Lovely, eloquent write-ups for your 2002 lists, Brandon. And to think you often disparage your writing ability...how wrong you are my friend. Exemplary job.
I'll do my best to respond, but I'm sorry if I don't have a lot to say. We are in almost total agreement here:
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, I haven't seen in a dog's age, but I appreciate your towering estimation of it. I remember it being entertaining, but I'd have to see it again to dig deeper than that.
25th HOUR is a great, furious piece of work. I also haven't seen it in a while, but I can still vividly recall its sense of cosmic frustration and overwhelming regret. It's a movie about undesired consequences, the immobility of anger, and the impotence to erase this ubiquitous "fuck you" attitude of the world. I'd love to see this again, but I already know that it's a major film in Spike Lee's oeuvre.
I want to see FAR FROM HEAVEN.
Speaking of major films, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE may be the greatest romantic comedy since ANNIE HALL. It's certainly a momentous film amongst similarly momentous films in Paul Thomas Anderson's brilliant, diverse career. I love how much of a transitional piece it is for him. It finds him treading into newer, more bizarre, more avant-garde territory but also retaining his wonderful sense of humor, energy, and classical filmmaking. I also love how strongly this film recreates that sense of invigoration and apprehension when we think we might be in love. The more I think about it the more I can't imagine a movie being more singularly perfect at what it is. Give me PTA over anyone else making movies in the last 15 years and now.
SPIRITED AWAY is such a marvelous feast for the eyes and heart that it's difficult to translate what makes it so special into words. It just transfigures beyond expression.
I remain an enormous fan of MINORITY REPORT and think it's one of Spielberg's best, most entertaining yarns. It's a terrifying concept realized in one of the most inventive, visually precise, and terribly antiseptic visions of the future that I can recall on film.
GANGS OF NEW YORK is still a bit of a mess, but to borrow a turn of phrase from John, it's a glorious mess at that. Daniel Day-Lewis is at his most imperious here.
Despite owning it, I haven't seen TALK TO HER since it came out. It was my initiation into Almodovar, as well, and I fell completely in love with it and him when I saw it. I should give it a re-look...
I haven't seen TROUBLE EVERY DAY, but I've heard it contains a particularly gnarly scene that takes George Costanza's "having it all" dream of combining sex and eating to a whole new level. Is that the scene you skipped, Brandon? I'm morbidly curious to see this one, though maybe count me out for that scene.
I haven't seen Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN since it came out. I lent my copy of it to Craver and haven't seen it since. I have no idea if it still holds up.
I love, love, love ADAPTATION. It's as clever and funny as modern filmmaking gets, in my opinion. I can understand people finding it annoying or self-indulgent to a fault, but I have to completely disagree. I think it's just such an honest expression of desire, anxiety, and failure - almost painfully so. It's self-involved (consciously), but it's never self-serious. It's a purposeful laying the ego bare for the sake of consummate amusement. Kaufman, along with Woody Allen, remains the ultimate chronicler of modern neuroses.
I like that Chris Nolan's INSOMNIA is just a well-made, no-nonsense thriller. It's easily his least convoluted film, and it's reminder of the type of tight filmmaking he's capable of when not being bogged down by bigness and budgetary excess. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited, or at the very least curious, to see what he does with INTERSTELLAR, but part of me would like to see him return to smaller, more modest filmmaking like INSOMNIA.
I like PANIC ROOM quite a bit, and think it's still underrated. Fincher paints textured gloss and decay like no other.
In terms of generating anxiety and wonder, most of SIGNS is actually remarkable. I can remember some scares in it being impeccably delivered and its brooding sense of terror and mystery being almost unbearably potent. It is a shame that the ending is such an incorrigible letdown and so obliviously idiotic that it undoes so much of what came before it. But it is still a worthy honorable mention.
I think that's all I gots for now. Stellar list, dude.
In other news - ONLY GOD FORGIVES is unconscionably awful. It makes me not want to see another Nicolas Winding Refn movie for as long as I live. It's the epitome of meretricious, soulless, hopelessly inane filmmaking. Not even the most merciful of movie gods would forgive this horrendous piece of shit. Refn has unfortunately descended into self-parody.