Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1987!

20: A Chinese Ghost Story (HK)

Regular Glancers will know I grew up with Bruce Lee movies, and as such I would hunt out anything which sounded like it would have people knocking seven Tibetan shades of shite out of each other. If it had a Horror element – even better! I didn’t know what to make of A Chinese Ghost Story when I first watched it – was it going to be a straight horror movie, was it going to feature zany kung fu masters tackling creatures from Chinese folklore I had zero experience of? It’s all of those things, none of those things, and more. It’s weird. It’s funny. It has a love story. It has trees. It features the gorgeous Joey Wong and the legendary Leslie Cheung in some of their most famous work. It’s one of Tsui Hark’s best movies. It stars Cheung as a nobody, a debt collector who happens to stumble into a rural temple to find somewhere to sleep, falls in love with a tortured ghost, and tried to rescue her soul from Hell. It’s not the first movie to start with in your Hong Kong Cinema journey, but it should be one of the first ten.

19: Withnail And I (UK)

You’ll have seen from my Least Favourite Movies posts, that I’m not a fan of British Comedies. TV shows – absolutely – we’re the best in the world in that regard, but when it comes to movies the reliance on self-titled quirky characters and romance leaves me cold. As with anything there are exceptions – Withnail And I being a prime example. There’s no attempt to hold a sign over a character’s head to scream ‘I’m the quirky one’, there’s no romance in the traditional sense. It’s just two blokes heading away for a weekend in the country so they can get drunk and moan about being actors. Japes occur. It’s all about the performances and the dialogue. It looks (purposefully) shit, the soundtrack is great, and it barely has an ending or a plot, but it’s brilliant.

18: City On Fire (HK)

There was a decided turn in the 1980s away from period action movies, costume and history oriented martial arts fare, towards contemporary, gun based action. Tarantino famously borrowed several scenes and pieces of dialogue from City On Fire, a Ringo Lam movie starring Chow Yun Fat as an undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of robbers and ends up in a Mexican Standoff in a warehouse, with police surrounding them outside. Sound familiar? It doesn’t have the quirks and cools and non-linear framing of Reservoir Dogs, but it has Chow Yun Fat and a tonne of action and energy. It was one of a series of the heroic bloodshed type movies which came out of HK in this era, and is one of the best.

17: Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (US)

Likely to be the only Steve Martin vehicle to grace any of my Favourites lists, this one succeeds because of John Hughes, John Candy, and in spite of Martin. Who, to his credit, is fine but plays the same plain white bread guy he always does. Thanksgiving doesn’t mean shit to anyone outside of the US, so I always viewed this as a Christmas movie. Chicago in November looks like Christmas anyway. As its John Candy you can expect lots of zany laughs, and as it’s Hughes you know you’re in for an offbeat heart-warming tale.

16: Good Morning, Vietnam (US)

Robin Williams, letting rip, completely off the leash.

15: The Princess Bride (US)

I always start any conversation about The Princess Bride by saying I’m not its biggest fan – mainly because there are those who worship the thing. I like it, it’s great, but there are better movies, and I have more favourites – many more this year alone. I love the story in a story nature of it, and it’s another in a line of excellent fantasy oriented kids movies which don’t feel like they are patronising its intended audience. While much of the humour also suits adults, it’s still not a movie for that age range. It’s strong enough, funny enough, well acted and written enough to be enjoyed by all ages, but at its heart it’s an escapist adventure movie for lonely kids.

14: The Living Daylights (UK)

A lesser loved Bond movie, Dalton led the series into its grittiest, darkest period, many years before Zack Snyder misinterpreted overlong running times and blue tints for emotion. Dalton’s Bond may have still quipped, may have still got the ladies, but he was doing a job for Queen and Country, his humour of the gallows, a defence mechanism of being exposed to death and mayhem in all its ugly forms. In The Living Daylights, Bond is embroiled in a Soviet Tug of War, and ends up faffing about in a Cargo plane in Afghanistan. It’s not the most exciting story in the series and it’s unlikely to be anyone’s favourite, but it sets the darker tone, re-establishes the formula, and gives Dalton a chance to shine.

13: Lethal Weapon (US)

A number of genres, in their own way, signify the 1980s. The Buddy Cop movie is one of those, and Lethal Weapon is probably the most famous of the genre, establishing and cementing cliches, the laughs, the action, and the ‘buddiness’. Gibson is the unhinged wildcard set alongside Glover’s close to retirement, by the book veteran. Together, they investigate the apparent suicide of one of Glover’s friend’s daughters. Initially wary of each other, their respect and relationship grows, and jokes and action, and a fair amount of introspection and darkness pours out. It’s one of those movies which epitomises the decade – over the top, big budget thrills, violent, fun, stylized, but it’s the script and the cast which make it memorable above the pretenders.

12: Full Metal Jacket (US/UK)

Stanley Kubrick takes on War again, and again crafts a seminal piece of Cinema. Similar to Westerns, I wasn’t into War movies in my youth, feeling too stilted and macho but lacking any flair or action. Full Metal Jacket was one of those movies, along with The Great Escape and Platoon, to wise me up. It would become the archetype of many movies to come – not merely in the War genre – dividing into two distinct parts with a bootcamp/training section, and a battle/War section. There’s more to it, but that’s one of the most famous aspects of the film which people continue to bring up. The Dirty Dozen had done something similar two decades earlier, but Kubrick uses both to show the horror of the institution over and above the horrors of war. Supremely acted, written, and directed, it’s one of the most must see movies of the decade.

11: Evil Dead 2 (US)

A sequel, remake, and one of those in-betweeny things, Raimi, Campbell, and fans return to up the ante and double down on the slapstick humour of the first movie. What it loses in scares, it makes up for gore effects, and Raimi continues with his inventive camera techniques and visceral insanity. One of the great ‘modern’ horror movies.

10: The Untouchables (US)

Somehow such an underrated film, especially when weighed up alongside the big boys like Goodfellas and The Godfather, which I have always felt deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those. De Niro is hamming it up and having the time of his life, Kevin Costner is melting hearts as a moral, upstanding husband, daddy, and good guy, Sssshean Connery is the grandad, and Andy Garcia is fucking awesome as always. Charles Martin Smith is at his best, Billy Drago is one of Cinema’s finest henchmen, the soundtrack is excellent, the suits are on point, but it’s DePalma’s movie; he cranks up the tension, controls the mood and tempo, and ensures that it’s a film about family as much as, but in a vastly different way from, The Godfather and Goodfellas are.

9: Hellraiser (UK)

Arguably the film which has come closest to showing us what a nightmare looks and feels like. Hellraiser, like much of Barker’s work, is about ideas; Barker’s worlds and words are brimming with ideas, invention, puzzles, and dubious morality – a constant ebb and flow between opposing, looping factions. Hellraiser concerns a family moving into a new home and resurrecting the bloody corpse of a murderous relative who wishes to continue from where he left off, exploring the darkest desires of humanity for his own enjoyment. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for us, there are others beyond our world who enjoy pleasure and pain more than he, and take great delight at dragging it out of his flesh. It’s such a grime and dirt ridden, low-budget film that it’s extraordinary just how extraordinary it looks. The cast look like they’ve survived a Tim Burton dream he was too scared to finish, the Cenobites are a fantastic inclusion to the Horror world, and it’s bloody, bleak, and beautiful in its own horrific way.

8: The Running Man (US)

One of Arnie’s more maligned movies – it’s neither the big action smash of Predator nor the family friendly fun of Twins, but it’s somewhere in between, a loose adaptation of Stephen King’s nihilistic tale of a broken society, interspersed by James Bond one-liners. An early Battle Royale. It’s a future where gameshows and TV are still the primary form of entertainment, but rather than winning a million quid by answering questions (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), or gaining adoration for being a racist sex hungry asshole (Big Brother), society has regressed to a more bloodthirsty, gladiatorial time. Criminals (guilty or otherwise) are thrown into an expansive game arena and pitted against a variety of games and fan-favourite warriors in a literal game to the death.

It’s such a lot of fun – the one-liners, the costumes, the cast, the idea of all these muscle-bound boyos duking it out for freedom or the adoration of the baying crowd. There’s an epic head explosion in the early moments, there’s Richard Dawson hamming it up, and there’s such an ugly 80s coke-fuelled haze over it – wonderful stuff. You just know when they remake it, they’re going to take all of the fun out.

7: Dream Warriors (US)

Speaking of fun, Dream Warriors is the most entertaining film in the Elm Street franchise. We largely ignore the events of the second movie, and instead re-unite cast members from the original with a new breed of tormented kids. Freddy is back, and he’s stalking the kids of some kind of medical/psychiatric institution. Nancy learns of this and comes back to finish off Krueger once and for all. While the first movie introduced the idea of a killer attacking you in your sleep, Dream Warriors doubles down on the dream logic of fighting back – in your dreams you can be a super-powered version of yourself and therefore the kids each use their own strengths and character traits to go on the offensive. Patricia Arquette and Lawrence Fishbourne appear, Langenkamp and Saxon return, and of course Englund is on top form. It’s inventive in its look and effects, is peppered with one-liners and interesting ideas, and it moves it a rip-roaring pace. It’s not exactly haunting or scary in the same way as the first movie was, but what it lacks in scares it makes up for in action.

6: Citizens On Patrol (US)

I’m an unashamed Police Academy fan. As a Cinema fan, they’re not exactly high art, and outside of the first film they’re barely coherent entertainment. But I love them. COP is my favourite sequel, giving us more of the original bunch, the return of Harris, more Zed, and fun new characters. It’s ridiculously silly, but there are more laugh out loud moments here for me, than probably every comedy released in the last ten years. It’s a capsule to my childhood, it’s nostalgic outside of my own experiences, and it’s good old fashioned summery, carefree Hollywood escapism.

5: Prince Of Darkness (US)

It’s in my TTT John Carpenter’s post

4: Near Dark (US)

TT Of The Decade.

3: The Lost Boys (US)

TT Of The Decade.

2: Predator (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)

TT Of The Decade.

1: Robocop (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)

TT Of The Decade.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1991

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!

We start as always with a brief slurp over the froth dripping away from 1991’s bountiful cup. Backdraft is that rare thing – a fun movie about firefighting, complete with almost sentient flames tickling Billy Baldwin’s arse. It shouldn’t be good, but Ron Howard brings plenty of tension, action, and even emotion, and it has a damn god cast – Kurt Russel, Rebecca De Mornay, JT Walsh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn, Donald Sutherland, and one Robert De Niro. An equally impressive cast elevates Oliver Stone’s controversial JFK from conspiracy-bait court drama to absorbing thriller – notable names include Donald Sutherland (again), Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ed Asner, John Candy, Joe Pesci, Michael Rooker, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Wayne Knight, Kevin Bacon, Sally Kirkland, and Laurie Metcalf.

Sticking with epics, we have two of the best coming out of Asia in 1991, the Martial Arts Historical opus Once Upon A Time In China, and Zhang Yimou’s gorgeous drama Raise The Red Lantern. Jumping over to France we were treated to Jean Pierre Jeune’s debut Delicatessen, the incredibly odd yet visually memorable tale. Marc Caro co-directs this post-apocalyptic version of Sweeny Todd. Cape Fear accomplishes the difficult feat of at least meeting, if not exceling beyond, the excellent original with Martin Scorsese bringing together the original cast in part roles and letting Robert De Niro go full tilt alongside Juliette Lewis, Jessica Lange, and Nick Nolte.

In keeping with much of the unsavoury material released this year, The Silence Of The Lambs became the year’s critical darling, picking up a bunch of Oscars and reminding critics that Horror and genre filmmaking was just as worthy of praise and attention as straight dramatic fare. Barton Fink saw the Coen brothers further cement their names as a partnership to watch, blending a number of genres together and unleashing a madcap John Turturro and John Goodman on the world.

In the Indie space, a series of lesser known names and films made a huge splash. New Jack City took a grimy look at the Drug war underworld while Boyz N The Hood saw John Singleton tackle gang and youth culture in South Central LA to devastating effect. My Own Private Idaho saw both Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix trying to break from their respective moulds, playing hustlers trying to find meaning and a future in their lives. My Girl, everyone’s favourite childhood tearjerker follows Anna Chlumsky as she struggles with coming of age in the 1970s, growing up in a funeral parlor and befriending nerdy outcast Macaulay Culkin. Often mocked now, it’s still an effective, thoughtful, and funny look at childhood. Finally, Naked Lunch is… well I still haven’t quite figured it out.

10: Drop Dead Fred (US/UK) Ate De Jong

Who Ate De Jong? I’ve no idea, but I hope he was tasty. The world suffered a massive loss when Rik Mayall passed. He made an indelible impact on British comedy, but is remembered for fondly for his TV work rather than his big screen outings. Drop Dead Fred was released around the height of his powers and is his most successful movie release. It was a modest hit, was critically panned (particularly in the US), and went on to become a cult film. Rik Mayall’s physical, anarchic style is perfect for British humour, but US sensibilities never had a widespread punk cultural movement and as such his antics don’t seem to translate. The humour is juvenile yet deals with sophisticated and progressive concerns, the film is silly yet emotionally touching, and while Mayall is unleashed, the likes of Phoebe Cates and Carrie Fisher give their own levels of grounding and sarcastic flair. It’s a film which speaks to both the child and the free spirit adult.

9: Double Impact (US) Sheldon Lettich

There was a joke about Double Impact when I was in school. It was a boob joke. If you’ve seen Double Impact, you probably have your own version of that joke. Outside of boobs, this is the most famous example of JCVD playing multiple characters. Here he plays two very different twins separated at birth a la Mary Ann Benedict, after their parents are murdered. They grow up and have very different lives, Chad runs a dojo and is a bit of a polite ladies man, while Alex is more of a thug. Things happen and the pair meet, clash, learn about their parents, and plot revenge. Then there are fights and guns and boobs. It’s fun. It’s not top budget Van Damme, but it’s among the best of the rest and remains a lot of silly, violent fun.

8: The Doors (US) Oliver Stone

All musicians and writers go through a Doors phase. We get into the music, the lyrics, the mystique, and if you’re like me, yo visit Jim’s grave in Paris. Oliver Stone’s biopic is one of his lesser seen movies of his most successful period, and focuses on the formation of the band, their success, and their demise following Jim’s death. It weaves an ethereal moody vision of the 60s, complete with the requisite music and fashion, and while it never feels exciting or revelatory, it’s watchable thanks to the stellar cast led by a flawless Val Kilmer. Elsewhere, Kyle Maclachlan, Kevin Dillon, Michael Wincott, Meg Ryan, Frank Whaley, and Kathleen Quinlan are all memorable, and it’s a vital, if inaccurate watch for Doors fans.

7: Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey (US) Pete Hewitt

For Metal and Rock fans in the 80s, the Bill And Ted movies were a rite of passage and watched on a monthly if not weekly occurence. I always preferred the original, but the sequel has Death. Both a ridiculous, stupid, but fun, and filled with references for young fans to spot or chase down. The sequel sees the pair being killed by a terrorist from the future and replaced by evil robots – the good Bill and Ted go to Hell and must defeat the Grim Reaper in order to return to Earth, win back their babes, and ensure that the Wyld Stallyns’ music survives. It’s weird.

6: Thelma And Louise (US) Ridley Scott

There’s no obvious reason why a young me should have enjoyed this movie, but I’ve loved it since day 1, and therefore had the benefit of growing up to not be an asshole (in some respects) and of knowing who Bradley Pitt was before he hit the big time. Naturally, it also gave me a lifelong crush on Geena Davis. It’s a perfect movie to me, from the lead 4-5 performances to Scott’s direction and Khouri’s script.

5: Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves (US) Kevin Reynolds

This film was a monster, and was accompanied by one of the biggest songs of all time. Kevin Costner was a leading man, Alan Rickman was at his hammiest, and standalone action spectacles were getting more grandiose. This is the most entertaining version of the Robin Hood story for me – sword fights, arrows, castle walls being scaled, terrible accents, romance, wizened old crones and creepy sub-villains, and lots of swinging about in trees. Plus they actually had people from Maid Marian And Her Merry Men in the film! It’s easy to ridicule now, but it’s still wildly entertaining and cheesy, complete with unnecessary cameos and breaking the fourth wall moments, and also features Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

4: Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead (US) Stephen Herek

I always put this in the same bucket as Wayne’s World and Bill And Ted – it has a similar vibe, similar characters, but the humour is less juvenile, and the plot is less like a series of vignettes. It also features a young Danielle Harris, so it was a must see for me when I was young. It stars Christina Applegate as your typical teen on the verge of adulthood but somewhat directionless. When her mom goes away on business, rather than being left in charge of her 400 siblings, she is left with an elderly babysitter with tyrant syndrome. As the title suggests, the babysitter dies, and the kids decide to get on with life till mom gets home. This means a lot of partying, messing around, boyfriends and girlfriends; eventually, for Applegate this means a job and responsibility. Lots of great one liners, amusing famous faces popping up, good soundtrack, and it’s a seminal coming of age movie for me.

3: The Last Boy Scout (US) Tony Scott

I’ve covered this in my Top Ten Bruce Willis and Tony Scott movies. It’s wonderful.

2: Beauty And The Beast (US) Disney

It’s my favourite Disney movie of all time. Covered in my Top Movies of the decade.

1: Terminator 2 (Top Ten Of All Time) (US) James Cameron

Covered in my Top movies of the decade.

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

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

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Movies Of 1992!

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!

I start today with a few brief comments on some of my favourite films of 1992 which didn’t make the Top Ten cut. Alien 3 is an undoubtedly flawed pseudo-final entry to the Alien series. Notably marred by scripting and production problems, it’s perhaps a miracle the film turned out as good as it is. It has glaring problems and is not as entertaining or scary as the first two movies, but it remains a gripping and downbeat Ripley movie. Bad Lieutenant is as grim as grimy as movies get – hardly surprising given it’s an Abel Ferrara movie. Harvey Keitel is at the top of his game, but it’s not exactly the sort of movie you put on for an evening’s polite entertainment.

As grim as Bad Lieutenant is, Benny’s Video makes it look like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Michael Haneke isn’t known for holding back, and Benny’s Video is a shocking look at violence and how crimes can be perpetuated and hidden through time and by family. If you don’t mind matter of fact and upsetting explorations into subjects which mainstream entertainment avoids like the plague, there are few more impactful. You might want to follow it up with something lighter – Ferngully is one of the best non-Disney animated movies of the 90s, with a great voice cast, solid look, decent tunes, and important message.

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of those cult films which Film Nerds eventually find and wonder why no-one seems to talk about it. A superb cast and even better script, it’s essential viewing. Singles is another neat cult hit with a cast of up and comers and that indie vibe which was so prevalent in the early 90s. Unforgiven is maybe Clint Eastwood’s premier masterpiece, though as a director and actor he’s had more than a few. The Western was dead by the 90s – this rips its skeleton out of the closet, fires it with both barrels, and shoves it back in.

White Men Can’t Jump is just a hell of a lot of fun, with Snipes and Harrelson playing beautifully off each other. It’s bizarre that a film like this exists and was such a hit. Passenger 57 continues the Snipes love as the dude attempts to step into the macho man action movie space, exploiting the gaps left by Seagal and Van Damme. That’s not to say those guys were slouching at the start of the decade – Seagal getting his only genuine smash with Under Siege as he slaps Tommy Lee Jones about and avoids Erika Eleniak’s tits. Finally, why not take another descent into sickening violence and glee? Man Bites Dog is notorious, influential, and hard to stomach, while simultaneously being wildly engaging and dare I say, funny? It’s a film you need to see at least once.

And now, the top ten:

10: Aladdin (US) Disney

You all know it – Disney’s Renaissance well under way with a group of writers and performers swinging their mojo about the room, knocking pretenders off their ascent to the throne. It may be Robin Williams’ finest hour, it features one of Disney’s finest ballads, and it took the Company into a whole new world (really?) of culture and storytelling.

9: Universal Soldier (US) Roland Emmerich

What Arnie and Sly could do, Van Damme could try his hardest to emulate. Helmed by Roland ‘better than Michael Bay’ Emmerich, it pits Super Soldier against Super Soldier in a battle which starts in Vietnam and ends with tankers plummeting off the Grand Canyon. It’s big budget, big muscles, big ‘splosions fun.

8: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (US) Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola doing horror? Great. He had dipped his toes much earlier in his career, but he doubles down with this gorgeous, gothic retelling. Bringing together a mixture of youthful stars and beloved veterans, his version of Stoker’s vampiric tale nails the atmosphere of the text while focusing on obsession. It’s maybe the definitive movie adaptation.

7: Candyman (US) Bernard Rose

Bernard Rose is something of an enigma, starting out with music videos and TV before jumping between fantasy, horror, and historical epics, usually gaining critical recognition but not commercial success. Candyman brought both, even as it wasn’t a huge hit at the time, but it is as enigmatic and alluring as both its director and writer. Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen lead this noir horror love story, twisting an urban legend into reality and bringing a lyrical quality to a genre often maligned for being base and simplistic.

6: My Cousin Vinny (US) Jonathan Lynn

I’m not a fan of legal dramas or movies which are set in the courtroom; they almost always follow the same template and any drama is often negated by the unreality of the situation. Therefore it makes sense that a comedy set in the same world would be more up my alley if handled correctly. My Cousin Vinny doesn’t go down the route of satirizing the genre and instead is a weird, unique, not quite character study. It’s little more than an excuse to let Joe Pesci off the leash while almost being outshone by Marisa Tomei. It’s funny from start to finish, with Pesci and Tomei at their best, ably backed by Gwynne and Austin Pendleton. It’s also a hell of a lot more accurate than most legal dramas.

5: Wayne’s World (US) Penelope Spheeris

One of the more seminal movies of my childhood, by the time I saw this in the cinema I was already a Metalhead Alice Cooper worshipper. Over time more of the jokes have come to make sense to me, but that initial joy of finding a film which kind of got my love for an often ridiculed and ridiculous genre, while in turn gently poking fun at the genre itself, has never worn off. It’s stupid, quotable, and charming.

4: Braindead (NZ) Peter Jackson

This was one of those movies spoke of in hushed tones when I was a teenager. I knew of its legend, of how gory it was, and how difficult it was to come by. Then one of my mates got his hands on a VHS and it was spread around school, kicking off weeks of adolescent worship by our new coven of disciples of the most kickass of Lords. It’s Jackson’s finest non-LOTR work and rivals American Werewolf In London as the greatest Horror Comedy ever, even if it leans much more into the comedy than the horror. Jaw-droppingly bloody, it’s a bizarre sight to behold.

3: Reservoir Dogs (US) Quentin Tarantino

Lets get the elephant in the room out of the room – it’s a remake of City On Fire, no two ways about it. Even with the dialogue Tarantinoed, some of the exchanges from Ringo Lam’s movie remain in place, not to mention the overall plot and quite a few of the key scenes. That’s perfectly fine, but it’s important to mention given so many people are not aware of the fact and may not even be aware City On Fire exists. This is still my favourite Tarantino movie, it’s Tarantino in his most diluted form, obsessed with film and the spoken word, mixing pop culture, dialogue, music, and violence with a nerd-literate quality. Great cast, iconic moments and quotes, and the heralding of maybe the most influential Hollywood voice in the last thirty years.

2: Fire Walk With Me (US) David Lynch

It’s in my Top Movies Of The 90s list.

1: Hard Boiled (HK) John Woo

It’s in my Top Movies Of The 90s list.

Let us know in the comments your favourite movies of 1992!

Essential Movies – 1960 – The Alternative Opinion

So, by now you should have read and wept over my Essential Movies discussion post and my post about the Essential Movies Of 1960 where I discussed whether some of the best movies of the year should be considered essential by everyone. It was a bit of a mess, and the conclusion is that only a handful should be seen as essential by a wider modern audience.

As I realized how futile all of this was, I decided the only way to escape was by digging down and making things worse – the end result being this post. This one is a little bit more fun and loose and worthy of discussion with friends, enemies, and randomers (I don’t like the word ‘randoms’). What I’m doing here is looking at 1960 as a whole and picking 10 films which I would personally call Essential (capital E from now on) from that year – the twist being that I am presenting those films (and only those films) to someone, or something else. Imagine you’ve been frozen in time for five hundred years and awoken in a bizarre future where the inhabitants of Earth have the technology to download and watch ancient movies but only the time to watch 10 from each year – what a bunch of freaks. Or you come into contact with aliens and face the same deal. You get where I’m going with this – 10 films from each year.

There are caveats; The future weirdos/aliens are interested in our history and culture and want to see that reflected in Film – they want to see Film’s growth and change as a medium, they want to know what was popular with the masses year to year, they want to understand why certain films won awards versus others. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. This means we have some very loose guidelines – I could make these more strict, by all means you can make them more strict – but I don’t want to strangle all of the fun out of it.

Rules; One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. I think that’s it – only three guidelines. When I give my list, I’ll make the first three films hit those guidelines – the rest are in no order. Everything else is down to you, so go nuts. A final note – we’ll all have those years where we want to pick more than 10 movies. I’ll allow that, but only if you sacrifice a film from another year – if you can’t pick 10 movies in any year, the surplus choices from that year can be held over for another year, but you have to pick at least eight – come on now. Mine ahoy!

  1. The Apartment (Best Picture Winner)

2.  Spartacus (Top Grossing Movie)

3. La Dolce Vita (Best Films Of Year choice)

4. Psycho

5. The Magnificent Seven

6. Peeping Tom

7. Black Sunday

8. Breathless

9. Jigoku

10. The Virgin Spring

Feel free to comment the ten movies from 1960 which you would show to the aliens and weirdos of the future!

Essential Movies – 1960

Psycho': The horror movie that changed the genre | EW.com

Greetings, glancers! As promised/threatened in my spectacular viewer categorization post (remember that???), I wanted to have a look at what truly classifies a movie as ‘essential’. My main point in the post linked above is that ‘essential’ is subjective to the viewer, but if we can roughly classify viewers then we can perhaps distinguish between what is essential for each viewer type, and what is not. Now, this is not scholarly in the slightest, nor is it researched in any way aside from in my own head between 1 and 2 am when I can’t sleep. Take it with as many pinches of salt as you like, and perhaps some vinegar.

I’m going to do a thing – this thing; I’m going to look back at my Oscars posts and take the major nominated and award winning movies, and also check out a few lists of the Best Movies of that particular year, and I’m going to break them down into what is ‘essential’ for each viewer type. In other words, this is a pointless thing, like licking the underside of a table, throwing a Guava at a cat, Brexit, or indeed, watching movies. All those things happen, regardless of how pointless they are so I’ll be damned if I’m going to let something like necessity get in my way.

We should get one thing out of the way – as per my other post – The Critic should view all films as necessary, as should The Wannabe. If you are a Critic, or if you want to be a Critic, then every movie is essential. Sure some movies are more essential but rather than muddy the waters we’ll just skip The Critic and assume that they should aim to watch every movie ever made and we’ll let The Wannabe cover those italic areas. That leaves us with The Film Nerd, The Fan, The Casual, The Careless, and The Twat. The Twat doesn’t really count either because they are barely human.

For the list of films, I’ll use my own Oscars posts which cover both the Official Winners and Nominees and my own personal picks, and I’ll also use filmsite.org for anything not covered in my posts. Finally, it won’t be as important in these early years, but as time goes on it will be – I’ll also use Wikipedia and IMDB to cover the biggest grossing films of each year so that we don’t just get critic’s choices filling the list. Lets do this!

The Alamo

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

It was both directed by and starred John Wayne, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history, it won a (minor) Oscar and was nominated for several more, it won a Golden Globe for Best Score, it has a large and varied cast of important actors of the time, and is probably the most famous movie based on the significant historical event.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

John Wayne was a huge star, but it isn’t one of his most fondly remembered or best films. In the rest of the cast there aren’t any or many names which The Fan, The Casual, or The Careless will recognise – Frankie Avalon, maybe? Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, possibly? For a film now 57 years old (at time of writing), it isn’t one which comes up in typical discussions of the best movies of the year or the decade.

What I Think:

Not essential for any of our groups, though John Wayne fans and Wannabes will likely get to it eventually. A Wannabe critic may gloss over certain films from certain eras or genres, and this one doesn’t have enough significance to pull in such viewers with any urgency – same goes for The Film Nerd.

The Apartment

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was nominated for ten Oscars and won five – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Film Editing, and Art Direction. It was one of the Top Ten Grossing films of the year and critical praise remains high.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Billy Wilder was once a household name, but not any more outside of Film Nerds, Critics, and Wannabes. It’s a black and white comedy featuring moral ambiguities which likely don’t exist anymore, so much of the humour and satire will not work for a modern, casual audience.

What I Think:

Every Wannabe critic should see every Billy Wilder movie, and The Apartment is one of his most successful. As an important and influential comedy, The Film Nerd should consider it essential. The Fan will only see it as essential if they are a Wilder or Lemmon fan, though it is still recommended for general movie fans. The Casual And The Careless will not seek out this movie and it is unlikely they will have heard of it; if they stumble upon it while channel hopping, it is unlikely that it will grab their attention.

L’Avventura

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Antonioni. That’s pretty much it.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It’s old, it’s foreign, it’s weird.

What I Think:

Essential for Antonioni fans, but not his finest work. Wannabe critics should consider it essential but given the film’s age and lack of enduring cultural significance it seems unlikely that many will get to it. Not essential for Film Nerds or any other group.

The Bad Sleep Well

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Kurosawa. Mifune.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Old. Foreign.

What I Think:

Not one of Kurosawa’s most famous films, but it’s still Kurosawa and Mifune, and therefore is essential for Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds. Not essential for anyone else, unless you’re a fan of Kurosawa.

Black Sunday

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Mario Bava. One of the first gore films, influential on many horror films and directors which followed, and generally considered among the finest horror movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Foreign. Old. Weird. Dated effects, dodgy acting, and dubbing.

What I Think: Essential for horror fans. Out of all Mario Bava films this is the one most Wannabe Critics should see and Film Nerds should try it out. Other viewers do not need to see this.

Breathless

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Jean Luc Godard writes and directs. One of the first and best movies of the French New Wave movement which inspired and influenced later generations of Hollywood directors. Frequently considered one of the Best Foreign movies of all time and usually appears on Critical lists of the best films ever made.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Foreign. Old. Weird. The regular American or British person will not know who Jean Luc Godard is, nor will they care about the French New Wave.

What I Think:

Essential for Wannabe Critics – you can’t be a critic without seeing this and understanding its significance. Essential for New Wave or Godard fans. Film Nerds should see it and should consider it essential. Not essential for anyone else.

Butterfield 8

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Starring Elizabeth Taylor who won an Oscar for her performance. Controversial. One of the highest grossing movies of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

No-one remembers it or talks about it now, so much of its importance has waned over time. Taylor herself didn’t rate the film.

What I Think: Not essential for Film Nerds and therefore not essential for the other categories, but a must see for Liz Taylor fans. Not important enough that Wannabe Critics will have it at the top of their to do lists.

Elmer Gantry

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Stars Burt Lancaster who won an Oscar, it won two more Oscars, and was nominated for several others including Best Picture. A prescient film about truth and lies.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Most modern viewers will not care about Burt Lancaster, or a film about selling religion to small town America. It didn’t make a lot of money and isn’t a film you see referenced elsewhere or talked about in general.

What I Think:

Essential for Lancaster fans, Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics may get to it eventually, but there is a long list of films ahead of it.

Exodus

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Otto Preminger, won an Oscar for Best Score, nominated for two others, and stars Paul Newman. 3rd Grossing film of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Most people today will still be aware of Paul Newman, but outside of fans he won’t be a draw. Otto Preminger was once prolific and taboo-breaking but won’t be a familiar name to most.

What I Think:

One for Newman, Preminger, or fans of the other cast members. A significant political film but better to stick with the book, but hardly essential. Wannabe critics should see it at some point, but Film Nerds won’t need to seek this one.

From The Terrace

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward work together. Top 10 Grossing film.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Think of Paul Newman films and you don’t think of this. Have you heard of it? No, you haven’t.

What I Think:

Not essential for anyone.

Inherit The Wind

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Spencer Tracey, Stanley Kramer, Gene Kelly, nominated for four Oscars. Relatively important subject matter covering free speech, McCarthyism, science, religion, fact, and faith.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

No stars that modern audiences will be aware of and a subject matter that may appear to be dated no matter how relevant it is in today’s climate.

What I Think:

Wannabe Critics should get to this one at some point, as should Tracey and Kramer fans as one of their best films. Film Nerds should get to it too, but like others here it is not as vital as a bunch of movies.

Jigoku

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Groundbreaking visuals and one of the most famous and important Japanese horror movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Modern Western viewers have enough trouble watching foreign movies, they aren’t going to be interested in one over fifty years old.

What I Think:

Essential for fans of Japanese Horror, Wannabe Critics, and Film Nerds. Not quite essential for fans of horror of Japanese Cinema in general. No one else will care.

Late Autumn

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Ozu. One of few films with 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Old. Slow. Foreign.

What I Think:

Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should see at least one Ozu film – this isn’t one of his most famous, but is as well received as any. No-one else will care.

La Dolce Vita

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

One of the most famous and influential foreign movies ever, always listed as one of Best Films Ever. Directed by Fellini, won an Oscar for Best Costume Design, noted has having iconic styles and imagery.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Same as always – old and foreign, and people most modern audiences won’t be aware of.

What I Think:

A film you feel everyone should see, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a hard sell. There is something here for everyone and it is absolutely essential for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. I’d like to say most in The Fan category should see this but it’s unlikely that Casuals or The Careless will ever be interested.

The Magnificent Seven

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Steve McQueen. Yul Brynner. Charles Bronson. James Coburn. Eli Wallach. One of the best remakes of all time. Had several sequels, TV series, and its own remake. Iconic score.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Too lightweight and fun to be considered among the greats? I don’t know.

What I Think:

Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, Fans. If a casual was planted in front of this, they would love it, and chances are most in The Careless category would too. One of the best Westerns ever and simply one of the most fun films of all time, packed with action, one-liners, an iconic cast and a terrific score – no reason not to see this.

Night And Fog In Japan

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Nagisa Oshima, who critics love.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

You know the drill, slow, old, foreign. Oshima is not as highly regarded as Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu.

What I Think:

Wannabe Critics should get to it, Film Nerds will probably pick some of his other films ahead of this. Not essential for anyone else, unless you’re a fan.

Ocean’s 11

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Sinatra. Sammy Davis Jr. Dean Martin. One of the original heist movies. Led to a remake which also had several sequels. Top 10 grossing film.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It’s not very good. It was been overshadowed by the sequel.

What I Think:

I’d consider the remake the more essential choice as it is more likely to be seen by The Fan, The Casual, and the Careless. Even for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics it isn’t going to high on their watch list, but essential for fans of The Brat Pack.

Peeping Tom

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

A controversial and innovative, shocking and groundbreaking movie. Historically notable for effectively ending Michael Powell’s career in Britain. That Powell – of Powell and Pressburger fame who have several essential films and therefore others should be considered for viewing too. Now considered one of the best British movies and horror movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It doesn’t have star power for modern viewers who will not be as shocked or impressed by the violence or techniques. Some weirdos don’t like horror.

What I Think:

Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, and horror fans. Most in The Fan category should try to see it but given the choice will go for Psycho first.

Please Don’t Eat The Daises

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Doris Day. David Niven. Top 10 Grossing Film.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

You’ve never heard of it. Doris Day and David Niven likely won’t be a draw for anyone today, and the comedy, while not dated necessarily, is a little light and fluffy.

Psycho

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

One of the most famous and acclaimed horror movies ever by arguably the greatest and most famous movie director of them all. Inspired countless imitators, essentially created a sub-genre, and was followed by a series of sequels, a remake, and an acclaimed TV series. Contains some of the most famous music and moments ever seen, moments which have been repeated and lampooned endlessly in the decades since.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It’s old and black and white and some people don’t like that sort of thing?

What I Think:

I think you know what I think. One of the most important horror movies ever and in my opinion this is the moment that modern Cinema began. Everyone needs to see it.

Spartacus

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Kubrick. Kirk Douglas. Olivier. I am Spartacus. Highest grossing movie of the year, won a load of Oscars.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It is very long, and some people don’t like that.

What I Think:

Kubrick’s first major hit – Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should view every Kubrick film as essential. Depending on age and a variety of other factors, The Careless should see this, Casuals likely won’t care, should be essential for most in The Fan category though other Kubrick films will place higher on their must see list.

Suns And Lovers

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Nominated for Best Picture, Director and more, won Best Cinematography, Jack Cardiff directs one of DH Lawrence’s most important novels.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Most modern viewers will not care about the cast, Jack Cardiff, or DH Lawrence. It’s a watered down version of the book too.

What I Think:

Not essential for anyone, though Wannabe Critics may get to it eventually.

The Sundowners

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay. Fred Zinnermann, Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It didn’t win any of the Oscars and none of the people above will matter to anyone outside of Wannabe Critics and Nerds.

What I Think:

Not important enough to be considered essential for anyone, but Mitchum fans will see it.

Swiss Family Robinson

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Top five grossing film that year, probably the best version of the story.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Dated, and no-one today will care about any of the cast.

What I Think:

A good, family oriented adventure film that you may want your kids to watch, but not essential for any particular group.

Village Of The Damned

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

The best adaptation of Wyndham’s book and features several iconic moments which are referenced in later works.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Dated, no-one will care about the cast, horror fans watching for first time likely won’t have the scares and sensations generated at the time of release.

What I Think:

A classic chiller but hard to say it’s essential even for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. Horror fans should give it a go, and it’s a good introduction to horror and sci-fi for younger or newer horror fans.

The Virgin Spring

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

One of Bergman’s most famous and mainstream works and critics will say every Bergman film is essential.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Old, black and white, foreign.

What I Think:

If you’re going to pick any single Bergman film to watch, it should be this or The Seventh Seal. Essential for Bergman fans, Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds should see it, no-one will will give a toss.

The Young One

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Luis Bunuel. Critics love him. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Luis Bunuel… who?

What I Think:

A lesser Bunuel work, but fairly conventional and simple – not avant-garde. Only possibility of this being essential will be for Bunuel fans and Wannabe Critics, but even then it’s touch and go.

Well, that was bubbling lump of garmonbozia. If you have any thoughts about any of the above or feel that any of my opinions have counter arguments then feel free to launch those in the comments. I’ll have an alternative post coming up shortly which takes a different approach to Essential Movies, and I’ll (try to) follow that through for the rest of the years from 1960 onwards!

The Password Is Courage

The Password is Courage original film poster | Movie Poster Studio 1184

If there’s anything to learn from The Password Is Courage it’s that Dirk Bogarde was a bad-ass. Check out any biography or discussion of his past, his own part in World War 2, and many other antics; bad. ass. The Password Is Courage was by no means the first POW movie, but it’s one of the most underrated and lesser known, with an opening 10 minutes which must rank among the most entertaining I’ve seen in the genre. Make no mistake, this is neither gruelling nor overtly political, or even particularly serious, sharing more similarities with something like The Great Escape. 

The film opens with Bogarde’s Sgt-Major Coward and cohorts already in a POW camp. We don’t get to see this camp actually being as horrific as we know they could be (there were of course limits to what movies could show and what audiences could tolerate back then) but we know the Allied soldiers want freedom. Coward consistently makes a nuisance of himself and is trying to look for ways to escape – on a forced march he slips away and hides in a farmhouse. Unfortunately for him, this farmhouse is already about to be taken over by the Germans as a hospital – luckily, the Germans are idiots and they mistake Coward for an injured German soldier and award him the Iron Cross in a particularly amusing scene. All of these antics are merely set up for his actual escape as he is quickly recaptured and sent back to his POW camp. A brave move to have a fake-out escape in the opening moments and which takes up a fair chunk of the running time.

The rest of the movie follows Coward continuing to lie, cheat, and steal his way from Camp to Camp – pissing off both Germans and Allies equally in his search for freedom. He gets a friend, he meets a pretty lady, and there are moments of both action and humour. The film never comes close to striking a serious nerve and while I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a jolly romp through the worst period of the 20th Century so much as offering a clearly fictional more light-hearted take on the audacity, bravado, and luck of some of those involved.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Password Is Courage!

Life

Life movie review & film summary (2017) | Roger Ebert

If movies have taught us anything, it’s that travelling to space will either lead to jolly adventures with feisty bikini clad Princesses and furries, or gruesome/slimy/explosive death. Life explores the second option, placing the viewer in a realistic present day landscape rather than the not too distant future of Alien – one of several movies it is more than inspired by. By camping us inside the orbital real world ISS alongside a skeleton crew of cross-continental familiar faces, yet giving us fleeting glimpses of what is happening back home – births, parades, cute kids asking cute questions – Life aims to alarm us into thinking what if the guys up there right now discover something hostile?

We join our crew of six as they collect soil samples from Mars which may contain evidence of <insert title here>. Turns out there is life out there, of the single celled variety, and turns out the cell just needs a touch of glucose to get it up in the morning. One taste of sugar and the little bastard begins sprouting, stretching, and expanding. Like all babies, translucent or otherwise, it wants to explore and wreck shit. Once named (by some cute Earthlings), Calvin crushes his daddy’s hand, yeets out, and begins an adolescent rampage. While the film has rightly been called an inferior mixture of Gravity and Alien, it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s a retelling of every parent’s experience with a toddler ever, with more CG. Like every movie set in space, there’s a frantic race against time, lots of clamouring to solve impossible problems, and people picked off one by one as they fight for survival and try to prevent the ever growing, increasingly wobbly Calvin making his way to the good ol’ US of Earth.

It’s a fine watch from start to finish, without really offering anything new. It feels more like a case of updating every aspect of the movies it apes; updated special effects, updated creature effects, updated dialogue – everything to make the film more appealing to today’s audience. The only time the movie puts its neck on the line is with its ending – a refreshingly un-Hollywood ending but one you know is coming so that, once again, it comes as no surprise and dilutes any shock value it was meant to generate. Most attempts at fleshing out each character – and to the film’s credit it does try to do this – most of these attempts feel trite and not genuine. Rather than any individuality, the film offers a stock archetype and then gives each one a single thing which marks them as different from the other. Sanada is Japanese, and has a kid on the way. There’s the disabled dude who, for some reason, becomes obsessive at bringing Calvin to life, Gyllenhaal is calm and cold, but is perfectly happy living in Space, Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds etc. Each aspect totalled up amounts to a perfectly average film – if you haven’t seen Alien or Gravity then maybe this will have more of an impact on you and for a night in it passes the time without forcing you to think or become too invested, while equally staving off the boredom.

Let us know what you think of Life in the comments!

Nightman’s Introduction To Foreign Cinema – C

Let’s move on to C! See!

Canada

Neve Campbell | Attrici, Neve campbell, Canada

For any unadventurous Americans, Canada should be right up there with Australia and the UK to get used to the concept of Foreign Cinema. Many big budget and hit films and TV shows are filmed in Canada with a Canadian crew and cast to save money, while the Country also has its own expansive and dedicated industry featuring both English and French language productions.

Key Gateway FilmsBlack Christmas (The original slasher), Eastern Promises (sex trafficking and gangsters with Viggo Mortensen), Ginger Snaps (incredibly overrated but watchable teen werewolf fare), Incendies (twins discover war and mystery in The Middle East), The Decline of The American Empire (sex and laughs between intellectuals), Resident Evil Series (zombies and freaks loosely based on the game series), Meatballs (it’s not Star Wars), Porky’s (sexy teen romp), Scanners (head explosions), Splice (man makes creature and gets horny), Trailer Park Boys (movies based on the show).

Notable Directors: James Cameron (The Terminator, Avatar), David Cronenberg (Scanners, The Fly), Sarah Polley (Away From Her Take This Waltz), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners), Jason Reitman (Juno, Up In The Air)

Notable Stars: Malin Akerman, Dan Aykroyd, Pamela Anderson, Will Arnett, Raymond Burr, Genevieve Bujold, Neve Campbell, John Candy, Jim Carrey, Hume Cronyn, Michael J Fox, Lorne Greene, Corey Haim, Laurie Holden, Michael Ironside, Joanne Kelly, Margot Kidder, Eugene Levy, Evangeline Lily, Rachel McAdams, Rick Moranis, Carrie Anne Moss, Ellen Page, Mary Pickford, Anna Paquin, Christopher Plummer, Matthew Perry, Keanu Reeves, Seth Rogan, Donald Sutherland, Keifer Sutherland, Jennifer and Meg Tilly, Michael Wincott.

China

Hero (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

The first thing to clarify for any newbs is that China and Hong Kong are separate entities – different place, different business, different movies, though there are obviously many similarities. If you want any more info, go to a news site as we’re here for da movies. Ho. China is huge, and it does make huge movies with many focusing on history and martial arts, yet I’ve seen far fewer films than those which fall under Hong Kong.

Key Gateway Films: Red Sorghum (Zhang Yamou drama about… pissing in booze), Raise The Red Lantern (that man again, gorgeously shot drama about one of many wives), Farewell My Concubine (Leslie Cheung masterclass about a circus/opera group destroyed by love and politics), The Opium War (ignore the plot and enjoy the sights), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (swordplay and skipping over rooftops), Hero (more epic swordplay), The Ghost Inside (fairly conflicting horror story with a dash of realism, or vice versa), Thru The Moebius Strip (3D animation sci fi), The Warlords (Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro are badass), Red Cliff (John Woo goes epic).

Notable Directors: Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), Diao Yinan (Night Train), Feng Xiaogang (Aftershock), Huang Shuqin (A Soul Haunted By Painting), Tian Zhuangzhaung (The Blue Kite), Zhang Yimou (House Of Flying Daggers).

Notable Stars: There is too much of a crossover here with Hong Kong and Taiwan, so I’m not going to even bother – I’ll leave this for the Hong Kong entry.

There are also notable films from Chile, Croatia, and Czech Republic but I don’t know enough movies from those countries to adequately comment. If you have seen any from those places or any other ‘C country’ let us know what you thought in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1994!

 

Here is my updated list of favourite films of 1994 – there aren’t actually any new entries, I’m simply adding a few blurbs on each film. First, the few which missed out on my Top 20 – Heavenly Creatures which saw Peter ‘I kick ass for The Lord’ Jackson, branching out from his shlock horror comedies and making something more emotionally substantial and mainstream. The Last Seduction aimed to single-handedly bring the noir genre kicking and screaming back to life, with a great performance by Linda Fiorentino, while The River Wild is Die Hard in a dinghy.

And now, the Top Twenty:

20: Little Women (US) Gilliam Armstrong

I don’t know why, but I generally enjoy the Little Women movies. That’s not strange in and of itself – what’s strange is that I can’t stand the original novel. This movie is gorgeously shot and has all of the hair and clothing and all of that crap that people seem to love, but more importantly it has a badass cast of people just coming into their own or at the top of their game – Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale, Samantha Mathis, Gabriel Byrne, Trini Alvarado, Eric Stoltz and more. As acclaimed as this one was at the time, it’s a bit sad that it will now be overlooked by the overblown success of the 2019 version.

19: Ace Ventura (US) Tom Shadyac

Jim Carrey was maybe on the greatest sequence of starring roles in history in 1994, with a trio of all time classics. All three are on my list, this one and the next one are interchangeable in their quality and my enjoyment of them. This and The Mask are great fun. Pity the sequel is balls.

18: The Mask (US) Charles Russell

See above.

17: Stargate (US/France) Roland Emmerich

I loved Stargate when it was released – it was such a spectacle, plus it dealt with a period of history I have always been curious about, and it was done in a cool 90s way. AND you get Kurt Russell. It has since been overshadowed by the epic TV spin-offs but this was the starting point of one of the greatest, most underrated expanded universes in fiction.

16: Forrest Gump (US) Robert Zemeckis

It’s one of those films which I never feel like I need to revisit. It was fun, heartwarming, sure a little saccharine, but features one of the most iconic performances of the decade, one of the most recognisable characters in movie history, and some memorable one-liners. It’s an all round good film which hasn’t lost any of its potency.

15: The Lion King (US Disney)

It’s The Lion King. People love this a lot more than I do, and while I agree it is massively overrated, it’s still wonderful. Superb anmiation, great songs, amusing characters – classic Disney – before they sold out.

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

Lets face it, the 90s produced arguably the best movie version of Dracula and almost certainly the best movie version of Frankenstein – coming from a big fan of both Universal and Hammer. It’s not without its problems, much of that is simply to do with bringing the story to the screen in the first place, but it gets the pathos and the monstrosity of the original text correct, and offers Robert De Niro the chance to portray the sort of character A-listers wouldn’t usually come within 50 miles of.

13: Timecop (US) Peter Hyams

Did I ever do a TTT for Jean Claude Van Damme? I don’t know man, I’ve been doing this blog for generations. Timecop is the movie Looper wishes it was, with added mullets.

12: The Shawshank Redemption (US) Frank Darabont

Frequently listed as the greatest movie of the decade, and often as the greatest movie of all time, it still gives me great pleasure when ardent anti-horror or anti-Stephen King fans begrudgingly admit how good this is. Sure the movie succeeds based on Darabont’s direction and the terrific cast, but it all comes down to the story by King – a story of hope and of crawling through all of the shit life pours on you. It’s another fine example of The Academy completely ignoring Horror – or even anything with the stench of Horror attached to it – as the film was overlooked in every category it was nominated in (though fair enough, there were some excellent movies and winners this year).

11: Ed Wood (US) Tim Burton

Ed Wood is Tim Burton Oscar bait… I think. It’s one of those movies about movies, about the love of making them, about the whole system and the business. While movies like this have always been critical darlings, Burton decided to flip the whole shtick and make the focus one of the most notoriously ‘bad’ filmmakers in history. Wood is presented as an exuberant guy with a dream, a man who refuses to allow reality to crush his pursuit of making his dream come true or dull his love of the movies. Depp and Landau are on top form here, and it’s another Horror adjacent movie which The Academy couldn’t avoid.

10: Natural Born Killers (US) Oliver Stone

One of the most controversial movies of the 90s, this was certainly ahead of its time with its protagonists/antagonists taking their murder and mayhem to the road accompanied by an orgasmic media. Lewis and Harrelson have a natural born chemistry and whip out career best manic performances, ably backed up by a ‘remember me, everybody’ Robert Downey Jr, Rodney Dangerfield, Tom Sizemore, and Tommy Lee Jones. Few films whip up such controversy in their wake and few films have such a unique mish mash of styles and genres, creating an orgiastic fever-dream of drama, comedy, and violence.

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

If you want to breath life back into a dying series, you can do worse than handing back the reins to its creator a decade later. In a precursor to his meta mega-hit Scream, New Nightmare upends series and genre tropes as it peels back the curtain and blurs the increasingly more fragile walls between the real and fictional world. Wes brings back original cast members to tell the story of Heather Langenkamp – actress most famous for her performances in the Elm Street series – whose fictional arch enemy Fred Krueger has somehow found a way into the real world. The movie dispenses with much of the humour of the popular sequels, instead posing questions about fandom and the impact of fame and exposure to violent material on those who are both part of these worlds and help to create it. The film doesn’t scrimp on the gore even as it dispenses with many of the creative setpieces and kills which the series had become known for, but ends up being all the more nasty and interesting for it.

8: Clerks (US) Kevin Smith

There have been few better or equivalent Indie first times movies than Clerks – a movie of its time which capitalized upon the torchlight being shone on Indie film at the time, but which nevertheless remains fresh, vital, and hilarious even decades later. Smith would hone his writing and directing skills over the years, but this may be his most pure effort, pulling together friends and familiars and shooting on a shoestring, yet managing to create a much funnier, much stronger product than almost any other studio comedy of the decade.

7: True Lies (US) James Cameron

James Cameron doesn’t make many films, but when he does they’re either record-breakers, masterpieces, or at worst perfectly entertaining B genre fare. True Lies is neither a record breaker nor a masterpiece, but he did release it in between T2 and Titanic, so it can be viewed as a palette cleanser. More than that, it’s a send up of the spy/secret agent/Bond genre as Arnie leads a double life as a boring family man and a world-saving action hero. It’s the lightest, funniest film in the Cameron-verse, bolstered by an amusing trope-twisting script and fun takes by Jamie Lee Curtis and Bill Paxton.

6: Speed (US) Jan de Bont

The undisputed action movie event of the year, and one of the best of the decade. While the 80s featured muscle-bound bullet dodgers mowing down hordes of faceless bad dudes, the enlightened audiences of the 90s needed something more. Something like a bad dude who used to be a good dude, and a good dude who is flawed and hasn’t experienced the bicep sprouting pleasures of steroids, and a story more inventive than ‘bad dude kidnaps x and good dude must destroy everything’. Speed is one of the finest examples of the 90s take on the genre – reckless rookie Keanu Reeves comes up against crazed ex good guy Dennis Hopper and has to stop him blowing people up. The bulk of the movie takes place on a bus – a bus filled with passengers and Sandra Bullock – a bus armed with explosives which will go off if the bus goes under 50MPH, but there’s also a gripping climax involving a subway. Like its central plot device, the thrills, action, and tension never let up once they start, and the cast have a whale of a time.

5: Pulp Fiction (US) Quentin Tarantino

See my favourite movies of decade post.

4: Interview With The Vampire (US) Neil Jordan

See my favourite movies of decade post.

3: Leon (France) Luc Besson

See my favourite movies of decade post.

2: The Crow (US) Alex Proyas

See my favourite movies of decade post.

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

See my favourite movies of decade post.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Blood Fest

Blood Fest (2018) – Review | Mana Pop

I seem to start a lot of posts these days with the phrase ‘if you’re a regular to this blog’, which suggests I’m covering a lot of the same topics on a loop, but if you’re a regular to this blog then you’ll know I love fiction and movies set around theme parks, fun parks, carnivals and the like. In recent years we’ve had a few films in this vein, expanding out to also cover the Escape Room craze, and in 2018 alone we confusingly had Hell Fest and Blood Fest – two films set inside the curious theme parky world of Horror-Cons.

Blood Fest begins promisingly, with a mother and son snuggled up watching horror movies on the sofa. The mum goes into the kitchen to grab more popcorn, and when she doesn’t come back the son goes to the kitchen only to find a masked killer standing over his mum’s bloodied body. Flashforward to present day and the boy is now a teenager obsessed with Horror movies, while his dad is a psychologist who argues against Horror and other violent forms of media as they lead to the sort of disorders or crimes which led to his wife’s death. It’s a decent setup, and even though all I expect or want from a movie like this is some fun chase and kill shenanigans using the location in an interesting way, this had the potential to discuss some deeper topics.

It’s odd then that the setup doesn’t really go anywhere. There’s no sense of grief within the family, there’s little real discussion on the ills, perceived or otherwise, of Horror movies on impressionable people – which is especially strange because the entire plot hinges on that exact device – and it means that I was left a little disappointed by the final product. Had a more generic setup been in place I would have taken this as a simple fun slasher, but as it suggests its going to have more depth – when it doesn’t deliver on that promise I ask what the point of it all was.

We should bear in mind though that the movie is a comedy – it’s a comedy set in the world of Horror and Horror fandom, with plenty of nods and in jokes both broad enough for casual fans to get, and more specific such as a moment recalling The Exorcist 3’s famous jump scare. There’s quite a lot of gore – of the over the top, spurting Asian variety – but there isn’t an ounce of tension or true horror here. It’s 100% in the Comedy genre, like a poor man’s Shaun Of The Dead. The teenager hero and his two friends are planning to attend Blood Fest – a celebration of all things Horror, with rides, celeb meet and greets, booze, music, and everything else you would expect from an overblown Con. The twist is that once the guests arrive, all doors are locked, all gates are electrified, and all bets are off as the Con’s host – an overly camp Owen Edgerton – wants to film the greatest Horror movie of all time by killing all of the guests throughout the different areas of the park. The park is split into different areas matching a particular Horror theme or trope – zombies, vampires, killer clowns – and each area is filled with maniacal killers or monsters. Again, there’s a cool idea in here – a Horror based Battle Royale – but we focus on our small group of survivors, and the park’s areas are only given cursory glances. I’d have enjoyed more of a thorough Running Man style chase through these areas with a sense of progress and threat and a chance to feel the different atmosphere of each. A larger group of survivors, seeing them get whittled down as they make their way towards the Exit or the centre, would have been cool.

Our heroes are not the most exciting bunch – lead horror geek, his feisty love interest, his geeky friend, the hot blonde, and ostensibly the hot blonde’s jerk boyfriend and a cowardly horror actor. They never feel like they are in any real danger, and even when they begin to get picked off we’re not given any reason to care – and the survivors don’t react much. A sharper script would have improved matters, but there’s a much better film in here as I’ve alluded to; that idea of survival in a Horror version of Disneyland, complete with cameos from famous faces from within the genre, and by all means spice it up with social commentary or meta influence. As it stands, Blood Fest is a let down on most fronts – the laughs are flat, the commentary may as well not be there, the gore is silly, the plot is uninteresting, and the location is underused and not fleshed out. Still, it’s a brief enough watch and if you’re into films set in the same sort of universe and location as this, you’ll likely get some basic enjoyment out of it.

Let us know what you thought of Blood Fest in the comments!