10 Pretty Good Movies You Might Have Missed: 2001

It is traditional that critics and other pontificators come up with a year end list of the 10 best. Well, I can pontificate with the best of them but I'm going to waffle on "best" and on "year".

I can't select the "best" because, unfortunately, I didn't keep good records of what I saw last year and also because I am excluding films with a wide release in the US.

Since this site is about films that received little if any release in the US, the year the film becomes available may have little correlation with the year of the release. Thus, I'm just going to pick from films I first saw in 2001. I think this is fair as the professional critics are always picking movies that you and I haven't even had a chance to see yet.

That leaves me with 10 pretty good films I first saw in 2001. Most of these are available on DVD in some form, though not necessarily widely available. Because they aren't the best, I have them arranged in alphabetical order. With no further ado, here they are, 10 films that are pretty good:

The Haunted House

Buster Keaton was a comic genius! I prefer the shorts to the features because they are more concentrated. He remains funny because he battles everyday objects that are still recalcitrant today.

Keaton is a bank teller in love with the bank president's daughter. The head teller is a counterfeiter whose HQ is disguised as a haunted house, but none of that really matters as long as there is glue and phony ghosts.

Lunch With Charles

In this Canadian film, April (Theresa Lee) has immigrated to Canada but her husband, Tong (Sean Lau Ching Wan), is still back in Hong Kong 3 years later. Finally she sends him an ultimatum. Tong arrives from Hong Kong to find she's gone to Banff. Tong follows. There's many a slip twixt Vancouver and Banff as April ends up going to Banff with Matthew (Nicholas Lea) and Tong with Matthew's significant other, Natasha (Bif Naked).

Lunch With Charles did not end the way I expected/wanted but that's OK because the ending came from the characters and I enjoyed the trip.

National 7

This is a French film about the inmates of a nursing home with varying degrees of physical and mental disabilities and their sexual needs. One very annoying man, who none of the staff likes, asks to be taken to a prostitute. After intense debate by the staff, this is agreed to. Once an amenable prostitute is found, other guys want to go and it becomes a weekly outing, despite possible legal repercussions.

Sensitive topic handled in a sensitive, yet entertaining and humourous way.

Porco Rosso (The Crimson Pig)

Of the Miyazaki films I've seen to date, this has to be my favorite. Porco/Marco is a middle aged pilot. He defends ships from air pirates over the Adriatic in the '20s. He's sad and tired but not too old to learn to be loved.

This film depicts flying the way it should be, a golden day over a sparkling ocean in an open plane with the sea just a stone's throw below.


This is the Korean spin on La Femme Nikita. Two South Korean agents are after a North Korean assassin, little realizing she is the fianceé of one. The assassin is torn between love and duty as the big hit nears and the agents come closer to her identity.

The Specials

The 6th or 7th greatest team of superheroes is finally getting the recognition they deserve ... action figures! But the figures are all wrong. Mr. Smart (Jim Zulevic) has a Richard Dawson head, Minute Man (James Gunn) is made African American, Alien Orphan (Sean Gunn) and Deadly Girl (Judy Greer) are baddies, and that's just for starters. It all turns to ashes. Can the team survive the bad toys not to mention adultery? With Rob Lowe as The Weevil and Thomas Haden Church as The Strobe.

Don't expect a special effects spectacular but expect a smart movie about all too human superheroes.

Time and Tide

I'm not sure if this belongs on the list as I saw it at a cineplex but I did have to drive into Chicago to do it.

Jack (Wu Bai) has a pregnant wife and in-law problems -- his father-in-law wants him dead. Good thing he used to be a bad ass mercenary. Tyler (Nicholas Tse) is another father to be, trying to do the right thing. He bonds with Jack and alternately helps and hinders him.

Directed by Tsui Hark with action choreography by Xiong Xin Xin, it is full of movement and style, not to mention bullets, lots of bullets.

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