2018年1月23日 星期二

Some Other Movies From 1992

1992: My junior and senior years of high school.  Yes, I'm that old.

If I recall correctly, glam metal had bit the dust, and the cool kids were trading in their Poison and Ratt T-shirts for Soundgarden and Nirvana.  Or, if your high school was more "ethnic" (like mine), Public Enemy shirts were being traded in for Tupac (or Biggie).

Of the 10 highest-grossing films of 1992, I'd have to say that A Few Good Men was the only really good one.  Of the Academy Award-winners, I only like Unforgiven and Raise the Red Lantern.  Not that great a year for movies.

I've seen all of the movies below recently.  I found them via the "1992 in Film" article on Wikipedia.

Some Good Ones

1. 1492: The Conquest of Paradise

Ridley Scott directed, with Gerard Depardieu starring as the famous discoverer.  It's a beautifully shot film, and Depardieu is excellent in the lead role.  Probably a bit slow for some people, but I loved it.

2. Chaplin

Robert Downey Jr. stars in this Richard Attenborough-directed biopic.  It drags in the second half, but it's still very watchable.  Oh, and some of Hollywood's most beautiful actresses play Chaplin's wives and girlfriends.

3. Deep Cover

Still a great f*cking movie.  Even if you took classes, and earned advanced degrees in Coolness, you still wouldn't be half as cool as Laurence Fishburne is in Deep Cover.  Also one of Jeff Goldblum's better efforts.

4. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Weird FBI agents go to weird small towns where they say weird things to weird people followed by weird shots of things in the background.  The craze for the TV show long gone, this movie will be difficult for most people to sit through, but if you've developed a taste for David Lynch (as I have) you'll probably like it.

Fun Fact: Moira Kelly. who was - in my opinion - one of the sexiest women of the 90s, consulted her parish priest before every sex scene, in every one of her movies.  Ah the Catholic guilt... somehow it makes her even sexier.

5. Howard's End

A painstakingly authentic Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel about British people with painstakingly good manners.  If you can get past the excruciating politeness, it does get pretty good near the end.  It's not exactly Deep Cover, but if you're the kind of person who can appreciate the book then I'm sure you'll like the movie.

6. The Mambo Kings

As cool as Laurence Fishburne is in Deep Cover, Armand Assante might be just as cool in The Mambo Kings.  This movie was also Antonio Banderas's first appearance in an English-speaking movie.

And it's strange to say, but this story of two aspiring musicians does bear some strong similarities to Scarface, even if cocaine and automatic weapons are largely absent from the film.

Fun Fact #1: Assante and Banderas won their roles over the likes of Jeremy Irons and Ray Liotta, who were riding high off the success of Reversal of Fortune and Goodfellas.

Fun Fact #2: Assante would star opposite Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd only three years later.  That guy's career has been quite the roller coaster ride.

7. The Power of One

In 2018 the white savior aspect of this movie will probably rub most people the wrong way, but aside from that it's still a good film.  Stephen Dorff stars as an (English) South African born under the Apartheid regime, with noteworthy appearances by Morgan Freeman and Daniel Craig.  John J. Avildsen (Rocky) directed The Power of One, and this makes sense given the main character's love of boxing.

8. Juice

Speaking of Tupac...

This one's a latter-day Beat Street, centered around an aspiring DJ (Omar Epps).  And while Beat Street gets serious nostalgia points, Juice is probably a better movie.  

The soundtrack is still great, by the way.  "Here is something you can't understand/How I could just kill a man..."  That song really, really takes me back.

9. The Player

After the Weinstein scandal, #MeToo, and the Marvel/Fox "merger" there's a whole other dimension to this movie.

Tim Robbins stars as a motion picture executive accused of murder.  He gives a good performance, though the character he plays isn't particularly compelling, or even all that interesting.  I imagine Robbins was overjoyed to be working with the legendary Robert Altman, and the movie certainly earned its share of praise from critics, but if you ask me The Player is a far cry from California Split and Nashville.  I'm sure that at the time it was gratifying to see Altman direct something halfway good after what he'd done in the 80s, but there's something unconvincing about The Player, almost as if it's too fond of its own cleverness.

Great ending though.  One of the best endings to any movie ever.

10. Diggstown

James Woods and Louis Gossett Jr. star as a pair of con men trying to win big in a boxing match.  James Woods has been in his share of bad movies, but this isn't one of them.  Bruce Dern is wonderfully slimy as the man betting against Woods.

Fun Fact(s): Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, who plays the referee, also appeared in several of Jackie Chan's films, and the "Diggs" for whom the town is named is played by the actor was the villain in Ghostbusters II.

11. Enchanted April

A group of British people try to escape London's gloominess by spending a month in an Italian castle.  I liked this film a lot more than I thought I would, even though nothing much happens aside from good naps and a few subdued conversations.

Some Bad Ones

1. Forever Young

If you were to divide Mel Gibson's career into three phases, these being: 1) the action star/sex symbol phase, 2) the actor/director phase, and 3) the we-all-know-he's-really-talented-but-we-suspect-he's-still-an-anti-Semitic-misogynist phase, Forever Young would be the last movie in the first phase of his career.

This said, the movie itself could also be divided into three parts, these being: 1) the predictable first act where his ladylove dies and he volunteers for a suspended animation experiment, 2) the surprisingly good second act, and 3) the bullsh*t third act that flies in the face of any scientific understanding of suspended animation.

Fun Fact: If you look real hard you can see Walt(on) Goggins as an M.P. near the beginning of the film.  If you look less hard you can see both a young Elijah "Frodo" Wood and Joe Morton playing - yet again - a scientist-type dude obsessed with temporal anomalies.

2. The Mighty Ducks

Emilio Estevez/Sheen leads a peewee hockey team to the championship.  I'd forgotten what a bad actor Estevez is/was, and this Disney movie is also predictable without making you care about anyone in the movie.  

What makes me dislike this movie even more is my certainty that there's some oppressive hockey dad somewhere, forcing his kid(s) to watch The Mighty Ducks.  "Come on, kids!  See?  Hockey's FUN!"

3. Jennifer Eight

Andy Garcia plays a cop trying to track down a killer.

If they'd just cut a half hour out of this movie it would have been MUCH better.  As it is it gets off to a strong start, and then quickly gets bogged down in its own plot twists.  The confrontation between Garcia and John Malkovich is particularly implausible, and also serves as something of an anticlimax.

4. Light Sleeper

As much as I like Paul Schrader, and as much as I like Willem Defoe, I'm just not buying Susan Sarandon as a drug dealer.  There are some other things about this movie that seem improbable too, like the diary that Defoe keeps, and his empty apartment.  Dudes like that would need to be a lot more flashy to attract clients.  

It's still a good movie, but it's SLOW at times and I found the ending infuriating - it just didn't seem to make any kind of emotional or logical sense.  Various elements of this movie will also remind you A LOT of Taxi Driver (which Schrader wrote), but not in a good way.  While I think it's in some ways stylistically superior to Taxi Driver, in other ways it seems like a lazy retread of the same themes.

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