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Opium Traces

Sunday, January 1 1995

The Cell (2000)


Crazy in Alabama (1999)

Crazy in Alabama concerns two concurrent stories, which take place in small town Alabama in the mid '60s. One centers on the inhumanity and injustice of segregation, while the other tells of a woman following her dream, even though it means killing her husband and deserting her children to do so.


Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

What else could 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' be, other than the frivolous and utterly forgettable movie that it is?"


Chicken Run (2000)


The Crew (2000)


Chocolat (2000)


Chuck & Buck (2000)

Like Arteta's intelligent and lively first feature, Star Maps, Chuck and Buck takes emotional risks and poses questions - about children and adults, responsibility and sexuality -- that other films will not.


The Center of the World (2001)

These lost souls meet when he visits the conspicuously named Pandora's Box, the club where she's employed, and he's so taken by her (lap dance) that he asks her to come to Vegas with him for three days: no strings and lots of money.


Chutney Popcorn (1999)


Chop Suey (2000)

For Weber, Sir Wilfred Thesiger's craggy face holds as much wonder and wisdom as Peter Johnson's taut torso.


Cecil B. DeMented (2000)


Committed (2000)

Jo's 'knack for faith' isn't always predicated on good business sense, but hey, she wears great club-ideal outfits (sheer blouses, pretty accessories, and tight jeans), and her clients love her.


La Ciénaga (2001)

Within the first moments of her debut feature, 'La Ciénaga', writer/director Lucrecia Martel demonstrates a piercing sensibility and a sharp eye.


crazy/beautiful (2001)

From the start of John Stockwell's 'crazy/beautiful', Nicole is set up to be both typical and freaky, the kind of adolescent girl you've seen in a million other high school and/or 'crazy white girl' movies.


Croupier (1997/2000)


The Claim (2000)

Here the primary players are caught between forging their futures (individual and communal) and regretting their pasts, conjuring up a civilization in an unforgivably brutal environment.


The Contender (2000)


Coyote Ugly (2000)

The girls are less reduced to t&a than they are passionately independent, passably intelligent, and definitely not taking any shit from their over-stimulated male bar patrons, whom one 'coyote' describes as having 'little toddlers in their pants.'"


The Cup (2000)


Battlefield Earth (2000)

As one of four producers for the film, Travolta helped to secure the $100 million independent financing, most of which seems to have gone into the Psychlos' elaborate dreadlocked wigs and the enormous platform boots that make the big meanies look eight feet tall and terribly slow on their feet.


Bread and Roses (2000)

Using a Mexican immigrant to talk about class in America, director Ken Loach explores the ways that race and ethnicity are intricately bound to questions of empowerment and wealth.


The Broken Hearts Club (2000)

In comparison to this club's bunch of self-involved twentysomethings [in 'The Broken Hearts Club'], Dawson and his pals on the 'Creek' are living on the edge.


Bamboozled (2000)

Messy, outrageous, and mostly brilliant, 'Bamboozled' is bound to make trouble. And I can't think of a more important trouble to make.


Boiler Room (2000)

You might love a film about unspeakably wealthy whiteboy stock traders that opens by quoting Biggie Smalls. Then again, you might hate it. The citation is surely reverent, but it also reveals a certain confusion concerning early Biggie rhymes, and maybe hip-hop in general.


Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

In her diary, Bridget Jones is a star.


The Brothers (2001)

Facing his boys on the basketball court, where they go to sweat, score, and hash out their 'stuff', Terry (Shemar Moore) argues -- none too convincingly -- that his settling down is a sign of his maturity. The others are unconvinced. And so they go on to talk about it. A lot.


Beautiful (2000)


The Body (2001)

... examines the threat science poses to organized religion.


Bootmen (2000)

In lieu of making a strong pro-labor statement, 'Bootmen' focuses on asserting that these dancers are not pansies.


Big Trouble in Little China (1986/2001)

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is the anti-hunk, the inverse of the pectorally endowed fighting machines typified by Stallone and Schwarzenegger.


A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind idealizes mental illness as spectacle, a feel-good gladiatorial games of the psyche where the human spirits always triumphs and love always blooms.


Bring It On (2000)

Now this is a surprise: Bring It On is, at some not-quite-invisible sublevel, about white thievery of black cultural forms and content.


Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000)

As the Blair Witch has her way with the group one by one, 'BW2' turns partly cheesy and nonsensical like a slasher film and partly, like 'BW1', emotional and visceral, with disquieting depictions of grisly violence.


Beyond the Mat (1999)

'Who are these guys?' a voice asks, as the screen is filled with successive images of men, some bloody and all wearing tights, beating one another senseless.


Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

As the charismatic protagonist in Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry, Brandon embodies the ongoing dilemma of masculine identity. This dilemma is exacerbated by the fact that, when you see him riding that pickup truck, some fifteen minutes into the film, you already know that 18-year-old Brandon's efforts to act like a boy are complicated by the fact that he is, biologically speaking, a girl, born Teena Brandon.


Butterfly (Lengua de las mariposas, La) (1999)

Jose Luis Cuerda's film, Butterfly, mourns the Spain destroyed by civil conflict by remembering it through the enchanted eyes of a small boy.


Brokedown Palace (1999)

High school movies tend to end with graduation. It's at the prom that the primary couple finally achieves their much-anticipated clinch (with camera circling and trendy pop song resounding) while their adversaries - treacherous teachers, jealous fellow students, ridiculous parents - back off or smile approvingly, showing that they have indeed learned whatever lessons they're supposed to have learned.


Bride of the Wind (2001)

[In 'Bride of the Wind',] Alma agrees to marry Mahler even when he demands that she give up her own piddly composing and adopt his music as 'our music.' This suggests he's a jealous, possessive, and petty fellow, but that is for us to surmise and for her to deal with in later scenes.


The Bone Collector (1999)

The Bone Collector assumes you know the drill, the serial-killer-movie drill. It gives you most everything you need to know during the first four minutes, half of which take up the credits sequence (the credits themselves are, of course, hyper-scratchy and slashy-looking, very post-Seven stylish).


Big Momma’s House (2000)

But of course, all this genderfuck is just warm-up for Malcolm/Big Momma's dilemmas when it comes to sex.


Bedazzled (2000)

The fact that all of Elliot's hopes and dreams are pinned on winning Allison supplies the film's most provocative gender twist -- a man refashioning himself to please a woman.


Blue Streak (1999)

Martin Lawrence's signature punchline is all about survival. Typically delivered with exuberance and not a little self-satisfaction, the line reflects his thrill at getting over. It reflects his fans' thrill as well: they're happy to see their boy survive and, even better, succeed.


Beautiful Creatures (2001)

It is not, as I've heard it called, a 'Scottish Thelma & Louise,' as this soundbite doesn't do justice to the ambitious, if not exactly realized, aspirations of 'Beautiful Creatures'. For one thing, it's less glossy and celebratory than Ridley Scott's anthemic movie, and for another, there's no road trip in it.


Baby Boy (2001)

John Singleton's 'Baby Boy' begins with a bang. But it's not the sort of bang you'd expect from the guy whose first film was the earnest 'Boyz N the Hood' (1991), or whose last, the explosive 'Shaft' (2000), had its Armani-clad protagonist declaring, 'It's Giuliani time!' as he stalked off to blow away a few bad cops.


Boys and Girls (2000)

As its title promises, Robert Iscove's romantic comedy features a number of boys and girls. Or rather, it features a number of character sketches standing in as boys and girls, rendered by actors whom you'd expect to be more careful about selecting projects.


The Business of Strangers (2001)

The Business of Strangers' basic premise -- the meanness of the business of strangers -- is worn-out.


Brother (2001)

With 'Brother', his first English language film, Takeshi Kitano again examines the violent intimacy of the yakuza 'brotherhood.'"


Blow (2001)

'Blow' is all about how reality and money get mixed up.


Best in Show (2000)

The question I am left with, in relation to all these other characters, is what, if anything, are they satirizing?"


The Best Man (1999)

Someone I know organized an opening weekend group to go see The Best Man. As he reasons in the invitation he sent out to several friends, Hollywood pays attention to opening weekend box office receipts, and he'd like to ensure that this film's receipts make an impression on the powers that be. You don't see this kind of effort made for just any movie.


Black Hawk Down (2001)

An action movie dressed up like an art film, 'Black Hawk Down' is not about betrayal or anger, but heroism and patriotic fervor.


The Beach (2000)

Leo's much anticipated follow up to the record smashing Titanic has finally arrived, and it is, perhaps not so surprisingly, considering the hype to be lived up to -- an unmitigated flop.


Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

We stop short of congratulating Bridget Jones with a hearty 'you've come a long way, baby.' After all, 'Bridget Jones's Diary', like 'Pride and Prejudice', is preoccupied with marriage.


Bandits (2001)

Though it looks like it might have been fun to make, 'Bandits' never becomes subversive or screwball.


Backstage (2000)

Of course, ambition, talent, good luck, and effort can only take you so far. The film addresses racism in the business by underlining the tour's lack of 'incidents.'"


The Brandon Teena Story (1998) - PopMatters Film Review )

In the end, the story of Brandon Teena is no less shocking and reprehensible for not being told particularly well. But 'The Brandon Teena Story' makes it hard to get a sense of the real person behind the blurry photos and sometimes suspiciously convenient anecdotes.


Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

American consumers need to get on with the slam-bang business of (mediated) life.


Beautiful People (1999)

In language, the gulf between seeing and knowing gapes. The phlegmatic British attempts to be polite and their ardent struggle to keep conversation going, however meaningless its content, become a powerful vehicle for both the pusillanimity of language and the soothing power of its white noise.


Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002)

The Beast makes the systemic abuses of the time literal, as well as sensational and legendary.


Before Night Falls (2000)

A faithful filmic adaptation of Arenas' memoir could easily take six hours and still not capture the full impact of the book. Painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel ('Basquiat') consciously diverges from the traditional school of literary adaptation.


Bounce (2000)

Bounce is straight in the sense that it stars Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow, and does not include Opposite of Sex-style bitchiness, much less wily jokes about masturbation, Hollywood morality, and the Planet Maturia.


Blow (2001)

Hey, it doesn't hurt that Johnny Depp makes a leisure suit look good.


Blood Simple, The Directors’ Cut (1984/2000)

Though shot on a shoestring budget by first-time feature filmmakers, the movie encapsulates all that has come to typify the Coen brothers' style: engaging narrative, inventive direction, and the juxtaposition of grim violence with moments of sublime, sometimes surreal, human behavior.


Bait (2000)

The film's most effective balancing act comes in the form of Foxx's terrific performance: throughout, he's quirky, subtle, and thankfully able to keep up with the movie's lurching tone-and-genre shifts, from comedy to action to almost-arty to melodrama.


Bless the Child (2000)

Cody's special in a very particular way -- in a second-coming kind of way -- which, in movie-logic, makes her the prime target for a slew of Satan's minions.


Black and White (2000)

'I'm a kid in America, I can do whatever I want.' Jutting her chin at the camera, New York City high schooler Charlie (Bijou Phillips) mouths off to her stuffy-suit dad, who's been pestering her about where she goes after school.


Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows (2000)

'There are some naysayers,' one Blair Witch fanatic enthuses, 'who come and they say nay.' Not the sharpest wooden stake in the breastbone, this guy.


But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)

The cultural systems that condone more subtle forms of homophobia are left unexamined. This allows viewers to forget the important fact that homophobia and strict either-or gendering practices do prevail in today's 'civilized' cultures, liberal and tolerant as they may seem to those who don't have to worry about such things.


Bicentennial Man (1999)

Robots: we either love 'em or hate 'em. Movies have given us friendly Star Wars droids like R2-D2 and C-3PO and sadistic mechanical henchmen like Maximilian in The Black Hole. Science fiction television has shown both Buck Rogers' loyal sidekick Twiggy and the destructive Cylons of Battlestar Galactica.


Beowulf (1999)

Beowulf saves the girl and carries her to the stronghold, where she immediately breaks away again and allows herself to be killed. Evidently there's 'something' inside the castle worse than death -- the rest of the movie.


Billy Elliot (2000)

Behind a triumphant tale of self-discovery is a subtext of anxiety that ultimately enhances what might have been a pretty ordinary film.


But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)

Though behaving like proper girls and boys has little effect on Megan and the other patients, they still pretend that they are actually heading down the path to heterosexuality.


A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Interestingly, in one of 'A.I.''s inconsistencies, we are shown a society obsessive about controlling consumption and the conservation of resources, which nevertheless is still steadfastly consumer-driven: the answer to all our problems can be found in the perfect product, in this case a robotic child.


Autumn in New York (2000)


All About My Mother (1999)

Just prior to All About My Mother's closing credit sequence, there is an effusive dedication - To all actresses who have played actresses, to all women who act, to men who act and become women, to all the people who want to be mothers...to my mother.


All Over the Guy (2001)

If 'All Over the Guy' is any indication of what Hollywood has in store for gay relationships, it looks like gay men and lesbians will be receiving the same shallow treatment as their heterosexual counterparts.


Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

'Apocalypse Now' -- 'Redux' or regular -- is well worth seeing for just such insights, its flashes of brilliance, failures, and virtuous intentions. In both versions, it's that rare movie that looks hard at the culture that produced it.


Almost Famous (2000)

And yet, for a rock 'n' roll film set in the '70s, Almost Famous has surprisingly little sex and drugs on screen (though both are much discussed). Even when two or three of the 'band-aids' decide to deflower William, mainly to alleviate their boredom, it comes off more like a slumber party game than an act of real sexuality.


Along Came a Spider (2001)

Morgan Freeman's sober mien and formidable presence make you wish that the rest of the movie would keep up.


Angela’s Ashes (1999)


Affliction (1999)

Snow. Wind. Emptiness. The first images in Affliction are white and desolate. They show late October in small town New Hampshire, and Halloween is descending on frigid, early evening streets.


American Outlaws (2001)

It's grand, being so proficient at killing, and it's pretty darn All American too.


The Anniversary Party (2001)

...plays like a Hollywood version of 'The Real World', neatly edited and set in a striking but sterile home, but with few surprises.


Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

'Apocalypse Now Redux', ultimately, allows us to celebrate a film that has become indelibly ingrained into American popular consciousness while, at the same time, forcing us to question the violence and inhumanity that characterize the troubling past of this same culture.


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