December 31, 1996

1996 Year-End Wrap Up

My Best Pictures of 1996: The English Patient, Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Toy Story, and The Birdcage.

December 28, 1996

One Fine Day


A ordinary by-the-numbers rom-com with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney. Not long after this movie, Pfeiffer semi-retired, and Clooney dropped out of the Hollywood Dreamboat sweepstakes. Neither is trying especially hard here. (Maine Mall Cinema)

December 27, 1996

Scream

The Original Post-Modern Horror Film. This movie seemed smart and original at the time, but the whole generation of crappy slasher copies which it spawned has spoilt the funny-scary genre.

December 19, 1996

Jerry Maguire

A fantastic film about love, work, marriage, and self. I doubt Cameron Crowe will ever top it, especially after Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown. It's hard to imagine anyone but Tom Cruise so convincingly inhabiting this role as the driven, soulless sports agent.

December 13, 1996

The English Patient

Like a J. Peterman catalog come to life. Seriously, though, I really loved this movie. (Maine Mall Cinema)

November 30, 1996

Mars Attacks!

marsA special sneak-preview screening (not free) at the Maine Mall cinema. This movie needed all the promotion it could get, to win over mainstream audiences to its overly zany sensibilities.

November 22, 1996

Star Trek: First Contact

startrek8The really good Next Generation Trek movie, featuring the baddest of baddies, The Borg. A good blend of action, thrills, and comedy. (Maine Mall Cinema)

November 10, 1996

Ransom

A sharp thriller from Ron Howard. Rene Russo had a good year- I saw her in Tin Cup too. Did you know that Russo and Howard went to high school together? Russo is only 12 days older than Howard. (Maine Mall Cinema)

November 3, 1996

Tin Cup

Weird sunset backdrop in this
movie poster- why not show
a green fairway? It looks like
a volcano eruption!
Another sports movie from director Ron Shelton and Kevin Costner. I found it pretty entertaining, despite the fact that I have never played golf in my life which didn't involve windmills, loop-the-loops, and a undersized fiberglass Tyrannosaurus Rex.

October 27, 1996

Michael Collins

I don't remember much about it, except
a) Julia Roberts once again unsuccessfully tries to play against type, and
b) the inclusion of Sinead O'Connor performing the traditional ballad "She Walked Through The Fair".
My total ignorance of Irish history didn't help either!

October 20, 1996

Sleepers

I don't remember much about this movie, except
a) it wasn't what I expected; and
b) how depressing it was.
The Hollywood marketing machine tends to leave child abuse off the television commercials. (Maine Mall Cinema)

October 14, 1996

That Thing You Do!

Mr. White: This "Oneders" thing, with the o-n-e, it doesn't work. It's confusing. From now on, you're just The Wonders.
Lenny: As in, 'I wonder what happened to the O-Needers?'
(Maine Mall Cinema)

Match the Blonde with the Hitchcock Movie

Vertigo

I discover vertigoall sorts of new subtleties every time I see it. (Exchange Street, Portland)

October 12, 1996

August 18, 1996

40th Commemorative Mix Tape

I didn't "commemorate" anything with this mix. This was my first mix started at my new job at WMGX. As a result, it's chock full of easy classic rock from the WMGX CD library. 100 minutes.

Emma

Despite marrying Chris Martin, moving to London, and having several half-English babies with peculiar names, Gwyneth Paltrow is still technically American. Gwyneth does a terrific English accent, as heard in Emma, Sliding Doors, Shakespeare In Love... (Maine Mall Cinema)

August 16, 1996

The Frighteners

frightenersA bizarre little horror/comedy directed by Peter Jackson.

August 3, 1996

A Time To Kill

Professionally staged with an all-star cast. At 149 minutes, it's a little long, and definitely too episodic. Quite satisfying nonetheless.

August 1, 1996

Supercop

One of Jackie Chan's best Hong Kong films, imported and re-titled for the USA. This was in the period after the success of Rumble In The Bronx, when Miramax's Dimension Films released a slew of Chan's Hong Kong films in America. Supercop was released in Hong Kong in 1993 as Police Story 3: Super Cop. (Maine Mall Cinema)

July 27, 1996

James & The Giant Peach

jamesDelightful stop-motion animation from Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I don't remember too much about it. I read the book when I was a kid.

July 24, 1996

Multiplicity

multiplicityHigh concept comedy from Harold Ramis. My old college friend Craig, working at Boss Film Studios, gets to meet Michael Keaton and receives a screen credit. (Hoyt's Cinemas South Portland)

July 14, 1996

Courage Under Fire

A emotionally heartbreaking story. (Maine Mall Cinema)

July 5, 1996

N's Unfinished Mix Tape. Number Thirty-Nine

"Recorded July 5, 1996, just before Bob fired me."

July 3, 1996

Independence Day

independenceI fell upon the last hour of ID4 on HBO the other day, so my wife and I watched some of it, and fast-forwarded through the unwatchable parts. What I noticed while watching it for the first time in eleven years is how truly terrible it is. Ugh! The action is boring, the science fiction is non-existent, the whole cast wishes they didn't have to be there- with the possible exception of Randy Quaid, who looks like he's having a great time. We both love Bill Pullman, but Emily kept quoting his plastic surgeon character from Singles ("I'm thirty... five years old, and I don't know how to have a good time!") and I always think of him in Ruthless People ("This may very well be the stupidest man on the face of the Earth.") Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch conduct a intergenerational Bad Acting clinic. And the coup de grace: Goldblum defeats an alien invasion with a software virus he uploads to their computer. Why not just get them to install Windows 95 and wait for the Blue Screen of Death?

I am leaving the never again tag on this post because I only saw parts of the last hour on HBO. I have not seen the whole thing twice, and God help me, I never will.

June 29, 1996

The Rock


Watched this film again in 2015 on my Roku while parenting my newborn son one late night, The Rock surprised me:
It's beautifully photographed, especially the gorgeous outdoor cinematography. Director Michael Bay and DP John Schwartzman are meticulous in their work. All the San Francisco locations don't hurt either! I really noticed Quentin Tarantino's script punch ups- he did a lot of uncredited magic in the mid 1990s- the Silver Surfer argument in Crimson Tide springs to mind- so whenever the chit chat gets excessively cool, I know it's Q at work.
Nicolas Cage is intensely handsome, but also craaaaazy!
No CGI-- In the post Terminator 2 era, so many 1990s action movies used crummy CGI to try to keep up. If there's any CGI in this movie, I didn't see it- a conventional action movie in 1996 is to be treasured! This helps keep the movie from feeling dated, 19 years later: only a few computer shots, and a few women's wardrobe choices give away the 1990s moment- of course it helps that most of the cast is in uniform throughout the movie.  (Originally I saw this movie at the Maine Mall Cinema)

Vanessa Marcil is wearing a tight white
belly-baring tee shirt and
high-waisted jeans!
Is Claire Forlani wearing Silent Bob's
overcoat in this scene?

June 22, 1996

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I really enjoy the design of this poster.
A little more inventive than a average by-the-numbers Disney animated feature. I saw this twice probably because my girlfriend was a huge Disney fan. (June 22nd and July 7th, 1996)

June 8, 1996

Highest Grossing Movies (That I Have Never Seen)

Our of the top 200 movies of all time I have seen 151 of the 200 highest-grossing movies of all time. Here's the Top Ten I haven't seen:

RankTitleAdjusted Gross
14Ben-Hur$847,700,000
37Love Story$605,484,000
42Cleopatra$581,136,900
45Airport$571,862,600
49Around the World in 80 Days$558,923,100
53The Bells of St. Mary's$542,745,100
56The Towering Inferno$530,899,500
61The Greatest Show on Earth$519,000,000
63The Passion of the Christ$516,446,900
71Smokey and the Bandit$491,604,800

it's not exactly a collection of essential classics, is it?
  • US box office
  • Adjusted for inflation
  • 1921 through February 2017
  • I saw them either on home video or in the theater


Flirting With Disaster

flirtingA screwball comedy from David O. Russell. It looks and sounds like the kind of movie I would truly enjoy, but it didn't click for me. (Loews Janus, JFK St, Harvard Sq)

June 2, 1996

Dragonheart

dragonheartSean Connery cashing in as the voice of the CGI dragon, and a ragged-looking Dennis Quaid, slumping as the dragon-killer. (Maine Mall Cinema)

June 1, 1996

38th Mix...Mastering the Fine Art of Compromise

"No Springsteen, No Joel, No McCartney!!!" 90 minutes

May 29, 1996

Heaven's Prisoners

heavensA steamy swampy noir, with Alec Baldwin and Kelly Lynch, and a topless Teri Hatcher!

May 26, 1996

Mission: Impossible

One of my favorite Tom Cruise haircuts.
This movie's plot is totally incomprehensible. I have seen it a couple times now, and I still don't understand it. The good news is, I love watching this movie. Director Brian DePalma is many things, but he's not boring. (Maine Mall Cinema)

Also On Memorial Day, Through The Years

I have been to the movies on Memorial Day Monday 13 times in 24 years, but it's not a great track record. 

May 12, 1996

Mulholland Falls

After nineteen years, all I remembered of this detective noir was the Hat Squad investigating a conspiracy to cover up Jennifer Connelly's murder. I also remembered hidden camera footage of Connelly's naked body, but it seems like a lot of those shots may be body doubles? I also remembered the literal all-star cast: Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Treat Williams, Jennifer Connelly, Daniel Baldwin, Andrew McCarthy, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern, and Louise Fletcher. Rob Lowe and William Petersen have cameos, and young Kyle Chandler and Titus Welliver have bit parts!
Not to be confused with Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Falls is a Chinatown-style noir whose plot doesn't make much more sense than the Lynch movie. Nineteen years after seeing it in the theater, I checked it out again on Amazon Instant Video. Nick Nolte surprised me with his depth and subtlety as the troubled, weary detective who once indulged in an affair with Connelly - I found their romance cold and boring, my wife just found it creepy. Nolte had much stronger chemistry with Melanie Griffith as his wife. Besides being tortured with remorse over the death of his onetime mistress, and guilt over breaking his wife's heart, Nolte also wows me with his hearty ass-kicking of a trio of FBI agents (led by supercilious Daniel Baldwin) who underestimated him. Thanks to his trusty blackjack, and a surprise ambush in a parking garage, the G-men didn't put up much of a fight, and Nolte got to tear into them, then drag Baldwin into the gutter before delivering his message:
"This is L.A. This is my town. Out here you're a trespasser. Out here I can pick you up, burn your house, fuck your wife, and kill your dog. And the only thing that'll protect you is if I can't find you. And I already found you."
The whole script isn't as good as this scene- it's strange to make an LA noir where the subject of the mystery is set at an Army base, and the conclusion is just generic 90s action: Nolte and Palminteri fight Treat Williams and Kyle Chandler aboard an Air Force paratrooper plane, then throw Williams and Chandler off, then barely crash land the plane in the desert when the pilot is shot. Hardly the conclusion of a LA detective movie?
I find glossy all-star Hollywood genre movies very relaxing, even if they don't really work. My Stub Hubby grade: C-minus

May 11, 1996

Twister

twisterStarring future Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman mesmerizes! I haven't seen this film in a long time, I wonder how the CGI tornadoes and the flying cow hold up? (at Maine Mall Cinema; also May 19)

About The Director

Jan DeBont was a Dutch director of photography (DP) with a long and prolific career in Europe and in America who parlayed his work on two huge action blockbusters in a row (Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October) into a brief feature directing career. He had a huge hit with his debut Speed in 1994, followed by Twister, Speed 2, a misbegotten remake of The Haunting, and finally the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider sequel The Cradle Of Life. Based on his IMDb profile he may be retired.

April 28, 1996

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

At the time, Jeaneane Garofalo was one of my favorite comedians, and Uma Thurman will always be the sexiest woman on Earth.

April 21, 1996

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

mysteryA regular episode of the MST3K T.V. show is 2 hours long, including commercials. Without the commercials, I suspect an episode is probably about 80-90 minutes long? The big-screen MST3K Movie is only 74 minutes. According to the IMDb, "The TV show's usual density of gags was reduced for theatrical audiences, so that a larger number of people laughing wouldn't cause too much dialogue to be missed." To sum up, I found the whole experience disappointing. (April 21 at the Kendall Square Cinema, and again June 26 at the Maine Mall Cinema)

April 20, 1996

Mix #37: The Mistie Trip Mix

"Especially for the trip to Boston to see Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie."

March 22, 1996

Steve Buscemi: Gone Kaput

buscemiA few years back, a guy named Pete Bevin compiled a list of The Many Deaths of Steve Buscemi. Pete noted how often Steve's characters expire in the movies and TV. Pete's site is long gone, but I saved his mostly complete listing of Steve Buscemi: Gone Kaput (see bottom).
2011 is the Era Of The Supercut, where people with a DVD player and a lot of free time on their hands create YouTube montages of common scenes from movies and TV. Thanks to "dondrapersayswhat's" YouTube channel, a you can "enjoy" a selection of these (mostly gruesome) deaths by clicking play below!



  • Miller's Crossing ... Mink (shot in the face)
  • Desperado ... "Buscemi" (stabbed)
  • Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead ... Mister Shhh (shot)
  • Fargo ... Carl (wood chipper)
  • The Big Lebowski ... Donny (heart attack)
  • Monsters, Inc ... Randall (bludgeoned by redneck in trailer, maybe not killed)
  • The Sopranos ... Tony Blundetto (shotgun blast to the head)
  • The Island ... McCord (shot, topples over railing, crashes through glass in slow motion)
  • Domestic Disturbance ... Ray Coleman (stabbed)
  • The Grey Zone ... Abramowics (shot)
  • The Last Outlaw ... Philo (shot)
  • Twenty Bucks ... Frank (shot)
  • Rising Sun ... Willy 'the Weasel' Wilhelm
  • Reservoir Dogs ... Mr Pink (probably shot by police offscreen at the very end of the movie)
  • Billy Bathgate ... Irving
  • Barton Fink ... Chet (Assuming he goes up in flames with the hotel)
  • King of New York ... Test Tube
  • Lonesome Dove TV Series ... Luke (scalped)

Fargo

fargoNear the end of the movie, Steve Buscemi has escsaped the botched parking garage drop-off with the ransom, but he's been shot in the face. On the way back to the cabin (where he left Peter Stormare to watch the kidnapped wife) he stops on the highway, climbs over a snowbank to a mile-long fence, and buries the ransom money in the snow. The he looks up and down the fenceline and realizes that he may not be able to find this spot again, so he sticks his (foot-long) trowel in the snowbank. At this point, I loudly laughed at the screen, thinking: "Is this his master plan? Does he really think this is going to work?" (Maine Mall Cinema)

March 17, 1996

Babe

The best talking-pig movie I've ever seen. Absolutely heartwarming. If you don't shed a tear at the end of this movie, check your pulse. An excellent first feature film for your kids. We first showed Babe to our son when he was 2 or 3, and he loved it. There's some peril here and there, but it's handled tenderly. One time while we were watching it, I wrote down all of James Cromwell's dialog as Farmer Hoggett; he had only 171 words of spoken dialogue, and 61 words that were sung.

March 14, 1996

Toy Story

toyIf Buzz Lightyear thinks he's a real spaceman, why does he play "dead" (i.e., like a toy) when people come in the room? Wouldn't he try and talk to the son or mother when they walk in?

March 10, 1996

The Birdcage

birdcageSharp performances, airtight script, and fast-paced.

Agador: Armand, why don't you let me be in the show? Are you afraid of my Guatemalan-ness?
Armand: Your what?
Agador: My Guatemalan-ness, my natural heat. You're afraid I'm too primitive to be on the stage with your little estrogen Rockettes, right?
Armand: You're right. I'm afraid of your heat.
(March 10th and July 12th, 1996)

March 3, 1996

Up Close and Personal

upcloseThere are some nice parts, but only parts. The performances and star power of Robert Redford, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Stockard Channing help salvage this movie. The original screenplay drafts were based on the life of NBC anchorwoman Jessica Savitch, whose star rose fast in TV journalism, until she died in a car accident at age 36. The final movie contained only fragments of the Savitch story.

February 26, 1996

Muppets Treasure Island

Pretty funny Muppet movie, with Tim Curry as Long John Silver. (Maine Mall Cinema)

February 23, 1996

Mary Reilly

The Mr. Hyde story, as told from the perspective of Dr. Jeckyll's sallow-faced, timid, mousy Cockney maid Mary, apocalyptically miscast in the person of Julia Roberts. Besides Roberts trying her best to play against type, all I remember about this movie is the climactic CGI transformation, where Hyde bulges and grows out of Jeckyll's back like an Alien chestburster. (Maine Mall Cinema)

February 11, 1996

Beautiful Girls

I hardly remember this movie. (Maine Mall Cinema)
Terrible Photoshop!

February 9, 1996

Mix #36: Guys And Dolls

"a work in progress..."
"recorded February 9th - 21st, 1996"
Side A was all bands with guys singing, Side B was all ladies. 90 minutes

February 4, 1996

Dead Man Walking

deadmanYour stance on capital punishment is beside the point. If you must, just ignore the politics and enjoy the performances.

February 2, 1996

Mr. Holland's Opus

mrhollandExcellent movie about a schoolteacher's life, about a parent's life, and about music too. (Maine Mall Cinema)

January 26, 1996

Twelve Monkeys

twelveI love time-travel stories; this one is excellent. (Maine Mall Cinema)