Archive for the 1990s Category

In the Mouth of Madness (Carpenter, 1994)

Posted in 1990s, 8/10 on October 24, 2013 by chrisfilm

In the Mouth of Madness (John Carpenter, 1994)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  –Hebrews 4:12

Sam Neill brings paranoia, fear, and madness to life and in such a gradual natural way, fighting it even at the point when all hope was obviously lost. This is where this film is most captivating. In a sci-fi horror film characters don’t usually have a difficult time accepting the paranormal; it’s just part of the world they live in. Carpenter avoids creating that distance between viewer and film when, despite a clearly fictional storyline, he refuses to let his character give up logic. It’s not until an extreme amount of proof encompasses him that he has to choose whether to believe in an absurd reality or to accept that he’s gone mad. And quite frankly, we’re not sure which has happened either. It’s an involving and entertaining film and though the film’s most original and though-provoking development (I won’t spoil it) did not work for me, so much of the rest of the film did.  7.75/10

in the mouth of madness



71 Fragments of a Chonology of Chance (Haneke, 1994)

Posted in 1990s, 6/10 on October 22, 2013 by chrisfilm

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (Michael Haneke, 1994)

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  –Psalm 116:15

One of Haneke’s most highly regarded films according to a number of people that I trust, but I just don’t get it. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Haneke is just not for me. It seems that he is always so concerned with seeming self-important that his films have the tone of complete unimportance. I’ve never been a huge fan of films that follow a ton of different people and try to connect them at the end. Even with Haneke’s subtle approach to their connection and his avoidance of making it a big dramatic spectacle, there is still not enough time to give every character enough exposure. I didn’t feel involved; I didn’t more than mildly intrigued; I only felt appreciation for his handling of this type of film. I wanted more than that.  6/10


To Sleep With Anger (Burnett, 1990)

Posted in 1990s, 8/10 on July 2, 2013 by chrisfilm

To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)

At its core, this is a beautifully poignant portrayal of a family working through a difficult period of their lives. Never before have I seen an examination of family relations that center around children in their 30s. Technically, this film centers around the 60-something parents, but their two boys and the way those men’s lives affect every generation around them is the driving force. It’s easy to mistake this as good brother vs. bad brother, but Burnett is extremely careful in presenting the way both let their flaws get the better of them. There’s no doubt that one has his stuff together more than the other, but both are easily recognizable as human beings. Oddly enough, what I found to be the weakest part of the film is its most famous character – a wild figure from the past wreaking havoc on the entire family. Too blatant (or maybe not blatant enough…) of a devil symbol, I think the family drama would have been just as accomplished without him.  8/10

to sleep with anger

Central Park (Wiseman, 1991)

Posted in 1990s, 7/10 on April 1, 2012 by chrisfilm

Central Park (Frederick Wiseman, 1991)

I think I’m going to have to be done with Wiseman when he makes documentaries about regular people, or when he doesn’t keep his focus on a select group of people. This just has far too many moments that are flat uninteresting. I will admit, watching people from the true 1980s (and not hipsters from 2012 think they’re bringing back 80s style, but real 1980s in a way that will never be popular again) was fantastic – so many laughs. I mean, I love my full split running shorts, but I would never tuck a plaid button up shirt into them and stroll around the park. So while this accurate look back into the past was entertaining, I have to say I didn’t need three hours of it. Wiseman needed a little help in the editing room with this one – less listening to people talk about the park, as the slice-of-life fragments of the sights and sounds much better illustrates what the park is all about than eavesdropping on an entire meeting. I could have done this for 80 minutes, but the good becomes overshadowed by the length.  6.75/10

The Spitfire Grill (Zlotoff, 1996)

Posted in 1990s, 7/10 on January 10, 2012 by chrisfilm

The Spitfire Grill (Lee David Zlotoff, 1996)

A really well acted ‘Hallmark movie of the week’ film – that’s basically what this boils down to. Tragedy has befallen almost every character in this film, but only on rare occasion do we get to explore just how damaged that has left any of them. It was strange watching pros like Marcia Gay Harden and Ellen Burstyn, along with lesser known performers like Alison Elliott give great performances using such a sub-par screenplay. None of these characters are really given time with each other to form the bonds that we’re expected to believe they have. (Well, they do spend time together, but it’s mostly spent moving the plot as opposed to having real emotions and truths come forward.) Because of this, most of the moments meant to be tender and sympathetic come across as shallow. I will say that I do like a small-town drama, especially one set up north, so I have to give credit to the setting and the calmness it brought to the table especially considering the bleak events.  6.75/10

The Long Day Closes (T. Davies, 1992)

Posted in 1990s, 9/10, British Misery Cinema on October 10, 2011 by chrisfilm

The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992)

Almost as poignant a use of stream-of-conscious to portray childhood memory as The Tree of Life. The Long Day Closes combines big, powerful, sweeping images and music to create a poetic, rhythmical film-viewing experience. In what I assume is an autobiographical film, we view Davies’ life as a pre-teen boy with three older siblings and a mother. Numerous fragmented events piled on top of one another, many seeming mostly insignificant, are the staples in this young boy’s life. It’s the small things that shape us just as much as anything and Davies is not afraid of that fact. He’s not worried there no ‘life-altering’ situations or occurrences here, but takes it one relatable step at a time. And the way he paints with such stunning visuals and breath-taking music is a real treat. At times, the film does become a little theatrical, especially with the overuse of the spotlight shining down on the boy protagonist. And the second half of the film is not quite as daringly stream-of-conscious as the first and becomes a little more straightforward in its storytelling. But the final scene, as a spiritual punctuation, is a fitting and beautiful conclusion.  8.75/10

White Hunter Black Heart (Eastwood, 1990)

Posted in 1990s, 8/10 on September 1, 2011 by chrisfilm

This review contains spoilers.

White Hunter Black Heart (Clint Eastwood, 1990)

Eastwood was very close to hitting this one out of the park. There is an absence of a certain level of emotion though, that keeps this one at arm’s length. Honestly, I’m interested in knowing if there were heavy edits made to an original vision or something. Eastwood plays a film director whose latest project is to be filmed in Africa. During his stay, he befriends a young native man who he even talks about bringing back to America. My main issue is that any type of bond formed between these two characters apparently happens off screen. Because they don’t speak the same language, there was an opportunity to build a friendship between the two through visuals instead of words, which could have added a nice layer of poetry to the film if done right. Instead, in the penultimate scene where the native sacrifices himself for Eastwood’s character, I didn’t really feel anything.

With all that said, I did like this. Eastwood is great as he demands to do things his way at all times. I imagine this character is not all that unlike the man himself and he feels completely natural portraying this. He’s a man who doesn’t much care about the concerns of the well-to-do, but is passionate about the well being of the persecuted (in his tough guy sort of way). His characterization is consistent, and as the film concludes and the natives he’s grown so close to now see him as nothing more than an evil white man, the final shot of his worn down dejected face broke my heart.  8.25/10