Thirteen (2003) movie poster

(2003) dir. Catherine Hardwicke
viewed: 02/25/04

I’d read good things about this film, which chronicles the bad things that young teenage girls can get up to. It’s almost like an exploitation film in a sense, rife with things meant to read as shock value, I think. And I am certain that for those old enough to identify with the mother’s character, played by Holly Hunter, rather than with the teenager Tracy, played by Evan Rachel Wood or Evie, played by Nikki Reed (who also co-wrote the script with director Catherine Hardwicke), I think this film might even be like a parenting version of those car crash scare movies that they used to show in Driver’s Ed. “This could be you. Beware.”

This said, I think that the film does attempt to show the teenagers’ world with some veracity via the creative input of Nikki Reed. I guess that it says something about my age that I was more in tune with the mother than the daughter. Or maybe not just me, maybe that is still the slant of the film.

My main problem with the film was a combination of its sort of exploitative nature was the horrible hand-held camerawork and general cinematography.

Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire (1987) movie poster

(1987) dir. Wim Wenders
viewed: 02/09/04 at The Red Vic Movie House, SF, CA

Great movie. Bad print. It was raining green spots throughout this largely black and white film, and while that was a sort of interesting effect, it wasn’t really supposed to be that way.

Aesthetically pleasing. Rich and interesting metaphors of observance and experience. Very much a film about Berlin. With beautiful, almost classic Hollywood cinematography. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Peter Falk. It’s great.

It’s actually pretty funny to even begin to compare it to the god-awful American adaptation of it City of Angels (1998) because it is so incredibly bad and hilarious in comparison.

Ghost World

Ghost World (2000) movie poster

(2000) dir. Terry Zwigoff
viewed: 02/21/04

I’d seen this film before in the theater back in 2000 when it was released originally. I have been a fan of Daniel Clowes and the original comic from which this film was adapted. I remembered liking it when I saw it the first time, and in comparing it to American Splendor (2003), I was saying that I thought that it was a fairly effective adaptation. So, I thought that I would watch it again to see if I still felt that way about it.

It is still good, though I guess that I liked it less than I had originally, and I think this is somewhat due to having reviewed the comic to some extent prior to watching it this time. I mean, the film still feels very much like something familiar and real and easy enough to relate to. But it lacks the pauses and silences of the comic, which I think has a simple poetry to the images, which is much more communicative.

Anyways, this film still captures the late teen, early 20’s doldrums of small town life and boredom better than most attempts.

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. Eli Roth
viewed: 02/18/04

Pretty lame horror film/homage to 1980’s slasher films (despite being about an Ebola-like virus rather than an actual slasher). This film seemed to have too high of a budget or something. It wasn’t horribly executed, but I kept thinking how much more interesting horror films are when they are low budget and the directors really have a sense of shock value and extremity. I know, what was I really expecting from this, right?


Spellbound (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. Jeffrey Blitz
viewed: 02/17/04

Pretty interesting documentary about the National Scripps Spelling Bee, following eight different kids on their way through the experience. The first half, looking at their lives, their varying experiences and degrees of preparation, I found much more compelling than the actual bee itself. Overall, though, a good documentary that speaks to larger subjects than which it is more literally about, which is almost always a good thing.


Cure (1997) movie poster

(1997) dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa
viewed: 02/15/04

Atmospheric Japanese horror film cut from a similar cloth as Ringu (1998), though less successful, I would say. The narrative is a little more convoluted is maybe why I feel this way. It is interesting, though. A drifter wanders the streets, suggesting via simple hypnosis, inspiring people to kill in random acts of violence, leaving their victims scarred with a big “X” on their throats. There is a sort of random weirdness and earnest quality that makes for a fairly unsettling experience. But at the end, I was finding some of the explanation of everything to be a bit silly.

American Splendor

American Splendor (2003) movie poster

(2003) dir. Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
viewed: 02/10/04


Documentary/live action adaptation of cult comic book about the life of Harvey Pekar, writer and protagonist. The self-reflexivity seemed a bit overaware of its cleverness, showing real characters both as they are portrayed by actors and as themselves in other segments. The film also assumes a certain amount of love and familiarity with the subject, which I did not really have prior to this film and didn’t really adopt on my own. It wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t overly into it.

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool (2003) movie poster

(2003) dir. François Ozon
viewed: 02/08/04

Moderately lame French/English “thriller.” It wasn’t so bad, I guess, but the sort of ambiguous ending seemed pretentious and confusing. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Jeepers Creepers II

Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) movie poster

(2003) dir. Victor Salva
viewed: 02/02/04

Moderately lame sequel to a surprisingly decent horror film. Director Victor Salva clearly has more chops than the average horror film director, shooting things with more aplomb than many more highbrow films. Still, the story is not nearly as compelling this time around, though it’s not awful, just not as interesting.