December 31, 1994

1994 may be the best year for movies in my life.

The Academy Award nominees for Best Picture were Forrest Gump, Four Weddings & A Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, and The Shawshank Redemption (Forrest Gump won six Oscars, including Best Picture). I saw Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump in preview screenings (before the hype got too big). Regrettably, I didn't see Four Weddings in the theater at all. At the time, I agreed with the Academy: those were the five Best Pictures of the year. These days my opinion of Forrest Gump has fallen, but if I had to replace it on the list, The Crow or Clerks is ready to take its place in my personal Top Five Of 1994.

December 16, 1994

The Santa Clause

Pretty good vehicle for Tim Allen, a comedian who I don't care about at all.

November 20, 1994

Pulp Fiction

Second time seeing Pulp Fiction. You can forgive me if I cannot recount specific memories from each showing, but they've all blended together!

November 19, 1994

Star Trek: Generations

This is the "bridge" movie, and I don't mean they never leave the ship: This is the movie where William Shatner is strapped into his Starfleet uniform for the last time to say farewell, and the Next Generation cast hits the big screen. This is also where they say farewell to the old Enterprise-D: the saucer section and the stardrive separate, the stardrive section explodes, and the saucer emergency-lands on a planet's surface. The first time the Enterprise-D did the Transformers thing was in the pilot episode of the Next Generation TV show. It had been well-documented during the TV show's run that this emergency landing was possible, but it had never happened. In fact, during the 176 episode series, the saucer and stardrive never separated again after the pilot episode. During Generations, when Riker orders the separation, I went into a fanboy euphoria: finally, I was going to see the fabled emergency landing! It was totally worth it. (November 19 and 24, 1994)

November 11, 1994

Clerks.

The most claustrophobic film I've ever seen (not set in a submarine). Nearly the whole movie takes place in a convenience store with the shutters down. Director Kevin Smith shot the movie after hours, so the shutters enabled night-for-day shooting. Clerks would make a good play- one set only!

Randal: Salsa shark! We're gonna need a bigger boat! Man goes into cage, cage goes into salsa. Shark's in the salsa. Our shark.
(Nickelodeon theater, Comm. Ave, Boston)

November 8, 1994

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (free preview screnning)

It's remarkable how different vampire movies use the vampires to symbolize different ideas. It's probably why the vampire myth is so enduring. This is my second movie based on a Anne Rice novel this year.
(Cheri theater, Back Bay)

The Year of Free Preview Screenings

I attended sixteen free preview screenings in 1994. Movie studios frequently hold free screenings, always on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, often a full week ahead of their release. These screenings are intended as either press-only screenings, or general-audience screenings to build "buzz" before opening weekend. Both of these types of screenings require a pass, which would often be handed out at the Emerson student union, for example. From May to December 1994, I worked at a video laserdisc sales & rental store called Laser Craze. The shop was located on Newbury Street, next to Sonsie (a shoe shop is there now). As movie fans, all us clerks wanted to go to many preview screenings. A friend of one of the clerks worked at Kinko's, and he frequently made counterfeit full-color, two-sided copies of the passes required to enter the screenings. The front of the pass was generally a reproduction of the poster, and the reverse listed the date, time, and place of the screening. As a result, I saw several of the best pictures of 1994 early and for free. I also saw several of the worst films I've ever encountered.

November 2, 1994

October 13, 1994

Pulp Fiction (free preview screening)

Debuted at Cannes five months earlier, this was a preview screening before its general release in Boston. The PR firm was handing out full sized Pulp Fiction posters at the screening (I still have mine). This was the first of six screenings of this film I will attend in next 4 1/2 months.

October 11, 1994

Exit To Eden (free preview screening)

Rosie O'Donnell and Dan Aykroyd are detectives sent undercover at some kind of kinky sex spa, forcing the audience to see them both in leather and chains. The only saving grace is watching Dana Delany play a dominatrix. This preview took place at the Cheri theater in the Back Bay (where the Kings bowling joint is now). Because the movie was based on a cult favorite novel by Anne Rice, there were a bunch of, erm, S&M aficionados at the screening. Let's face it: they must have been pretty mad to see Garry Marshall butcher their favorite novel. For a completely hypothetical example, if Marshall had directed The Shawshank Redemption (see below), I would be blogging from prison, because I would have attempted to kill the bastard for what he did to my favorite novel!

October 4, 1994

Ed Wood (free preview screening)

edwoodDelightful tribute to the joy of moviemaking.
(Nickelodeon theater, Comm. Ave, Boston)

September 20, 1994

The Shawshank Redemption (free preview screening)

I am a big fan of Stephen King's novella, so I had high expectations for the movie. Of course, they left out some nuggets which I missed, but they also made some improvements. So rarely do I love a novel and a movie equally, but it's true here, but I love them for different reasons. TRUE FACT: I always cry when Morgan Freeman gets to the big tree and finds the box with the letter in it.

September 17, 1994

Quiz Show

One of my favorite films, period.

August 25, 1994

Natural Born Killers (free preview screening)

The movie which begat another wave of "Violent Hollywood Corrupts Young America" politics, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers is thought-provoking yet overcooked. Got everyone in the theater riled up. Great soundtrack.

August 24, 1994

Wagons East! (free preview screening)

I drove all the way to Cleveland Circle... for this horrible movie?

August 12, 1994

Clear and Present Danger

I hated the movie of Patriot Games, and this was no better.

August 2, 1994

Corinna, Corinna (free preview screening)

Very sweet movie, featuring Ray Liotta's paternal, tender side. Whoopi is nicely restrained- not over-the-top at all.

August 1, 1994

N's 17th Music Mix

Side A: Deep and Dark continued (October 1994)
  1. Soul To Squeeze: Red Hot Chili Peppers
  2. Lovetown: Peter Gabriel
  3. Breakin Up: Violent Femmes
  4. Daddy's Home: Tribe
  5. Crucify: Tori Amos
  6. For No One: The Beatles
  7. Without a Trace: Soul Asylum
  8. Hairshirt: R.E.M.
  9. Two Faces: Bruce Springsteen
  10. What Makes You Think You're The One? Fleetwood Mac
  11. Fall Down: Toad The Wet Sprocket
  12. Crazy Mary: Victoria Williams
  13. 50 Foot Queenie: PJ Harvey
Side B: Dark Music (August 1994)
  1. Low: Cracker
  2. W.M.A. Pearl Jam
  3. I Stay Away: Alice In Chains
  4. Mona Bone Jakon: HATER
  5. Hawkmoon 269: U2
  6. Mary Jane's Last Dance: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  7. I Want You (She's So Heavy) The Beatles
  8. Dumb: Nirvana
  9. 9-9 : R.E.M.
  10. Nothingness: Living Colour
  11. Love Song: The Cure
  12. Personal Jesus (acoustic) Depeche Mode
(100 minute Maxell Cassette)

July 27, 1994

The Mask (free preview screening)

Terribly silly, but fun debut for Jim Carrey, and an unforgettable debut for Cameron Diaz too!

July 25, 1994

It Could Happen To You (free preview screening)

I don't remember much about this "cop wins lottery, splits jackpot with waitress" romantic comedy.

July 20, 1994

Speed


Incredibly impossible, lots of plot holes and flawed logic, but also a non-stop action thriller. I can't look away. I hate myself for loving Speed! 2015 UPDATE: I watched this movie again, and it's still gripping and I can't help but watch the whole thing, but this time I noticed another total implausibility- after Harry & Jack foil Dennis Hopper's elevator scheme, Hopper plans and executes his two exploding buses revenge in a matter of days- the exploding bus scenes all take place the morning after they receive their medals from the police commissioner. Dennis Hopper somehow rigs the bus to explode driven by the guy who gets his coffee at the same time as Jack at Jack's favorite coffee shop? This isn't even a bus route, it's just the driver on the way to work. Omigod I have to stop or I will be poking holes in this movie all morning.

July 17, 1994

True Lies

I sat way up near the front of the Cheri cinema's main theater, with Craig. As much as I enjoy watching Jamie Lee Curtis in her underwear, the pretext for making her strip was incredibly demeaning and sexist. Plus the terrorists were a crude racist stereotype.

July 14, 1994

N's 16th Music Mix

SIDE A
  1. Save It For Later: The English Beat
  2. (Keep Feeling) Fascination: The Human League
  3. Misty Mountain Hop: Led Zeppelin
  4. Alone: Pearl Jam
  5. Cleopatra's Cat: Spin Doctors
  6. Watch That Girl Destroy Me: Possum Dixon
  7. Spirit In The Night: Bruce Springsteen
  8. Night in My Veins: Pretenders
  9. Few and Far Between: 10,000 Maniacs
  10. Rock Steady: Sting
  11. When You Come Back to Me: World Party
SIDE B
  1. Walk on the Ocean: Toad the Wet Sprocket
  2. Oh Yoko! John Lennon
  3. Hannah & Gabi: The Lemonheads
  4. Save Me: k.d. lang
  5. Cold Shoulder: Squeeze
  6. Cecelia: Simon & Garfunkel
  7. Bluebird: Paul McCartney & Wings
  8. Another Day: Paul McCartney
  9. Creeque Alley: Mamas & Papas
  10. The Lion Sleeps Tonight [live] R.E.M.
  11. Seven Deadly Sins: Traveling Wilburys
  12. Saturday in the Park: Chicago
  13. Bit Part: Lemonheads
(90 minute Maxell cassette)

The Client (free preview screening)

Quality Hollywood product. The Firm is still my favorite Grisham adaptation, but Tommy Lee and Susan squeeze out sparks.

July 6, 1994

Whatever Happened To Penelope Ann Miller?

After catching Penelope Ann Miller in Adventures in Babysitting, and then writing about The Shadow (see below), I checked out Penelope Ann Miller's Filmography, and I wondered whatever happened to her. Her breakout role was in The Freshman in 1990. She was badly miscast as an Italian Mafia daughter, but I seem to be the only person who noticed. After that, she landed one plum role after another: Awakenings and Kindergarten Cop (both 1990), Chaplin (1992), and Carlito's Way (1993). After The Shadow and a TV movie in 1994, she didn't work again until 1997, and that was the B-list horror movie The Relic (1997). After that, the last decade has been mostly TV work. Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is this: When you're the IT Girl, you can't take a step back out of the spotlight, because they'll move on to someone else while you're gone...

The Shadow

This weak attempt at a Batman-esque franchise is a real guilty pleasure of mine. I love expensive, over-produced movies like this! Alec Baldwin stars, in one of his last movies where he takes his shirt off. In an early scene where he plays a drug kingpin in Tibet, he sleeps shirtless with black silk puffy pants. Yikes! Co-starring Penelope Ann Miller (Adventures in Babysitting) as the crazy-sexy daughter of the atomic scientist (Ian McKellen, The Last Action Hero). Also starring John Lone, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters, and Peter Boyle. A matinee showing on a very hot day. I was required to see it as a fellow member of the Big Head club was starring. We gotta stick together, ya know.

July 3, 1994

Wolf

Jack Nicholson would pee on a bathroom floor again in About Schmidt.

July 2, 1994

Blown Away

To celebrate the release of this Boston-based movie, my group of friends all went together to see Blown Away at the Cheri theater, and then headed back to Davis Square for a barbeque. We all laughed all the way through the movie. So many mistakes were made in their representation of Boston, it made us wonder why they bothered to set it in Boston at all.

June 30, 1994

Forrest Gump (free press screening)

For some reason, I sat right up front, in one of those shoebox-sized Copley Place theaters. That feather floating around the sky was enormous! All these years later, it's treacly, overly sentimental, overly long, manipulative crap. The whole sequence where he runs cross-country could have been excised and the film would've been better.

June 26, 1994

City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly's Gold

Totally unnecessary and pointless sequel.

June 25, 1994

The Lion King

Disney at their apex. This would remain the all-time highest-grossing animated film until Finding Nemo in 2003. Of course, ticket prices have gone from $6-$7 to $8-$9 since 1994...

June 22, 1994

Maverick (free preview screening)

Quality entertainment, and my second Western in a row! A reunion of Mel Gibson and Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner, Maverick felt really long- if you pay attention, the story has 4 or 5 "acts", where most films only have 3.

Wyatt Earp (free preview screening)

Too long, and not as much fun as Tombstone, which came out the previous Christmas. But Dennis Quaid is good and gaunt as Doc Holliday. Kevin Costner is overly wooden, and he was unconvincing as the twenty-something Wyatt Earp: his soft, 39-year-old jawline betrayed his age.

June 4, 1994

The Crow

Terribly tragic movie, in so many ways. Brandon Lee seemed to be beginning a big movie career! In the ten years since this film was released, director Alex Proyas has made Dark City (1998), Garage Days (2002), and I, Robot (2004), and that's it.

June 1, 1994

N's 15th Music Mix

"Remake of Mix #1; N's top choices for fast driving music" This is probably my best cassette mix, certainly the best of the college years. Not only did I select the songs and sequence very carefully, but I also cross-faded everything with great attention to detail.

SIDE A

  1. "Can You Picture That" Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem
  2. "Who? Where? Why?" Jesus Jones
  3. "Who Do You Love?" George Thorogood & The Destroyers
  4. "Would I Lie To You?" Eurythmics
  5. "Question Air?" Shockra
  6. "Where'd You Go?" The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  7. "Mirror In The Bathroom" The (English) Beat
  8. "Sweet Emotion" Aerosmith
  9. "Start Me Up" The Rolling Stones
  10. "Birthday" The Beatles
  11. "Get It On (Bang A Gong)" Power Station
SIDE B
  1. "Middle of the Road" Pretenders
  2. "Helen Wheels" Paul McCartney & Wings
  3. "Life is a Highway" Tom Cochrane
  4. "Sweet Home Alabama" Lynyrd Skynyrd
  5. "La Grange" ZZ Top
  6. "Panama" Van Halen
  7. "Desire" U2
  8. "Been Caught Stealing" Jane's Addiction
  9. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" The Rolling Stones
  10. "Runnin Down A Dream" Tom Petty
  11. "Animal" Pearl Jam
(100 minute Denon cassette)

May 19, 1994

Beverly Hills Cop III (free preview screening)

The first Axel Foley adventure was a perfect blend of action and comedy. Originally written as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, Sly passed on Beverly Hills Cop and made Cobra instead. Beverly Hills Cop II, directed by Tony Scott (Top Gun), is much more serious, and Cop III, directed by John Landis, is just awful. Landis has successfully blended comedy with horror (An American Werewolf In London), but this comedy-action hybrid stinks.

May 6, 1994

N's Sixty Minute Mix (#13)

Heavily influenced by my internship at WFNX and my newly found interest in "alternative" music.
SIDE A
  1. "I Just Wanna Get Along" The Breeders
  2. "Big Time Sensuality" Bjork
  3. "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You" Sting
  4. "Linger" The Cranberries
  5. "Harborcoat" R.E.M.
  6. "Geppetto" Belly
  7. "Black Metallic" Catherine Wheel
SIDE B
  1. "20 Flight Rock" The Backbeat Band
  2. "Close To Me" The Cure
  3. "Return To Sender" Elvis Presley
  4. "The Break" Soul Asylum
  5. "All Apologies" Nirvana
  6. "Alone" Pearl Jam
  7. "Trout" Neneh Cherry & Michael Stipe
  8. "In The Name of the Father" Gavin Friday & Bono
(Maxell 60 minute cassette)

April 23, 1994

Backbeat

A decent pre-history of the Beatles. Somehow it makes Stu Sutcliffe seem interesting. The casting was good all around: the actors playing John, Paul, and George were all spot on, and Ringo even makes a cameo! Ever since this movie, whenever I see Ian Hart in another movie, playing Professor Quirrell, for example, I think of him playing John Lennon. For some reason, 1994 was the year of movies with vomit- it seemed like I saw a whole series of films where characters spew chunks that year.
(Church St, Harvard Square)

March 18, 1994

The Ref

Dan and I went to see this Christmas movie in March (why did Touchstone release this Christmas movie in the spring?) at a theater in Verona, NJ, while visiting New Jersey for Beatlefest, the annual Beatles fan convention:
Gus: From now on, the only person who gets to yell is me. Why? Because I have a gun. People with guns get to do whatever they want. Married people without guns - for instance - you - DO NOT get to yell. Why? NO GUNS! No guns, no yelling. See? Simple little equation.

The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult

With Dan & Robert & Mike at a huge theater in Times Square, NYC.

Ed: You might end up dead!
Frank Drebin: "You might end up dead" is my middle name.
Ed: What about your wife Jane?
Frank: I don't know her middle name.

February 18, 1994

Reality Bites

On the walk home after the movie, I had a mild argument with my girlfriend over who Winona Ryder should have ended up with: slacker jerk Ethan Hawke or uptight corporate sellout Ben Stiller? I have grown to loathe Stiller's neurotic charm, but at the time, I saw Ethan Hawke as a cruel jerk. Does this rivalry relate to my "bad guy" versus the "good guy" theorem (see Aragorn vs Legoas, Wolverine vs Cyclops)?

January 16, 1994

Philadelphia

Not a dry eye in the house, especially during the home movies at the end.

January 9, 1994

The Indiana Jones Trilogy

In January 1994, I saw the three Indiana Jones movies at the Wang Theater, the largest movie screen in New England. Costar John Rhys-Davies (Sallah) introduced the films. Just imagine if Rhys-Davies had a time machine back then:
Rhys-Davies: Thanks for coming out today to see these three wonderful films! I have some good news- Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford are teaming up to make another Indiana Jones film!
Crowd: (apoplectic cheering)
Rhys-Davies: The bad news-- they won't begin filming until 2007.
Crowd: (confused murmuring)
Rhys-Davies: I'd like to introduce the actor who will be cast as Jones's sidekick...
Crowd: (expectant murmuring)
Rhys-Davies: Come on out here, kid-- here's Shia Lebouf! (a seven and a half year old boy peeks out from behind the curtain)
Rhys-Davies: Don't worry folks- he'll get a bit, erm, taller, in the next decade. Mark your calendars, and we'll see you again May 22, 2008!
Crowdmember: 2008? Is that a year?
Crowd: (starts throwing things)
Rhys Davies: (cries out in pain, grabs LeBouf, and runs for limousine)