SOMB's Favourite Films of The 1990's
Posted 28 August 2007 - 03:51 AM
714 films nominated, 407 with more than one vote. Same format as we are used to for individual films starting at 200. This will probably take me about a month I'd reckon.
Virgin Suicides did not make the top 250, it's votes will be taken forward to next time and the persons who voted for it will not be able to vote again for it. Also they must submit a 2000- list for those points to be carried forward. Ghost Dog TWOTS will be counted in this decade.
Posted 28 August 2007 - 04:13 AM
Hello. My name is Leonard Lowe. It has been explained to me that I've been away for quite some time.I'm back.
There is no such thing as a simple miracle.
#200 Awakenings (1990)
Running time - 121 mins
Country of origin USA
Original language English
Oliver Sacks, Steven Zaillian
Robert De Niro ... Leonard Lowe
Robin Williams ... Dr. Malcolm Sayer
Julie Kavner ... Eleanor Costello
Ruth Nelson ... Mrs. Lowe
John Heard ... Dr. Kaufman
Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robert De Niro), Best Picture, Best Writing - Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Nominated: Golden Globes - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (Robin Williams)
BY ROGER EBERT / December 20, 1990
We do not know what we see when we look at Leonard. We think we see a human vegetable, a peculiar man who has been frozen in the same position for 30 years, who neither moves nor speaks. What goes on inside his mind? Is he thinking in there? Of course not, a neurologist says in Penny Marshall's new film "Awakenings." Why not? "Because the implications of that would be unthinkable." Ah, but the expert is wrong, and inside the immobile shell of his body, Leonard is still there. Still waiting.
Leonard is one of the patients in the "garden," a ward of a Bronx mental hospital that is so named by the staff because the patients are there simply to be fed and watered. It appears that nothing can be done for them. They were victims of the great "sleeping sickness" epidemic of the 1920s, and after a period of apparent recovery they regressed to their current states. It is 1969. They have many different symptoms, but essentially they all share the same problem: They cannot make their bodies do what their minds desire. Sometimes that blockage is manifested through bizarre physical behavior, sometimes through apparent paralysis.
One day a new doctor comes to work in the hospital. He has no experience in working with patients; indeed, his last project involved earthworms. Like those who have gone before him, he has no particular hope for these ghostly patients, who are there and yet not there. He talks without hope to one of the women, who looks blankly back at him, her head and body frozen. But then he turns away, and when he turns back she has changed her position -- apparently trying to catch her eyeglasses as they fell. He tries an experiment. He holds her glasses in front of her, and then drops them. Her hand flashes out quickly and catches them.
Yet this woman cannot move through her own will. He tries another experiment, throwing a ball at one of the patients. She catches it. "She is borrowing the will of the ball," the doctor speculates. His colleagues will not listen to this theory, which sounds suspiciously metaphysical, but he thinks he's onto something. What if these patients are not actually "frozen" at all, but victims of a stage of Parkinson's Disease so advanced that their motor impulses are cancelling each other out--what if they cannot move because all of their muscles are trying to move at the same time, and they are powerless to choose one impulse over the other? Then the falling glasses or the tossed ball might be breaking the deadlock!
This is the great discovery in the opening scenes of "Awakenings," preparing the way for sequences of enormous joy and heartbreak, as the patients are "awakened" to a personal freedom they had lost all hope of ever again experiencing -- only to find that their liberation comes with its own cruel set of conditions. The film, directed with intelligence and heart by Penny Marshall, is based on a famous 1972 book by Oliver Sacks, the British-born New York neurologist whose (ital) The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (unital) is a classic of medical literature. These were his patients, and the doctor in the film, named Malcolm Sayer and played by Robin Williams, is based on him.
What he discovered in the summer of 1969 was that L-DOPA, a new drug for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, might in massive doses break the deadlock that had frozen his patients into a space-time lock for endless years. The film follows some 15 of those patients, particularly Leonard, who is played by Robert De Niro in a virtuoso performance. Because this movie is not a tearjerker but an intelligent examination of a bizarre human condition, it's up to De Niro to make Leonard not an object of sympathy, but a person who helps us wonder about our own tenuous grasp on the world around us.
The patients depicted in this film have suffered a fate more horrible than the one in Poe's famous story about premature burial. If we were locked in a coffin while still alive, at least we would soon suffocate. But to be locked inside a body that cannot move or speak -- to look out mutely as even our loved ones talk about us as if we were an uncomprehending piece of furniture! It is this fate that is lifted, that summer of 1969, when the doctor gives the experimental new drug to his patients, and in a miraculous rebirth their bodies thaw and they begin to move and talk once again, some of them after 30 years of self-captivity.
The movie follows Leonard through the stages of his rebirth. He was (as we saw in a prologue) a bright, likeable kid, until the disease took its toll. He has been on hold for three decades. Now, in his late 1940s, he is filled with wonder and gratitude to be able to move around freely and express himself. He cooperates with the doctors studying his case. And he finds himself attracted to a the daughter (Penelope Ann Miller) of another patient. Love and lust stir within him for the first time.
Dr. Sayer, played by Williams, is at the center of almost every scene, and his personality becomes one of the touchstones of the movie. He is shut off, too: by shyness and inexperience, and even the way he holds his arms, close to his sides, shows a man wary of contact. He really was happier working with those earthworms. This is one of Robin Williams' best performances, pure and uncluttered, without the ebullient distractions he sometimes adds -- the schtick where none is called for. He is a lovable man here, who experiences the extraordinary professional joy of seeing chronic, hopeless patients once again sing and dance and greet their loved ones.
But it is not as simple as that, not after the first weeks. The disease is not an open-and-shut case. And as the movie unfolds, we are invited to meditate on the strangeness and wonder of the human personality. Who are we, anyway? How much of the self we treasure so much is simply a matter of good luck, of being spared in a minefield of neurological chance? If one has no hope, which is better: To remain hopeless, or to be given hope and then lose it again? Oliver Sacks' original book, which has been reissued, is as much a work of philosophy as of medicine. After seeing "Awakenings," I read it, to know more about what happened in that Bronx hospital. What both the movie and the book convey is the immense courage of the patients and the profound experience of their doctors, as in a small way they reexperienced what it means to be born, to open your eyes and discover to your astonishment that "you" are alive.
IMDB link - 7.4/10 (18,361 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - N/A
Ranked highest by Asher Ford (#7)
Posted 28 August 2007 - 05:48 AM
Hey nonny nonny
#199 Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Running time - 111 mins
Country of origin USA / UK
Genre Comedy / Romance
Original language English
Kenneth Branagh, William Shakespeare
Kenneth Branagh ... Benedick
Emma Thompson ... Beatrice
Richard Briers ... Signor Leonato
Keanu Reeves ... Don John
Kate Beckinsale ... Hero
Nominated: BAFTAââ‚¬â„¢s - Best Costume Design Cannes Film Festival - Golden Palm, Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical Razzie Awards Worst Supporting Actor (Keanu Reeves)
BY ROGER EBERT / May 21, 1993
Sunshine and laughter, and merrymakers on a hillside sprinkled with flowers. In the opening scene of "Much Ado About Nothing," Kenneth Branagh insists on the tone the movie will take: These are healthy, joyful young people whose high spirits will survive anything, even the dark double-crosses of Shakespeare's plot.
The story involves two sets of lovers. The first, Claudio and Hero, are destined to be almost torn apart by the treachery of others. The second, Benedick and Beatrice, are almost kept apart by the treachery of their own hearts. The plot is driven by the kinds of misunderstandings, deceptions and cruel jokes that work only in stage comedy, or perhaps in P. G. Wodehouse, where people are always lurking in the shrubbery, eavesdropping on crucial conversations.
Branagh is nothing if not a film director of high spirits and great energy. His "Henry V" was a Shakespeare history filled with patriotism and poetry. His "Dead Again" hurtled headlong into the juiciness of the murder-and-reincarnation genre. His "Peter's Friends" was a reunion of old university chums whose youthful quirks had matured into full-blown eccentricities, for good or ill. That last film, oddly enough, has a tone somewhat in common with "Much Ado About Nothing." The play, set in Sicily and shot in Tuscany, involves a few crucial days in the lives of the followers of Don Pedro (Denzel Washington), Prince of Arragon, who returns victorious from battle with his half-brother Don John (Keanu Reeves). They are now apparently on speaking terms, but Don John, wearing a wicked black beard, mopes about the edges of the screen, casting dark looks upon the merrymakers.
Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), Don Pedro's follower, casts eyes on the beautiful Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and is immediately possessed by love. Her eyes reveal that she reciprocates. Meanwhile, the older Benedick (Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson) feel a powerful attraction, too, but it is expressed through barbed insults and verbal sparring. Sometimes when people are frightened by the love they feel, it comes out through mock hostility.
The film's action is a progression through a series of picnics, communal bathing, dinners, banquets, dances and courtships.
Branagh sets the pace just this side of a Marx Brothers movie. While Benedick and Beatrice do their best to assure that they will never become a couple, the scheming Don John plots to destroy the love that has bloomed for Claudio and Hero. His evil plan involves the use of impostors to convince Claudio that Hero is a wanton woman, unfaithful to him with any man who comes to hand.
A play like "Much Ado About Nothing" is all about style. I doubt if Shakespeare's audiences at the Globe took it any more seriously than we do. It is farce and mime and wisecracks, and dastardly melodrama which all comes right in the end, of course, because this is a Comedy. The key to the film's success is in the acting, especially in the sparks that fly between Branagh and Thompson as their characters aim their insults so lovingly that we realize, sooner than they do, how much they would miss their verbal duets.
Of the others, the actor who tries the hardest, to uncertain effect, is Michael Keaton, as Dogberry, the oafish constable. One of Shakespeare's characters made of low comedy and burlesque, Dogberry here becomes a recycled grotesque modeled on Keaton's performance in "Beetlejuice." Does the approach work? Probably not as Shakespeare, because it seems to come from another universe than the one inhabited by the other characters in the play. But viewed by itself - and Dogberry is after all a self-contained character - it's quite a job of work, and Keaton gets points just for trying so hard.
Any modern film of Shakespeare must deal with the fact that many people in the audience will be unfamiliar with the play, and perhaps even with the playwright. Branagh deals with this fact by making "Much Ado" into a film that reinvents the story; this is not a film "of" a Shakespeare play, but a film that begins with the same materials and the wonderful language and finds its own reality. It is cheerful from beginning to end (since we can hardly take the moments of doom and despair seriously). It is entirely appropriate that it has been released in the springtime.
IMDB link - 7.4/10 (16,851 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - N/A
Ranked highest by SNC (#9)
Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:17 AM
Faith in Chaos
#198 Pi (1998)
Running time - 84 mins
Country of origin USA
Genre Thriller / Sci-Fi
Original language English / Hebrew
Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette, Eric Watson
Sean Gullette ... Maximillian Cohen
Mark Margolis ... Sol Robeson
Ben Shenkman ... Lenny Meyer
Pamela Hart ... Marcy Dawson
Stephen Pearlman ... Rabbi Cohen
Won: Sundance Film Festival -Directing Award Dramatic
Nominated: Sundance Film Festival -Grand Jury Prize Dramatic
BY ROGER EBERT / July 24, 1998
The film ``Pi'' is a study in madness and its partner, genius. A tortured, driven man believes (1) that mathematics is the language of the universe, (2) nature can be expressed in numbers, and (3) there are patterns everywhere in nature. If he can find the patterns, if he can find the key to the chaos, then he can predict anything--the stock market, for example. If the man is right, the mystery of existence is unlocked. If he is wrong, the inside of his brain begins to resemble a jammed stock ticker.
The movie, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, is a study in mental obsession. His hero, named Maximillian Cohen, lives barricaded behind a triple-locked door, in a room filled with high-powered, customized computer equipment. He wants nothing to do with anybody. He writes programs, tests them, looks for the pattern, gets a 216-digit bug, stomps on his chips in a rage, and then begins to wonder about that bug. Exactly 216 digits. There is a theory among some Jewish scholars, he learns, that the name of God has 216 letters.
The movie is shot in rough, high-contrast black and white. Max, played by Sean Gullette, is balding, restless, paranoid and brilliant. He has debilitating headaches and nosebleeds. Symptoms of high blood pressure--or of the mental torment he's putting himself through. He's suspicious of everyone. The friendly Indian woman next door puts food by his door. He avoids her. He trusts only his old teacher, Sol (Mark Margolis). They play Go, a game deeper than chess, and Sol tells him to stop with the key to the universe business, already. He warns that he's spinning away from science and toward numerology.
Not everybody thinks so. His phone rings with the entreaties of Marcy (Pamela Hart), who works for a high-powered Wall Street analysis firm. They want to hire him as a consultant. They think he's onto something. He has predicted some prices correctly. At the deli, he runs into a Hasidic Jew named Lenny (Ben Shenkman), who seems casual and friendly but has a hidden mission: His group believes the Torah may be a code sent from God and may contain God's name.
Of course if one finds the mathematical key to everything, that would include God, stock prices, the weather, history, the future, baseball scores and the response to all moves in Go. That assumes there is a key. When you're looking for something that doesn't exist, it makes you crazier the closer you get to it.
The seductive thing about Aronofsky's film is that it is halfway plausible in terms of modern physics and math. What was numerology a century ago now has now been simplified into a very, very vast problem. Chaos theory looks for patterns where common sense says there are none. A computer might be able to give you the answer to anything, if (1) it is powerful enough, and (2) it has all the data. Of course, you might need a computer the size of the universe and containing everything in it, but we're talking theory here.
``Pi'' is a thriller. I am not very thrilled these days by whether the bad guys will get shot or the chase scene will end one way instead of another. You have to make a movie like that pretty skillfully before I care. But I am thrilled when a man risks his mind in the pursuit of a dangerous obsession. Max is out on a limb. There are hungry people circling him. He may be on to something. They want it, too. For both the stock market people and the Hasidic cabal, Max's formula represents all they believe in and everything they care about.
And then there is a level at which Max may simply be insane, or physically ill. There are people who work out complicated theories involving long, impenetrable columns of numbers. Newspapers get envelopes filled with their proofs every day. And other people who sit in their rooms, wrapping themselves in the webs of chess or numbers theory, addicted to their fixes. And game players, gamblers, horseplayers--people bewitched by the mirage of a system.
The beautiful thing about mathematics is that you can't prove it except by its own terms. There's no way to put some math in a test tube and see if it turns purple or heats up. It sits there smugly in its own perfect cocoon, letting people like Max find anything he wants in it--or to think that he has.
IMDB link - 7.5/10 (33,183 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - 145
Ranked highest by Brugel (#9)
Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:24 AM
Finding out what you're called and repeating your name
When people say dreams don't come true, tell them about Rudy
#197 Rudy (1993)
Running time - 116 mins
Country of origin USA
Genre Biography / Drama / Sport
Original language English / Spanish
Sean Astin ... Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger
Jon Favreau ... D-Bob
Ned Beatty ... Daniel Ruettiger
Greta Lind ... Mary
Scott Benjaminson ... Frank Ruettiger
BY ROGER EBERT / October 13, 1993
Look at you. You're 5-foot-nothin' and you weigh a hundred and nothin', and with hardly a speck of athletic ability.
So says Fortune, a groundskeeper at the Notre Dame stadium, to Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger Jr., whose dream is to play for the Fighting Irish. Rudy is not insane. He doesn't expect to start. It would fulfill his lifetime dream simply to wear the uniform and get on the field for one play during the regular season, and get his name in the tiniest print in the school archives.
Almost everyone except Fortune thinks his dream is foolish.
Rudy comes from a working-class family in Joliet, where his father (Ned Beatty) joins his family, his teachers, his neighbors and just about everybody else in assuring him that he lacks not only the brawn but also the brains to make it into a top school like Notre Dame.
But Rudy persists. And although his story reads, in outline, like an anthology of cliches from countless old rags-to-riches sports movies, "Rudy" persists, too. It has a freshness and an earnestness that gets us involved, and by the end of the film we accept Rudy's dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It's a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit.
The movie was directed by David Anspaugh, who directed another great Indiana sports movie, "Hoosiers," in 1986. Both films show an attention to detail, and a preference for close observation of the characters rather than sweeping sports sentiment. In "Rudy," Anspaugh finds a serious, affecting performance by Sean Astin, the erstwhile teen idol, as a quiet, determined kid who knows he doesn't have all the brains in the world, but is determined to do the best he can with the hand he was dealt.
To start with, he can't get into Notre Dame. He doesn't have the grades. But he's accepted across the street at Holy Cross, where an understanding priest (the benevolent Robert Prosky) offers advice and encouragement. Finally Rudy is accepted by Notre Dame, one of the few remaining big football schools that still has tryouts for "walk-ons" - kids without starring high school careers or athletic scholarships.
It's the mid-1970s. The Notre Dame coach is Ara Parseghian (Jason Miller). He doesn't know what to make of this squirt who is happy to play on a practice team and offer his body up week after week so that the big Irish linemen can batter and bruise him on their way to a Saturday victory. Rudy isn't really even good enough to be the lowliest sub, but he has great heart (something that is observed perhaps a little too often in the dialogue).
The movie is not cluttered up with extraneous subplots. A hometown girlfriend (Lili Taylor) is left behind, and for four years Rudy turns into a grind, studying nonstop to make his grades, and sometimes sleeping on a cot in the groundskeeper's room because he doesn't have money for rent. His father continues to think he's crazy. But Rudy shows him.
Underdog movies are a durable genre and never go out of style. They're fairly predictable, in the sense that few movie underdogs ever lose in the big last scene. The notion is enormously appealing, however, because everyone can identify in one way or another.
In "Rudy," Astin's performance is so self-effacing, so focused and low-key, that we lose sight of the underdog formula and begin to focus on this dogged kid who won't quit. And the last big scene is an emotional powerhouse, just the way it's supposed to be.
IMDB link - 7.2/10 (10,927 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - n/a
Ranked highest by Velocity
Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:40 AM
Never trust anything that can bleed for a week and not die.
#196 In The Company of Men (1997)
Running time - 97 mins
Country of origin Canada / USA
Original language English
Aaron Eckhart ... Chad
Stacy Edwards ... Christine
Matt Malloy ... Howard
Emily Cline ... Suzanne
Jason Dixie ... Intern
Nominated: Sundance Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic)
BY ROGER EBERT / August 15, 1997
Now here is true evil: Cold, unblinking, reptilian. The character Chad in ``In the Company of Men'' makes the terrorists of the summer thrillers look like boys throwing mud-pies. And for every Chad there is a Howard, a weaker man, ready to go along, lacking the courage to disagree and half intoxicated by the stronger will of the other man. People like this are not so uncommon. Look around you.
The movie takes place in the familiar habitats of the modern corporate male: Hotel corridors, airport ``courtesy lounges,'' corporate cubicles. The men's room is an invaluable refuge for private conversations. We never find out what the corporation makes, but what does it matter? Modern business administration techniques have made the corporate environment so interchangeable that an executive from Pepsi, say, can transfer seamlessly to Apple and apply the same ``management philosophy'' without missing a beat.
Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) have been assigned for six weeks to a regional office of their company. Waiting for their flight, they talk. Chad is unhappy and angry because he's been dumped by his girlfriend (``The whole fade-out thing''). He proposes a plan: ``Say we were to find some girl vulnerable as hell ... '' In their new location, they'll select a young woman who doesn't look like she has much of a social life. They'll both shower her with attention--flowers, dinner dates--until she's dizzy, and then, ``out comes the rug, both of us dropping her!'' Chad explains this plan with the blinkered, formal language of a man whose recreational reading consists of best-selling primers on excellence and wealth. ``Life is for the taking--is it not?'' he asks. And, ``Is that not ideal? To restore a little dignity to our lives?'' He hammers his plan home in the airport men's room, while Howard, invisible behind a cubicle door, says he guesses he agrees.
The ``girl'' they choose for their target turns out to be deaf--a bonus. Her name is Christine (Stacy Edwards). She is pleasant, pretty, articulate; it is easy to understand everything she says, but Chad is cruel as he describes her to Howard: ``She's got one of those voices like Flipper. You should hear her going at it, working to put the simplest sounds together.'' Howard makes a specialty of verbal brutality. Christine is not overwhelmed to be dating two men at once, but she finds it pleasant, and eventually she begins to really like Chad.
``In the Company of Men,'' directed by Neil LaBute, is a continuing series of revelations, because it isn't simply about this sick joke. Indeed, if the movie were only about what Chad and Howard do to Christine and how she reacts, it would be too easy, a one-note attack on these men as sadistic predators. The movie deals with much more and it cuts deeper, and by the end we see it's about a whole system of values in which men as well as women are victims, and monstrous selfishness is held up as the greatest good.
Environments like the one in this film are poisonous, and many people have to try to survive in them. Men like Chad and Howard are dying inside. Personal advancement is the only meaningful goal. Women and minorities are seen by white males as unfairly advantaged. White males are seen as unfairly advantaged by everyone else.
There is an incredibly painful scene in ``In the Company of Men'' where Howard tells a young black trainee, ``they asked me to recommend someone for the management training program,'' and then requires the man to humiliate himself in order to show that he qualifies. At first you see the scene as racist. Then you realize Howard and the trainee are both victims of the corporate culture they occupy, in which the power struggle is the only reality. Something forces both of them to stay in the room during that ugly scene--job insecurity.
On a more human level, the story becomes poignant. Both Howard and Chad date Christine. There is an unexpected emotional development. I will not reveal too much. We arrive at the point where we thought the story was leading us, and it keeps on going. There is another chapter. We find a level beneath the other levels. The game was more Machiavellian than we imagined. We thought we were witnessing evil, but now we look on its true face.
What is remarkable is how realistic the story is. We see a character who is depraved, selfish and evil, and he is not a bizarre eccentric, but a product of the system. It is not uncommon to know personally of behavior not unlike Chad's. Most of us, of course, are a little more like Howard, but that is small consolation. ``Can't you see?'' Howard says. ``I'm the good guy!'' In other words, I am not as bad as the bad guy, although I am certainly weaker.
Christine survives, because she knows who she is. She is deaf, but less disabled than Howard and Chad, because she can hear on frequencies that their minds and imaginations do not experience. ``In the Company of Men'' is the kind of bold, uncompromising film that insists on being thought about afterward--talked about, argued about, hated if necessary, but not ignored. ``How do you feel right now, deep down inside?'' one of the characters asks. The movie asks us the same question.
IMDB link - 7.1/10 (5,136 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - n/a
Ranked highest by GirlWithAsprin (#9)
Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:48 AM
Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:52 AM
Download all of my alleged music free through the remainder of May at www.soundclick.com/agrimorfee
Also jabbering about music and movies at www.rateyourmusic.com
Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:59 AM
Posted 28 August 2007 - 10:18 AM
This movie will always be close to me, because I was in the crowd when they filmed it during halftime at a Notre Dame / Boston College game. So that's me you're hearing (among the thousands) chanting, "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy". It was exciting watching the crew run around quickly setting up the gear, changing the scoreboard to read Georgia Tech, and shooting the scene all within a span of 30 minutes.
#197 Rudy (1993)
The episode of My Name is Earl where Sean Astin and a few others from the cast spoofed the Rudy storyline was pretty good too.
Posted 28 August 2007 - 10:58 AM
Unfortunately, this is the most quoted line from the movie and the only mark that it's left on our culture.
Never trust anything that can bleed for a week and not die.
Posted 28 August 2007 - 12:31 PM
Hello, my name is Andy and this is my poster.
#195 Man on the Moon (1999)
Running time - 118 mins
Country of origin UK / Germany / Japan / USA
Genre Biography / Comedy / Drama
Original language English
Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Jim Carrey ... Andy Kaufman (also as Tony Clifton)
Danny DeVito ... George Shapiro
Courtney Love ... Lynne Margulies
Paul Giamatti ... Bob Zmuda/Tony Clifton
Vincent Schiavelli ... Maynard Smith
Won: Golden Globes - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical (Jim Carrey)
Nominated: Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical
BY ROGER EBERT / December 22, 1999
Our inner child embraces Andy Kaufman. We've been just like that. Who cannot remember boring our friends for hour after hour after hour with the same dumb comic idea, endlessly insisted on? Who hasn't refused to admit being wrong? ``I won't give up on this,'' we're saying, ``until you give up first. Until you laugh, or agree, or cry `uncle.' I can keep this up all night if necessary.'' That was Andy Kaufman's approach to the world. The difference was, he tried to make a living out of it, as a stand-up comedian. Audiences have a way of demanding to be entertained. Kaufman's act was essentially a meditation on the idea of entertainment. He would entertain you, but you had to cave in first. You had to laugh at something really dumb, or let him get away with something boring or outrageous. If you passed the test, he was like a little kid, delighted to be allowed into the living room at last. He'd entertain, all right. But you had to pass the entry exam.
He was not the most successful comedian of his time. The last years of his life, his biographer Bill Zehme tells me, were spent in mostly unemployed show-biz free fall. But Kaufman enjoyed that, too: He was fascinated by the relationship between entertainer and audience, which is never more sincere than when the entertainer is hated. It is poetic justice that Andy Kaufman now has his own biopic, directed by Milos Forman and starring Jim Carrey. He wins. Uncle.
What is most wonderful about ``Man on the Moon,'' a very good film, is that it remains true to Kaufman's stubborn vision. Oh, it brightens things up a little (the cookie and milk evening at Carnegie Hall wasn't his farewell concert, because by then he was far too unemployable for a Carnegie booking). But essentially it stays true to his persona: A guy who would test you, fool you, lie to you, deceive you and stage elaborate deceptions, put-ons and hoaxes. The movie doesn't turn him into a sweet, misunderstood guy. And it doesn't pander for laughs. When something is not working in Kaufman's act, it's not working in the movie, either, and it's not funny, it's painful.
The film has a heroic performance from Jim Carrey, who successfully disappears inside the character of Andy Kaufman. Carrey is as big a star as Hollywood has right now, and yet fairly early in ``Man on the Moon,'' we forget who is playing Kaufman and get involved in what is happening to him. Carrey is himself a compulsive entertainer who will do anything to get a laugh, who wants to please, whose public image is wacky and ingratiating. That he can evoke the complexities of Kaufman's comic agonies is a little astonishing. That he can suppress his own desire to please takes a kind of courage. Not only is he working without his own net--he's playing a guy who didn't use a net.
The film, and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, begins with Kaufman as a troublesome kid in his room, refusing to go out and play, preferring to host his own TV variety program for the cameras he believed were hidden in his bedroom walls. His material was inspired by shabby nightclub and lounge acts. He understood that a live performance is rarely more fascinating than when it is going wrong.
I myself, for example, have seldom been more involved than I was one night at a 36-seat theater in London during a performance of a one-man show called ``Is It Magic--Or Is It Manilow?'' The star was a bad magician who did a bad imitation of Barry Manilow, alternating the two elements of his act. There were 12 people in the audience, and we were desperately important to him. The program notes said he had once been voted most popular entertainer on a cruise ship out of Goa. Andy Kaufman would have been in ecstasy.
The movie follows Kaufman into the L.A. standup circuit, where a talent manager (Danny DeVito) sees something in his act and signs him. Kaufman is soon a sitcom star, a regular on ``Taxi'' (we see cast veterans like Marilu Henner, Carol Kane, Christopher Lloyd and Judd Hirsch playing themselves--DeVito of course is otherwise engaged). He insists on ``guest bookings'' for his ``protege,'' an obnoxious lounge act named Tony Clifton, who is played behind impenetrable makeup by Kaufman and sometimes by his accomplice Bob Zmuda. Kaufman steadfastly refuses to admit he ``is'' Clifton, and in a way, he isn't.
The parabolas of Kaufman's career intersect as ``Taxi'' goes off the air. He has never been more famous, or had bleaker prospects. He's crying wolf more than the public is crying uncle. He starts wrestling women in his nightclub act, not a popular decision, and gets involved in a feud with Memphis wrestling star Jerry Lawler. They fight on the Letterman show. It looks real. The movie says it was staged (Lawler plays himself). OK, so it was staged--but Lawler's blow to Kaufman's head was real enough to tumble him out of his chair. And no doubt Kaufman made Lawler vow to hit him that hard. He always wanted to leave you in doubt.
Courtney Love is back in her second Milos Forman movie in a row, playing the lover of an impossible man (she was the Hustler publisher's lover in Forman's ``The People vs. Larry Flynt''). She comes to wrestle Kaufman and stays to puzzle at him. She likes him, even loves him, but never quite knows who he is. When he tells her he's dying of cancer, her first reaction is anger that he would toy with her feelings in yet another performance piece. Love shows again here that she is a real actress and can if she wants to give up the other job.
What was it with Kaufman? The movie leaves us with a mystery, and it should. In traditional Hollywood biopics, there would be Freudian shorthand to explain everything. Nothing explains Andy Kaufman. If he had been explicable, no one would have wanted to make a movie about him.
The Chicago talk jock Steve Dahl told me the other day that Kaufman once recruited him for a performance. ``He told me I would be inside a box on the stage, and people would try to guess what was in the box,'' Dahl recalled. ``He gave me a six-pack of Heinekens to keep me company. What he didn't tell me was that I would be in the box for three hours. There I was in the dark, trying to pee back into the can.'' Dahl thought he was in the show, but from Kaufman's point of view, he was the ideal member of the audience.
IMDB link - 7.3/10 (32,307 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - n/a
Ranked highest by Elemeno P.T.
Posted 28 August 2007 - 12:52 PM
since you were nineteen and still in school
waiting on a light on the corner by sound exchange
particularly fond of the tammys' "egyptian shumba"
Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:20 PM
good work, Mitch! Shame about most of the films.
Amen. That first run is horrendous, and Mitch is doing a great job.
Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:28 PM
Huh huh huh, he said extend!
Coming to a screen bigger than your TV.
#194 Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
Mike Judge + Yvette Kaplan
Running time - 81 mins
Country of origin USA
Genre Animation / Adventure / Comedy / Crime / Music
Original language English
Mike Judge, Joe Stillman
Mike Judge ... Beavis, Butt-Head, Tom Anderson, Mr. Van Driessen, Principal McVicker (voice)
Bruce Willis ... Muddy Grimes (voice)
Demi Moore ... Dallas Grimes (voice)
Cloris Leachman ... Old Woman on Plane and Bus (voice)
Robert Stack ... ATF Agent Flemming (voice)
Nominated: Razzie Award Worst New Star "Beavis" + "Butt-Head", Worst Screen Couple "Beavis" + "Butt-Head"
BY ROGER EBERT / December 20, 1996
It is impossible to deal with ``Beavis and Butt-Head Do America'' without first dealing with Beavis and Butt-Head themselves. The real subject of the film is attitude, because B&B are *about* attitude. What actually happens is of little importance, since Beavis and Butt-Head are so stupid and sublimely self-absorbed that the exterior world has little reality except as an annoyance or distraction.
It would be easy to attack B&B as ignorant, vulgar, depraved, repulsive slobs. Of course they are. But that would miss the point, which is that Mike Judge's characters reflect parts of the society that produced them. To study B&B is to learn about a culture of narcissism, alienation, functional illiteracy, instant gratification and television zombiehood. Those who deplore Beavis and Butt-Head are confusing the messengers with the message.
For B&B, happiness is easily defined. It consists of sitting side by side on a sofa, watching television, which they dimly perceive as containing images of food, drink, mayhem and large breasts. As long as the TV is on and they are supplied with food and drink, B&B see no need to move. They would be as happy in prison, assuming the set was working. (The movie shows an album of old photos of B&B growing up; we see them as infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, etc.--always on the couch, watching TV).
Early in Mike Judge's ``Beavis and Butt-Head Do America,'' there is a funny sequence in which their television is stolen. This becomes apparent to B&B after a time, because they realize that they are looking at the place where the TV should be, and it is not there. As this fact sinks in, they grow restless and disturbed. Beavis (or Butt-Head; I forget) tries to reconstruct the crime, and the movie shows a series of shots: (1) broken window, (2) missing TV, (3) footprints leading from window to where TV was, (4) footprints leading out the open door. Then the movie repeats this series of shots a second time, and then a third time, and then the series is broken up into closeups, for closer study. Eventually the clues are correctly deciphered: The set is not there because it has been stolen! This sequence is brilliant in the way it illustrates the mental capabilities of B&B, who between them have the I.Q. of a cork.
I said I wasn't sure if Beavis or Butt-Head deconstructed the TV theft. It is, of course, possible to tell them apart: As on the MTV series that spawned them, one wears a Metallica T-shirt, and the other wears an AC/DC T-shirt. Their haircuts differ. And one has a more-or-less permanent damp patch in his crotch. I am sure students of the TV series can describe subtle differences in their personalities, just as there are said to be viewers who can identify the individual Ninja Turtles. For practical purposes, however, B&B are one personality, split into two so that they will have somebody to talk to.
The plot of the movie involves a deadly biological weapon that comes into the possession of B&B during a trip on which they encounter normal Americans, including a retired couple touring the west in their camper. Through a series of adventures unnecessary to describe, B&B eventually end up in the Oval Office (and there is a cameo for President Clinton). In between, the health and safety of the nation has been threatened, and B&B have used the retired couple's camper and several other locations for their most inventive and ambitious pastimes, which are masturbating and passing gas. They also have completely missed the point of everything that has happened to them, everything said to them, and everything around them.
It is impossible to feel any affection for B&B. They aren't lovable goofs, like Bill and Ted (of ``Excellent Adventure'' fame). Judge has stripped them of all redeeming qualities. Why, then, did ``Beavis and Butt-Head Do America'' hold my interest, and amuse and stimulate me--why was the movie so much fun? Because B&B represent an extreme version of people we see around us every day, and because the movie is radical and uncompromising: Having identified B&B as an extreme example of grunge, disaffection and cheerfully embraced ignorance, the movie is uncompromising in its detestation of them.
I make this point because it is widely but wrongly believed that ``Beavis and Butt-Head'' celebrates its characters, and applauds their sublime lack of values, taste and intelligence. I've never thought so. I believe Mike Judge would rather die than share a taxi ride to the airport with his characters--that for him, B&B function like Dilbert's co-workers in the Scott Adams universe. They are a target for his anger against the rising tide of stupidity.
B&B share another quality with Adams' Dilbert strip: The use of what the French call the ``clear line'' approach to cartooning and animation. The master of this style, Herge, used it in his Tin Tin books to create a world of extreme simplicity, in which nothing existed except exactly what was needed to fill the next frame and further the story. (Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy strip is another good example). The movie is not ``fully animated'' in the sense that ``The Lion King'' is, but its low-rent animation disguises a sophisticated graphic style and visuals that perfectly suit the material: The movie looks the way it should.
All of this is just another way of saying that the less you're like Beavis and Butt-Head, the more you might like this movie. On the other hand, B&B would probably enjoy it, too--if it was on television. I wonder if they would notice that it was about themselves.
IMDB link - 6.4/10 (14,971 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - 400
Ranked highest by Pavement Ist Rad
Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:41 PM
OK house clearing first. Votes for Snapper, Drugstore Cowboy, Cinema Paradiso, Mystery Train, Spoorloos, Hotaru no Haka, Ripley, Das Boot, Bear, Forgotten Silver, And The Band Played On and Les Enfants de la cité perdue (TV Movies, wrong decade etc.) where thrown out, None of them got near to the 250 mark anyway.
The majority of voters prefer Awakenings to The Snapper? That's just plain wrong.
Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:42 PM
#199 Much Ado About Nothing
Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:43 PM
Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:45 PM
I think you're a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War,
You know the name. You know the number.
#193 GoldenEye (1995)
Running time - 130 mins
Country of origin USA / UK
Genre Action / Adventure / Thriller
Original language English / Russian / Spanish
Ian Fleming, Michael France, Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein
Pierce Brosnan ... James Bond
Sean Bean ... Alec Trevelyan/Janus
Izabella Scorupco ... Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova
Famke Janssen ... Xenia Zirgavna Onatopp
Judi Dench ... M
Nominated: BAFTA Film Award Best Achievement in Special Effects, Best Sound
BY ROGER EBERT / December 17, 1995
`GoldenEye" looks exactly like a James Bond film. It begins with a stunt (a bungee jump from the top of a towering dam). It tops that with an even more spectacular stunt (Bond chases an airplane heading off the side of a cliff, then jumps after it, free-falls, catches up with it, climbs aboard and flies to safety). In the Pussy Galore tradition, it has a villainess with a lubricious name: Xenia Onatopp.
And of course it involves a plan for world domination, and a madman presiding over a secret headquarters staffed with obedient hirelings.
So all of the parts are in place. And yet, in an important way, this James Bond adventure, the 18th (or 19th, if you count the non-standard "Casino Royale"), marks the passing of an era. This is the first Bond film that is self-aware, that has lost its innocence and the simplicity of its world view, and has some understanding of the absurdity and sadness of its hero.
One crucial and revealing scene takes place on a Caribbean beach, where 007 is enjoying an erotic interlude between scenes of death-defying mayhem. His companion is the lovely Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco), a Russian computer programmer who has joined his quest to save the world, etc. But instead of sexy small-talk, she asks Bond: "How can you act like this? How can you be so cold?" And Bond replies not with a sophisticated wisecrack but with, "It's what keeps me alive." In the earlier Bond adventures, no woman would have asked such a question, and 007 certainly would not have provided such an answer.
More evidence of Bond's loss of innocence: He is now aware that his history is repeating itself. Although all the Bond films have followed a story pattern so rigid that 007 could have predicted the next scene just by looking at his watch, there has always been the fiction that each adventure is more or less unique. Bond has never used an obvious line like, "Do you realize you're no less than the 12th megalomaniacal madman striving for world domination that I've met?" There is always one absolutely obligatory scene: Bond has been captured by the madman, who needs only to kill him. But he always talks first. Explains his plans for world domination. Boasts.
Preens. Doesn't realize that his mistress will become attracted to Bond. This scene is so inevitable, indeed, that it helped give rise to the definition of the Talking Killer in Ebert's Little Movie Glossary.
In "GoldenEye," the unthinkable happens. Both Bond and the madman apparently have read the Glossary, and can no longer act unself-consciously. Bond has fallen into the clutches of an evil genius who plans to rule Earth from cyberspace, via a powerful communications satellite. He narrows his eyes and says: "How shall we kill you?" And Bond replies: "What - no small talk? No chit-chat? That's the problem with the world these days - no one takes the time to conduct the proper interrogation." Indeed. Even Bond himself has changed. As played by Pierce Brosnan, the fifth 007, he is somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete, than the Bonds played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. They were all, in their various styles, cold and dispassionate. Brosnan's Bond looks at home in the casinos of Monte Carlo, but he's more knowing, more aware of relationships. I am not sure this is a good thing. Agent 007 should to some degree not be in on the joke. He should certainly never have to listen to dialogue such as the following, from Agent 006: "The vodka martinis do silence the screams of all the men you've killed. And all those women you failed to protect." Perhaps our popular conception of maleness has changed so much that James Bond can no longer exist in the old way. In "GoldenEye," we get a hybrid, a modern Bond grafted onto the formula.
The result is not uninteresting. The special effects and stunts, of course, are satisfactorily spectacular, including slick footage of the theft of a high-tech helicopter, a chase between a car and a tank, a crash between a tank and a train, and such unexpected bonuses as a Russian country & western bar, with "Stand by Your Man" in a Slavic accent.
The plot involves an Earth satellite that has been lurking in secret orbit and can disrupt Earth communications, giving the person who controls it power over governments and markets. After Xenia Onatopp (an ex-fighter pilot) and her accomplices steal a priceless Tiger helicopter that is invulnerable to the satellite, Bond traces her to St. Petersburg, Russia, where the Janus arms syndicate is located. This leads to a sex scene involving Onatopp that owes a lot to Sumo wrestling.
Watching the film, I got caught up in the special effects and the neat stunts, and I observed with a certain satisfaction Bond's belated entry into a more modern world. Brosnan was quite adequate, although all of the later Bonds suffer from the reality that no one else will ever really replace Seean Connery. I had a good enough time, I guess, although I never really got involved. I was shaken but not stirred.
IMDB link - 7.0/10 (40,404 votes)
SOMB 499 rank - n/a
Ranked highest by Nic (#3)