Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Jesse Walker has chosen his top films from 20 years ago.  Here's the top ten with my comments below.

1. The Rapture

2. Hearts of Darkness

3. Homicide

4. Raise the Red Lantern

5. Prime Suspect

6. Blooper Bunny

7. Tribulation 99

8. JFK

9. Slacker

10. Point Break

A mixed bag.  I'll give The Rapture points for being odd, and for taking its chosen culture seriously, but I wouldn't even say it's a good film, and I think the ending is silly.

Hearts Of Darkness is a fine documentary (and I met the directors on separate occasions).

I consider David Mamet's career as a film director almost entirely a washout, and, like many of his films, Homicide starts well but gets worse as it goes along.

Raise The Red Lantern is a fine film--one of Yimou's best.

Prime Suspect is a TV show, not a movie.  Blooper Bunny is a short, and far from Bug's best.  Never saw Tribulation 99.

JFK is probably Oliver Stone's best film, though I consider it a comedy.

Slacker is fun, but, like the title, not all it could be.

I have friends who consider Point Break a classic.  I considered it a disjointed film with some great sequences.

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Delicatessen
12. Blood in the Face
13. The Double Life of Veronique
14. Little Man Tate
15. Dogfight
16. Like Water for Chocolate
17. Thanksgiving Prayer
18. The Silence of the Lambs
19. Flirting
20. Highway Patrolman

Delicatessen was a cool film.  Didn't see Blood In The Face.  I like but don't love The Double Life Of Veronique.  Don't think that much of Little Man Tate or Dogfight.  Like Like Water For ChocolateThanksgiving Prayer is a short. The Silence Of The Lambs--only the third film to win the top five Oscars--strikes me as a passable murder mystery, and when Anthony Hopkins isn't on screen, maybe not even that.  Flirting I liked.  Highway Patrolman is another example of the disappointing career of Alex Cox.

There were a lot of films though highly of in 1991 that Jesse didn't select.  Among them:

Barton Fink, Beauty And The Beast, Boyz N The Hood (1991 was the year of the black filmmaker, and this was the debut that made the biggest splash), Bugsy, The Fisher King, Thelma & Louise

Then there were a lot of films I thought highly of in 1991 that didn't make Jesse's top twenty.  Here are some that probably would have made my list.

Armour of God II: Operation Condor -- One of Jackie Chan's best

City of Hope -- One of John Sayles' best

Defending Your Life -- I was disappointed at first because it wasn't as good as Albert Brooks' last, Lost In America, but what is?  Has held up well

Europa (aka Zentropa)

Life Is Sweet --I know Jesse doesn't go for Mike Leigh, but this would be a good place to start for a reconsideration

Once Upon a Time in China -- Lots of good films coming out of HK around this time, often in series, and this is the first of one of the best series.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day -- Cameron is one of the best action directors ever

Other films of interest:

The Addams Family (funny and looks beautiful), At Play in the Fields of the Lord, La Belle Noiseuse (okay, too long), Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (not quite as good as the first), Black Robe, Cape Fear, Career Opportunities, A Chinese Ghost Story III, Chuck Amuck: The Movie, City Slickers, The Commitments, Dead Again, The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (it's a short, but Jesse picks shorts), Doc Hollywood, The Doctor, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, The Doors (Stone had two films out this year, and this almost matches JFK as a fever dream), Fried Green Tomatoes, The Gambling Ghost, Hot Shots!, The Hours and Times, Hudson Hawk (better than everyone says, though it would have to be), The Indian Runner, Jungle Fever (like so much Spike Lee, a jumble, but the good parts--especially Samuel L. Jackson--are quite something), Kafka, L.A. Story, The Last Boy Scout, Let Him Have It, Madonna: Truth or Dare, Mediterraneo, Meet the Applegates, My Own Private Idaho (Jesse picks Van Sant's short and ignores his feature), Mystery Date, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, Naked Lunch, New Jack City, Night on Earth, Nothing but Trouble, The Object of Beauty, Only the Lonely, Oscar, Pizza Man, The Quarrel, A Rage in Harlem, The Rocketeer, Salmonberries, The Sandman, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Shadows and Fog, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Toto the Hero, Tous les Matins du Monde, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Until the End of the World, Waiting, What About Bob?, Year of the Gun

PS  Jesse has seen this post, realized Zentropa was released in 1991, and added it to his list at #14.


Blogger Jesse said...

Crap, I thought Europa/Zentropa was a 1992 movie. But IMDb says you're right. That one would've made my list if I'd dated it correctly. (Should I revise it? I'll ponder that.)

I think City of Hope is pretty bad. Terminator 2 is good but not top-twenty good; Once Upon a Time in China is OK but I found it disappointing after the build-up from its fans. I haven't seen the others on your "probably would have made my list" list.

11:43 AM, December 28, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jackie Chan's second Armour film is better than the first because in that one he suffered his worst injury ever. He fell fifteen feet and cracked open his skull, almost dying. So he took it easy for the rest of the shoot.

12:11 PM, December 28, 2011  
Blogger Jesse said...

By the way, The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia made my 1990 list. IMDb has it in 1991 but I think IMDb is wrong.

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