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The Best, Worst and Otherwise Noteworthy of 2003
By Rob Paul

It wasn't the best of times, nor was it the worst of them. There are some pretty solid movies here and some of them were surprises. Honestly, did you really think Pirates of the Carribean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, a film based on a Disney ride was going to be good? I could use a few more cinematic shocks to the system like that once in awhile. Anyway, before the introduction gets any longer, here's some of the fun and some of the crumbs of 2003.

TOP Picks of 2003 (in no particular order)

Lost in Translation
I came out of the film stunned. What better can you say than that? Bill Murray's Oscar worthy performance...(it would be great to see him win and Depp get Best Supporting actor for the aforementioned Pirates), the odd quiet that hangs throughout a film that still has some very good laughs...I expected a dull art-house flick with one of my favourite comedic actor's and was treated to something unique and possibly accidental, a romantic comedy where the romance may actually be more about life than the two on-screen stars.

Kill Bill - Cast
Kill Bill - Cast
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Kill Bill Vol. 1
Hey, this is for the chop-socky set, it's ultra-violent, cartoonish, funny, bizarre, disgusting and stunning to watch as Tarantino returns to the big screen blowing out conventions and leaving us panting for the second half. It may not be to your tastes but hey, you can go watch your rented copy of Haunted Mansion while I enjoy Volume 2.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
It's an odd world. I don't own either of the 2 major sets of Lord of the Rings, yet gave all of them great reviews. I think Peter Jackson should be a shoo-in for Best Director this year and while I enjoy these films...this one most of all, I still don't see the need to add them to my collection. I can not fathom why, they are extensive, thorough and visual amazing...but something in me says, there are other movies to own. Still, once more Jackson and Lord of the Rings - Return of the King makes my top films list. I'd still like to crop that ending down, but hey, it ain't my film!
Return of the King - Aragorn Sword Collage
Return of the King - Aragorn Sword Collage
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Finding Nemo - Turtle
Finding Nemo - Turtle
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Finding Nemo
Pixar does it again. Despite my misgivings on the film trailer I sat there giddy and when the film came out on DVD was there in the first week adding it to my collection. Why? It just makes me laugh and again, with all of these films, there is something beautiful in almost every scene to behold. I am glad that animated films are not just for kids anymore.

It's inspirational.
It's a tale of the downtrodden succeeding.
It's got Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Tobey Maguire and William H. Macy all giving great performances.
It is also a quiet, well-made story about a depression-era horse that brought joy to millions and in the summer of 2003 this little film went on to pull in $120 million which helps me believe that some audiences still care about good stories.
Besides, I am a sucker for the era and for an against-the-odds winner. Guess what, this one is sitting in my collection too.
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Pirates of The Caribbean - The Curse of The Black Pearl  (Johnny Depp)
Pirates of The Caribbean - The Curse of The Black Pearl (Johnny Depp)
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Pirates of the Carribean - The Curse of the Black Pearl
Big boats, big shiney teeth and a wild, unpredictable performance from Depp (to match the other great one he gives in Once Upon a Time in Mexico), a twisty little storyline, a skeleton monkey and more all make this film a thousand times better than it has any right to be. Again, this one makes it into my collection!

Also noteworthy:
Dirty Pretty Things - A very dark, slow, methodical story that involves illegal aliens, a heart in a hotel toliet and actors all giving amazing performances. Chances are you never even saw this one at your local theatre, but when it hits DVD on March 23rd, do yourself a favour, sit down and force yourself through it. Carefully crafted, plotted it carries what a good movie should have, a plot that really resonates. Director Stephen Frears shows why he is still one of the few directors who can flip between indie and Hollywood filmmaking with ease.

Bad Boys II
Bad Boys II
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THE Worst

Bad Boys 2

I wrote it in my original review and I will do it again...worst movie of 2003 and it should apologize for ever being deemed worthy of promotion!

Some fun flicks worthy of your Sunday afternoon viewing pleasure: S.W.A.T.
Nothing overly unique in this cop-flick, bad guys, good guys, and training sequences...but fun...and some very pretty explosions!

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
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Once Upon A Time In Mexico
If only for the line - 'Are you a Mex-I-Can or Mex-I-Can't?' but Depp's performance, Robert Rodriguez intense cinematic style and action that just blows up in your face makes this third outing in the Mariachi series wildly fun.

A list of disappointments:

The Matrix Reloaded - bloated, messy but at times pretty to look at. Then came the third - Revolutions - and even the die-hard defenders of the second flick began to quietly slip back into The Matrix and say the last two films were merely glitches in the system and they 'never really happened'.

Underworld - Vampires, Werewolves, Kate Beckinsale in tight leather...who knew all these positives would add up to such a negative number. Let's hope director Stephen Sommers Van Helsing doesn't suck nearly as much.
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Dreamcatcher - Uh...was this a good book? Because the movie indicates it was a waste of trees.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Mythic characters like The Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, Allen Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, gorgeous sets, a dull storyline and a silly open ending leave me wondering where the quality writing that created these myths disappeared to.

Copyright© 2003
Copyright© Edited by: Rob Paul

Evil Ash

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