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2000 Bellview Awards

1/1/01

Folks--

You know what is funny?  I saw more than 60 movies in theaters this year and that won't even be a fourth of the total number of American releases for 2000.  I've got a long way to go in 2001!

So, to get on with it...I only have five awards, so at least I am brief!


Biggest Surprise--"Road Trip"

As I mentioned this summer, I hate Tom Green.  I mean, HATE Tom Green.  When I first saw the preview for this movie, I swore that I would never see simply because he is in it.  But, Seann William Scott, of "American Pie", was in it and I like him...so, I broke and went to see this movie.  And...wow.  Sure, there is some pretty sick stuff in this movie, and the acting is kind of weak, but it is so damned funny that if you haven't gone to see this one already, you need to go check it out at the video store.  And, from what my brother has told me, this one does well the second and third time around, too.

A close second place goes to "Scary Movie", which caught everybody by surprise and has three or four fall-out-of-your-seat funny sequences but is not as strong overall as "Road Trip."

 

Biggest Disappointment--"Shaft"

I love blaxploitation films and I normally love blaxploitation rip-offs or comedies...the best, of course, being "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka", my pick for the funniest film ever.  But, when Samuel L. Jackson decided to play a 2000 version of Shaft (actually, John Shaft's nephew in the movie), I was torn between excitement and fear.  This could be one cool movie...I mean, it IS Sam Jackson...and, it could rip my heart off by ruining my image of what the original "Shaft" meant to me and, from what I have read, black culture.  Well, let's just say it did more of the latter.  Sure, the plot is f***ing ridiculous, but the action is even worse still.  It is not quite a parody, but it is not quite a drama either.  This leads to some overly violent scenes, Toni Collette (nominated *just last year* for an Oscar for her role in "The Sixth Sense") and Christian Bale acting poorly and some of the most ridiculous aim ever witnessed in a motion picture.  If you get the chance, watch the 2000 version of "Shaft" only to watch how many shots Jackson fires *without missing.*  I have never, in my life, seen the hero of a movie hit his target so many times without missing.  Even the old Shaft missed every so often...come ON!!  Do yourself a favor and, if you have not already seen the original, rent the 1971 classic.  Better and funnier than this trash.

Honorable mention:  The Affleck/Theron heist film "Reindeer Games" and "Fantasia 2000."  The former was directed by "Ronin"-man John Frankenheimer and has no laughs and little action, while "Fantasia 2000" mixes some spectacular musical sequences with a couple that fall absolutely flat.  "Fantasia" is my favorite animated film, so my hopes were high for the sequel and they missed out.

 

The Movie I Wished I Had Rated Differently--"Gone in 60 Seconds"

This Nicolas Cage/Angelina Jolie heist film features some pretty cool cars, and that is it.  Another overblown production from the house of Bruckheimer (producer of all of the following:  "Top Gun", "Days of Thunder", "Bad Boys", "Crimson Tide", "Armageddon", etc. etc. etc.), this one has only a couple of laughs, almost no action (a staple of all Bruckheimer films), no sex, and nothing redeeming.  I think I also paid full price for this movie.  I gave it a Matinee at the time but I have to admit that it is closer to a Rental.

 

The Best Movie Nobody Saw--"The Way of the Gun"

If you blinked, you missed this film...it was only out for about two weeks.  "The Way of the Gun" stars Ryan Philippe ("Cruel Intentions", "54") and Benicio Del Toro ("The Usual Suspects", the upcoming "Traffic") as small-time criminals who take a hostage and want cash in exchange for her return.  But, there is more to it than that and I am still not sure why no one went to see this film.  It was written by the same guy that wrote the script for "The Usual Suspects" and it has Taye Diggs...could you ask for much more?  Note:  the gunfire in this movie is often deafening, at least if you were able to see it in a theater.  Lots of folks die the hard way.

 

Best Flick--"Gladiator"

The only suspense with this one was wondering whether "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" would top "Gladiator", and it was not even close.  I was talking to a friend of mine recently who told me that he hadn't gone to see a movie in months.  I asked him why and he said that there hadn't been any movies he had seen previews for that really gave him the feeling that the movie was larger than life; movie events that took him to another time or place intrigued him more than anything else, since most movies these days are about modern-day situations and dialogue-heavy scripts bog them down to regularity.

The beauty of "Gladiator" is its absolute hugeness.  As a spectacle, just witness its glorious opening sequence, with thousands of fire-tipped arrows lighting the sky.  Or, the first gladiator battle at the coliseum in Rome.  The amazing overhead shots of Rome and the emperor's palace.  The rousing score by Hans Zimmer (yep, he came up with the "Miami Vice" theme, too!).  I saw this film on opening night at the Uptown in DC, and if you have been to that theater, you can imagine how cool it was to see Russell Crowe take down other gladiators on that ginormous screen.  Even when I first saw it, I loved the characters and its surprisingly deep storyline...but, those battle scenes and special effects make this the kind of film best absorbed in a movie theater, and that is what it's all about, right?  It doesn't hurt that Crowe--and, even better, Joaquin Phoenix as evil Commodus--give spectacular performances and I fully expect "Gladiator" to win Best Picture at the Oscars.  I think "Gladiator" is a bit better than "Braveheart" in terms of its acting and its story, and I think that is good precedent for its chances.  And, you know how people usually disagree about a movie and how much they liked it?  Well, much like my favorite movie from last year, "The Matrix," I haven't talked to a single person yet that did not like "Gladiator."  Some folks didn't love it, but all agreed that it is an above-average film.  The only sure-fire bet of 2000.

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09