December 2002


Monthly Archives: December 2002

Max (2002)

Max (2002) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

DIRECTOR: Menno Meyjes

CAST: John Cusack, Noah Taylor, Ulrich Thomsen, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski, Peter Capaldi, Kevin McKidd


The unimpressively—and somewhat misleadingly—titled Max, the directorial debut of Dutch writer-director Menno Meyjes, is speculative historical fiction postulating the unlikely friendship—of sorts—between a (fictional) Jewish art dealer and a young Adolf Hitler. To that end, Max is a sporadically intriguing but uneven debut that does a frustratingly lopsided job of partially squandering its potentially interesting subject matter with a banal script.

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Gangs of New York (2002)

gangsDIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson


Martin Scorsese’s attempt at switching gears from gangster movie to historical epic, Gangs of New York is a bit of a mess, but it’s enough of a lavish, sumptuous, epically-mounted, lively, colorful mess that the grand guignol spectacle often propels us along through its formidable 3 1/2 hour runtime (it’s the kind of movie of Gone With the Wind-sized proportions that Hollywood seldom attempts to make anymore, one that would have come with an intermission halfway through) despite an excessively drawn-out and somewhat scattershot narrative and a reach that sometimes exceeds its grasp.  The result is not likely to go down as one of Scorsese’s enduring classics on the level of Raging Bull or Goodfellas, but it’s a sporadically rousing and always colorful blood-soaked love letter to a forgotten corner of American history. Continue reading

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

CAST: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, Brad Dourif, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis


New Zealand director Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema took a big risk with 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of their colossal film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings.  Fortunately, not only did The Fellowship of the Ring pay off, it went on to become one of the biggest box office smashes in recent history and one of the most acclaimed motion pictures of the year, winning four Academy Awards (though not the coveted Best Picture) and setting a new standard for epic fantasy adventure.  But therein lay a new danger.  With the first film being deservedly acclaimed, what if the second didn’t live up to the now high expectations?  The first installment was one of the great films of 2001 or any other year, but even the most enthusiastic viewers had room for some doubt.  This would not be the first time a solid film was followed by an inferior sequel.  The Two Towers would also have the unenviable position of providing the middle act, advancing events from the first movie while leading into the third, incomplete on its own.  Fortunately, if it’s not quite as flawless a film as The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers is no slouch, continuing to paint on an epic, immersive, and enthralling canvas, and builds to one of the most tremendous battle scenes yet committed to film. Continue reading

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

DIRECTOR: Wayne Wang

CAST: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Bob Hoskins, Stanley Tucci, Natasha Richardson, Frances Conroy, Tyler Garcia Posey


There have been innumerable versions of the Cinderella story, some conventional (the animated Disney version), some fresh, irreverent, and enjoyable (Ever After), some simply redundant, and Maid in Manhattan is surely one of the most uninspired and perfunctory of them all.  Granted, romantic comedies are rarely original, but Maid in Manhattan is such a formulaic, by-the-numbers movie with nary a spark of energy or distinction that it’s one of those most depressing movies to sit through- something completely mediocre.  Continue reading