Edward Johnson-Ott

Edward Johnson-Ott

"Three rules for effective film criticism: 1.) Reveal as little about the plot as possible. 2.) While getting personal is no sin, try to talk less about yourself and more about the movie. 3.) Humor in a review is welcome, but not at the expense of giving an accurate assessment of the film. Never do "cute" puns based on the title of the movie. Leave that to Jeff Craig and the other hacks. I miss the days when movies were made by artists instead of technicians."

Agrees with the Tomatometer 75% of the time.

In 1989, Ed Johnson-Ott began reviewing films for the Bob and Tom Show, the popular radio program based in Indianapolis and syndicated throughout the United States. He left the show in 1992 to host a weekly pop culture radio program. Johnson-Ott started covering films for NUVO Newsweekly in '92, and became the paper's senior critic in 1996. In 1998 he was named film editor for the paper. He also reviews films for WZPL in Indianapolis. In addition to NUVO, Ed Johnson-Ott's reviews now appear in alternative weeklies across America.
THE TEN BEST AND TEN MOST ANNOYING FILMS OF 2001 By Ed Johnson-Ott, NUVO Newsweekly http://www.nuvo.net E-mail: ejohnsonott@prodigy.net Archive film reviews at http://reviews.imdb.com/ReviewsBy?Edward+Johnson-Ott To receive reviews by e-mail, send a note with the word "subscribe" in the subject line to ejohnsonott-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Before launching into the year's list of best movies, I need to make a few qualifying remarks. Every year, the studios release a few films for one week only in New York and Los Angeles so that they will qualify for the Academy Awards. I was lucky enough to be able to screen most of those titles, but did not see several potential winners such as Ridley Scott's Bosnian war film "Black Hawk Down," "I Am Sam," featuring Sean Penn as a mentally retarded single father, the highly acclaimed Billy Bob Thornton/Halle Barry romantic drama, "Monster's Ball" and writer/director Wes Anderson's first film since "Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums." Two more notes: Although it played here for several weeks, I managed to miss David Lynch's TV pilot turned feature film, "Mullholland Drive," which many friends told me I would have loved. Finally, although it certainly was a clever piece of work, I left "Shrek" off the list in part just to be ornery, but also because I find the insertion of cynicism into children's films disturbing. BEST MOVIES OF 2001 1. A Beautiful Mind In presenting the biography of John Forbes Nash Jr., a mathematical genius stricken with schizophrenia, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman leave out some significant facts about his life, including his bisexuality and the son he fathered and discarded prior to meeting the love of his life. Still, the production had three things going for it: a simple, but clever story device that pulls viewers into Nash's state of mind, a breakout turn by Jennifer Connelly, who fleshes out a severely underwritten role, and yet another astounding performance from the remarkable Russell Crowe. 2. Bully Based on a "true crime" book by Jim Schutze, the film, from "Kids" director Larry Clark, shows how a group of Florida teens come to murder one of their own. It does so by creating an atmosphere so achingly real that you feel as if you're watching some hellish documentary. "Bully" is obscene. It is a slap in the face, an insult and a challenge. It very well may also be one of those movies that secretly celebrates all it purports to condemn, but that doesn't matter. What matters is how you react to it. Adventurous filmgoers will see the film and learn a little bit more about themselves. 3. Ocean's Eleven After making a big splash on the independent film scene with "sex, lies and videotape," director Stephen Soderbergh spent years making solid little movies before hitting the mainstream in a major way with "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic." This year, he offers the caper thriller "Ocean's Eleven," taking only the title and basic premise of the lame '60s "Rat Pack" movie and investing it with vim, vigor and humor. The all-star cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts, does terrific ensemble work, with many of the biggest names taking the smallest, least showy roles. Standouts? Clooney and Pitt make a great team, Julia Roberts sizzles despite her scant screen time, Carl Reiner is rock solid as a seasoned vet with failing health and Elliott Gould proves a riot as he saunters by the young male sex symbols with his big old belly defiantly bobbing in front of him. "Ocean's Eleven" is a reminder of how good "light entertainment" can be in the right hands. 4. Memento In this presented-in-reverse mind blower, Guy Pearce, the straight arrow cop from "L.A. Confidental," plays Leonard Shelby, a desperate figure out to find the man who raped and murdered his wife. Unfortunately, Leonard suffered brain damage in the attack and now has no short-term memory. Although his long-term memories are intact, he can't remember any recent events. Leonard copes by using annotated Polaroids as a memory substitute and tattooing vital information onto his body. Like "The Sixth Sense" and "The Matrix," "Memento" is a strongly acted and neatly constructed puzzle movie, but the comparison ends there. Whether viewed as an existential exercise or just a snappy thriller, this is a true original. 5. The Tailor of Panama When a British Secret Agent (Pierce Brosnan) is exiled to Panama City, he approaches one of his countrymen, an unctuous tailor (Geoffrey Rush), and offers money in exchange for secrets the tailor has learned from his elite clientele. The gents soon find themselves in the middle of a very dangerous web of lies, with lives hanging in the balance. Brosnan and Rush are excellent, as is the supporting cast, and director John Boorman's adroit use of the Panama City setting helps to establish and maintain a delicious sense of dread. 6. The Fluffer What a nice surprise. This low-budget film from co-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash West starts off as a clever little comedy about the world of pornographic moviemaking, but turns into a gripping study of codependency. Sean (Michael Cunio), a newcomer to L.A., becomes obsessed with hyper-masculine gay porn star Johnny Rebel (Scott Gurney), eventually securing a job as cameraman with the company that produces his movies. He gets to hook up with his idol, but not in the way he hoped. Turns out that Johnny is straight, a gay-for-pay performer, and Sean ends up as his fluffer - the term for the person that provides oral stimulation to get the star erect for his next scene. The film garners laughs from bad porno acting and the horrible puns in porno titles, but moves into deeper territory as it examines the personalities of Sean, Johnny and Johnny's stripper girlfriend, Babylon (Roxanne Day). Heterosexuals should not dismiss this as just a "gay movie." With its arresting imagery and strong acting, "The Fluffer" is for all adventurous filmgoers. 7. (tie) The Deep End/With a Friend like Harry Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of these erudite thrillers. "The Deep End," introduces a protective mother (Tilda Swinton) whose son is carrying on an affair with Darby, a sleazy fellow 12 years his senior. Margaret doesn't trust the guy and proposes that he leave. He agrees, but for a price of $5,000. Complications ensue, leading to a dead body, a mysterious blackmailer (Goran Visnjic) and lots of smart, beautifully delivered dialogue. "With a Friend like Harry" follows Michel and Claire, a young couple traveling with their three girls in a stifling heat wave, who encounter Harry, a wealthy eccentric who knew Michel in school. Harry attaches himself to the family, bestowing gifts and loads of attention, but something about the situation is terribly wrong. While less credible than "The Deep End," "Harry" works by presenting many of its most shocking moments in a disturbingly matter-of-fact fashion. 8. Waking Life A 97-minute dream journey from "Slacker" director Richard Linklater. For the duration of the film, various actors discuss philosophical issues. The images of said performers, initially shot on digital film, are then turned into animation by artists working over the rotoscoped images. The end result is akin to watching a group of cartoon characters having a feature-length late night coffeehouse chat. Take it as an experiment or a challenge. Or just pretty pictures with a lot of chatter. For those receptive to innovative cinema, this is transcendent. 8 and a half. (tie) Hedwig & the Angry Inch/Moulin Rogue Musicals that dare to be different. "Hedwig" is a terrific gender-bending glam rock musical. Stylistically, the hook-laden tunes are reminiscent of "Ziggy Stardust" era David Bowie, "Bat Out of Hell" era Meatloaf and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," without ever seeming like imitations. Writer-director John Cameron Mitchell is outstanding as the transsexual diva Hedwig, doing a bang-up job adapting his off-Broadway musical for the big screen. In "Moulin Rogue," Australian director Baz Luhrmann fills the heads of viewers with unique camerawork, opulent imagery, vibrant performances from Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent and company, and songs ranging from "The Sound of Music" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Sumptuous and beautiful, vulgar and overdone, "Moulin Rogue" travels through the looking glass while an ethereal stereo loaded with 50 years worth of CDs operates on the "random" setting. 9. In the Bedroom Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson are devastating in Todd Field's study of grief and its effect on an aging middle class couple in a small Maine town. The battered, but unyielding atmosphere of the burg mirrors that of the couple, who must deal with a tragedy in the family. While the dialogue is dead-on, the punch of the film comes from the spaces between the words, from the things left unspoken. And not enough can be said about the stunning performances of Spacek and Wilkinson. 9 and a half. A.I. - Artificial Intelligence Fractured, but dazzling futuristic tale of a robot boy (Osment) who can think, love and hurt. Directed by Steven Spielberg, who collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on the project until the late director passed the project completely over to Spielberg. Misleadingly advertised as a fairy tale, "A.I." is a dark, often cruel story of obsession and intolerance. Flawed though it may be, the 145-minute epic still stands head and shoulders above most films. Packed with freaky, haunting and generally amazing images, the production is accented by one of John Williams' better scores. Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law are terrific, and the film offers a cornucopia of intriguing concepts. 10. Gosford Park Look, it's "Upstairs Downstairs" with a murder mystery lobbed into the middle, as directed by the inimitable Robert Altman. Dialogue overlaps all over the place as the camera glides between the upper class and t
NUVO Newsweekly
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Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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Showing 1 - 50 of 423
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Rating T-Meter Title | Year Add Date
4/5 79% Land Ho! (2014) " The scenery is gorgeous, the mood is upbeat and your traveling companions are interesting fellows." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Sep 19, 2014
3.5/5 94% Moneyball (2011) " Moneyball looks like an underdog sports movie, but it veers away from the path usually followed by films of the genre. My suggestion is that you set aside any preconceptions and just go with the flow." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 6, 2014
4/5 91% 12 O'clock Boys (2014) " Lotfy Nathan's hand-held camerawork, combined with a snappy hip-hop soundtrack, gives the documentary a sense of immediacy." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Jan 31, 2014
4/5 91% Blue Jasmine (2013) " Jasmine is a good movie, one of Allen's best in years, but the draw here is Blanchett, whose performance takes an off-putting character and makes her surprisingly, um ... not quite on-putting, but riveting." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Dec 17, 2013
4.5/5 95% The Act Of Killing (2013) " One thing's for sure. You won't see another documentary like this one." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Dec 16, 2013
3/5 68% Somebody Up There Likes Me (2013) " I didn't find Somebody Up There Likes Me as funny as others seem to, but I was fascinated enough by the curious offering to watch it twice." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 8, 2013
62% Lymelife (2008) " Shaky in spots, but rewarding overall." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 14, 2012
3/5 70% Friends With Benefits (2011) " Timberlake and Kunis do a good job with an old routine, and Woody keeps the proceedings lively. As rom-coms go, you could do a lot worse than this." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Aug 24, 2011
49% The Passion of the Christ (2004) " 'A Biblical snuff film'" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 25, 2004
48% S.W.A.T. (2003) " Testosterone-filled fun" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Aug 5, 2003
43% Anger Management (2003) " Lower your expectations and you'll likely have some fun." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 8, 2003
58% Dark Blue (2003) " 'The main asset is Kurt Russell, who is extraordinary.'" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 12, 2003
34% Bringing Down The House (2003) " 'A rewrite - one that played more off the straight-laced vs. laid-back dynamic rather than racial stereotypes - would have helped.'" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 12, 2003
64% Willard (2003) " 'Hamlet in crayon, with rats.'" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 12, 2003
41% The Scorpion King (2002) NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 2, 2003
60% Old School (2003) " 'Sloppy, but it delivers big laughs on a consistent basis.'" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 20, 2003
8% Gods and Generals (2003) " 'Civil War battle re-enactment scenes surrounded by the longest high school play ever.'" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 20, 2003
37% Star Trek - Nemesis (2002) " Better than Generations and Insurrection, but not as good as First Contact." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Dec 12, 2002
4/4 37% Pumpkin (2002) " Although there are many juicy supporting performances, Christina Ricci owns this movie. What a wonderful talent, and what a maddening, but enjoyable film." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Dec 3, 2002
96% Bowling for Columbine (2002) " Powerful, disturbing, funny, thought provoking, moving and infuriating." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Nov 18, 2002
82% Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) " Snappier than the first." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Nov 18, 2002
38% Sweet Home Alabama (2002) NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Sep 25, 2002
74% Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002) " Too busy, with too many characters and too much going on. Still, the film retains enough charm to offset the excess." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Aug 7, 2002
74% Signs (2002) " Most of the film is quite entertaining, mixing scares with welcome bits of humor, but the ending fizzles." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Aug 2, 2002
39% Men in Black II (2002) " Lower your expectations. A lot. No, more than that." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Jul 3, 2002
22% Mr. Deeds (2002) " Adam Sandler is an extremely likable man who knows his limitations and works within them." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Jul 1, 2002
90% Minority Report (2002) " Pulses with fascinating ideas, memorable images and thrilling action sequences." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Jun 19, 2002
32% Windtalkers (2002) " I am so sick of watching filmmakers "honor" soldiers by blowing them up creatively." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Jun 13, 2002
30% Scooby-Doo (2002) " "Scooby Doo" is, God help us, a faithful adaptation of the wretched series." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Jun 13, 2002
67% Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones 3D (2002) " Well, it's not as bad as the last one." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 16, 2002
93% About a Boy (2002) " Grant is letter perfect in a role that would have been ruined by one misstep. What a treat it is to watch such a gifted performer work." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 16, 2002
49% Unfaithful (2002) " A thoroughly enjoyable "B" Movie all trussed up in "A" Movie trappings." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 11, 2002
91% Y Tu Mamá También (2001) " Brash, funny, sexually frank and extremely smart." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 2, 2002
47% Hollywood Ending (2002) " Derailed by an idiotic, utterly needless plot gimmick." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted May 2, 2002
28% Life or Something Like It (2002) " The kind of romance that makes a life of solitude seem attractive. The kind of life-affirming story that makes the prospect of death a little less daunting." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 24, 2002
84% Kissing Jessica Stein (2002) " A breezy romantic comedy that has the punch of a good sitcom, while offering exceptionally well-detailed characters." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 17, 2002
31% Murder by Numbers (2002) " The film loses steam whenever it shifts from the teen killers to the adult pair investigating the crime." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 17, 2002
77% Changing Lanes (2002) " An ethical thriller about two men whose biggest enemy is not each other, but their unwillingness to take responsibility for their own actions." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 9, 2002
48% Big Trouble (2002) " I suspect this is the kind of production that would have been funnier if the director had released the outtakes theatrically and used the film as a bonus feature on the DVD." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 4, 2002
18% National Lampoon's Van Wilder (Party Liaison) (2002) " The storyline gets buried by the filmmakers insistence on trying to be cruder than all the other gross-out comedies." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Apr 4, 2002
42% Death to Smoochy (2002) " Tackling a Barney-like kiddie-show icon in 2002 - how daring and timely! Where will you aim your bold comedic sword next, Mr. DeVito? Reaganomics?" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 26, 2002
76% Panic Room (2002) " Director David Fincher is on cruise control here, his ambition apparently sated by the knockout title sequence and jazzy camerawork." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 26, 2002
1/5 33% Resident Evil (2002) " The credits list the film as being "written and directed" by Paul W.S. Anderson. "Programmed by" would be a more accurate credit." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 23, 2002
3/4 25% Showtime (2002) " By the time the production reaches its third act, it is nothing but car crashes and shoot-outs." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 23, 2002
77% Ice Age (2002) " The dynamic personalities of the characters more than compensate for any slight deficits in the laugh department." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 23, 2002
29% The Time Machine (2002) " Everything feels rushed. Instead of drinking in the futuristic wonders, we are shooed forward like tourists on a cut-rate package deal." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Mar 5, 2002
63% We Were Soldiers (2002) " Informative and thoughtful, presenting a pivotal battle with clarity and all of the people in the middle of it with reverence." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 26, 2002
38% 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002) " Compared to most of the youth oriented fare released over the last few months, "40 Days and 40 Nights" shines" — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 26, 2002
85% Monster's Ball (2001) " The feel bad movie of the winter." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 26, 2002
93% No Man's Land (2001) " A tightly constructed, chilling drama with welcome doses of gallows humor." — NUVO Newsweekly
Posted Feb 26, 2002
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