The best & worst films
I was more excited about going to the movies in 1995 that I have been in years. The first half of this list is my justification. Although the list is admittedly main-stream because the paper I write for is in a suburban area and I'm not sent to art house films, and I haven't had the cash or the time to go to "Safe," "Crumb," and the like. The second half, of course, is my reservation...
Trimmed to a relationship-intensive 2 hours, this brilliant adaptation of The Bard's drama of love, distrust and murder will certainly net an Oscar for Lawrence Fishburne as the unstable Moorish general. Nominations are certain for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor to Kenneth Branagh as the most deliciously sinister Iago imaginable.
"Home for the Holidays"
Probably the funniest, most easy to identify with dysfunctional family movie ever. Jodie Foster's second outing as a director, this Thanksgiving with the folks feature starring Holly Hunter received either wonderful or scathing reviews. The only thing I can figure is it struck a little too close to home for those who haven't a sense of humor.
Months later I still feel a little queasy thinking about this serial killer thriller with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. So perfectly directed that though the "surprise" ending is seen coming 20 minutes away, it still makes one's skin crawl.
As good as action movies get. Sophomore director Robert Rodriguez had tongue firmly planted in cheek as he weaved this shoot 'em up tale of a mariachi who keeps getting into shoot-outs. Makes Willis, Stallone, Schwartzenegger and Van Damme look like "B" movie queens.
"Sense and Sensibility"
Emma Thompson spent three years on the script, and it shows. Easily a Best Screenplay nominee (probably Best Picture and Best Actress, too). Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant are wonderful too.
"The Usual Suspects"
How one can make a movie in which the audience hasn't the slightest idea what's going on until the last two minutes, and have it be engaging nonetheless, is beyond me -- but this one did it.
From opening scene with the zoom in on something you're not supposed to see no matter how hard you try, to the surprise ending that really was a surprise, this is one of the most mind-bending pictures in years. Confusing? Yes. Nonsensical? Perhaps.
But the doubt that lingers through the story about what the truth might be, and the intrigue it inspires is an achievement the likes of which haven't been seen since "The Manchurian Candidate."
"To Die For"
Sweet, pretty Nicole Kidman has a dark side. Who knew? This film is the personification of the future of talk show-heavy America, with a darkly funny edge. Buck Henry's script is the epitome of cynicism.
"Devil in a Blue Dress"
The best movie nobody saw. A true return to the classic film noir style, with Denzel Washington fantastically filling the shoes of the voice-over private dick. A classic, even if it bombed at the box office.
Designer Issac Mizrahi is always "on" anyway, so why not make a documentary "starring" him? Forget "Ready to Wear," this is the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the fashion world, and it's real.
Very possibly the best Woody Allen movie ever. Stunning performances (if Mira Sorvino doesn't win an Oscar I'll eat my hat), and a brilliant and hilarious weave of Greek mythology wreaking havoc on the character's lives. I was on the floor.
Other bests that need no justification: "Toy Story" and "Babe."
$120 million pirate movie without a single original idea. Terrible script, terrible acting, terrible camera work and so full of holes it is fun in one way -- to loudly rip to shreds the theater and in print.
Woody and Wesley have about 15 good barbs for each other, and the rest of the film is a yawn, not to mention full of holes (Why does an armored subway car have an air vent in the floor held on only by hardware store bolts?).
Cindy Crawford has had her own MTV show for five years and still can't read cue cards without moving her whole head. Who is the pinhead who cast her as a lawyer in a feature film?
"Last of the Dogmen"
Bounty hunter Tom Berenger and anthropologist Barbara Hershey go looking for a lost Indian tribe. She stays with them, he promises to keep their secret and returns to civilization, where no one asks what happened to Hershey.
"A Walk in the Clouds"
Director Alfonso Arau tries had to convince you that you're watching a wonderful, romantic movie, but sweeping music and drawn out visuals cannot make up for Keanu Reeves as a leading man.
"Die Hard With A Vengeance"
Ten minutes after a bomb goes off in a NYC subway, all the cops, firemen, the press, and folks just walking by have left Manhattan so baddie Jeremy Irons can drive 14 giant dump trucks down Wall St. and nobody is there to think that's a little odd. If you buy this crap, you'd love this movie.
Do I need to say any more?
"Natural Born Killers."
Somebody hit Oliver Stone square on the noggin with a David Lynch stick.
Michelle Pfeiffer as an ex-Marine inner-city high school teacher? Yeah, right.
"The Scarlett Letter"
Lust! Injun attacks! Witchcraft! Happy endings! Nathaniel who?
"To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything..."
The Disney version of a drag queen movie: asexual gay men, mockery of cross-dressing and of small town culture, the least believeable transexual on film since Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (and they were supposed to be bad at it). Forget this crap and see "Pricilla: Queen of the Desert" again.
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