Moriarty's 90's List: 1995 Top Ten and Runner Ups
Hey Folks, Harry here. Why has it taken so long to get another chapter in the Moriarty 90's List? Because, the dear Professor contemplates... he rips at himself, he walks a divide in the rug over some of these decisions. Knowing that people will scream at him for knobish decisions like not having THE USUAL SUSPECTS in your top ten for 1995. But... Moriarty is that Knob. And if ya don't like him, you can shine his knob. Here's the Professor
THE ‘90S LIST, PART III: 1995
And now let’s close things out with something I bet you never thought you’d see. I notice that even the most stalwart of you have stopped asking by now. You’ve decided that it’s a dead issue, that you’re never going to see it, no matter how much you ask. I’ve gotten the nice letters, the threatening letters, the out-and-out bribes, and nothing has helped. Let me explain. I never meant to tease you all like this. True, I’m Evil, and if there’s ever been a project of mine that has caused collecting pain and suffering, it’s been this one. I didn’t design it that way, though… I swear. That’s just gravy.
The short answer to the question, “Why are you so fucking slow?” is that I had no idea this project would be so big or require so much time and attention. I guess I know why no one else attempted something on this same scale, a full-blown retrospective of an entire ten years. It doesn’t help when you’re distracted. ShoWest, personal experiments at the Labs that Harry Lime and I have been plotting, my developing role as West Coast Editor here… I have a thousand excuses if you want to hear them. Instead, how about we move on?
We’re in the home stretch. I’ve had the henchmen crunching raw data for weeks. I’ve been running for 20 or 30 hour jags, fuelled by nothing more than caffeine and hate mail. Now, at long last, I am pleased to announce that this week kicks off five straight weeks of one year per RUMBLINGS, covering the span from 1995 to 1999. It’s a relief to finally finish, but it’s also a pleasure, as there’s a lot of great material here in these years. By the time 1995 rolled around, the aesthetics that defined the ‘90s were already well-established.
1. DEAD MAN WALKING
Simply one of the most powerful emotional experiences you can have while watching a movie, this second film by Tim Robbins as a writer/director marked a quantum leap forward in his status as a filmmaker. His first movie, BOB ROBERTS, was a clever, pointed satire of the election process as popularity contest here in America, and it was a fairly accomplished little picture, a mock documentary that was obviously influenced by Robbins’ work with Altman around that time. It in no way indicated how fantastic a film by him could be, which is why this film came as something of a surprise. I say “something,” because it stars Sean Penn, which made it worth seeing automatically. Also, the presence of Susan Sarandon, Robbins’ real life partner, seemed to be a good sign, since she can be counted on for solid work every time out. There is no preparing yourself for the gutpunch that this film packs, though.
Based on the true story of Sister Helen Prejean, a Louisiana nun who became the spiritual advisor to a death row convict, Matthew Poncelet, this film manages to skirt the easy sentimentality that many filmmakers would have gone for with such provocative material. Robbins decided instead to take the high road, crafting a mature, intelligent, and controlled look at the entire set of circumstances surrounding the execution of a man by the state. He manages to take no sides on the issue, instead letting us decide for ourselves what we think of the death penalty. He gives equal time to the parents of Poncelet’s victims, letting them speak for the two teenagers that Poncelet is accused of kidnapping and raping along with another man. The other man received life in prison for his role, while Poncelet was the one sentenced to death. Robbins never even really addresses whether this is “fair” or not. The question is unimportant in the end. This is about the spiritual connection that evolves between these two totally different people, and that is reason enough to pay attention to this movie.
American filmmakers are more afraid of dealing with spirituality than they are of dealing with sex, but Robbins found the courage to tackle this subject with respect, treating Sister Helen’s religious convictions as a central part of her personality, as opposed to some sort of aberration. As a result, the film becomes moving, involving, and incredibly emotionally affecting. I personally spent the last twenty minutes of my first viewing of the movie crying almost uncontrollably, perhaps because of my own personal opinion of the death penalty, but more likely because Robbins manages to pull us in and make us care about Poncelet in spite of his casual racism, his admitted role in the murders, and his thuggish attitudes. Every viewing since has left me equally shattered, a testament to the film’s lasting power. This is not an easy filmgoing experience, but it will reward serious viewers. As an added bonus, Robbins and his brother David assembled a truly stellar team to contribute to the score. The voices of Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are all magnificent in providing counterpoint to this very special film.
2. TOY STORY
There’s little that I can say here that other critics haven’t said already, but allow me to try. TOY STORY is, simply put, one of the most magical film experiences in recent memory. I was enchanted, enthralled, and thunderstruck from the opening frame to the last. Even after the TV spots, the theatrical trailers, the merchandising blitz... I was simply amazed at everything I saw. If the film were just an exercise in state of the art computer animation, that would almost be enough. The sights you see in this film are so revolutionary, and the fluid execution is so aesthetically pleasing, that I would call this the STAR WARS of the ‘90’s, the arrival of a new type of storytelling in cinema. But it goes beyond pure visual spectacle thanks to the clever, nuanced script and the astonishingly funny and poignant vocal performances of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and Wallace Shawn. Everyone else in the film is good, but those four performers give their all, and we are fortunate they did. This film doesn’t strain to entertain me at every single turn. Instead, it makes it look simple. The comic relief is both subtle and smart. The main performances are grounded in absolute reality. Hanks hadn’t been this funny in years, and I simply never liked Allen before. Both deserve major kudos for their work. As I watched this film, I truly, for the first time in God only knows how long, became a child again, playing with the most amazing, shiny new toy. I was able to recall my childhood clearly, with real affection, because the writers and designers of this film do such a beautiful job recalling theirs. This is a loving look at childhood, but it’s not what I would call a childish film in the least. This is a mature, well-crafted, and wonderful work of lasting art.
There are movies that you look forward to that end up being as good as you expect. There are movies that you look forward to that end up being worse than you expected. But rarely do you walk into a film with absolutely no expectations and end up being blown out the back wall of the theater. SE7EN was a joyous exception to that. Director David Fincher’s last film, ALIEN 3, was one of the most disappointing sequels I’ve ever seen, and was a mess overall, no matter what number in a series it was. For that reason, I went into this film expecting it to be a long music video type film with (hopefully) a few decent moments due to the actors involved. From the opening credits, though, I was hooked. Kyle Cooper, who went on to found Imaginary Forces, is responsible for this miraculous little mini-movie that immediately plunges you into the heart of darkness. After the credits finish setting your nerves on edge, we are then dropped into a nameless, faceless major American city that is practically collapsing from decay. We meet two cops, played by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, as they investigate the possible murder of an outrageously obese man who was fed until he died. There are no clues as to what the motive for the murder might have been, and no apparent evidence on the scene. This is, of course, just the beginning of a twisted, labyrinthine plot that finds a psychotic known as John Doe committing a series of murders designed to illustrate the seven deadly sins and how we, as a society, are immersed in sin every day. With each successive murder, illustrating Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Wrath, and Envy, Doe’s evil web seems to wrap tighter around the two detectives played by Pitt and Freeman, each of them giving smart, well-defined performances. It is Mills, the Pitt character, who seems to become the focus of Doe’s efforts following a close call in which the detectives show up at Doe’s apartment, and it is Mills’ wife, played by Gwenyth Paltrow, who becomes the ultimate tool of enlightenment in the film’s truly shocking, unnerving ending. Andrew Kevin Walker, who wrote this film while employed at a Tower Records in Manhattan, has taken one of the bleakest looks at modern society that anyone has had the nerve to take via mainstream entertainment in a long time, and Fincher was just the man to bring it to the screen, embracing everything that makes the story work and amplifying it. By setting the film in a nameless decaying city that looks like New York but is surrounded by land like California, Fincher manages to detach you from thinking, “Oh, of course it could happen there.” He makes it feel like it could be any of America’s cities, all of which are collapsing in on themselves. This is what the Apocalypse will be like when it comes -- no giant lightshow, but, instead, a simple loss of human values and an immersion in real depravity. SE7EN is a film that shocks, even as it reaches for a state of grace, and it is an experience that is impossible to shake.
4. CLEAN, SHAVEN
Here’s one that never fails to draw blank stares when I bring it up. Lodge Kerrigan’s powerful little film is perhaps the single most unflinching look into the experience of mental illness I’ve ever sat through. From the constant sound mix of noise and screams and voices and laughter to the phenomenal central performance of Peter Greene, there’s no way around the power this film possesses once you’ve seen it. It’s one of the few films on this list that I’m loathe to actually describe, because there’s nothing I can write here that can convey the experience of the film to you, and that’s because it is a uniquely cinematic experience. So many of the films on this list could be told equally well with some adaptation in other mediums. Not this one. Kerrigan uses every tool available to the filmmaker to add texture to this gem, and the result is something that has not lost its ability to disturb me one little bit since the first time I saw it. Find it and I’ll bet you agree.
5. BEFORE SUNRISE
For a man who has publicly acknowledged his own Evil nature, I have a surprisingly sentimental side. Great film romances are rare, and so are films that manage to convincingly convey the elusive nature of true sexual chemistry. Yes, there’s a ton of movies out there with two appealing leads who meet cute and then flirt with witty dialogue, only to consummate in the perfect lighting at the perfect angles… but those films bore me. It’s the movies like BEFORE SUNRISE that I long for, films that manage to show me two great, interesting appealing characters at that moment when they meet and realize just how interesting they both are. We’ve all had those moments when we were out with someone and the conversation just clicked and midway through it, you think to yourself, “Wow… I really like this person.” Every relationship has that moment, and it seems to be very elusive when it comes to filming it. How Richard Linklater and his co-writer Kim Krizan managed to capture the rhythms of that moment so well is a beautiful mystery. How Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy managed to nail the characters without ever once turning cloying or cute like so often happens in romantic films is another mystery. In fact, this whole film is built just like that conversation, surprising you in moment after moment. No matter how much you resist, there’s something in here that will wear you down, that will win you over. Director of photography Lee Daniels sculpts his Vienna out of light and frosts it in that sort of heightened electric charge that exists on those perfect evenings. It’s so rare that you see something this close to the truth onscreen, so rare for filmmakers to have this level of trust and faith in their audience, that when you witness something as powerful and as right as this, it feels like magic.
6. CITY OF LOST CHILDREN
Speaking of magic, there’s no better word to describe the bizarre visionary filmmaking style of the brilliant French team Jeunet and Caro. I’ve heard recently that they aren’t working together anymore, that they won’t be making any further films together. Normally, I’d be heartbroken, but when you’ve already made something as wonderful as this film, a piece of fairy tale perfection, then it’s not like you’re walking away from things empty-handed. It’s impossible to summarize this film in just one brief sentence, and that’s part of the charm. Is it the story of One (Ron Perlman in a career-best performance), a circus strongman who loses his “petit frere” to the nasty Cyclops cult? Or is it the story of Miette, an adult-faced little moppet who works as a thief for the evil Octopus, twin Siamese sisters? Or is it the story of the strange extended family made up of clones of Dominique Pinon, a tiny woman, a disembodied brain, and an Evil Genius who cannot cry? It’s all of those things, but there’s so much more to it. This is total immersion into a world we’ve never seen on screen before, and it manages to be hypnotic, hysterical, sad, and frightening in equal measure. I adored this movie the first time I saw it in a tiny screening room on the Sony lot, where it was being screened for Oscar consideration. Four other people showed up for the film, and two of them were with me. Since then, I’ve been waiting for people to discover this instant classic and embrace it. The wait continues. In the meantime, at least I get to enjoy. Do yourself the favor and take the trip soon.
7. DEAD MAN
Jim Jarmusch is one of those acquired tastes in cinema, a distinct filmmaker with a unique voice that manages to transcend genre and setting and everything else that normally defines or even traps a filmmaker. Looking back at the films he’s made –- MYSTERY TRAIN, STRANGER THAN PARADISE, DOWN BY LAW, NIGHT ON EARTH –- one gets the impression that his personal radio is tuned to some distant star, and we’re being shown something totally new each time. With DEAD MAN, Jarmusch reaches the apex of his art so far. This is ostensibly a Western, but that’s like calling CITY OF LOST CHILDREN a kid’s film. This is the story of William Blake, a man wandering through one of the most fascinating mental landscapes I’ve seen on film. The opening moments of the movie, as Blake rides a train west, are haunting, ghostly, and set the tone for a film that could just as easily be read as the story of a soul’s journey to its final resting place as it could be the story of a man wrongly accused of murder. The level you’ll take the film at is likely to be determined by how much you want to play the game Jarmusch has set up here. Personally, I adore the film for its fabulous texture, its rich B&W photography, and that amazing Neil Young score. Special mention must be made of Gary Farmer, whose work in this film as Nobody, a spirit guide of Blake’s, is among the finest of the decade. He’s one of those great film faces you can never get enough of, and this is the most iconic work of his career. The way he bounces off of Johnny Depp in the lead performance is delightful, and these two make me laugh out loud every time I see them together. This is a film to be watched and rewatched, a fascinating onion of a movie that rewards the effort the more it is peeled away.
8. WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE
God bless Dawn Weiner and all the real Dawn Weiners out there. This film, our first glimpse into the strange and scary world of Todd Solondz, is one of the most honest films ever made about what it’s like to be an outsider as a kid. Heather Mazzarato deserves a long and glorious career based on the intuitive, painful work she does here. Her awkwardness isn’t played as endearing or cute or quirky. Instead, Dawn genuinely doesn’t fit. She’s a real kid, with real feelings that aren’t always pretty or admirable. This is what Claire from PRETTY IN PINK really looked like, and chances are this is how her life really went. Brendon Sexton III does memorable work here as a tough kid who forges a bizarre relationship of sorts with “The Weinerdog.” Actually, all of the supporting cast in this film is profoundly affecting because no one looks like an actor. This is like an Errol Morris film where no one knows the camera is on. This is a suburban trash epic that must have made John Waters howl in glee when he first saw it. The courage it takes to put something like this on film and release it to the rest of the world is immeasurable, and Solondz has definitely staked a claim as the foremost new voice for the bruised and the lonely in the world of indie film.
Possibly the best police procedural since William Friedkin’s searing TO LIVE OR DIE IN LA, this is an epic film about the parallel lives led by a master thief, played by Robert De Niro, and a dedicated cop, played by Al Pacino. Writer/director Michael Mann is a genius at establishing mood, and his best work in film has been done in the crime genre, with THIEF and MANHUNTER both being standouts. This time, though, he’s aimed at something deeper than just a cops and robbers film. This is a look at the effects of giving your life over to your work, no matter what the profession. Both De Niro and Pacino have paid the price, giving up whatever personal lives they may have had in pursuit of excellence in their field. As a result, there is no room for them to step back from the job, and even if they try, they fail since they have no practice at being anything other than the job. Pacino is trying to put together a life with Diane Verona and her daughter, Natalie Portman, and failing miserably. De Niro, on the other hand, has always subscribed to the idea that “there is no room in your life for anything that you can’t just walk away from in thirty seconds if you spot the heat around the corner,” so he finds himself torn when he meets Amy Brennenman in a coffee shop and finds himself drawn to her, wanting more of her than he has ever wanted of someone before. Sensing a change in himself, De Niro decides to set up one last score with his gang, which includes Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore, both of whom already have permanent ties, outside lives. Kilmer, in particular, is going through the wringer with his wife, played with an appealing combination of street smarts and naivetÃ© by Ashley Judd. This last score, though, has drawn the attention of Pacino, and before it can happen, there is a sensational scene which film fans had to wait twenty years for, with De Niro and Pacino sharing a cup of coffee and their views on life as they each let the other know in no uncertain terms what will happen if they have to face off. Real fireworks fly in this scene, which is odd since it’s one of the quietest in the film. Without giving away any of the powerful second half of the film, let’s just say that Mann proves himself a virtuoso at drawing together the film’s many divergent plot threads, paying them off one after another, leading to a shattering, seemingly inevitable conclusion. This is more than just a standard crime thriller. Perhaps it should be the standard for all crime thrillers. Smart, tough, and sincere.
10. DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS
Anytime people rant and rave to me about LA CONFIDENTIAL, I ask if they’ve seen Carl Franklin’s adaptation of the first book in Walter Moseley’s phenomenal Easy Rawlins series. Most times, they say no, and I order them to run to the store and grab it immediately. I’m puzzled, though, when people say they skipped it because they heard it “sucked.” From who? How could anyone sit through this film and walk away unhappy? Like LA CONFIDENTIAL, this film delivers us back to an earlier Los Angeles, and it does so with real confidence and style. Moseley’s book series follows Rawlins through the development of LA, and like James Ellroy, Moseley knows his history. He’s painted a rich, complex portrait of the way race relations evolved in this town and the ways they failed, but he never preaches. Instead, he builds smart, elegant mystery stories that illuminate the nature of the town at each point along the way. This film should have been the kickoff in Denzel Washington’s first big franchise, especially if it meant we’d get to see more of Don Cheadle’s amazing portrayal of Mouse, a particularly dangerous friend of Easy’s. This is the film that cemented Cheadle as a god among actors in my book. He was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nomination that year. The film is tough, sexy, and filled to overflowing with atmosphere. Hell, when you can actually say that Jennifer Beals was great in a film, you know you’re dealing with something special.
One of the best actresses working right now, Julianne Moore, takes on a difficult, risky, and even unlikable role here, and manages to make it touching and unforgettable. The film was written and directed by Todd Haynes, whose brilliant debut picture SUPERSTAR is currently unavailable thanks to legal hassles with Richard Carpenter, who resented the film’s portrayal of himself and his sister, dead pop star Karen Carpenter. It’s a shame, and it means that the only Haynes film that’s worth seeing that you might actually find is this creepy, vaguely Cronenbergian (a compliment when it comes from the Labs, believe me) tale of a normal, average housewife who comes down with “environmental illness,” in which she slowly but surely becomes allergic to the modern world. Moore, who is remarkably beautiful, gives herself over completely to the role, allowing Haynes to strip her of that beauty and that vitality, little by little, until she has all the character and presence of a used dishrag. I’m not quite sure what the “point” of this film is, but I really don’t care. It was the mood, the overall sense of the world turning on the main character, that I responded to. This is truly a modern horror film, which doesn’t rely on some impossible monster or some over the top psycho to scare us. For that alone, it is worth seeing, although you may be subject to a little hypochondria of your own afterwards.
Hypnotic, involving, meticulously detailed, and creepy as shit. That’s how I’d describe Oliver Stone’s epic attempt to tackle the complex and confusing character of Richard Milhouse Nixon, the only President to ever resign from office. This film is as multifaceted as its subject, and it is not an easy ride by any means. JFK is a more immediately entertaining film, and THE DOORS is a more accessible biopic, but NIXON may be the most profound of the films Stone has made about that era and the major players in it. By tackling the nature of Nixon, Stone also manages to tackle the character of the times themselves. The film’s single greatest coup is the casting of Welshman Anthony Hopkins as this most distinctly American figure. The decision was a courageous one, made even more courageous by the fact that Stone decided not to use makeup on Hopkins. At first, one is struck by how much Hopkins does not look like Nixon. Then, as you watch him, you find it hard to picture the original man. In the end, when Stone has the audacity to have Hopkins walk out one door and the real Nixon emerge on the other side, we simply accept it because we have managed to see into the man’s soul over the three preceding hours, and seeing his real face only drives home the truths that Stone manages to uncover.
It’s not just the central performance that’s a stunner, either. It’s each and every member of this tremendous cast that manages to hit a home run. James Woods is a fantastic Haldeman, a constant presence at Nixon’s elbow, always ready with an answer or a piece of advice. Paul Sorvino seems to be channeling Henry Kissinger by way of Dr. Strangelove, and it’s a memorable portrayal. Powers Boothe as Alexander Haig, David Hyde Pierce as John Dean, Ed Harris as E. Howard Hunt, John Diehl’s G. Gordon Liddy, David Paymer’s Ron Zeigler, and J. T. Walsh as Erlichman are all exemplary. It’s the stunning Joan Allen who very nearly walks away with the entire film, bringing full life to the famous “Plastic Pat,” the First Lady whose public reputation was as a complete robot. If the real woman had one half the strength of character that the film’s version does, then she was a remarkable woman. The chemistry between her and Hopkins really does make us understand the relationship that existed between these two public figures when the doors were closed and the masks were off. As far as Stone’s work goes, there can be no fault found in the efforts he is making these days. He is an exciting, captivating director who manages to reinvent himself each time out. The collaboration he shares with cinematographer Robert Richardson is resulting in miracles every time out now. This film has a look that is truly mesmerizing. Although Stone experiments with filmstocks the way he did in both JFK and NBK, there is a different feel and rhythm to the work this time. There is something almost operatic about the way this story unfolds. However, more than opera, there are two distinct stylistic nods that Stone makes which define the very shape of this film. One is CITIZEN KANE, which is referenced very knowingly throughout the film, with visual nods like a push through the gates of the White House on a rainy evening or the MARCH OF TIME newsreel which catches us up on Nixon’s political history. The other is Shakespeare. Numerous reviewers have mentioned the Shakespearean quality of the film, and it’s no mistake. Nixon is a tragic figure, and Stone manages to wring every bit of tragedy out of him, really putting us inside his soul, giving us a window on the inner workings of a mind under siege.
3. 12 MONKEYS
I love this movie. It is a smart, strange, sad little science fiction film that is graced by the screenwriting skills of David Webb Peoples and his wife Janet, the directorial eye of the always interesting Terry Gilliam, and the remarkable performances of Brad Pitt and, in particular, Bruce Willis. Willis plays James Cole, a man who lives in a dreary underground prison in the future. He is chosen as a “volunteer” to go topside, where no human life can survive now due to a virus that swept the world in 1996, killing 5 billion people and driving the remaining citizenry underground. For some reason, though, the virus spared all animals and plantlife. It is specimens of both of these that Cole is sent after. When he manages to complete his job well, he is offered a pardon from his prison home if he will take part in one more “collecting” mission... this one a mission through time. He soon finds himself in 1990 and a mental institution, where he begins to suspect that he is not from the future after all, but is, in fact, delusional. It is his psychiatrist, played by Madeline Stowe, who helps him reach this conclusion. The film itself is about Cole’s struggle to determine what of his world is real and what is fantasy, and it is a surprisingly sad journey, as Cole tries to find a place for himself in the world that he wants to live in. Time loops in on itself, and plays tricks on Cole and on the audience. In the end, Cole finds himself trapped in a particularly hellish loop that both starts and ends our journey. The supporting performance by Brad Pitt as another inhabitant of the institution that Cole is thrown into is unsettling, energetic work, and marked another bold step away from the pretty boy image that Pitt could so easily coast on. Instead, he continued to push himself into new challenges, the mark of someone who acts for all the right reasons. Stowe is good, but she serves essentially as a compass with which Cole gauges his own sanity. It is Cole that is the role to have here, and Willis rises to the occasion with some of the finest work of his career. There is a moment, after he escapes from a party thrown by Pitt’s father, played by Christopher Plummer, where Cole is dancing in a shallow pond, determined to never go underground again, intoxicated by the air and the sounds of nature around him, that is simply heartbreaking. It is moments like these that lift 12 MONKEYS out of the SF genre and place it among the year’s most powerful, affecting films.
4. THE USUAL SUSPECTS
When Neil Jordan’s THE CRYING GAME came out a few years earlier, one of the things Miramax used to promote the movie was the film’s “secret,” which is actually one of the least important things in the movie. In fact, it’s given away by the mid-point of the movie, and an observant viewer has no doubt put it all together before then. That film’s strengths were its script, its direction, and the wonderful performances of the entire cast. Well, with THE USUAL SUSPECTS, the entire film is built like a puzzle around a central secret which really is the film’s most important revelation. Does that make it a lesser film than THE CRYING GAME? No, not at all. In fact, SUSPECTS is one of the best rides that you could hope for at a theater, with director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Chris McQuarrie taking you on a fast and furious film noir trip with any number of surprises along the way. They keep you guessing with the incredibly elaborate structure of the picture, never sure exactly where they’re going.
1995’s second-best ending (gotta give it up for SE7EN) focuses on the real identity of Kaiser Soze, a supercriminal who was responsible for hiring five criminals to hijack the cargo of a boat. The criminals are played superbly by Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollack, Stephen Baldwin, Benecio Del Toro, and Kevin Spacey. Byrne is his typical self, long on the Irish charm and charisma. Pollack does a nice job at toning down the Columbo impressions long enough to actually play a character. Baldwin, who has been slowly establishing himself as the only one of Alec’s brothers who can actually act, does a decent job here and is rewarded with one of the film’s best lines as he sights up a group of five men with a sniper’s rifle: “Oswald was a fag.” Del Toro is one of the performing standouts here with his bizarre characterization, all mumbles and twitches, while Spacey’s Verbal Kint is the other main attraction. Kint is the film’s narrator, and he manages to suck the viewer in immediately, giving them certain details, withholding others. It is through him that we learn about the original meeting of the five men, in a police lineup. It is while being held afterwards that they decide to run a few jobs together. Little do they know that Soze is pulling them all in, deeper and deeper, setting them up for their eventual undoing. The fun of this film is how Singer and McQuarrie constantly confound your expectations of what’s coming next. Post-Tarantino, it is easy to think that we’re in for just another tough-guys-talking-funny-and-acting-tough epic, but these filmmakers are after something different. Their goal is to take the genre that we’re too familiar with and turn it on its ear. Their triumph is that they succeed... brilliantly.
Where do you start when praising this film? No, it wasn’t my favorite fairy tale of the year, but BABE is trying for something very different than CITY OF LOST CHILDREN or TOY STORY. It’s a simply moral fable about what determination can do for an individual. The story is painted for us with an astonishing sense of place by director Chris Noonan, working under the supervision of producer, co-writer George Miller. The world of Hoggett’s Farm is a particular place, and it’s beautifully realized. The Oscar-winning work by the Henson Creature Shop and Rhythm & Hues is spectacular, and the greatest testament to that is that one stops thinking about how the animals are made to talk and act and perform in such remarkable ways throughout the film. They simply do. Roscoe Lee Browne is the only person to challenge Morgan Freeman and Ed Norton for “Best Narration of the Decade” in my book; his warm, friendly tones add enormous support to what we’re seeing onscreen. James Cromwell and Magda Szubanski are great as Farmer Hoggett and his wife, robust human characters that manage to stand out even amidst such amazing sights and sounds. In particular, the development of Cromwell’s affection for Babe is handled with such sly grace by the actor that it made everyone reassess him completely. He’s been one of those solid character actors for television and film for almost two decades. I remember watching him on ALL IN THE FAMILY when I was much younger. Here, though, he brings such dignity and such poise to the screen that he seemed to redefine himself. Christine Cavanaugh gives great vocal life to Babe himself, and Danny Mann is equally delightful as Ferdinand, and that’s just the tip of a wonderful ensemble of actors like Hugo Weaving and Miriam Margolyes and Russi Taylor who all leave lasting impressions with their work here. I guess the question I should have asked when I started to write about this gem was not “Where do I start?” but rather, “Where do you stop praising this film?”
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
+ Expand All
June 12, 2000, 2:29 a.m. CST
I've been a huge fan of Clean Shaven ever since I came across a screener copy years ago and decided to watch it from it's intriguing box art..I'm glad I did...it's one of those that I find myself going back to and thinking about constantly...Before Sunrise and Welcome To The Dollhouse are two other fine fine films that I'm glad to see you pointed out...
June 12, 2000, 2:40 a.m. CST
by Darth Boner
IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME.
June 12, 2000, 2:52 a.m. CST
I thought leaving las vegas was definitely one of the ten best of that year, although I did prefer dead man walking. Cage's performance was very good, but he should not have beaten out Penn, who was robbed of the Oscar. I guess they didn't want to give both Oscars to a film which wasn't that popular. Susan Sarandon was equally amazing in a role that gave me new respect for her talent. Speaking of Oscars, how can Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost! What were they thinking?), Cuba Gooding (yeah, right, Jerry Mcguire), and now Angelina Jolie have Oscars, while Sean Penn does not? And how about Gary Oldman? Does anybody remember this guy?
June 12, 2000, 2:52 a.m. CST
...and I don't regret it!
June 12, 2000, 3:44 a.m. CST
Harry was right in thinking that someone would be a little upset that THE USUAL SUSPECTS was left of the list. I mean BEFORE SUNRISE, you're kidding right. I guess I just never was a fan of crappy movies. But c'mon, how can you put that in front of one of the best mystery/thrillers of all time. Singer did an amazing job on that film, not to mention the fact that the cast played their roles to perfection. I'm dissapointed in you, Moriarty! Maybe you left it out since you included SEVEN, and already had your mystery/thriller, but this is truly a crime against film lovers everywhere! And in closing, I, for one, am a long time fan of the X-MEN, and I can't wait to see Singer's briliance shine through the upcoming X-MEN movie. I know you keep asking yourself...WhoISThisGuy?
June 12, 2000, 3:47 a.m. CST
I figured I'd stay away from adding praise to Usual Suspects (even though it is my favorite movie) but for the record, its Keyser.
June 12, 2000, 3:49 a.m. CST
And no, I won't spell the title with an idiotic "7" in place of the "v"). As a drama, I found it weak because the characters had little depth (been a long time since I've seen it, but wasn't Brad Pitt almost cartoonish as "the dumb rookie"?) and the story was little more than a prolonged chase - not even a good procedural. As a suspense movie, it was weak because the protagonists were pretty much the shittiest detectives in the world. As far as I can remember, they really don't accomplish anything at all (except for some deus ex machina about tracking library book checkouts). They pretty much existed only to take the audience from one crime scene to the next. And that's what really turned me off, the way the movie lingered so exploitatively on the gruesome crimes. That's fine and dandy when I'm watching one of those "Autopsy" specials on HBO, but in "Seven", it just seemed trashy. As for the cinematography, it had style, no doubt (though you'd think at least ONE building might have decent lighting...), but it wasn't enough to save this morose piece of crap. I honestly think the original "Dirty Harry" covered urban crime and brutality in a far superior way. Callahan hadn't become a caricature yet, and the film had grit without being disgusting. After "Seven" and "Alien 3", I was ready to give up on Fincher, but I'm pleased that "Fight Club" turned out to be quite exceptional. As for "Seven", I won't mind if I never see it again.
June 12, 2000, 4:06 a.m. CST
I rented "City of Lost Children" once. Interesting visuals, but it never for one minute connected with me, and I thought it was terribly unfocused. Barely made it through without snoozing in fact, and if you asked me what happened in it now, I would just shrug. As for "12 Monkeys", well, as with "Seven", I found its gloominess-chic to be a turn-off. The story was just an extended "Outer Limits" or "Twilight Zone" episode, and Gilliam's visuals aren't my bag - it's possible to be too offbeat sometimes. The rest of the 90's list is pretty good though. I like seeing sentimental underdog "Before Sunrise" up there (it *is* good), and the "Nixon" hype definitely makes me want to see it (huge "JFK" fan, just never caught "Nixon" for some reason). I need to try "Devil with a Blue Dress" too. Anyway, thanks for the list Moriarty, even if you have three VERY lame choices on it ;)
June 12, 2000, 4:50 a.m. CST
In my opinion, the most engrossing and overall best film of '95 was The City of Lost Children. Late one night I was tired and about to go to bed, when I flipped through the channels and saw a "coming up next" ad for City of Lost Children. It looked pretty surreal so I started watching it. Believe me, when I say it is like no other movie in both the bizarre but always interesting storyline, and the style of film-making. Here in Australia, I'm pretty sure it was never released at the cinemas, but the foreign channel "SBS" always surprises me with what they show late at night. This channel was the first to show such anime classics as Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Akira etc, even Porco Rosso - possibly my favourite movie. I just think that this great channel deserves some recognition. Anyway, back to City of Lost Children. Although the plot and setting had me constantly interested, it was the characters who had me stuck to the screen. Miette and One, especially Miette are simply some of the most engaging characters in any film i've seen. Although Heat, Seven and Toy Story were great, feel this film deserves more recognition than it received.
June 12, 2000, 5:08 a.m. CST
by Brian DePalma
I don't mean to sound patronising, but you really didn't get SE7EN did you. (and yes I will spell it with the stupid 7, cos that's like, the film's title.)
June 12, 2000, 6:34 a.m. CST
I loved the film, to this day I have never had such an "edge of my seat" time at the movies. The way Fincher made that film with the great sound, rain, darkness was incredible, I really think he did as good job directing as anyone that year. And the guy who said the film had weak characters is wrong. Freeman's character was great and very deep. Oh and HEAT should have been even higher, a damn brilliant film! Good for Moriarty for leaving off braveheart and Leaving Las Vegas, I always thought they were overrated, weak films.
June 12, 2000, 7:22 a.m. CST
Well, I didn't care for either of these films. I liked "Seven" until the ending, which was poorly written. The film involves us in the investigation by the two detectives, which is suddenly ended when the killer just shows up at the Police station and gives himself up? Yeah, right....that made the whole film a mere set-up for the ending, instead of having the ending grow out of the film logically. (And it was fairly predictable that the villain's final crime would involve the Gwyneth Paltrow character; otherwise, why the hell is she even in the movie?) As for "The Usual Suspects", the great "revelation" of Soze's identity wasn't a revelation at all. I had that figured out pretty much halfway through the movie. Rather than tell a story about a group of engaging characters, the film makes Soze's identity the central mystery, and it's not much of a mystery at all. This would have been a better film if they'd abandoned the whole Soze bit entirely and focused on the characters. (And it strained credulity a bit to have Verbal Kint be so cool under pressure as to be able to make up a narrative like that on the spot, to say nothing of what must be utterly amazing visual acuity.) I think that both of these films are HUGELY overrated.
June 12, 2000, 7:44 a.m. CST
I've got to get in a couple of plugs for two great films from that year: "Apollo 13" and "Rob Roy". "Apollo 13" is the finest film on spaceflight ever made. It crackles with tension and never dumbs down its subject. The film is acted perfectly by every single cast member, from the leads of Hanks, Sinise, Paxton, Bacon, Quinlan, et al. (And I will forever be convinced that Ed Harris was robbed at the Oscars, losing to the overrated trick performance by Kevin Spacey in "The Usual Suspects".) This was a remarkable film. As for "Rob Roy", here we have another perfectly performed film with stunning photography, good characters who are complex and evil characters who are more complex, and the best swordfight on screen between Luke vs Vader in "Return of the Jedi" and the final duel in "The Phantom Menace". And you have to love a film that has its villain say, "Love is a dunghill, and I am but a cock that climbs upon it to crow."
June 12, 2000, 9:04 a.m. CST
Shame on you, Moriarty for putting this rubbish in your top ten. I will grant you that Peter Greene was pretty good in the film , but compared to what? The film was full of horrible amateur acting and the story was excruciatingly slow and disjointed. People, do not seek this movie out for renting - you WILL be dissapointed.
June 12, 2000, 9:08 a.m. CST
Dead Man Walking was dull, Before Sunrise was just bad, City of Lost Children was pretentious, Dead Man was half good/half abysmal, a couple of the other films a marginal at best. I really can only agree with Se7en and Toy Story in the Top 10 with any conviction although Welcome to the Dollhouse and Heat would probably make my list at 9 and 10. To passover Usual Suspects, Babe BraveHeart, Appollo 13, Sense and Sensibility and Richard 111 is impossible to comprehend to me. Everyones entitled to their opinion but on this occassion Moriaty's choices seem truly odd.
June 12, 2000, 9:24 a.m. CST
I wasn't really around this site when 'The Sixth Sense' came out, so I don't know the condition of the talkbacks then, but Lelon is right. I did not find it scary, and I saw the end twist coming a mile away. Such a big deal was made about it, especially here in Australia after it apparently 'surprised' everyone in the US. Look, it was quite a moody piece, but I was somehow left unsatisfied. Now, Moriarty has a nice list. Some I still have not seen so I will check them out. Krang, 'City of Lost Children' was released to cinemas here in Australia. Of course, only small art house ones. I also remember seeing it reviewed on 'The Movie Show'. Sadly, I have yet to catch it on SBS. I always manage to see 'Delicatessen' and 'Ninja Scroll' though. What riots!
June 12, 2000, 9:42 a.m. CST
First, don't remember who asked it, but Gwyneth Paltrow was in Se7en as a foil to the dark and horror all around. She was the symbol of normality and light in the movie. Whether or not you agree that it worked is another story, but I do not think that the only reason she was in the movie was to provide an ending. As for some of the other movies on this list: shoot me, but I didn't like "Heat". I felt that it was at least a half hour too long and that it was too drawn out in general. How "12 Monkeys" was a runner up is beyond me. Gilliam is one of our true visionaries; you don't have to like his vision, but you can't ignore it. Bruce Willis did give an amazing performance, as did Brad Pitt. You can see Gilliams hanidwork in every shot, and that's a good thing. I adored "The City of Lost Children" though I must admit I am not sure that I understood all of it. I had seen "Delicatessen" earlier and found this to be a great sequel/prequel (?). The guy who gets cloned (dont' remember his name) is like the new Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton in terms of pure physical comedy, forget Jim Carrey. "Dead Man Walking"-I had extreme problems with this movie. I cannot in good conscience say that I can agree with a film that says, accept god and you'll be forgiven. I got angry during the execution and Sarandon making that "Look at me" motion to Penn. Maybe I am just too cynical to accept this movie. Finally "Welcome to the Dollhouse" deserves all the kudos it gets. Heather Mattarazzo is the opposite of Haley Joel Osment. I like the boy, but her performance is so much more. She is a child and we never made to think she is "worldly beyond her years". When her mother denies her the chocolate cake and her bitch of a little sister ever-so-sweetly asks "Since Dawn won't be having her piece, can Brian and I share it?" you have a complete and total understanding of Dawn's world.
June 12, 2000, 9:47 a.m. CST
Was a Silence of the Lambs wannabe. It was lightweight at best.
June 12, 2000, 10:18 a.m. CST
Great job Morarity on picking what I think is one of the most underated films of all time, Before Sunrise. This film is excellent, a great date flick as well as a neat little flick if you are feelinf lonely or sad and are in need of some entertainment for an hour and 45 minutes. It is a fabulous look at relationships and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are incredible together. Also by the way, in your Nixon review you forgot to mention Bob Hoskins as J. Edgar Hoover, as one of the other great actors in the ensemble.
June 12, 2000, 10:30 a.m. CST
But, at the risk of incensing certain beaked folk, my fave film of that year was probably Higher Learning. Runner ups were Mallrats, Seven, Toy Story and Friday
June 12, 2000, 11:21 a.m. CST
I pity you. I genuinely do. Only a fucking imbecile would call Se7en dreary, and City unengrossing. Man, I'm all for personal opinion, but that smacks of trying to be eclectic for the sake of it. If you are disagreeing with 99% of the people who've seen these films to get a rise out of people, you are a sad git. If, on the other hand, you GENUINELY believe Se7en is dreary and City is unengrossing...well, give up watching movies pal. You're missing the point. Entirely.
June 12, 2000, 11:22 a.m. CST
...another critic I'll never read again. Thanks for saving me the time.
June 12, 2000, 11:30 a.m. CST
"Seven (I refuse to use a 7)" Man, you are a fucking idiot. Let me spell this out for you, niiiice and simple......THATS THE FUCKING TITLE. SE7EN IS THE FUCKING TITLE. What part of the above sentences do you NOT understand? "I refuse to use the 7". Er....why, exactly? Are you making some sort of stand? Does that make you big and clever? Man oh man, you people never cease to make me laugh. Yeah, personally, I would always say Superman Two. Why? Because writing Superman II is 'stupid'. I repeat what I said earlier on....I respect other peoples opinions....when they're not as clearly WRONG as this. If you didn't like Se7en, you are a moron. Simple equation.
June 12, 2000, 11:30 a.m. CST
Couldn't agree more on your top choice, and kudos for including "Before Sunrise." Don Cheadle is indeed an acting god, even back when he was doing TV work (Picket Fences) he could always impress, and he was great in that movie. Usual Suspects not in the top 5? I'd exchange a few, but it's a good run-down, professor.
June 12, 2000, 11:31 a.m. CST
by The Grin
THE LITTLE PRINCESS was one of the best films of 95, and one of the best childrens' movies of the decade.
June 12, 2000, 11:33 a.m. CST
Where is Swimming With Sharks?
June 12, 2000, 11:37 a.m. CST
by Glaug Regault
Its not just that its boring, its that it manages to constantly act like its just about to get interesting. So by the time the final credits roll around, your left with the feeling "I just wasted two hours of my life watching a boring movie with horrifyingly violent scenes that still managed to be boring, and a "spirit guide" who trys to say things that are spiritually significant but essentially are "The sky is blue today." If anyone suggests this movie to you, punch them in the gut because they are trying to cause you grievous mental harm.
June 12, 2000, 11:48 a.m. CST
It's nice to see this incredible film, which ends with one of the most haunting images ever, get some recognition. People at large will probably never be ready for this movie. Also, I think Mattel contributed to the banishment of Superstar b/c of the unauthorized (but eerily stirring) use of Barbie dolls.
June 12, 2000, 12:12 p.m. CST
Where the fuck is CASINO? I am so sick of that fashionable bullshit about "it was just a longer, less interesting version of GOODFELLAS." Fuck everyone who doesn't love CASINO bevause it is Scorsese's most tonally complex and technically ambitious work to date. It kicks the ass of every film on that list, except DEAD MAN WALKING. Can I also remind people about a little film called SMOKE? Not many people saw it but it is, dare I say, a classic. Looking back on 1995, that was pretty great year, wasn't it: SAFE, HEAT, DEAD MAN, and the others I've mentioned. Pretty damn good.
June 12, 2000, 1:02 p.m. CST
by Fatal Discharge
What other film has a character who is trying to drink himself to death for no stated reason who you care about and want to see live yet you can't deny him his own free will. Cage does an amazing job as well as Shue in a role none of her previous performances prepare you for. My gripes with his top picks: DEAD MAN was painful to sit through, SAFE I admired but didn't really enjoy, and CITY OF LOST CHILDREN was good but was a lite-version of DELICATESSEN (a film which it repeated several ideas from to lesser effect). The only films not mentioned yet which I loved are TO DIE FOR (a wicked funny satire with an awesome Nicole Kidman performance), GET SHORTY (great Elmore Leonard dialogue), CRUMB (one of the weirdest documentaries ever), and guilty pleasure FRIDAY which is laugh-out-loud funny each time I see it.
June 12, 2000, 1:58 p.m. CST
I have to reaffirm my point here: the only reason for including the Paltrow character in the film is if she figures at the ending. When I saw the film in a packed theater, I heard several whispers around me in the course of the movie, whenever she was on the screen: "I'll bet the killer goes after her!" "I'll bet Doe killed the wife!" and so on. Damned if we weren't right. She may have established "the light in a dark world" and so on, but the whole dynamic of the film was that the dark would win out. "Seven" was an engrossing film with good characters, but rather than allow its ending to develop logically the film suddenly said, "OK, enough of that, cut to THE ENDING!!" (Oh, and I don't call it "Se7en" either. I also never referred to Prince as "The Artist", "Symbol Guy", or anything else. Deal with it.)
June 12, 2000, 3:13 p.m. CST
I'm surprised no one mentioned Wayne Wang's brilliant "SMOKE" which I think is not only the best movies of '95 but ranks up there with the best of the decade.
June 12, 2000, 3:24 p.m. CST
Always have a herd mentality on AICN. Never express your own opinion, lest someone smack you down for not going with the flow. Be a sheep at all times. If someone disagrees with my views, they are right: I. JUST. DON'T. GET. IT. Let the pretentious snobs have their fun by swearing at people they don't agree with, or know.
June 12, 2000, 3:31 p.m. CST
the worst edited great movie I've ever seen.
June 12, 2000, 3:58 p.m. CST
First off, the reason I won't write "Seven" as "Se7en" is because it looks ridiculous (and I'd have to pronounce it as "sesevenen"). You replace a "v" with a "7"? Hunh? How does that make sense again? Let me offer a counter example. Remember "John Carpenter's Vampires"? Another bad movie, but anyway, the book on which it was based was a pulpy little number name of "Vampire$". Cheesy, sure, but the dollar sign was a play on the fact that the heroes were mercenary-types. Note, by the way, that "$" looks similar to an "s"! Wow, it's almost sensible! Now tell me again how a "7" is close to a "v"? ****** As for my criticisms against the film itself, I suppose you could say I *was* posting to get a rise out of people (hey, it brought your idiotic rant out, didn't it?), but yes, I genuinely found "Seven" unpleasant and poorly done. Thought I'd provide a dissenting vote since it's apparently such a beloved little foray into grisliness. Dissent?! Oh no! How will you ever live in world where no one likes the exact movies you do?! The horror!!!
June 12, 2000, 3:59 p.m. CST
was a film that affected me deeper, emotionally, than I can remember. I can't say much more, but I will say that there is not an actor/actress in Hollywood that could have performed better than Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon in their respective parts. It reaffirmed my belief that Sean is the finest actor around.
June 12, 2000, 4:12 p.m. CST
You know, I registered just so that I could ask that question. Why do most of the "cool" film fans here apparently dislike Braveheart? To me, leaving it out of the top 3 makes no sense whatsoever, let alone the top 10. So, educate me, why is Braveheart so "uncool" that I should rather watch "Dead Man", of all things..... As for all the people who insist on typing "Seven" with a "7", I have a question: do you refer to "Independence Day" as "ID4"? Do you think this kind of thing makes you clever, or just someone who pays close attention to ad campaigns? By the way, "Seven" was overrated and depressing. 12 Monkeys deserves to be much higher on this list than it was. And I'm glad to see Before Sunrise got a mention, it's an often-forgotten gem.
June 12, 2000, 4:45 p.m. CST
It's okay that you didn't like DEAD MAN. You're completely wrong of course, but you're entitled to your opinion. I do, however, have a problem with your dismissal of Nobody, the Native American played by Gary Farmer, as a " spirit guide who tries to say things that are spiritually significant." The character is not, as you seem to think, spouting some ridiculous, new-age version of native spirituality. He is actually quoting (or paraphrasing) William Blake, one of the great poets of the English language. Nobody is a character who is an outsider in both the white and native words. He hates white men and, yet, he chooses one to articulate his spiritual beliefs. This beautifully subtle irony is one of the myriad reasons that DEAD MAN is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. On a different subject, I would like to whole-heartedly agree with the above talk-backer who mentioned Wayne Wang's film SMOKE. It's a wonderful movie and I recommend it to anyone.
June 12, 2000, 5:02 p.m. CST
a villain. Period. Look at Bonfire of the Vanities. He's not convincing worth shit. NO matter how hard he tries, he's still Tom Hanks, the lovable everyguy.
June 12, 2000, 6:39 p.m. CST
by Oliver Platt
THAT'S WHAT THE FILM IS CALLED!!! Watch the opening credits! IT says SE7EN. Not SEVEN. THATS WHY WE CALL IT SE7EN, not because it is cool to call it that. Why not call Silence of the Lambs "Lambs" if you're going to undertake a blatant disregard for real movie titles.
June 12, 2000, 7:43 p.m. CST
I'll take your word for it that the string "Se7en" appears in the opening credits that way. But how, pray tell, is this movie title meant to be pronounced? That's right, say it with me, "sev-en". In the English language we have a word that sounds like that. This word is "seven". So when you ask someone what movie they saw, they will say "Seven"; a court reporter sitting nearby will transcribe this as "Seven". No one in their right mind would refer to this movie as "Se-seven-en", which is what that string of symbols literally denotes. Bah, what an annoying argument; if it makes you feel clever then go ahead and write "Se7en" all the time. I wasn't paying close enough attention to the movie credits and you were - you win! I guess this means that you also write the "3" in "Alien 3" as a superscript, to the top right of the "n" as if it is an exponent? After all, that's the way it looked in the title card! So please demonstrate how you write the title "Alien 3" in your next talkback post, I'm fascinated. Or, for that matter, the movie "Pi". Be accurate now!
June 12, 2000, 7:48 p.m. CST
..Ringwald was Claire in Breakfast Club...and Andie in Pretty In Pink.
June 12, 2000, 8:10 p.m. CST
...Lethal Scotsman. I just kept waiting for Mel to break into his Curley Howard bit. Mel covered in blue body paint facing down the English troops, shouting, "Lemme at em, Lemme at em! As another Scotman holds him back and calls him a Lunk-head. And those battle scenes, by the third one they just became laughable. Blood and limbs flying everywhere, I hadn't seen anything that funny since Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I guess 25 minutes of battlefield carnage was Mels sure-fire way of letting everyone know, "Look, I'm a serious director! Only serious directors make "Epics"! And only Epics can win an actor a Best Director Oscar. Look, my movie's MORE Epic then Dances With Wolves, You can tell this because I used more fake blood and extras! Plus, I'm only slightly LESS wooden then Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood you gave one to THEM! SO, PLEEEAAASSE remember me on Oscar night!
June 12, 2000, 8:48 p.m. CST
I resisted seeing it one the big screen on account of the goofy title and the fact that Mel can be annoying at times. Finally saw it on video and was pretty damn impressed, despite some flaws. Weaknesses include simplistic characterizations (all English as vile scum, once again), occasional overuse of slow-mo, and an apocryphal ending (Mel's final defiant words) that belonged more in a legendary telling than a fairly realistic one. Still, a pretty powerful and moving film, excellent music, and battle scenes far superior to the confusion of "Gladiator". You were laughing during them, Knox21? Not me. "Braveheart's" battle scenes are among the most riveting I've ever seen, with violence that made me as uneasy as the violence of "Goodfellas". Maybe Gibson's decision to make an epic starring himself *was* largely ego-based, but I never felt the battle scenes smacked of ego. And I certainly wouldn't call his acting wooden. If anything, you might say he's *overly* melodramatic in his roles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but wooden he ain't. Anyway, if all star vehicles were as good as "Braveheart", we'd never complain about star vehicles.
June 12, 2000, 10:33 p.m. CST
CITY OF LOST CHILDREN is overrated. DELICATESEN is a far superior film. CITY OF LOST CHILDREN has serious pacing, editing, characterization and plot problems. It has some great ideas and some stunning visuals, but they don't overcome the problems it has. DEAD MAN and NIXON? What is Moriarty smoking?
June 12, 2000, 11:13 p.m. CST
And that's my concluding thought on the matter. Saucy's right of course, it's silly to get so worked up over movies. What can I say, though? Splinter was being an annoying yahoo. How a blowhard like that was able to turn the Ninja Turtles into such an effective crime-fighting team I'll never know...
June 12, 2000, 11:45 p.m. CST
So Braveheart was bad because (1) it starred an actor who had also starred in the Lethal Weapon series and we can't be expected to forget that, (2) too many spectacular action scenes which obviously and inexorably remind us all of Monty Python (?), (3) his film was epic and all "cool" film lovers despise epics. Okay I think I understand now. (??)......... Hey Cormorant how'd your post get all the way up there ! (I'm new here :) Anyway, I don't know if it's fair to blame Gibson's "ego" for directing and starring in this movie. Without Gibson (and the clout he built up by starring in dumb stuff like Lethal Weapon), this film (and The Patriot, I'm sure) would not have been made, *period*. It was him or nobody. You think Hollywood wanted to make a period piece about indistinguishable Scotsmen yelling "freedom"? They find such things icky to even talk about at their cocktail parties. Anyway so I guess what I'm trying to say is, Thank goodness for Gibson's "ego" ;) ......... Oh and I guess Miss Saucy is right, the spelling thing is dumb to argue about, I'm sorry I even (re-) brought it up. Actually I like her spelling "7" the best...less typing!
June 13, 2000, 12:12 a.m. CST
...other than the fact that the Talkback order just gets screwed up at times. Sometimes it's all of them, sometimes only one or two, and I have no idea why. I've heard it happens when posts get deleted, but I don't know if that's the only reason why. I do know it'd be pretty rockin' if Harry were to fix it permanently though. Oh, and it'd be nice if we could post paragraph breaks too, but I won't get greedy.
June 13, 2000, 1:04 a.m. CST
by Toe Jam
Is it because that movie came out in 1994? I can't remember, but I'm pretty sure it came out in 1995. By the way, "Braveheart" was cool until "Saving Private Ryan" and "The Thin Red Line" came out and everyone realized that "Braveheart" had, firstly, taken far too many liberties with the true facts of the story, secondly, had a shitty Mel Gibson performance (I mean, Christ, the guy's syntax and delivery never varies from one movie to another -- he could never play a true-life character). Also, people realized how inconsequential the whole "Braveheart" storyline really was. William Wallace didn't protect Scotland from England, he only resisted. That's why you never read about him in many history books. His actions were not world-important...Wallace's story is just a sad, somewhat interesting anecdote in the footnotes of western civilization's history.
June 13, 2000, 1:13 a.m. CST
Fargo was actually released in early 96, I'm thinkin March or April. It better be on the list for that year. Hell, the college I go to was mentioned in the film!
June 13, 2000, 2:56 a.m. CST
by Cereal Killer
Talk about a tempest in a teacup, I can't believe I'm even commenting on such a trivial, bullshit argument but here I go, proving conclusively that I have NO LIFE! Both sides are right and wrong about the spelling of the title of this film. In the opening credits it does look like it's spelled "Se7en" ALMOST. The 7 in the title is supposed to be a v turned on its side. It's symbolic of the twisted nature of the film. Geeks who write it as "Se7en" do it because it looks cooler but it's no more accurate than the guy who insists that it should be "Seven." Get something more important to fight about. Like the ending of the film. On the surface I guess it does look like a cop-out to have John Doe turn himself in but it really isn't. Turning himself in was part of Doe's plan all along. It's a spit in the eye for the cops showing them that the only way they can get him is if he wants to be caught and it's his way of manipulating Brad Pitt into helping him commit the final deadly sin- Wrath. Doe turns himself over to Pitt and presents him with Paltrow's head and dares him to take out his revenge. By getting Brad to do what he wants, John Doe wins. This twist at the end is the best part of the movie and is definitely not a cop-out.
June 13, 2000, 10:17 a.m. CST
Yes, I know it's all supposed to be about John Doe's plan and all. But it would have been more effective to have the detectives actually find Doe through their investigation and THEN reveal that their successful investigation has actually been engineered by Doe, and then have the Paltrow head presented. This didn't happen. Everything Doe does seems to have some kind of internal timing and logic, but at the end he simply throws that aside and "cuts to the chase", as it were. I'm still not impressed.
June 13, 2000, 10:22 a.m. CST
I agree Dead Man Walking was one of the best of 95. Im surprised Braveheart's not at least a runner-up. I'm glad Leaving Las Vegas isn't up there. When I left LLV, I felt like someone had taken a leak on my soul. But Dead Man was a sedative. It had about 50 fadeouts too many, and Gary Farmer was so annoying that I kept hoping someone would kill him so he wouldn't be in the movie anymore.
June 13, 2000, 12:21 p.m. CST
One of my favorite films of the decade! One of the smartest, most engaging, passionate and real love stories I've seen. Thank you! I was surprised that Leaving Las Vegas didn't make the cut, though.
The lack of Braveheart is ridiculous. It was as close to a flawless film as films come these days. 12 Monkeys deserved a much higher position. I can see why Delores Claiborne was forgotten. I forgot it too, but it was a great film. Seven sucked, and it took a great film like Fight Club to redeem David Fincher. And I'm not big on romance movies but Before Sunrise really was an exceptional movie. Goldeneye doesn't deserve being among the worst.
June 13, 2000, 9:28 p.m. CST
I'm glad there are people like Moriarty that respect David Fincher's incredible talent. Seven(or SE7EN) would have topped my list for 1995(I found Dead Man Walking a little to politically loaded) 3rd place is very respectable. However, I do have one question. I understand that John Doe(Spacey) got Mills(Pitt) to shoot him because he envied him. But who died for wrath? I get that Mills was guilty of wrath, but he didn't die. It seems that unless we are supposed to just assume he was convicted and executed, Doe's plan failed. Anyway, still the best ending in a movie I have seen in a long time.
April 29, 2010, 3:23 p.m. CST
- 1st wk of Sept 2014's PICKS & PEEKS with Universal Monsters, FIRESTARTER, Eco-Terrorism, swords & fantasy! -- 27 total posts 23 posts
- Final PICKS & PEEKS of Aug 2014: LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, Zombies, FOSSE, RATS, Nukes & Teens!!! -- 384 total posts 12 posts
- The Friday Docback Crawls ‘Into The Dalek’!! Reader Reaction For DOCTOR WHO S08E02 Is Here!! + HornOrSilk's 'Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories' Big Finish Audio Review, Clips, And More!! -- 423 total posts 10 posts
- Who is in consideration to take the role of Snake in the ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK remake!?! -- 720 total posts 6 posts
- AICN HORROR: Dr. Karen Oughton checks out four fear-filled films from Film4 FrightFest 2014: THE LAST SHOWING! SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR! THE GUEST! DOC OF THE DEAD! -- 6 total posts 6 posts
- Abortionist Killers On PBS!! HOUDINI Hits History!! Angie Returns To THE DOME!! New DALLAS, PARADISE, WOLF, WILD, MASTERCHEF, MODEL, NINJA, HOTEL, BEACH, & RAW!! PARTNERS & MISTRESSES Finales!! UNAUTHORIZED SAVED BY THE BELL STORY!! Annaleigh Ashford On CRAIG!! Herc’s Monday TV Talkback!! -- 30 total posts 5 posts
- The DRUNK HISTORY Finale!! HOUDINI Finale!! ROYAL PAINS Finale!! RIZZOLI & ISLES Finale!! HARD KNOCKS Finale!! New TALENT, CARTER, GEAR, LITTLE, LIARS, MATADOR, WIZARD!! The Chenbot On LETTERMAN!! Brienne Of Tarth On CRAIG!! Herc’s Tuesday TV Talkback!! -- 4 total posts 4 posts
- A New Clip From STAR WARS REBELS!! -- 31 total posts 2 posts
- Harry may be crazy about SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR - but so may you -- 569 total posts 2 posts
- "Do you understand what it's like to be a genius?!!" Dan Harmon takes his show on the road in this trailer for HARMONTOWN! -- 19 total posts 1 post