Nightman’s Top Twenty Films Of 1990

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 indeed… I’m late with this post. It has been a rough week – I was at a funeral yesterday for a mate from school and talking about movies and lists seems a bit pointless at the moment. That’s three blokes from my year in school alone who have killed themselves. My country has an absolutely awful track record of suicides and mental health awareness – too much taboo, too much stigma, too much religion, too much politics, and not enough people who give a damn. Luckily, I write these posts months in advance so all I have to do on days like this is hit publish.

Just before my list – I know I’d mentioned before that I’d only expand the list for a couple of years, namely 1987 and 1994, but there are a few other years that have personal favourites I didn’t want to leave out. Therefore, my 1990 list contains a bumper 20 movies – and one narrowly missed out being included – Miller’s Crossing. Enjoy!

20: Boiling Point (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

19: La Femme Nikita (France) Luc Besson

18: The Witches (UK/US) Nicholas Roeg

17: Dances With Wolves (US) Kevin Costner

16: Awakenings (US) Penny Marshall

15: The Godfather Part 3 (US) Francis Ford Coppolla

14: Ghost (US) Jerry Zucker

13: Another 48 Hours (US) Walter Hill

12: Misery (US) Rob Reiner

11: Arachnophobia (US) Frank Marshall

10: Kindergarten Cop (US) Ivan Reitman

9: Young Guns II (US) Geoff Murphy

8: Mermaids (US) Richard Benjamin

7: Tremors (US) Ron Underwood

6: Wild At Heart (US) David Lynch

5: Total Recall (US) Paul Verhoeven

4: Home Alone (US) Chris Columbus

3: Goodfellas (US) Martin Scorsese

2: Problem Child (US) Dennis Dugan

1: Edward Scissorhands (US) Tim Burton

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

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

Suicide Club

After I first got into J-Horror, and Asian Cinema in general, I began to compile lists of all the must see movies. Buying those lovely Tartan Asia Extreme DVDs by the basket load helped, as each came with a bunch of trailers for related films or ‘titles coming soon’. Suicide Club grabbed my eye fairly early on – how could it not, what with its amusingly macabre premise, trailer and synopsis? Who wouldn’t want to watch a film which opens with a bunch of school-girls throwing themselves under the wheels of a train? Idiots, that’s who!

The film uses shock value to get punters into seats and to appease the sort of weirdos like me who would choose to watch something like this, but shock value is not at the centre of the story. There’s a lot more to Suicide Club, but it struggles to fit in any niche. While the film does begin with some out of place music playing over the scenes of the train approaching, the girls holding hands, and the girls jumping, the hilarious blood effects are over the top enough to make you assume it’s some ridiculous comedy. Then it becomes a detective mystery. Then it becomes a horror. Then it becomes a satire before finally going completely off the rails (pardon the pun). It’s a film which I can only imagine doesn’t know what it wants to be, and none of the things it tries to be are pulled off very well. There is little weight put onto the subject of suicide, the satire directed at the subject of cults isn’t particularly pointed, and the mystery is so convoluted as to never be adequately understood. If anything it’s the early moments which work best – before you really know anything and your imagination is left to fill in the blanks. These take place in some sort of hospital where the tension is racked admirably high thanks to an open window, a couple of nurses, and a night watchman. It was in these moments that the slow pace and bizarre twists conspired to make me believe that a long-haired ghost was going to pop out.

Unfortunately these scenes soon give way as we meet the cops tasked with working out what the hell is going on and why all these people are killing themselves. What’s tying the victims together? Are they even victims in the first place? Who’s the creepy kid who keeps phoning the cops and offering philosophical vagueries? What’s with the sports bag left at the scenes of death? Is the pop group significant? Who is going to be next? You’ll be asking yourself these questions as much as the characters are – Sion Sono seems to finding his feet as a director as much as anything – playing with expectation but in the end abandoning a coherent story with involving characters for a spattering of themes and violence which only loosely ties together. The film will certainly stay with you, and may be more rewarding with a second viewing, but the director has since gone on to make vastly more essential films.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Suicide Club!