Archive for the ‘Rating – 4 1/2 Stars’ category

The Top 100 Films of the 1990s

02/03/2016

THIS – a work in progress.  In reverse order.  For posterity.

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100. The Thin Red Line (1998, Malick)

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99. Girl, Interrupted (1999, Mangold)

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98. Pi (1998, Aronofsky)

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97. American Beauty (1999, Mendes)

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96. Zero Effect (1998, Kasdan)

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95. The Cutting Edge (1992, Glaser)

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94. Ruby in Paradise (1993, Nunez)

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93. Deconstructing Harry (1997, Allen)

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92. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998, Gilliam)

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91. Starship Troopers (1997, Verhoeven)

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90. Following (1998, Nolan)

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89. Before Sunrise (1995, Linklater)

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88. Go (1999, Liman)

Oh, Katie Holmes, how you were so ruined by the xenophobic Tom Cruise.  This is an exciting film that highlights the great Sarah Polley and William Fichtner as a triangular sales rep extraordinaire.

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87. Clueless (1995, Heckerling)

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86. Audition (1999, Miike)

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85. The Straight Story (1999, Lynch)

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84. Everyone Says I Love You (1996, Allen)

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83. A River Runs Through It (1992, Redford)

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82. Leaving Las Vegas (1995, Figgis)

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81. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993, Allen)

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80. I Stand Alone (1998, Noe)

79. Misery (1990, Reiner)

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78. Slacker (1991, Linklater)

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77. Hideous Kinky (1998, MacKinnon)

Post Titanic Kate Winslet took risks including this film and Holy Smoke – an honorable mention in this list – and good for her.  I’ve had a crush on Kate for years, unrequited.  A sweet film with Julia (Winslet) and her two young daughters as expatriate Brits in 1972 Morocco struggling against a wayward father/spouse.

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76. To Die For (1995, Van Sant)

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75. Cape Fear (1991, Scorsese)

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74. Chungking Express (1994, Kar-wai)

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73. Crumb (1994, Zwigoff)

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72. JFK (1991, Stone)

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71. Rushmore (1998, Anderson)

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70. Saving Private Ryan (1997, Speilberg)

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69. Twelve Monkeys (1995, Gilliam)

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68. Waiting for Guffman (1996, Guest)

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67. Buffalo ’66 (1998, Gallo)

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66. The Remains of the Day (1993, Ivory)

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65. Lorenzo’s Oil (1992, Miller)

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64. Dumb and Dumber (1994, Farrelly Brothers)

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63. Mighty Aphrodite (1995, Allen)

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62. Ringu (1998, Nakata)

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61. Carlito’s Way (1993, De Palma)

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60. The Fisher King (1991, Gilliam)

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59. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991, Cameron)

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58. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, Coppola)

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57. Magnolia (1999, Anderson)

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56. Three Colors: Red (1994, Kieslowski)

55. Schindler’s List (1993, Speilberg)

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54. The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Demme)

53. Six Degrees of Separation (1993, Schepisi)

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52. Out of Sight (1998, Soderbergh)

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51. Internal Affairs (1990, Figgis)

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50. Death and the Maiden (1994, Polanski)

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49. Boogie Nights (1997, Anderson)

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48. Felicia’s Journey (1999, Egoyan)

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47. My Own Private Idaho (1991, Van Sant)

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46. Flirting With Disaster (1996, O’Russell)

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45. The Insider (1999, Mann)

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44. Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995, Solondz)

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43. The Ice Storm (1997, Lee)

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42. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, Armitage)

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41. Affliction (1997, Schrader)

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40. Three Colors: Blue (1993, Kieslowski)

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39. The Cable Cuy (1996, Stiller)

This is ranked way lower than it should be.  I am sure the French love Jim Carrey and that is enough proof for me of his brilliance – which might be gone.

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38. Miami Blues (1990, Armitage)

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37. Fly Away Home (1996, Ballard)

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36. Fight Club (1999, Fincher)

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35. Exotica (1994, Egoyan)

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34. Kids (1995, Clark)

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33. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Tarantino)

32. The Big Lebowski (1998, Coen Bothers)

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31. The Pillow Book (1996, Greenaway)

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30. Wild at Heart (1990, Lynch)

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29. Bottle Rocket (1996, Anderson)

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28. Election (1999, Payne)

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27. The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999, Figgis)

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26. Husbands and Wives (1992, Allen)

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25. The Player (1992, Altman)

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24. Goodfellows (1990, Scorsese)

23. The Sweet Hereafter (1997, Egoyan)

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22. Heat (1995, Mann)

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21. The Grifters (1990, Frears)

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20. Fearless (1993, Weir)

19. Crash (1996, Cronenberg)

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18. Lost Highway (1997, Lynch)

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17. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992, Mamet)

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16. Jackie Brown (1997, Tarantino)

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15. In the Company of Men (1997, LaBute)

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14. Until the End of the World (1991, Wenders)

This is where it gets to hallowed ground.  This amazing, expansive film by Wim Wenders was originally cut to 18 hours or so.  William Hurt, although an apparent asshole in real life, is great in this role of post apocalyptic 2000s.  Decidedly off tract the film shows a visual flair unseen in other Wenders’ films.

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13. Heavenly Creatures (1994, Jackson)

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12. Fargo (1996, Coen Bothers)

11. Casino (1995, Scorsese)

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10. Safe (1995, Haynes)

9. Short Cuts (1993, Altman)

8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992, Lynch)

7. Pulp Fiction (1994, Tarantino)

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6. Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Kubrick)

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5. The Truman Show (1998, Weir)

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4. The Spanish Prisoner (1997, Mamet)

3. Twin Peaks (pilot) (1990, Lynch)

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2. Happiness (1998, Solondz)

1. Breaking the Waves (1996, Von Trier)

The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 9, “After”

10/02/2014

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***WARNING. MANY SPOILERS AHEAD***

After the brilliant mid-season climactic Episode 8, “Too Far Gone,” possibly the best episode yet, we get a welcome return to Atlanta’s wasteland. The Group is split, we don’t know if baby Judith is alive, Rick is barely walking, his head recently severely broken up by The Governor. The Governor got his comeuppance in Episode 8, courtesy of Michonne’s Samurai sword and a gunshot to the head courtesy of his “wife.” He will reappear.

We see nothing of the Group in After with the exception of Rick and his now very grown up and hardened teenager, Carl, stumbling around Atlanta suburbs looking for sleep and supplies. The gun arsenal is perilously low for the men. Once they find shelter, Rick and Carl argue about the conservative use of their pistols as a walker sneaks in for a possible meal. Rick finally gets to sleep but does not wake up the next morning as Carl begins a brilliant monologue. Over four seasons of work, the child actor Chandler Riggs is developing his acting skills and on this episode he shares the spotlight with Danai Gurira with chops. Carl tells his sleeping (Or dead? Or in a Coma? Of course not! The 5th season was green lit months ago and is about to go into production) father that he alone is at fault for the splitting of the group (“and all you cared about was your stupid garden,” [Sic]) and for the death of group members including Rick’s wife and Carl’s mother, Lori. He tells his dad that he no longer needs his protection and we certainly do not believe that. Carl gets careless and has a couple of close calls.

One annoyance with this episode is its slight leaning towards the typical horror surprise timing.

Michonne has gone back to her original posse of two walkers with their arms chopped off and mouths scraped out. This time, interestingly enough, the rope bound walkers follow her instead of leading her as in earlier episodes. She has the only weapon she needs.

One of the creepiest scenes is a flashback sequence in which a beautifully dressed and coifed Michonne is preparing gourmet food for two men in a posh flat, one her husband and the other a mystery friend. When Michonne is first introduced in the show, her dead cohorts are these two men. Michonne is holding a small child as the two men get in a cryptic conversation (in the scene Michonne just grins at the two arguing men) that continues this interesting story arc. Alas, the flashback is yet a dream; but the flashback bleeds into the dream as the child disappears, the men now appear armless and mouthless, the power is out and M is shrieking. M wakes up in a car with the walking dead surrounding her overnight accommodations.

As she walks among the disinterested dead she recognizes a woman, we think. Off goes her head and Michonne’s invincibility is gone in a cool sequence of multiple zombie be-headings.

Given the producers’ penchant for a memorable kill we get an early scene with Michonne’s sword going into the poor severed head of beloved Hershel. Hershel has turned but will have trouble biting others as he is only a severed head. Superb effects and makeup as always.

Now we await the appearance of the separated group, the majority of which escaped from the war torn prison in a bus. Sisters, Maggie and Beth? Tyreese with two young heroic and one of them possibly insane young girls that saved him? Daryl, where the hell are you? You cannot go away because you are, after all, the soul of the show. Carol, will you re-amerge and become the next Governor? At the end of the episode a healing Rick tells his son that he is officially a man, not after granting the audience with the possibility that Rick has turned as he stumbles toward Carl. Carl is brandishing a gun in tears then becomes willing at that moment to accept his fate and meet his father in the undead. No biting occurs, Rick is going to be ok and Carl gets to eat a 100 ounce can of chocolate pudding.

“It’s for You,” says Rick to Carl as Michonne knocks on the door.

5 Quick Pics

29/10/2009

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The Girlfriend Experience (Soderberg, 2009)

LOVE the way this film looks and I found the script very funny.  At the end the amateurish acting doesn’t distract.

*** 1/2 / *****

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Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009)

The scariest film I’ve seen in years.  Alison Lohman charms as usual and the kitsch works throughout.

**** / *****

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In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967)

Satisfying in the way Rod Steiger’s sheriff slowly develops a vague appreciation of Poiter’s Mr. Tibbs without being overly preachy in the slightest way.  Instilled with a wry sense of humor and stands up well to today’s better pictures concerning race relations.

**** 1/2 / *****

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Body of Lies (Scott, 2008)

Even though I had to watch it almost three times to get most details I didn’t mind it.  Very cool treatise on modern day warfare.

*** 1/2 / *****

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Downfall (Hirschbiegel, 2004)

Had to check it out after all the parody.  Bruno Ganz is a god of acting in a pretty straight forward run of the mill thriller.

*** / *****

Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)

04/07/2009

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Jack Nicholson plays Robert Eroica (named after Beethoven’s beloved 3rd Symphony) Dupea, a gifted pianist from a family of gifted musicians.  After originally dedicating his 3rd symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte, Beethoven later changed the title to Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d’un grand’uomo (“heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man”).  The great man in this film is Dupea’s father who has suffered through two recent strokes.  This forces Dupea to go home to the family spread in Puget Sound to face an upper class world he has since rejected.

He struggles with his talent and keeping any kind of consistency in his life.  In the opening act we see Dupea working an oil rig and spending a good deal of his time with Rayette (Karen Black), a pretty, insecure and clingy diner waitress.  Dupea also hangs out with friends who are not, as the filmmakers want us to think, on the same intellectual or cultural playing field as Dupea.  This conceit allows one of the primary plot elements to move forward – Five Easy Pieces is a film about class structure.

The middle act of the film is a little road movie that follows Robert and Rayette across the Northwest towards Puget Sound.  As they make their journey they pick up two female hitchhikers, Palm and Terry.  For about 15 minutes, Palm rambles on and on from the backseat of the car in the sort of elocution one would hear in Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner in London.  Palm’s elocution is how “the man” is out to screw us all.  To me, this is quiet denunciation of Dupea’s obvious misogyny.

The last act reunites the family in Puget Sound.  Dupea’s father (William Challee) has indeed declined to a demented state and his brother (Ralph Waite – John Walton of the treasured 1970’s CBS television series) and sister (played wonderfully by a luminous Lois Smith) have continued their life in music.  Dupea, in an act of pathetic cruelty, doesn’t allow Rayette to visit the home initially and has her put up in a motel.  Dupea makes a move on his brother’s girlfriend (another pathetic act) that is consummated and generally acts like an ass in front of his family.  What emerges is Dupea as a manic-depressive, prone to both quiet reflection and explosions of violence.  Rayette, bored out of her mind, eventually makes her own way to the Dupea estate unannounced but not for long as Robert decides that a one-week visit with his family is long enough.

Five Easy Pieces is a very complicated film about some of the downsides of being an artist in that it is difficult to integrate supreme talent in a rational world.  Dupea’s talent, class struggle, misogyny and apparent mental illness paint a rich character for Jack Nicholson to play.  I never have seen such a complex performance from the man.  Its also a richly rewarding film.

**** 1/2 / *****

Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai, 1996)

03/07/2009

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I loved this film.  The pairing of the very related stories is fresh, hip and alive in a way completely foreign to me.  What little I know of Godard and the New Wave was in presentation here, I think.  Ironically, my parents lived in Hong Kong when this film was made and I spent a good amount of time there myself.  The film really captures the incredible energy of the place.  The movie is very sexy and so are the female leads, especially Faye Wong, playing “Faye” in the second of the two stories.  She is delightful and I won’t soon forget her jamming to The Mamas and the Papas.

As for Wong Kar-Wai?  This was also my introduction to his work.  I know very little of the guy but this film is certainly ripe with Americana.   Has he lived here?  There is an odd little food fetish theme that runs throughout that is really sweet and familiar.  Basically, this is a wonderfully sweet film in its narrative.  The handheld camera work was executed to perfection, as were the jump cuts and freeze frames.

To those of you that are sometimes reluctant to “get out of the box” in your film viewing (and when I look back at my list of favorite films, I am guilty of same) try this as an alternative.

**** 1/2  / *****

p.s. the DVD’s Tarantino intro and postscript are really cool – he has a real love for this guy