The Year in Film 

Our critics write about the best movies of 2001

Our critics write about the best movies of 2001

The year in movies was rife with anxiety, foreboding and a sense of restless yearning even before the specter of Sept. 11—a cataclysm that carved an open gash in the American psyche and called into question the country’s moral, political and global identity. Among the year’s cinematic heroes were a man with no memory and no motive beyond revenge (Memento), a mechanized boy more humane than the real humans he encounters (A.I.), and an aspiring actress in a dream state of innocence that gives way to waking nightmare (Mulholland Dr.). Even scarier, somehow, were the comedies—the Nazi-ridden heartland of Rat Race, the isolationist freak show of Bubble Boy, the nuclear-family meltdown of the jaw-dropping Freddy Got Fingered. The most emblematic figures of the year may have been the teenage anti-heroines of Ghost World, starving emotionally on a diet of self-shielding sarcasm.

So a year-end recap of 2001’s best should be pretty contentious, right? That’s not how it worked out. From the Village Voice’s year-end poll to the Southeastern Film Critics Association’s balloting, the same movies showed up with amazing regularity. That testifies not to some think-alike conspiracy of critics—if you wanna clear the benches, just bring up Freddy Got Fingered or our controversial chart-topper A.I.—but to an unusually clear division between the year’s most interesting films and, well, everything else. So instead of singing the overlapping praises of the same 25 movies, we offer our Top 10 lists without annotation, so that we can concentrate on more interesting matters: standout films, striking themes and trends, memorable moments and, above all, stunning performances in an extraordinary year for acting.

Films

A.I.. The inadequacy of current critical discourse was demonstrated when film writers began picking apart Steven Spielberg’s Stanley Kubrick collaboration/homage for its “mistakes” and “stylistic incongruities” without wondering whether the jarring sense of unease they felt was intended by the auteur. A.I. is a film about arrogance, and it took one of the most arrogant filmmakers of our time—looking into a mirror and seeing the reverse qualities of all his romanticizing of contraptions—to make the film as curiously devastating as it is.

N.M.

Documentaries. It was a strong year for nonfiction films dealing with unique subject matter in distinctive fashion. I especially liked Bruce Weber’s Chop Suey, in which the fashion photographer shares personal anecdotes, profound influences and indelible images with no higher purpose than celebrating the good; Mark Lewis’ The Natural History of the Chicken, which examines the essence of the human-animal relationship while subtly mocking the documentary form; and Doug Pray’s Scratch, a comprehensive tour through the art of making music from other music via the turntable. Other marvels include the hit internet exposÄ Startup.Com, the surreal corn-farming tone-poem Hybrid, the high school confessional Chain Camera and the what’s-in-a-name navel gazer The Sweetest Sound.

N.M.

Ghost World. From the anarchic ZÄro de Conduite to the hallowed 400 Blows to the bittersweet Rushmore, film has long proven a singularly flexible and incisive medium for chronicling the gawky, emotionally tumultuous, often chaotic passage from adolescence to adulthood. But by any measure, 2001 was a markedly rich year for the age-old coming-of-age: Our Song, Fat Girl, Donnie Darko, Ginger Snaps, Together (Tillsammans). Still, this mini-movement’s defining moment belongs to Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World. Packing up the stray odds and ends that clutter her bedroom (and define her persona), Enid chances upon a forgotten childhood 45. With the song’s bubblegum innocence filling the soundtrack, we watch as she surrenders the final vestiges of her carefully constructed cool. An instant so painful, so tragic, so true, it’s no wonder the director conjures a magic bus several scenes later to whisk his beloved heroine away.

S.M.

In the Mood for Love. If Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express and Fallen Angels were like wandering inside a pinball machine, the director’s sumptuous reverie about the most tentative of adulterous affairs was like a stroll inside the atmosphere of a great late-night jazz album. Hot color and velvety darkness walk hand in hand, cued to the tempo of Nat “King” Cole singing softly in Spanish and to the metronomic sway of actress Maggie Cheung’s hips. The sexy, unresolved melancholy that results is an ache only a fool would cure. To paraphrase Paul Westerberg, if this movie were a pill, I’d take a handful at my will, and knock it back with something sweet and strong.

J.R.

Memento. Christopher Nolan’s thriller has a great gimmick—it’s told in reverse order from the point of view of a man who can’t transfer memories into long-term storage—and it’s completely satisfying as a “do not reveal the shocking ending!” twist-o-rama. But watch it again, and it becomes a disturbing meditation on whether any of us can lay claim to a life goal that isn’t a lie and a cheat.

D.B.

Monsters, Inc. Pixar movies delight children and touch the nerves of their parents, and Monsters, Inc. offered two heart-melting moments for the grown-ups: when Sully shows the ebullient Boo his ferocious side, then desperately strains to apologize; and when Sully gets another chance to peek in and see how she’s doing after a long period of separation.

N.M.

Mulholland Dr. and Waking Life. Call ’em the Dream Team. In a year noticeably marked by explorations of alternate states of consciousness—from Vanilla Sky to A.I., from Memento to The Others to, hell, even Shallow Hal—David Lynch’s Hollywood-square’s nightmare and Richard Linklater’s sleepwalk through Austin in (literally) suspended animation left audiences dazed and contused. The first time around, the Lynch seemed more a fascinating salvage job than true dream theater, but I suspect I’d be floored by it on a second viewing. The Linklater I loved, especially when the balcony of the Austin moviehouse where I was watching the film suddenly materialized onscreen in a riot of squiggly lines and colors. With movies like these, even this year, who needs drugs?

J.R.

The Royal Tenenbaums. Critic Mark Peranson aptly pegged Wes Anderson’s films as “male weepies,” and I see no reason to quibble. With only three features to his credit, the unprepossessing director has established himself as an old-school auteur, fashioning a cinematic universe at once willfully eccentric and deeply engaging.

S.M.

Under the Sand and I’m Going Home. Perhaps in a different year the minor virtues of In the Bedroom and The Son’s Room would appear insightful and/or cathartic. But in 2001, both films seemed oddly false—especially given the undeniable accomplishment of Franìois Ozon’s Under the Sand and Manoel de Oliveira’s I’m Going Home. Powered by Charlotte Rampling’s bravely unguarded performance—equal parts defiance and delusion—the former proceeds unerringly from mysterious opening disappearance to satisfyingly enigmatic conclusion with little unwarranted sentiment. Even stronger, I’m Going Home focuses on the accretion of seemingly minor details—shopping for shoes, a solitary espresso, brief moments with an orphaned grandson—as it chronicles an aged thespian’s attempt to bury profound loss in a sea of benumbed routine. Restrained and thoughtful, both films (which have yet to play in Nashville) quietly empathize without reducing grief to a one-note caricature.

S.M.

Werckmeister Harmonies. After just four months it’s already something of a truism: The events of Sept. 11 have acted as an emotional and cognitive prism, altering, perhaps forever, our perceptions of works conceived and crafted long before that defining moment. First encountered at the 2000 Chicago Film Festival, Hungarian filmmaker BÄla Tarr’s epochal Werckmeister Harmonies announced itself almost immediately as a great work, although somewhat remote and distanced—a haunting allegory that actively resisted Western interpretation. Viewed again this fall in New York, the film seemed remarkably vital and direct, even prescient. Orchestrating one bravura set piece after another, the master director details an ice-bound village’s dispiritingly inevitable descent from nationalism to fascism to martial law—a symphonic ode to a world unknowingly (and fatally) attuned to a false harmonic scale.

S.M.

Actors

Steve Buscemi. In real life, the former NYC fireman strapped on his gear and waded into the rubble of the WTC without pausing for photo ops. But even before then, he’d proved himself a giant. The talented Mr. Pink maintained his MVP status among character actors with two more stellar turns: as the voice of Monsters, Inc.’s shifty chameleon, and a pungent bit as Vince Vaughn’s blackmailing buddy in Domestic Disturbance. But his magnificently underplayed work as Ghost World’s vinyl geek Seymour was Buscemi at or near his career best. The scene in which he corrects a potential date about the finer points of ragtime—knowing he’s damning himself to nerddom with every syllable, yet helpless to continue—made record obsessives wince with recognition.

J.R.

Elpidia Carrillo. A muckraking account of legal and illegal Latino janitors fighting to unionize in Los Angeles, Ken Loach’s Bread and Roses got toasted by critics for its strident pro-labor stance. But nobody seemed to notice that the left-leaning British director handed the movie’s most devastating moment to the opposition: Carrillo’s union-busting snitch, who in a fearsome monologue lists all the horrors and humiliations she endured just to get her crappy minimum wage job. It’s a scene that burns smug pieties on both sides to ashes—and a performance that can change the way you see the world.

J.R.

George Clooney and Brad Pitt. This year the men got separated from the boys. Pretty, vacant-faced models got violently disabused of the notion that protagonist roles in action flicks would make them into movie stars. Paul Walker in The Fast and the Furious and Kip Pardue in Driven were glossy holes easily outshone by Vin Diesel, Burt Reynolds and Sylvester Stallone. Their agents might want to check the career trajectory of Ryan Phillippe before jumping on the next leading role. Thank God Ocean’s Eleven was around to remind us what real movie stars look like. Without even breaking a sweat, George Clooney and Brad Pitt lit up the screen brighter than the neon of Vegas, and they lampooned their own fame in my favorite laugh-out-loud scene of the year: Topher Grace gets mobbed by fans as he exits a nightclub, while Clooney and Pitt slip unnoticed into the street.

D.B.

Matt Damon. Ocean’s Eleven was a lark, but Damon’s key performance as the newbie on the job was a reminder of his rapid maturation as a actor. Extending the vulnerable, bruised-ego persona that centered The Talented Mr. Ripley, he added shadows and depth to Clooney and Pitt’s klieg-light charisma, and single-handedly rescued the movie from neo-Rat Pack fluff.

D.B.

Vin Diesel. Dude’s a mix of Mr. Clean and a fireplug sculpted of meat, with a silt-dredging growl that makes Ernest Borgnine sound like Raffi. And for pure gruff charisma, he swabs the screen with the ineffectual likes of Paul Walker, his co-star in the super-A-budget B-movie The Fast and the Furious. The combination of his bridge-cable muscles, his piston-pounding swagger and his disarming vulnerability helped make the hot-rod thriller a surprise smash—and made audiences wonder why Walker was the main character.

J.R.

Eriq Ebouaney. Even in a year filled with superb male leads—Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, Denzel Washington in Training Day, Jack Nicholson in The Pledge, Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge and Tom Wilkinson in In the Bedroom, to name some of the best—Ebouaney’s blazing work in Lumumba deserved more attention. As the Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, betrayed and assassinated by his former comrades, Ebouaney seethed with the rage and righteous disbelief of a principled man who’s in over his head among jackals.

J.R.

Gene Hackman. His dramatic roles win the awards, but Hackman’s showstopping comic ability—as in Young Frankenstein and The Birdcage—has never gotten its due. He made the best of both as the scoundrelly patriarch of The Royal Tenenbaums, sneaky and regretful, grounding the movie’s most whimsical conceits with his seedy neediness. Also seek out his outrageous turn in the amusing Heartbreakers, where he plays a smarmy tobacco tycoon whose skin is the color of a used filter: you’ll never see an actor get more mileage out of a hacking cough.

J.R.

Nicole Kidman. The female performer of the year. She ranged from unattainable to giddy to tragic in Moulin Rouge, and then narrowed to play focused mania in The Others.

N.M.

Delroy Lindo. “My motherfucker is so cool,” Ricky Jay cooed in David Mamet’s peppy Heist, “when sheep go to sleep at night, they count him.” Jay was talking about ringleader Gene Hackman, but the profane praise applied even more to Hackman’s loyal second-in-command, played by Lindo. Whether leveling a piece with a concrete hand or barreling through a door without a wasted motion, Lindo personified the cool professionalism that Mamet adores in career crooks. And the second that he left The Last Castle, so did the only major player with a commanding presence.

J.R.

Gwyneth Paltrow. Freed from British accents and the Miramax tradition-of-quality assembly line, Paltrow reasserted her range with three triumphant comic performances that had the excitement of her early work in movies like Flesh and Bone and Hard Eight. She was wholly at ease doing breezy self-parody in the Dogma-tic The Anniversary Party, and as the sullen Margot Tenenbaum she managed to show rage, passion, joy and hurt without curving the straight line of her lips. She may have been best of all in the hopelessly misunderstood Shallow Hal, a controversial (and potentially disastrous) role that she endowed with unself-conscious grace. It’s nice to have her back.

J.R.

Will Smith. The male performer of the year. In Ali, he captured the public bravado of the champ and his more private vulnerability. It helped that Smith had two of the best supporting performances of the year flanking him: Jamie Foxx’s funny, fallen Drew “Bundini” Brown and Jeffrey Wright’s sage, stammering Howard Bingham.

N.M.

Tilda Swinton and Renee Zellweger. Once again this year, male stars dominated the movies, with the vast majority of films revolving around a man or a group of men. But a few women held their own, including the always intriguing Swinton, who turned the twisty mystery plot of The Deep End into a meditation on loneliness, then turned up in Tom Cruise’s fantasy in Vanilla Sky. The überfemme of the year, however, had to be Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary. She turned fun pop fluff into belly laughs and empathy for every female in the audience, and her accent wasn’t bad at all.

D.B.

The Tenenbaum ensemble. For once, an A-list cast actually delivers (and then some): Hackman, endearingly unrepentant; Huston, emotionally reserved yet quietly vital; Paltrow, the embodiment of Edward Gorey despair; Stiller, all seething rage and pent-up pain; and Luke Wilson, the family’s vulnerable emotional core.

S.M.

Billy Bob Thornton. Barber, bandit, broke-dick boyfriend—Thornton was great as all three last year, and his acclaimed role as a death row guard in Monster’s Ball hasn’t even reached local theaters yet. The biggest surprise was his genial, unfairly delayed comedy Daddy and Them. Maybe that’s because most any actor can give an interesting performance for the Coens—and Thornton’s rigorous minimalism as The Man Who Wasn’t There surpassed even their standards—but it takes a fearless man to play a scene on the toilet with John Prine.

J.R.

Jon Voight. Where’s that Joe Buck? A long way from hustling the streets of Manhattan, that’s for sure. Voight again clinched the coveted title for Weirdest Character Roles, Blockbuster Division. This year, he played an ahistorical FDR exploiting his secret disability in a dramatic and shameless cinematic lie (Pearl Harbor); a latex-faced, deadpan Howard Cosell assuring Will Smith of his undying love in Ali; and a ghostly Lara Croft Sr. opposite his real-life daughter in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

D.B.

Naomi Watts. As Mulholland Dr.’s aspiring actress, Watts delivers her audition lines twice, first to her roommate in an earnest, talented-high-school-thespian way, and then to her potential co-star as a poised seductress. It’s another example of coin-flipping in a movie engaged in the deviltry of switching sides and blowing minds.

N.M.

Themes and trends of 2001

Better selection of movies locally. Regal’s Green Hills megaplex may have hogged most of the year’s profitable arthouse titles (and booked some of them late, and ditched some of them after only a week), but there’s no denying that the theater booked an unprecedented number of relative obscurities like Come Undone and Keep the River on Your Right. And with the Belcourt’s programming just hitting its stride, alongside strong offerings from Sarratt and Watkins, Nashville moviegoers have fewer reasons to feel they’re missing out on selections that make it to other cities. Now, if there’s just a way to get the crowds that turned out for Memento, Rififi and Ghost World to take a chance on upcoming films like Donnie Darko, Bob le Flambeur and Fat Girl.

J.R.

Constructing identity. From Leonard’s efforts at self-creation in Memento to David’s quest to become a real boy in A.I. to Muhammad Ali’s rapture of race, names and titles in Ali, the most intriguing ideas of the year came out of the postmodern obsession with identity. According to these films, without a conscious building of self, there’s no self at all. Memento also suggested that the flip side of this is self-delusion—the construction of a lie so thoroughly inhabitable that what’s obvious from the outside is invisible from within.

D.B.

Criminal ensemble-a-rama. Ocean’s 11, Heist and The Score showed the fun of watching high-powered actors hatching complicated schemes. Nothing like being in the hands of professionals.

N.M.

Films from Iran. Too often Iranian cinema is characterized (i.e. dismissed) as minimalist—but essentialist is more to the point. Working with the seemingly barest of materials, the country’s many great directors fashioned some of 2001’s most enduring images: Continuing forward while looking back, the camera in Marzieh Meshkini’s The Day I Became a Woman records a female cyclist’s forcible removal from an inspiriting race. In Jafar Panahi’s The Circle, two women engaged in an impassioned exchange crouch warily in the foreground; behind, a wedding party passes as an abandoned child searches desperately for her mother. And in Abbas Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us, a human bone, unearthed amid prep work for a telecommunications project, traces a jagged course down a nearby stream, the unsuspecting plaything of an indifferent current.

S.M.

Games humans play. Programming robots to be like us while misunderstanding what we are actually like, in A.I.; convincing ourselves that the side we’re on must be the right one, in The Others; and driving ourselves to the brink in search of justice while remaining unaware that justice is ultimately divine, in The Pledge.

N.M.

Ideals corrupted. Ghost World raised the question of whether art has any value beyond its creator’s ability to explain its meaning, while Together understood that even if people of like-minded political beliefs live in the same house, somebody still has to do the dishes.

N.M.

New directions for animation. Shrek and Monsters, Inc. got the grosses, but Richard Linklater (and Bob Sabiston)’s visionary Waking Life expanded the possibilities for animated features in multiple directions—away from musicals, away from commercial formulas and conventional narrative structure, toward adults. Unjustly overlooked, but just as inventive, were Emily Hubley’s cartoon interludes in the dynamic movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. These stand-alone shorts didn’t just illustrate John Cameron Mitchell’s gender-bending, head-banging cabaret; they clarified as well as advanced his ideas. In both cases, it was nice to be reminded of animation’s fundamental appeal as an artform: Anything is possible.

J.R.

New wave Japanese horror. Horror movies flourish in troubled times. Whether pre-apocalyptic (Takashi Miike’s traumatizing Audition) or post-apocalyptic (Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s unnerving Cure), the shockers trickling stateside from Japan in the wake of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks seemed chillingly pertinent this year—as they would in any year when horrifying acts render the world stained and unfamiliar, and evil simmers in our midst. There are scarier films to come, starting with Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s deeply disturbing Pulse, a movie that deserves the title Ghost World.

J.R.

Scrambled storytelling. What do Memento, Amores Perros, Vanilla Sky, Mulholland Drive, Waking Life, The Others and A Beautiful Mind have in common? Screenplays that refresh familiar genres and blaze new paths by playing with time, sequence, structure and the audience’s certainty that what it’s watching is really happening. Of course, trickery at the expense of character, emotion and common sense usually outsmarts itself—witness the damage done by gimmicky, needless flashbacks in Bandits and Swordfish. But in terms of influence, Memento seems likely to have the kind of impact that Pulp Fiction had eight years ago. Given the success of most of the films listed above, prepare for even more stories running backward, more shifts between realism and fantasy—and more imaginary playmates.

J.R.

Unwelcome trends. Boy-band Westerns (American Outlaws, Texas Rangers); dental noir (Novocaine); Behind the Music for dope dealers (Blow); umbilical-cord bungee-jumping, sausage fondling and animal masturbation (Freddy Got Fingered).

J.R.

These magic moments

Four objects that represented the filmgoing year. Harry Potter’s gnarled, sentient Sorting Hat (a sense of wonder); the nitro canisters of The Fast & the Furious (the fetishizing of cheap thrills); the low-rider bicycle in Baby Boy (the way that something once cool can be made to look ridiculous); and the mysterious sack in Audition (the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of the unknown).

N.M.

From The Royal Tenenbaums. In honor of Wes Anderson, a director whose carefully accessorized game closet displays more craft, ingenuity and overt affection than most two-hour features, an unavoidably abridged listing of cherished Royal Tenenbaum tchotchkes: the dizzyingly inventive (and deftly edited) “Prologue,” Richie and Margot’s reunion against a just-right Nico backdrop, the easy camaraderie between “Pappy” and his grandchildren, Eli’s gallery of grotesques and the banished Wild Javalina, a lone falcon against a Manhattan skyline, an illicit late-night tryst in a childhood tent—and of course, Royal’s self-penned epitaph.

S.M.

Genuinely funny scenes. One gag made me laugh harder than any other this year: the visit to the “Barbie Museum” in the visually unappealing but very funny Rat Race. Runners-up: the tragic “gas fight” in the underrated Zoolander; the steel-mill accident that claims Pootie Tang’s dad; any scene with Alyson Hannigan’s uninhibited band geek in American Pie 2; and an unforgettably sick father-son t...te-ê-t...te between Rip Torn and Tom Green in Freddy Got Fingered.

J.R.

Indelible images. Bilbo’s horrifying gaze of avarice, over so quickly we’re not sure what we’ve seen ( The Fellowship of the Ring); diving into a blue box and through the divide between waking and sleeping dreams (Mulholland Dr.); a girl’s shawl becomes a ship’s sail and sends her off on the journey of womanhood (The Day I Became a Woman).

D.B.

Musical moments of the year. These served to move plots forward, underscore themes and just generally delight: DuJour’s innocent ode to anal sex in Josie & the Pussycats, along with the title band’s classic up-the-charts montage; the narrative-building glam-rock wonders of Hedwig & the Angry Inch, especially “The Origin of Love” and “Wicked Little Town”; the Bollywood musical opening of Ghost World; the heartwarming triumph of nickel pop over dollar idealism when Abba’s “S.O.S.” brings hipsters and squares together in Together; the repetition of the opening sequence in Vanilla Sky, set to Radiohead’s telling “Everything in Its Right Place.” But there were still more musical moments that were downright stunning. The most thrilling sonic sequence of the year has to be the establishing scenes of Ali, underscored by a Sam Cooke medley as ecstatic, spiritual and showbizzy as the film’s subject. A close second would be Jeremy Northam’s mini-concert at the center of Gosford Park. And every few minutes of Moulin Rouge featured a collision of pop music, dance and romance, drawing jagged lines between multiple generations of youthful artistic rebellion. Ditto The Royal Tenenbaums, which deployed airy retro-folk and jagged punk to set a mood of perpetual, romantic juvenile angst.

N.M.

Not-so-heavenly creatures. The first installment of Peter Jackson’s take on The Lord of the Rings trilogy brought Tolkien’s ring-wraiths and orc-goblins to horrifying life. In otherwise forgettable productions, the pteradons of Jurassic Park III and the bus-terrorizing mummies of The Mummy Returns brought a jolt of excitement. The thumb-men of Spy Kids’ fantastical kiddie TV show were the light-spirited film’s most fanciful element. But the Creature of the Year Award goes to Teddy, the robotic toy bear of A.I. whose creepy cuteness and thoughtless mistreatment underscored the film’s themes right through to the disturbing final shot. Believe it or not, Teddy is available in collectible form (and currently on sale!) at Target.com.

N.M.

Sublime production design. An unnerving hole in an apartment floor (Amores Perros), a shattered mosaic (Sexy Beast), a warehouse full of doors on racks (Monsters, Inc.), a nightclub where MÜbius-strip logic is part of the act (Mulholland Dr.), a waterfront house filled with water containers (The Deep End), two haunted houses in the middle of nowhere (Cure and The Others), a shadow-world that encompasses and infects the wearers of a powerful ring (The Lord of the Rings), and a world composed of askew images from prior Steven Spielberg films (A.I.).

N.M.

Guilty pleasures and convicted crap

Driven. Sometimes the appeal of a movie has nothing to do with plot, theme or performance. This junker auto racing pic was quite justly savaged by critics, but I can’t deny that it gave me a great time, thanks to the exotic locales and pumped-up driving sequences. It was like a big-screen version of Speed Racer without the depth.

N.M.

John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars. I can’t quite make a case for it as a quote-unquote good movie; like much of Carpenter’s recent work, its cheapjack production values will probably play a lot better on USA at 4 a.m. after a Rolling Rock or three. But then you’ll miss Carpenter’s still impressive command of widescreen composition, and his confident, flashback-augmented pacing will be ruined by Clapper ads. Not to worry—you’ll still get leather-suited Natasha Henstridge kicking mucho ass in the Kurt Russell part, along with a good dose of Carpenter’s gleeful political skepticism, and maybe those crummy sets and that Insane Clown Posse ghost makeup will improve with small-screen shrinkage. Other movies I probably liked more than you did: Bubble Boy, Freddy Got Fingered, Jeepers Creepers, Josie and the Pussycats, Pootie Tang.

J.R.

Five unforgivably bad movies. I never want to see or think about these again: Evolution, Swordfish, Cats & Dogs, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and the absolute worst movie of 2001, Saving Silverman.

N.M.

Pootie Tang and Freddy Got Fingered. There’s more pleasure in the former and more guilt in the latter, but it’s hard for me to get these wild, unsuccessful experiments in comedy out of my mind. More absurdist than funny, and intentionally off-putting, both movies have a bizarre integrity, as if Brecht were writing sketches for In Living Color and Jackass.

D.B.

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