so much to devour it becomes incredibly difficult to do it all in just one viewing. I can't easily put my feelings into words, but I have to say that I was utterly enthralled by it from beginning to end. Some things to point out:

Peter Jackson's direction is more than admirable -- it's majestic. Gollum looks as impressive as ever, and his death is memorable.  Howard Shore's score (I have the CD) surpasses anything he's done before: it is a symphony for the ages. Absolute brilliance. The actors all do a terrific job, especially Sean Astin (Sam), whose role not only flourishes immensely but it also makes him mature. And, like Tolkien once said in one of his many letters, he's the true leader of it all. Without his persistence and determination, just where would have Frodo gone? The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is, simply put, the grandest and the most epic to have ever been put on celluloid. What a spectacle. The reference to Sloth from The Goonies had me laughing inside. It was truly great, and the orc really did look like him, what with the terribly amorphous face and all. It can't have been a coincidence. The cinematography is superior to the one in the first two. There are some aerial shots of Minas Tirith that are truly breathtaking. There are scenes so emotional that I almost cried. Shelob is stunning and Aragorn's speech is spine-tingling. The Witch King rules. The ending (or rather, the epilogue) is magnificent. Peter Jackson ties all the loose ends in a fascinating way, while at the same time remaining loyal to the book. Thank God the line, "Well Im back" was the last one. The film is a MASTERPIECE and without a doubt the best in the best trilogy ever made. Now let's just hope this time it gets the Oscar...]

 


 

 

Unbreakable (2000) Dir: M. Night Shyamalan (Countless viewings) [98]

 

[This is a film I have slowly fallen in love with, and, though I may be -- slightly -- overrating it, I just can't get over how rich and stunning it is, in every single department. The first time I saw it I was rather disappointed -- having rented it, I thought it would be better than its predecessor, The Sixth Sense. In the end I thought it was good, but that it paled in comparison. Then, somehow, the film began to really grow on me so one day I decided to buy it on DVD. I watched it the very night I bought it and loved it. I comprehended it more, and the director's intentions were more than clear. It was then that my obsession with it kickstarted -- an addiction --, and so I watched it very often. The last time I saw it, it was on TV and dubbed in Spanish (as were the rest of the films I've watched these days), because I'm spending my Christmas holidays in Spain (my home country). Anywho, I loved it. Click on the link above for my review (which was one of the very first I ever wrote).]

 


  

 

El Cid, la Leyenda (2003) Dir: Jose Pozo [35]

 

[It had quite a lot of chances of being good - or decent, at least. Now that you see my rating, you might have already reached the conclusion that, lamentably, my assumption was incorrect. I presume it will take a lot of time for it to get released in the US (I saw it in Spain), if it ever does, of course, because I did not like it at all and nor do I think the general public will. It's been nominated for Best Animated Film in the Goyas (the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars), along with Los Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men, another film that I still have to see with my family. However, the reason for this is because there are very few animated films that have been Spanish-produced this year (even though there are shorts innumerable) and the Academy could only pick El Cid out of the very small amount of animated films. It just doesn't deserver being nominated, let alone winning. On the whole: boo! Tedious, surprisingly confusing, unnecessary, pointless, masturbatory and very, very badly edited. Click on the link above for my ultra-negative review...)]

 


 

 

Kramer vs Kramer (1979) Dir: Robert Benton [82]

 

[A very solid drama - one of the best of the '70s, and, along with Alien and Apoacalypse Now, one of the finest films of 1979. Click on the link above for my review.]

 


 

 

Viva Zapata! (1952) Dir: Elia Kazan [86]

 


 

 

12 Angry Men