the adventures of sebastian cole. 1998. set in the early 80s, self-absorbed rebel-without-a-cause sebastian cole welcomes random adventure when family life goes awry upon his father’s announcement to become a woman. with adrian genier and bradley gregg.
whatever. 1998. set in the early 80s as the last great period of promiscuity, a girl’s opportunity to leave her hometown is contingent on acceptance to a prestigious art school, which seems unlikely as she begins to mimic the self-destructive habits of her friend despite the warnings of her art teacher. with liza weil (of the gilmore girls) and frederic forrest.
welcome to the dollhouse. 1995. todd solodonz’s harsh coming-of-age black comedy centers on a 7th grader already asking for trouble with the name dawn wiener, who faces numerous bizarre alienating situations involving her family and classmate. introducing heather matarazzo and brendan sexton.
paradise. 1991. a couple who grow increasingly distant following the death of their infant son are forced to confront their emotional problems when their friend’s young son visits one summer. with then-husband-and-wife team don johnson and melanie griffith. also elijah wood and thora birch.
big girls don’t cry…they get even. 1992. in this afternoon family snoozer comedy, a girl striving for a break from her chaotic family stows away with her older brother when he returns home to the country. when her parents show up to retrieve her, she opts for a solo adventure in the mountains while the family and concerned extended family members are left to sort out their differences. with hilary wolf, jenny lewis, ben savage, margaret whitton, david strathairn, adrienne shelly and dan futterman.
the day my parents ran away. 1993. a condescending commentary of the mis-communication between parents and teenagers is flooded with patronizing stereotypes that seem more suitable for stupid comedy. when a teen’s parents abandon him out of frustration, it is at first license for an endless party, until reality kicks in and he goes searching for them. with bobby jacoby, matt frewer, martin mull and seth green.
crisscross. 1992. a boy and his stripper mother live in a dive hotel in 1969 key west. when the boy learns that the restaurant owner is smuggling drugs, he decides to steal some of the stash in order to sell enough so he and his mother could leave behind life at the seedy hotel. but the missing dope doesn’t go unnoticed. nice performance by david arnott. with goldie hawn, arliss howard, steve buscemi and kieth carradine.
getting to know you. 1999. while at a bus station with her brother, a talkative girl befriends an insightful stranger to whom she narrates her problematic family life. with heather mattarazo, mark blum and pre-stardom zach braff and his regular acting collaborator, michael weston.
that night. 1992. the tagline for this coming-of-age film reads: “in everyone’s life, there’s a friendship you’ll never forget.” in her film debut based on alice mcdermott’s novel one hot summer, eliza dushku plays 10-year old alice bloom, an admirer of her precarious neighbor sheryl. when sheryl’s father dies, she falls in love with a greaser whom her mother and the rest of their long island neighborhood irrationally and adamantly disapprove and attempt to keep apart. as an understanding observer, alice does her best to help the couple. some wooden acting by c. thomas howell and juliette lewis.
never on tuesday. 1990. director adam rifkin’s short, simple dramedy begins with two naive guys en route from ohio to california for the promise of beautiful blond women. along the way, they are stranded in the mountains with a gorgeous woman following a highway collision. while the subject of lesbianism is no longer quite as “taboo” as the film synopsis suggests, it is nonetheless a starting point for challenging double standards as the three, trapped in the desert together forge a friendship ala the breakfast club (1985). with claudia christian and andrew berg. also featuring random cameos by charlie sheen, nicholas cage, gilford godfriend, judd nelson and others.
the man without a face. 1993. though adapted from isabella hoffman’s terrific coming-of-age novel, director mel gibson and writer malcom macrury render themes of tolerance moot when the characters are written to be heterosexual, contrary to the original story. a young boy alienated from his family considers prep school an acceptable escape. needing a tutor, he solicits the help of the town recluse, a former teacher, which stirs gossip among the small town. with nick stahl, gabby hoffman and magaret whitton.
i love you to death. 1990. “if we keep trying to kill him, he might get suspicious.” excellent comedy based on the true story of a woman who unsuccessfully attempts to murder her adulterous husband. with kevin kline, tracey ullman, river phoenix, keanu reeves william hurt and joan plowright.
mermaids. 1990. after numerous failed relationships, a woman and her two daughters move once more to start over in life and love. but things start off rocky thanks to her bizarre oldest daughter who constantly overreacts to her mother and her own sexual discoveries. directed by actor richard benjamin. with cher, winnona ryder, christina ricci, michael shoeffling and bob hoskins.
this is my life. 1992. similar to mermaids (see above), a woman tries a career in stand-up comedy while her eldest daughter is determined to give her a hard time because she defies conventional motherhood. screenplay written and directed by nora ephron. with judy kavner, samantha mathis dan akroyd and gabby hoffman. likewise similar to punchline (1990) where a middle-age housewife who befriends an aspiring stand-up comic who encourages her to try performing comedy, despite her husband’s lack of support. with sally field, tom hanks, and john goodman.
mother. 1996. expecting a short visit at home will cure writer’s block, a newly divorced writer is actually in for some DIY therapy with his mother, his polar opposite. works well especially because of the chemistry between director albert brooks and his co-star, debbie reynolds in a role considered for nancy reagan. with rob morrow.
secrets and lies. 1996. in this pleasant british drama nominated for several oscars, an adopted black woman who locates her biological mother, a white woman with a grown daughter who’s instability at first creates an uncomfortable situation for all. with brenda blethyn and marianne jean-baptiste.
blood and wine. 1996. a con man and his partner butt heads with his noble stepson who meddles in their jewelry heist. with jack nicholson, michael caine, stephen dorff, jennifer lopez and judy davis.
dutch. 1991. from director john hughes when he began to shift from teen-centered comedies to family films, a mother tries to improve her relationship with her teenage son invites him home from private school for thanksgiving when his sleazy dad flakes on a promise to let him visit for the holiday. her boyfriend offers to drive to the school and bring him home, but the boy is determined to make things difficult, leading to a number of misadventures that ultimately force cooperation among the fueding pair. ed o’neil steals the show. with ethan embry, jo beth williams, and christopher macdonald.
coup de ville. 1990. three borthers reunited after 5 years to surprise their ailing father on his birthday with a cadillac soon grow weary of each other’s company when various obstacles interfere with their trip. patrick dempsey was definitely too old by this point to play a fifteen year old. with daniel stern, ayre gross and alan arkin.
the lost capone. 1990. decent made-for-tv movie based on the true story of the capone brothers who separated when one, wrongly convinced that he killed someone in a street fight, loses contact with the family and heads west, eventually becoming a sheriff. the others earn reputation as the city’s toughest gangsters and are reunited when al capone tries to force his prohibition-era liquor into the sherrif’s town. with adrian pasdar, eric roberts and ally sheedy.
the funeral. 1996. director abel ferrara and writer nicholas st. john do better with this underrated, well-written mob drama and does better than what was attempted in china girl (1987). set in the 40s, two gangster brothers debate whether to avenge their brother’s death. the brothers initially diverged when the youngest follows communism and questions the logic of mafia rule; the oldest ignores the moral questions; and the middle brother remains undecided. with christopher walken, christopher penn, vincent spano and benicio del torro.
radio inside. 1994. this unusual arthouse indie film is more of an acquired taste. a recent college grad visits his brother’s girflriend all in miami, talks to jesus on a pay phone, blames hismelf for their father’s death and falls for his brother’s girlfriend all in a short time. good performance by william macnamara. with dylan walsh and elizabeth shue.
the perez family. 1995. a wrongly accused ex-con from cuba expecting to reunite with his wife in miami befriends an optimistic young woman with the same last name who proposes posing as a couple to get asylum. the man’s brother-in-law, unaware of the charade, urges his sister to forget him and she in turn falls for policeman investigating her husband’s disappearance. pleasant casting make this a worthwhile comedy. with alfred molina, marisa tomei, angelica houston and chazz palminteri.
reality bites. 1994. ben stiller’s directorial debut is a mild and fairly typical generation x relationship comedy about a naive filmmaker and her three friends, all recent college grads who are set straight about careers, relationships, and more. with winnona ryder, ethan hawke, janeane garofolo and steven zahn. for similar gen x movies, see cameron crowe’s singles (1992) which is a twenty-something relationship comedy set against the backdrop of grunge-era seattle (and features cameos by eddie vedder and jeff ament, stone gossard and chris cornell and brief live performances by mother love bone as the fictional citizen dick). with bridgett fonda, campbell scott, matt dillon and kyra sedgwick.
breaking the rules. 1992. lame, overachiever drama about a brainy young guy dying of cancer and his two childhood friends take a roadtrip out west so he can audition jeopardy. features several annoying scenes of the friends joining together to perform lip synched “inspirational” songs. with jason bateman, johnathan silverman, c. thomas howell and annie potts.
there goes my baby. 1994. idealism in excess in a drama that is essentially a 1960s arrangement of characters embodying all classic conceptions of the era’s rebellion. high school grads share chaos and reflection after their last day of school. with rick schroeder, noah whylie and dermot mulroney.
went to coney island on a mission from god… back by five. 1998. slow, improvised low-budget indie drama. two childhood friends reunite to locate their friend who was last rumored to be living at the dilapidated coney island pier. good cast, but terribly boring film. with frank whaley in his famous blink-and-miss-him roles.
night children. 1990. one of the better of the teen gang genre. a probation officer and street cop with divergent views on how to handle the city’s troublesome teens are forced to reevaluate their opinions when they meddle with a gang of ruthless street teens who vow violent revenge.
rebels of the neon gods. 1992. a taiwanese production about a group of youths with no prospects living in dilapidated taipei. one young guy drops out of school and takes interest in the two petty thieves he follows around town. riddled with repetition as the young man secretly trails the thieves in one scene after another.
hurricane streets. 1997. a club of petty theft teens going nowhere encounter trouble after an accidental death (yeah, another one of those). with branden sexton, edie falco and david moscow.
i shot a man in vegas. 1995. four friends in vegas driving around with a friend’s body in the trunk each revist their version of the night’s events. the narrative is far too redundant and brian dillinger’s character is extremely annoying. with john stockton and janeane garofolo.
edge of honor. 1991. corey feldman and meredith salenger team up again after dream a little dream (1989). after stumbling upon a weapons cache in the forrest, woodsman teens are pursued by a handful of savage guys. pretty violent.
nowhere to run. 1991. when not reminiscing or contemplating future plans, some 1960s high school graudates stumble upon a corruption scheme implicating the mayor and a convict. unfortunately, it’s slow moving and too farfethched. with jason priestly, kierran mulroney, david carradine and matt adler.
fear and loathing in las vegas. 1998. “did you see what god just did?!” eighteen years after the hunter s. thompson biography, where the buffalo roam (1980), fantasy film extroidonaire terry gillaim recreates the drug induced uber-surrealistic reporting assignment of thompson and his sidekick attorney, the legendary dr. gonzo. excellent performances by johnny depp and benicio del torro.
permanent midnight. 1992. a television writer explains in flashback how, once able to balance his heroin addiction, it eventually interferes with his job and relationship with his girlfriend and infant daughter. great performance by stiller. with owen wilson and maria bello.
where the day takes you. 1992. underrated drama centers on a group of teen runaways living on the streets as a surrogate family. trouble erupts when a violent rival comes looking for one of them. the pre-stardom cast includes durmot mulroney, laura flynn boyle, sean astin, balthazaar ghetty, ricki lake, will smith and kyle macglaughin.
slc punk! 1999. the hollywood conceptualization of “punk.” naive, lone punks narrate their post-college life-on-hold days in 1980s mormon country where political radicalism and anarchist idealism prove futile. with matthew lillard, devon sawa and christopher macdonald.
pump up the volume. 1990. high school introvert by day; brazen pirate radio host, “happy harry hardon” by night. a teen incites a healthy student rebellion when the FCC tries to shut him down following controversial propgramming and implicating seirous incompetence and malfeasance at their school. includes a damn good soundtrack. with christian slater and samantha mathis.
strike! 1998. (also entitled all i wanna do). an otherwise effective statement about differences in funding or all-girls schools versus other population arrangements is bogged down in a teen sex romp as a 1960s private school debates turning co-ed. with kirsten dunst, rachel leigh cook, heather mattarazzo, gabby hoffman, matt lawrence, tom guiry and lynn redgrave.
kid. 1991. a young man passing through a desert town seeks revenge upon the locals who murdered his hippie parents years earlier. the story is ridiculous and c. thomas howell’s deadpan is annoying, but at least brian austin green is funny as the love interest’s younger brother.
boondock saints. 1999. does better what dueces wild (2002) attempted. two irish brothers become self-proclaimed neighborhood saints when they plot to eliminate the russian gangsters who move operations into their city. with sean patrick flannery and norman reedus.
léon: the professional. 1996. luc besson’s superb action film centers on a 12-year old who witnesses her family’s assassination by a ruthless drug lord when her idiot father loses money owed to him. vowing revenge, she befriends a hitman who lives in the same building and he teaches her his trade. with natalie portman, jean reno and gary oldman.
falling down. 1993. the sweltering california heat and mounting personal problems prove too much for a working class man who wages a violent war on “the system” while trying to make it to his daughter’s birthday party. with michael douglas, robert duval, frederic forrest and tuesday weld.
office space. 1999. a “take this job and shove it” cult classic from writer/director mike judge. an incredibly disillusioned software engineer, tired of his dead-end job and dull relationship, seizes the day by staging the ultimate revolt by ignoring all the rules. but the final send-off to the company–minor embezzlement–gets fouled up. with ron livingston, gary cole, jennifer aniston and stephen root.
fight club. 1999. director david fincher’s excellent adaptation of chuck palahniuk’s novel centers on a once-crass materialist who is trasnformed by his alter-ego. their nightly basement fights, growing in numbers, serves as a masculine catharsis and eventually, a broader revolution that gets carried away. with edward norton, brad pitt, helen bonam carter and meatloaf.
pecker. 1998. john waters’ comedy. the aesthetic of an oddball baltimore neighborhood disappears when a young photographer becomes famous. includes a great mix of eccentric characters typical of waters. with edward furlong, christina ricci, lilli taylor, martha plimpton and brendan sexton.
freaked. 1993. finally out on DVD thanks to fan demand and studio coordination, is the obscure generation x comedy from co-writer/director/star alex winter (aka, bill s. preston esquire). an obnoxious teen star is the new spokesman for the same toxic fertilizer that a crazy scientist and freak show owner use to turn unsuspecting people into “hideous mutant freaks!” the DVD package includes some cool short films and the entire cast screen test. complete with a gnarley soundtrack and seizure-inducing claymation of reminiscent of the old bubble tape, twizzler and caramello commercials. with randy quaid.
tank girl. 1995. based on the british comic strip, fast talking tank girl seeks revenge upon the creepy villain who murdered her family as part of his plans to wield great power in the post-apocalyptic world through his ability to create water through human extraction. with lori petty and malcom macdowell.
welcome to woop woop. 1997. an aussie comedy that borrows from the mad max films and martin scorcese’s after hours (1984). an american con man escapes his creditors by fleeing to australia, but is tricked into marrying a girl from a bizarre autocratic commune that formed out a town contaminated by an asbestos mill that used to operate there. with johnathan schaech and rod taylor.
six string samurai. 1998. as off-the-wall in the same vein as motorama and repo man (see above), an ambitious retro-rocker, with the help of a whiny orphan, uses his slick king fu skills to battle desert goons while trekking to lost vegas to be the new king of rock n’ roll. originally made as a film school project, it features several performances by siberian rockabilly group, the red elvises.
prayer of the rollerboys. 1991. despite corey haim’s tendency to take starring roles in shitty movies after 1989, this is a fairly decent science fiction film. childhood friends become rivals in the story of a post-apocalyptic aryan rollerblade gang pushing an addictive, sterilizing drug to targeted populations. with corey haim, christopher collet and patricia arquette.
anything for love. 1993. trite corey haim comedy steals from billy wilder’s 1959 comedy classic, some like it hot. a teen, trying to escape some bullies, poses as a female cheerleader at a neighboring school (in some like it hot, tony curtis and jack lemmon, trying to escape bookies, posed as female musicians in an all-girl band).
switch. 1990. great comedy from director blake edwards. a womanizing business executive murdered by some vengeful women in a hot tub returns to life as a woman. claiming to be the dead man’s sister, she meddles in company affairs. much more stylish than carl reiner’s all of me (1984). with ellen barkin, jimmy smits, ryan o’neal, and lorraine bronco.
the adventures of priscilla, queen of the desert. 1993. a wonderful feel-good australian comedy made famous primarily for excellent costumes, centers on three friends–two professional drag queens and one man in the process of becoming a woman–traveling on a bus through the desert to perform at a club where one of the drag queen’s ex-wife works and promises a surprise. with terrence stamp, hugo weaving and guy pierce. followed by too wong foo: thanks for everything julie newmar (1995).
nuns on the run. 1990. feel-good british comedy. two gangsters wanting to go straight know their boss will have them killed if they try. so, during what is planned to be their final heist, they steal the loot for themselves and disguise themselves as nuns living in a nearby convent. with eric idle and robbie coaltrane.
a midnight clear. 1990. another rare goodie from director kieth gordon (‘the chocolate war’). american soldiers stationed in rural germany in world war two befriend the “enemy.” with ethan hawke, gary sinise, kevin dillion and frank whaley.
the war of the buttons. 1994. a light irish family comedy about two rival gangs of neighborhood children involved in the ongoing “war of the buttons” soon recognize their absurdities of the adult events they emulate.
waking ned divine. 1998. great feel-good irish comedy. when ned divine dies from the shock of winning the lottery, his small irish town plots to pretend he is still alive in order to collect the award.
run. 1991. a decent, low-budget chase flick with pretty good chase sequences. a cocky young man who, against the stern advice of his employer, stops at a casino where he accidentally gets into a fatal scuffle with the son of a mafia boss. and the father, thinking the murder was intentional because witnesses refuse to testify otherwise, order a hit on the kid. with patrick dempsey and kelly lynch. similar to out of bounds (1987), which centers on a young kid being trailed by violent drug dealers on the one hand, and cops on the other, when, his airport luggage is first conveniently switched with that of one of the dealers and then his brother is murdered. despite some spunk 80s appeal, particularly from its costar, jenny wright, anthony michael hall’s lack of enthusiasm completely kills the movie.
back in the USSR. 1991. being in the wrong place at the wrong time during the last night of vacation in russia, a young man mistakenly becomes the target of the russian mob who suspect that he knows the whereabouts of a rare, valuable codex. with frank whaley and roman polanski.
the double o kid. 1992. a poorly written comedy. desperate corey haim plays a teen who likes to play secret agent and gets his chance for the real thing when he accidentally acquires a computer program sought by a bunch of hackers. sound familiar? with bridgette nielsen, wallace shawn and nicole eggert.
the stupids. 1996. outrageous comedy of misunderstanding from director john landis. stanley stupid, intent on investigating who has been stealing the neighborhood garbage, is hastily convinced that the perpetrator is someone he learned of while working at the post office called “mr. sender.” however, in his hunt, the stupid family unwittingly uncover a weapons smuggling operations. with tom arnold, jessica lundy, bug hall and christopher lee.
remote control. 1993. a great icelandic comedy. a young man trying to find his mother’s television remote winds up getting tangled up with a liquor smuggler trying to become iceland’s first crime boss.
who’s the man? 1990. “i wouldn’t let those two cut my taxes!” great for fans of old school rap. ed lover and dr. dre (the former beastie boys DJ, not the death row records collaborator) two barbershop flunkies turned “the man” learn of a slazy property developer’s plot to force out harlem residences in order to build luxury condos. with dennis leary and featuring cameos by bill bellamy, bernie mac, queen latifah, heavy d, house of pain, cypress hill and kriss kross.
dick. 1999. hilarious comedy parodies watergate, revealing the pre-mark-feldman mystery of deep throat’s identity: two clueless teen girls hired by nixon to walk his dog, checkers. although oblivious to the obvious corruption, they unwittingly play a vital role in tricky dick’s downfall. with kiersten dunst, michelle williams, dan heyda and will farrell. much better than company man (2000), a comedy parodying the failure of the bay of pigs invasion where a high school english teacher recruited to infiltrate the cuban army is mistakenly believed to be a savvy spy. unfortunately, the latter comedy has trouble sustaining interest throughout. with sigourney weaver and john tutoro.
lena’s holiday. 1991. a ridiculously absent-minded east german tourist is not only subject to dozens of tourist scams, but is also trailed by drug dealers when, at the airport, her luggage is conveniently switched with that containing drugs. with nick mancuso and chris lemmon.
dream machine. 1991. typical straight-to-video corey haim schlock. an oblivious college kids wants to impress his dream girl with a flashy new porsche given to him by a rich female client of his piano-tuning services who doesn’t realize that hitmen killed her husband and hid him in the trunk.
harley davidson and the malboro man. 1991. while mixing the western genre with all elements of a “man’s man” movie, this action thrill becomes far too idiotic by its over-the-top finale. two guys trying to save their friend’s bar by ripping off an amored car accidentally acquire a violent dealer’s stash of drugs. with mickey rourke, don johnson, tia carrera and tom seizemore.
quick change. 1991. two guys and a woman almost pull off the perfect bank robbery, but even though they are fairly good at eluding the cops trying to track them down, they can’t seem to make a successful escape from the city after encountering numerous obstacles ala after hours (1984). recommended for fans of bill murray. with gena davis and randy quaid.
the imposters. 1998. a mildly funny tribute to vaudville written and directed by stanely tucci. a pair of out-of-work actors on a cruise ship get in a cat-and-mouse chase with an arrogant actor who wants to kill them insulting his talent. but as the odd mix of ship passengers and crew become unwittingly involved in the chase, additional trouble arises. with oliver platt, stanley tucci, lilli taylor, tony shalhoub and alfred molina. also try silent movie (1976). modern silent movie from director mel brooks. three actors try hard to recruit big name appeal for their production. with marty feldman, dom deluise, sid ceasar and plenty of cameos.
the fugitive. 1993. still a great action film based on the true events (including the lesser publicized criminal case which spun off a civil case regarding the extremely unethical trial coverage by the press) and the 1960s television show. richard kimble, a reputable doctor convicted of the death of his wife, escapes from prison to search for the one-armed man that he claims framed him. with harrison ford, tommy lee jones, sela ward and joe pantoliano. although a decent sequel, US marshals (1998) followed, the story is nearly the same though this time the marshals chase a cop who maintains his innocence when accused of interdepartmental corruption. with wesley snipes.
the negotiator. 1998. when an ace negotiator, framed for murder and embezzlement shuts down a government building and holds a corrupt agent hostage. proof of his innocence may only be possible by cooperating with a fellow negotiator. great acting and decent action sequences. with samuel l. jackson, kevin spacey, j.t. walsh, david morse and regina king. likewise similar to the mediocre out of time (2003) where the villians unfortunately fail to explain their motives for framing a miami police detective for a double homicide. with denzel washington, eva mendes and dean cain.
presumed innocent. 1990. well-written thriller. a detective, on trial for the death of his patern and former mistress, directs his own investigation of the case on the sidelines. with harrison ford, bonnie bidelia and paul winfield.
a murder of crows. 1999. nice frame-up thriller resembles the thriller novels of john grisham. a louisiana lawyer, disbarred for admitting his sleazy client’s guilt during trial, moves to florida to charter boats. there, he befriends an old man who entrusts him with his manuscript, but suddenly dies. when the lawyer publishes the successful book as his own, he suddenly finds a prime suspect for the murders described in it. with cuba gooding, jr., tom berenger, and marianne-jean baptiste.
all american murder. 1993. an awful thriller with an idiotic ending, making clear that christopher walken doesn’t discriminate when it comes to scripts. a campus cassanove is framed for the arson death of his date and races to elude an acerbic detective while trying to establish his innocence. with charlie schlatter.
indictment: the mcmartin trial. 1995. good made-for-TV movie based on the true story of the mcmartin family–preschool owners falsley accused by protectionist fanatics of child abuse. the case lasted seven years and challenged the reliability of todders as key witnesses in criminal trials. with james woods, henry thomas, mercedes rhuel and lolita davidovich.
a map of the world. 1999. sad story of a small town family shaken by dangerous gossip and false accusations when the daughter of a friend accidentally drowns while in their care. with sigourney wave, julianne moore and david strathairn.
following. 1998. director chris nolan’s fine, non-sequential black and white british thriller is somewhat like memento (2000). a lonely man with a harmless habit of following strangers is approached by one of his victims who behaves similarly. the follower not only becomes his victim’s apprentice, but soon his target as well.
gattaca. 1997. interesting science fiction thriller. in the age of genetic perfection, a natural born, prohibited from joining a mission to saturn, borrows the identity of another man. in the meantime, his original identity becomes a murder suspect. with ethan hawke, uma thurman, jude law and alan arkin.
in the company of men. 1997. the real “cruel intentions.” a recently separated, impressionistic man is urged by his sadistic coworker to date a deaf coworker with the intentions of a brutal breakup as some kind ultimate revenge against the female gender. but what the man expects is just a prank is actually a much bigger setup. with matt malloy and aaron eckhart.
nature of the beast. 1995. bizarre thriller-noir has some good moments and several clever twists. while crossing the desert-lined highways of an isolated town with a suitcase of cash, a man meets a suspected serial killer who won’t leave him alone. of course, he can’t take his problem to the police because he’s got a nasty secret of his own. with b-movie regulars lance henriksen and eric roberts.
black day, blue night. 1994. worthy neo-noir. two women who meet when one’s husband was cheating with the other decide to leave their small southwestern town and begin anew somewhere else. along the way, they pick up a mysterious hitchhiker who is being trailed by a crooked cop chasing a trail of money. the atypical noir finale wrestles with the motivation of greed so typical to the genre. with mia sara, michelle richardson, gil bellows and JT walsh.
goodbye lover. 1998. with ellen degeneres as a sarcastic detective, this thriller becomes more of a black comedy. a man decides to end his affair with his brother’s wife on the same night someone plunges forty stories to their death and a million dollar insurance policy goes unclaimed. operates on the usual rules of noir-thrillers: money is the motive for murder and, with characters so easily tainted by greed, expect excessive double crossing. with patricia arquette, dermot mulroney and don johnson.
the grifters. 1990. disturbing noir-drama with an ironic, bloody finale to a trio of grifters (aka, con artists). when a sloppy con puts a young man in the hospital, he is reluctantly reunited with his estranged mother, also a con, who is appropriately suspicious of his sleazy girlfriend, another con, who begins to meddle in the mother’s affairs. with john cusak, annette benning and angelica houston.
the big slice. 1991. two writers desperate to make their own crime “fiction” become too involved in the research. although a good idea, the plot and humor become muddled. with casey seimaszko and heather locklear.
the hudsucker proxy. 1994. one of the cohen brother’s best comedies, primarily due to art direction and dialogue. when the CEO of the hudsucker company leaps out of the board room window, an ambitious dufus from the mailroom is promoted to an executive role to deflate the stock to avoid transfer of the company to public ownership. jennifer jason leigh is excellent as the quick-witted newspaper report who goes undercover to prove that the new golden boy is nothing more than a patsy. with tim robbins, paul newman and charels durning.
career opportunities. 1991. written by john hughes, its mild comedy with typical hughes class themes. a young guy mulls his future, finds romance, and nabs to stupid crooks during his first evening working the night shift at target. good soundtrack. with frank whaley, jennifer connelly and the mulroney brothers.
spotswood. 1992. nice feel-good british comedy. an efficiency expert hired to streamline operations at an australian shoe factory maintains his unquestionable “strictly business” ethic until he befriends the employees. with anthony hopkins, toni collette and russell crowe. similar to bill forsythe’s irish comedy, local hero (1983) and the off-beat aussie dramedy, the coca-cola kid (1984).
cosi. 1996. a novice theater director is hired to cast a play at a mental institution where he has a hard time adjusting as well as trying to convince management who doubt the troupe’s success. with ben mendhelson and toni collette.
night on earth. 1991. writer/director jim jarmusch’s great indie drama is a compilation of five ironic shorts about cab drivers and their passengers in new york, los angeles, helsinki, rome and paris. quite nice except for the redundant roberto bennini segment. with winnona ryder, gena rolands, ahmet meuhler stahl, rosi perez and giancarlo esposito.
mute witness. 1994. suspenseful, low-budget hitchcock-styled psychological thriller. a mute woman thinks she has witnessed a snuff-styled murder on a movie set, but overtaken by paranoia, she soon starts to doubt her memory. with sir alec guiness.
a quiet little neighborhood, a perfect little murder. 1990. the made-for-TV movie has a few good moments. once vowing not to get caught up in the habits of suburban life, a bored housewife picks up anonymous conversations on a baby monitor, which she suspects provide clues to a murder. careful not to gab too much to the neighbors about her suspicions while she plays town detective, she stirs up much ill-informed gossip. with terri garr, robert urich, tom poston and alex rocco.
the ambulance. 1990. writer/director larry coehn’s funny ode to comic books. a comic book artist learns that a mysterious ambulance is kidnapping diabetics when he tries to determine the whereabouts of one its victims. short of getting himself committed with wild stories about a glowing green ambulance that never delivers its patients to the neighborhood hospitals, he is mostly on his own to solve the mystery. with eric roberts, james earl jones, red buttons and a cameo by stan lee.
living in peril. 1997. what starts as great black comedy soon fizzles. an architect renting an apartment in town is sure that a man he accidentally got fired is trying to kill him. with rob lowe, dean stockwell and jim belushi.
incident at deception ridge. 1994. what at first seems like a dull made-for-TV thriller, is actually quite good. a case of mistaken identity turns deadly when two guys named jack, one an embezzler and the other an ex-convict trying to make a clean start, are chased along with a bus load of passengers by jack’s ex-partners who want the money. with michael o’keefe and miguel ferrer.
in the spirit. 1990. funny, indie comedy actually gets better after the initial introduction of characters. a felix and oscar type pair of female pals find themselves targeted by a hitman when they investigate the death of their prostitute friend. with elaine may, marlo thomas, peter falk, olympia dukakis and melanie griffith.
red rock west. 1992. good old fashion formula noir from genre regulars, john and rick dahl. a drifter passing through town is mistaken by a bartender to be the hitman he hired to kill his wealthy wife. although noble enough to warn the wife of her fate, the travelling stranger has many things riding against him that determine his ultimate fate: the double crossing broad, the bartender doubling as the town sherrif, and the real hitman showing up soon thereafter. with nicholas cage, laura flynn boyle, JT walsh and dennis hopper.
the crew. 1994. shiver me timbers! jeremy sisto has tits! a few friends yachting to key west test their loyalties to one another when a pathetic pair of shipwreck survivors board their boat threatening to kill the passengers, then seek sympathy for their sob stories. with dola longue.
voyage. 1990. in a sloppy substitute for dead calm (1989), a couple hoping a lenghty yachting trip will rekindle their marriage unwittingly incur trouble when they invite a former classmate and his wife to join them. initially just a nuisance, the trip grows grim when they learn of their guests’ true intentions. beautiful scenery, but too formulaic and poorly paced. with rutger hauer, karen allen and eric roberts.
midnight crossing. 1990. a young man and his wife charter their friends’ boat to miami, but are sidetracked by one of them intending to return a cuban island where he and some naval cadets once buried some money. could have been decent double-cross if it weren’t for the creepy lead actor. with faye dunaway and kim catrall.
hexed. 1990. hilarious low-budget comedy made on a tight schedule for rushed release. little white lies soon become major trouble for a hotel clerk posing as a producer so he can sleep with one of the guests of the hotel, a french model who’s actually a serial killer. with ayre gross and claudia christian.
pacific heights. 1990. a tight, and somewhat predictable revenge thriller which demonstrates why background checks are a good idea. two newlyweds buy their first home, an expensive property in upscale san fransisco, where they rent two apartments. one is the ultimate nightmare tenant who refuses to pay a deposit or rent, then trashes the place, and refuses to leave. with laws favoring tenant’s rights, the couple is forced to take matters into their own hands, often unsuccessfully. with melanie griffith, matthew modine, michael keaton and beverly d’angelo.
guilty as sin. 1993. lazy, afternoon thriller courtesy of writer larry cohen and director sidney lumet. an overconfident murder suspect hires an ace defense attorney and, as part of his typical psychological game with women, drops hints about his obvious guilt in ways that could get her disbarred. nice finale and cast, despite the adherence to by-the-book formula. with don johnson, rebecca demornay and jack warden.
unlawful entry. 1992. completely formulaic thriller only avoids obscurity because of familiarity of the cast. a naive couple violently pursued by a persistent, psychotic cop must figure out how to protect themselves when it is the dirty cop who often has the upperhand. with ray liotta, kurt russell and madeline stowe.
blind side. 1993. a decent made-for-TV drama that wisely rations it mystery. a californian couple traveling through mexico hit a cop and flee, only confessing this to their lawyer afterwards. later, a stranger from mexico comes to their home looking for work and hints that he may have witnessed their crime. with rebecca demornay, rutger hauer, ron silver and mariska hargattay.
a taste for killing. 1992. lame made-for-TV thriller. two rich college grads working on an oil rig befriend a psychopathic coworker who frames them for murder. henry thomas was the miscast here. with jason bateman and michael beihn.
love is a gun. 1994. a tricky psychological thriller with terrific opening and closing sequences is unfortunately saddled by a lagging middle. a crime scene photographer is greeted by perpetual deja vu (which is never fully explained). a model he hires for a photo contest turns out to be a wacked out stalker that he falls in love with much to the dismay of his girlfriend. with eric roberts, his real-life wife eliza garett and kelly preston.
what about bob? 1991. from director frank oz, a terrific bill murray comedy centers on bob, a hypochondriac who irks his therapist when he decides to vacation in the same town. everyone loves bob and of course, ignores the therapist on what was supposed to be not only a family trip but also an opportunity to promote his book. with richard dreyfuss and julie haggerty.
kansas city. 1996. in typical robert altman style of major casting and minimal editing, it may be an acquired taste. set in the 1930s, a sassy woman who’s husband has been kidnapped by a mobster blackmails a politician with connections by kidnapping his timid wife during election time. with jennifer jason leigh, miranda richardson and harry belafonte.
breakdown. 1997. a formula story propelled by great acting and cherry action sequences. a city slicker couple are targeted for a clever scam ala ‘vanishing’ where the wife is kidnapped by some tightly connected locals who demand the husband pay a steep ransom. in a cat-and-mouse chase around the small desert town, the husband gradually becomes more clever than his wife’s captor. with kurt russell, kathleen quinland, james noseworthy and JT walsh.
nick of time. 1995. filmed in real-time, a man’s daughter is kidnapped by two hitmen who’s ransom is a request to kill the candidate for city mayor, although the desperate man seems to have few opportunities to subvert them and save his daughter. with johnny depp, christopher walken, charels s. dutton and gloria rubens.
beyond justice. 1992. a convoluted story, but its an unusual story for the kidnap and rescue genre. an unorthodox agent hired to find his client’s son learns that her husband, a morrocan prince is intends to induct the boy into morrocan royalty. unfortunately, fueding morrocan tribes interfere with the rescue. nice action sequences. with rutger hauer, omar sharif and elliot gould.
chains of gold. 1991. a decent, but excessively idealistic plot. a social worker goes searching for his young teen friend who becomes involved with a powerful drug gang that resembles shredder’s foot soldier clan from ‘teenage mutant ninja turtles.’ with john travolta and joey lawrence.
suicide kings. 1997. a thriller with a little humor and a nice twist. some friends implement an idiotic plan to kidnap a retired mobster for leverage against the kidnappers of the sister of one of the friends. with christopher walken, dennis leary, henry thomas and sean patrick flannery.
swimming with sharks. 1994. hilarious black comedy. a young man, unable to withstand the demands of his sadistic boss at something of a bootcamp for talent agents kidnaps. however, it soon becomes a test of his own resilience to becomes exactly what he professes to hate about his boss. with frank whaley, kevin spacey and linda florentino..
sticks and stones. 1996. overly-sentimental drama about three young boys who kidnap and humilitate their bully cram’s its message of tolerance down viewer’s throats. great peformance by justin isfeld who has few other screen acting credits. with chauncey leopardi, jordan brower, mark paul gossellar and gary busey.
pups. 1995. a condescending tale of teen angst that eventually becomes hard to swallow. two teens–written as though the filmmaker’s were reading a handbook to street slang–live out a bonnie and clyde bank robbing fantasy. during the standoff, their requests become utterly ridiculous (including a personal on-site interview with kurt loder) while it is clear the incident will not end well. with mischa barton and burt reynolds..
bound. 1996. what begins as the wachowski brother’s silly lesbian fantasy turns into a slick noir. ex-con corky befriends her seductive neighbor, violet, and helps her steal money from her uncharacteristically friendly mob pimp. nice art direction. with jennifer tilly, gina gershon and joe pantoliano.
ronin. 1998. ronin refers to masterless samurais. two good-guy hitmen are victims of sabotage by their employer and competing spies. superb, lengthy car chases. with robert de niro and the excellent jean reno.
the wild reeds. 1994. difficult, but sincere french drama with uneven character development. a teen falls in love with his male classmate with whom he shares his first sexual experience. but after the classmate’s brother dies in the war, they drift apart.
tonight’s the night. 1992. (aka, for the game of love). pleasant, low-budget made-for-TV movie centers on one evening at a night club where several singles test the waters. the middle-age couple is likely the most interesting among them. with robert russler and ken olin.
…almost. 1990. mismarketed as a thriller, its actually a pleasant, low-budget aussie comedy. a forgotten wedding anniversary, scheming coworker, and charismatic stranger provide the necessary impetus for wendy and ronnie to remember why they fell in love. with rosanna arquette and ron spencer.
dark side of the sun. 1997. filmed in yugoslavia. a young man with a rare skin condition that makes him extremely sensitive to sunlight decide to ditch the darkness, despite the consequences, to meet a girl who doesn’t realize that he and the masked rider she once saw are the same. not wanting her pity if she made the connection, he poses as both. with brad pitt.
muriel’s wedding. 1994. muriel, the original ‘frump girl,’ is encouraged to prove wrong all those who doubt her when she runs into an old friend from high school and rooms in the city with her. toni collette is awesome!
talent for the game. 1991. an aging talent scout in dire need of recruiting a star player soon, finds a worthy pitcher that he recruits for the california angels. but the recruiter worries over corruption of the small town boy by the excesses of commercialism and later challenges the team executives who don’t even give the young rookie an opportunity to prove himself. despite a good performance by edward james almos as the recruiter, the movie is far too predictable and systematic to sympathize. with lorraine bronco.
jersey girl. 1992. laughless comedy and dylan macdermott makes a poor leading male character. a woman from jersey ditches her accent and hoop earrings for a phony crash makeover in class. except, she makes a failed first impression with her dream man. with jami gertz.
white palace. 1990. age and class-focused drama. a younger stockbroker window dates an older waitress. with james spader, susan sarandon and jason alexander. done more sophisticatedly with 40 carats (1973) (a 20-something guy falls for a 40-something divorcee he meets while vacationing in greece, with edward albert and liv ullman), blame it on rio (1983) (michael caine plays a man vacation with his friend’s who’s teen daughter seduces him; with joe balogna), murphy’s romance (1985) (a 30-something divorcee carries on a subtle relationship with the town pharmacist, a much older man, until her ex-husband returns to town and causes trouble; with sally field, james garner and corey haim), and harold and maude (1973) (great comedy about death-obssessed teen harold, and his taboo relationship with the free-spirited elderly maude; with bud cort and ruth gordon).
spring forward. 1999. generational gaps are addressed differently. a young ex-convict carries on a close friendship with his older co-worker. the film, mostly consistently of the friend’s lengthy philosophical conversations shown over passing seasons, are without enough action to keep many viewers entertained. instead, it might’ve fared better as a novel. with liev schrieber and ned beatty.
wind. 1992. ideal for sailing and engineering enthusiasts. after the US team loses the world sailing championship title to the aussies, a former teammate reunites them to reclaim the title. with matthew modine, jennifer gre and stellan skarsgaard.
diving in. 1990. the fully cliched story of the underdog centers on a teen with the the potential to be a great diver were it not for his pesky fear of heights and a teammate who bullies him. with matt adler and burt young.
across the tracks. 1991. estranged brothers reunited when one is released from juvenile detention. inspired by his brother to join the track team, they soon become fierce competitors. with very young brad pitt and rick shroeder.
rudy. 1993. a guy from a small midwestern town endures plenty of challenges to get a chance to play for the fighting irish of notre dame. typical athletic-inspiration drama. with sean astin, ned beatty and charles s. dutton. somewhat similar to remember the titans (2000), a well-done disney drama but one that fails to avoid the cliches. based on actual events in 1971 northern virginia, the newly integrated TC williams high school football team’s first black coach struggles with a quarreling team, stubborn management, and the town’s condemnation. with denzel washington and will patton. also similar to wildcats (1986). a female high school track coach gets much flack from the team, the school and her family when she becomes the school’s new head football coach. decent lazy ‘noon comedy. with goldie hawn, wesley snipes and swoosie kurtz.
crossing the line. 1990. motocross movie that is pure crap on so many levels – exaggerated situations, bad acting, cheesy dialog, etc. an exiled dirtbiker is blamed for his comatose friend’s injuries. so he does what anyone in his situation would: ponders his relationship with his father, dates his enemy’s daughter, and auditions for the same team his friend’s violent brother rides for.
airborne. 1993. a corny shrine to both rollerblading and plaid is likely best remembered for its fantastic downhill race finale. a hot young california surfer sent to live with relatives in small town ohio for the fall semester is horribly alienated until he befriends the local hockey team. with shane macdermott, seth green and edie mclurg.
aspen extreme. 1992. two diverging friends working as ski instructors at a posh ski resort in aspen intend to pair up for a downhill competition until unexpected circumstances disrupt their plans. great ski footage, good story. with paul gross and peter berg.
ski school. 1990. a slacker comedy with a dumb story muddled in nonsense repetition. idiotic ski school students and their laid-back teacher enjoy endless parties, beer and gratuitous nudity while a rival ski camp plots to have them kicked out of the resort. with dean cameron and patrick labyorteaux.
ski patrol. 1990. a ghastly ‘police academy’ rip off worth skipping. with martin mull and TK carter.
by the sword. 1991. a fencing movie build on a martial arts cliche. a brazen headmaster of a posh fencing academy learns that he shares a past with a mysterious ex-convict who applies for a teaching job there. with eric roberts and f. murray abraham.
the sandlot. 1993. a fantastic family-comedy classic about a team of young baseball players in the 60s who must rescue a priceless baseball from a rumored kid-eating dog aptly named, “the beast.” with tom guiry, karen allen, dennis leary and james earl jones. followed by a sequel that sadly recycles the story, jokes and some of the cast.
in god’s hands. 1998. three surfers seek the perfect wave as a source of spiritual satisfaction. although, terribly wooden acting and slow story may be best for the most understanding audiences. with matt george.
second sight. 1990. what had a promising cast and premise for a great comedy–a detective agency that solves crimes with the help of an eccentric psychic–fails as an laugh-less over-achiever. with john laroquette and bronson pinchot.
unforgettable. 1996. a doctor investigating his wife’s murder experiments with a serum that allows him the first-hand experiences of others. but police corruption, side-effects of the drug and the doctor’s other vices soon interfere. audience patience might wane with the repeated elaborate reconstructions of the crime. with ray liotta, linda florentino and christoper macdonald.
retroactive. 1997. a psychiatrist hitches a ride with a uy who goes on a killing spree after learning of his wife’s affair. she finds a scientist who is able to transport her back in time, but only a few minutes. so she repeats the events several times, but they change with new decisions. with jim belushi and frank whaley. similar to the innovative german film, run lola run (1998) (young lola only has minutes to help her idiot boyfriend, manni, recover some lost drug money before the owners come to claim it).
the bumblebee flies away. 1999. the adaptation of robert cormier’s novel is replete with bad acting (except by the actor playing “billy”) and dialog as well as the idiotic suggestion that cancer is purely psychological. a kid in a terminal illness ward agrees to be part of the bumblebee experiment, which models the memory purge of eternal sunshine on the spotless mind (2004). with elijah wood (in usual form), rachel leigh cook and janeane garofolo.