Tuesday, April 30, 2013


As an avid (if not fantatical) student of movies, Quentin Tarantino’s first film Reservoir Dogs definitely is influenced by the heist gone wrong films of the past such as The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing and Bob the Gambler. He defintely puts a more modern spin in that this group of theives reminise about 70’s music and complain about minutae such as the color code name they are given for their assignment. Reservoir Dogs is extremely dialogue heavy, but the words are entertaining and move at a fast pace. I must say that I like all the actors here. Of course, my favorite is Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink, the guy who doesn’t believer in tipping. But how can you forget Michael Madsen as the psychopath Mr. Blue? Or raspy voiced film noir veteran Lawrence Teirney as the leader of the heist? Also, Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White, who may be the closest thing the movie has to a main character. Did I mention Mr. Orange (Time Roth)? Chris Penn as Nice Guy Eddie, you can’t leave him out? Even crime writer Eddie Bunker shows up as Mr. Blue. And Tarantino himself is Mr. Brown. Well, I pretty much named the whole cast here. Doesn’t quite hold itself up as well as Pulp Fiction for me, but a distinctive and good film in its own right.

With all the 90’s film I still have left on the list, I may have to do another 90’s month soon.

Monday, April 29, 2013


30 from the 90's Post 29 of 30

The Ice Storm

Family drama with good cast whose strongest recommendation for me is probably how well it takes you back into 1973. I say that being a person who doesn’t take much prodding to get back to 1973, as I am seem to find myself forever stuck in that decade. So I gotta like the teenager who makes out while wearing a Nixon mask, the waterbeds, polyester pants and the suburbia wife swapping as well as the reruns of Time Tunnel, The Green Hornet and Divorce Court. Love that 70's home décor too!

Question from my wife: “Why does Kevin Kline’s chest have to be so hairy?” When asked this question, I looked at her and didn’t answer since I assumed the question was rhetorical and not of a medical nature.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 28 of 30)

Deconstructing Harry

I grew up watching Woody Allen films in the 70’s and throughout the 80’s. I’ve seen them all through Take the Money and Run in 1969 until Crimes and Misdemeanors in 1989. His films in the years since have not connected with me nearly as well. I say that admittedly not having seen a majority of them. Deconstructing Harry from 1997 is an exception. Allen goes way beyond playing the neurotic nebbish he once defined and is a full-blown unlikeable narcissist here. He’s a foul mouthed writer who treats women like cattle and everyone else he meets like someone to twist into a character in his book. Deconstructing Harry’s best moments for me are the sections where little skits show the characters from his book interacting with each other before and later we see samples from his real life where his family/friends/acquaintances are seen as they actually are and most are not too happy about the way Harry portrays them. The best of his strong cast is Judy Davis, who is wonderful as one of Harry’s ex-girl friends.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 27 of 30)

Heavenly Creatures

When I started this blog, I wondered to myself…

What if I can’t come up with anything to say about one of the movies on the list?

What if you don’t like it or hate it and you are just sort of null on it?

To fix this dilemma I decided to give myself a sort of Get Out of Jail Free Card and allow me to post the equivalent of “no opinion, no story, no rant.”So after, four-hundred and something posts, I’m turing in my Get Out of Jail Free Card for Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures.

If you, on the other hand, have an opinion on Heavenly Creatures, I would certainly like to hear it and invite you to leave your opinion in the comment field below.

Friday, April 26, 2013

HEAT (1995)

30 from the 90's (Post 26 of 30)


I’m not a huge fan of American action films from the post-Die Hard area. They tend to go overboard with the action and have characters that I can’t get emotionally attached too.

However, Heat is one of the best I’ve seen, if you even want to put the label of action picture on it. The film is almost three hours and uses its time well to develop its characters. There is a firefight that almost goes too far, but is so well done I didn’t care. It is also the first teaming of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro where they actually have scenes together. There is a scene in the middle of the movie where the bad guy De Niro has a cup of coffee with the cop who is chasing him (Pacino) might be a bit of a stretch, but it is still great to watch.

I was pretty much riveted the whole way during this and am pretty enthusiastic about this one. Thumbs up Roger.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 25 of 30)

Mother and Son

After seeing the movie JFK, I couldn’t have possibly picked a different type of movie than Mother and Son to follow it up with. Where JFK went off in a hundred directions, Mother and Son only has one. This 72 minute Russian film is all about the interaction between a son and his dying mother There is scarce dialogue and the main conflict is the son’s inability to accept his mother’s inevitable death. We have other scenes where the son wanders aimlessly outside, through wheatfields, down pathways and scenes where he is trying to take care of his mother and scenes of his final acceptance of the situation. This is truly an Art film with a capital A. The director here is Aleksandr Sokurov, the director of Russian Ark.

How you react to this film may be a good test for your AFAQ (Art Film Acceptability Quotient), or at least see how you feel about a movie that Susan Sontag liked so much.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

JFK (1991)

30 from the 90's (Post 24 of 30)


Who really killed Kennedy? Was it a conspiracy that invoved Castro and Cuba? Was it a CIA conspiracy? Was it a Mafia conspiracy? Was it somewhere else inside the government? I even read a book called Fatal Error that said from a ballistic point of view the gunman had to be one of Kennedy's secret servicemen!

But I really don’t feel like getting into all that right now. So let’s do something a little lighter. Let’s play the Kevin Bacon game! If you don’t know how the Kevin Bacon game is played, your objective is to try to link movie actors to Kevin Bacon (or someone other than Kevin Bacon if you really want to. But it really seems to work best with Kevin Bacon for some reason) in as few moves as possible. For instance, Kevin Bacon never made a movie with Boris Karloff, but he made a movie with Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men) who made a movie with Boris Karloff (The Terror), which gives a Bacon equivalent of 2 when it comes to Boris Karloff. Bacon’s degree of separation to Nicholson is one because they were in the same movie. In JFK, Bacon has the small role of a male hustler who testifies for crusading prosecutor Jim Garrison, played by Kevin Costner. Now JFK, boasts a lot of roles (big and small) by a lot of noted actors: Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Ed Asner, Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Donald Sutherland, Gary Oldman and others. Bacon doesn’t even have scenes with some of these actors, but for the purposes of the Bacon game, this is good enough since they are in the same movie! This is a treasure trove of one degree of separation to Mr. Bacon. Hey, if you want to link Bacon to Brian Doyle-Murray (Jack Ruby), JFK is your movie! In this respect, its the 90’s version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, though its too bad that Mr. Bacon is a bit to young to have been in that one.

That was fun, but on the more serious side, despite the well-intentioned efforts and beautiful craftsmanship of Oliver Stone's movie, I truly believe that Oswald acted alone in this great American tragedy.

For further reference, read Gerald Posner’s Case Closed, or Vincent Bugliosi’s 1,500 page book on JFK, Reclaiming History. As Posner said, there is a need to find a type of moral equivalency to tragedy in life. For example, the Holocaust had a great villain (the Nazis) and a great victim (The Jews). It’s a great tragedy, but we have balance. With the Kennedy assassination, you have the leader of the free world shot down and history changes. And who is responsible? This little pipsqueak Oswald? Sorry, our minds just can’t accept it. We the people need a greater villain. I just don’t believe there is one.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 23 of 30)

The Double Life of Veronique

Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films are definitely not for everybody. The double life that Veronique lives in isn’t part of an alternate universe where she sees her double or where she gets transported back in time. Veronique and Veronica are separated at birth (metaphysically) and never really meet. It’s a déjà vu kind of thing. And there’s also puppets. And I’ve missed movies with puppets as characters ever since I finished Being John Malkovich.

And Irene Jacob is most captivating.

Monday, April 22, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 22 of 30)

Terrence Mallick’s film about Guadalcanal is often compared to Steven Speilberg’s World War II film, Saving Private Ryan. Both films definitely have a hard edge to them, but Mallick’s film has a poetic vision* that Private Ryan lacks from what I remember. I say that not having seen Saving Private Ryan in several years, so if I watch it again and see more into it this time, I’m not opposed to amending this observation.

Another movie The Thin Red Line reminded me of a little was The Longest Day in that it was a World War II movie that had a lot of cameos by stars. TheThin Red Line had George Clooney, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta and others in small roles. The Longest Day had small roles for Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner as well as a few stars not named Robert.

My favorite character from The Thin Red Line was the hard headed commander played by Nick Nolte. My favorite from The Longest Day was Richard Burton as a wounded soldier, thought don’t hold me to that as I haven’t seen that movie in probably thirty years.

*I know that sounds like a pretentious observation, but I couldn’t think of any other way to say it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 21 of 30)

Breaking the Waves

Long, but moving Lars von Trier film of a marriage to…between two people that...you might say they were...You know this is a hard film to describe the plot! Let’s just say I liked the leads Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson and found the potentially over the top ending pretty nice.

One question I do want to ask. Von Triers sections his film in chapter headings where some of the following music plays: All the Way to Memphis by Mott the Hopple, In a Broken Dream by Python Lee Jackson and Rod Stewart, Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum, Cross Eyed Mary by Jethro Tull, Suzanne by Leonard Cohen, and Goodbye Yellow Brick and Your Song by Elton John.

So my question is, how did Lars Von Trier have access to my old album collection?

Saturday, April 20, 2013


30 from the 90's Post 20 of 30

Strictly Ballroom

With thirty posts this month, I do need to keep some of them short. Well, crap. By going on about how I need to keep this short, I ended up going on and making it not too short. Okay, lets just say this Australian dance movie is an undeniable crowd pleaser and leave it at that.

Oh and one more thing…Bill Hunter

The late Bill Hunter seems to show up in a lot of Australian movies that have popped up on this list. He plays a rather nasty dance judge here. He also showed up as an officer in Galipoli, but is probably best known as Muriel’s father in Muriel’s Wedding.

This post can no longer be labeled as short.

What's next on the list? Lars Von Trier'sBreaking the Waves. What's that about again? Never mind. I need to save that for tomorrow.

Once again: Post can no longer be called short. Moving on. Moving on.

Friday, April 19, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 19 of 30)

All About My Mother

Pretty much every Aldomavar film has a character that has had a sex change operation. Not many directors can you say that about. All About My Mother
has been labeled as more of a women’s film in the same breath as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and it does have some rich dramatic moments. I still think Talk to Her is my favorite of the Aldomavar films, though I am having trouble getting The Skin I’m In out of my mind.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 18 of 30)


Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of Amelie made this film several years before and this does have some of the same charm as the other film. Is it a comedy? Can it be considered science fiction if you stretch the definition? I’ll just label it a fanciful art film, though I admit to liking Amelie a little more.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 17 of 30)

I am Joe’s raging bile duct.

I went through a period of reading most of Chuck Pahlinuck’s books (Choke, Invisible Monsters, Diary, Lullaby, etc.) about ten years ago. I did like most of them, but thinking back on it now, they tend to all sort of run together (What was the plot of Lullaby again?). The exception to this morass of confusion is Fight Club, whose adhesion to my memory is more than partly attributable to do with the movie of the same name.

What was Fight Club really about? Was is it really about Terrorism? Consumerism? Male bondng through violence? The need for community by joining groups? Getting to see Meatloaf with breasts? I’d say probably a little of all of the above (Except maybe the Meatloaf with breasts part). I’d also say David Fincher (and screenwriter Jim Uhls) did an admirable job of bringing this tough book to the screen. The two leads of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton also seem perfectly cast.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

TOY STORY (1995), TOY STORY (1999), TOY STORY 3 (2010)

30 from the 90's (Post 16 of 30)

Toy Story-

John Lasseter’s idea for Toy Story sprang from a belief, which he and Steve Jobs shared, that products have an essence to them, a purpose for which they were made. If the object were to have feelings, these would be based on its desire to fulfill its essence…As for toys, their purpose is to be played with kids, and thus their existential fear is of being discarded by newer toys. So a buddy movie pairing an old favorite toy with a shiny new one would have an essential drama to it, especially when the action revolved around the toys’ being separated from their kid.
-From Steve Jobs, the biography written by Walter Isaacson.

The rocky path to Toy Story is well documented in Isaacson’s book, but I think most that have seen it would agree that it was well worth the trip. How could you not love the story of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the toys? If you don’t, what’s wrong with you? The two subsequent Toy Story movies are just as good, if not better. And if the ending of Toy Story 3 doesn’t bring a tear to you eye, then once again I ask, what the hell’s wrong with you?

John Ratzenberger appreciation society: The former postman from Cheers seems to pop up in every single Pixar movie. Here he plays the Ham pig.

Wallace Shawn appreciation society: I’ve noticed that the My Dinner With Andre and Princess Bride star has showed up in bit parts in several 1001 movie listings (All That Jazz, Atlantic City, Manhattan) and here he shows up as the Res, the timid dinosaur.

Don Rickles apprecation society: I can't imagine anyone who would have been a better Mr. Potato Head than Mr. Rickles.

Monday, April 15, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 15 of 30)

The White Balloon

Is this a movie about nothing or a movie about everything? A seven-year-old (though she looks five as the script points out) Iranian girl is obsessed with the idea of getting a goldfish. She already has goldfish, but she wants a big, fat one. After a lot of whining and crying, her mother gives her money and sends her off by herself to the man who sells the fat ones. Questionable parenting-but there’s no plot without her going off by herself. She runs into all sorts of problems, from snake charmers to the fact that the man with the fish is a little on the shady side. She loses her money down a sewer and the movie spends a great deal of time showing her and her brother, who has now joined her, trying to get the money back. So is this a movie about something insignificant? A spoiled little girl who wants something she doesn’t need. Or about something really significant? That little girl getting the only thing in her world that really means something to her? I think significant, for let those of us who have longed for something seemingly unimportant cast the first stone.

Just an observation: The ending, which has many of the characters in the film criss crossing past the camera’s stationary main shot reminded me of the George Harrison music video for When We Was Fab. I bring this up for no reason in particular.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 14 of 30)

Through the Olive Trees

Intesting thing about art films. Sometimes you get them or you don’t. I didn’t like Through the Olive Trees nearly as much as the same director’s Close-Up. What was Through the Olive Trees about again? A director was shooting a movie, or at least one scene from a movie over and over again, the boy had a crush on the girl in the scene and she totally ignored him and the village where the movie was being shot had just gone through a catastrophic earthquake. My thoughts on this one are pretty jumbled, but in all fairness, so is the movie. But this movie may fall into that odd category of “I thought it was good, but I didn’t like it very much.” But after Close-Up and Through the Olive Trees I am still looking forward to the last two Klarostami movies on the 1001 list, so at least that says something.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Hossain Sabzian in Close-Up

30 from the 90's (Post 13 of 30)

Close-Up (1990)

One of the reasons that I am trying to look at everything on the 1001 list is to watch films that I would have never come across otherwise. Close-Up is a story of a con man named Sabzian (who looks like former Iranian President Mahmoud Abdojinizad to me) who poses as the filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf to trick a family into making a film about them. I guess that’s all he really wanted, though the family he deals with do question whether burglary might be an additional motive. The odd part about this film (inspired by an article in the newspaper that director Abbas Klarostami read) is that the roles in this film are recreated by the actual con man and the actual family involved! Fiction and re-creation meet here in a really strange way. The real Mohsen Makhmalbaf even has a small part (as himself, of course) towards the end of the film. It has been noted that there are hints of Rashoman, the neo-realists, the deconstructionist cinema of Godard and the alternating points of view of Robert Altman all here. I admit I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and think it's a very welcome edition to the 1001 book.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Friday, April 12, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 12 of 30)

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Clever English film that should more accurately be called Three Weddings, a Funeral and Another Wedding, but I guess that title wasn't quite as catchy.

Who is that Simon Callow fellow?- Mr. Callow is one of those actors that keeps showing up in 1001 films (Amadeus, A Room With a View) and is also an accomplished biographer who penned a three volume set on the life of Orson Welles. If you want to look at one of Callow’s volumes on Welles, you might want to skip watching A Room With A View, or you might find it hard to blot out the picture of the author crazily running around naked. I mean wasn't it bad enough I just had to see Harvey Keitel naked in The Piano? Just saying.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


30 from the 90's Post 11 of 30

The Piano

A movie about a mail order bride who loves playing the piano moving to the New Zealand jungles to be with her new husband. Her new husband is indifferent to her love of her piano and she takes up with another man.

My wife’s reaction: “If he had just taken the time to understand what she needed just a little bit and not been such an ASS, she wouldn’t have had to go to the other man.” That’s about it, I guess. Holly Hunter is always good. The very young Anna Paquin is very good. Harvey Keitel is good, but I could do without seeing him naked. Just saying.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 10 of 30)


This movie really made me think about Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3.
Is it really so difficult to play? Is it really that much of a mountain to climb? Would just the effort to play it cause a breakdown like it did for Geoffrey Rush’s character is the film?

Since the piece is far too difficult for me to play, I just listened to it instead. In fact, I’m listening to it now. It sounds nice. No breakdowns yet. That’s good. I made it through the whole thing! But just to be safe, I think I’ll move on to something else.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FARGO (1996)

30 from the 90's (Post 9 of 30)


Fargo may be my favorite movie of the Brothers Coen. Which is a bold statement, since I like just about all of their movies (Though I wasn't overly enamored about A Serious Man).

But why is Fargo my favorite? Is it the plot? No, I love the plot, but most Coen movies have a pretty kooky plot.

Is it the fun local charcters? Yah, yah. Maybe. But I don’t think that’s what puts it over the edge.

Is it the performances? William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi and are all good, but I don’t think it makes it number one in my book.

Is it funny? Yes, but may not be overall as funny as Raising Arizona or The Big Lebowski.

So what is it?

A: I think it’s the humanity. You have characters (Jerry Lundegaard and the two hit men) who never seem to consider doing things the right way or give a second thought about killing someone. And then you have characters (Marge Gunderson, her husband and most of Brainerd) who never seem to consider not doing things the right way.

Spoiler Alert:

Continuing the previous thought to the final scene. Marge is taking one the surviving kidnapper (Carl) off to jail. She has the saddest of looks on her face as she tells him that she can’t understand why he would cause so much mayhem just for a little money. The scene strikes me as very poignant, because Marge will never fully understand someone like Carl and Carl will never understand anyone like Marge. Anyway, the ending leaves me a little teary eyed, I admit.

Monday, April 8, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 8 of 30)

The Tom Hanks Apprecation Society

The one movie star of the 80’s and 90’s often compared to the Hollywood stars of yore is Tom Hanks. I’ve even heard his everymanishness compared to Jimmy Stewart. But can you ever imagine Jimmy Stewart in a role as a gay lawyer dying of AIDS? But Tom Hanks carries this off in Philadelphia with a great deal of compassion and humanity. His passionate listening to "La Mamma Morta" is extremely moving and the highlight of the film for me.

The first time I remember seeing Tom Hanks was in the 80’s sitcom Bosom Buddies, where Hanks and Peter Scolari played…hold on, what was it again? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. I’m trying to remember without looking it up. They dressed as women in order to live in some hotel so the lady who runs the hotel won’t throw them out, I think. The Hanks character falls in love with the sexy blonde, who of course is best friends with the female version of his character and I think you get the idea. I thought the show was rather stupid, though it did grow on me after awhile, though I thought Peter Scolari might have had a better shot at being a movie start than Tom Hanks.

But Hanks surfaced as a movie star in Splash, where he dated the mermaid, Darryl Hannah. He also appeared in the slob comedy Bachelor Party, which I honestly preferred to Splash. Either way,Hanks became a star and a very likeable one.

Other Hanks movies from the 80’s I recollect with Hanks in them include:
Dragnet, though his part is really in support of Dan Akryod’s Joe Friday.
Nothing in Common, a grim movie as I remember it,though having Jackie Gleason and Hanks as father and son is certainly of interest, Turner and Hooch, where he plays an effective straight man to a slobbering canine.
Punchline, where he shows great skill playing a standup comedian and
Big, where I can't really picture the one joke story of a kid that turns into an adult without Hanks to carry it.

During the 90’s, Hanks was as big a star as anyone.

Films I have seen with Hanks from the 90’s.

A League of Their Own, where Hanks plays an alcoholic ex-player who has to manage a team of women. I like this movie, even if it does have the handicap of having Rosie O’Donnell in it.

Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail-Hanks and Meg Ryan didn’t quite become the Tracy and Hepburn of the 90’s, but they did make a couple of popular films.

Apollo 13-As an astronaut who couldn’t quite make it to the moon.

That Thing You Do-Hanks directed it and had a small part as a manager of a band that has a hit in the early 60’s. A nice little movie, Tom.

Toy Story-It’s hard to mistake Hank’s voice as Woody the toy in these movies. How can you not like Toy Story?

Saving Private Ryan-About the only type of genre movie I couldn’t picture Hanks in before Saving Private Ryan would be a war picture. Now I can.

The Green Mile-In retrospect, I think this should have beaten out American Beauty for Best Picture that year.Hanks is the prison guard and definitely brings a strong sense of morality to his character. This should have at least gotten an entry in the 1001 movie book!

Castaway-If I thought Hank’s teaming with Jackie Gleason in Nothing in Common was unlikely. How about his teaming with a volleyball in Castaway? I would have thrown Hanks another Oscar for a movie that’s practically a one man show, but I didn’t have a vote.

But the movie that will probably be the first entry in Hanks’s obituary is Forrest Gump. Opinions on this one vary greatly, but I think most can’t imagine anyone but Hanks as Forrest. Michael Keaton, maybe? Nah. After watching it again, I still find it enjoyable storytelling with Mr. Hanks the likable Gump intersecting with significant people and events in American history durign the second half of the twentieth century at its center.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 7 of 30)

The Godfather III

The first two Godfather films are acknowledged classics and personal favorites of mine. Both also won Best Picture Oscars.

The reputation of the third film?

Not so good.

But I wouldn’t dismiss it so quickly. The Godfather III's conflict between the Corleone family and the political workings of the Vatican actually makes for a pretty interesting plot. The helicopter attack on the Dons and the dramatic opera finale are both memorable scenes. And the film has fine characterizations from Godfather first timers Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach and Joe Mategna.

The main casting criticism has been of Coppola’s daughter Sophia is the pivotal role of Mary Coleone. I do agree that Winona Ryder would have been better. However, this isn't the major casting problem of The Godfather III. Coppola said he wanted to get Robert Duvall back as Tom Hagen and the film would balance on a rivalry between Hagen and Michael Corleone. I would have loved to have seen that movie! However, Coppola couldn’t get Duvall and he had to wipe out that part of the plot. I’m guessing that’s why a well known actor like John Savage (playing Tom Hagen’s son) would have such a inconsequential role. Savage doesn’t have the actor playing his father in the movie, so he seems to have little left to do. The Corleone lawyer is played by George Hamilton and I felt like booing him every time he came onto the screen.

I don't give star ratings, but if I did, the first two Godfathers would clearly be 4 star movies, but I'd still give the third one a 3.

Interesting note on the title: Coppola said that when he wanted to call The Godfather Part II by the name that we know it, the studio didn’t want to do it, thinking that the audience might be confused and think it was part of the first film. But The Godfather gave Coppola so much clout, he got his wish with the title and sequel title history hasn’t been the same sense.

When Coppola made the third Godfather film, he actually wanted to call it The Death of Michael Corleone, By 1990, Coppola no longer had enough influence to get the title he wanted and the studio informed him that the title would be, of course, The Godfather, Part III.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 6 of 30)

Sling Blade

Sling Blade is one of the omissions from the 1001 list that I definitely think should be included. Billy Bob Thornton really created a unique character in Carl, the mentally retarded man who is released from a mental facility into the real world as an adult after killing his mother and her lover with a sling blade as a child. Sling Blade is a uniquely Southern story, and doesn’t feel like just a Hollywood version of the South the way many others do. The supporting characters are very good from Dwight Yokam as the evil Doyle Hargreves, John Ritter as the gay friend and J. D. Walsh as a serial killer of some kind locked in the mental ward with Carl. Memorable dialogue includes Carl’s monologue about why he used a Sling Blade (Some folks call it a sling blade, I call it a Kaiser Blade) in the first place, Carl’s attempt at telling a joke and his love of French fried potatoes.

The real center of Sling Blade is Carl’s relationship with the boy he befriends. This is a movie with heart, and that’s a mighty big place to be (Paraphrasing Carl).

Friday, April 5, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 5 of 30)

Being John Malkovich

I tried to watch this film a few years ago, but you really have to be in the proper mood for a film about a portal that leads to a portal you enter which eventually leads to reality as seen by actor John Malkovich. I liked Adaptation, the other Stanley Kaufman written film from the 1001 list and liked that one quite a bit.

After viewing Being John Malkovich this time around, I found it pretty clever but very odd. Ok, it’s a portal to a world of John Malkoviches and they charge people to go through it like it’s a sideshow attraction. What can you really say about that? Let’s see…

It does have some interesting insight into puppeteering. Now how many movies can claim that!

And, what else, let’s see…

And you gotta love any movie that has such a nice role for perennial 70’s game show panelist Orson Bean!

And, what else, let’s see…

And if you ever wondering what John Malkovich would look like with cleavage, well, this is about the only show in town my friend.

And, what else, let’s see…

I guess that’s about it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


30 from the 90’s month (Post 4 of 30)

Dances With Wolves

When a film wins a Best Picture Oscar, is a big hit and gets almost unanimous good reviews when it comes out, it seem almost inevitable that years down the road, one could look at it and ask, why did this movie win Best Picture again? (For lack of a better term, I call it Howgreenwasmyvalley Syndrome)

As far as Dances With Wolves goes, it hasn’t helped that Kevin Costner’s later directoral efforts are not considered as being very successful (Though I confess to liking Waterworld). It’s hard not to look through Dances With Wolves (or Driving Miss Daisy or The English Patient or Titanic) as having a higher standard because of the little Oscar fellow it has to carry on its back. How Green Was My Valley doesn’t stand a historical chance because it had the temerity to beat out Citizen Kane for Best Picture in 1942.

Looking at Dances With Wolves now, the down side includes a not totally satisfying ending and the fact that some of the same territory was already covered in Little Big Man.

On the positive side, it has a wonderful John Barry score, great locations and a story whose heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, it may be remembered as a sidenote to the trivial pursuit question, “What movie undeservedly beat out Goodfellas for Best Picture in 1991?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

CLERKS (1994)

30 from the 90’s month (Post 3 of 30)


Moviegoers tend to have very differing opinions on the films of Kevin Smith. They either think he’s a genius or hopelessly infantile. I went through a period where I watched most of the Kevin Smith films, but he’s one of those filmmakers that you tend to feel less about the older you get. The relentless bathroom humor doesn’t quite seem as hilarious as it once did. However, I do think one Kevin Smith movie should be in the 1001 book and Clerks does seem like the obvious choice. It’s his first movie and it does have a lot of clever dialogue (as well as some tasteless dialogue as well) and there are many funny situations. The best lines in the film come from Randal (Jeff Anderson).

If you've never seen a Smith film, Clerks can serve as a Beta test for Smith fans. If you like it, you may want to try Chasing Amy. If you don’t like Clerks, you probably want to stay away from Dogma.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


30 from the 90's (Post 2 of 30)

The Player

There is a central plot in The Player about filmmaker Griffin Mills (Tim Robbins) receiving threatening letters and being involved in a murder, but the main appeal of this movie is the overall dynamic by which the Hollywood system operates. How do movies get made? How do studios justify spending millions of dollars on film production when they usually have no idea if a movie is going to be successful or bankrupt the studio? That question isn't resolved of course, but it's a lot of fun to see it played out here.

There are dozens if not close to a hundred cameos and bit parts played by some of the most famous movie stars alive at the time this movie was made, but I think special mention should go to two lesser known players. One is Richard E.Grant, who plays a passionate screenwriter who makes a detailed pitch to Griffin about a movie that is art and uncompromising in nature and…Cynthia Stevenson as Griffin’s put upon girlfriend who is the one character who truly seems to stand for something in this film. We, the audience sympathize with her, but nobody actually in the film seems to.

This is probably my favorite Altman not made in the 70’s.

...and you got to like any movie that has dialogue between characters who have just seen the movie Freaks.

...and has some of those same characters going to a screening of The Bicycle Thief.

Bruce Willia and Julia Roberts in The Player's non-existent film-within-a-film Habeas Corpus

Monday, April 1, 2013


I have looked back at all the movies I have posted a blog on (Be it one word or 18 pages) and have seen a lack of posts of movies from the 1990’s. Perhaps that's because 90’s movies aren’t really current anymore, but they aren’t old enough to really be have reached a point of nostalgia with me. I’m sure there are people in their early 20’s who talk about Forrest Gump as a popular movie from their childhood, but that’s not me. I'm more of a Love Story and Airport as popular movies from my childhood kind of guy. Anyway, I’m going to try for 30 posts on movies from the 90’s this month just to give my “films I’ve gone through list” a little more balance on the back end of the timeline.

30 from the 90’s month (Post 1 of 30)

Pulp Fiction

I remember how big this movie hit when it came out. Who was this Quentin Tarantino fella? He had already done Reservoir Dogs, but I didn’t see that one until after Pulp Fiction made a splash. Seeing Pulp Fiction again, for probably the seventh or eighth time, it may no longer be in my imaginary top ten favorite list, but it’s certainly in my top twenty. I’m not sure what to say about it, so I’ll just list five things I still like about Pulp Fiction.

1. The Dialogue from Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary-The best known example is probably the famous royale with cheese scene between John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, but other examples of memorable dialogue include Christopher Walken’s monlogue on the watch, Marcellus Wallace's (Ving Rames) speech to Butch (Bruce Willis)on being a washed up fighter and the histrionic interactions right before the needle is plunged into Uma Thurman’s chest.

2. More nostalgic references-There are plenty of these in any Tarantino movie. The most obvious example from Pulp Fiction is the 50’s themed restaurant Jack Rabbit Slims, where the waiter is Buddy Holly, your host is Ed Sullivan, your waitress is Jayne Mansfield and you dance to Chuck Berry songs. Even having John Travolta dancing to Berry is actually a nostalgic 70’s reference to Travolta's dancing from Saturday Night Fever. I guess you could label this as a crossover 70’s reference within a 50’s reference.

3. Plot Twists and Mysteries to Ponder- Just when you thought Vincent (Travota) might sleep with Mia (Uma) and get in trouble with Marcellus, the movie has Mia overdose instead. And who would would have thought that the battle between Butch and Marcellus would lead to an S & M rape scene?
Additional mysteries to ponder: What’s in the stolen case? And just who the hell is The Gimp?

4. Perfomances-Sam Jackson as Jules clearly steals the show, but the movie also really benefits from the addition of Travolta. But really everyone is good here, even in the smaller roles played by Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, etc. I could basically just list the whole cast here. An additional bonus might be the casting of Travolta and Bruce Willis may have saved us from an additional Look Who’s Talking movie.

5. Plot Construction I love the way the story is presented. Here is the order it comes to us in the movie.

1. Scene 1-Ringo and Hunny Bunny in the Dinner
2. Scene 2-Jules and Vincent retrieve the case
3. Scene 3-Marcellus Wallace advises Butch to throw the fight
4. Scene 4-Vincent buys drugs and has a date with Mia Wallace.
5. Scene 5-Flashback to the Officer giving the young Butch the watch
6. Scene 6-Butch throws the fight, encounters Marcellus
7. Scene 7-Return to the second half of Jules and Vincent retrieving the case

If this had been presented chronologically, this would be the order:

Scene 5 would be first
Scene 2 would be second
Scene 7 would be third,
But is simultaneous with Scene 1, so they are both third
Scene 3 would be fifth
Scene 4 would be sixth
Scene 6 would be seventh
So chronologically the last line of the film should be, “Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead.”

I think I have this right, but I may have missed something. Anyway, the chronology works like a charm.

After listing all the positives, I’ve decided to put Pulp Fiction back into my top ten list. What the hell, the list is imaginary anyway.