Category Archives: 1990s

Following (1999)

This 69 minute Christopher Nolan film, his first, shot on 16mm film was an intense whirl-wind of deception and triple-crossing. The style of film provided the dark intensity that the plot required, when in actuality it was simply used because Nolan’s small budget couldn’t afford materials of higher quality.

I was completely captivated through this whole movie, much to my surprise. Not that I wasn’t fully invested in the movie-watching experience of Inception or the Batman films, but especially today I wasn’t quite prepared for what this film entailed.

Following is about a struggling writer, credited as “The Young Man” who takes to following strangers in search of inspiration for his first novel. His harmless act backfires as he is confronted by one of his subjects, known as Cobb. Cobb introduces The Young Man to his expertise with serial burglary. The film is about the deception within their relationship, his experiences with a woman who is far more involved with Cobb and the rest of the small time gangsters of London than The Young Man could ever have guessed.

The film ends with every crime being pinned on The Young Man, and Cobb vanishing into the crowded streets of London. As the credits rolled, I exhaled for probably the first time in all 69 minutes. I enjoyed it, I tend to like films that provoke thought regarding the past and future. The film carries with it a paranoia that sits patiently on the shoulders of our protagonist, just waiting for the follower to walk himself into the role of the victim. You ache with his helplessness and you plead with his desperation. Maybe it was the 16mm, maybe it was the incredible performance of Jeremy Theobald. Or perhaps this film is an incredible vehicle that holds the first talent of Chris Nolan, his imagination is just killer to me… he’s kind of a smorgasbord of Hitchcock, Howard Hawkes, and Charles Vidor.

 

Ringu (1998)

I’m simultaneously reviewing this one to keep my feet on the ground while I watch this Japanese horror film. My film class is reading the book, as we are in the heart of our adaptation unit. The biggest difference is that the protagonist in the film is a woman, while in the book it is a man. Ryuji is her ex-husband, rather than his high school friend.

However, despite these changes, both the text and the film successfully portray the utter creepiness that is necessary for this story. The acting is great, just as the writing in the novel made the tale quite captivating.

Well, that was terrifying. I saw the American version in high school and remember my friends and I laughing at the stupidity. But this, this is a whole other level.

I’ll continue to read the book to see the rest of the differences. But beyond anything, that was a very well done and successfully frightening horror film. Four stars!

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Fargo (1996)

Now I always said that if I didn’t like it, no one could ever bother me again about Coen Brothers movies. This one also got a whole lotta hype from everyone I talked to about it. Frankly, it was only alright. It was certainly the best of any Coen Bros. movie I’ve seen, and I understand, I guess, why people love it. Frances McDormand is fabulous, hilarious, and perfect. She SO deserved the award for this. I mean, you also have an all-star cast,William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, etc.

You know what it is? It’s that minimalist quality that is supposed to balance out the outlandish situations.McDormand does her “Oh ya, you betcha,” while a man’s foot is being pressed into a wood chipper. This isn’t to say that I need craziness all the time, nor do I need boring plot lines with no strange aspects. But they need to match, otherwise I can’t take them seriously.

On the other hand, that’s obviously the whole point. You can’t take it seriously, it’s satire. I’ve drawn the conclusion that I fully respect this movie for everything that it is, which is more than I can say for True Grit, A Serious Man, The Big Lebowski, etc. It’s just not what I enjoy. So with that, I’m sorry to all my friends that ADORE these movies. But seriously, I’m kind of over it. La-di-da.

It was a great one to end on, after all. Four stars.

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Mighty Aphrodite (1995)

There’s simply no better activity on a dreary rainy day than to watch a classic Woody Allen flick. While my personal favorite is Hannah and Her Sisters, my mom suggested Mighty Aphrodite and then to watch Mira Sorvino‘s Academy Award acceptance speech. She won for her role as Linda, the “Pretty Woman” of 1995, and a charming prostitute and porn “kind-of” star.

Linda is the birth mother of Woody Allen and Helena Bonham Carter‘s adopted son, and after a extensive search for her by Allen, the two develop a strange and unexpected friendship. Together they discover what is both missing and ever-present in their lives, as well as helping one another to rebuild what they had thought they had already lost.

“Well I had such a good time tonight, I feel like I owe you a really good fuck.” 

My mother was right (shocker), Mighty Aphrodite was quite charming. I had a difficult time understanding the necessity of the Greek Choir, until I fundamentally accepted the fact that it was absolutely dripping with the Woody Allen schtick. If I had any knowledge at all of Greek mythology or even the story of the true Mighty Aphrodite, I would instantly uncover the underlying themes that mold these characters in the diegesis.

Then I watched the acceptance speech, it was a sweet tribute to her father, Paul Sorvino. Watch it here. Being that I’ve only seen Mira Sorvino as a simple-minded porn star and in Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, I was surprised to see her beautiful poise and well-spoken eloquence as she accepted the award.

Yet another Woody Allen classic, four stars!

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Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Wow. I honestly don’t know what to think. I’ve gotten to the point that while I watch the movie, I’m constantly thinking about how I’m going to write about it. We’ll see how this goes, cause I went back and forth about a million times.

It’s a hard and complicated vortex of depression, self-doubt, desperation, and alcohol. It was certainly the type of movie I wouldn’t usually like, but for some reason, I’m less quick to judge these characters. At the start of the film, Ben (Cage) is a drunk who left his personal and professional life behind in California to literally drink himself to death in Las Vegas. My immediate reaction (as expected) was why is this loser the protagonist of an Oscar winning film? Why can’t he just get his life together? He was a Hollywood screenwriter for god’s sake, clearly he wasn’t doing that bad.

But as the film progressed, it was more than just the drink. It was about a self-destructive man who had always been this way. Perhaps he tried for years, perfecting his career, his family, his personal relationships, and it wasn’t enough. Sure, despite the fact that this isn’t what I understand, maybe for him, it simply wasn’t enough.

And as the relationship with Sera blossoms, I thought, great, they can save each other. For she is a prostitute working in Las Vegas, who actually does get herself out. Her character was the more redeeming quality of the film, because she does try to save him and herself from these lives of hopelessness. And even though they loved each other, despite everything, it wasn’t enough for him.

Leaving Las Vegas leaves you with a certain emptiness. I feel kind of hollow, reflecting upon their self-deprecation. At the same time, I have hope for Sera, it’s like she’s hit rock bottom, and she can’t get any lower. It’s only up from here. Unlike Ben, I have faith that she’ll see that her life can move forward.

Hmmmmm… four stars?

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Apollo 13 (1995)

I am so emotionally drained! I love Tom Hanks more than anything, but that’s nothing new. The intensity was incredibly overwhelming, I think it was the fact that these were real people, with real families.

Going into space really fascinates me in a weird way. It’s such a strange thing to imagine. There are two scenes in which Tom Hanks compares the shape of the moon to his thumb, except the second time it is the earth that is thousands of miles away. It was just a jarring change of perspective.

Obviously the whole hope initially was to walk on the moon, but there came a crucial point when they decided the true importance was just to return home. The special effects were pretty cool as well.

I loved the use of real footage that was on the news during the fiasco, because since they used a lot of technical terms to describe the situation between the astronauts and the men in the control room, having reporters break down the situations for the public to understand made the film incredibly intriguing. Without this aspect, a lot of the banter could go right over your head.

What an experience. I’m exhausted.

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