Tuesday, February 23, 2021

have you checked the children?


When a Stranger Calls
(1979, directed by Fred Walton)
In praise of a cinema without qualities. That classic seventies sleaze film found in a room full of of normality, glorious moments within horror films guilty of unremarkableness.

Trying to fill in gaps in my horror knowledge, attempting to find those moments worth spending time with in a genre plagued with mediocrity. Films either too kitschy, with an actorshippe that is beyond deplorable, structural elements assembled with no thought, absurdist plots or simply no plot at all. Many qualities that in all likelihood attract many viewers, but which are difficult to take after spending time with the masters like Robert Bresson, Chantal Akerman, or John Ford. Perhaps one has to to draw a line somewhere.

Fred Walton's When a Stranger Calls initially attractive because of the poster, then seeing the cast included Carol Kane and Charles Durning I was in. This is the fourth film I have watched this week with a bit about babysitter encounters with darkness: Alan Clarke's 1987 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too where 2 young women have sex with and then an affair with the father that drives them home.  Donald Petrie's 1988 film Mystic Pizza where Annabeth Gish has a sexual encounter with the father, and George Roy Hill's 1982 film The World According to Garp where Robin Williams drives home the babysitter and pulls over for a bit of lustful liaisons. And finally here with Carol Kane getting repeated calls from an old Englishman saying "have you checked the children?" almost as a statement than a question, before the chaos ensues. When she calls the police she gets this advice from Seventh Precinct, Sergeant Sacker: "An anonymous caller? Has he threatened you? Has he been using obscene language? It's probably just some weirdo. The city's full of them. Believe it or not, we get reports like this every night. It's nothing to worry about".


The somewhat ordinary horror beginnings, although creepy and with an admirable atmosphere, shift quite surprisingly at 21 minutes in beginning with a freeze frame of Charles During's face (image above) as the door opens and the madness is revealed. We then fast forward seven years and the film enters into this late 70s mood, a mood any lover of the decade craves. Dirty bars, private detectives as assassins, psychopaths, urban decay, dipsomaniac lovers, ambiguous narratives, hotel rooms and apartments so stained and covered in grit, light has nowhere to illuminate.




We are then as viewers privileged to recordings of the psychopath Curt Duncan (played by Tony Beckley from The Italian Job, Get Carter) which sound to my ears like Donald Pleasence from Harold Pinter's The Caretaker... rough talk, almost drunken, full of absurdity, coming from the nowhere and going back without having brought us anywhere. For lovers of Pinter this world is perhaps bliss.

Hospital "To give you medication will calm you down. We are not putting anything in your food either"
Curt "No?..... I've got to eat the food?.... it doesn't taste right..... "
Hospital "Curt, why are you fidgeting? Can't you get comfortable?"
Curt "No!.... I'm not comfortable! Don't look at me. Don't you talk to me. Don't you touch me. Stay away. Stay away".


Toward the end of the film we get this small glimpse into the serial killer's mind, pondering his nonexistence and place in the big nowhere: "Nobody can see me anymore.... nobody can hear me... no one touches me.... I'm not here... I don't exist... I was never born... no one can see me anymore".

The film should have stopped here but sadly goes into another 15 minutes of awfulness that sadly leaves you feeling a bit like you too have entered the great nothingness. Perhaps worth it though for the many great moments found within this film. They can't all end as perfectly as they begin.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

the nineteen nineties, a compendium of classic cinema


The Cinema of the Nineteen Nineties.
 
Grainy poetic light flickering out of the darkness, sometimes bright, often dark. Darkness seeking light, light seeking none more black. Narratives structural in nature, or abstracted, crooked, always meandering. The art of failure, abjection, dirt dreaming of itself. The decade offered a different take on classic cinema.
 
The 1990s hard to imagine now in terms of day to day life. One could find themself in a grimy city with a bit of leisure time, spending an hour in video stores, or getting used cloths a dollar a pound.  No awareness of time, pre-digital flow where one takes things as they come, content to sit and stare, to listen in on conversations, to sit in a cafe and dream of nothing. To give (or get) a smile on the street, to pass out drunk in an alleyway. All night bicycle rides because who gives a shit, washing dishes for $4 an hour, reading Proust and listening to My Bloody Valentine. Hanging out in bookstores, used books, books by the foot, Marquis de Sade books published by Grove Press, academic oversized books with beautiful dust jackets and mylar covers. Occult bookstores, confusion over how to get in, how to get out!, how to get from one place to another, not caring.
 
In these vague times, I kept a copy of Leonard Maltin's Film and Video Guide in my bag and checked off titles with a pen as I watched them. When that wasn't enough I moved to black journals and created lists, lists and more lists. Lists of movies, lists of books, lists of albums to get. Writing things down unnecessarily, writing almost everything down. Not being able to keep up with the titles that were thrown my way. Watching the classics as much as the cinema of the times. French black and white films shot on the street! Made in the sixties, and made now. Not understanding the idea of the here and now, but rather finding that time blurs, not thinking of the relevant but more the irrelevant.

Part of this decade I worked at The Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge MA. I could get into any theater in town for free, watching so many films a day I could really not make sense of it. Casablanca in the morning, Wavelength in class, Dead Man (on a rewatch) whilst at work, and running over to Harvard Film Archive to see Vlada Petrić present the next film in a Tarkovsky retrospective. The current cinema, the cinema of the nineties, melded in so well with everything in a way that is almost hard to understand now.

Below is a list of key films from the period both independent and with box office draw. Some last seen when they came out, some only now, some never. Many recommended by friends, some with notes, some without. The idea is mainly just to give love to this fruitful period and hope that more will come out on blu ray or 4k or even stream. Many key films in this list are very hard to see now like James Mangold's Heavy or Victor Nuñez's Ruby in Paradise.

Thanks for immense help from Laura Braun, John Spell, and Chi Yun in creating this list.

:: 1990 ::

A Brief History of Time (Errol Morris)

After Dark, My Sweet (James Foley)

Alice (Woody Allen)
Classic Woody Allen film with Joe Mantegna, Mia Farrow, and William Hurt. Lovely interplay between Chinese medicine and an Upper East Side NYC life of privilege. Suburb color palette by the Italian cinematographer Carlo Di Palma whom shot much for Allen and Antonioni.

All the Vermeers in New York (Jon Jost)

An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion)

Another 48 Hrs. (Walter Hill)

Awakenings (Penny Marshall)

Baby Blood (Alain Robak)

Bad Influence (Curtis Hanson)
The eighties spilling over with Rob Lowe and James Spader, getting into a hyper 80s territory, aka the early 1990s.

Boiling Point (Takeshi Kitano)

Bullet in the Head (John Wood)

Cadillac Man (Roger Donaldson) 

Catchfire (Dennis Hopper)

The Civil War (Ken Burns)

Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami)

The Comfort of Strangers (Paul Schrader)
Schrader film that totally has his signature but also feels like someone else made it.  Stars Christopher Walken, Rupert Everett, Natasha Richardson, and Helen Mirren. Screenplay by Harold Pinter which was adapted from a Ian McEwan novel.

Cry-Baby (John Waters)

Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner)
Solid Costner film with the always awesome Graham Greene.


Days of Being Wild
(Wong Kar-wai)
Second Wong Kar-wai film, stars Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung. Shot by the drunken master Christopher Doyle who can make an outhouse look poetric. One of Wong Kar-wai's best in a filmography where basically every film is flawless.

Death in Brunswick (John Ruane)
Australian film with  Sam Neill.

Desperate Hours (Michael Cimino)
Remake of the 1955 film by William Wyler and also a hit Broadway play. Stars Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins, Mimi Rogers, Lindsay Crouse (from the world of Mamet), Kelly Lynch, and the truly amazing Elias Koteas. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Not an easy watch.

Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty)

Die Hard 2 (Renny Harlin)
More of a good thing but just a little less of it.

Dreams (Akira Kurosawa)
I remember seeing this film as a mere child (just under 20) at the height of my Kurosawa craze and saying to myself "this is a Kurosawa film?!?", but over a couple viewings really getting into the groove of it and loving the film.

Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton)
Not being properly adjusted enough to the goth style as a youth (or now), I am not sure where this fits into the history. I was for sure into music with gothic qualities in high school but was surrounded by farmers in a small town, so really no no idea of what was going on in cities. Watching this recently, Depp's outfit was a bit shocking to me. He in no way appears like an outsider but more the hippest kid in town.

The Exorcist III (William Peter Blatty)
Not usually into sequels but this one is pretty solid. Stars George C. Scott.

The First Power (Robert Resnikoff)

Flatliners (Joel Schumacher)

The Freshman (Andrew Bergman)

The Guardian (William Friedkin)


Ghost
(Jerry Zucker)
Was dismissive of this film from seeing it as a youth, but on seeing it a few years ago, it is quite impressive.

The Godfather: Part III (Francis Ford Coppola)

GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese)
Marty started out the decade in such a beautiful way with this film, one of his best and one of those films that got this viewer hyper aware of the language of cinema (shot length, edits, the classic Hitchcockian camera pulling back/zooming in shot). After seeing this film a few times in my late teens, the language of cinema was no longer a mystery, and films after became completely alive or just plain flat.

Green Card (Peter Weir)
Another film that seemed a little lame at the time but on a recent viewing was quite good. Nothing like a film by Peter Weir, or a 1990s film taking place in Manhattan.

The Grifters (Stephen Frears)

Hardware (Richard Stanley)

Henry & June (Philip Kaufman)
Fred Ward appears in Tremors, Catchfire, Miami Blues, and Henry & June in 1990. One hell of a great actor.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton)
From 1986, but not released until 1990. The rawness of this film continues to overwhelm.

Hidden Agenda (Ken Loach)

Home Alone (Chris Columbus)
Not a film I like but I love John Heard.

The Hunt for Red October (John McTiernan)

I Love You to Death (Lawrence Kasdan)

Jacob’s Ladder (Adrian Lyne)
Being in my first or second year of high school when these films came out, I was of course too young to fully understand them fully, but they sure made an impression. This one in particular scared the hell out of me and really changed the way I thought about the war in Vietnam, where my father served and thankfully came home from.

Ju Dou (Zhang Yimou)
So many great Zhang Yimou films this decade including Raise the Red Lantern, The Story of Qiu Ju, To Live, Shanghai Triad, and The Road Home.

The Juniper Tree (Nietzchka Keene)

Kindergarten Cop (Ivan Reitman)

King of New York (Abel Ferrara)
My favorite Ferrara film. Personally I would love to snap his fingers and walk outside to the city presented in this film instead of the Starbucks and rotten Chick-fil-Lays.

La Femme Nikita (Luc Besson)
Some films from this period work for some, and not for others.

Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh)
After seeing Naked in the theater as a youth, Mike Leigh quickly became one of my farorite directors. Still is. Endless wonderful films from him including this one.

Lionheart (Sheldon Lettich)

Lisa (Gary Sherman)

Lord of the Flies (Harry Hook)

Maniac Cop 2 (William Lustig)
Only discovered the films of Lustig recently, some fantastic work, and even the sequels which is rare.

The Match Factory Girl (Aki Kaurismäki)
Never saw a Kaurismäki film until early 2000s, another filmmaker like Mike Leigh that once you see their work, your view of cinema is completely changed.

Mermaids (Richard Benjamin)
I love Bob Hoskins in this film. Directed by Richard Benjamin who starred in Diary of a Mad Housewife, Goodbye, Columbus, Westworld and others where he leaves quite an impression.

Metropolitan (Whit Stillman)


Miami Blues
(George Armitage)
Great film with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fred Ward, and Alec Baldwin. The film has a great atmosphere to it, Ward is really so fantastic in this film.

Miller’s Crossing (Joel Coen)
In a career of outstanding films, this one really stands out for the Coen Brothers. Beyond the beauty of it, the film really takes multiple viewings to get a grasp on the story, very much in the Raymond Chandler and Robert Altman spirit.

Misery (Rob Reiner)
Another completely memorable film from the year (and decade). One of the best films from a Stephen King novel.

Mo’ Better Blues (Spike Lee)

New York Portrait, Chapter III (Peter B. Hutton)
Peter Hutton, the profound poet of the cinema's last film in the New York trilogy New York Portraits.

Pacific Heights (John Schlesinger)
Excellent use of San Francisco as a character.

Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston)

Postcards from the Edge (Mike Nichols)

Presumed Innocent (Alan J. Pakula)

Pretty Woman (Garry Marshall)
One of those films I saw as a stuck up youngster and was dismissive of, and later came to really like in my 40s. Had to de-punk rock myself a bit over the years to enjoy certain films.

Pump Up the Volume (Allan Moyle)

Q&A (Sidney Lumet)

Quick Change (Howard Franklin and Bill Murray)

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard)
At the time, the film was a bit of a head scratcher for a teenager NH kid, but certainly left an impression. Have not seen since then.

The Reflecting Skin (Philip Ridley)
Truly strange and original film with Viggo Mortensen, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Cooper, Sheila Moore. Not an easy film to digest, but quite unique to the decade and beautifully put together. Shot by the great Dick Pope .

Rocky V (John G. Avildsen)
Growing up in the 1990s, the Rocky sequels probably were watched more by youngsters than the first one (myself included). Not bad films though, worth watching, but the first is the best by far.

The Russia House (Fred Schepisi)

See you later / Au revoir (Michael Snow)
Very slow mo film by Mr. Snow.


The Sheltering Sky
(Bernardo Bertolucci)
Another quite original film from 1990. Paul Bowles story staring Debra Winger and John Malkovich taking place in Oran (Algeria). Wonderful atmosphere to the film. Shot by the great Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (The Conformist, Apocalypse Now, and The Last Emperor).

Slacker (Richard Linklater)

Stanley & Iris (Martin Ritt)

State of Grace (Phil Joanou)

Texasville (Peter Bogdanovich)

To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett)
The Los Angeles poet of cinema enters the decade with this classic.

Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven)
Seriously strange film from Verhoeven that many are completely obsessed with.

Tremors (Ron Underwood)
Another film that was on repeat for many kids in the 1990s, but somehow this viwer missed it. Stars Fred Ward, Kevin Bacon, Victor Wong, Finn Carter, and Michael Gross whom all really light up the screen.

Truly, Madly, Deeply (Anthony Minghella)

Trust (Hal Hartley)
Somehow I never saw Hartley's films in the nineties, and not until about 8 years ago did I spend any time with them. Perhaps as a immature young man I would have had trouble with the awkwardness and off beat dialogue, but now I truly love it and can't imagine the decade without his many great works. Sometimes it is good to hold out for certain works and let them really engulf you when you are ready.

Twilight (György Fehér)
From the Hungarian director who worked with Béla Tarr. The story of a retired detective who tries to find the murderer of a young girl.

The Two Jakes (Jack Nicholson)

Vincent & Leo (Robert Altman)

Visions in Meditation #3: Plato’s Cave
(Stan Brakhage)

Wild at Heart (David Lynch)
Some classic scenes in this film, especially with Willem Defoe. Not Lynch's best work but still pretty good. In college I made a "best of Wild at Heart" VHS, the film distilled down to around thirty minutes, that I rewatched the hell out of it.

The Witches (Nicolas Roeg)
Only saw recently and loved it. Off beat atmosphere, makes sense Roeg directed the film.

46/90 Falter 2 (Kurt Kren)
1998 I had only seen a few films by Kurt Kren, and then Steve Anker programmed a retrospective with every Kren film in one night to honor his death, a life changing event.


:: 1991 ::


A Brighter Summer Day
(Edward Yang)

A Kiss Before Dying (James Dearden)

A Rage in Harlem (Bill Duke)

The Addams Family (Barry Sonnenfeld)

The Adjuster (Atom Egoyan)
Extremely strange and uncomfortable Elias Koteas/Atom Egoyan film that is not a favorite, but certainly not without interest. Crazy role for Koteas, perhaps looking at this and Crash, and The Thin Red Line would give a strong glimpse at Koteas' range and screen presense.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (Simon Wells and Phil Nibbelink)

A Scene at the Sea (Takeshi Kitano)

Barton Fink (Joel Coen)

Billy Bathgate (Robert Benton)

Bloody Morning (Li Shaohong)

Boyz n the Hood (John Singleton)
Hugely influential first film by Singleton, written as an application to film school. Stunning performances by Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, and Regina King. Essential 90s.

Bugsy (Barry Levinson)


Cape Fear
(Martin Scorsese)
One of those rare films where a remake of a really solid film is on par or even superior to the original (Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers is another). Juliette Lewis, Joe Don Baker, Illeana Douglas, and Robert De Niro really stand out. I remember really watching the hell out of this film in college, always getting some sort of inspiration from it, one of Scorsese's best.

City of Hope (John Sayles)

Class Action (Michael Apted)

Clearcut (Ryszard Bugajski)
The last few years doing research into horror films, this one staring Graham Greene came up pretty early on as an essential under appreciated film to see. Can't find it anywhere, so it remains a mystery.

Closet Land (Radha Bharadwaj)

The Commitments (Alan Parker)
Outstanding film from Alan Parker about the formation of a working-class soul band in Dublin Ireland. Such a great portrait of a world any interesting person would want to get a look into.

Crooked Hearts (Michael Bortman)
Solid cast with Peter Berg (The Last Seduction), Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Coyote, Juliette Lewis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a young Joshua Jackson. Fucked up coming of age film.

Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash)

Dead Again (Kenneth Branagh)

Defending Your Life (Albert Brooks)

Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse (Stan Brakhage)

Departure (Saul Levine)

The Doctor (Randa Haines)

Dogfight (Nancy Savoca)
A group of jarheads try to outdo one another by getting the ugliest date and River Phoenix ends up with the very not ugly Lili Taylor. This film probably wouldn't have worked if directed by a man. In addition to a classic 90s indie film it is a beautiful portrait of San Francisco which is always something to look forward to.

The Doors (Oliver Stone)

Double Impact (Sheldon Lettich)

Elegy (Joe Gibbons)

Europa (Lars von Trier)
Visually stunning film influenced by Franz Kafka's Amerika.

Eve of Destruction (Duncan Gibbins)

Father of the Bride (Charles Shyer)

The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam)

Flight of the Intruder (John Milius)

Flirting (John Duigan)

Frankie and Johnny (Garry Marshall)
Romantic comedy (aka romcom) starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. Saw this film a few times in high school but the romantic element most likely put me off. Really left an impression when seeing it recently, partially because of the 1990s NYC as starring character.

Fried Green Tomatoes (Jon Avnet) 

Grand Canyon (Lawrence Kasdan)

Guilty by Suspicion (Irwin Winkler)
Worth seeing for those wishing to learn more about one of the many stains in American history; McCarthyism. Directed by the renowned producer Irwin Winkler (Rocky franchise, New York, New York, The Right Stuff, Goodfellas, The Irishman and many more) whose new book is an engaging look at the process of making a film from idea to screen.

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (Simon Wincer)
Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson. Not a bad film.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola)
Essential doc on the making of a film.

Herein (Marjorie Keller)

He Said, She Said (Ken Kwapis and Marisa Silver)

Homicide (David Mamet)
Classic Mamet.

The Indian Runner (Sean Penn)
Definitely of interest for fans of Viggo Mortensen and David Morse.

The Inland Sea (Lucille Carra)
Documentary inspired by Donald Richie's poetic travelogue of the islands of Japan, with music is by Toru Takemitsu.

Is As Is (Saul Levine)

Jacquot de Nantes (Agnes Varda)

JFK (Oliver Stone)

Jumpin at the Boneyard (Jeff Stanzler)

Jungle Fever (Spike Lee)

Kafka (Steven Soderbergh)

La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette)
Great film which is partially remembered for the nude modeling of Emmanuelle Béart.

La double vie de Véronique (Krzysztof Kieślowski)
One of those films most self respecting film students of the 1990s would watch over and over and over and over, especially if they happen to have any Polish blood in them. Essential 90s film and one of Kieślowski's best.

L.A. Story (Mick Jackson)

Liebestraum (Mike Figgis)

Lionheart (Sheldon Lettich)

The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax)

The Man in the Moon (Robert Mulligan)

Map of the Human Heart (Vincent Ward)

Mississippi Masala (Mira Nair)

Mister Johnson (Bruce Beresford)

Mortal Thoughts (Alan Rudolph)


My Own Private Idaho
(Gus Van Sant)
Profound film by Gus Van Sant that really expands the possibilities of narrative cinema.

Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg)

New Jack City (Mario Van Peebles)

Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch)
One great film in a career of great films. Four sections include Gena Rowlands/Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl/Giancarlo Esposito (I sure love this one), Isaach De Bankolé/Béatrice Dalle, Roberto Benigni/Paolo Bonacelli, and the very Aki Kaurismäki Helsinki ending with Kari Väänänen/Sakari Kuosmanen/Tomi Salmela.

Once Around (Lasse Hallström)

Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow)
My wife and I watch this film about twice a year. Perfect film.

Poison (Todd Haynes)
Was initially introduced to the work of Todd Haynes in film school (pre Safe) with this and his Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, both films have become slightly difficult to see these days. Good pairing with the work of Jean Genet or Jean Cocteau.

The Prince of Tides (Barbra Streisand)
Perhaps a bit over the top performance by Nick Nolte, but worth watching. Yet another memorable portrait of New York City in the 1990s.

Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse)
Have seen twice in the last few years, truly inspiring work starring Hugo Weaving, Geneviève Picot and Russell Crowe. Hugo Weaving plays a blind photographer, which is a great way to begin thinking of a film, similarly to Elliott Gould in Little Murders being a photographer of dog shite.

Queens Logic (Steve Rash)


Raise the Red Lantern
(Zhang Yimou)
This film really brings into consciousness the idea of a color palette being a character in a film.

Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge)

The Rapture (Michael Tolkin)
Film follows Mimi Rogers' days of debauchery that transforms into cultism, showing perhaps that they are not far from one another.

Rear Window (Ernie Gehr)

Regarding Henry (Mike Nichols)

Rhapsody in August (Akira Kurosawa)

Ricochet (Russell Mulcahy)

Riff-Raff (Ken Loach)
Starring Robert Carlyle and Ricky Tomlinson.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Kevin Reynolds)

Run (Geoff Burrowes)

Rush (Lili Fini Zanuck)
Stars Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sam Elliott, and Max Perlich.

Scenes from a Mall (Paul Mazursky)

Scum (Alan Clarke)
TV movie version of the 1979 film aired in 1991 perhaps beginning a small revival of Clarke's work.

Shattered (Wolfgang Petersen)

Shout (Jeffrey Hornaday)

Showdown in Little Tokyo (Mark L. Lester)

The Silence of the Lambs
(Jonathan Demme)
Very good example of some elements of progressive subculture from the 1980s and 1990s making their way into a Hollywood film.  From the soundtrack featuring Colin Newman's Alone, and of course Q. Lazzarus' Goodbye Horses to the lifestyle and interest of Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill. This film has been constantly on my mind since first seeing it in the early 90s and contributes greatly to what I look for in film, from its innovative yet subtle structure, to its potrayal of darkness.

Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón)

The Stranger (Satyajit Ray)

The Super (Rod Daniel)

The Taking of Beverly Hills (Sidney J. Furie)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron)
One of the great sequels with a perfect first quarter.

Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott)
When I was in high school, this film was often on television and I would see it often, but not again until recently. Really has that Ridley Scott quality and a beautiful message of feminism.

This Side of Paradise (Ernie Gehr)
Sounds and images from the Polish flea-market in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin.

Tous les Matins du Monde (Alan Corneau)
Stunning film with soundtrack by Jordi Savall (Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais).

Toy Soldiers (Daniel Petrie Jr.)

True Colors (Herbert Ross)

Until the End of the World (Wim Wenders)


Van Gogh
(Maurice Pialat)
One of the finest biopics, Jacques Dutronc plays a wonderful late Van Gogh.

What About Bob? (Frank Oz)

Where Angels Fear to Tread (Charles Sturridge)

White Fang (Randal Kleiser)

World of Glory (Roy Andersson)

Your Television Traveler (Larry Gottheim)

47/91 Ein Fest (Kurt Kren)


:: 1992 ::



A Few Good Men
(Rob Reiner)

American Heart (Martin Bell)
Epitome of the classic 90s indie film, from the director of the 1984 film Streetwise about homeless youths living on the streets of Seattle WA. Jeff Bridges as a ex-con father who doesn't give a shite, and his increassingly streetwise son Edward Furlong.

A Midnight Clear (Keith Gordon)

And Life Goes On (Abbas Kiarostami)

A River Runs Through It (Robert Redford)
Bob Redford's classic film based on Norman Maclean's novella, starring Brad Pitt that takes place in
Missoula Montana. Solid score by Mark Isham.


Bad Lieutenant
(Abel Ferrara)
Saw this film many times when I was way to young to see it and I am sure it had a strange influence on seeing the world. Perfect film that just hits every time.

Baraka (Ron Fricke)

Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven)

Batman Returns (Tim Burton)

Beethoven (Brian Levant)

Benny’s Video (Michael Haneke)
Certainly not a film for everyone, I remember in the early 2000s renting all of Haneke's films after seeing The Piano Teacher, and finding this one on the more shocking side.

The Best Intentions (Bille August)
Written by Ingmar Bergman.

Blade Runner Director's cut (Ridley Scott)
A big deal when this cut hit the streets.

Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins)

The Bodyguard (Mick Jackson)
Was always struck by how strange it was that Whitney Houston's character would sit around the pool listening to her own music. Haven't seen since 1992, but remember that odd detail which at the time made this viewer uncomfortable and does even more now.


Bram Stoker's Dracula
(Francis Ford Coppola)
Heavy performances by Gary Oldman and Tom Waits. As a kid I had the double VHS sets of Godfather 1 & 2 and was particularly interested in this when it came out, but didn't particularly like the film at the time, but it had some moments.

Candyman (Bernard Rose)
Much loved supernatural horror film written by Clive Barker with Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Kasi Lemmons, and Xander Berkeley whom always does pretty uncomfortable scumbag-oriented roles like in Safe, Heat, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Chaplin (Richard Attenborough)
Robert Downey Jr. as Chaplin.

Ciao Professore! (Lina Wertmüller)

City of Joy (Roland Joffé)

Cold Heaven (Nicolas Roeg)

Consenting Adults (Alan J. Pakula)

Cool World (Ralph Bakshi)
Not to be confused with the very wonderful 1963 film by Shirley Clarke The Cool World. Bakshi known for his many fantasy films of the 1970s and 1980s.


The Crying Game
(Neil Jordan)
Perhaps one of this viewer's favorite films from the 1990s, Neil Jordan's classic film peripheral to "The Troubles" of the IRA with Jaye Davidson!, Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson, and of course Forest Whitaker with his lovely frog and scorpion bit. Also lovely performance by Jim Broadbent as barkeep and matchmaker Col. One of those once a year films for this viewer.

Damage (Louise Malle)

Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis)

Deep Cover (Bill Duke)

Dervish Machine (Jeanne Liotta and Bradley Eros)

El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez)

Enchanted April (Mike Newell)
Great cast including Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, Polly Walker, and Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Michael Kitchen, and Jim Broadbent.

Fishing with John (John Lurie)


Gas Food Lodging
(Allison Anders)
Quintissential indie film from the 90s with score by J. Mascis and starring  Brooke Adams, Ione Skye, Fairuza Balk, James Brolin, Donovan Leitch, and Chris Mulkey (pictured above, also known for Hank Jennings in Twin Peaks).

Gladiator (Rowdy Herrington)
From Road House director, boxing film starring Cuba Gooding Jr., James Marshall, Brian Dennehy, and Robert Loggia.

Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley)
Star-studded film that overwhelms every viewing. I remember my father recommended this to me in the mid ninties because he said it reminded him of the many jobs he had in sales, which I still think of when I watch it.

Guncrazy (Tamra Davis)

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (Curtis Hanson)

Hard Boiled (John Woo)
Hard to convey how much of a shocker it was to see this film for the first time in the early 1990s, even for someone that grew up watching martial arts films. Key film from the 1990s.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (Anthony Hickox)

Highway 61 (Bruce McDonald)

Hoffa (Danny DeVito)
Written by David Mamet with Jack Nicholson as Hoffa. Have not seen since the day but would be interesting to compare with Al Pacino's Hoffa in The Irishman.


Howards End
(James Ivory)
In a filmography of profound films, this one stands out for Merchant Ivory. Memorable post magic hour opening sequence which is pictured above.

Husbands and Wives (Woody Allen)
One of Allen's most essential films from the 90s, starring Mr. Allen himself, Mia Farrow, Sydney Pollack, Judy Davis, Lysette Anthony, Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson and Blythe Danner. Handheld camera work by Carlo Di Palma (Antonioni etc.).

Immaculate Conception (Jamil Dehlavi)
Strange one by Jamil Dehlavi who is responsible for the 1986 film Born of Fire.

Indochine (Régis Wargnier)


In the Soup
(Alexandre Rockwell)
Another quintessential 1990s indie film with Steve Buscemi as would-be filmmaker and cosa nostraesque Seymour Cassel his producer.

Juice (Ernest R. Dickerson)

The Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann)
Mann's adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, Jodhi May, Russell Means, Wes Studi, Pete Postlethwaite, and Jared Harris. Shot by Dante Spinotti. Beautiful film.

La Vie de Bohème (Aki Kaurismäki)
Kaurismäki stunning buddy film about Paris artists beautifully lacking in profundity, whom mostly enjoy a bit of wine and talk.

Laws of Gravity (Nick Gomez)
Crime drama starring Peter Green and Edie Falco.

Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon)

Lessons of Darkness (Werner Herzog)
Stunningly shot film about the Kuwaiti oil fields in flames.

Like Water for Chocolate (Alfonso Aráu)


Light Sleeper
(Paul Schrader)
One of the best of 1992; Schrader's moody and intellectual film about yuppie NYC drug dealers Willem Dafoe, Susan Sarandon, and David Clennon.

The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies)
Coming-of-age story of a British boy growing up through a cinemic eye in 1950s Liverpool.

Lorenzo's Oil (George Miller)
Directed by Mad Max, Babe, and The Witches of Eastwick's George Miller. Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon search for a cure for their son's Adrenoleukodystrophy. Very much a classic example of 90s cinema.

The Lover (Jean-Jacques Annaud)
Marguerite Duras story narrated by Jeanne Moreau. Intense love affair acted by Jane March and Tony Leung in 1929 French Indochina.

Malcolm X (Spike Lee)
Solid Spike Lee Joint with The New York Times Best Actor of the 21st Century (So Far) Denzel Washington.

Man Bites Dog (Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux)
Popular film when it came out in the early 1990s, at least in Boston MA.

Map of the Human Heart (Vincent Ward)

Medicine Man (John McTiernan)

The Mighty Ducks (Stephen Herek)

My Cousin Vinny (Jonathan Lynn)
Essential for enthusiasts of the great Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci.

Noises Off... (Peter Bogdanovich)

Of Mice and Men (Gary Sinise)
Bizarre performance by John Malkovich. Also starring two 90s heavies Joe Morton and Sherilyn Fenn.


One False Move
(Carl Franklin)
Co-written by Billy Bob Thornton, and starring Bill Paxton, Thornton, and Cynda Williams. Good pairing with Sam Raimi's 1998 film A Simple Plan with Paxton, Thornton, and Bridget Fonda. Both great films.

Orlando (Sally Potter)
Introduced this viewer to Tilda Swinton.

Passion Fish (John Sayles)
One of the best Sayles films, in a career with so many damn good films. Beautiful and touching performances by Alfre Woodard and Mary McDonnell. Sayles always has that Classic Sayles male character often played by David Strathairn or Chris Copper (here by David Strathairn). Perfect film.

Patriot Games (Phillip Noyce)
Tom Clancy story.

The Player (Robert Altman)

Poison Ivy (Katt Shea)
Erotic thriller starring Drew Barrymore, Sara Gilbert, and Tom Skerritt.

The Public Eye (Howard Franklin)
Joe Pesci film.


The Quince Tree Sun
(Victor Erice)
This viewer most definitely did not see this in the 90s, probably not until 2000, and was hugely overwhelmed by it. A film in many ways about being content with failure, in a Beckett sort of way. I remember jumping out of my chair when Antonio López García put a grid of string before a tree to help him with perspective, just so stunning. This film began an obsession with not only Erice, but also Antonio López García's drawings and paintings which at the time (for Americans) could really only be seen through this film and the giant Rizzoli monograph.

Radio Flyer (Richard Donner)
Starring  Lorraine Bracco, John Heard, Elijah Wood, Joseph Mazzello, Adam Baldwin and Ben Johnson. Shot by László Kovács and music by Hans Zimmer.

Rapid Fire (Dwight H. Little)
Very much a solid and rewatchable Brandon Lee film. Not unlike Road House, the films minor imperfections really give a level of sincerity and beauty which somewhat lacking in Brandon Lee's more well known picture The Crow.


Ready-Made
(Saul Levine and Pelle Lowe)
Portrait of a nude Saul Levine with cigar approaching Édouard Manet's painting Olympia.

Rebels of the Neon God (Tsai Ming-liang)
Tsai Ming-liang's first feature film, starring Lee Kang-sheng whom is in basically all Ming-liang's film.

Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino)
This film was such a big deal when it came out it is hard to imagine a film having a similar popularity these days. I remember even playing the living heck out of the sountrack. Jackie Brown gives a smoother finish, but this film certainly has some good qualities.

Romper Stomper (Geoffrey Wright)
Russell Crowe as a neo-Nazi sleazebag in suburban Melbourne Australia.

Scent of a Woman (Martin Brest)

School Ties (Robert Mandel)
In the 90s this could be confused with Dead Poet's Society. Over the years of watching Dead Poet's so many times the confusion has cleared. Not a bad film, stars Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, and Anthony Rapp. Shot by the great Freddie Francis.

Shadows and Fog (Woody Allen)
Woody Allen's German Expressionist film.

Side/Walk/Shuttle (Ernie Gehr)
Gehr's elegantly photographed film illicitly shot from the elevator of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel.

Simple Men (Hal Hartley)
Classic Hal Harley film, one of the true originators of the 1990s independent film style.

Single White Female (Barbet Schroeder)
Erotic thriller with Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Singles (Cameron Crowe)
Gen-x Seattle romcom with Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, and Matt Dillon.

Sister Act (Emile Ardolino)
With Whoopi Goldberg and Harvey Keitel.

Sleepwalkers (Mick Garris)
Stephen King story starring Mädchen Amick.

Sneakers (Phil Alden Robinson)

South Central (Stephen Milburn Anderson)

Stay Tuned (Peter Hyams)
John Ritter film.

The Story of Qiu Ju (Zhang Yimou)

Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley)

Swoon (Tom Kalin)

Thunderheart (Michael Apted)
Neo-Western mystery starring Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard, and Graham Greene. Shot by Roger Deakins.


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
(David Lynch)
The VHS of this film was on repeat in my high school days, and a deep deep admiration and awe grew for the film. The film seemed to get much disrespect for many years, which has changed quite a bit over the years.

Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
For 1992, this is one of the best, and certainly one of the strongest 1990s Post-Westerns.

Unlawful Entry (Jonathan Kaplan)
"I got a cop who wants my wife!' Starring Kurt Russell, Madeleine Stowe, and Ray Liotta as the dirty cop. Loitta is pretty awsome in this film, an extremely uncomfortable performance that fills you with dread but also a small amount of humor.

Untitled (For Marilyn) (Stan Brakhage)

Visions of Light (Arnold Glassman and Todd McCarthy)
Discussions on the art of cinematography.

Voyager (Volker Schlöndorff)
Starring Sam Shepard, Julie Delpy, and Barbara Sukowa. Screenplay Rudy Wurlitzer.

Waterland (Stephen Gyllenhaal)

Wayne’s World (Penelope Spheeris)

White Men Can’t Jump (Ron Shelton)
For someone whom grew up hating sports, this was one of those films that I hated liking so much.


White Sands
(Roger Donaldson)
Seminal performance from Willem Dafoe, in his 1990s prime.

Wind (Carroll Ballard)
With Matthew Modine. Screenplay by Mac Gudgeon and Rudy Wurlitzer.

Year of the Comet (Peter Yates)

Zefiro Torna or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (Fluxus) (Jonas Mekas)
Jonas Mekas' portrait of Lithuania born head of fluxus George Maciunas.

1991: The Year Punk Broke (David Markey)
Documentary about the grunge/punk scene in the early 90s mostly from the point of Sonic Youth.


 :: 1993 ::



A Bronx Tale (Robert De Niro)
Adapted from Chazz Palminteri's 1989 play. Joe Pesci shows up for those like me with a major love of his career.

The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorsese)
For those who closely follow Scorsese's career, this might be a film passed over but it is actually quite beautiful and stands out in his 90s work. Lovely to see a boom mic in a shot, a reminder of how Scorsese has always remained bascially an independent filmmaker.

Alive (Frank Marshall)

And the Band Played On (Roger Spottiswoode)
For those growing up in the 1990s with cable in the house, and especially HBO, this would have been a film seen a few times. Matthew Modine stars in an early look at the AIDS Epidemic.

A New Life (Olivier Assayas)

A Perfect World (Clint Eastwood)
Solid Eastwood film with Kevin Costner as killer with somewhat of a heart.

Arizona Dream (Emir Kusturica)
Very strange with Johnny Depp as Faye Dunaway's lover, and Vincent Gallo doing North by Northwest inspired art performances.

Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi)

The Baby of Mâcon (Peter Greenaway)

Benny & Joon (Jeremiah S. Chechik)

The Birth of Love (Philippe Garrel)

Bodies, Rest & Motion (Michael Steinberg)

Boiling Point (James B. Harris)
Action thriller with Wesley Snipes, Dennis Hopper, Lolita Davidovich, and Viggo Mortensen.

Boulder Blues and Pearls and… (Stan Brakhage)

Boxing Helena (Jennifer Chambers Lynch)
Sherilyn Fenn, Julian Sands and Bill Paxton.

Calendar (Atom Egoyan)

Carlito's Way (Brian De Palma)
I mainly remember this film as being the first time I noticed the great Viggo Mortensen. Also some good work by Luis Guzman and John Leguizamo.

The Cement Garden (Andrew Birkin)

Clean, Shaven (Lodge Kerrigan)
Bizarre entry in the history of horror films with the murder spree of schizophrenic Peter Winter played by Peter Greene. Essential 90s indie and horror film.

Cliffhanger (Renny Harlin)

Cronos (Guillermo del Toro)
Guillermo del Toro's first feature film.

Dangerous Game (Abel Ferrara)

The Dark Half (George A. Romero)

Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater)

Dave (Ivan Reitman)


Dream Lover (Nicholas Kazan)
For those interested in the history of sex scenes, here we have some good ones with James Spader and Mädchen Amick. Not quite as intoxicating as the couple from Fargo ("where are ya?") but noteworthy.

Falling Down (Joel Schumacher)
Perhaps a bit dated especially with race related matters, but a strong Michael Douglas performance as a man who is just not going to take any more crap. Having never been to Los Angeles as a youngster, the city of this film is sort of how I imagined it.

Faraway, So Close! (Wim Wenders)

Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige)
Essential 1990s film distributed by Miramax Films.

Fearless (Peter Weir)
Jeff Bridges as yuppie who survives a plane crash and experiences PTSD. Peter Weir didn't make any dogs really.

Fire in the Sky (Robert Lieberman)

The Firm (Sydney Pollack)
One of those films I loved to hate when I was a teenager, but seeing it a few years ago, it is actually a pretty good film.

Free Willy (Simon Wincer)


From the East (Chantal Akerman)

The Fugitive
(Andrew Davis)
Exceedingly intense remake of the television classic here with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. My wife and myself watch this film once a year. Also great small role by Joe Pantolian/Joey Pants. Perfect film.

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis)
This is one of those films I really liked as a young man, and then grew to sort of dislike in my twenties god knows why, and then came back around to really loving in my 30s/40s. Has become one of those films I watch every couple of years and like more each time.

Grumpy Old Men (Donald Petrie)
Pretty solid Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau film with Ann-Margret, Kevin Pollack, Ossie Davis, and Daryl Hannah.

Guilty as Sin (Sidney Lumet)
Legal thriller written by the great Larry Cohen.


Hard Target (John Woo)
New Orleans film with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, and Wilford Brimley. Actually pretty good film, with some tangible chemistry between Yancy Butler and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (Duwayne Dunham)
Disney adventure film from the great editor of Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart.

Household Saints (Nancy Savoca)
To find quality lesser-known 90s indie films, one can take a look through the filmography of Michael Imperioli, who showed up in many NYC related independent films both before and after his starring role in David Chase's The Sopranos. In Savoca's Household Saints we also find other familiar faces from the show Michael Rispoli, Judith Malina, and Elizabeth Bracco.

Indecent Proposal (Adrian Lyne)
In college I would do a prank at the video store and put this VHS in the comedy section.

Indian Summer (Mike Binder)

In the Line of Fire
(Wolfgang Petersen)
Clint Eastwood tracks down assassin John Malkovich. Shot by the great John Bailey and music by Ennio Morricone.


In the Name of the Father (Jim Sheridan)
Based on the story of the Guildford Four who were falsely convicted of the 1974 Guildford pub bombings. Essential performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite. Great use of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Sheridan's other essential films are My Left Foot and The Boxer.

Joey Breaker (Steven Starr)
Interesting cast with some heavies from 90s cinema like Richard Edson (Sonic Youth's original drummer), Michael Imperioli, Seth Gilliam, Gina Gershon, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Joy Luck Club (Wayne Wang)
Essential film from Wayne Wang who's 1995 Smoke is beyond words.

Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg)


Kalifornia (Dominic Sena)
Wonderful serial killer film with Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny, and Michelle Forbes. Always loved the title/spelling of this film with K for killer.

Killing Zoe (Roger Avary)

King of the Hill (Steven Soderbergh)

Leprechaun (Mark Jones)

Little Buddha (Bernardo Bertolucci)

Łódź Symphony (Peter B. Hutton)
Hutton's portrait of Łódź Poland.

Lost in Yonkers (Martha Coolidge)
From the Neil Simon play with Mercedes Ruehl, Richard Dreyfuss, Irene Worth, and David Strathairn.

Malice (Harold Becker)

Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen)
One of the best Woody Allen films of the decade. Memorable performances by Jerry Adler and Anjelica Huston.

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (William Lustig)

Matinee (Joe Dante)

M. Butterfly (David Cronenberg)

Menace II Society (The Hughes Brothers)
A tough watch from Albert and Allen Hughes.

Mi Vida Loca (Allison Anders)

Mr. Wonderful (Anthony Minghella)

Mrs. Doubtfire (Chris Columbus)

Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh)

Music of Chance (Philip Haas)
Written by Paul Auster, Belinda Haas, and Philip Haas. Always into seeing films with M. Emmet Walsh.


Naked (Mike Leigh)
Life was forever changed for this 18 year old after seeing Naked at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre in Wilton NH (pictured above). The theatre is operated by Dennis Markaverich in the town hall of Wilton, an old industrial New England town which once had a water-powered textile mill. Frequent visits here kickstarted a life long obsession with film, with very strong memories of seeing quite a few late 80s and early 90s independent films there like Go Fish, Gas Food Lodging, The Piano, and The Last Temptation of Christ which I believe for those living in NH was the only place to see this film.

Naked In New York (Daniel Algrant)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick)
Produced by Tim Burton.

Passage à l’acte (Martin Arnold)
Arnold's re-edit of the classic Robert Mulligan To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Pelican Brief (Alan J. Pakula)

Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme)
Demme's devastating film on the AIDS Epidemic with emotional and subtle performances by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Small roles like Silence of the Lambs' Q Lazzarus as party singer, Paul Lazar as Dr. Klenstein, Repo Man's Tracey Walter as bigoted Librarian, Roger Corman as Mr. Roger Laird, and Robert Ridgely (The Colonel from Boogie Nights) as king bigot Walter Kenton. Bruce Springsteen's Streets of Philadelphia, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, opens the film and Neil Young's heartbreaking Philadelphia closes. Score by Howard Shore gives a slight Silence of the Lambs or Cronenbergian eerie quality which mirrors the homophobic pulse central to the story.


The Piano (Jane Campion)
Film has two endings: Ada dying (Campion's chosen bleak ending), or her starting a new life with Harvey Keitel which we see in the film. This of course would have gone over my head as a 18 year old but now is quite fascinating. Deservedly won the Palme D'or.

Poetic Justice (John Singleton)

Posse (Mario Van Peebles)


Red Rock West (John Dahl)
Groundbreaking early 90s film with Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, J. T. Walsh and Dennis Hopper. One of the best of the year.

The Remains of the Day (James Ivory)
Perhaps the most well-known Merchant Ivory film, such a wonderful picture. Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and Harold Pinter (uncredited) after the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Overshelming performances by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.

Rising Sun (Philip Kaufman)
Based on the Michael Crichton novel. Stars Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, and Harvey Keitel.

Romeo Is Bleeding (Peter Medak)
A favorite Gary Oldman film. Watched the hell out of this film in the nineties on VHS. Good stuff.

Ruby Cairo (Graeme Clifford)
With Andie MacDowell, Liam Neeson, and Viggo Mortensen. Wiki says "One scene features Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law".


Ruby in Paradise (Victor Nuñez)
Perhaps the MOST underrated 1990s director; Victor Nuñez, who's other film Ulee's Gold from 1997 is equally profound. Ruby in Paradise is a character study of Ashley Judd's Ruby and her slow pace through life, her passions, her dealing with death, and certainly a profound quality beyond her years. Perfect film as is Ulee's Gold. Nuñez has been a long standing professor at the Florida State University College of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts.

Rudy (David Anspaugh)
One of the great sports films (coming from someone with zero interest!) with Sean Astin, Ned Beatty, Charles S. Dutton, and Lili Taylor.

The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung)

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg)
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian. I remembering people saying back in the day this was a sort of Disneyfication of the Holocaust, but the film stands up pretty well over all these years and the performances by Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are some of the best of the decade.

Searching for Bobby Fischer (Steven Zaillian)
Solid cast with Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley, and Laurence Fishburne. Cinematography by the great Conrad L. Hall. Good pairing with the recent Queen's Gambit.

The Secret Garden (Agnieszka Holland)
From the 1911 Frances Hodgson Burnett novel. Great film.

Shadowlands (Richard Attenborough)
Anthony Hopkins as C. S. Lewis and his wife Debra Winger.

Short Cuts (Robert Altman)
Would watch this film over and over and over in the late 90s, one of Altman's best and most dark films.

Six Degrees Of Separation (Fred Schepisi)

Sleepless in Seattle (Nora Ephron)

Sliver (Phillip Noyce)

Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano)
From the great Beat Takeshi. A must see in Japanese film history.

Stellar (Stan Brakhage)

Striking Distance (Rowdy Herrington)

Study in Color and Black and White (Stan Brakhage)

Sunset Grill (Kevin Connor)

Tales of the City (Alastair Reid)


The Thing Called Love (Peter Bogdanovich)
Aspiring Nashville singer songwriters Samantha Mathis and River Phoenix. One of the most memorable film posters of the 1990s.

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard)
Was a huge Gould fanatic in the 90s (still am) and remember having many of the laserdiscs of his films put out by Sony. This film came out and I remember it being of interest but honestly have no memory of the film and need to resee.

This Boy’s Life (Michael Caton-Jones)
Coming of age drama with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieślowski)
The Juliette Binoche chapter. Saw these films a couple/few years after they came out all in a weekend and, like most people, become quite taken by them. Every year after that I would say to myself a certain one was my favorite, White for example (the comedy of the bunch), but I kept changing my mind. Now perhaps I see it as a single film and don't really waste my time comparing them. I love the connections between all of the films from the palette to the characters. Not many trilogies quite like this one.

Three of Hearts (Yurek Bogayevicz)

Tombstone (George P. Cosmatos)


True Romance (Tony Scott)
One of the most essential early 1990s film with Quentin Tarantino script. Quite memorable scenes with James Gandolfini, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Walken. As a kid I remember being sort of irritated by Brad Pitt and his larger than life roles until I saw him as the drugged roommate quietly saying "Don't condescend me, man. I'll fuckin' kill ya, man" and not until the heavies leave.

Untamed Heart (Tony Bill)

The Vanishing (George Sluizer)
American Version.

The Wedding Banquet (Ang Lee)
Wonderful twist on the romcom by the master Ang Lee.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Lasse Hallström)
I remember a coworker who was an acting enthusiast saying back in the day that Leonardo DiCaprio's performance here was of no value because any actor can convincingly play someone mentally impaired, but over the years of rewatching this film DiCaprio's subtleties come across being quite strong and unique, and perhaps from the distance of 30 years the performance is pretty incredible for someone his age. It is interesting to compare his performance here with the stunning self-destructive trailer scene in Tarantino's Once Upon a time in Hollywood.  The film was shot by Sven Nykvist!

What’s Love Got to Do with It (Brian Gibson)

Wide Sargasso Sea (John Duigan)
From the director of Sirens.

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl
(Ray Müller)
Films by Leni Riefenstahl where quite popular back in the 90s and shown in many film schools and repertory houses. Not discussed as much now, but probably for good reason. Hard to not acknowledge the qualities of her film Olympia, but seeing it just once might be enough.


:: 1994 ::



The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott)
Classic road movie in Australia with Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Tom Shadyac)

Amateur (Hal Hartley)
Classic Hartley film with Isabelle Huppert, Martin Donovan, Elina Löwensohn, and Michael Gaston.

A Pure Formality (Giuseppe Tornatore)

Backbeat (Iain Softley)

Barcelona (Whit Stillman)

Before the Rain (Milcho Manchevski)

Bitter Moon (Roman Polanski)

Black Beauty (Caroline Thompson)

Black Ice (Stan Brakhage)

Blink (Michael Apted)
Neo-Noir with Madeleine Stowe and Aidan Quinn.

Blue Chips (William Friedkin)
Nick Nolte as college basketball coach.

Body Snatchers (Abel Ferrara)
Story by Raymond Cistheri and Larry Cohen.

The Browning Version (Mike Figgis)


Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen)
Jennifer Tilly as a truly rotten actress, Jim Broadbent as a big snacker enlarging throughout the film, and Dianne Wiest whom has one of the best lines regarding ordering 2 martinis in film history. Great Woody Allen film. I fondly remember seeing this at the MFA theater in Boston when it came out.

The Burning Season (John Frankenheimer)
With Raul Julia.

Captives (Angela Pope)

Clerks (Kevin Smith)
Maybe not a film for everyone but not without interest.

The Client (Joel Schumacher)
John Grisham novel with Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia, and Anthony Edwards.

Chungking Express (Wong Kar-Wai)
Most popular Wong Kar-Wai film with In The Mood for Love.

Clear and Present Danger (Phillip Noyce)


Cold Water (Olivier Assayas)
First Assayas film I saw, in a class taught by the avant-garde animator Lewis Klahr. Saw again a year later at the Walter Reade Theater introduced by Assayas himself with a few of his other early films. Still my favorite Assayas.

Corrina, Corrina (Jessie Nelson)

The Crow (Alex Proyas)
Includes music by Lustmord.

Crumb (Terry Zwigoff)
Classic Zwigoff. Goes well with his Ghost World and American Splendor by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.

The Days (Wang Xiaoshuai)

Dead Connection (Nigel Dick)

Death and the Maiden (Roman Polanski)

Disclosure (Barry Levinson)
90s erotic thriller.

Drift (Chris Welsby)
A study of winter light falling on the surface of water, metal and cloud.

Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee)



Ed Wood (Tim Burton)
Biopic on the most wonderful Ed Wood, perhaps not getting the respect these days he deserves. With the fetish for cult cinema now with box sets on every obscure filmmaker imaginable, and even their grandmothers, it is strange there is not a set on him yet. Martin Landau pictured above portraying the great Bela Lugosi and his bit "Pull the string".

Elementary Phrases (Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon)

L’Enfer (Claude Chabrol)


Exotica (Atom Egoyan)
Yet another very strange film by Egoyan with a memorable performance by Mia Kirshner as well as Elias Koteas, Sarah Polley, and Bruce Greenwood. Doing graduate film studies in the 90s, the big art house filmmakers in the circles I ran were Wong Kar-wai, Atom Egoyan, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tsai Ming-liang, and for the real serious cats there was Béla Tarr. Very pleasurable times getting to know the work of these masters. Some don't seem to be discussed as much lately by the current intelligentsia, so it was really nice to see the Criterion Channel recently putting some emphasis on Egoyan's work. His films are not exactly easy to watch, and definitely have a feel that might be slightly dated now but in a way that makes you long for the past.

Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis)

Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell)
Pretty good film in the romcom film history.

Fresh (Boaz Yakin)

From: First Hymn to the Night – Novalis (Stan Brakhage)

The Getaway (Roger Donaldson)
From the Jim Thompson novel with screenplay by Walter Hill and Amy Holden Jones. Stars Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, Michael Madsen, James Woods, and Jennifer Tilly. Particularly brutal scenes of cuckoldry that were quite shocking at the time.

The Glass Shield (Charles Burnett)
Crime drama with Ice Cube, Michael Boatman and Lori Petty (Point Break).

Go Fish (Rose Troche)
Groundbreaking film on lesbian culture. I remember seeing this with my mom perhaps first year of college and being slightly uncomfortable the both of us, but liking the film.

Hand Gun (Whitney Ransick)

Hated: GG Allin & The Murder Junkies (Todd Phillips)
I remember seeing GG Allin on the streets of Manchester NH when I was in high scool. Strange dude.

Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
Didn't personally see this until after LOTR. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's other really great film for this film enthusiast. Stunning performances by Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet.

Hoop Dreams (Steve James)

The Hudsucker Proxy (Joel Coen)

I Can’t Sleep (Claire Denis)

Il postino (Michael Radford)

Immortal Beloved (Bernard Rose)
Another classic Gary Oldman role, here playing old Ludwig van. Oldman's 90s roles are intoxicatingly sublime, with memorable roles in JFK, Bram Stoker's Dracula, True Romance, Romeo is Bleeding, Léon: The Professional, Basquiat, and some others.. I am more partial to Miloš Forman' 1984 film Amadeus as a composer biopic, but this is worth watching as well. Wondering why biopics of this quality are a thing of the past.

Intersection (Mark Rydell)

Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan)
Stars Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Stephen Rea, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, and a young Kirsten Dunst. Found the novel unreadable myself, but the film has some moments and overall is visually interesting. Worth a watch for Neil Jordan enthusiasts.

In the Mouth of Madness (John Carpenter)

Iron Will (Charles Haid)
Dog-sled race adventure film.

Killing Zoe (Roger Avary)

Ladybird Ladybird (Ken Loach)

La page blanche (Olivier Assayas)
Part of the television series Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge... which also included Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the ’60s in Brussels by Chantal Akerman (see below for more details).


The Last Seduction (John Dahl)
Linda Fiorentino in the ultimate nineties "erotic thriller" performance. With Peter Berg, Bill Pullman, Dean Norris, and the ever sleazy J. T. Walsh. Starts in NYC and moves (I beleive) to Up State New York.

Legends of the Fall (Edward Zwick)
Somewhat of a Western, based on the 1979 novella by Jim Harrison and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and Aidan Quinn. Not a bad film.


Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson)
One of the most memorable Gary Oldman performances... "bring me everyone... EVERYONE".

The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff)

Little Odessa (James Gray)
With Tim Roth and Edward Furlong.

Little Women (Gillian Armstrong)

Maverick (Richard Donner)

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (Alan Rudolph)

Muriel’s Wedding (PJ Hogan)
Outstanding performance by Toni Collette. One of the best of the 1990s.

Nadja (Michael Almereyda)
This was a big one back in the day but haven't seen since and not sure how it holds up.

Nell (Michael Apted)

Nobody’s Fool (Robert Benton)
Very good older Paul Newman role as a charismatic hustler living in Up State New York, with a solid cast that includes Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, Dylan Walsh, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gene Saks, Josef Sommer, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Philip Bosco.


Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the ’60s in Brussels (Chantal Akerman)
Part of the television series Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge... which also included Claire Denis' US Go Home, Olivier Assayas' La page blanche, and a few other films. Saw Akerman introduce this film at The Harvard Film Archive, still one of my favorites by her and hardly spoken of by the current intelligentsia.

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
The buzz around this film in 1994 was pretty overwhelming. Some truly memorable scenes in this film, sort of crazy that Tarantino could cram so many into a single film, the first that come to mind are the stories with Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis.

Queen Margot (Patrice Chéreau)
With Isabelle Adjani.

Quiz Show (Robert Redford)
Extremely rewatchable film with John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes, David Paymer, and Paul Scofield and cinematography by Scorsese's Michael Ballhaus. Music by Mark Isham whom did so many big films in the 1990s.

Reality Bites (Ben Stiller)
Very 90s film with Ben Stiller, Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Joe Don Baker, John Mahoney, and Steve Zahn. Early film for the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

River of Grass (Kelly Reichardt)

The River Wild (Curtis Hanson)

Run (Luther Price)
From the filmmaker responsible for the 1989 avant-garde classic Sodom.


Sátántangó (Béla Tarr)
Personally it is hard to see this as a 90s film as it is just so much in its own category and stands outside time. Tarr's language is really like no one before (although copied now) and utterly unique in film history like the films of Bresson or Tarkovsky. In 1994 my film professors said this was THE film to see, but at the time it was impossible in Boston, and not until a couple years later could I see this (at the PFA in Berkeley). Staggering that a filmmaker could make a 439 minute film so rewatchable. Essential score by Mihály Vig which is being reissued soon on vinyl.

The Secret Of Roan Inish (John Sayles)
So many great Sayles films in the 1990s, this one though quite unusual for him and a gem indeed, shot by Haskell Wexler mostly in Donegal, Ireland, and the Isle of Mull in Argyll, Scotland. Unbelievably beautiful film that it is rumored to be forthcoming on Criterion.

Serial Mom (John Waters)

Shallow Grave (Danny Boyle)
Classic 90s Boyle film along with Trainspotting.

The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont)
With Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Gil Bellows, James Whitmore, and the very memorable Clancy Brown. Seems many people either don't like this film or saw it too many times back in the day but I sort of ignored it until 10 years ago and quite enjoy watching it now.

Sirens (John Duigan)
Wonderful film where Hugh Grant plays an Anglican priest visiting an artist of pornographic scenes, played by Sam Neill, to disaude him from continuing in his pursuit of the flesh. Strong screen presense from Tara Fitzgerald, Pamela Rabe, Elle Macpherson, Portia de Rossi, and Kate Fischer but perhaps a tad too much nudity for some viewers.

Spanking the Monkey (David O. Russell)
Big film at the time with Jeremy Davies, pre the David O. Russell craze.

Speed (Jan de Bont)


Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Aki Kaurismäki)
Classic Kaurismäki film with some chill hanging out and drinking, driving, and dancing to traditional Finnish music. Includes his regular cast of Kati Outinen and Matti Pellonpää.

Three Colors: White (Krzysztof Kieślowski)
For so long my favorite of the color trilogy. Love the idea of Zbigniew Zamachowski's character not being able to make love to his wife (Julie Delpy) in Paris, but no problem in Poland. Classic low key Polish humor here which reminds me quite a bit of the Jerzy Skolimowski film Moonlighting.

Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Such a lovely film where the sometimes subtle and other times overt use the red is like a character in the film where you eagerly await every move they make. Many times I have watched this film just analyzing the use of the color. And of course Irène Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant's performances are stunning. Perfect film.

Through the Olive Trees (Abbas Kiarostami)

To Live (Zhang Yimou)
One of those wonderful memories is discovering the films of Zhang Yimou and spending the next month renting them all (Le Video in San Francisco) and truly falling in love. 

U.S. Go Home (Claire Denis)

Vanya on 42nd Street (Louis Malle)


Vive L’Amour (Tsai Ming-liang)
Tsai Ming-liang's second feature film about three people unknowingly sharing an apartment. Going to SFAI in the late nineties, a fellow student I was friends with had previosly worked with Tsai Ming-liang and lived in the infamous Taipei apartment when they shot the film.

Wild Reeds (André Téchiné)

Whispering Pages (Aleksandr Sokurov)

Wolf (Mike Nichols)

Wyatt Earp (Lawrence Kasdan)


:: 1995 ::



The Addiction (Abel Ferrara)
Lili Taylor stars in this NYU vampire film with Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, and Edie Falco, all faces one gets to know pretty well in the 1990s.

A Close Shave (Nick Park)
Very nice Wallace and Gromit film.

A Little Princess (Alfonso Cuarón)

Angela (Rebecca Miller)
Strange Vincent Gallo role as preacher.

Antonia’s Line (Marleen Gorris)
Described as a feminist fairy tale.

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson)

A Trick of the Light (Wim Wenders)

Babe (Chris Noonan)
Outstanding pig film with screenplay written by George Miller and Chris Noonan based on the book The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith.

The Basketball Diaries (Scott Kalvert)
Very popular film at the time, based on the autobiographical novel by Jim Carroll, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a drug-addicted high school basketball player, and his antics with friends. Also good for seeing 90s performances by Bruno Kirby, Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, Michael Imperioli, and Mark Wahlberg.


Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater)
First in the extremely profound Before trilogy by Linklater beginning Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline's (Julie Delpy) meeting and falling in love inspired by an evening Richard Linklater spent with a young woman in Philadelphia.

Blue in the Face (Wayne Wang and Paul Auster)
Follow up to Smoke which also came out in 1995.

Bouquets 1-10 (Rose Lowder)

Boys On The Side (Herbert Ross)

Braveheart (Mel Gibson)

The Bridges of Madison County (Clint Eastwood)
Lovingly humble relationship between Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Wonderful film based on the best-selling Robert James Waller novel.

Butterfly Kiss (Michael Winterbottom)
Amanda Plummer as bisexual serial killer.

Carl Th. Dreyer: My Metier (Torben Skjødt Jensen)

Casino (Martin Scorsese)

The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman)
Documentary based on Vito Russo's 1981 book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies.

Citizen X (Chris Gerolmo)
Hunting a 1908s Russian serial killer.

Clockers (Spike Lee)

Clueless (Amy Heckerling)
Huge fan of Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High from 1982.


Cold Fever (Fridrik Thor Fridriksson)
One of those really great 90s films that seems to be basically forgotten. Masatoshi Nagase (Paterson, Mystery Train, and Flirt) as a Japanese businessman traveling to Iceland.

Copycat (Jon Amiel)

Crimson Tide (Tony Scott)

The Crossing Guard (Sean Penn)
Jack Nicholson seeks vengeance on David Morse for the death of his daughter.

Cyclo (Tran Anh Hung)
Stars Lê Văn Lộc, Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Trần Nữ Yên Khê and won the Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice International Film Festival.


Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch)
Not only one hell of a beautiful film, but some of the best Neil Young guitar work ever.

Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins)
Shot by Roger A. Deakins.

Dead Presidents (The Hughes Brothers)

Desperado (Robert Rodriguez)


Devil In A Blue Dress (Carl Franklin)
Neo-noir film set in the 1940s with Denzel Washington in one of his best roles, and some great performances from Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, and Don Cheadle.  Stunning film.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance (John McTiernan)

Dolores Claiborne (Taylor Hackford)
Screenplay by Tony Gilroy after the Stephen King novel. Psychological thriller drama starring Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, and David Strathairn and music by Danny Elfman.

Doom Generation (Gregg Araki)

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (Christopher Monger)


Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai)
Some of the most stunning motorcycle images in film history which have a similarity to the driving sequence in Tarkovsky's Solaris.

Flirt (Hal Harley)
More well-known Harley film with some key 90s actors like Martin Donovan, Parker Posey, Bill Sage, and Harold Perrineau, Jr. (Smoke, Lost).

French Kiss (Lawrence Kasdan)

Georgia (Ulu Grosbard)
Lesser known nineties independent film starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mare Winningham. Exploration of their complex and messed up relationship.

Get Shorty (Barry Sonnenfeld)

The Grass Harp (Charles Matthau)

Hackers (Iain Softley)


Heat (Michael Mann)
For someone pretty deep in avant-garde and 90s independent cinema, seeing this in the theater was just unlike anything I had ever experienced. The viscerality of Michael Snow's La Région Centrale mixed with the sleaziness and color of Miami Vice which at the time was one of the best things on television.


Heavy (James Mangold)
Mangold's directorial debut, beautiful film starring Pruitt Taylor Vince and Liv Tyler. Not unlike some of the 1990 films by Steve Buscemi.

I Take These Truths (Stan Brakhage)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life
(Brothers Quay)
Robert Walser's Jakob von Gunten (the most beautiful novel in existence) with Mark Rylance and Alice Krige. The section with swaying students to vocal music by Lech Jankowski is quite memorable.

Jefferson in Paris (James Ivory)

Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach)

Kids (Larry Clark)
Every hip cat and their grandmother from Maine to Timbuktu was talking about this film in 1995. Looking back the film is of note for the wonderful Chloë Sevigny and also Leo Fitzpatrick from The Wire. The ending Sebadoh song Spoiled is really quite good.

La Ceremonie (Claude Chabrol)

La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz)
Huge buzz around this film when it came out.

Leaving Las Vegas (Mike Figgis)


Living on Oblivion (Tom DiCillo)
Steve Buscemi plays fictional director Nick Reve, and surrounded by actors and film technicians Catherine Keener, Kevin Corrigan, Dermot Mulroney, Danielle von Zerneck, James LeGros and Peter Dinklage. Good stuff.

Lumière and Company (Various Directors)
40 international directors make a film with the Lumière Brothers' Cinematographe camera with three rules: duration no longer than 52 seconds, no synchronized sound, and no more than three takes. Best one is David Lynch's Premonitions Following an Evil Deed.

Maborosi (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Beautifully poetic narrative by Kore-eda that washes over you like slow moving fog.

Mallrats (Kevin Smith)

Me Gut No Dog Dog (Luther Price)

Mighty Aphrodite (Woody Allen)
Screenplay inspired by Pygmalion. With Mira Sorvino, Helena Bonham Carter, Jack Warden, Olympia Dukakis, and F. Murray Abraham. Not one of Allen's best but worth watching.

Mr. Holland’s Opus (Stephen Herek)

The Neon Bible (Terence Davies)

New Jersey Drive (Nick Gomez)
Joy riding crime drama.

Now and Then (Lesli Linka Glatter)

One Hundred and One Nights (Agnes Varda)

Palookaville (Alan Taylor)
Saw this in the theater and have never heard anyone mention the film since. Very good, starring William Forsythe, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Vincent Gallo, Adam Trese, and Frances McDormand.

Party Girl (Daisy von Scherler Mayer)
Definitely essential for fans of the great Parker Posey.


Persuasion (Roger Michell)
My personal favorite of the British Jane Austen films / television shows. A BBC production with some truly outstanding performances by Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds, giving new definition to the word subtle. Mostly saw this on VHS and am not sure how one goes about seeing it these days.

The Prophecy (Gregory Widen)
Christopher Walken as Archangel Gabriel loose on the streets. With Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, and Viggo Mortensen.

Rumble in the Bronx (Stanley Tong)

Safe (Todd Haynes)
Astonishing film by Mr. Haynes, an extremely subtle critique of new age culture disguised as a psychological horror. A slight exaggeration, but features a truly disturbing sex scene between Julianne Moore and Xander Berkeley that in a way gets the environmental sickness started in the narrative.

Screamers (Christian Duguay)

Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee)
Ang Lee's Jane Austin film with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Hugh Laurie, Tom Wilkinson a, and Hugh Grant. Beautiful film.

Se7en (David Fincher)
Solid Fincher film, shot by Darius Khondji, where we see a bit of the 4AD/Vaughan Oliver aesthetic brought to the screen. Always loved the psychopath's notebooks and apartment.

Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou)


Smoke (Wayne Wang)
Written by Paul Auster. The most beautiful of 90s films. The project that Harvey Keitel has of photographing the street corner every day, rain or shine, without really considering himself an artist, is something that speaks very loudly to this viewer, the ultimate artistic expression that is sans ego and pretension. Wonderful performance by Harold Perrineau Jr. who shows up here in there in television and film but never had the career he deserved.

The Snowman (Phil Solomon)
“A meditation on memory, burial and decay – a belated kaddish for my father.” (Phil Solomon)

Species (Roger Donaldson)

Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow)

Sweet Nothing (Gary Winick)
Michael Imperioli and Mira Sorvino.

The Tie That Binds (Wesley Strick)
Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah as psychopathic couple.


To Die For (Gus Van Sant)
One of the great Gus Van Sant films with a screenplay by Buck Henry, music by Danny Elfman, and some really top notch performances by Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck, Matt Dillon, Illeana Douglas and Dan Hedaya. The story of Pamela Smart having her husband Gregg Smart murdered by her 15 year old lover and student William Flynn is particularly memorable for me as it took place my second year of high school 26 miles away in Derry NH. Crazy story at the time which was right out of a movie and seemed made up. In terms of the film, it is hard to imagine anyone being able to say no to Nicole Kidman in this film.

The Underneath (Steven Soderbergh)

Ulysses’ Gaze (Theo Angelopoulos)

Unzipped (Douglas Keeve)

The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer)

Welcome to the Dollhouse (Todd Solondz)
First Solondz film I saw, remember being quite uncomfortable in the theater but loving the hell out of the film. Such a masterpiece.


50 Feet of String (Leighton Pierce)
From the master of slow moving multiple exposed light.

49/95: tausendjahrekino (Kurt Kren)

:: 1996 ::


A Depression in the Bay of Bengal (Mark LaPore)
Lovely film by my old friend and teacher Mark LaPore. “I have made a film about traveling and living in a distant place which looks at aspects of daily life and where the war shadows the quotidian with a dark and rumbling step.” LaPore.

A Time to Kill (Joel Schumacher)
Courtroom crime drama based on a John Grisham novel with Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and a ton of other heavies from the period. Essential for McConaughey fans.

Basquiat (Julian Schnabel)
Jeffrey Wright as Basquiat, and David Bowie as Warhol and a ton of other stars. Nice use of Public Image Ltd.

Bastard Out of Carolina (Anjelica Huston)

Big Night (Stanley Tucci, Campbell Scott)
Great film with Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini,  and Allison Janney.

The Birdcage (Mike Nichols)
Solid remake of the 1978 film La Cage aux Folles. Screenplay by Elaine May (A New Leaf, Mikey and Nicky).

Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson)
Personal favorite Wes Anderson film. Worth seeing even for those not fans of his work.

Bound (Lilly & Lana Wachowski)



Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier)
In a year with stunning film after stunning film, this one really stands out. I remember really disliking it the first time I saw it in the theater, but over the next year becoming a huge enthusiast of the film and still try to watch it every so often to feed into its magic. The film includes stunning Panoramas between each chapter by the Danish painter, poet, filmmaker, sculptor, architect Per Kirkeby. Influenced by Trier's  Dogme 95 movement, although many of the rules are broken. Cinematography by Robby Müller.

The Cable Guy (Ben Stiller)
Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick. Interesting that this was directed by Ben Stiller, he has done a few good films over the years.

Caught (Robert M. Young)
Takes place in a Jersey City retail fish market, and stars Edward James Olmos and Arie Verveen.

Citizen Ruth (Alexander Payne)

Comingled Containers (Stan Brakhage)

Concrescence (Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon)

Crash (David Cronenberg)

Cremaster 1 (Matthew Barney)

The Daytrippers (Greg Mottola)
Classic New York City 90s indie film with Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci, Anne Meara, Parker Posey, Marcia Gay Harden, and Liev Schreiber.


Drifting Clouds (Aki Kaurismäki)
First of Kaurismäki's Finland trilogy, which also includes The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk.

Ed's Next Move (John C. Walsh)

Emma (Douglas McGrath)

The English Patient (Anthony Minghella)
One of those films I like to watch every few years, Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas as almost Gods in the realms of actorshippe, and some great work by Naveen Andrews, and Colin Firth. Sound design and film editing by Walter Murch which won him 2 academy awards. Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje whom also wrote the wonderful book The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. One hell of a film.

Escape From L.A. (John Carpenter)

Everyone Says I Love You (Woody Allen)


Fargo (Joel Coen)
Perfect 1990s film which this viewer has probably seen upwards of 20 times, about once a year is the regular rewatch schedule for me. I remember working at the movie theater and my mother came by and wanted to watch this film with me.

Flirting With Disaster (David O. Russell)

Fly Away Home (Carroll Ballard)
Stunning Ballard film with Anna Paquin, Jeff Daniels, and Dana Delany. Assiting Canadian geese in migration by having them follow Paquin in her small aircraft.

Foxfire (Annette Haywood-Carter)

Freeway (Matthew Bright)
Holy shit! Look who got beaten with the ugly stick!

From Dusk till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez)

Frozen (Wang Xiaoshuai)
Chinese film based on a true story of performance artist Qi Lei, who attempts to create a masterpiece centered on the theme of death.



The Funeral (Abel Ferrara)
One of this film viewer's favorite Ferrara films, stars Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Annabella Sciorra, Isabella Rossellini, Vincent Gallo, Benicio del Toro and Gretchen Mol. Stunning work of art.

Girls Town (Jim McKay)

Goodbye South, Goodbye (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Slightly abstract (as I remember it) crime drama by Hou Hsiao-hsien.

Grace Of My Heart (Allison Anders)
1960s pop music world with Illeana Douglas.

Gray's Anatomy (Steven Soderberg)

Habit (Larry Fessenden)

Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh)

Hamsun (Jan Troell)
Norwegian author Knut Hamsun played by Max von Sydow. One of the best modern writers, especially his novel Hunger, with shit bird interest in Nazism.


Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson)
First film by PT Anderson. He has made many great films since but never one better than this first masterpiece.

Hype! (Doug Pray)
Documentary on the grunge movement.

Independence Day (Roland Emmerich)
On the other side of the independent film.

Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas)


I Shot Andy Warhol (Mary Harron)
Another huge film at the time for those interested in independent cinema. Not mentioned too much these days. Stars the amazing Lili Taylor, with quite interesting moments from Jared Harris (Andy Warhol!), Martha Plimpton, Stephen Dorff (as Candy Darling), and Michael Imperioli (as Ondine).

Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe)

Kansas City (Robert Altman)
Slightly lesser know Altman film with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Harry Belafonte, Michael Murphy, Jane Adams, and Steve Buscemi.

Kingpin (Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly)
Really gross flossing scene with Randy Quaid. Solid Woody Harrelson performance. 

Kissed (Lynne Stopkewich)

La Promesse (Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne)
First really big film from the Belgian directors the Dardenne brothers.

Last Man Standing (Walter Hill)


Lone Star (John Sayles)
Sayles' most perfect film in a filmography with many perfect films. Stars Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Peña, Kris Kristofferson, and Matthew McConaughey. It is not surprising Sayles did so many scripts over the years, starting with Roger Corman and going all over the place with scripts like Alligator, The Howling, The Challenge, and Piranha. Just looking at Lone Star in terms of the narrative, it is like some kind of perfect stone giving off and reflecting light at times, completely monochromatic at others, just full of mystery but as plain as day. One of the most important films of the decade.

Looking for Mushrooms (Bruce Conner)
Revision of the original version from 1967 where Conner repeats each frame five times to make a longer version, and set to music by Terry Riley.

Love and Other Catastrophes (Emma-Kate Croghan)

Manny & Lo (Lisa Krueger)
Music by John Lurie. First starring role for Scarlett Johansson.

Mars Attacks! (Tim Burton)

Marvin’s Room (Jerry Zaks)
With Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronyn, Gwen Verdon, Hal Scardino and Dan Hedaya.

Michael Collins (Neil Jordan)

Mission: Impossible (Brian De Palma)
First in the series, not as good as the later films.

Mother Night (Keith Gordon)

Mulholland Falls (Lee Tamahori)

The People vs. Larry Flynt (Miloš Forman)
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

The Pig Fell Into the Well (Hong Sang-soo)
First film by Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo and film debut of actor Song Kang-ho.

The Pillow Book (Peter Greenaway)

The Portrait of a Lady (Jane Campion)
Adaptation of the Henry James novel with Nicole Kidman, Barbara Hershey, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Donovan, Shelley Duvall, Richard E. Grant, Shelley Winters, Viggo Mortensen, Valentina Cervi, Christian Bale, and John Gielgud.

The Present (Robert Frank)


Primal Fear (Gregory Hoblit)
First film for Edward Norton in a very subtle and complicated role.

Pusher (Nicolas Winding Refn)

Ridicule (Patrice Leconte)

The Rock (Michael Bay)
Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, and William Forsythe. Huge at the time, and later put out by The Criterion Collection.

Schizopolis (Steven Soderberg)

Scream (Wes Craven)

Screamers (Christian Duguay)
Screenplay written by Dan O'Bannon (Alien) with a rewrite by Miguel Tejada-Flores, and based on Philip K. Dick's 1953 short story Second Variety.


Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh)
In the mid 1990s it was easy to go from being a huge John Cassavetes enthusiast to transitioning into a huge Mike Leigh enthusiast especially living in Boston with Ray Carney teaching at Boston University. In the very extreme of my Leigh obsession, watching as many of his films as I could at the time, this beauty came out in the theater I worked at and I remember going into the theater as many times as I could when I was working to get glimpses of it, and coming back after work to watch in full. Perfect film. Classic Leigh cast includes Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn, Phyllis Logan, Claire Rushbrook, Ron Cook, Lesley Manville, Elizabeth Berrington, Michele Austin, Lee Ross, Emma Amos, and Hannah Davis.

Shine (Scott Hicks)
Geoffrey Rush plays the pianist David Helfgott, who suffered a mental breakdown from trauma inflicted by his abusive father. Rush was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Sleepers (Barry Levinson)

Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton)
"I sure do like them French-fried potaters." Wonderful film! Interesting cameo with Jim Jarmusch as Deke, the Frostee Cream employee.

Spitfire Grill (Lee David Zlotoff)
Indie film with a rather memorable performance by Alison Elliott. Also stars Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Will Patton, Kieran Mulroney, and Gailard Sartain. Based on the 2001 Off-Broadway musical of the same name by James Valcq and Fred Alley which one could assume is the reason for the only flaw in the film which is the unnecessarily sentimental ending. Cinematographer Robert Draper gives the film quite a unique look for the decade, heavy browns and high contrast, capturing the beauty of the landscapes and small towns of Maine.



Stealing Beauty (Bernardo Bertolucci)
Stunning film shot by Darius Khondji and starring Liv Tyler, Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, Jean Marais, Donal McCann, D. W. Moffett, Stefania Sandrelli,  and Rachel Weisz.

Suburbia (Richard Linklater) 

Swingers (Doug Liman)
Big when it came out, slightly hard to watch now. Strange memory of being in a closet-sized hotel room in Venice with red velvet wallpaper and a tiny tiny bed watching this on a microscopic television.

That Thing You Do! (Tom Hanks)
The rise and fall of a fictional 1960s one-hit wonder pop band. Liv Tyler is great in the film.

Thesis (Alejandro Amenábar)

Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)
This film sort of define a generation. Bloody great cast which includes Kelly Macdonald, Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, and Robert Carlyle. Not sure if it would hold up for everyone but hard to deny its place in 90s film history.


Trees Lounge (Steve Buscemi)
Perfect and extremely rewatchable Buscemi directed film. Crazy cast includes Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Mark Boone Junior, Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Eszter Balint, Carol Kane, Daniel Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Seymour Cassel, and Samuel L. Jackson. One of the best low key films of the decade. Not surprising that David Chase brought Buscemi on to direct The Sopranos Pine Barrens episode which is one of the most perfect television episodes in the history of the medium.

Triste (Nathaniel Dorsky)

Tuning the Sleeping Machine (David Sherman)

Twister (Jan de Bont)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
In 1996 the new 70mm print with DTS soundtrack played all over the country exposing young people like myself at the time to this fine classic.

Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest)


Walking And Talking (Nicole Holofcener)
Catherine Keener, Anne Heche, Todd Field, Liev Schreiber, and Kevin Corrigan. Wonderful scenes with Corrigan who works at a video store and wears a MBV shirt, he was such a big part of cinema of this period as was Liev Schreiber whom was in The Daytrippers this same year which has a similar feel.

White Squall (Ridley Scott)

2 Days in the Valley (John Herzfeld)

50/96 Snapshots (For Bruce) (Kurt Kren)

:: 1997 ::



Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood)
Clint Eastwood as theif who accidently steels from the wrong person. Good low-key film.

Affliction (Paul Schrader)
Perhaps the most difficult and serious of Schrader films. Not one you would want to watch over and over again but stands out in his oeuvre.

The Apostle (Robert Duvall)

As Good as It Gets (James L. Brooks)

Birth of a Nation (Jonas Mekas)
Music by Hermann Nitsch.

Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson)
First time I saw a PTA film, so huge at the time it is not surpising how influential he is now. Seeing this film again recently, the most striking moment was the crazy Alfred Molina scene.

The Boxer (Jim Sheridan)
Solid for fans of Daniel Day-Lewis, Emily Watson, and Brian Cox.

Career Girls (Mike Leigh)
Slightly unusual film by Leigh starring Katrin Cartlidge and Lynda Steadman as two college fuck-ups reuniting many years later as yuppies. Not one of his best but worth watching.

Chasing Amy (Kevin Smith)
Not being a big Kevin Smith fan, it is hard to deny this film being not without interest.

Chicago (Jürgen Reble)
Stunningly beautiful film with dust-noise soundtrack by Thomas Köner.

Clockwatchers (Jill Sprecher)
Stars Parker Posey, Lisa Kudrow, and Toni Collette.

Contact (Robert Zemeckis)


Cop Land (James Mangold)
One of the best films of the year, Cop Land stars Sylvester Stallone as small town police chief in a town that an endless number crooked Manhattan cops call home. Unbelievable cast includes Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra, Frank Vincent and Edie Falco. Good example of the visual ambiance that can be seen in films from this period.

Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Horror film Bong Joon-ho lists as one of the greatest films of all time.

Deconstructing Harry (Woody Allen)

The Deli (John A. Gallagher)

The Devil's Advocate (Taylor Hackford)
Not a film this viewer likes much, but the subway scene with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves is quite memorable and something I watch from time to time on youtube.

Donnie Brasco (Mike Newell)
Great low-key ganster film with a deadbeat lower level Mafia player portrayed by Al Pacino and his more ambitious protege Johnny Depp. Also great performances by Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, and James Russo. Small roles for Val Avery, Tim Blake Nelson, and Paul Giamatti. Solid film I have seen many times over the years which again is a great example of that visual ambiance we see so strong in this decade.

Dream with the Fishes (Finn Taylor)

The Edge (Lee Tamahori)
With Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle Macpherson, and Harold Perrineau.


The Eel (Shōhei Imamura)
One of those really outstanding contemporary Japanese films that I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who has seen. Very underrated and perfect film. One of those films that seems impossible to see these days.

The End Of Violence (Wim Wenders)

Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons)

Event Horizon (Paul W. S. Anderson)

Face/Off (John Woo)
American John Woo film with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Errol Morris)

The Full Monty (Peter Cattaneo)
Stars Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber and Hugo Speer. Popular film at the time.

Funny Games (Michael Haneke)
First of the Haneke Funny Games.

The Game (David Fincher)
Not completely satisfying film with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn.

Gattaca (Andrew Niccol)
A quite unique sci-fi film at the time with understated performances by Ethan Hawke,Uma Thurman, and Jude Law.


Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant)
Classic Van Sant film with Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellan Skarsgård, that perhaps at the time seemed a little overly commercial, but now is just a solid way to spend 126 minutes. Classic Elliott Smith soundtrack which made him an household name.

Green Fish (Lee Chang-dong)

Gridlock’d (Vondie Curtis-Hall)

Grind (Chris Kentis)

Grosse Pointe Blank (George Armitage)
Stars John Cusack and Minnie Driver.

Hani-Ba (Takeshi Kitano)
Aka Fireworks, the crime drama film written, directed, starring, and edited by Takeshi Kitano.

Happy Together (Wong Kar-Wai)
My personal fav of Wong Kar-Wai. Such an emotional and beautiful film.


Henry Fool (Hal Hartley)
The classic Hal Hartley film with Thomas Jay Ryan as Henry Fool, James Urbaniak as Simon Grim, and Parker Posey as Fay Grim. Really evocative names that Harley comes up with.

The House (Šarūnas Bartas)
Slow moving and moody film not dissimilar to the work of Alexander Sokurov.

The House Of Yes (Mark Waters)
Black comedy with Parker Posey.

The Ice Storm (Ang Lee)
Incredible Ang Lee film about bored upper middle class Connecticut couples in or approaching middle age. Visually stunning aesthetically, shot by Frederick Elmes. Love how the railway man says Conn ect tic cut which ever since seeing the film is how I say it, as a slight hommage to the film, which always yields a blank stare.

Insomnia (Erik Skjoldbjærg)
Flawless film with Stellan Skarsgård as a cop with questionable morality. Music by Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere.

Inventing the Abbotts (Pat O’Connor)
Coming-of-age film with Liv Tyler, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Baker, Will Patton, and Joanna Going.


Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino)
Adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel Rum Punch. This was always the most satisfying Tarantino film, which now has a partner with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Stands up very well to multiple viewings, as I have tested very well over the years.

Kundun (Martin Scorsese)
Can't remember if I ever saw this film, but I love the Michael Imperlioli line in The Sopranos where he says to a passing Martin Scorsese “Marty, Kundun ... I liked I it. “

LA Confidential (Curtis Hanson)
The Curtis Hanson film this viewer has rewatched endlessly, just so expertly put together and jaw-dropping performances by Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, and in addition Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, Ron Rifkin, and a memorable David Strathairn. Perfect film.

Lawn Dogs (John Duigan)

Life is Beautiful (Roberto Benigni)

The Life of Jesus (Bruno Dumont)

Lost Highway (David Lynch)
Problematic Lynch film with some really damn good scenes overall that makes it worth a rewatch every so often, especially the tailgating scene with Robert Loggia.

Men with Guns (John Sayles)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
(Clint Eastwood)
Solid Eastwood film with Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.

Mimic (Guillermo del Toro)
Guillermo del Toro's second film.

Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov)

Nil by Mouth (Gary Oldman)

Nowhere (Gregg Araki)

Paradise Road (Bruce Beresford)

The Rainmaker (Francis Ford Coppola)
At the time I probably wouldn't have wanted to see this film, but on watching it a couple of times over the years, it is actually a pretty solid film.

Rainy Dog (Takashi Miike)

The Relic (Peter Hyams)
A monster in Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

The River (Tsai Ming-liang)

She’s So Lovely (Nick Cassavetes)
Memorable scenes with James Gandolfini.

Smilla’s Sense Of Snow (Bille August)
Smilla Jaspersen played by Julia Ormond, investigates the mysterious death of a small Inuit boy who lived in her housing complex in Copenhagen.

The Spanish Prisoner (David Mamet)

Starship Troopers (Paul Verhoeven)
Yet another strange Verhoeven film, based on Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 novel.

Study of a River (Peter B. Hutton)
Hutton's portrait of of the Hudson River.

SubUrbia (Richard Linklater)


The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan)
Perhaps too everday kind of man of a thing to say, but this is my personal favorite Egoyan film. Stars Sarah Polley, Ian Holm, and Bruce Greenwood. Perhaps this film appears more regular than his others, but actually quite strange in a subtle way that hits hard as the film progresses. Amazing performance by Sarah Polley.

Taste Of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami)

Titanic (James Cameron)

Thomas Jefferson (Ken Burns)


Ulee’s Gold (Victor Nuñez)
As stated previously, Victor Nuñez is perhaps one of the most underated directors on this list. Ulee's Gold is his beautiful film following Ruby in Paradise with Peter Fonda as a beekeeper forced into a world unknown and distasteful to him dealing with criminality and abjectness.

The Van (Stephen Frears)

Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest)
Perhaps the best of the Guest directed film with all-star cast.

The Wings of the Dove (Iain Softley)
From the Henry James novel with Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliott, Elizabeth McGovern, Michael Gambon, Alex Jennings, and Charlotte Rampling.


:: 1998 ::


A Civil Action (Steven Zaillian)
Written and directed by the great Steven Zaillian, responsible for The Irishman, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, American Gangster, Gangs of New York, and Schindler's List.

After Life (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Kore-eda's second feature film after Maborosi and three documentary films. Functionaries in a way station between life and death.

Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (Martin Arnold)

American History X (Tony Kaye)
Edward Norton and Edward Furlong in an Los Angeles Neo-Nazi crime drama.


A Simple Plan (Sam Raimi)
Neo-Noir classic with Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda, and Gary Cole. Music by Danny Elfman. Perfect 90s film this viewer has spent many many hours in the dark with, rewatching and loving.

Babe: Pig in the City (George Miller)
From George Miller, known for his Mad Max series.

Besieged (Bernardo Bertolucci)

The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen)
Perhaps the film this decade that most people have watch over and over more than any other film. I worked with a guy that would quote the film numerous times a day and I loved it.

Black Cat, White Cat (Emir Kusturica)

Blade (Stephen Norrington)

The Boys (Rowan Woods)


Buffalo ’66 (Vincent Gallo)
Classic 1990s film with Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Ben Gazzara, Mickey Rourke, Rosanna Arquette, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Anjelica Huston. Buffalo ’66 brings the decade to a close in a way as it is like an amped-up version of the 1990s film, and gets into territory we see in the 2000s.

The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg)
Classic Dogme 95 film.

Central Station (Walter Salles)

Claire Dolan (Lodge Kerrigan)

Croupier (Mike Hodges)
British Neo-Noir with Clive Owen. First film I saw with him.

The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (Penelope Spheeris)
Lifestyles of gutter punks.

Down in the Delta (Maya Angelou)
Maya Angelou's only feature film as directer, with the great Alfre Woodard.

Elizabeth (Shekhar Kapur)

Enemy of the State (Tony Scott)

Eternity and a Day (Theo Angelopoulos)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam)

The General (John Boorman)

Gia (Michael Cristofer)
Story of the early days of AIDS with Angelina Jolie. Perhaps not good for religious folks as there is quite a bit of nudity.

Gods and Monsters (Bill Condon)
Fictionalized last days of the life of film director James Whale, played by Ian McKellen.


Happiness (Todd Solondz)
I'll never forget renting this from the Berkeley library and the librarian said "looks like you're going to have a fun weekend". One of the most messed up (and pleasurable) film ever made. Insane cast includes Jane Adams, Elizabeth Ashley, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ben Gazzara, Jared Harris (as the wonderful Vlad), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Louise Lasser, and Jon Lovitz. Still the best Solandz film.

He Got Game (Spike Lee)
Father Denzel Washington gets leave from prison to recruit his son into college basketball.

High Art (Lisa Cholodenko)

Hilary and Jackie (Anand Tucker)
Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths as sisters Jacqueline du Pré and Hilary du Pré.

The Hole (Tsai Ming-liang)
Another strange one by Tsai Ming-liang starring Lee Kang-sheng.

The Idiots (Lars von Trier)
Trier's classic Dogme 95 film.

The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman)

L.A Without a Map (Mika Kaurismäki)
From the brother of Aki Kaurismäki, starring David Tennant, Vinessa Shaw, Julie Delpy, Vincent Gallo, Joe Dallesandro, and Johnny Depp.


The Life of Birds (David Attenborough)
Essential Attenborough film with sound recordings by Chris Watson.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie)

Meeting People Is Easy (Grant Gee)
OK Computer period documentary on Radiohead.

One True Thing (Carl Franklin)

The Opposite of Sex (Don Roos)

Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh)
Written by Scott Frank (Logan, The Queen's Gambit), adapted from Elmore Leonard's novel. Stars George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Dennis Farina, and Albert Brooks.


Passion (György Fehér)
Based on The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. Beautiful Hungarian film up there with the later works of Béla Tarr. Saw this at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco around the turn of the century, very impressive they programmed this film.

Pi (Darren Aronofsky)
Aronofsky's first.

Psycho (Gus Van Sant)
Close to shot-for-shot remake of the classic.

The Power of Kangwon Province (Hong Sang-soo)

The Quiet Family (Kim Jee-woon)

Ringu (Hideo Nakata)
Successful entry in the history of J-horror films.

Ronin (John Frankenheimer)
Solid action film with  Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean, and Jonathan Pryce and written by written by John David Zeik and David Mamet.

Rounders (John Dahl)
For fans of another very underrated 90s director, John Dahl. Starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton as two high-stakes poker players.

Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer)

Rush Hour (Brett Ratner)
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.

Rushmore (Wes Anderson)

The Saltmen of Tibet (Ulrike Koch)
Chronicles a clan of Tibetan salt harvesters.

Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg)
I have seen this film 4 times or so over the last 20 years and enjoy the Normandy landings sequence and some other action sequences in the film, but the opening and closing sentimentality is really hard to stomach. Not without interest with great cast.

Slums of Beverly Hills (Tamara Jenkins)


Smoke Signals (Chris Eyre)
Young Native Americans living in Coeur D'Alene Indian Reservation in Plummer Idaho. Drove through there a few years ago, beautiful part of the country.

Stepmom (Chris Columbus)

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick)
In a filmography with so many seminal films, this has always been my personal favorite. Amazing to consider that there was a 20 year span of nothingness between this and Days of Heaven.

Too Tired to Die (Wonsuk Chin)

The Truman Show (Peter Weir)
Poor Jim Carrey's life taking place on a set for others amusement.

Twilight (Robert Benton)
Neo-Noir with Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, Stockard Channing, Reese Witherspoon, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Vampires (John Carpenter)

Velvet Goldmine (Todd Haynes)

Waking Ned Devine (Kirk Jones)

Your Friends & Neighbors (Neil LaBute)

You’ve Got Mail (Nora Ephron)
Remake of Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner from 1940 dealing with the shuttering of many independent book stores with the coming of the corporate giants. Not a bad film.

Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl (Joan Chen)

42 Up (Michael Apted)


:: 1999 ::


All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar)

American Beauty (Sam Mendes)

Analyze This (Harold Ramis)
Not completely without interest. Mafia spoof with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. The lighter side of the decade.

Angela's Ashes (Alan Parker)

Arlington Road (Mark Pellington)

Audition (Takashi Miike)
Extremely creepy J-horror film that is hard to forget.

A Walk on the Moon (Tony Goldwyn)
Starring Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Liev Schreiber and Anna Paquin.

Beau Travail (Claire Denis)

Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze)
The last year of the decade pushes us into "the aughts" with some films that have really bothered this particular viewer over the years, films that have qualities (as stated by others) that are difficult or impossible personally to see. In addition it is perplexing how strong of a hold these films have on the average cinephile. Films like Matrix, Being John Malkovich, Eyes Wide Shut, The Virgin Suicides, and Fight Club, one is almost afraid to speak ill of them for fear of a public persecution.

The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez)
This film received much publicity at the time for its novel qualities. Wasn't a big fan at the time but perhaps with another viewing would convert me.

Blast from the Past (Hugh Wilson)

The Bone Collector (Phillip Noyce)
Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah, Michael Rooker, and Luis Guzman.

Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Pierce)

Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders)
The Buena Vista Social Club hangs with Ry Cooder.

But I’m A Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit)

Bringing Out the Dead (Martin Scorsese)

Charisma (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)


The Cider House Rules (Lasse Hallström)
Novel and Screenplay by John Irving. Near flawless film with Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Michael Caine, Jane Alexander, Kathy Baker, Kieran Culkin, Heavy D, Kate Nelligan, and the signer Erykah Badu. Classic Miramax film.

Dark City (Alex Proyas)

Double Jeopardy (Bruce Beresford)

Election (Alexander Payne)
Essential Payne film.

eXistenZ (David Cronenberg)

Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick)

Felicia’s Journey (Atom Egoyan)

Fight Club (David Fincher)

Genghis Blues (Roko Belic)
Blind American singer Paul Pena visits Tuva to learn from the Tuvan throat singing.

Girl, Interrupted (James Mangold)
Winona Ryder as a young woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Also starts Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Moss, Angela Bettis, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jared Leto. Mangold manages to always deliver a solid film.


Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch)
Highest level of love goes to this Jarmusch film and the solid soundtrack by RZA.

Go (Doug Liman)
Sort of a mess of a film.

The Green Mile (Frank Darabont)
Tom Hanks as a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression, based on the Stephen King 1996 novel.

Holy Smoke (Jane Campion)

Miramax film where Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel get into some sexual mischief. Music by Angelo Badalamenti.

The Hurricane (Norman Jewison)

Denzel Washington as Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter, the former middleweight boxer who was wrongly convicted for a triple murder in a bar in Paterson, New Jersey.

The Insider (Michael Mann)

One of Mann's best, shot by Dante Spinotti, and music by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke. The very Mannian cast brings many levels of meaning to the film: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora (an interesting contrast to her performance in Heat), Philip Baker Hall, and Lindsay Crouse.

Jesus’ Son (Alison Maclean)


Juha (Aki Kaurismäki)
Loosely based on the 1911 novel by the Finnish author Juhani Aho.

Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano)

L'Humanité (Bruno Dumont)

Hard to believe this film is from 1999, seems partially like it was made yesterday, and partly like some film from the 1980s.

Limbo (John Sayles)

Shot by Haskell Wexler and featuring Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, David Strathairn, Vanessa Martinez and Kris Kristofferson. Like many from this decade, one of Sayles' best.

The Limey (Steven Soderbergh)
At times overly edited, but really a stunning Soderbergh film and Terence Stamp performance.

Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson)

I always am afraid to say this, but Magnolia is my least favorite PTA film, right along The Master. A few really solid moments though make it worth a rewatch every now and again, specifically the Tom Cruise character.

The Matrix (Lilly & Lana Wachowski)

The Mission (Johnnie To)

Mystery, Alaska (Jay Roach)

The Ninth Gate (Roman Polanski)

Very nice novel but the film gets lost somewhere. First 20 minutes or so with Depp as a book thief is certainly very much worth watching.

Office Space (Mike Judge)
Classic working stiff comedy with  Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, Stephen Root (wow!!!!), David Herman, Ajay Naidu, and Diedrich Bader.

Onegin (Martha Fiennes)

On The Run (Bruno de Almeida)

Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-dong)


Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay)
Ramsay's debut film.

Ride with the Devil (Ang Lee)
Ang Lee western with Tobey Maguire.

Rosetta (Dardenne Brothers)
One of the best Dardenne films, about a teenage girl living in a caravan park with her alcoholic mother. Heavy.

The Road Home (Zhang Yimou)

Running Out of Time (Johnnie To)

Set Me Free/Emporte-moi (Léa Pool)

Shiri (Kang Je-gyu)


The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan)
One of the truly original and at the time almost shocking films from the decade, Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, and Haley Joel Osment. I watch this film every 5 years or so thinking it will be dated but it holds up well and is completely satisfying even though the film has a trick that is and remembered from previous viewings.

Stir of Echoes (David Koepp)

The Straight Story (David Lynch)

WWII veteran Alvin, played by the great Richard Farnsworth, drives his lawn mower across Iowa and Wisconsin to visit his estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton). Perfect film. Every time I read about the best films of the decade, I copy and paste The Straight Story where Matrix or Fight Club are mentioned.

Summer of Sam (Spike Lee)
Written by Victor Colicchio, Michael Imperioli, and Spike Lee. Serial killer film about David Berkowitz's effect on a group of Italian-Americans in The Bronx in the late 1970s.

Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen)
Definitely of interest for those who love Django Reinhardt.


The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella)
Being a huge Patricia Highsmith fan, and especially the Tom Ripley novels, this and Wim Wender's The American Friend have always stood out as the great films based on these books. Wonderful cast includes Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport, James Rebhorn, Sergio Rubini, and Philip Baker Hall.

Three Kings (David O. Russell)

Titus (Julie Taymor)

Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh)

True Crime (Clint Eastwood)

The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola)

The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)

The Wood (Rick Famuyiwa)

The 24 Hour Woman (Nancy Savoca)
From Dogfight director Nancy Savoca.