Top Ten Films of 2002


Steve Fesenmaier writes: \"

These are the best films I saw in calendar year 2002’.

1. Amores Perros. (2001) I had to buy a DVD of this film to
see it, and no film I have seen in a long time impressed me more than this
violent, touching, dynamic, wonderful epic about life in Mexico City. I loved
everything about this film ‘ the
theme of people as little better than the dogs they owned; the great violence
that people needed just to survive in the largest city in the world. I saw the
related film, ‘Y Tu Mama,
Tabien’ and it was nothing like this masterpiece. I
most enjoyed the tale about the professor who had to give up his family to save
them from retribution.


2. Kandahar.(2001) This docudrama
from Afghanistan was the high-lite of the spring WVIFF film festival. The
story, based on a touching true story about a woman living in Canada who had to
return to her home town to help save her sister, was incredibly beautiful and


3. White Oleander.(2002) This was
the best Hollywood film of the year. Despite being packed with celebrities, the
young star, Allison Lohman, a well known from TV but not to me, was fantastic
as the young lost girl.


4. Correct Change.(2002) Mike Lilly
and crew have created the best WV-made feature film ever. The acting was as
good as anything from Hollywood; the cinematography was superb; and the music
was perfectly done. Lilly says that the film was partially based on the model
of two films ‘ ‘Laws of Gravity,’ a
great indie film made about five years ago in the NYC-NJ area, and Thomas
Vinterberg’s sensational 1999 film, ‘Celebration,’ one
of the best Dogme-Style films. Lilly let his actors and crew
do their best and both stars, Russ McCubbin and Mollie Brown, give
Oscar-caliber performances. The story is based on a real man Lilly met in
Alcatraz, a military man from Minnesota. I have to admit that I worked on the film
in various ways, mainly helping Lilly fight the many negative forces inside WV
State government and in the arts community. I have seen the film many times,
and it gets better each time.


5. Baise-Moi.(2001) This French
film is one of the best, most intense action films I have ever seen. It tells
the amazingly graphic story of two prostitutes (played by two women who were
indeed such people, at least at one time) who go on a killing spree after
killing their pimps. Starting out in Paris, they hit the road and run into
several unfortunate people, finally ending up at a dead end. No film I have
ever seen shows life how this film does. It was a sensation at Cannes and all
over the world because the sex scenes are very realistic, as are the murder
scenes. Both are totally deglamorized, showing rape realistically.


6. The Man Who Wasn’t There. (2001)
Billy Bob Thornton should have won an Oscar for his performance in this
stunning black and white film. Though it ran along its track without any
sidesteps, it presented a man who was truly trapped in a loveless marriage. It’s emotional complexity was not nearly as complicated as
the higher ranked films, it did present desperation very, very well, especially
using black and white photography.


7. Amelie.(2001) This cute French
fantasy was the fable film of the year. I missed it at the WVIFF fund raiser,
but saw it on DVD. It was very, very cute and interesting. Compare it to ‘Baise-Moi’
and you will see that life can go either way ‘ into
fantasy and fable or down and dirty. ‘Correct Change,’ ‘Baise-Moi,’ and ‘Amores
Perros’ head for the gutter ‘ this film floats out in the clouds, and was very


8. Minority Report.(2002) As much
as I dislike Tom Cruise, and Steven Spielberg, this film, last year year’s
A.I., told a great story. I particularly liked its relevance to the Bush
clampdown on American friends. Visually it was stunning, and the story was well
paced. Spielberg probably watched ‘Blade Runner’ ten times before he made this
film, and he did learn something.


9. Derrida.(2002) This new American
documentary about French philosopher Jacques Derrida was the best ‘open’
documentary of the year. Using Derrida’s own style of thinking ‘ namely, all ‘facts’
can be questioned, in particular, who the ‘author’ of one’s life really is, -
we see inside the life and biography of a man who has taught thousands of
Americans, Europeans, and others how to constantly ask questions. It was
refreshing, positive, and a nice relief from all the dogma
people are throwing around.


10. Donnie Darko (2002) This film
has been playing all year at WV native Doris Kornish’s Two Boots Pioneer
Theater. I finally rented a copy and was truly impressed. It was great! The
ideas, fantasy, etc. was right up there with ‘Amelie.’ It was a very disturbing
film. I also greatly enjoyed another film about an adolescent, ‘L.I.E.’ but
prefer this film over it because it was much tighter.


I watched at least 100 feature films this year, and had to
rely on DVD and video to see many of them. I found most of the films at WVIFF
fairly average ‘ all three that I saw in Minneapolis
in August ran during the fall film festival. I have to admit that events in my
own personal life and the calamities befalling our world, including the awful
murders in Israel and Palestine, made we want to either face the music head on ‘
like in ‘Amores,’ ‘Baise-Moi,’ ‘Correct,’ ‘Kandahar,’ and ‘White Oleander,’ or
go off into fantasy worlds ‘ ‘Derrida,’ ‘Minority Report,’ ‘Donnie Darko,’ and ‘Amelie.’
I absolutely did NOT get to see most of the 2002 films I most want to see,
starting with ‘Bowling for Columbine.’ From what people have told me, ‘The Man
from Elesian Fields,’ ‘ War Photographer,’ and ‘Songs
from the Second Floor’ are films to look forward to. For a website that lists
almost all of the films released this year, and to see a list of the best
reviewed films of the year, check out ‘ Bubakar Awards



I have to say that there are many good films that did not
make my list ‘ after going thru the list at Bubakar I have to say that films
like ‘Yellow Asphalt’ from Israel was good, as was ‘The Believer.’ The new
version of the ‘Count of Monte Christo’ was the best version so far, and I
greatly enjoyed it. There are parts of many films I enjoyed, most notably the
opening credits for ‘Auto Focus.’


As I have written elsewhere, I think that this year may have
been the best ever for WV’s own filmmakers. I know that I was involved in
showing more of them than ever, and I met some great new filmmakers this year,
most notably Mike Lilly, Ray Schmitt, B.J.
Gudmundsson. It was great to see good films produced by Daniel Boyd made in
Africa; it was great to show Bob Gates’ new short docs on victims of
mountaintop removal; and it was really nice that ‘The Griffin and the Minor
Canon’ finally was released and sent to all the libraries in the state. I look
forward to better things happening in 2003 including working on a feature
documentary with B.J. Gudmundsson and Doug Chadwick about the Green Bank Radio
Telescope. We are now living in the Golden Age of Astronomy and Cosmology, and
I have been fortunate to have corresponded with several of the most famous
including Paul Steinhardt at Princeton, Andre Linde at Stanford and most
recently with Fotini Markopoulou Kalamara, a 31 year old Greek woman who is
working with Lee Smolin at the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in
Canada. I started college as a physics and astronomy student, and love reading
about cosmology almost as much as I like watching a film like ‘Baise-Moi.’







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