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The Amazing Pudding

Sunday, January 1 1995

Remember the Titans (2000)


Ran (1985/2000)

Kurosawa achieves an almost perfect fusion of storyteller and painter.


Return to Me (2000)

The narrative heart of Return to Me beats in rhythm with the tension between surface (what's on the outside) and depth (it's what's inside that counts).


Rush Hour 2 (2001)

Like most sequels, 'Rush Hour 2' does what the first film did, only louder and more extravagantly.


Romance (1999)

It might be expected that the new film by French feminist director Catherine (36 Fillette) Breillat, Romance, is generating more discussion about its shots of pricks and nipples than its narrative or themes or performances. This is a little ironic, because the movie really isn't about erotic arousal or exploitation. In fact, it is, as its title suggests, about romance. Or more precisely, it's about the expectations, disappointments, and power dynamics that shape and destroy romance.


Rat Race (2001)

A balls-out stupid summer comedy where no one cares about special effects or plots making sense or even about characters winning or losing is not a bad thing. It is, rather, a representative thing.


Ready to Rumble (2000)

Ready to Rumble is ostensibly a simple comedy of bumbling bumpkins - in this case lovers of professional wrestling - along the lines of Farrelly brothers' films like Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin.


The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

It is The Royal Tenenbaums's hyperbole that both makes the fantasy so lively and reveals the self-delusions at its foundation.


Recess: School’s Out (2001)

Perhaps Recess' most culturally savvy element is its skewering of the '60s, in a flashback showing how the ideals of the teachers (particularly Principal Prickly and Dr. Benedict) have fallen by the wayside as they were sucked into The System and traded their ideals for hard-nosed discipline.


The Road Home (2001)

It is Di's (Zang Ziyi) own absolute faith in herself, her determination to endure despite all political or social edicts, that grants 'The Road Home' unusual, and unusually moving, weight.


Rat Race (2001)

It's full of pratfalls, sight gags, and irreverence toward 'I Love Lucy', Nazis, body piercing, a very unlucky cow, and a dog. Fortunately, Zucker executes them all like a ringmaster.


Runaway Bride (1999)

I worry about Julia Roberts. I know I don't need to but still, I feel like I can't help it. It's not because she's a particularly convincing performer on or off screen, though she does look distressed or vulnerable much of the time. It's not because the promoters for her latest movie, Runaway Bride, have been running ads with the creepiest stalker song ever made, the Police's Every Breath You Take.


The Road to El Dorado (2000)

In 1519, Hernan Cortes sailed from Cuba, landed in Mexico and made his way to the Aztec capital.


Ride with the Devil (1999)

Ride With the Devil dares to bring yet another version. Directed by Ang Lee and written by Lee and his usual collaborator James Schamus (who adapted Daniel Woodrell's novel Woe to Live On, a novel inspired, says the author, by today's warfare in the Balkans), the film is rather surprising, and not only because it stars Jewel as a Southern widow. Telling stories that don't usually get told, Ride With the Devil focuses on some of the War's more disgraceful and outrageous aspects, both personal and public.


Rats (1999) - PopMatters Film Review )

In his book In Search of Melancholy Baby, Russian emigre novelist Vassily Aksyonov discusses his move to America and his various reactions to the country.


Reindeer Games (2000)

The spirit of world class schlock-horror promoter William Castle was in the theater recently, during a preview screening of Pitch Black, as flashlights were given to a number of audience members.


The Replacements (2000)

The Replacements' particular spin on the relationship between unions and management is simplistic and, more often than not, spurious.


Russian Doll (2001)

'Russian Doll' is above all an enjoyably quirky romantic comedy, and a pleasant way to spend a little vicarious time in a foreign milieu.


The Replacements (2000)

The Replacements' particular spin on the relationship between unions and management is simplistic and, more often than not, spurious.


Rules of Engagement (2000)

Two years ago, many critics praised Saving Private Ryan as a new kind of war film that brought the horrors of war home with an unprecedented, visceral intensity..


Rock Star (2001)

It's disappointing that 'Rock Star'... ends up with such a boring reassertion of straightness, not only with regard to sexual orientation, but also with regard to lifestyles and values more generally.


Romeo Must Die (2000)

Andrzej Bartkowiak's current film Romeo Must Die, which features the incredible martial arts skills of Jet Li, left me a little depressed.


Pollock (2000)

This is the tragedy and romanticized allure of Jackson Pollock, the man: he grew physically, he grew creatively, but he never grew up emotionally.


Pootie Tang (2001)

Pootie's got more than one joke, but only enough for this single layered, but thankfully brief, outing..


Proof of Life (2000)

Alice is quite visibly 'alone,' differentiated by her race and class from the folks who populate the streets, marketplaces, and televised protests against the oil company. And indeed, Alice's bond with Terry begins with the fact that he's Anglo, and she feels she can 'trust' him.


Pay It Forward (2000)

Such heavy-handed plot designing and telegraphing makes the film more tedious than rousing.


Pokemon The Movie 2000 (2000)

Pokemon The Movie 2000, however, shares no similar instruction; instead, it promotes gender inequality and contradictory ethical lessons. In the end, P2K spurs children to consume more product, in order to perpetuate the Pokemon global dominion.


The Patriot (2000)


The Princess Diaries (2001)

[In 'The Princess Diaries'], among the many habits Mia must change is her too-teenish tendency to bob her head along with music on the radio ('You're not a doggie on a dashboard!' cries her alarmed grandma).


Pitch Black (2000)

The scene is grim and very familiar: a hulk of a space ship crawls through the starry darkness, then runs into unexpected trouble, such that its crew is awakened from travel-slumber ahead of schedule.


Piñero (2001)

The first scene in Leon Ichaso's biographical film, 'Piñero', sets up a complex series of relationships between the artist and his demons -- or more pointedly, between the artist and the various audiences he sought to influence and astonish.


Planet of the Apes (2001)

As Tim Burton's new version of 'Planet of the Apes' demonstrates in many ways, some subtle, some not so, the recycling of cultural milestones is not simply a marketing device, but a way to rejuvenate cultural mythology, be it science fiction or religious fable.


Proof of Life (2000)

The camera pans across the protest scene focusing briefly on a placard in Spanish but conveniently translated to English in subtitle: 'Shoot the Imperialist Bastards.' This sudden interjection is startling, set against a backdrop of relative fluff.


The Proposition (2005)

Signaling death and dryness, the flies also mark transitions from one location to another: everywhere, it seems, someone is dead or dying.


Planet of the Apes (2001)

Tim Burton should never have been given this assignment. There are no humans in his films, which can impress, but never move us.


The Puffy Chair (2006)

The road trip then becomes an occasion for an extended game of relationship chicken: is Josh going to grow up and commit or is Emily going to accept him and stop criticizing?"


Pearl Harbor (2001)

Pearl Harbor's endorsement of military ideals and barely submerged nostalgia for the war's anti-Japanese racism only abates for a half hour of stunningly rendered shoot-em-up as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and its surrounding airfields takes place.


Pitch Black (2000)

The spirit of world class schlock-horror promoter William Castle was in the theater recently, during a preview screening of Pitch Black, as flashlights were given to a number of audience members.


Panic (2000)


Pollock (2000)

Where the story of Pollock's life gets, at least to me, most interesting, and where the film 'Pollock' becomes most engaging, is in the connected story of the artist's wife, Lee Krasner.


Le Placard (The Closet) (2000)

What happens when you find yourself watching an ostensibly 'gay movie' in which only one gay character appears, and in a secondary role?"


Price of Glory (2000)

Price of Glory opens with a boxing match in Phoenix, Arizona, 1977. While the mostly Mexican/Latino ringside crowd yells and hoots, a young man takes a terrible beating. His trainer urges him on, his face is bruised and panicked, and the scene lurches into that boxing film cliche, the eight-frames-per-second knock-out punch: his jaw contorts, his blood flies, and he hits the floor.


Paragraph 175 (2000)

There is no doubt that future generations will benefit from Epstein and Friedman's efforts to preserve on film, in one survivor's words, 'uncomfortable memories' that history has almost completely erased.


Planet of the Apes (2001)

...reminds us that we may not be the end product of some divine plan, or necessarily very important to the universe.


The Princess and the Warrior (2001)

Where 'Run, Lola, Run' was fast and urgent, 'The Princess and the Warrior' is deliberate, almost meditative. Still, the two movies share common, provocative ideas about fate and passion, the nature of time and the rhythms of life.


The Proposition (2005)

Nick Cave's The Proposition blends equal parts Walkabout and Sergio Leone's grim atmospherics to illustrate the brutality of imperialism.


Kids WB Presents Pokémon 3: The Movie (2001)

By far, the best Pokémon battle in the film is between Ash's sidekick Misty (Rachael Lillis) and the orphaned Molly: in 'Pokémon 3' girls can kick ass too.


Pokemon, The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1999) - PopMatters Film Review )

A movie which states that it is the first movie spells doom in my mind. I shudder at the thought of several sequels to this flick. (Why, exactly, can't everything Pokemon fit into one movie?) But, in part because the title refers to Mewtwo, a name indecipherable to anyone over ten, I realize I had better accept the fact that this may be a generational shift. Even more clearly, I see it is a fad that won't die soon and decide to brush up on my Poke-vocabulary.


The Price of Milk (2001)


The Perfect Storm (2000)


Quills (2000)

If we believe all that Philip Kaufman's 'Quills' has to tell us about the man, Sade is much more than a randy aristocrat -- he is a champion of free speech and artistic integrity.


On the Line (2001)

In On the Line, Kev (Lance Bass) is bland as can be, an unfortunate condition for a romantic lead.


Our Lady of the Assassins (2001)

Initially a rather deft and timely exploration of the human consequences of the politics and business of drugs, by the end, 'Our Lady of the Assassins' is content merely to linger on the spectacle and eroticization of casual violence.


Orphans (1997/2000)

In the Glasgow, Scotland harbor, on a cloudy windy morning after a storm, a man's bleeding body floats on a frail piece of wood. For all its artsy beauty, this poster image for Orphans, the writing and directing debut of actor Peter Mullan, is misleading, for it depicts perhaps the only serene moment in the film, one that interrupts the stabbing, shooting, screaming, inclement weather, and other calamities that rage on as four grown-up siblings mourn their mother's early death.


O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

It's a Depression-era musical laid on top of a chain gang escape film, inspired at once by Homer's 'The Odyssey' and Preston Sturges' screwball comedies. But outrageous as it might seem, this ultra-high-concept project suffers from a lack of inspiration.


O (2001)

This is easily O's most cogent insight, which it hits hard and insistently -- the ways that longstanding cultural anxieties about race in the U.S. continue to affect young people's individual and community relationships, just as it affects adults.


Original Sin (2001)

... expensive, tacky melodrama.


One Night at McCool’s (2001)

Any movie that offers proud big bully Andrew Dice Clay as a walking joke, however self-knowing or smug, is starting at a disadvantage. Andrew Dice Clay already made that joke himself, you know, and more than a few years ago.


Osmosis Jones (2001)

Who would have guessed it? Living inside inveterate white guy Frank (Bill Murray) is a company of black folks.


One Day in September (1999)

By tracing these failures, 'One Day in September' represents compelling links between sports (in general and specifically Olympian) and violence, as a basis for cultural exchange.


Outside Providence (1999)

Outside Providence begins in a lackluster manner, situating itself in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1974. Tim Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) just wants to party, but his overbearing, emotionally secretive father, (Alec Baldwin), is not quite hip to the idea of teenage insolence. The generation gap becomes more of a pit, when Tim manages to rear end a parked police car. A slap to the face is the result, as well as a trip to the Cornwall Prep School for Boys. Bummer.


The Others (2001)

Written, directed, and scored by the young Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar, 'The Others' explores the evolving relationship between Grace and the servants, especially Mrs. Mills, as this mirrors Grace's changing perception of herself, in the world.


Nico and Dani (2001)

'Nico and Dani' is probably what 'Dawson's Creek' would be if it was directed by Almodovar.


Novocaine (2001)

Novocaine's biggest concern seems to be with the act of lying, and Frank is far from the only guilty party.


The Ninth Gate (1999)

Roman Polanski and Johnny Depp. The match seems made in heaven, these two notoriously eccentric, fascinating, and difficult geniuses, plying their crafts, inspiring brilliance in one another.


Nurse Betty (2000)

It's revealing that Wesley (Chris Rock) remains locked in an ignoble self-image born of gangster and 'hood movies: eager to emulate and please his mentor, he explains his flamboyant violence by saying, 'I'm just trying to make a statement.'"


Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)

From start to finish, the film is suffused with Eddie Murphyness, his elevated sense of himself and his desire to do 'what no one else has done before.'"


Notting Hill (1999)

'The fame thing,' says fictional megawatt movie star Anna Scott, 'isn't really real.' And she should know, since she's played by real-life megawatt movie star Julia Roberts. The fame thing often does seem unreal to people who don't live it, so it's comforting to hear from Anna (or Julia) that it seems unreal to her as well


Nuyorican Dream - PopMatters Film Review )

Rather than pretending objectivity and maintaining an observational distance on its subjects' legal and environmental problems, 'Nuyorican Dream' takes a stand that is overtly political, emotional, and moral, but never moralistic.


Nurse Betty (2000)

Perhaps LaBute's willingness to let the audience close enough to his characters, both psychologically and physically, to appreciate such minor-key modulations, is the movie's biggest surprise.


Next Friday (1999)

Arriving in theaters five years later, Next Friday is the kind of sequel that will elicit much grumping from critics and other people who purport know what's good for you. The problems with the film are obvious -- like all sequels, it's designed to make money.


The Ninth Gate (1999)

In The Ninth Gate, perennial provocateur Roman Polanski throws in his contribution to the millennial apocalypse/Armageddon/hell-on-earth films that have recently been such a staple of the action/adventure genre.


The Nightmare Before Christmas (2000)

Jack's ultimate epiphany is in keeping with the themes that usually apply to Burton's benevolent losers.


Not One Less (1999)

Zhang Yimou's new film, Not One Less, feels like a movie that, somehow, I am 'supposed' to like, and I am not just a little bit anxiety-ridden in admitting that, really, I think it is actually somewhat dreadful.


El Norte (The North) (1983/2000)

I first saw Gregory Nava's intensely beautiful and painful El Norte when I was sixteen or so. My mother's sister had a copy of the film and she made the entire family watch it, one by one.


The Next Best Thing (2000)

I must admit, against all my better judgment, I actually rather enjoyed Madonna's new film, The Next Best Thing.


Monkeybone (2001)

In 'Monkeybone', we are given visual representation of (presumably) every man's internal struggle, between his social conscience and his unbridled testosterone frenzy.


Malena (2000)

Here the past is not dead or inert, it always influences the future... 'Malena' recognizes the futility of its own nostalgia.


Made (2001)

To aid him on his travels, Bobby (Jon Favreau) takes Ricky, his childhood friend, boxing partner (they're introduced fighting each other in some cheap venue, for piddling money), and notorious fuck-up. Ricky is played by the affable (when not bar-brawling) Vince Vaughn, who also produced 'Made', and who, in 1996, starred with Favreau in 'Swingers', the film that made them both bankable properties.


The Musketeer (2001)

Instead of being innovative, 'The Musketeer' is appropriative and (save for the very clever fight scenes), straight-up insipid.


Monster’s Ball (2001)

'Monster's Ball' leans heavily on Southern Gothic torment and metaphor, as well as bizarre, if historically framed, circumstances.


Maybe Baby (2000)

Maybe Baby's sight gags are sometimes hilarious and the story is often engrossing. But the execution falls flat.


Méliès The Magician / The Magic of Méliès (1997/2001) - PopMatters Film Review

No matter how hard he tried, Méliès could not put aside the role of conjurer.


Mulholland Drive (2001)

Like many of his other works, 'Mulholland Drive' has a dream logic, whereby characters morph, metaphors are made literal, and a stylistic fluidity juxtaposes with a disjointed narrative structure.


Mifune (1999)

When Kersten (Anders W. Berthelsen) courts material success in Copenhagen, he also captures his wealthy boss's daughter, Claire (Sofie Grabol).


Moulin Rouge (2001)

I imagine that at the 'real' Moulin Rouge, the thrill wasn't just a bit of nipple and a flash of panties, but the whole entertainment package, which no doubt included exuberant 'daring' new music intended to shock and titillate the sensitivity of the bourgeoisie -- kind of like rock-and-roll or punk in our times.


Meet the Parents

The storyline develops as we know it will. Except for one thing: the primary couple is DeNiro and Stiller.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975/2001)

The social/political commentaries . . . are still relevant and imaginative, and the inventive physical and verbal humor is still the stuff that bladder accidents are made of.


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