2004 in Movies

Movies reviews about movies released theatrically in 2004.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by Michel Gondry (10/10)

The most inventive romance movie I have ever seen.

1. Team America: World Police, directed by Trey Parker (10/10)

The most daring American political comedy since Dr. Strangelove.

3. Kill Bill Volume 2, directed by Quentin Tarantino (10/10)

Less obviously intense than the first part, I think on the whole this is probably the better film.

4. Mountain Patrol: Kekexili, directed by Chuan Lu (10/10)

Some people have the “eye,” most don’t. Kubrick had it. Fassbinder had it. This dude’s got it. This is one of the best-shot movies I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, the scenery helps him out, but there are so many amazing shots in this film that one loses count. Then there’s the material. There are a few moments that ring a little hollow, but for the most part, this is a really compelling story, totally free from the sentimentality that often affects stories about poachers. This is a must see.

5. Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood (10/10)

I don’t think I wrote a review for this excellent movie.

6. Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright (9/10)

One of the best horror comedies ever made.

7. Downfall, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (9/10)

Excellent. Lost my review though.

8. Incident at Loch Ness, directed by Zach Penn (9/10)

Lost my review. This is a great movie about Herzog’s process; sure that’s what it’s about. You should just take my word for it and see it. Whether or not you like Herzog’s movies.

9. Palindromes, directed by Todd Solondz (9/10)

This is one of the most provocative movies I’ve ever seen. It’s also hilarious.

The stunt casting actually works, as it’s one of the neatest visual tricks I’ve seen for seeing inside a character.

It’s also a very ambiguous and thought- (and outrage-, no doubt) provoking discussion of abortion that perhaps leaves you with as many questions as it suggests answers for.

It’s a remarkable movie. The episodic nature is perhaps the one drawback.

10. The Sea Inside, directed by Alejandro Amenabar (9/10)

This is a great film about a difficult subject. It features one of the best performances I have seen in a recent film: Bardem is downright amazing. I have generally thought him a good actor until now, but this is on another level altogether. Just a fantastic performance. The one thing that hampers this film is the score, which is too mixed too loud, and often is ridiculously sentimental and cliched. It nearly ruins several scenes, making me fear I was watching some Hollywood melodrama. Otherwise, this is a fantastic film.

11. Primer, directed by Shane Carruth (8/10)

This is one of the most intelligent films on its subject that I have seen. (I’m not going to say what it is, because I didn’t know and that’s why it was so effective.) It manages to overcome the viewer’s skepticism of the science behind it by establishing that the characters know what they’re doing, and by asking the audience to trust the characters’ knowledge. It is a bit gimicky, and it could definitely be a little bit less esoteric, but it’s still pretty effective. Maybe if I watched it again with a scientist friend it might not make so much sense, but it did the trick for me the first time through.

12. Closer, directed by Mike Nichols (8/10)

Lost my review.

13. Cronicas, directed by Sebastian Cordero (8/10)

I remember really liking this but I lost my review.

14. Undertow, directed by David Gordon Green (8/10)

This is overall, a pretty damn good movie. The performances are uniformly excellent and the story is pretty compelling. There is one scene with a tow truck which is note perfect. But there is a little too much “hey, I went to film school!”, especially in the opening credits. What exactly these film tricks are supposed to achieve, or how they are supposed to improve the otherwise great movie is beyond me. If these things had been left out, the movie probably would have been great instead of good.

15. The Door in the Floor, directed by (8/10)

Lost my review.

16. Hotel Rwanda, directed by Terry George (8*/10)

This is very well made, which I guess is why I rated it so high. That being said, what is a movie about genocide doing with a happy ending? There are better Rwanda movies. Read the review of Hotel Rwanda.

17. DiG!, directed by Ondi Timoner (8/10)

Really interesting.

18. Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, directed by Margaret Brown (8/10)

Like most music obsessives, I know of Townes Van Zandt. But I don’t know his songs too well – I have only ever heard his debut and Steve Earle’s tribute album.

This is an impressionistic film: though there is some attempt a chronological portrait of Van Zandt’s life, it is inter-cut with performance and interview footage and reminiscing. And though I am not inclined to agree with those who think Van Zandt was The Greatest American Songwriter of All Time (sorry folks, that’s Bob Dylan…by a lot), I do find this a compelling portrait, when it could have been messy. (A case of style fitting subject matter, no doubt).

You should watch this if you have any interest in Van Zandt himself, country music or songwriting.

19. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, directed by Danny Leiner (8/10)

Gets funnier every time I see it.

20. Silver City, directed by John Sayles (8/10)

I think I saw it before I started writing reviews.

21. Unconstitutional: the War on Our Civil Liberties, directed by Nonny de la Pena (8/10)

This is a short but thorough and coherent explanation of why the PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional. It achieves it’s objective and though it’s clearly low budget and hardly flashy, it is everything it needs to be. It still amazes me the utter lack of objection initially to this set of laws and it is nice to see that so many local communities eventually stood up to it.

22. Kings and Queen, directed by Arnaud Desplechin (8/10)

This is a bizarre one. It’s an odd slice of life, that seems pretty much centered around this one character going from being unhappy to happy, with no other real narrative coherence. But it’s also the story of another character recovering (?) his sanity. It’s an odd mix, but somehow it works. I really liked the movie, though I realize it’s sort of structurally unsound.

23. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, directed by Wes Anderson (8/10)

The most Wes Anderson of Wes Anderson movies (at least as of 2004).

24. The Manchurian Candidate, directed by Jonathan Demme (8/10)

What I said at the time (24-ish): Demme opens his film with Wyclef Jean’s cover of “Fortunate Son.” This announces his intentions (and it’s a good cover to boot). Demme is not going to pull a strict Hollywood remake, rather he is going to keep the essential elements the same, as Jean does, but change much of the surroundings. My favourite covers are always ones where the song is changed somewhat drastically but it is still somewhat recognizable. Most movie remakes are more like the Wallflower’s version of “Heroes.” Know what I mean?

This new version has various different plot elements (Shaw replaces his step-father, Marco replaces Shaw’s original role to a certain extent). And though the film keeps intact the one thing I would change in the original, it is a new and interesting version of the same story. In some ways (due to advances in technology and a plot change which I won’t mention) it is actually more believable than the first one.

Incidentally, I see paranoia movies as political horror films. A personal favourite, The Parallax View, represents my view of them. Frankenheimer’s film is better than Pakula’s, but in the end, I find that Pakula’s rings more true (I just think of Oswald).

Anyway, Johnathan Demme has made at least one truly awful movie. And so I was worried. But he more than exceeded my expectations in this case. I am happy to say that in the last year I have seen two Hollywood remakes that were good. I hope that if and when more movies are remade, they are of this quality. This is not an endorsement of remakes however. I hope as few as possible are made in the future. And if anyone talks about remaking other paranoia classics, such as Seconds (also by Frankenheimer) or The Parallax View, I will still be disappointed.

25. Sideways, directed by Alexander Payne (8/10)

Lost my review.

26. Mondovino, directed by Jonathan Nossiter (8/10)

This is a fascinating film that starts off seemingly about the joys of wine and pretty soon turning into a bit of an indictment of the global wine industry. One is tempted to say “who cares? It is just wine” but the filmmakers keep it interesting and the pacing is effective. The film is definitely biased and some of the editing is incredibly manipulative (more than I could ever imagine for a film about wine) but they do, to their credit, show the humanness of those they support as well as those they are attempting to criticize. The whole thing is fascinating even if you don’t care at all about wine, because it is essentially about the same thing all modern stories of so-called “globalization” are about: local, human producers / creators versus large, seemingly faceless and seemingly inhuman companies, and the people who support them.

27. Slasher, directed by John Landis (8/10)

This is certainly not the best made documentary ever. But it is entertaining and really fascinating. In some ways, maybe we learn more about this guy (and about consumers) watching him in action than we do learning about his life outside of his job. I like how Landis puts it in context, as if selling crap is an American hobby, but it would be nice if he didn’t just do it at the beginning.

28. Notre Musique, directed by Jean-Luc Godard (8/10)

Here is yet another Godard film that forces you to think and to generally abandon your ideas of conventional narrative. It’s odd for someone like Godard to make such an obvious reference to Dante but I think it works, for the most part. The opening is as good a collage as I have seen in a feature, full of all sorts of suggestions, or so I thought. I also found the middle section to be a fairly successful film in its own right. It’s far from his greatest but there are tons of ideas in it (as usual) and that is enough.

29. Stray Dogs, directed by Marzieh Makhmalbaf (8/10)

Lost my review.

30. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, directed by Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky (7/10)

Probably the band documentary of the 21st century though it’s a little long. Read the review of Some Kind of Monster.

31. Yes, directed by Sally Potter (7/10)

First off, I don’t get criticisms based on the metre. Why is something acceptable in the 1500-1600s but not now? I don’t see why that’s so polarizing.

The biggest problem with the film is rather its staginess. This feels so much like a play, even though it is not based on one. I think that is was probably conceived, at least in part, as a play. The vast majority of the scenes could be easily staged (and the camera angles and slow mo just make it feel like they are trying to hide its play-origins) and the repetitive locations are a trick from the stage.

The other issue, though its less of one, is the abrupt intrusion of politics, which feels some what forced. My feeling is that a film made in a different decade would not have had gone that way.

But that being said, I’d rather see an interesting movie with problems than a well-constructed film without ambition / ideas.

32. The Motorcycle Diaries, directed by Walter Salles (7/10)

Lost my review.

33. Dawn of the Dead, directed by Zack Snyder (7/10)

This is actually better than the original. (Shock! Horror!)

34. Before Sunset, directed by Richard Linklater (7/10)

Ethan Hawke looks like he is a drug addict in this.

35. The Bourne Supremacy, directed by Paul Greengrass (7/10)

Not quite as solid as the original, but still better than most Bond movies.

36. Born into the Brothels, directed by Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman (7/10)

Lost my review.

37. We Don’t Live Here Anymore, directed by John Curran (7/10)

Lost my review.

38. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuaron (7/10)

It’s amazing what a great director can do with material that might otherwise turn you off. The [ex] wife assures me that the third book is considerably better than the first two, and that may be true, but it’s pretty much astounding to see the quality improve so drastically with the change in direction.

Cuaron practically reboots the franchise here: the colour of the students has changed and they now represent multicultural Britain instead of the white private school of the first two movies; and whether or not its closer or further from the source material, Cuaron’s Hogwarts is drastically redesigned and way more magical – and fantastic – than Columbus’ version. (This is to be expected: Cuaron is just a far more imaginative director.)

It all amounts to a way more enjoyable experience for an adult – I hate to say I actually jumped at one point – and it no longer feels like I’m watching a kids movie, but merely that I am watching a movie with kids in it. In fact, this film is so much better that I am torn: do I rate this higher than I think it deserves because it is clearly at least 2 stars better than the first two or do I go back and bump down the first two ratings so as not to overrate this clearly better sequel that still contains issues for me as a viewer? I don’t know.

Actually I do know. The ending is still pretty ridiculous.

39. Duck Season, directed by Fernando Eimbcke (7/10)

Lost my review.

40. Layer Cake, directed by Matthew Vaughn (7/10)

Very entertaining.

41. Gunner Palace, directed by Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker (7/10)

Lost my review.

42. Spartan, directed by David Mamet (7/10)

Lost my review. Likely massively overrated given my Mamet obsession at the time.

43. Maria, Full of Grace, directed by Joshua Marston (7/10)

Probably didn’t write a review given when I saw it.

44. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire, directed by Peter Raymont (7/10)

Lost my review.

45. Kung Fu Hustle, directed by Stephen Chow (7/10)

Lost my review.

46. Super Size Me, directed by Morgan Spurlock (7/10)

Gimmicky but enjoyable.

47. Napoleon Dynamite, directed by Jared Hess (7*/10)

I have been really torn on this. I have seen it twice and once thought it was hysterical and once was utterly perplexed as to what was going on.

First time thoughts: Napoleon Dynamite was generally good. Many effective scenes about high school. However, I hate artificial happy endings as you probably well know. That didn’t go over well.

48. The Village, directed by M. Night Shyamalan (7*/10)

What I said at the time (23-ish): “When I think of the Village, I think of The Prisoner. And, in a sense, it’s appropriate. But not really.

I tend to think M. Night whatshisname is very overrated and just a little too pretentious for his own good. I generally find his movies to be interesting (in that they’re better and more creative than a lot of other stuff) but bogged down by the occasional pandering and other things. In short, I don’t believe he’s the great film maker some people make him out to be.

I have yet to see his pre-Sixth Sense movie(s). So I can’t judge them. I’m not gonna rush out and see them.

The Sixth Sense I liked the first time. Ben and I got in an argument about whether the twist holds up. He was right. I watched it again. It doesn’t. I’m still not surprised about the popularity. It’s ok, but it’s not the masterpiece some people claim (if it fooled me the first time, I have to give it some kind of accolade).

Unbreakable was a truly bizarre film. I wonder if I’d change my opinion of it if I watched it again? The reason is that I saw it a while ago and I don’t really remember it. I just remember it being overly long and quite a variation on the notion of super powers, or what have you. Anyway, I didn’t like it at the time.

Signs I watched while getting progressively drunker. Not my fault. I had started drinking before people rented the movie. I saw most of it again the next day while hungover. It’s funny, apparently my friend and I ruined the movie for my roommates but they didn’t realize we were drunk. (I got hammered so I don’t know how they missed that) Anyway, I have partial memories of this film. It definitely has potential. But the whole thing at the end with the faith / God bit felt like it came out of nowhere. Perhaps it deserves a second viewing.

Why am I so ready to rewatch some of his films that I didn’t like? I’ll tell you in a moment.

But first: irritating thing about this guy is his lame excuse for his “cameos” (aka fairly significant speaking parts) that are supposedly tributes to Hitchcock. Hitchcock didn’t speak in his cameos. Nor did he have a central role in a film (as M. Night does in Signs). This guy is not an actor and he should not pretend to be one. If he wants to pay tribute to Hitchcock, he should appear briefly and have no words. Bu that’s just my opinion.

Anyway, the Village. What a fascinating movie. It was far from great. There were a number of things that weakened this film (the voice-overs that pander to audiences with no attention spans being one of the major problems, and there were a few contrivances with the plot that may have worked bout better or ever could have been left unexplained). Some of the things I picked out at the beginning that I thought were making the film bad (like the accents) were explained by later events. In that way, it was brilliant. He seems to be getting slightly more creative with his direction as well. Some of the shots were very interesting.

This is his best movie, in my opinion. It is not a great movie. It certainly had the potential to be much better. But I think this is honestly the first time I understand what all those critics are talking about when they constantly rave about him.

By the way, I’ve heard a rumour that the plot was totally lifted from a Twilight Zone episode (and that would not surprise me, given the story). If that is the case, he should have credited it…you know, “inspired by” or something like that. But I’m not surprised he didn’t (if this is true) because he seems to think himself a bit of an auteur.”

A couple of years later I told someone I thought this was his best movie and she just laid into me. I have never re-watched it to learn how wrong I was.

49. Look at Me aka Like an Image, directed by Anges Jaoui (7*/10)

Don’t remember it.

50. Tell Them Who You Are, directed by Mark S. Wexler (7/10)

This is an interesting approach to a subject as most documentaries about a famous cinematographer would focus nearly exclusively on his cinematography. But at the same time, the son isn’t a particularly great director (I can’t speak for the father). The pacing is off and he doesn’t handle the meta-ness as some folks do. But it certainly is interesting and does make me want to see the few films Wexler actually helmed himself.

51. Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, directed by Daniel Anker (7/10)

This is a somewhat interesting documentary that does a pretty good job of looking at Hollywood’s lack of interest in Nazism and the Holocaust in the ’30s-’70s but unfortunately it gets a little too self-congratulatory when it starts looking at more recent films. Part of the problem with this is certainly the fact that it is about Hollywood films only. Yes, American movies are the most popular movies on the planet, but European films have focused on the Holocaust for decades and certainly have at least helped create this notion of the Holocaust as the absolute of evil. Omitting these movies gives us the sense that Holocaust the mini-series and Schindler’s List and Sophie’s Choice basically did this on their lonesome.

52. The White Diamond, directed by Werner Herzog (7/10)

This is one of Herzog’s least coherent recent documentaries but despite the fundamental problems, this film is still full of powerful moments and, as always, contains an interesting portrait of someone driven to extreme behaviour.

Herzog seems even more interested in following his whims here than in most of his other docs: he goes to a diamond mind, he examines a rooster, etc. But he has also found an interesting subject; I’m guessing he looked into Plage’s death and that is how he found this guy.

Herzog’s tendency to focus on people longer than their prepared statements last lets us see the real people behind the masks they put up for the camera, and this results in some really moving moments.

But it’s still a little stream-of-consciousness for a documentary, and as such it is not one of his best.

53. Being Julia, directed by Istvan Szabo (7/10)

I haven’t read the novel – I gather it’s one of Maugham’s lesser regarded works – but I feel like the edge that I have always felt in his writing is present here, which is no small accomplishment. Benning gives a bravura performance in the title role (though everybody’s good) and the production design is excellent. But it’s all a little All Above Eve.

54. Mysterious Skin, directed by Gregg Araki (7/10)

I don’t know exactly what it is, and having not read the book, I am even more hard pressed to say. There are elements of a great movie here, despite the lack of a budget, but it is somewhat oblique. Araki’s movies always seem a little messy to me, as if he lacks the discipline of some greater filmmakers. Maybe the mess is appropriate in this case, but I don’t feel that way. It’s a good, difficult movie, but it is not great.

55. 2046, directed by Kar Wei Wong (7/10)

This is beautifully shot and designed. It really is. As for the plot – or lack thereof – it is reasonably evocative of certain emotions. I don’t exactly know why he felt the science fiction story necessary to convey these emotions to us, or maybe I just haven’t figured that out yet. It’s interesting, and not boring, but I don’t really know that it amounts to much more than a moving painting.

56. Nobody Knows, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (7/10)

Lost my review.

57. Citizen Black, directed by Debbie Melnyk (7/10)

Lost my review.

58. Saw, directed by James Wan (6/10)


59. The Intruder, directed by Claire Denis (6/10)

I lost my review.

60. Collateral, directed by Michael Mann (6/10)

Really overrated, so I thought at the time.

61. Ocean’s Twelve, directed by Steven Soderberg (6/10)

Now this is a weird movie. My name for it: “Montage Madness.” There must be 25 montages in the flick. Soderbergh loves his montages. I remember one from Brokovich. I saw that? In the theatres? What the fuck? Soderbergh is such a weird guy. He’s capable of cool indie stuff (The Limey, Kafka) and he’s a giant Hollywood whore. 12 tries to combine those two things it seems. It’s like a celebrity love-in / party masquerading as a European pseudo-art movie. Holy fuck it was weird. I almost want to watch it again. Not because I liked it (I still haven’t decided what I think about it…I haven’t rated it yet at the IMDB) but because I want to see if they dropped ANY clues about the final twist. Because, even though I saw it coming, I didn’t see the ‘how’ coming, just the ‘what.’ So, they fucked with our expectations in the nicest way possible is another way of saying it. It’s not your typical heist movie by any stretch of the imagination, yet is it still fully palatable to the fans of the first movie. For a sequel, it is quite out there, or so it seems. But it’s also safe, in that there’s lots of famous people and cameos and the same humour that was found in the first one. Lots of good looking people having fun (but this time, some what arty fun…but only somewhat). Anyway, the original movie, from what I’ve heard, was the same deal. By the way, Zeta-Jones looked RI-DAMN-DICULOUS. I can’t believe that. It was incredible…That woman has had a baby? Yeah right!

62. The Holy Girl, directed by Lucrecia Martel (6/10)

Lost my review.

63. The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese (6/10)

Lost my review but I remember this being one of Scorsese’s least successful films.

64. The Machinist, directed by Brad Anderson (6/10)

Brave of Bale, but that’s the most fascinating part.

65. Hijacking Catastrophe, directed by Jeremy Earp, Shut Jhally (6/10)

Lost my review.

66. Crash, directed by Paul Haggis (6/10)

First, there is this whole “interconnectedness means something” bullshit. There’s this point where this orderly or coroner comes out of the room where they put the bodies and there’s some slow motion so we can see that (surprise, surprise) this is a character we met earlier. Only earlier we didn’t know what she did. And now we do. So what? What’s with the slow mo? We’re all connected…oooooh. Deep. It was easy to tell this guy hasn’t made a movie before this (or if he has, he hasn’t made many…). There was another scene (incidentally featuring the same actress) where she opens up this door to reveal the red box. Now anyone who wasn’t sleeping through the movie knows what’s in the red box. We don’t need to see the box itself, and read what’s in it. It was a completely unnecessary shot. I felt like he was beating me over the head with what was in the box. You had already told us twice what was in there! We don’t need to know again! For the most part the racism thing was pretty well done. Personally, I don’t know how you can be so afraid of another race that you shoot somebody, but I guess that just reflects my sheltered, spoiled point of view. I don’t own a gun either…so that makes it harder for me to be so afraid I feel…anyway, otherwise there were some interesting twists of fate, and sometimes he had a neat stylistic trick of switching scenes. It’s definitely worth seeing, as it’s better than most crap. But it’s also no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. Haggis should stick to letting Clint direct the films…

67. I Heart Huckabees, directed by David O. Russell (6/10)

This is a very brave attempt to make a movie (a comedy!) about the greek / scientific version of life as all interconnected vs. the early Camusian / somewhat nihilistic “French” view of life as suffering, absurdity and random events. It’s very daring, and when it works, does it ever work. This movie also has the second funniest sex scene I’ve seen in ages in it (the first being in Team America). But a lot of the jokes / scenes fall flat. And I can’t help thinking they could have dealt with the ideas in greater detail…and I’m not always sure whether the characters are supposed to understand or not. Sometimes they seem confused and sometimes they don’t, and that doesn’t seem to fit with where they are in the plot necessarily. I would call this an interesting failure.

68. Night Watch, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (6/10)

This movie has quite impressive production values for its budget. It may have the coolest subtitles I have ever seen. That’s something in itself. The biggest problem, probably, is that there are about one hundred ideas too many running around in this film. Add to that that it’s over-directed: we have unnecessary visualizations of things, unnecessary flashbacks, all sorts of unnecessary flashiness that doesn’t improve the film. It would be nice if this film had benefited from a better screenwriter, director and editor. It might have been great.

69. Kinsey, directed by Bill Condon (6/10)

Lost my review.

70. Riding Giants, directed by Stacy Peralta (6/10)

Lost my review.

71. The Assassination of Richard Nixon, directed by Niels Mueller (6/10)

I saw The Assassination of Richard Nixon last night. It’s a pretty bizarre story based, to some extent, on actual events. A guy tries to kill Nixon by flying a plan into the Whitehouse back in ’74 (or ’73, I don’t really remember). Sean Penn was quite good. But I don’t know if I totally bought the transformation. If it had been a little longer, maybe it would have seemed to make more sense at the end. But in a way, I guess that’s the point. It doesn’t make sense. He’s crazy. I’m revealing too much. Anyway, it was the director’s debut and I think the guy has some potential. Someone with more experience might have made an even better movie. In the end, I would say it’s above average but there are a number of little things that could have been done differently. (The first scene, for no reason that I can understand, comes from right near the end; the second one, which is also from later in the film, makes far more sense where it is…this rambling doesn’t make sense I guess unless you see the film.)

72. Double Dare, directed by Amanda Micheli (6/10)

Lost my review.

73. Bush’s Brain, directed by Joseph Mealey, Michael Paradies Shoob (6/10)

I seem to remember this as quite biased and messy.

74. Garden State, directed by Zach Braff (6*/10)

Years ago I wrote “A little too twee.” I suspect I would have way less sympathy for it now, as the internet sure doesn’t.

75. Winning, directed by Catherine Annau (6/10)

I refer to this a lot even if I didn’t like how it was put together.

76. Three…Extremes aka 3 Extremes, directed by Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-woo Park

I don’t really know what the point is releasing these three movies together, as they’re each quite different.

“Dumplings” is not scary in any way and even though it’s clearly supposed to be gross, I found myself wanting dumplings. So that just tells you how effective it is.

“The Cut” is probably the most entertaining of the three. Unlike the other two films, there is a real sense of humour combined with some horrific – if not scary – moments.

“The Box” has its moments but it is a little incoherent. There is at least one part that is terrifically done. If he hadn’t been so determined on a bizarre reveal, it could have been great.

77. Mean Girls, directed by Mark Waters (6/10)


78. Saved!, directed by Brian Dannelly (6/10)

Lost review.

79. The Riverman, directed by Bill Eagles (6*/10)

Don’t remember it.

80. Moog, directed by Hans Fjellstad (6/10)

A little scattershot but interesting.

81. Hellboy, directed by Guillermo del Toro (5*/10)

I’m sure I underrated this.

82. It’s All Gone Pete Tong, directed by Michael Dowse (5/10)

A bit of a mess.

83. The Edukators, directed by Hans Weingartner (5/10)

A decent idea but poor execution.

84. The Clearing, directed by Pieter Jan Brugge (5/10)

Lost my review.

85. Club Dread, directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (5*/10)

I wanted to like this perhaps too much.

86. Decoys, directed by Matt Hastings (5/10)

Maybe I didn’t write a review or something.

87. Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy, directed by Adam McKay (5*/10)

Sometimes I think this is funnier than other times.

88. I, Robot, directed by Alex Proyas (5/10)

Don’t remember much of it.

89. EuroTrip, directed by Jeff Schaffer (5*/10)

Years ago I wrote “Feels charitable.” But this is especially true in light of my other ratings of movies from 2004.

90. Ring of Nibelungs aka Curse of the Ring, directed by Uli Edel (5/10)

Lost my review.

91. Outfoxed, directed by Robert Greenwald (5/10)


92. Starsky and Hutch, directed by Todd Phillips (5*/10)

I feel like this is maybe more funny than I remember.

93. House of Flying Daggers, directed by Yimou Zhang (4/10)

What do I say about House of Flying Daggers? From what I can gather – and I have to admit right away that I have not seen enough period kung fu movies to really judge, but whatever – this movie is a bunch of clichés put together with a pretty incoherent story and some really bad editing. (At the end…I won’t ruin it.) Also, personally I’m getting a little tired with the wires. I know it’s fantasy but I can only suspend my disbelief to a certain extent. There are some moments…many moments, where things that I just cannot accept happen (even in this world of flying daggers). I don’t recommend it. I hope Hero is better.

94. Bad Education, directed by Pedro Almodovar (4/10)

I don’t know what all these critics saw in this movie. The motivations don’t make any sense to me. It’s supposed to feel like a film noir, apparently. But that feel only comes across when the slightly eerie music makes its appearance on fairly random occasions. And I really didn’t care who killed that guy. And the blackmail thing is silly. And this whole bullshit about a meditation on “fiction” and its nature didn’t really come across for me. Instead I kept thinking of the warning: “films within films don’t work.” Well, this had stories within stories and, low and behold, they didn’t work. There was the odd neat shot and fade / dissolve, but that’s it. Anyway, it was crappy.

95. The Girl Next Door, directed by Luke Greenfield (4/10)

Entertaining but nowhere near as provocative as it should have been.

96. National Treasure, directed Jon Turteltaub (4/10)

This very, very stupid movie is very entertaining. I have retracted my 2/10 because it’s too entertaining for such a low rating.

97. The Ladykillers, directed by Joel Coen (4/10)

I am no fan of the original but this is the worst film the Coens ever made.

What I said at the time: The remake of The Lady Killers is a bad movie. I must admit it. The Coens have made a bad movie. I don’t know what to do. I can no longer hold them in such high esteem. Intolerable Cruelty was forgivable because it made me laugh (even if it was nowhere near as brilliant as anything else they’ve done). But this latest effort is just crappy. Yes, there was the odd funny moment. But, to paraphrase someone I read on the net today, Hanks just shows off… and it gets really annoying. Yes, he can fully get into this character but the character soon goes from pretty funny to “Why don’t you shut the fuck up now???”

98. Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by Michael Moore (4/10)

What I said at 23: So I saw Fahrenheit 911 last night. I thought I was going to come up with something witty to insult it with but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Very polemical and full of the usual publicity stunts (and times when you wonder how insincere Moore was being when he was getting some of these people on camera…ah, manipulation!) but it’s important. I guess I think that because it’s sitting on the extreme “left” and, given that, it’s hopefully going to pull some people on the extreme “right” towards the “center.” But I doubt that it will fulfill this role since Moore is essentially preaching to the converted. He himself (and his topic) is too controversial to attract people who might actually change their minds (and change parties) or at least I think so.

If Moore didn’t harp on the conspiracy aspect of the movie, he might actually convert some more people. Since this is what he’s supposedly trying to do, I think he failed in this respect.

The movie is a little disjointed (to say the least). Not only does he roam randomly around the United States and Iraq (which fits with his style…and that’s not to say his style isn’t effective, it’s often extremely effective) with somewhat of an incoherent narrative, but he also takes on too much. There are three sections to this movie in my opinion, and he should have focused on one. He should have picked the 2000 election, the initial reaction to 911 and the regime’s continued reluctance to conduct a proper investigation or the Iraq war. Yes, they’re all linked. But he only had two hours. And for me, that wasn’t enough time for him to build his case (this is with me making exception for the countless assertions he makes in the film…). He could have picked one problem and alluded briefly to the other two

And the other major problem (there are others) that I see I already mentioned. Moore, in order to make popular and successful (and controversial) films, blurs his facts big time. If he were actually making a documentary (which he wasn’t) he would have backed up his claims a little better (and less stylistically). Filmmakers such as Errol Morris are much better at this sort of thing than Moore. But I understand he’s making a sacrifice in order to try and get his film to a wider audience. Still, let’s not call it a documentary.

Oh, and one more thing. He harps on Bush so much. Seriously, how hard is it to make fun of Bush when you have access to many of his media clips and lots of time to edit them together? And he shouldn’t have spent time inserting thoughts into Bush’s mind right after the attacks. Do we see how Moore reacted to the attacks? No we don’t. My problem is that Bush looks very concerned and really seems lost and indecisive and Moore tries to make us think he was sitting there deviously plotting the scheme that has since been the focus of his tenure, i.e. fighting a war in Iraq to make rich Texans richer.

I have serious problems with Bush and his cabinet. But I believe that much of what they do they think is right. Before you freak out, I’m not saying it is right. I’m saying most of them probably believe it’s right. I’m sure there are those that do have bad intentions, but I believe Bush, in particular, believes in what he is doing. Because he is simple and can’t understand that what his minions tell him is not right.

Anyway, now that I’ve seen it I have to say that I think people should see it but only if they can see it for free. Moore doesn’t need any more money. And it’s definitely going to his head. You can see him getting more and more arrogant. And he’s being absorbed into the elite as we speak. This is funny yet predictable. Not sure if I’m looking forward to his next movie.

99. The Chronicles of Riddick, directed by David Twohy (4/10)

Everything that was entertaining about Pitch Black is gone.

100. Dear Frankie, directed by Shona Auerbach (4/10)

I think Zip might have deleted my review when I wrote something like “Don’t fucking lie to your kids!!!” in it.

101. After the Sunset, directed by Brett Ratner (4/10)

Perhaps the least offensive of Ratner’s movies.

102. Blade: Trinity, directed by David S. Goyer (4/10)

At least it was entertaining. And I could certainly get used to Biel the action star, if just to give me another reason to watch vampire movies. The first Blade was fun. The second was not as much fun. This one isn’t that much fun either, and makes less sense. Was that the guy from Prison Break?

103. A Day Without a Mexican, directed by Sergio Arau (4/10)

I love mockumentaries. I think, when they’re done well and on some fairly original topic, they can be absolutely fantastic. Spinal Tap and Series 7 are just two great ones I can think of off the top of my head. Sometimes, though, they are horrible. A Day Without a Mexican is a case in point.

This movie starts off with a pretty fantastic premise. All the hispanics (not just the Mexicans) in California disappear. A less fantastic part involves a badly done fog that settles in around the border…The problem is resources, I think. The acting is pretty bad, for the most part. The effects that are used are brutal. The script could have used a great deal more editing. Basically, it’s very low budget. But some low budget films transcend this. This movie did not. It just didn’t work. And that’s too bad because it could have been awesome. Oh yeah, the plot was a little bad (the end in particular…). Anyway, with a lot of help, or different people making it, it might have been a great movie.

I am willing to say that this film was not without its redeeming moments. Its heavy handedness was annoying, but there were a few parts that were hysterical. Just a few. Anyway, I guess that means it wasn’t horrible, as I first indicated. Rather it was sub-mediocre and it could have been…well, ’tis a shame.

104. Dodgeball, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (4*/10)

This feels kind of mean of me. I must have been in a bad mood.

105. Twisted, directed by Philip Kaufman (4/10)

Pretty bad.

106. The Universe: Cosmology Quest, directed by Randall Meyers (4/10)

Full disclosure: I never once took physics in high school and I certainly never took physics after that. My math background is so far in my past that I cannot rely on it. So you have to take everything I have to say about the physics of this film with a grain of salt.

Read the full review of The Universe: Cosmology Quest.

107. The Alamo, directed by (4/10) John Lee Hancock

A million times better than the John Wayne version, anyway.

108. Clean, directed by Olivier Assayas (4/10)

My review is gone from zip, and again I must assume it got deleted for content or something. Anyway, in the version I saw, there weren’t subtitles for two of the three languages meaning I didn’t know what was being said.  That may be the distributors fault, and not the director’s, but so what? And I had other problems as ever.

109. Operation Valkyrie, directed by Jo Baier (4/10)

Only vaguely remember it.

110. Van Helsing, directed by Stephen Sommers (4/10)


111. Godsend, directed by Nick Hamm (4*/10)

Don’t remember it.

112. Wicker Park, directed by Paul McGuigan (4/10)

A mess.

113. Empire of Dreams, directed by Edith Becker, Kevin Burns (4/10)

Lost my review.

114. The Toolbox Murders, directed by Tobe Hooper (4/10)

I don’t remember whether or not this was actually a straight up remake of the terrible original.

115. Spartacus, directed by Robert Dornhelm (4/10)

TV movie.

116. Suspect Zero, directed by E. Elias Merhige (4/10)

Lost my review.

117. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, directed by Kerry Conran (3/10)

A Manchurian slave camp?!?!? Seriously, who writes this stuff?

  • There’s no fear of consequences for anyone because so many of the background characters are animated and it feels like most of the human characters will make it.
  • Super worshipful of old comics, old movies and particularly Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon. (Not one of my favourites.) But beyond that film, did anyone really make movies like this? It actually feels more indebted to old comics that nobody alive would have read. (Well, most people.)
  • I feel like this is supposed to be part of a serial as the Sky Captain doesn’t do a lot of Sky Captaining.
  • Really, really massive homage to The Wizard of Oz at one point.
  • Giant sword in the middle of a rocket ship. Never a good sign.

It feels like this was a failed attempt at creating something as groundbreaking as Sin City but the director didn’t know how to make movies. No wonder his career is over. (Too much?)

[Sin City, of course, came out later than this.]

118. What the #$*! Do We Know?, directed by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse (3/10)

What the #$%& (Bleep) Do we Know? has some very fascinating ideas in it. Not knowing much about quantum physics or neurobiology I found some of this incredible and quite fascinating, but before I get to the subject matter I must point out that it is HORRIBLY written and directed. It attempts to be more than an interview film, and so creates a narrative possibly inspired by Sophie’s World (or maybe I’m just imagining things) and uses animation and really, really bad techno music (as well as lots of overplayed pop songs) to expand on this format. The result is a near-disaster. Pretty much the only thing that saves it is what that “talking heads” (ie the interviewees) have to say.

What they have to say strikes me as very Nietzschean to a degree (we construct the physical world through our experience, we can create our lives, etc) though there are obviously lots of other influences. Some reviews have pointed out problems with some of the “scientific” positions put in the movie. One thing that I see as a problem, is the overwhelming belief by certain commentators in our ability to create the world. At one point, a neurobiologist claims we can walk on water, if we truly believed it. Why doesn’t he do that or something equivalent? Well, I guess he’d argue he doesn’t believe it enough. He hasn’t overcome his “addiction” to sight and what he perceives as real experience. That’s a whole other problem, our experiences are portrayed as addictions.

Anyway, not knowing much about the various fields informing this movie (and there are many it seems, judging by the resumes of the various speakers…whom they don’t identify, by the way, until the very END of the movie), I don’t think I can successfully argue against the major thesis (which is, incidentally, very postie for some scientists…I always thought scientists weren’t really posties…well, I guess a few are). But I do know movies and I can tell you that the execution of this one is DISASTROUS. It treats the viewer like a child, it is too long, and it is quite incoherent. Skip this and watch Errol Morris’ A Brief History of Time or some other science-themed documentary that isn’t directed and written by complete hacks.

119. The Exorcist: the Beginning, directed by Renny Harlin (3*/10)

When it came out I wrote “Bad idea all around, but the first attempt by Schrader was much better.” Still 3/10 feels harsh.

120. Wake Up Ron Burgundy, directed by Adam McKay (3/10)

Not really a movie.

121. Chasing Liberty, directed by Andy Cadiff (3*/10)

Years ago I wrote “Typical fluff.” We have to really wonder whether I actually watched the majority of this movie.

122. The Butterfly Effect, directed by Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber (3/10)

A mess.

123. Walking Tall, directed by Kevin Bray (2*/10)

I was in a bad mood.

124. Troy, directed by Wolfgang Petersen (2*/10)

Years ago I wrote “Garbage.” And while that may be true, it’s not 2/10 bad.

125. King Arthur, directed by Antoine Fuqua (2*/10)

I hate Fuqua and I got in a ridiculous argument about ice in Britain after watching this movie. But I’m sure I was unnecessarily cruel to this because I hate Fuqua.

126. The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson (2/10)

Extraordinarily well made torture porn.

127. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, directed by Sara Sugarman (2*/10)

I’m very sure this is better than I gave it credit for.

128. The Day After Tomorrow, directed by Roland Emmerich (2/10)

Just ridiculous in every way.

129. Sniper 3, directed by P.J. Pesce (2*/10)

Years ago I wrote “More excellent filmmaking.” You have to really doubt whether I watched it in its entirety.

130. Catwoman, directed by Pitof (2/10)

Not the worst movie ever made. Read the review of Catwoman.

131. Monster Island, directed by Jack Perez (2*/10)

Years ago I wrote “Terrible.” But 2/10 terrible? I have no idea.

132. AVP: Alien vs. Predator, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (1*/10)

Years ago I wrote “Amazing.”

My rating is incredibly unfair. This is a stupid, bad movie. It is also quite enjoyable as such. It’s insane to give it a 1/10.

133. Resident Evil: Apocalypse, directed by Alexander Witt (1*/10)

Years ago I wrote “Enjoyable as always.” and then gave it a 1/10. What?

134. Anacondas: the Hunt for the Blood Orchid, directed by Dwight Little (1/10)

Nothing about this makes any sense.

135. Blood Gnome, directed by John Lechago (1/10)

Bought on a dare. One of the worst movies ever.


1. “L’ami y’a bon” aka “The Colonial Friend”, directed by Rachid Bouchareb (8/10)

I remember liking this.

2. “Síðasti bærinn” aka “The Last Farm,” directed by Runar Runarsson (7/10)

This is a moving, if a little absurd, reflection on the challenger of old age, particularly for someone in a close relationship with another person, when that person dies. The ending is a little impossible to believe but the rest of the short is good.

3. “Our Time Is Up,” directed by Rob Pearlstein (7/10)

This is an amusing spin on the tired on “telling the truth” is better than lying” idea that is literally everywhere in our pop culture. It’s the kind of idea that really shouldn’t be dragged out into a feature, so this works quite well, I think.

4. “Six Shooter,” directed by Martin McDonagh (6/10)

This is a black dark comedy – I mean black – about death, which is too black even for me, I think. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood. Anyhow, this arguably has more deaths in it than it does laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s possible that, had I been in the right mood, I would have felt very differently.

5. “Cashback,” directed by Sean Ellis (6/10)

This got turned into a feature later, which I haven’t seen, but I can’t really understand why. It’s a slightly unusual spin on the tired “bored young adult working in a job he hates” genre. It doesn’t do much for me.

6. “Ausreisser” aka “The Runaway,” directed by Ulrike Grote (5/10)

This is a spin on one of those “immature man learns to be a father” movies that I cannot say I enjoy at all. That part was mildly annoying but the reveal is so much worse. I just can’t abide these films that manipulate us this way. It’s well made, but it’s very manipulative and has no basis in anything like reality.