2019 In Film – A Preview – July

Annabelle 3

The first one wasn’t great and I haven’t seen the second one. These must still be making money – not a surprise when they’re cheap to make, but this will almost certainly be more loud jump-scares and little else.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

I’ve seen the Raimi trilogy, but haven’t seen any since. Was there another trilogy before this latest series? Or just a couple of films? I’m sure I’ll get to them one day.

17 Bridges

A cop thriller with a cat and mouse chase around Manhattan. They could go classy on this and make it like Sicario or more likely it could be like a TV movie or stretched TV episode. The cast is okay – only Keith David really stands out to me as someone to get me interested, and the director is mainly known for his TV work.

Stuber

Looks like a modern buddy movie – I don’t think many of these have worked recently and this will most likely go the same way. When these work they’re always entertaining, and it will be cool seeing Bautista and Iko Uwais going toe to toe. Director Michael Dowse has so far directed the sorts of comedies I actively avoid so I can’t see this being too hot.

The Lion King

Yet another Disney remake and yet another ‘why’. I’m not as precious about The Lion King as some people are, but beyond money there is no reason for this to exist. I’m sure it can’t possibly capture the magic of the original – like any of these remakes – but it’ll be pretty to look at.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The big one. Tarantino’s movies have been more on the average side for me recently, not since Inglorious Basterds. Django was okay, and The Hateful Eight was probably his weakest. This is the film he has wanted to make for years and it’s the one fans like me have wanted to see. I’d rather he made this in his early days than now, and I’d rather it wasn’t related to the Manson stuff as that seems needlessly exploitative and I’m more interested in Tarantino’s vision of 60s/70s Hollywood.

Wish Dragon

I don’t know what this is, other than it is an animation with voice work by Jackie Chan.

Is that it? Where did all the movies go? Which ones are you looking forward to?

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2019 In Film – A Preview – January

Greetings, Glancers! 2018 was a year in which some movies were released. I can’t remember which, but that’s only because most of them were crap and I’m still drunk from Christmas. 2019 will see the release of even more films to be excited and bored by, and just like every other stinking blogger out there who craves the anonymous approval of people they’ll never meet, I’m here to finger the internet (look on Wikipedia) to see which upcoming movies might interest me. A lot of films won’t have been announced yet and my list most likely won’t include minor releases, straight to DVD or streaming, or foreign films (which tend to be the ones I’m most interested in). Today, it’s the first month of 2019 – Krocus (January)!

Escape Room

We kick off the year with what will most likely be a forgotten horror movie – that’s fine with me as even the most forgettable horror is more interesting to me than most of the recent Oscar Bait. Escape Rooms are all the rage these days – cheap mobile phone games turning into fully fledged hen-do entertainment. Hell, even Belfast has a few of these. Not that I’ve been to any. it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about this fad, even though similar ideas have been shown on screen before. Best hope for this is that it becomes a Saw/Cube knockoff. The cast doesn’t really contain anyone I’m overly interested in and the director hasn’t done anything I’ve loved – he wrote the worst Paranormal Activity entry and directed an Insidious movie which I haven’t seen yet, though I did enjoy The Taking of Deborah Logan. The trailer is fairly standard as far as modern horror trailers go – it basically shows the entire movie with no spoiler warning – and what’s with the use of all the shitty old timey songs? I assume it’s meant to be creepy, but it never is and just annoys me as the songs are invariably crap. I actually like the idea behind this – mazes and puzzles have always fascinated me, and movies concerning them I’ll always give a chance, but I can’t say I have high hopes. I’ve talked enough about this movie which I probably won’t see for a few years.

A Dog’s Way Home

I’ve always wondered how these types of films get made. I mean, does anyone go and see them? January is usually a dumping ground as no-one can be arsed freezing their arse off to go and watch something which doesn’t feature a Stan Lee cameo, but these sweet and harmless movies seem more suited to the small screen. It’s about a dog who gets separated from its owner and begins a journey home. I know you read about these things in the news from time to time, but in reality 90% of these end the same way – the dog being hit by a car, starving to death, or being picked up by a warden and then euthanized after a few days of starving. Why doesn’t anyone make a movie like that? Oh, right. Lets give it some credit – it stars the great Ashley Judd for some reason, and it’s directed by Charles Martin Smith who I’ve always enjoyed as an actor (and who of course directed the pilot episode of Buffy). I can’t imagine I’ll ever see this.

The Upside

Well, it’s a remake of the hit French film so we’re already on shaky ground, and it’s an idea we’ve already seen before in films like Scent Of A Woman. I can’t imagine anything new or interesting here – it’s like a buddy cop movie without the action. And with that cast, probably without the comedy. Plus, it has been delayed for a year already, so lets not pretend this is going to be anything but balls. I like Bryan Cranston, I like Nicole Kidman, but I can’t take Kevin Hart seriously as a lead actor, or a comedian, or a human…. I think I’ll pass.

Glass

Now we’re talking. Unbreakable is my favourite Shyamalan movie and he has been on an upswing recently. I enjoyed Split and although I’m apprehensive about how this will all work as the trailer made things look too action packed, I’m still fully on board. It’ll be good to see if Willis actually pulls his fist out of his ass and does something worthwhile too.

The Kid Who Would Be King

There has been a rejuvenation of all those 80s kids adventure movies recently, thanks to the success of Stranger Things – that’s not where it started, but that’s likely what has enabled so many to go into production. It’s exactly the sort of movie I would have loved growing up so I’m hoping for some nostalgic charm here rather than generic member-berry stuff. The story and cast seem so-so, but I have always like Cornish since the Adam and Joe days. Hopefully something good here, but again I don’t have high hopes. Andy Serkis’s son is the lead in his debut – I’m generally not a fan of such nepotism but it’s ridiculously prevalent in the business and always has been. Which reminds me, I must write a post about that.

Serenity

It’s not Joss Whedon, so I’m already depressed. This sounds like one of those cheap ‘sexy’ 90s thrillers where the only thing less shocking than another hackneyed double cross was the sight of an A-Lister in a thong. I like the cast though none of them are must sees for me, though Knight is generally a talented writer. I already know I’ll probably never see this unless it hits Showgirls levels of dirt but I’m sure someone out there will get something out of it (a quick fap).

The Aspern Papers

I’ll admit I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my list. I like the idea, though the fact that it stars various socialites and members of the Redgrave clan has me on edge. Also, I’m not a big fan of costume stuff.

Sgt. Will Gardner

This looks interesting; again it’s an idea we’ve seen before – a military vet comes home only to find an internal war which affects his daily life and relationships. These films are always interesting to me though they rarely go beyond that to something more, and although it’s a subject often tackled in films it’s one that isn’t discussed enough in reality and leads to devastating multi-generational harm – something that is likely to get worse with the Warmonger-In-Chief. It also looks like a road movie, and I love me a good road movie. I do have a couple of concerns – first, that it will be too patriotic, something I can’t stand or understand (COuntry music shite in the trailer), and second that it looks like a passion project by Martini who writes, directs, and stars. Oh yeah – Martini almost always plays a soldier or military dude in movies – what’s that about? I do love the cast though – Robert Patrick, Gary Sinise, Lily Rabe, Dermot Mulroney, JoBeth Williams, Liz Rohm, are all performers I admire.

The Heiresses

At first glance I thought this was a costume drama, at least a foreign costume drama which usually trumps Hollywood’s stuff for me, but one second glance that’s not the case. It looks like a story about two wealthy friends suddenly rendered poor and how they cope. I’ll probably never see it.

An Acceptable Loss

See, the problem I have with films like this is that they feel that they could have been, and already have been covered in a single TV episode. Person Of Interest deals with stuff like this all the time. However, I’m all for keeping Jamie Lee Curtis busy as she is a vastly underrated and underused actress. Tika Sumpter I don’t know much about while director Joe Chappelle is known more for his TV work than his crappy horror movies. Actually, looking at his TV credits, that pretty much confirms my original point.

Adult Life Skills

See, the problem I have with quirky indie movies like this is that people like this don’t really exist in real life and when they do, they are seriously damaged individuals. Of course there are many people out there who like to claim they are quirky in this manner, but that’s emotional damage of another sort. I have no qualms admitting my own damage and the fact that I often hate myself for my quirks, but they I don’t go around making a show of them. That along with the fact that the humour in these films almost always doesn’t work for me is pretty much ensuring this will be a no no. The positive risk with this though is that when these films do work for me, I love them and they become an all time favourite. The fact that this was made in 2016 doesn’t bode well.

The Standoff At Sparrow Creek

Now, this is more like it. This has been getting rave reviews on the festival circuit, and it looks and sounds fantastic. It has a cast featuring non-A-Listers that I love including Patrick Fischler, Chris Mulkey, James Badge Dale, and it seems like a limited set seige thriller. That set-up is of course one of my favourites, with films like Assault On Precinct 13. Reservoir Dogs, and the original Dead Trilogy all winning examples. I have high hopes for this one, but I’m sure it won’t be anywhere near a Cinema near me.

King Of Thieves

Where siege movies are intriguing to me, heist movies usually don’t I admire the cinematic touches, but they too often follow tropes I don’t like and most annoyingly they glamourize the whole thing. Thieves are scumbags – I don’t care what the motivation is, I don’t care how stylish they make it look, or how nifty they (always) look in suits – they’re scumbags taking money from the rest of us and they don’t deserve our attention. You already know exactly what this will be like, ignoring the fact that it’s based on a true story and has the unique quality of featuring a bunch of old guys. It’s good the cast it still getting work, and most of them I like, but for me when I’ve seen one heist movie, I’ve seen them all.

The Wild Pear Tree

Another films receiving rave reviews since Cannes, this one I have no doubt will be good, but again it’s subject matter I can’t get overly invested in. It looks both gorgeous and dank, Ceylan certainly has a unique voice, and his stuff is different from the usual Hollywood fare. I just need to be in the right frame of mind for it.

Which January releases interest you? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2003

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

As always, the not quites: Big Fish. Freddy Vs Jason. House Of 1000 Corpses. Dogville. The Last Samurai. School Of Rock.

10: The Dreamers (UK/US/France/Italy) Bernardo Bertolucci

9: Underworld (US/UK/Hungary/Germany) Len Wiseman

8: Kill Bill Vol 1 (US) Quentin Tarantino

7: A Mighty Wind (US) Christopher Guest

6: The Curse of The Black Pearl (US) Gore Verbinski

5: Zatoichi (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

5. Oldboy (SK) Chan Wook Park

4: A Tale Of Two Sisters (SK) Kim Jee Woon

3: Ju On (Japan) Takashi Shimizu

2: The Return Of The King (NZ/US) Peter Jackson

1: X2 (US) Bryan Singer

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three (Including the top grosser)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One – the winner

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2002

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

Lets get the almosts done first: Dog Soldiers. Bubba Ho-Tep.

10: City Of God (Brazil) Fernando Meirelles

9: Equilibrium (US) Kurt Wimmer

8: Hero (China) Zhang Yimou

7: Infernal Affairs (HK) Andrew Lau/Alan Mak

6: The Pianist (France/Germany/Poland/UK) Roman Polanski

5: Dark Water (Japan) Hideo Nakata

4: The Eye (HK/Singapore) The Pang Brothers

3: The Twilight Samurai (Japan) Yoji Yamada

2: 28 Days Later (UK) Danny Boyle

1: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One (The Winner)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two

Ring

*Originally written in 2003

Just when horror movies were slipping back towards mediocrity and worse, after the high of Scream and the many lows which followed, Hideo Nakata decided to bring Koji Suzuki’s hit novel to the big screen. The result is the most terrifying movie of the decade, and one of the most chilling movies of all time. Made on a tiny budget the film is relentlessly evil, the tension never gives in, and you will not forget it for the rest of your life. Stylish, borrowing from other films and surpassing them, Ringu is a demon reincarnated as a movie, its effect on us everlasting, ensuring we spread the word…

The film opens with a Scream-like scene and the tension is already high, our wrists put in a deathly grip from the outset. Two teenage girls are discussing a video one of them claims to have seen, saying it is the scariest thing she has ever see. Once you watch it the phone rings, and a voice tells you you will die in seven days. The girl though says she is joking. Then the TV switches itself on and she hears scratching noises. It has been seven days. We cut to a reporter, Reiko Asakawa who is doing a story about the video curse. She investigates some local deaths, including her niece and soon realises that all her niece’s friends are dead too, having watched a mysterious video. Leaving her son behind she goes in search of the video. Eventually she finds it, watches it and answers the ringing phone. Convinced she is going to die she contacts her ex-husband and tries to find a way to save herself. He is not convinced, and watches it as well. However, later that night their son Yoichi also watches, so they all try to solve the curse, uncovering the story of the Yamamuras, in particular – Sadako.

Aside from having one of the most frightening climaxes in movie history, one which the recent remake completely failed to resurrect, there is an eerie atmosphere throughout the film. There are many other moments which add to the atmosphere and build towards the infamous final scare. The last 15 minutes are extremely scary as Reiko and Ryuji search for Sadako and feature some of extremely nail-biting scenes. Everything in the film is designed to unsettle – the unearthly soundtrack reminiscent of Argento and Goblin’s works, the fixed and cornered camera angles so we can never see what is near, the grim surroundings, the complete lack of humour, the use of colour etc. The performances are all very good as well, Nanako Matsushima as Reiko swiftly moves from confident to frantic wreck, and exudes every possible emotion. Hiroyuki Sanada is extremely strong, slowly coming to realise the truth, conveying guilt over his son and remaining both mysterious and strong when his ex-wife gives up. His final scene is perfectly acted, heightening the overall effect. Rikiya Otaka as Yoichi manages to be creepy, but his role becomes more central in the second film. The rest of the cast are all immensely good. The inclusion of the timer is also highly effective, ensuring the tension rises as we know time is running out.

Of course the film has its flaws. Some people will be put off by the slow nature. Some people will feel the need to have every question answered, and Ringu leaves many unanswered – that is the point. If we were in this situation we would be looking for answers – anything to help us, to relieve the fear, something real to hold on to, but nothing is given. As we are left wondering, the film will stay with us, continuing to haunt us over time, ensuring we do not escape the ring. As it was adapted from a novel, certain inherent difficulties arise. In the novel it is a man who is the reporter, his wife is barely around, and his near-sadist friend takes up the Ryuji role, hoping to put some excitement into his life. In the book, beware all reflective surfaces. The curse is more of a disease than a ghost. Nakata takes the best elements, and makes the story his own. There will be some confusing moments, but the constant threat of something happening will mean you will continually be focused on the film.

The sense of isolation is strong, and there is a coldness surrounding the film. Many rooms are blank, places lack expression, and people speak in monotone, and avoid eye contact. Nakata explores Japanese culture and mythology, showing the intrusion of the West via moments which remind us of past films. There is more than one reference to The Terminator – the final shot, the dates, the relentless evil of Sadako, technology backfiring, and it recalls other films such as Videodrome, Eraserhead, Straw Dogs, and there is veiled thanks to Stephen King. (Translate the name of a certain familiar Stephen King town into Japanese). Nakata shows himself to be the new master of tension, and along with Miike, Kitano and others is proving that Japanese cinema is a force not to be taken lightly. I first saw this around 5 years ago, and it is still rewarding and scary today. The themes of abandonment, fear and guilt stay with the viewer, coming out more with each viewing, once the initial fear has gone. This is one horror movie everyone should see, vastly superior to the remake which opted for cheap scares, flashy camera-work and loud noises. This is subtle, both nightmarish and real, and uses one of the most effective themes of horror movies to the fullest – the inevitability of death. We are doomed and there is no escape, but that should not stop us fighting for each other and ourselves, no matter how invincible our enemy.

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2001

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

It has been another rough week – one of my friend’s sons was shot and killed in San Jose a couple of days ago. It’s hard to point fingers but it’s even harder to not feel angry at a world which allows such acts to take place. One of my picks is a film I remember him always watching as a kid.

As always, lets get the almosts out of the way: Brotherhood of The Wolf. Enemy At The Gates. Spirited Away. Donnie Darko. Y Tu Mama Tambien. Monster’s Ball. The Happiness Of The katakuris. Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

10: The Majestic (US) Frank Darabont

9: Ichi The Killer (Japan) Takashi Miike

8: Session 9 (US) Brad Anderson

7: The Mummy Returns (US) Stephen Sommers

6: Frailty (US/Germany/Italy) Bill Paxton

5: Bully (US) Larry Clark

4: Visitor Q (Japan) Takashi Miike

3: Mulholland Drive (US/France) David Lynch

2: The Fellowship Of The Ring (NZ/US): Peter Jackson

1: Amelie (France/Germany) Jean Pierre Jeunet

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 1990s

I continue my summary of my favourite films by year and by decade with this, my favourite films of the 1990s. Although I spent seven years in the 1980s, it’s really the 90s that most of my ‘growing up’ took place. It’s when I changed schools, became a teen, and all those important things. In terms of my love of film, it’s the decade that I started realizing that films were actually pieces of work that took years of planning and work to create – from the money men to the writers to the director and everyone else involved, while previously I only recognised a film by who starred in it. My tastes continued to be a love of action and horror and as the decade came to a close I was looking further afield for the sort of kicks that Hollywood could no longer provide. Regardless, this list will likely contain mostly American films, though the explosion of indie talent means that even those won’t necessarily be ‘Hollywood’. This could be a long post too, as many of my all time favourites came out in this decade. Essentially everything outside of the top seven can be in any order. Enough balls, lets do this.

21: The Blair Witch Project (1991)

Lets kick things off with a film that received a lot of hate from the horror community. It still divides horror fans with little middle ground – you either love it, or see it as boring, scare-free, and the main reason we have so many terrible shaky cam movies now. If there is any middle ground, it’s those people who say that the film is 95% walking around a forest, and the last 5% of the movie being genuinely terrifying. Obviously I love it, and a large part of that is due to the last 10 minutes or so – what makes the ending so chilling though is everything that comes before it. The three characters here, while they have their moments, are less annoying and more human than most you’ll find in this type of film and make less dubious decisions. The mythology of the film is interesting too, not least because it has basis in historical fact – I’m talking about the whole Witch Trials and Puritan fear-mongering of previous centuries here. Secondly, witches are a type of supernatural creature sorely underrepresented in movies, even in horror fiction as a whole. There are a few standout movies of course.

Obviously not the first found footage movie, The Blair With Project is nevertheless the most influential – it’s still the poster boy for the sub-genre. I remember the hysteria when this was released and I saw it as soon as I could. I watched the related documentary and I bought a related book detailing the history of the township. I love how the movie built up this little universe all of its own. I was mystified though by the people who actually bought into the advertising, believing the film to be real – I’m still not sure how people were fooled by this. The film has such a simple set up – a trio of students are making a documentary about a small town and the mythology surrounding it. They travel to the town, meet a few locals, and head out into the massive woods where evil is meant to lurk. They go missing and a few years later their video footage is found – the film is that footage. In the footage we see them getting stalked by something unseen – the group believe it could be locals having fun but they quickly become disoriented, paranoid, and fight among themselves. They get lost, they see and hear stranger things, and… well, you either know the rest or should watch yourself. I’ve never been scared of camping, or woods, or isolation, or anything like that – in fact I find such things comforting. I’ve no idea why the film creeps me out so much – I can only assume it’s the idea of a witch, some ancient evil lurking which can control time and space apparently, which gets to me but even that sounds stupid. Whatever it is, it works, and I love it.

20: The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Even after other movies from the same era have achieved cult status, this one still flies mainly under the radar and I’ve still no idea why. Look – it has like 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Idiots. I mean, its treatment of women is dubious at times as I  believe I covered in my review post, but in terms of pure action and entertainment there are few better.

The film opens with some American Football player going for a touchdown or a home run or some sports shit but rather than some last minute glory win like Teenwolf, he whips out a gun and starts shooting the opposition before killing himself. Nice. Elsewhere, we meet a washed up ex Secret Service Agent who is now the disgruntled father of a bratty daughter, husband of a cheating wife, and a boozy PI. He gets a job to bodyguard a stripper, who just happens to be the boyfriend of an ex NFL star. The stripper is promptly killed and the boyfriend and the bodyguard team up to find out who put out the hit, unraveling a plot of corruption in the world of sports and politics. Directed by Tony Scott and starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, this also features Danielle Harris, Halle Berry, Kim Coates, Taylor Negron. The script by Shane Black, which was sold for a record 1.75 million, is superb – filled with great self-aware 90s humour, Scott directs with his usual visual flair, and the cast are all good – Willis especially delivering one of his most sardonic performances. There are some great action set-pieces while remaining grounded, and yet both Scott and Black have stated that the end product was not what the script deserved. If that’s true then I can’t imagine how good the end product should have been.

19: Starship Troopers (1997)

The middle of the Nineties saw Paul Verhoeven moving away from the violent action movies that had earned him worldwide fame a decade earlier. His previous two films were sex-based thrillers – a massive success in Basic Instinct and a massive failure in Showgirls (I like both). Starship Troopers is a glorious return to the likes of Total Recall and Robocop – big, brash, loud mouth action, ultra violence, and more satirical than a liberal talk show host. Adapted from Heinlein’s classic sci-fi novel, Verhoeven’s take clearly mocks the celebration of war and its associated propaganda machine although it’s easy to see why many completely miss the fascist satire and take it on face value as movie where guys with guns triumph over some faceless drone enemy.

The film follows Johnny Rico – a student in his final year of a very patriotic, militaristic school – and a small group of friends. Earth is attached by an alien race, kicking off an all out intergalactic war. Rico signs up in the hope of revenge, guts, and glory, and his band of friends all get recruited into different sections of the army – pilots, intelligence, grunts etc. Rico is a grunt and goes off for training to be cannon fodder – the scenes of training taking those of Full Metal Jacket to ridiculous new heights. Once training is complete, Rico heads off to war – that’s pretty much it. The special effects were state of the art for the time, and I still enjoy them now. The action is top rate, futuristic gun battles with ugly arachnid and alien creatures, and a cast featuring Dean Norris, Brenda Strong, Marshall Bell, Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, and Casper Van Dien. Like in Robocop, Verhoeven fills this with media interludes – news snippets, adverts, info nuggets, all catered to a bloodthirsty flag-waving audience all to willing to sacrifice body and soul for a worthless cause. The dialogue doesn’t quite reach the heights of Robocop (what does?) but the film reunites the director, screenwriter, and musical composer meaning it’s a close cousin. Balls to the wall violent action movies were on the wane in the late 90s, and this is one of the genre’s finest swansongs.

18: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

I’ve argued before how this is a horror film. I’ve argued how Sheryl Lee deserved and Oscar nomination, if not a win for her performance here. David Lynch has quite a few masterpieces in his resume, but Twin Peaks – the series and the movie – are by far his most beloved work. The movie departs tonally, bravely, from the original series and instead offers a harrowing, terrifying glimpse into the last week of Laura Palmer’s tortured life. There are no characters offering quaint small-town wisdom, there is no offbeat humour, and there is almost no hope or light. This is the darkest quivering heart of The Black Lodge, a place of obsession, madness, and death, and its pulsating ripples envelope and suck in any innocence there may be in the unfortunate surroundings. If you haven’t seen the movie, then I won’t say anymore about it – all I can say is that it certainly helps to know the series before watching the movie, and to not expect the movie to be an extension of the show’s charms. This is your favourite town and everyone in it being burned to the ground, and its horrific and glorious.

17: Tombstone (1993)

True Romance and Heat narrowly missed out on making this best of Nineties list. Those films and Tombstone share the honours of having some of the most amazing casts in single films. There are a few films like this in the Nineties where you look at the cast and already know the film is going to be wonderful – doesn’t matter what the thing is about – it could be a discussion of the correlation between paint drying and algebra, it could be one of those terrible singing talent shows, hell – it could even be a musical and the cast alone would make it unmissable. Luckily Tombstone is none of those shitty things, instead being a stylish version of events from the life of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday with all manner of guns and moustaches.

Look at these names: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Michael Biehn, Sam Elliot, Powers Boothe. That’s a strong enough cast to sell any movie, but then you check out the support – Jason Priestly, Thomas Haden Church, Stephen Lang, Dana Delaney, Paula Malcomson. Fine, some decent names there, hardly stars though. Okay, why don’t we throw in Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Billy Bob Thornton? That’s without even mentioning Billy Zane, Michael Rooker, Terry O’Quinn, John Corbett and many others. That’s like a 70s disaster movie epic, or a Cecil B De Mille cast – in some respects literally.

The story is fairly streamlined and straightforward – A gang of outlaws has been shooting up various towns and they descend upon the town of Tombstone. Noted lawman Wyatt Earp and his brothers have decided to settle down there for a quiet life, meeting up with old friend Doc Holliday. The two groups, and assorted others, clash. There’s more to it than that, a lot of character building and inter-relations stuff, but at its core it’s the story of these groups coming together in a bloody conclusion. I’d spoken in another post about not liking many Westerns when I was young, but this is definitely one of the few which appealed to me and has only grown in my estimation over time.

16: Desperado (1995)

Robert Rodriguez burst onto the scene with this 1995 marvel of low budget film-making, essentially remaking his even lower budget El Mariachi. That previous film gained Rodriguez attention from the likes of Quentin Tarantino (who guest stars here) and whose influence no doubt aided in this getting made. The film also brought Salma Hayak and Danny Trejo into the limelight and launched Antonio Banderas into action hero status. Like Tarantino’s films, Desperado is marked by stylish action, quotable cool dialogue, and a variety unique grindhouse type characters.

Following the events of El Mariachi (no need to see that movie first though), the Mariachi with a guitar case full of guns has become something of a legend or folklore hero. El Mariachi is looking for the man called Bucho who killed his girlfriend and blew a hole in his hand. His travels take him to a small Mexican town where he encounters a new lover, a guitar playing boy, Bucho and his goons, and a variety of assassins and scoundrels looking for bounty. Beyond that, it’s guns guns guns. The principle cast are all gorgeous, cool, and the cameos from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Tarantino, Cheech and others are fun. The action set-pieces are fantastic, more in common with John Woo’s antics than the Hollywood blockbuster. For balls to the wall energy and creativity you won’t get many better.

15: Leon (1994)

Luc Besson had been making films for a while before he struck gold with Leon. His previous feature film Nikita had established him as one of the more interesting and diverse directors of action movies, but it’s Leon where he builds upon many of those ideas – isolation, moral ambiguity, control, and does it with a world-renowned cast and the sure touch of a director and writer on a creative roll. The film follows Jean Reno, a deadly assassin who stays away from all human contact and social interaction, who gets embroiled in saving a young girl’s life and trains her to follow in his footsteps. The film also features Natalie Portman’s star-making turn and Gary Oldman being epic, plenty of stylish action and a rather sweet/disturbing relationship depending on how you view it. The action movie moved away from the muscle bound superstars who owned the genre in the 80s and for a few years it struggled to find a new identity – the reluctant or anti-hero would take the place of Arnie and Sly as symbolized by films such as this.

14: Problem Child (1990)

This one was love at first sight and I still remember explaining the film in detail to my friends and a cousin the following week in school. Scene by scene, quote by quote I must have memorized the whole thing and then reenacted it to my class till they knew it by heart without having seen it. I probably contributed a hefty percentage to the amount of money the film made after making sure everyone else went out and saw it. Back when you rented VHS tapes, we generally kept them for a weekend. In most case we probably only watched them once, but I think Problem Child got a few watches and rewinds before getting returned. We probably rented it again before I eventually bought the tape myself.

It’s the story of a boy, Junior, who has been passed from family to family, adopted and sent back, and who ends up in an orphanage for kids no-one wants – hilarious! No-one wants him because he’s, well, a dick. He breaks stuff, steals, swears, plays pranks, and is probably violent. He’s clearly a future serial killer (his hero is in fact a serial killer), but maybe all he needs is the attention of a loving family. Enter John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck – a couple who insides are not compatible. They’re your perfect white American suburban family – all they’re missing is a kid – and they are coerced into adopting Junior. It’s not long before he begins wreaking havoc with his new family, destroying bullies at a baseball game, at a snooty birthday party, and inviting a certain Bow Tie Killer to rescue him.

You wonder what events conspired to ever see a story like this make it to screen. It’s a film you certainly wouldn’t see getting made in today’s more tame climate. The film was touted as a horror – inviting a child in to your home who happens to be violent or have other dark secrets (Orphan), then as a satire of all of the child-centric family hits of the 80s where grown ups overcome their issues thanks to the innocence of a child, eventually settling on this where the morale appears to be that… everyone deserves a chance, but most people are dicks? See, aside from being really funny – for kids and adults – Problem Child is dark as sin. I’ve always appreciated dark humour and I don’t know if that comes from years of violent slapstick cartoons or elsewhere, but I’m sure this film was a part of influencing my tastes. I’m not sure my wife would allow my kids to watch this if she really knew what it was about, but luckily for them I’ve already let them watch it so the joke’s on…. I actually don’t know who.

13: GoldenEye (1995)

I’ve always been a Bond fan. As a red blooded British bloke, of course I am. As with most successful franchises, sooner or later the money men come in and fuck everything up, and that’s exactly what happened with Bond. For years, various owners and companies and twats fought over the rights to the series and in the meantime the world moved on. By the time 1995 rolled around the Cold War was in the past and The West’s old enemies had been defeated or put into hiding. Luckily, evil and greed never dies, so the new world had a bunch of new outlets for ideas. A new Bond, a new M, new writers, directors, a new style, a new world – but still the same old sexy antics of a globe-trotting super spy who can’t resist dipping his PPK in the moist schemes of the world’s Vs (villains). Like most Bond films, the plot is either over-complex or a maguffin – here there’s stuff about Russians and hackers and satellites and financial ruin, but really it’s about a rogue MI6 agent and old friend of 007 getting up to badness, and Bond having to go kill him. On the way he leaps off a Dam, drives a tank, shoots up a train, kills a Boris, and stays Onatopp of his womanizing ways.

I’ll call it out here for full transparency – I love the N64 game and it’s one of my all time favourites. I played the game before I watched the film, but I don’t think this has had a huge impact on my love for the film Sure, being familiar with the game and then watching those scenes and locations on screen was cool and probably gave me some initial lols and hearts. As time went on though the film never fell out of favour with me – it has some of the best performances of any Bond movie, Brosnan is perfect, Bean is a great bad guy, and both Scorupco and Jansenn rank highly in my list of Bond girls. I love how personal and emotional the story becomes – it’s not just a job for Bond – and it has some of the most memorable action and stunts of the series. You’ll see that my favourite Bond films are those which I find the most emotional or have the most interesting story – that’s why the likes of this, For Your Eyes Only, Casino Royale, Live And Let Die rank higher for me over the more obvious Connery stalwarts – Bond as a flawed human or unique stories over your standard spy malarkey. I even like the music in this one – the one thing all critics point to as a major miss.

12: Jurassic Park (1993)

This was always going to be included on my list of favourite 90s movies – I imagine it would be on most people’s top tens/twenties, especially those who grew up with it. I’m annoyed I never caught this at the cinema when it was released. I’m not sure why, given that I saw some other weird ones on the big screen this year – The Nightmare Before Christmas and Super Mario Bros for example. I’ll assume you know the story – rich guy and a bunch of scientists find a way to create dinosaurs, they decide to breed them in a special zoo, but before opening to the public they invite a bunch of experts to inspect. The dinosaurs escape and everyone freaks out.

Like Jaws is to shark movies, Jurassic Park is the daddy of dinosaur movies. I don’t see it ever being topped even though I would happily watch any number of imitators. It’s the perfect film for the kid in us – for those of us who used to look at dinosaur books and be filled with awe and wonder that such things ever walked the earth. There’s no other director in the world at his peak that you’d want working on this film than Spielberg – you just know he shares that awe and wonder. Add to this Richard Attenborough, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Samuel L Jackson, and non-annoying kids, and a bunch of iconic images, great score, memorable set pieces, and you have an all time classic. All I’d love now is a genuine, genuinely good dinosaur-based horror movie.

11: Hard Boiled (1992)

People forget that John Woo has been involved in movies since the late 1960s. He directed his first film in the early 70s. There has always been something ultra modern about his films – when something like Hard-Boiled or Face-Off came out you’d assume it was made by some alarmingly talented new voice, not someone who had been doing it for three decades already. He had already made your standard Golden Harvest wuxia type film, then movies with Jackie Chan, and didn’t really get to assert his own true vision until Heroes Shed No Tears and (more accurately) the superb A Better Tomorrow. Those films unleashed his personal style and as his films progressed we got more of his traditional ‘heroic bloodshed’ movies – films with a (then) unique look and fell – very stylized, killers in suits and shades, lots of slow motion gun play, slow motion everything really, and uber-cool actors and characters. There was usually a lot of male bonding/conflict. Hard Boiled is his crowning achievement – a film that laughs at how small and tame the action of Die Hard is, and a film which both is the hallmark for Hong Kong action, and revolutionized the genre as a whole. Yet so few people have seen it.

Chow Yun Fat stars as the renegade cop Tequila, a man who plays by his own rules in the typical 80s archetype. After his partner his killed during a raid, Tequila is taken off the case. Elsewhere, an undercover super-cop is trying to infiltrate a ruthless Triad gang. The two team up and play an uneasy game where the violence rapidly escalates until the final stunning shootout in a hospital. The action man…. there was a point in the nineties when action was becoming stale – there were disaster type epics, there were meta movies, but the genre seemed to be moving away from the one man army movies I grew up with. Then I happened upon Hard Boiled and was in love instantly. The action here is ridiculous, set-pieces going on for thirty minutes rather than three. There are crazy shots here that boggle the mind – the amount of preparation which must have gone into them, especially those one-shot scenes, is still mind-blowing and they were done with no digital trickery. The plot does become overblown and there are some sentimental scenes which will seem odd to Western audiences, but in Fat, Leung, Kwok, and Wong we have some good guys and bad guys to rank alongside the Rambos and Hans Grubers of the world. This is one of those films to show people who think foreign movies are boring. Two hours later they’ll be saying Hollywood movies are boring.

10: The Fifth Element (1997)

Milla Jovovich had already appeared in a number of great films, but this was her star-making turn. For my money, she should have received an Oscar nomination here, as the pure and innocent Fifth Element taking human form. If you don’t fall in love with her here, you have no soul. This is a madcap comic book action movie – over the top in all the right ways, and with a unique look thanks to Besson’s vision and Gaultier’s ‘fashions’. Check out the rest of the cast too – Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, with Luke Perry, Brion James, and Lee Evans in smaller roles. It’s the age old story of the destruction of Earth by an unnamed space evil, and the human and alien representatives on the sides of good and evil trying to save/destroy everything. Bruce Willis is back to his wise-cracking, fatigued best as an ex-military, now cabbie who accidentally meets The Fifth Element and must protect her from those who would use her for their wicked purposes. There’s a lot of plot and history here, but in the end it boils down to a simple kill the bad guys synopsis, with ridiculous guns, wacky characters, and some of the best actors in the world having the most fun they’ve ever had. The fun is infectious and the execution of the youthful ideas will keep you guessing and smiling.

9: Bangkok Dangerous (1999)

I’ve talked on the blog before about how I’ve always enjoyed foreign cinema – especially Asian films as they offer their own twists on my favourite genres of action and horror. I can’t recall exactly, but I think this was either the second or third Pang Brothers film I saw – the first being Bangkok Haunted. The first thing I would say about this – and the rule typically applies for any remakes of foreign movies – is see the original first. Nic Cage’s remake is an average thriller which takes some of the loose ideas here, but sucks the emotion out. It also lacks the vibrant style which the Pang Brothers showcases, especially in their early days. The weird thing is – the remake was also directed by the Pang Brothers, so I’m not sure where things went sour. It’s a decent movie, but very straight to DVD, and not a patch on the original.

The film follows Kong, an archetypal sympathetic hitman, bullied as a child for being deaf, but whose disability and bullying makes him a flawless killer. He ends up working for the mob, he is friends with a stripper and her boyfriend, and he falls in love with a pharmacist. That’s… pretty much it. The story is one you’ve seen a million times before – you know that things will go wrong and revenge will be served cold, but it’s done with such flair, and done with such conviction, with emotion, with humour, that it stands tall as one of the finest examples of the sub-genre. Pawalit Mongkolpisit is a great choice as the lead – you can’t help but feel for him and side with him in spite of the terrible work he does, and Premsinee Ratanasopha as Fon is a revelation. It’s a massive pity that these guys haven’t really done any other work – their relationship here feels both cute and honest without being cutesy. I don’t want to say too much else about it – seek it out for yourself, and enjoy one of the finest slices of 90s action you’ll ever see.

8: Things To In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

In the post Pulp Fiction world, every young director wanted to make their crime masterpiece. We had British efforts from Guy Ritchie and his clones, Eastern attempts, and endless Hollywood versions. I’ve never felt that Things To In Denver When You’re Dead fit this mold – but that’s how it was reviewed and marketed. It’s a shame this never got to stand on its own as it is a unique film, miles apart in tone and style from Tarantino’s work – a much more sombre affair and a film that I would probably choose to watch over Pulp Fiction any day of the week – and I’m a huge fan of Pulp Fiction. 

There are a number of films this decade which have truly unbelievable casts – Tombstone, Heat, Pulp Fiction, Cop Land, True Romance, Glengarry Glen Ross – and this. Lets see – Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Gabrielle Anwar, Treat Williams, Fairuza Balk, Jack Warden, Bill Nunn, Don Cheadle, William Forsythe. I realize that not all of those names may be A-Listers or household names, but film fans will recognize and respect them – and that’s not to mention the host of regognizable faces who also pop up, even if you don’t know the names – Jenny McCarthy, Willie Garson, Tiny Lister, Buddy Guy, Bill Cobbs, Marshall Bell, and others. You’ll spend the movie going ‘where do I know that guy from?’

It’s not merely a who’s who guessing game – the characters they play you will want to hang out and have boat drinks with, and the story they find themselves in is tinged with regret, heroism, futility, fatalism, honour… Garcia stars as ex-gangster Jimmy The Saint. He has been legit for a while, with a bizarre business where people (generally the elderly or those with an incurable illness) record a video for their loved ones to be given once they pass – I’m not sure such a business model would survive today, but it works as a nice plot device. Christopher Walken (should have grabbed an Oscar nomination) is his terrifying ex-boss, and he calls a favour from Jimmy to help get his pedophile son and ex-girlfriend back together. For some reason Jimmy recruits his old pals to run an intimidation job on the ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend (rather than just roughing him up one to one), and it all goes badly wrong. Buckwheats for all, as they say.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I love the film so much – it’s undoubtedly cool, having a style that sticks with me for whatever reason, and it features some of my favourite performers in iconic ways. Balk is terrific, Garcia and Lloyd give some of their best, understated work, and Anwar proves again that she should have been a much bigger star. I love the dialogue, I love Steve Buscemi’s Mr Sssh, and I love the inevitability of Mr Sssh’s pursuit and the overall vibe of death and honour – doing what you can with the time you have. This made around half a million bucks at the box office, which is a crime. You owe it to yourself, and to the film itself, to go watch this now – yes you, reading this list, watch it now and then tell your friends.

7: Beauty And The Beast (1991)

What can I say – I’m a sucker for schmaltz, when it’s done right. My favourite Disney movie ever, my favourite animated movie ever, for me nothing else comes close to its majesty. The tale as old as time has never been told better, in such vibrant colours and with such lovable and dastardly characters.  I talked about the film in more detail in my Top Ten Disney films post – TLDR version – awesome heroine, great songs, wonderful heartfelt story acted out by great characters and cast.

6: Scream (1996)

By the time 1996 rolled around (I probably actually saw this first in 97, but who’s counting) I was already a hardcore horror fan, with the Elm Street series being my favourite. I was also already head over heels in love with Neve Campbell, thanks to Party Of Five. When I first heard about Scream – merging Wes Craven with Campbell in a new slasher movie which just happened to be getting rave reviews from everyone – I knew I would love it. What I didn’t know was just how much. I remember renting the VHS and watching two or three times that day. There was something so callous and wicked and ingenious about that opening sequence – not just the dialogue, or the scenario, or the whole ‘killing off our big name actress’ thing but how the killer kills Casey such footsteps away from her parents, stabbing her as she reached out for their help in the safety of her own front lawn. I’m not sure there have been many more brutal or poignant horror movie deaths than that – certainly not many have affected me so much. Although I always had an inkling, it was that moment which cemented my understanding of Craven’s over-arcing theme – that theme which runs through all of his work – that kids are never safe, and that your parents can’t help you. As would be revealed, and much like Nightmare, Hills, and other Craven hits – the sins of the parents will come back ten-fold upon the children.

The film doesn’t hold back on the blood and guts either, being fairly graphic given the target audience. There are your standard stabbings and slicings, but also gun shots and the odd ceiling decapitation/chokehold. What about that dialogue? Williamson and Craven collaborate wonderfully, bringing that meta mid-90s speak to a peak, the characters smart, aware, cool, but still falling into the same traps that they mock fictional characters for falling into. As iconic horror dialogue goes, ‘What’s your favourite scary movie’ is right up there with the best, but it’s the discussion of movies and of tropes that really won the fans over – this was, finally, a horror movie made by and for horror movie fans – one which understood us and the fiction we love.

What’s it all about though? A small town is being ravaged by a number of brutal killings and the ultimate target appears to be one Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell in her star-making performance). Who is the killer – it could be anyone – an absent parent, a school faculty member, a reporter, a boyfriend, a friend – part of the fun is that the film keeps you guessing right up until its final reveal and twist. It wouldn’t be a slasher movie without a twist. We have this gorgeous young cast fighting for their lives all while trying to get on with the mundane stuff like school and sex and movies and parties, we have a kick ass soundtrack, both instrumental and the songs, and it’s all pulled together with a taut nod and wink by Craven – one of the best, at his best. All that said, and I didn’t even mention Ghostface – how iconic is that mask?

5: The Crow (1994)

If the 80s was the decade when the most wacky ideas seemed to get a greenlight, then the 90s saw the darker material rising to the top. What Scream is to the horror genre, The Crow is to the comic book genre. The Crow is, without a doubt, the finest comic book movie ever made. I love Batman, Superman, Nolan’s trilogy – but they all pale in comparison to this. Look at how expansive the world Marvel has created – not just as a whole, but in each individual entry – everything is MASSIVE and yet, they’re all so bland. I’ve yet to see a single drop of anything resembling emotion in a single MCU movie – granted I’ve only seen a handful so far, but it’s their generic, stale, lets blow up another city feel which leaves me cold. They’re popcorn movies for sure, but like popcorn which has been lifted off the ground after a double bill of Fifty Shades and Indecent Behaviour. 

Why am I moaning about Marvel? I feel like The Crow doesn’t get it’s due credit. I want as many people to see it, and to honour it, before another inevitable remake comes along – it is a case of the stars at night aligning and making something so perfect that it couldn’t possibly have been made by anyone else at any other time. Before it, very few comic movies were daring, or felt independent, or seemed unique. The Crow takes chances – it’s dark as Witch’s muff, and it casts the untested son of a martial artist as its lead. It’s a film about a man coming back from the dead to avenge the rape and murder of his fiancee and it’s loosely based on the writer’s own, similar, true story. It has a look unlike most other films – rain drenched, always night, always smokey, with crime and debauchery everywhere. Alex Proyas had this and Dark City in the 90s – what a combo – and then he seemed to lose his mind and make fluff. The talent shown in these two movies, the look and tone, is unparalleled.

Brandon Lee stars as Eric Draven – a man brought back for revenge. Over the course of a night he hunts down the men who killed him and his fiancee, all the while hounded by a cop (Ernie Hudson) and a child he once knew (Rochelle Davis) and under the watchful eye of a mysterious crow. That’s all there is to it, but it’s haunted by sadness both real and fictional – writer James O Barr’s real life tragedy all to plain to feel, and Brandon Lee was accidentally killed during filming, ensuring that he would never see the final product. All that takes the darkness on show to higher levels of tragedy but even without the real life stuff, it’s a film oozing with emotion. There is a dizzying visual flare, some of the finest one-line dialogue of the decade, and another brilliant dual soundtrack – instrumental and songs – I bought both shortly after seeing the movie. Lee should have been up for an Oscar here, and the rest of the cast feature standout performances from Michael Wincott, Tony Todd, and David Patrick Kelly. Even though the movie was a hit, even though it spawned a TV series and many sequels, even though Sting based his most popular persona off it, even though I feel like it has its own cult of fans who hold it dearly – it deserves more recognition.

4: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

A number of films just miss out on my Top Ten Of All Time – a few of which are definitely better films than some which are in my Top Ten – Dawn Of The Dead, The Thing, Battle Royale, and this – Edward Scissorhands being some of those. This movie is perfect – there is literally nothing I would change about it, my only problem with it being that it is so short. It cemented Tim Burton as a God in my world, cemented my adoration for Winona Ryder, and made the world take notice of a young fella called Johnny Depp – how he didn’t get an Oscar nomination here is ridiculous. Depp lost a Golden Globe to Depardieu in Green Card – seriously. Danny Elfman didn’t get nominated, Burton was passed over for Best Director, nothing for him or Thompson in the writing categories. 1990 was actually a good year for The Oscars too, but still.

If you’ve seen the film then you already love it for the same reasons I do – as I’ve said, it’s perfect. All I will add is that it has always appealed to the outsider in me, that sad que cera ceraness of it all striking a personal chord.

3: Ringu (Top Ten Of All Time) (1998)

There are a number of horror films which changed my life and which I never shut up about once I saw them – if I knew you at the time, you can be sure I made you, or tried to make you watch them. They had to be films which either came out around that time – not something from decades earlier, or foreign/one I knew most people wouldn’t have seen. Scream was one, Bodysnatchers was another. Maybe I was most vocal about Ringu – it’s one of those films where seeing and feeling people’s reactions was almost as fun as watching the film itself. As those final scenes begin you can feel the oxygen get sucked out of the room, in fact the room itself seems to grow smaller, walls pressing in and the viewer slowly folds their limbs into a crab-like foetal position. This is the pinnacle of the J-Horror movement and of Asian Horror in general, a slow burning masterpiece of dread and outright shivering terror.

You probably know the story by now – there are whispers of an urban legend about a videotape (such things once existed, kids). When you watch the tape, your phone rings and a voice tells you that you have exactly seven days to live. There is only one way to save yourself from the curse, and that is to make it go viral – make a copy and make someone else watch it and the curse is passed on to them. Bodies begin to pile up and it seems there may be some truth or hysteria attached to the legend. Enter journalist Reiko who wants to write a story about the whole thing – her niece apparently a victim of the curse. Upon investigating, Reiko finds what appears to be the videotape of legend. Naturally, she watches it, but oops – so does her ex-husband and son. They have seven days to try to uncover and prevent the curse, looking into the history of the mysterious Sadako Yamamura.

I love this film so much – to the point that I see many many parallels between it and The Terminator series, thematically, stylistically… but I won’t go into those. If you like both series, you’ll see what I mean. Once again, I love the inevitability of it – basically, if you watch the tape you’re fucked, and you can’t really avoid it. Nanako Matsushima and Hiroyuki Sanada are excellent leads and the story merges old world superstition with new age techno-fears. The whole thing is fundamentally routed in Japanese fear and culture, yet it’s intrinsically universal. I bought the sequels, love them too, and I bought the books – very different beasts from the movies, but genuinely brilliant too. Hell, I even bought Rasen – the other sequel which tries to be more like the book, but without the genius of Nakata at the helm it’s not great. Nakata’s best film, his work here made me seek out all of his other stuff with increasingly diminishing returns.

I love me some gore, and I love a good effective jump-scare, but fear works best for me when it creeps upon me and of course, when I actually care about the story and the characters. The story and characters here suit me perfectly – a mystery based on whispered myths and tragedy, bullying, psychic power, intelligent, strong men and women – and while the scares here are actually quite minimal, it’s the way it builds and builds unrelentingly to that climax – you won’t realize that you’ve pulled out your own nails while watching. I had great fun doing prank calls on people after making them watch the movie. We created memes of certain moments before internet memes were a thing. Just one final word – I despise the remake. It is utter shite. Utter, complete shite. Yet most horror fans, most film fans prefer it. It turns this masterpiece of dread into generic, glossy, noisy jump-scare bollocks and even commits the cardinal sin of cutting away during the climax. Stick with the original.

2: Dumb And Dumber (Top Ten Of All Time) (1994)

The only comedy which I have marathoned – watched many times in a short space of days. Probably the comedy I quote the most, and another film where I went out and bought the soundtrack shortly after seeing it, and got annoyed that half the songs were missing. The Farrelly Brothers have never bettered this, and I wish wish wish they had done a sequel in the same decade instead of waiting until the performers were depressingly old and made me too aware of the ravages of time. No matter which version you see, Dumb And Dumber is a perfect comedy, though I am inclined towards the juvenile – again, as long as I actually care about what’s going on.

The film is all about Harry and Lloyd, two loser, less than intelligent friends who scrape by with dead end jobs. During a chance encounter/intervention during a blackmailing deal, the pair end up with a mysterious maguffin (suitcase) and decide to go on a cross country journey to Assssspenn and deliver it to its rightful owner. Along the way they meet a variety of weird and wonderful characters, have a number of adventures, and learn absolutely nothing. It you’re not laughing at least once every thirty seconds while watching this, I don’t want to know you. Naturally, it’s the little things that most people don’t notice that stick with me the most – the things Lloyd buys after being instructed only to purchase the bare essentials, the force with which Lloyd cane-whacks Harry’s legs with… I could go on. It was always my plan to go to my school Formal (for any US readers, it’s our equivalent of Prom) with one of my friends, dressed in the same suits Harry and Lloyd wear to the fundraiser later in the film, but we chickened out and he ended up not going at all. To make up for this, I got drunk and threw pint and shot glasses from one of the hotel rooms into the car park below. Side note – as I checked Wikipedia for box office returns on a number of these films, I keep seeing them being listed in various magazine’s 500 films of all time – I must do some sort of post covering those 500 films and a few words on what I think of each. You’ll love that.

1: Terminator 2 (Top Ten Of All Time) (1991)

Naturally. Like I said in my 80s run down, it’s this or The Terminator which top my all time list. What is there to say about it? It’s groundbreaking in every sense – everyone involved deserves a statue in their honour, and it’s a film which has influenced me deeply. Some films go beyond just being films – fans hold conventions, fans dress up and have regular screenings, fans make life decisions based on their love of these films. I think the film and me were intertwined before I even saw it – it’s almost like it was made just for me, but clearly it was made for millions of others just like me. I don’t even know what I’m talking about any more but as a boy, seeing this for the first time, a little younger than John Connor is in the story, it was about me. I loved Guns N Roses, I loved Public Enemy, I loved Motorbikes – hell, I even had a friend with a ginger mullet. I may not, as far as I’m aware, be the future saviour of the human race, but if such a burden was thrust upon me I’d suck it up, shine that bitch on and snarl an Hasta La Vista, Baby at the enemy. This film is everything I want in a film from top to bottom – story, cast, characters, director, music, dialogue, action, emotion, scares, laughs, tears, the way it looks… I don’t think any other film will ever speak to me the way this one did and has. In a way that’s a thought tinged with sadness, but in another way I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it and be alive when it was released. Thanks to everyone for making it, it means a lot. My only regret is not being in it myself.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of my list and what your favourite films of the 1990s are!

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 1990s – Stats Roundup

Greetings, Glancers! So, older readers of my Oscars posts may recall that I tried to give some stats at the end of the year. It became too difficult to gather metrics and I become too lazy, and lo the posts migrated to the Hades Of Blogs like so many before. The same will likely happen to these summary posts – where I give some ‘interesting’ stats on my favourite films of each decade. It doesn’t mean anything, you won’t gain any insight or pleasure from reading them, and they will be painful to write. Why do it? Well shucks, I’ve always had a thing for hurting myself. ‘Enjoy’!

Number Of Best Picture Nominees: (Out of a possible fifty) Fifteen

Number Of Best Picture Winners:  (Out of a possible ten) Four

Number Of Movies In The Top Ten Grossing of The Year: (Out of a possible one hundred) Thirty four

Number Of Movies Which Were The Top Grosser: (Out of a possible ten) Five

The number of films nominated for Best Picture this decade sees a significant enough increase from the 80s – up to fifteen from five, while the actual winners went up to four from one. The decade started out well, with the first half of the decade nominating a fair number of films that I also picked, before dropping off in the second half. We also get an increase from twenty nine to thirty four from a Top Ten Grossing perspective which surprised me a little. I’d assumed that so many of the films I picked in the 80s were super popular at the box office versus the nineties, and that the nineties would be hit by my growing interest in the decade in foreign cinema. My numbers always seem to be in the late twenties to early thirties in this category, so the result is consistent. The latter half of the decade certainly saw a downturn in grossing movies compared with my picks from the first half.

Movies By Country In My Top 10:

USA: 120

UK: Seven

Italy: Two

Japan: Six

France: Twelve

Germany: Two

Australia: Two

Canada: Two

Denmark: One

New Zealand: Two

Hong Kong: One

South Korea: One

Thailand: One

The USA dominates again, particularly in the early years, but the closer to 2000 we get, the more foreign invaders bound in with glee, though not as many as I assumed there would be. The decade starts off with many holdovers from the 80s – high quality entertainment that I grew up, before morphing into more indie, meta, and self aware offerings. By the end of the decade other regions were releasing Hollywood sized productions – big budget movies and genre defining pieces.

Movies By Director:

Kevin Smith: Four

Disney: Four

David Lynch: Three

Wes Craven: Three

John Woo: Three

Steven Spielberg: Three

Luc Besson: Three

 

Tim Burton: Two

Martin Scorsese: Two

Paul Verhoeven: Two

David Cronenberg: Two

Robert Rodriguez: Two

Quentin Tarantino: Two

Frank Darabont: Two

Francis Ford Coppola: Two

James Cameron: Two

Oliver Stone: Two

Alex Proyas: Two

Roland Emmerich: Two

John McTiernan: Two

Tony Scott: Two

David Fincher: Two

Renny Harlin: Two

Mike Judge: Two

Tom Shadyac: Two

James Mangold: Two

Peter Hyams: Two

Kevin Costner: Two

Chris Columbus: Two

 

Takeshi Kitano: One

Robert Zemeckis: One

Terry Gilliam: x

John McNaughton: x

The Pang Brothers: x

Jim Jarmusch: x

Dennis Dugan: One

Chris Weitz: x

Paul Weitz: x

Brad Bird: x

Kang je Gyu: x

Milos Foreman: x

Stephen Sommers: x

The Wachowski Brothers: x

Daniel Myrick: x

Eduardo Sanchez: x

Trey Parker: x

Takashi Miike: x

Peter Weir: x

Nicholas Roeg: x

Ivan Reitman: x

Rob Reiner: x

Joel Schumacher: x

Caroll Ballard: x

Vincent Ward: x

Gregory Hoblit: x

Stephen Norrington: x

John Frankenheimer: x

Hiedo Nakata: x

Danny Boyle: x

Walter Hill: x

Andrew Fleming: x

Hiyao Miyazaki: x

Vincenzo Natali: x

Curtis Hanson: x

Paul Thomas Anderson: x

Ang Lee: x

Peter Jackson: x

Ridley Scott: x

John N Smith: x

Kathryn Bigelow: x

John Carpenter: x

Stacy Title: x

Martin Campbell: x

Gary Fleder: x

Larry Clark: x

Lars Von Trier: x

Joe Johnston: x

Mel Gibson: x

Brad Silberling: x

Peter Farrelly: x

Michael Mann: x

Mike Newell: x

Clint Eastwood: x

M Night Shyamalan: x

Jan de Bont: x

Neil Jordan: x

Pete Hewitt: x

Lasse Hallstrom: x

Chuck Russell: x

Jeremiah S Chechik: x

Paul W S Anderson: x

Lesli Linka Glatter: x

Gregg Araki: x

Mathieu Kassovitz: x

Richard Linklater: x

Kenneth Branagh: x

George P Cosmatos: x

George Sluizer: x

Brian De Palma: x

Abel Ferrara: x

Henry Selick: x

Marco Brambilla: x

Kevin Reynolds: x

Stephen Herek: x

Gilliam Armstrong: x

Bernard Rose: x

Jerry Zucker: x

Penelope Spheeris: x

Penny Marshall: x

Taylor Hackford: x

Roberto Benigni: x

Jim Gillespie: x

Simon West: x

George Armitage: x

Frank Marshall: x

Ate de Jong: x

Sheldon Lettich: x

Ron Underwood: x

Richard Benjamin: x

Geoff Murphy x

One hundred and forty seven films, 120 directors. The numbers are because I picked several years with more than ten films. We have some of the usual suspects again, and a few directors standing out with multiple picks. While we have many directors from previous decades, the obvious big drop is from John Carpenter who only gets one vote here. Disney are the biggest mainstay, topping the list with four entries alongside newbie Kevin Smith who also gets four. Wes Craven, Steven Spielberg, and David Lynch continue their good form with three entries, while John Woo and Luc Besson hitting their stride with three.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Twenty Films Of 1994

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

When I first decided to make these Top Ten By Year lists, I knew that 1987 and 1994 would be the two that I would need to expand. While I was only a youngster in 1987 and came to catch all those movies in syndication in later years, I was 11 in 1994 and already well versed in a variety of genres and heading to the Cinema fairly frequently. It was a turning point year for me in many ways – I left Primary School for Big School, Kurt Cobain died, and many of my favourite movies were released. While I didn’t see all of these movies the year they were released, I would say I had seen them all by 1998 – and each multiple times since. 1987 and 1994 remain my favourite years for movies, though I would say 1994 edges it in terms of quality while 1987 has the most personal favourites.

Here are a few which narrowly missed out: Heavenly Creatures,  The Last Seduction, The River Wild.

And now, the Top Twenty:

20: Little Women (US) Gilliam Armstrong

19: Ace Ventura (US) Tom Shadyac

18: The Mask (US) Charles Russell

17: Stargate (US/France) Roland Emmerich

16: Forrest Gump (US) Robert Zemeckis

15: The Lion King (US Disney)

14: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (US/Japan) Kenneth Branagh

13: Timecop (US) Peter Hyams

12: The Shawshank Redemption (US) Frank Darabont

11: Ed Wood (US) Tim Burton

10: Natural Born Killers (US) Oliver Stone

9: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (US) Wes Craven

8: Clerks (US) Kevin Smith

7: True Lies (US) James Cameron

6: Speed (US) Jan de Bont

5: Pulp Fiction (US) Quentin Tarantino

4: Interview With The Vampire (US) Neil Jordan

3: Leon (France) Luc Besson

2: The Crow (US) Alex Proyas

1: Dumb And Dumber (Top Ten Of All Time) (US) Peter Farrelly

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Seven (Including the top five)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Three (Including the winner)

Nightman’s Top Seventeen Films Of 1993

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

So, I couldn’t get twenty but I likewise couldn’t cut it down to ten because most of these films I love equally. There probably won’t be another year like this so bear with me…

17: Falling Down (US/France/UK) Joel Schumacher

16: Mrs Doubtfire (US) Chris Columbus

15: Schindler’s List (US) Steven Spielberg

14: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (US) Lasse Hallstrom

13: Cliffhanger (US/France/Italy) Renny Harlin

12: Benny And Joon (US) Jeremiah S Chechik

11: Dazed And Confused (US) Richard Linklater

10: The Vanishing (US) George Sluizer

9: Carlito’s Way (US) Brian De Palma

8: The Nightmare Before Christmas (US) Henry Selick

7: A Perfect World (US) Clint Eastwood

6: Demolition Man (US) Marco Brambilla

5: Last Action Hero (US) John McTiernan

4: Body Snatchers (US) Abel Ferrara

3: True Romance (US) Tony Scott

2: Tombstone (US) George P Cosmatos

1: Jurassic Park (US) Steven Spielberg

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Four (Including the top grossing film)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One (The Winner)