Edward Johnson-Ott

Edward Johnson-Ott
Tomatometer-approved critic
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
Publications: NUVO Newsweekly
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Official Websites: nuvo.com

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3.5/5 89% Dark Waters (2019) Dark Waters doesn't break any new ground and it's highly unlikely to change to world - although it might help bring some justice to a small part of it. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2019
4.5/5 80% Jojo Rabbit (2019) Jojo Rabbit is terrifying, heartbreaking, violent, tender, cruel, surreal, and occasionally hilarious. I ask you again, are you up to the challenge? - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2019
68% Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) I really enjoy watching these characters doing whatever they're doing, even when they're not doing much of anything at all. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2019
2/5 68% Joker (2019) The fundamental issue I have with Joker is that it's unnecessary. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 17, 2019
2.5/5 83% Ad Astra (2019) The movie definitely has a point of view, but it's not very enlightening, pretty bleak and in the end even a little trite. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 2, 2019
85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) If, like me, you're a Tarantino fan, Once Upon A Time isn't his best, but you'll enjoy it. If you're not a devotee, you'll probably hate it. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2019
63% Yesterday (2019) Other than the soundtrack of Beatles jewels, the thing I liked best about Yesterday is that though things may get wrapped up in the rom-com fashion, the conclusion isn't cartoonish. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
3/5 81% Long Shot (2019) Long Shot is not a bad movie. I laughed out loud multiple times, and I'm glad I saw it. It's just not a 10-buck movie, either. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
2/5 93% Us (2019) Get Out was brilliant, one of the finest movies of this decade, and I've been a fan of Key and Peele for a long time. But not every album is Revolver. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2019
4/5 96% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) The affection with which the native story is told is genuinely praiseworthy and the attention filmmakers pay to the clothing, jewelry and gestures central to a ritualistic, and very public, courting dance is meticulous. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2019
93% Fighting with My Family (2019) Boy, is Fighting With My Family fun. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2019
92% Stan & Ollie (2019) While Stan & Ollie is well-written and is competently directed by Jon S. Baird, the strength of the movie lies in the portrayal of the four leading characters. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
87% First Man (2018) If you enjoy a well-crafted and introspective true story about one of the greatest scientific achievements in history, see First Man. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
97% Border (Gräns) (2018) Border is bizarre and disturbing, and I enjoyed it almost as much as Vore enjoys everything. Be forewarned, though. This fairy tale is not Cinderella. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
77% Green Book (2018) Sometimes it's OK to cooperate with a movie. Just sit back and enjoy the journey guilt free. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
80% Boy Erased (2018) Is Boy Erased a feel good movie? No. But even with all of the pain, you leave the theater with at least a sense of hope. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018
60% Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) I went into the theater hoping for the best, and I got it. While not a concert film, the engaging portrayal of the band's creative process repeatedly leads to electric performances of their songs. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2018
95% Blaze (2018) Blaze never adequately explains why we're supposed to revere Foley simply because he wrote a handful of decent songs. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
57% White Boy Rick (2018) This one is difficult and imperfect. It's also one that will haunt you. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
83% Juliet, Naked (2018) Juliet, Naked is funny. Well, maybe not "funny." How about genuine and amusing? The characters feel real rather than contrived, and that helps a lot. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 19, 2018
91% Crazy Rich Asians (2018) Crazy Rich Asians is as much an environment as it is a romantic comedy... The movie takes you away, and much of the trip is a pleasurable experience, with dazzling visuals, a bright score coupled with insanely catchy pop tunes, and a charismatic cast. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 10, 2018
3.5/5 77% Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018) Don't Worry is Van Sant's best film since Milk, which means Gus needs to work a little harder. I recommend it for the good parts, especially the acting, and despite the Hallmark schlock. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2018
96% BlacKkKlansman (2018) Go for entertainment. Learn about human dignity. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2018
97% Three Identical Strangers (2018) What begins as a feel-good-human-interest story turns into a mystery, then a tragedy, and ultimately an outrage. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2018
4/5 93% Sorry to Bother You (2018) Riley has a great deal to work with here, not the least of which is a stellar cast. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2018
2/5 47% Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Pratt deserves better than this paint-by-numbers silliness. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 5, 2018
88% Annihilation (2018) Despite The Shimmer, this movie certainly doesn't shine. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2018
70% Hostiles (2018) The acting is above average, the score is more prominent. At times, the goings get a big sluggish. Just meet the movie halfway and you'll be fine. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2018
94% Call Me by Your Name (2018) Overall, Call Me by Your Name is a charming film, a sexy film and a family story. Though it drags in a couple of spots, it recovers nicely. What else could you want? - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2018
27% Bright (2017) The story is a mash-up. It can brush up against current events, but not enough for anything to stick. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2018
4/5 99% Faces Places (Visages, villages) (2017) The reactions to the murals is one of many delights in this charming film. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2017
4/4 88% Blade Runner 2049 (2017) There's more to be said, and both Blade Runner films create a distinct world and people it, so to speak, with characters you won't soon forget. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2017
92% Good Time (2017) I like Good Time a lot. What I don't like is the title. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 31, 2017
92% Logan Lucky (2017) Logan Lucky is a fun and engaging caper movie directed by Steven Soderbergh. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 18, 2017
92% Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Spiderman: Homecoming sags in the middle, but delivers where it counts. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 13, 2017
76% My Cousin Rachel (2017) I intend to watch My Cousin Rachel again. Yes, it's good enough to warrant a second look-see from a cranky essayist like me. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2017
86% The Wedding Plan (2017) Its reach exceeds its grasp, but we all know that. Glad Rama Burshstein posed the question to begin with. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted May 31, 2017
65% Alien: Covenant (2017) Alien: Covenant is a slasher flick with delusions of grandeur. It's depressing and easy to dismiss. I urge you to do just that. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted May 18, 2017
85% Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, exciting and touching. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted May 4, 2017
95% Graduation (Bacalaureat) (2017) Graduation isn't the kind of film that jumps up and down and shouts "Look at me!" That's part of the reason I like it. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2017
69% Free Fire (2017) Feel free to formulate your own greater meaning to Free Fire if you wish. I think it's just a shoot-em-up with a gimmick. Luckily, it's got enough action and humor to remain entertaining almost all the way through. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 20, 2017
98% Your Name. (Kimi No Na Wa.) (2017) My suggestion is to refuse to let the story get in the way of enjoying the story. Relish the overreach of a mighty talented writer-director-etc. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2017
73% Gifted (2017) If you're in the mood for a tearjerker starring a group of appealing actors, Gifted may do it for you. God knows it's harmless. But if you expect more from a film than formula, look elsewhere. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 13, 2017
64% The Zookeeper's Wife (2017) I hadn't heard about this remarkable true story and I'm glad I got to learn about it. I wish it had been in a film that wasn't trying so hard to be all things to all people. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 30, 2017
47% Wilson (2017) It's a mess of a movie. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2017
71% Beauty and the Beast (2017) Inanimate objects given personalities is a notion that works in our imaginations and in cartoons. Cartoons, darn it, not mostly-live-action. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 16, 2017
4/5 98% Get Out (2017) After everything is revealed in Get Out you'll want to see it again to watch the pieces fall into place. Nice job, Mr. Peele. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 9, 2017
93% Logan (2017) Of the three Wolverine movies, this is the best. I'm glad I saw it and glad it's over. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2017
93% Toni Erdmann (2016) The bottom line is that Toni Erdmann works because of its excess, not in spite of it. Don't wait for the Hollywood version, see the original. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2017
3/5 83% Julieta (2016) I long for the days when Almodovar created movies that made me dizzy. He may still surprise us, but in the meantime, I'll settle for a mid-level offering like Julieta. - NUVO Newsweekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2017