Best of
lMovie Review
"Summer Movies 2002"
By Mira Harber
    Summer is upon us again and another season of films running the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous (which can be a very good thing in the summer!) 
     Steven Spielberg's newest film, Minority Report, is a totally
 wonderful surprise. An action packed crime thriller on one level, the latest and greatest of special effects at another level, and a truly fascinating story with multi-layered characters and difficult moral questions raised (and answered), Minority Report is an excellent, thought-provoking, at times disturbing and challenging film. 
    The time is 2054 and Tom Cruise plays the upright policeman named John Anderton. He is supremely adept at a new technology  'Pre-Crime', in which future murders are predicted and stopped before they happen. The Pre-Cogs who make these predictions are never (well almost never) wrong, and this immensely successful program is about to go national. Anderton is supported in his crime preventing efforts by his superior, Director Burgess (Max Von Sydow). 
    This is one movie where the special effects are spectacular, but they exist to further the story and do so brilliantly. The computer interface that Anderton uses to interpret future crimes, the high-tech spiders  (which can eye-scan all the occupants of a building in minutes) the cars moving sideways, vertically/horizontally - are beautifully blended to serve the story and its characters. 
    Normally I'm not all that fond of Steven Spielberg's films (I find them too sentimental & manipulative) but this time I'm making a big exception. Minority Report is a classic - don't miss it
    Insomnia is only Christopher Nolan's second film. Last year he directed the brilliant Memento and his follow-up movie proves that he is an extremely talented director who will be keeping us mesmerized for years to come. Will Dormer (Al Pacino) & his partner are two L.A. cops who arrive in Nightmute, Alaska to investigate a grisly murder. This is the land of the midnight sun, and poor Will Dormer just cannot get his much needed sleep. He's being taunted on the phone by the killer, Walter Finch, played a very scary, and creepily effective Robin Williams, who has been witness to a murder that Dormer himself may have committed. Who is the hunted and who is the hunter? The moral
ambiguities in this film, the complete lack of black and white
characters and situations make this a fascinating and thrilling modern day film-noir. Funny for a place where the sun never sets, isn't it? Hillary Swank rounds out the cast as an idealistic young police officer who idolizes Dormer. 
     Based on a book by Nick Hornsby (author of the wonderful High Fidelity) About A Boy is the story of Will (Hugh Grant) a 38 year old bachelor who does nothing and lives on the royalties an immensely popular Christmas son written by his father 40 years ago. Will starts dating single mothers (easier to dump) and even joins SPAT (SinglePartners Alone Together) to meet women. He even invents a 2 year old son for himself. This is how he meets young Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a 10-year-old boy with a single suicidal mom (Toni Collette).  About a Boy is really all about the relationship that develops between Marcus and Will. Marcus is an absolutely fantastic young actor. He it totally natural and believable, right down to the horrible bowl haircut his mum has inflicted on him, feisty and needy at the same time. Hugh Grant is charming, in a good way, as the lay-about do-nothing guy who begins to find himself and his way by being the much-needed parent in Marcus' life. This is a lovely little gem of a movie. Something to think, cry and laugh about. Another summer treat.  I wish I could say the same about the following movie The Piano Teacher. 
      The Piano Teacher is the story of Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert) a 40-ish, severe piano professor at the Vienna Conservatory of Music. She is much admired as a teacher and perfomer and is a stern taskmaster to those students she takes on as pupils. But, Mme Kohut has a secret life. She is severely sexually repressed and plays out her frustrated impulses in a variety of horrifying and deviant ways. She haunts porn shops and watches explicit videos of oral/anal/missionary sex (unfortunately we get to share in that experience, yuk). She mutilates her sex organs in the bathroom. She squats beside a parked car at a porno drive-in and urinates in excitement while watching the couple inside the car makes love. Are you getting the picture? Add to this mix an idealistic young student, Walter Klemmer (Benoit Maginal) who is determined to become the piano teacher's student and lover. He has no idea about his Mme. Kohut's sado-masochistic fantasies, nor the part she eventually wants him to play. 
    The acting is wonderful in The Piano Teacher - the two lead actors have won various awards for their efforts, but ultimately I wonder why? Who cares? I left the theater feeling like I'd been slimed. I understand the point that the filmmakers were trying to get at, but I just don't care. Why should you? Don't waste your time. 
    The Importance of Being Earnest is based on the play of the same name by Oscar Wilde. Many people consider it to be one of the funniest and best-written comedies ever for the stage. There is a superb 1952 version of the film. This movie unfortunately does not follow in its footsteps. The two male leads, Rupert Everett (Algernon Moncrieff) and Colin Firth (Jack Worthing) should've played these parts 15 years ago - they're way too old now to be as silly as they are in this film. Basically, both men invent a counterpart, named Ernes who they pretend to be when they want a change of scenery, and some new excitement in their lives. You know - the sick relative or the naughty brother - both serve as devices from removing them from their environment when it suits them. Judi Dench provides some welcome comic relief as the daunting Lady Bracknell and Reese Witherspon does a very credible job as Cecily , Jack's young  ward.  What's the problem? Tampering with the play, inserting scenes, moving lines about, adding - well that's the problem - none of these changes comes anywhere near to improving the original. Leave well enough alone I say, and rent the 1952 version of the film on video. 
   The Bourne Identity is the typical summer fare. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a hired assassin who has lost his memory and is found floating in the ocean with two bullet wounds and a Swiss bank account embedded in his back. He's out to find out who he is, why he has 6 passports, speaks all these languages and why is everyone  trying to kill him? The requisite girl in the film is played by Franka Potente (from Run Lola Run). There is a great chase scene through Paris and the European sites that we see are really beautiful. If you want an exciting travelogue, disguised as a spy-thriller, The Bourne Identity is for you!!
    Last but not least is the quintessential summer movie Men In Black ll. This sequel is totally silly, great special effects and basically a re-tread of the first film. There is a sexy new villain played by Lara Flynn Boyle and the truly inspired pairing of Tommy Lee Jones andWill Smith as Jay and Kay continue to delight. This is summerentertainment at it's silly best. Enjoy.


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