23
May
2009
Feature: Jordan's Movie Quest
Jordan's Movie Quest: The Year 2001
Jordan
My journey through the last decade in film continues, with my Top Ten movies of 2001 list, including a blurb about each film:







10. Spirited Away-Hayao Miyazaki's masterful story of a sullen girl named Chihiro, and her adventure through the spirit world to save her parents. During their move to a new house, Chihiro's parents decide to stop to check out an abandoned theme park. Upon examination, they find a delicious looking buffet, which they immediately begin gorging themselves on. Their unthinking gluttony results in them being turned into pigs by the sorceress that rules the spirit world. Chihiro's quest to save them takes her on a journey through a modern day wonderland as she discovers the importance of friendship and the maturity it takes to face your problems with determination and perseverance. A children's movie that allows viewers to look at the world in an entirely new way, as only Miyazaki can show it to us.


9. Donnie Darko- Gothic girls the world over may sing its praises, but the film has untold merits outside its appeal to the recreationally despondent among us. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is your normal angsty teenager with apocalyptic visions delivered by a six foot tall invisible bunny rabbit named Frank. Frank tells Donnie that the world is going to end in a month's time, and Donnie may be the only one able to stop it. With help from his science teacher (Noah Wiley), his girlfriend (Jena Malone), his English teacher (Drew Barrymore) Donnie must try and sort out the metaphysical rules that may be leading to the destruction of the universe in a compelling psychological thriller.


8. Amelie- The story of innocent and adorable Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) who devotes her life to helping the eccentrics around her, including her father, a failed writer, a stalker, a hypochondriac, a suppressed young soul, and the love of her life. When Amelie realizes she cannot live her life simply for those around her, she sets off to win the love of her life. One of the most adorable movies of all time, Amelie is a feel good film about the joy of life and the simple pleasures of human connection.


7. Zoolander-Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is the world's top male model, at least until Hansel (Owen Wilson) wins the best male model award. After Derek's friends die in a freak gasoline fight accident he decides to retire, until a scheme by fashion mogul Mugatu (Will Ferrell) to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia by brainwashing Derek with an "˜80s one hit wonder. Stiller, Wilson, and Ferrell are all at the top of their game, and the movie's inspired idiocy, including brilliant cameos by David Bowie and Billy Zane, makes it a classic comedy.


6. Waking Life-Richard Linklater takes viewers on a quest of questions as Wiley Wiggins travels through life, unsure whether or not he is dreaming. A philosophical epic that dares to ask important questions in thought provoking ways. Animated over live action footage to give the film its dreamlike quality, Waking Life makes us wonder about the line that separates dreams from reality, life from the afterlife, and humanity from true understanding.


5. Iris-Renowned author and philosopher Iris Murdoch ( Oscar nominated Judy Dench) is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. As her husband (Jim Broadbent in an Oscar winning role) attempts to deal with Iris losing her mind, he remembers Iris as he first met her (played by Oscar nominee Kate Winslet). The story of a lifelong love between two very different people, and the burdens placed on that love by degenerative disease, Iris is excellently acted by all parties, and moving in its depiction of the utter devotion between a husband and wife.


4. Mullholland Dr. - A car wreck on the titular Los Angeles street renders a woman (Laura Harring) amnesic, and she is taken in by a doe eyed aspiring actress (Naomi Watts) trying to make it in Hollywood. As the two try to discover the newly christened Rita's real identity they become entangled in a web involving a cuckolded movie director (Justin Theroux), a mysterious cowboy, and the terrifying entity that exists in the alleyway behind the local Winky's restaurant. The compelling, intense mystery garnered director David Lynch an Oscar nomination and features enough chills and twists to stick in your mind long after the credits roll.


3. In the Bedroom-Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) are living an idyllic life in New England. They get along well with their college-age son (Nick Stahl) and are even adapting to his much older girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) when tragedy strikes and threatens to dismantle the relationships of all involved. The wrenching drama from director Todd Field was nominated for 5 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress and examines the ways that loss can affect those left behind.


2. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring- Young Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) inherits his uncle's magic ring, and must embark on a quest across mystical Middle Earth to destroy it before it falls into the hands of the evil Lord Sauron who intends to use it to destroy all good in the world. With the help of the powerful wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan), a mighty ranger (Viggo Mortensen), an elf (Orlando Bloom at his least annoying) and a dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) Frodo and his friends have to climb mountains, delve into mines, and avoid a burgeoning army of Orcs as they try to avoid capture and find their way into Mordor to destroy the ring. Director Peter Jackson created one of the grandest epics of all time, dealing with fate, responsibility, human weakness, loyalty, and the endless struggle between good and evil.


1. The Royal Tenenbaums- The Tenenbaum children were all prodigies in their youth, but two decades of failure, betrayal, and disaster have stripped them of their former glory. Playwright Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is trapped in a loveless marriage with neurologist Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray) and an equally passionless affair with overwrought writer and long-time family friend Eli Cash (Owen Wilson). Chaz Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller, in his greatest performance) is experiencing a nervous breakdown in the wake of his wife's death, and is subsequently shielding his sons from the real world. Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) has retired from tennis and now travels the world aimlessly trying to deal with his love for Margot. Things start to come to a head for the Tenenbaum family when their mother Etheline (Anjelica Huston) becomes engaged to her long time friend Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), the children all move back into her home, and their long-estranged father Royal (an Oscar-worthy Gene Hackman) returns into their lives, claiming to be dying of stomach cancer. The Royal Tenenbaums tells the story of a family strangled by its own successes and restrained in its multitudes of failure. But more than that, Wes Anderson's gem of a film looks at the ties that bind even the most dysfunctional families together, and what it takes to repair those relationships that have broken apart.
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