Daily Archives: December 17, 2001

Kate & Leopold

A diverting if forgettable romantic comedy and whimsical fantasy, about an eligible bachelor in 1867 Manhattan (Hugh Jackman) transported by a science nerd (Liev Schreiber) to the present , where he romances the scientist’s ex-girlfriend and downstairs neighbor (Meg Ryan). Not very believable, even in relation to its own premises, but if you were charmed by Somewhere in Time and/or Jack Finney’s novel Time and Again, this might charm you as well. James Mangold directed and collaborated with Steve Rogers on the script. 118 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Affair Of The Necklace

If you’re wondering why Hilary Swank chose to play a countess down on her luck in 18th-century France after Boys Don’t Cry, you probably have a lot of companyincluding, it would seem, the actress herself. Nobody seems to know quite what he or she is doing in this opulent but fairly empty period fashion show, apart from campy overactors like Christopher Walken (as charlatan-magician Count Cagliostro) and Jonathan Pryce (as a depraved cardinal), who appear eager to fill the void left by their colleagues. John Sweet wrote the script, and Charles Shyer, a specialist in fluffy, forgettable comedies (Baby Boom, Father of the Bride and its sequel), directed. With Adrien Brody, Simon Baker, and Joely Richardson. 120 min. (JR)… Read more »

Ali

Michael Mann’s 2001 epic about Muhammad Ali during a key decade (1964-’74) boasts some unusually fine performancesby Will Smith in the title role, Jon Voight as Howard Cosell, Mario Van Peebles as Malcolm X, and Giancarlo Esposito as the hero’s fatherand displays Mann’s usual talent for holding narrative interest over the stretch of a long-winded movie. Furthermore, the boxing sequences seem carried out with a kind of care and fidelity that, based on what I’ve heard from aficionados, was absent from Raging Bull. What’s lacking here is a sustained thematic focusat least five people worked on the script, including Mann, which may account for the absence of a clear through linethough the spectacle and characters keep one absorbed. 158 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Heavenly Creatures) has joined Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens in adapting the celebrated fantasy trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien into three features, of which this is the first. It’s full of scenic splendors with a fine sense of scale, but its narrative thrust seems relatively pro forma, and I was bored by the battle scenes. The cast includes, among many others, Elijah Wood as Frodo, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, and Liv Tyler as Arwen. 165 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Royal Tenenbaums

From the Chicago Reader (December 17, 2001). — J.R.

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You may find Wes Anderson’s 2001 follow-up to Rushmore a solid piece of entertainment in the same general mode, but disappointing insofar as it moves the earlier film’s stylistic freshness into a kind of formula, increasing the overall cuteness while reducing the sense of adolescent despair. Not that the extended dysfunctional New York family of the title are happy campers by any means; like Salinger’s Glass family, they’re a disarming mix of prodigal talents, crippling incapacities, and diverging ethnicities. The movie’s affection for them all is certainly infectious, and the cast is wonderful: Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson. Whatever my qualms, it’s still one of the funniest comedies around. R, 108 min. (JR)

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