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2004 Holiday Movie Reviews
Stephanie Curtis picks the best and worst of 2004

THE BEST OF 2004

My top five (make that six) movies in no particular order:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: A staggering original and funny movie that really tugs at the heart, too. If you are Jim Carey-phobic, don't worry; this is one of his movies where he actually follows a script instead of hamming it up.

Kill Bill Volume 2: I would never have guessed that Tarantino's revenge flick would end with such emotion. It's more than gore (although there is plenty).

Touching the Void: A unique blend of documentary and acting. From the beginning you know the outcome of this harrowing survival tale, but you are gripped by the story just the same.

Before Sunset: A real time trip through Paris with two former lovers who may or may not still be in love. There's a lot of talking and not much action. This is one of the few films that feels like real people dealing with real emotions.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster: Speaking of real people dealing with real emotions - even heavy metal guys hurt. The members of Metallica go to therapy and try to heal. It's fun to watch a movie and be thinking "I can't believe they got this on film!"

Sideways: A middle-aged failed novelist goes on a pre-wedding wine-tasting tour with his best friend. A great script, a great story and great acting. What a relief to see a film that you can't predict.

THE WORST OF 2004

The Village: M. Night Shyamalan's dull, absurd and predictable movie with a BIG TWIST. The thing that annoys me most is his appearance a la Hitchcock near the end of the film. But unlike Hitchcock, Shyamalan's appearance is so obvious that it brought the climax of his film to a halt while he preened.

Dirty Dancing Two: Havana Nights: Do I need to say anything more? (I should be embarrassed to have seen this, but I loved the original so I had to go.) This time they add the Cuban Revolution as a subplot. Note that Peter Sagal of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" is credited with coming up with the story!

Van Helsing: A mish-mash of special effects. Every year I need to choose the film that is Hollywood's leading soulless grab for money.

Troy: An epic that felt small. You want the grandeur of Ben-Hur's chariot scene, but there just didn't seem to be enough extras to fill the ancient world.

Spanglish: It's a great idea to look at a rich L.A. family through the eyes of their maid. Unfortunately, James L. Brooks needs everyone to be black and white. Mexican maid: good. Rich, white woman: bad. Spanglish: pretentious and excruciating.



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