Posted: 02/01/2004


Jerome’s Film 2003—The View From Britain

by Jerome de Groot

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First, some good, bad, and downright ugly film things this year…

The Good:
The continuing genius of South American film making (21 Grams, Y tu mama tambien, City of God); some good sequels (LOTR, X2, T3); Tarantino making event movies actually count, and kicking just about every single concievable type of ass; continued renaissance of German, French and eastern European film, even if the French films wanted to make you sick; increasingly important and popular Documentary making (Michael Moore’s Oscar, Nick Broomfield, Errol Morris); opening up of South-East Asian and African film to a wider audience; the reissue of Alien; the continuing presence of Ian McKellen, Holly Hunter, Uma Thurman, George Clooney, Drew Barrymore, Daniel Day-Lewis, Samantha Morton, Julianne Moore, Stephen Frears, Todd Haynes, Takeshi Kitano, Mike Figgis, Christopher Guest, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, JOHNNY DEPP!!!!; the evolution of Dogme into something wierder and more wonderful.

The Bad:
Bad sequels, prequels, money-making comic flops and obvious McDonalds tie-ins; the downward, introverted spiral of British Film (Dirty Pretty Things and 28 Days Later notwithstanding); the continuing presence of Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey in terrifyingly bad movies, particularly when both have done good work this year; casting Leonardo DiCaprio in GONY; Russell Crowe and Ang Lee increasingly losing the plot.

The Ugly:
Oscars for Chicago and not Scorcese; Michael Moore’s Oscar speech being booed; the continuing apoliticisation of American Film (or so it seems from this side of the pond); the deaths of Richard Harris and Katherine Hepburn; matrix revolutions, truly rubbish.

Films of the Year:

1. City of God
Without question the most aggressive, impassioned, raging film of the year.

2. Kill Bill vol. 1
For the script, the yellow tracksuit, the crap mystical Japanese section, the intelligence, the cheek and the absolute ballsy chutzpah of the whole enterprise, making this the work of America’s most impressive filmmaker in contrast to Scorcese’s cheesy-bad hats-Cameron Diaz?-uneven-unfocussed-U2 soundtracked Gangs of New York

3. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Nick Broomfield’s return to form proving that documentary is materially important (his first film on this subject was submitted as evidence at a death row appeal). Intelligent, terrifying, broad in sweep and scathing in conclusion. Like Michael Moore only less shrill, and equally important.

4. Donnie Darko
Offbeat, weird, time travel, tears for fears, Drew Barrymore, a human sized rabbit and a narrative to mess with your head. Who needs anything more?

5. Buffalo Soldiers

proved that there was some kind of subversive life left in US cinema, even though the release was delayed for ages because of the film’s ‘controversial’ content.

Jointly 24 and the Sopranos—not film, but both showed most filmmakers a thing or two about the movies.

6. But under duress: Gangs of New York
He’s the man. Simply for Daniel Day Lewis’ speech wrapped in the US flag.

7. Goodbye, Lenin!
Bittersweet, sentimental and dynamic all at the same time.

8. Pirates of the Caribbean
Aahahahahahahahaha! Avast!


1. Matrix Revolutions
Just rubbish. Made the second one look like a masterpiece. Creaky, pointless, dull. The first one had more ideas in its opening shots than this turgid version.

2. Insomnia
Christopher Nolan follows up the amazing Memento with…this ridiculous piece of irrelevance which is embarassing for all concerned. Who gives Robin Williams work, let alone houseroom?

3. Matchstick Men
When will Hollywood allow the mentally ill to play themselves rather than be presented as kooky fuckups by Nic Cage et al?

4. Hulk
Pointless, poorly CGI’d, portentuous. And please, killer poodles?

5. The Good Thief
Dull crime caper proving that Neil Jordan has officially run out of ideas and is starting to recycle those of better directors.

6. Master and Commander
Four word review: Who Gives a Damn?

Jerome de Groot is a writer and educator living in the UK.

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