The 1990s: 7 Movies
1. Bugsy (1991)
Warren Beatty stars as Bugsy Siegel, the notorious gangster who helped bring Las Vegas to life. His wife, the beautiful Annette Bening, co-stars as his love interest. Barry Levinson directed.
Compared to movies like The Godfather, Casino, and Goodfellas, this movie will probably seem a little too self-contained, a little too talky, and not violent enough, but it's a good, well-written film, and the ending is very tragic.
It was released a year after the disastrous Dick Tracy, which may explain moviegoers' ambivalence toward it. This is a real shame, because Bugsy deserves a bigger audience.
The Rock (1996)
Nicholas Cage stars as a chemical weapons-type guy, with Sean Connery, Michael Biehn, and Ed Harris in supporting roles. Sad as it may seem, there are many who contend that this is Michael Bay's best movie.
If you haven't seen it in a while, Cage's job is to infiltrate Alcatraz, where Ed Harris and his marine disciples are threatening to wipe out half of San Francisco with chemical weapons. Along the way there's a car chase, a lot of explosions, and people shooting guns. Beyond that, I wouldn't recommend thinking about the plot too hard. You'll give yourself a headache.
Fun Fact: One of the big reasons for the Iraq War was a false intelligence report that the Iraqis were working "around the clock" to produce chemical weapons. The description of these so-called chemical weapons bore striking similarities to scenes in The Rock, which turned out to be the inspiration for the false intelligence report. Real chemical weapons look and work nothing like those described in the movie.
3. The Cider House Rules (1999)
If this movie came out 17 years ago, how old is Tobey Maguire now? What about Charlize Theron? And Michael Caine? One thing's for sure: none of us are getting any younger.
Tobey Maguire plays a young man emancipated from an orphanage. After his emancipation, he finds work in an apple orchard, and thereafter befriends several locals. Certain developments within the story feel a bit too convenient, but I defy you not to tear up at the ending.
Delroy Lindo deserved an award for his performance as one of Maguire's coworkers. That guy is great.
4. King of the Hill (1993)
A young boy struggles to survive in Depression-era Missouri. This was Steven Soderbergh's third film, after Sex, Lies, and Videotape and Kafka.
My only complaint is the soundtrack. At times the music sounds pretty, but it doesn't seem to belong to the same film.
5. Being John Malkovich (1999)
This is one of those movies that I've been meaning to see for a long time, but only got around to seeing recently. Like 2002's Adaptation, it was written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. Very surreal, but also very good.
6. The Addiction (1995)
Lili Taylor stars in this movie about abnormally philosophical vampires. Abel Ferrara directed. The drug allegory is somewhat labored, but if you have the patience it's an interesting take on the genre.
7. Bent (1997)
Two gay men struggle to survive in a WWII internment camp. It was adapted from a play, and at times seems a little too "staged" for its own good. It might have worked better if it had begun in the camp, since the prelude in Berlin leads one to believe that many of the characters in that part of the movie will reappear later on. If you look very closely, you can see both Jude Law and Paul Bettany in supporting roles.
For a much better movie that deals in similar themes, I recommend 1972's Cabaret.