When reading Joe Barlow's 100 Nights in the Dark, a great collection of turn of the 21st century film reviews, I was transported back to a time period when I got to go see more movies. Each of the 100 reviews in this collection covers a film released in the final three years of the last millennium, and what is great about reading it now is looking back on some films that have really shaped the last decade of movies. It's hard to believe that The Blair Witch Project is over a decade old already, but its effect on current film trends is still rather large (Paranormal Activity and The Last Exorcism, I'm thinking of you). There's a great spread on The Matrix included, too, a film that influenced just about every action movie that came out after it. There's even ample space given to the romantic comedies of this era (including Never Been Kissed, Notting Hill, etc.), which, in retrospect, was a renaissance period for that particular genre.
Pretty much every genre and every level of film that played in this era is covered herein. From popcorn chompers (Armageddon) to Oscar contenders (Life is Beautiful) to raunchy humor (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo), all are delved into with equal fervor, and no matter what the subject, Barlow gives each film a fair shot to succeed for him, judging each movie on its intended aim and how well it accomplishes it. What's refreshing about these reviews is they are not predictable. Joe doesn't like every movie he is supposed to like (see the review on Saving Private Ryan), and he doesn't trash every film he's supposed to either (read his thoughtful 4-star review for The Phantom Menace). All in all, Joe approaches movies like a seasoned pro with an encyclopedic knowledge of film in general, leaving his readers with a lot to think about on this era of film, and 100 Nights in the Dark is a great purchase to have hanging around your Kindle when you're looking for a suggestion for a film you might have missed in the era or if you want to get an in-depth opinion on films that you have seen already and loved or hated. No matter what level of film fan you are, I can assure you that his reviews will leave you with lots of new ways to see these movies.
For a witty, insightful, and downright fun look at movies, you can't do much better than Joe Barlow's 100 Nights in the Dark.