2000 Reviews

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Here are the reviews for the films that played at the 2000 World Film Festival.

The Adventures of God (Argentina - 2000)
Starring: Pasta Dioguardi, Flor Sabatella, Daniel Freire
Director: Eliseo Subiela
Plot: A man and woman realize they are living in a dream world surrounding a mysterious hotel and desperately try to find the guest who may well be dreaming them so that they may escape.
Review: Director Subiela (Man Facing Southeast) is well known for his strange metaphysical meanderings, and The Adventures of God may well be the apex of his work, continuing his fascination with the themes of the fantastic and the metaphorical. The film is quite visually interesting, with many frames worthy of a surrealist painter, and the various cinematic styles used reflect well the bending of reality and dream. The story idea is a fascinating one, and the plot moves along like a theological mystery, along with touches of humor peppered throughout, as the main character tries to discover his own identity. Unfortunately the pacing is incredibly slow, the better to appreciate the director's visual flair, perhaps, or to allow the audience to think about the implications of what is happening on screen, but it brings up an occasional tedium. Well acted, well directed, and definitely strange, The Adventures of God is a clever, if slow-moving, existential narrative.
Drama: 6/10

The Blackboard (Iran - 2000)
Starring: Saïd Mohamadi, Bahman Ghobadi, Bhenaz Jafari
Director: Samira Makhmalbaf
Plot: An itinerant teacher, with only his blackboard on his back, agrees to lead a band of nomads through the mountains of Iran to the Iraqi border.
Review: Young director Samira Makhmalbaf (The Apple) has a keen eye for storytelling, and it shows on this, her second feature. With little obvious emotional depth or melodrama, the film manages to get under the skin, and convinces us of the drama that unfolds in front of us. There are a few flights of fancy, where the film almost goes into the burlesque, but these only manage to bring the events and the tragedies to the forefront. The whole film feels like a documentary, silent, vivid, with a roving eye and an affectionate intimacy to its characters. The main subject may be the hardships of these roving tutors, on a quest to find pupils to teach, but it quickly becomes obvious that the film is grasping at much more immediate goals: that of the plight of refugees and others trying to survive near the Iran-Iraq border. The actors give a convincing performance, though they obviously have little experience and little chance to show any acting ability. The dialogue is simple and real, but the constant repetition of sentences does get grating after a while. In the end, The Blackboard manages to bring out one of the most important aspects of cinema, that of making real and immediate the lives, customs, and conditions of people from a completely different society than our own.
Drama: 8/10

Breaking the Silence (China - 1999)
Starring: Gong Li, Gao Xin, Shi Jing-Ming
Director: Sun Zhou
Plot: A poor single mother in present-day Beijing struggles despite constant setbacks to raise and educate her young, deaf son with the hope that he will one day attend a "normal" school.
Review: Breaking the Silence gives us a glimpse at the lives of the typical city-dwellers in contemporary China, a life that is hard, but never bleak, and one that is changing with the times. The film is a well-done set piece, that is really only about the characterization of the mother-son relationship, and in this Sun Zhou succeeds brilliantly. It is, in fact, the very crux of the film and it is portrayed admirably. Gong Li, in a drastic role from her previous films, is quite convincing as a single mother, and the child actor, deaf himself, gives a wonderful, precocious performance. Unfortunately to put his point across, and to show the depths of her devotion to her son, the film brings up too many reversals in her path, becomes a tad manipulative, and edges toward the melodramatic. Thankfully, the resolution to these crises never seem exaggerated, and only reinforces our respect for the characters. Breaking the Silence may not be a great film, but it is a sweet one with small scope that is an ode to struggling mothers everywhere.
Drama: 6/10

Brother 2 (Russia - 2000)
Starring: Sergei Bodrov, Victor Sukhorukov, Sergei Makovetsky
Director: Alexei Balabanov
Plot: A young Russian soldier wages war with the Russian and Chicago mob to help a compatriot hockey player now working in the NHL from being abused by an unfair contract.
Review: Hugely popular in Russia, Brother 2 is best viewed as a Russian action movie. The expected trimmings are there, of course, car chases, gunfights, a large body count, but these seem almost secondary to the theme that abounds: Russia is our home and America is not for us, a point that is reinforced by the repeated song "Goodbye, America" hummed by the main character. It also reflects the state and mood of present-day life in Russia, where things have settled after the political upheavals of recent years. Surprisingly, Americans are not shown as devils, nor are the Russians put up on a pedestal - they are just shown as different, as common people with the same sense of camaraderie but not of the "homeland". Compared to the usual Russian fare, the film is well shot and uses a dynamic style akin to typical Hollywood productions of this sort. The action sequences are nothing special, and the plot is quite silly, but the storyline and details keeps one's interest throughout. With a good dash of humor, action, and a heavy Russian rock soundtrack along with its sense of patriotism and its portrait of Muscovite life, Brother 2 is an interesting, and often entertaining, experience for viewers on this side of the ocean.
Entertainment: 7/10

Cecil B. Demented (2000)
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Melanie Griffith, Alicia Witt
Director: John Waters
Plot: Thanks to a band of brainwashed outlaws, a young rebellious director tired of mainstream cinema decides to kidnap a big-name star and force her to act in his underground film.
Review: Cecil B. Demented is director John Waters' (Pink Flamingoes) cry of desperation over what he sees as the garbage of modern American film productions. As a satire, there are some clever moments, the funniest of which are when the film pokes fun at the industry with billboards announcing sequels to the most ridiculous titles. In typical Waters fashion, the batch of horny young filmmakers get involved in more ridiculous stunts, terrorizing film-goers and productions crews, wrecking chaos against bad cinema. The problem is that it all gets much too repetitive and forced. Waters has always been seen as a connoisseur of bad taste in film-making but Cecil B. Demented actually seems more low-budget mainstream than any of his earlier efforts. Griffith is a good choice as the prima donna actress going through a Patty-Hearst type changeover, but Dorff really steals the show giving an intense, convincing performance with little to work with. But with a paper-thin script, and little of anything new to offer on the subject that hasn't been better shown in films such as Bowfinger and The Player, Cecil B. Demented just comes out as a tired tirade against Hollywood.
Entertainment: 3/10

Combat d'Amour en Songe (Chili/Portugal/France - 2000)
Starring: Melvil Poupaud, Elsa Zylberstein, Lambert Wilson
Director: Raoul Ruiz
Plot: A young theology student gets mixed into a series of half remembered childhood stories and events in both the past and future that intermingle with tales of pirates, treasure, and magical paintings. 
Review: Combat d'Amour en Songe is an adult fantasy, a dream-like experiment in non-linear narrative structure, bridging nine separate stories from different times and places each containing elements that combine to make up yet another story, and so on... At times it is impossible not to be confused by the happenings on screen, as the same actors play different roles, and even interact together from different eras. But it's all part of the bizarre story-telling experience director Ruiz (Shattered Image, Time Regained) is so fond of. The script is a marvel as well, interweaving theology, fairy-tales, adventure, mystery, cabalistic symbolism, and even secret societies seamlessly. Though there are some moments that seem to drag on more than they should, most of the film moves along quite quickly thanks to some intriguing story-lines and great, literate dialogue. Combat d'Amour en Songe is an amazing piece of film-making, full of mystery, surrealism, and great ambiance. 
Entertainment: 8/10

Harry, He's Here to Help (Harry, Un Ami Qui Vous Veut du Bien) (France - 2000)
Starring: Sergi Lopez, Laurent Lucas, Mathilde Seigner
Director: Dominik Moll
Plot: A family man meets up with one of his successful classmates, a new-found friend who will go drastically overboard to help him resolve his daily problems.
Review: Though Harry, He's Here to Help takes a little while to really get going, once its characters and situations are established it becomes a very Hitchcockian suspense, albeit with a good dose of black humor. The script is the thing, with enough twists, surprises and interesting characters to keep audiences on their toes. There are a lot of scary moments here, too, as well as a lot of gruesomely funny ones. The direction is also tight, and often almost claustrophobic, helping the audience feel for the poor family assailed by this strange guest. One of the main aspects for the film's success is actor Sergi Lopez who does a very convincing turn as the friend ready to do anything, indeed as the character upon which the whole film revolves around, and the rest of the cast supports him well. Managing to be entertaining, bizarre and at times even disturbing, Harry, He's Here to Help is a fine psychological thriller.
Entertainment: 7/10

Hochelaga (Quebec - 2000)
Starring: Dominic Darceuil, David Boutin, Ronald Houle
Director: Michel Jetté
Plot: A young, small-time Montreal hood gets initiated into a powerful brotherhood of bikers and gets quickly taken into their violent world as the groups are on the verge of an all-out gang war.
Review: Hochelaga is a stark, disturbing look into the world of a Hell's Angels-type biker gang set in Montreal, Canada with a story that seems straight out of the evening news. The fraternity, loyalty and attraction young men have for the criminal milieu (and their need to belong) is well shown, but so is the adrenaline rush, the fear, the macho swaggering, the internal political power-struggles, and the depressing reality that of the actual life in these gangs. Director Jetté does a bang-up job here, with a script that touches on the very essence of the subject and brings the characters and situations to life. The dialogues, the small every-day details, and even the relationships all ring true and make the film all the more fascinating. The cast of mostly unknowns is also well suited for their roles, and quite convincing. Hochelaga offers up a crime drama that is a fascinating look into the lives of this "underworld" and its inhabitants, and a harrowing cautionary tale.
Drama: 8/10

Hysteric (Japan - 1999)
Starring: Hijiri Kojima, Koji Chihara, Shingo Tsurumi
Director: Takahisa Zeze
Plot: A young teen gets involved with an obsessive new boyfriend who's only wish is to live hard and die with a bang, and follows him through a crime spree spanning the years.
Review: Loosely based on true-life events, Hysteric wants to be a dark fable of modern day Japan by showing the rapid decent of a teen-age girl and her obsessive boyfriend. The subject in question is the disenfranchised youth of the new decade, disillusioned, with nothing to live for, and who feel that they are completely detached from modern society and the world around them. Done in a very cinema-vérité style, the film takes its time to present the events and the two main protagonists, including the use of some long sequences that start innocently enough and invariably end in psychological or physical violence. The last act especially is a stark, almost revolting affair. In the end, the film is more startling for its presentation of an abusive, and yet co-dependent, relationship than it is of two young problem teens rebelling against society. As a small, intimate drama Hysteric has its merits, but as a portrait of a general malaise in Japan it just doesn't hit the right marks.
Drama: 6/10

The Legend of Rita (Germany - 1999)
Starring: Bibiana Beglau, Martin Wuttke, Nadja Uhl
Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Plot: After many years with a notorious West German terrorist group, a young woman is given a new identity and forced to disappear into the life of the working class with the help of the Communist East German secret police.
Review: Director Schlöndorff, best known on this side of the Atlantic for his controversial (and often censored) film The Tin Drum, once again braves the subject of German identity with The Legend of Rita. Based on events that occurred in the '70s with the left-wing terrorist Red Army Faction, the film examines both the themes of political terrorism, and socio-political climates in the divided Germany. The heartfelt drama is occasionally accentuated by some dark humor, and some very touching moments, especially when the newly arrived patriot becomes dear friends with a young woman who's only yearning is the opposite of hers - that of heading to the West and leaving the depression of the East behind. At first, our protagonist cannot believe that the people hate the very ideals she fought for, yet soon becomes not only disenchanted by the reality of life around her but afraid for her very life. One of the great successes of the film is that it manages to capture life in Communist Germany, the grimy feel of confined spaces, the oppressing routine, the emotional misery. Though Beglau really carries the movie, the rest of the cast is also excellent and thoroughly convincing. As for the script, it is well paced, from its energetic, care-free beginnings to its most depressing progression, full of hard, revealing details that sink in to the audience as they are realized by the protagonist. With The Legend of Rita, Schlöndorff has realized a nostalgic and poignant window into a different place and time not so far removed.
Drama: 8/10

Little Cheung (Hong Kong - 1999)
Starring: Yiu Yuet-ming, Mak Wai-fan, Mak Yuet-man
Director: Fruit Chan
Plot: A nine year old delivery boy discovers the complexities of life in Hong Kong after meeting a sweet, street-smart girl who lives under the fear of being deported back to China.
Review: Little Cheung continues director Fruit Chan's fascination with the Hong Kong of pre- and post-handover, in this the third installment of his HK trilogy. Neither as visceral as Made in Hong Kong, nor long-winded as Endless Summer, the film manages to be a realistic look at a child's life in Hong Kong, full of the wonder, excitement, innocence and disappointments inherent in a child's life. The story itself is a charming look at the relationship between the Hong Kong boy and the illegal Chinese immigrant girl as the two become close friends, and at the people around them. The vividness of the situations is clearly helped by the convincing portrayal of the two child actors. Another winning point is the clear affection with which the bustle of life in Kowloon is captured and shown. At its core, though, Chan once again brings up questions of identity to a society that had, until the handover, stood quite removed from the happenings on the mainland. This theme is an integral part of the film, as the story evolves around the constant media attention of the death of a local celebrity. Little Cheung may not be a memorable film but with two great young characters and a interesting backdrop that's really brought to life on screen it's still worth watching.
Drama: 7/10

Maelstrom (Quebec - 2000)
Starring: Marie-Josée Croze, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Stéphanie Morgenstern
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Plot: A young female entrepreneur suffering from personal traumas and business problems drives home drunk one night and hits an old Norwegian fisherman.
Review: Maelstrom is a harrowing, insightful, fascinating and wonderful tale of personal hardship and redemption. Director / writer Villeneuve does an incredible job with every aspect of the film, from the incredible, vivid visuals, to the camera work and stark intimacy of the events on screen. The script is intense, fascinating, and well balanced bringing an immediacy to the events that unfold, with a surreal edge binding the narrative. Marie-Josée Croze does a bravura performance here, and is utterly convincing as the young woman descending towards oblivion. Mixing elements of hard-hitting drama with elements of comedy and even a touch of fairy-tale-like romance in such a perfect balance is rare, but Maelstrom succeeds brilliantly. It is an absolute gem of a film, and very highly recommended.
Drama: 9/10

Nine Lives of Tomas Katz, The (2000)
Starring: Tom Fisher, Ian McNeice, Tim Barlow 
Director: Ben Hopkins
Plot: A mysterious, bizarre young man able to take over the body and spirit of whomever he meets causes incredible chaos and confusion all over England.
Review: Shot completely in black and white, The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz seems to want to be an homage to various films, most notably Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove and its take on Doomsday. Mind you, the film has many more zany and off-the-wall segments than any film in recent memory, poking fun at politics and at our modern society in all its dizzying, silly ways, mixing biblical end-of-the-world conceptions with modern ones. Unfortunately, it's hard to keep up all this burlesque and pointed stabs at the same fast rate over 90 minutes, and there are some obvious slow downs. The comparison to a Monty-Python film, with various sketches knitted together is also valid, and again some scenes work better than others. Still, though the story occasionally bogs down a bit, The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz remains an entertaining and very imaginative, original, and madcap adventure to the end of the world.
Entertainment: 7/10

Policewoman (Germany - 2000)
Starring: Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Axel Prahl, Jevgenij Sitochin
Director: Andreas Dresen
Plot: A young woman fresh out of police school is assigned to a deprived, inner-city neighborhood in an East German port town and has a rough time adjusting to the requirements of her new job. 
Review: Policewoman provides an intimate look at the grueling requirements of a thankless job, and at a young woman losing the last of her innocence. The film avoids the usual criminal sensationalism to provide a portrait of gritty realism, of overbearing bureaucracy, of small personal stories (social cases) that are far more depressing and emotionally draining. Unfortunately, the main story relies maybe too much on exaggerated coincidences to move the plot along and make its point, but the details, characters, and personal interactions all ring true. Schmeide, as the main protagonist, is also the perfect choice for the part and quite believable. A fine script, a good character study and some good documentary-style direction ends up raising an otherwise standard narrative above the typical police drama.
Drama: 7/10

State and Main (2000)
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin
Director: David Mamet
Plot: A large Hollywood film crew turning a 19th century drama invades a small Vermont town and turns the once-sleepy and quiet area upside down.
Review: With State and Main, director / screenwriter David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner) turns his attention to the goings-on, ridiculous antics, and even more ridiculous personas behind the scenes of a big-budget film. With a constantly mocking tone, the film portrays the production crew and cast as veritable caricatures against the naive townspeople taking in by the fake glamour of Hollywood. A lot of the success rides on the characters and the film is adorned with a terrific comic cast, especially William Macy as a director who is more of a diplomat and a "teller of great fiction" than a film-maker. Other films have made similar statements (The Player, The Stunt Man, etc.) but none are as all-encompassing or amusing as this. Though making a point, Mamet also knows what the audiences expect, and the movie itself starts and ends in typical Hollywood fashion. Both mocking and tender, State and Main is a hilarious, finely crafted, light-hearted send-up of Hollywood society.
Entertainment: 8/10

Taboo (Japan - 2000)
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Shinji Takeda
Director: Nagisa Oshima
Plot: Two new, young Samurai recruited into the Japanese militia cause quite a stir among the clan's older members as a strange, and dangerous sexual tension pervades the daily routine.
Review: Dreamily beautiful, well-presented, and invariably well directed, Taboo is a samurai picture that shows the usual politics, macho swaggering, court intrigue (both as a thirst for power and for sex), and clan alliances and animosity but with a very homo-erotic twist. Director Oshima has been absent from the screen for many years, but with this film he once again explores the theme of unruly passion that he so well presented in Empire of the Senses. The captivating script really manages to draw the audience into this strange world where the forbidden love between men has even more dire consequences than even the dangerous, but more typical, romantic entanglements between sexes. All this is helped by the use of some stunning images, and beautiful cinematography that plays well with lights, shadows, and a strict use of colors. Full of strong, troubled characters, (one of which fan favorite Takeshi Kitano, as the narrator, manages to imbue with his formidable, stoic presence) the film is also a fascinating portrayal of a closed, elite society on the road to perdition. Taboo is, quite simply, a wonderful piece of filmmaking.
Drama: 8/10

The Taste of Others (Le Gout des Autres) (France - 1999) 
Starring: Anne Alvaro, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Brigitte Catillon
Director: Agnes Jaoui 
Plot: A disenchanted entrepreneur with little culture, temporarily followed by two bodyguards, falls for a second-rate theatre actress and attempts to enter this artistic world without much success.
Review: Using a bevy of characters, all portrayed with a certain respect and sensibility, The Taste of Others portrays the differences between different social circles. It is a film about the subjective nature of "taste", of the prejudices and preconceptions we have of people we don't really know. No one is black or white here, and though we have an immediate like and dislike to some of the people on-screen, we slowly realize, just as the characters do, that appearances are deceiving. The relationships between these diverse people, and the events that bring them together, actually become quite touching, thanks especially to a great script and able direction from actress and first-time director Jaoui and her writing partner Bacri (Un Air de Famille, On Connait la Chanson). This is a light-hearted drama with moments of quiet tenderness, but with a constant under-current of humor. The Taste of Others is a clever, rewarding film that manages to be amusing, mocking, and sensitive with equal aplomb. 
Drama: 8/10

Under Suspicion (2000)
Starring: Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Monica Bellucci
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Plot: The night he is to toast a charity ball in Puerto Rico, a rich and powerful lawyer is brought in for questioning regarding his discovery of a dead young girl the day before.
Review: With Under Suspicion, director Hopkins (Lost in Space) makes a radical departure from his previous B-movie roots and offers up a modest but well done remake of the French film Garde a Vue, keeping its psychological edge and its sense of mystery with a visual style all its own. Particularly interesting is the way the present characters interact in scenes of past recollections. Much of the success of the film rests on the performances of the two leads, and it is the battle of wits, of cat and mouse between the two prideful characters, the police captain Freeman and the suspect Hackman, that gives the film its real sparkle. Of course, to pull it off the narrative had to be well structured, and the dialogue believable and incisive - and they are. Though some parts are a bit repetitive, Under Suspicion remains a clever mystery thanks to a tantalizing script, an interesting character study, and the work of an experienced cast.
Entertainment: 7/10

The Waiting List (Cuba - 2000)
Starring: Vladimir Cruz, Thaimi Alvariño, Jorge Perugorría
Director: Juan Carlos Tabío
Plot: After waiting for days for transportation that will seemingly never arrive, a large group of strangers waiting at a remote Cuban bus station band together to find a solution to their dilemma.
Review: The Waiting List is a light-hearted, fresh, and very entertaining ensemble comedy. Director Tabío pokes fun at the obvious problems of the Cuban system, but never at the expense of his vast array of characters which are all endearing, interesting and quite amusing thanks to a great cast that plays their parts with heart. In fact it is through their common adversity that a certain camaraderie forms, and that their previously self-serving interests give way to tenderness and concern. Is the film trying to prove the Cuban sense of socialism isn't based on the political ideology but on its good-natured people? It doesn't matter - The Waiting List, with its dreamy, surreal atmosphere, good-natured humor, under-handed political satire, and great cast is simply delightful to watch.
Entertainment: 8/10

Water Drops on Burning Rocks (Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes) (France - 1999) 
Starring: Bernard Giraudeau, Malik Zidi, Ludivine Sagnier
Director: François Ozon
Plot: In 1970's Germany, a 50-year-old businessman seduces a 20-year-old boy who then moves in with him. Things get complicated when their respective female lovers come knocking at their door.
Review: Based on an un-produced work by famed German writer / director R.W. Fassbinder, this four-act film is a veritable send-up of domesticity and dysfunctional relationships. The film takes turns between being an interesting psychosexual drama, a sexual farce, a dark comedy, and finally a tragedy. Though the dialogue and plot is more sustained and interesting during the first three acts, the whole film is a magnificently written and well-set up production, with director Ozon going for a minimalist yet quite stylish look while keeping events confined within the single apartment. The characters and situations are obviously exaggerated but bring the point across, and the performances by the small cast is top-notch, especially by Bernard Giraudeau as the middle-aged fiend. Though obviously made for theatre, Water Drops on Burning Rocks is a witty, dark, and occasionally disturbing look at sex and relationships in the 70's, and one that still packs a punch for today's audiences.
Drama / Comedy: 7/10

The Wedding (Svadba) (Russia - 2000)
Starring: Marat Bacharov, Maria Mirinova, Andrei Panine
Director: Pavel Lounguine
Plot: A small mining town outside Moscow prepares the wedding celebrations between a poor young miner and his childhood love, a woman who left him years before to become a successful Russian model.
Review: In The Wedding, Director Lounguine (Taxi Blues, Luna Park) paints the portrait not only of a small community, but also one of present-day Russian society reduced to a microcosm. The film is, on the outset, a comedy as events surrounding the wedding become confused and chaotic, where money is the prime concern and where the bride's mysterious past comes back to haunt her. But there's also a piercing drama that creeps in to the proceedings, showing a people trying to overcome drastic changes in their lives as well as the economic uncertainties due to the fall of Communism. Though the story takes a while to set up the situations and its myriad of colorful characters, it finally pays off in a mix of festive scenes, surreal situations, touching moments, melodramatic events and farcical gaffes all filmed with a sort of bulliant energy that captures the hell-bent desperation of its denizens trying to forget their worries and enjoy their brief respite. With humor, whimsy and a touch of drama The Wedding manages to be both uplifting and sad, showing us a country that is being crushed by political upheavals and yet where its people maintains its communal bonds and its sense of hope.
Drama: 8/10

Woman on Top (2000)
Starring: Penelope Cruz, Murilo Benicio, Harold Perrineau Jr.
Director: Fina Torres
Plot: After catching her husband in bed with another woman, a young Brazilian chef decides to move in with her best friend in San Francisco and start her own cooking show.
Review: Woman on Top is a disarming, simple comedy as Hollywood does them best. That is to say, it's high-concept, fast-paced and predictable, but also highly enjoyable. The story and situations are, of course, ridiculous and exaggerated (as are the one-dimensional characters) but there's a certain innocence in the proceedings, a certain light-hearted charm throughout that much can be excused. The beautiful Penelope Cruz, Spain's answer to Julia Roberts it seems, is absolutely wonderful on screen, as is Benicio as her estranged husband, but it's her Brazilian transvestite friend played by Perrineau who steals the many scenes he's in, in typical genre manner. Add to this some funny scenes, some sumptuous dishes, some decent romantic moments, and a bit of Voodoo for good measure, and Woman on Top becomes an amusing and entertaining treat.
Entertainment: 6/10

The Yards (2000)
Starring: Mark Walhberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlize Theron
Director: James Gray
Plot: A recently paroled car thief tries to return to a normal life but is unwittingly taken in by the life of sabotage and corruption that riddles contractors for the New York subway system.
Review: The Yards is a well-made crime drama that portrays the corruption behind large-city contracts, but one that isn't always very convincing. Too many events happen, coincidently, at the same time pushing the main character into quickly deteriorating situations. One of the problems is that the film touches on many subjects - family drama, loyalty, politics, corruption, etc. - without ever properly exploring the potential in the story. In fact, a lot of depth is alluded to here, but is rarely shown on screen. The story, though typical, still has a certain punch to it, the script is well written, the film ably directed by James Gray (Little Odessa) and the cast is decent across the board with Wahlberg playing his usual low-key, soft talking character. Though there's nothing really original here, The Yards is still a solid, occasionally even intense, crime drama.
Drama: 5/10

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