Winter break movies: worth our salt?

By the

January 18, 2001

by the Voice staff
Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis, Fox)
This movie, which sadly, will most likely win the Oscar for best picture, ought to have been left on its own deserted island where millions of viewers would not have had to suffer through its awful plot and sappy script. Wow, so Tom Hanks loses 50 lbs. for the movie, if someone paid me five million bucks, I could get my fat ass in shape as well. Not only was this movie bad, but the most interesting character was not even human, but rather a volleyball named Wilson. Add Helen Hunt and a lot of sand and you get the biggest waste of money since WaterWorld. This movie was a four hour Fed Ex commercial.

Traffic (Steven Soderbergh, USA Films)
In the best film about drug culture since Alice in Wonderland, Benicio Del Torro gets pensive, Michael Douglas is Barry McCaffrey, Douglas’ daughter can’t get enough freebase and Soderbergh proves that Sex, Lies and Videotape wasn’t a total fluke. Frequent lens changes help remind you when you’re in Mexico and when you’re in Columbus, Ohio.

Finding Forrester (Gus van Sant, Columbia)
Brilliance is an exciting drama. But is William Forrester a real author? The best part is when he says, “You’re the man now, dog!” Also stars Busta Rhymes.

13 Days ( Roger Donaldson, New Line)
Historical movies are great?except when they adopt stereotypical Hollywood biases such as the Kennedy’s are the greatest and the hierarchy at the military is a bunch of red-meat eating, war mongers. Sure they’re a bit conservative in general, but a movie loses lots of credibility when it tries to make the case that these guys really wanted a nuclear war and they were plotting ways to make it happen. 13 Days doesn’t say that explicitly, but the bias in tone is unmistakable. Other than this overloaded simplification (opposition to appeasement equals desire for nuclear war), it is a pretty solid film. Guys get to see lots of hydrogen bombs go off?on the big screen. Chicks have Kevin Costner. Do chicks even dig him any more? I have no idea. I don’t really know what women want.

What Women Want (Nancy Meyers, Icon)
The biggest male chauvinist on the block can suddenly read every woman’s mind and becomes the perfect man. Or so they think. I’m willing to bet that a guy wrote this script and while the film may have succeeded at the box office, the movie as a whole fails. It’s the worst kind of chick flick; boy meets girl, boy miraculously changes and all live happily ever after, all without any real-life emotions or sincere understanding of human interaction. It gives the audience a few good laughs, but it’s also two and a half hours long.

Oh Brother, Where art Thou? (Coen Brothers, Buena Vista)
The real question is, “O audience, where art thou?” See this movie. In 1930s Mississippi, three hooligans led by a quick-witted George Clooney bust out of prison in search of treasure. A list of Huck finn-type adventures happen on the way offering a host of slack-jawed rednecks and hearty guffaws. Yes, guffaws. And for you beer-swilling popcorn chomping ignorami, the film is based on Homer’s Odyssey, so you might be able to get a much needed literary fix. If you like bluegrass music and seeing fat guys in seersucker suits, this film is for you!
Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry, Working Title)
The critics loved this movie, European film festivals loved this movie. Even my grandma loved this movie. It’s kind of hard not to like. There’s a little boy, he dances, the town rallies behind him and everyone walks away smiling. The characters are endearing, the actors are believable and the music is cute. But it deserves little more praise than being “cute.” It’s a feel-good movie, so if you want to feel good, definitely see it. But if your want a deeply thought-provoking film, look somewhere else.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Li, Sony)
Ang Li’s epic masterpiece is one of the best new films of this year, if not the past decade. It provides the viewer with breathtaking scenery, an intriguing plot, awesome special effects and the greatest fighting scenes imaginable for all you hardcore Kung Fu connoisseurs out there. Ang Li’s new classic is sure to be a hit with audiences and is a great balance between a classic love story for the ladies and an action packed thriller for all the tough guys out there. This is a must see. Especially if you want to see an old bitch throw a dagger into some guy’s forehead.

Chocolat (Lasse Hallstr?m, Miramax)
The lovely Juliette Binoche sells aphrodisiac chocolate to unsuspecting French elderly. Cute young girl assists. Judy Dench claims it’s medicinal, Jonny Depp is a gypsy. Enough said.

Croupier (Mike Hodges, independent)
Those British guys think they’re so slicked back and slick. Who knew??the dealer is an author. People take their clothes off in situations where real people never get naked. Some people are on drugs.

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