When my friend over at RUPERT PUPKIN SPEAKS (he just posted 1956) and I discussed doing these posts, we kind of decided not to go too recent and sticking with the 1980s and under. However, since my last post was 1984 and was a defining year in my Cinema obsession, I figured I would go with 1990, another big year for me (granted though, 1990 is now 22 years ago but this will be as recent as I go with my next posts to be 1934, 1954 and 1962).
In 1990, I was in high school and had a part time job at a video store - so I had pretty much unlimited access to all movies. My theater going reached an all-time high as I would see multiple movies on the weekends, and while I was doing some serious movie watching (both new and classics) on VHS and then Laserdisc (I bought my player in 1990), my theater going started to expand beyond lighter populist fare and now included more dramas and independents. I even went to see - GASP - foreign movies (Akira Kurosawa's DREAMS and LA FEMME NIKITA).
One movie that really changed my perception of cinema was Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS. This movie blew my mind completely. I'd never seen a narrative treated like this before, and found myself loving these guys that were just so bad! I mean, I got why Ray Liotta's character wanted to be a mobster - GOODFELLAS made them look like gods.
It's one of those cinema moments that affected me to an extent where I couldn't stop talking about it for days.
1990 had two such events for me - the other was near the Christmas holidays when Tim Burton's EDWARD SCISSORHANDS opened.
I was excited to see EDWARD SCISSORHANDS but didn't know what was awaiting me that night. I was so blown away by the movie that I openly wept and didn't want to talk to anyone afterwards for fear it would ruin the experience (when I showed up for work that night, everyone constantly asked me what was wrong because I wouldn't talk to ANYONE).
1990 was also the first year I took the Academy Awards seriously. I had been watching them pretty regularly from the 1984 (AMADEUS) ceremony, and had started recording them with the 1987 (THE LAST EMPEROR) ceremony (and have every ceremony recorded since then). However 1990 was the first year I discovered that the Academy announced the nominations on TV - meaning I didn't have to wait until the next day's paper to get the list - and I got up first thing to view them (although was in the Eastern Time Zone so didn't have to get up at 5am). It was also the first year I had seen all the nominated films in the cinema before the nominations were announced.
Granted 1990 is one of those Academy years when cinephiles scream bloody murder as the Kevin Costner directed DANCES WITH WOLVES beat out both Scorsese for Best Director and GOODFELLAS for Best Picture.
Even though I completely agree GOODFELLAS was robbed, I absolutely love DANCES WITH WOLVES so was ok with the final verdict - well, more so back then when I didn't know as much as I do now.
1990 is also the year that the NC-17 rating was introduced, replacing X. The first movie to get it was HENRY & JUNE.
A couple of other trends I noticed in 1990 while composing this list...
- The afterlife was prime subject matter with GHOST, JACOB'S LADDER, FLATLINERS and THE FIRST POWER all released.
- 1990 seemed to be the year to for sequels to movies made in the 1970s. TEXASVILLE (THE LAST PICTURE SHOW), THE TWO JAKES (CHINATOWN), THE EXORCIST III and THE GODFATHER PART III. ROCKY V could also kind of count - although the difference with this was while the others hadn't been revisited since the 70s, ROCKY had sequels in the 80s.
I saw so many movies in this particular year that I even had to cut out some titles just so this list didn't go on forever. As usual, not meant to be everything that came out that year but is an overall snapshot of 1990 movies that were significant (or not) and that I have seen. Some have comments and directors noted.
THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE
Andrew Dice Clay takes a stab at an acting career. This movie was a bog rental title when it came out and had a bit of a cult following.
ALICE (Woody Allen)
ALMOST AN ANGEL
Paul Hogan tries to take his career beyond CROCODILE DUNDEE (and the 1980s) and doesn't really succeed. Movie wasn't awful though and I half liked it even if it was forgettable.
ANOTHER 48 HRS.
This movie had the distinction of being marketed to people with a fear of spiders, daring them to come to the theater to get over that fear. When I went to see it, a big trucker like guy in my row jumped so high a couple of times, the entire row of seats jerked.
AVALON (Barry Levinson)
Great score by Randy Newman.
AWAKENINGS (Penny Marshall)
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (Robert Zemeckis)
BACK TO THE FUTURE III had the distinction of being shot back-to-back with part II, with a short teaser and TO BE CONCLUDED at the end of II leading up to it. THE MATRIX did the same with RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS.
BETSY'S WEDDING (Alan Alda)
BIRD ON A WIRE
Ahh the big scandal with Mel in 1990 didn't have anything to do with drunken rants, but with the question of whether it was his butt or a butt double.
THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES (Brian DePalma)
A big book that turned into an absolute disaster of a movie. A book was written about how much of a mess the making of this film was THE DEVIL'S CANDY.
Not to be mistaken with the more recent - and bigger budget - CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.
CHILD'S PLAY 2
COME SEE THE PARADISE (Alan Parker)
I got yelled at by someone back in 1990 for enjoying this movie, and I still think it's fun. Has a great score!
CRY-BABY (John Waters)
Every girl at school talked about this movie. They were of course all in love with Johnny Depp.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC
DANCES WITH WOLVES (Kevin Costner - Academy Award Winner for Best Picture)
John Barry's Oscar winning score was one of his finest.
DARKMAN (Sam Raimi)
DARKMAN was my introduction to the filmmaking of Sam Raimi and man did I love this movie. Great Danny Elfman score.
DAYS OF THUNDER (Tony Scott)
TOP GUN on wheels. I actually like DAYS OF THUNDER more than TOP GUN because it is pure cheese. Also introduced Tom to Nicole Kidman (they later married, then divorced). Not to mention Tom's character name is Cole Trickle. Yeah...awesome, right!
DELTA FORCE 2: OPERATION STRANGLEHOLD
I loved the original DELTA FORCE and was so excited for this movie, but man did it stink. Didn't even have the great synth score by Alan Silvestri from the first one. Such a let down.
DICK TRACY (Warren Beatty)
DICK TRACY - shot entirely with primary colors - is a great experiment of a movie that while it doesn't completely work, is an amazing and fun film to watch. I am so psyched that Disney is bringing this film out on Blu-Ray later this year as I can think of no other film that will pop in High Definition 1080p like this one will.
To open the film, Disney held midnight screenings where the ticket you bought was a T-Shirt that said "I Saw it First." I believe I still have my T-shirt from that night.
Danny Elfman was on fire this year because this score is also outstanding.
DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER
John McClane goes form the skyscrapers of L.A. to the Washington DC airport. How can the same guy get in the same situation twice? Indeed!
DREAMS (Akira Kurosawa)
The first foreign film I saw in a theater. I was on a huge Kurosawa kick in 1990 as well, so nice timing.
DUCKTALES: THE MOVIE
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (Tim Burton)
ERNEST GOES TO JAIL
THE EXORCIST III
THE EXORCIST III wasn't as bad as THE EXORCIST II, but it still wasn't good.
LA FEMME NIKITA
Man was this movie bad - but in a so bad it's good way.
THE FIRST POWER
I remember everyone gushing over FLATLINERS and I was the only one who hated. Still think it's weak, but the cast was stacked with young hot movie stars of the time. Memorable because I wrote reviews for my school newspaper, and the editor who also typed them up got so angry by my review she altered it slightly to make it look like I liked it.
This movie is virtually un-watchable.
GHOST (Jerry Zucker)
GHOST was a huge hit in 1990, and was even nominated for Best Picture and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Whoopi Goldberg.
The romantic pairing of Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore was a huge hit, and the iconic scene of them making love while making pottery was one of the most memorable movie moments of the decade.
THE GODFATHER PART III (Francis Ford Coppola)
THE GODFATHER returned after almost 20 years, and poor Sofia Coppola found herself at the mercy of the critics who skewered her when she took over a role that Winona Ryder dropped out of at the last minute. Something I remembered later on when Sofia became a critical darling for her direction of THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and LOST IN TRANSLATION.
GOODFELLAS (Martin Scorsese)
You think I'm funny? Am I a clown...do I amuse you?
GREEN CARD (Peter Weir)
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (Joe Dante)
THE GRIFTERS (Stephen Frears)
Another movie that was completely awful!
HAMLET (Franco Zeffirelli)
Mel was making gutsy career moves well before he directed THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and APOCALYPTO. Needless to say, his casting as Hamlet generated a lot of buzz - and I think the movie is quite good.
THE HANDMAID'S TALE
HARD TO KILL
I feel dirty including this movie (and MARKED FOR DEATH which is later in the list) because I so hated Steven Segal action movies although everyone around me kept raving about them.
HAVANA (Sydney Pollack)
HENRY & JUNE
As mentioned above, the first movie to be rated NC-17.
HOME ALONE (Chris Columbus)
Another monster hit of a movie - and it seems 1990 had quite a few of them.
THE HOT SPOT (Dennnis Hopper)
THE HOT SPOT is worth checking out because it is a well-crafted modern Noir, and I absolutely lusted after Virginia Madsen in this film. Couldn't believe it took as long as it did until SIDEWAYS for her to start getting some notoriety.
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (John McTiernan)
Alec Baldwin in the (so far) best performance as Tom Clancy's hero Jack Ryan.
"Some things in here don't react well to bullets."
I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (Lawrence Kasdan)
INTERNAL AFFAIRS (Mike Figgis)
JACOB'S LADDER (Adrian Lyne)
JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO
A movie that had Meg Ryan play multiple roles, but the movie itself is not that great. Thankfully, the Hanks/Ryan re-teaming in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE was much better.
Ahh Arnold trying his hand at comedy and I have to say, I did (and still do) enjoy this movie. Famous line of course being "It's not a tumor".
KING OF NEW YORK (Abel Ferrera)
LEATHERFACE: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III
The trailer for this - mocking a scene from EXCALIBUR with the Lady in the Lake throwing Leatherface a chainsaw instead of King Arthur's sword was inspired brilliance.
Along with Steven Segal, Jean Claude Van Damme was making a splash as well in action pictures, and LIONHEART is one of his better ones.
THE LONG WALK HOME
Before THE HELP there was THE LONG WALK HOME.
LOOK WHO'S TALKING, TOO
John Travolta, before he became cool again in PULP FICTION, found himself in the box office hit LOOK WHO'S TALKING which had Bruce Willis voicing the thoughts of a baby. Here is the very painful sequel which included Rosanne Barr - at the height of her Sitcom stardom.
LORD OF THE FLIES
This movie had impeccable timing in that we were studying this book in school, and it saved us from the fairly rough 1963 version.
MARKED FOR DEATH
HARD TO KILL is bad. MARKED FOR DEATH is worse.
A movie I felt was overlooked that year, especially at awards time. Such a great movie, and it has aged well.
MEN AT WORK
METROPOLITAN (Whit Stillman)
One of the truly great film voices to be introduced in 1990 was Whit Stillman. METROPOLITAN is a delight.
This is another under-rated and almost forgotten gem from 1990.
MILLER'S CROSSING (Coen Brothers)
MISERY (Rob Reiner)
MISERY was a huge hit, and Kathy Bates won an Oscar - for a horror movie no less (although it's probably more like a thriller).
MO' BETTER BLUES (Spike Lee)
MO' BETTER BLUES is on my "need to revisit soon" list.
MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON
MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE
Husband and wife Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward team up.
MY BLUE HEAVEN
I remember hating MY BLUE HEAVEN when I first saw it, but it has grown on me over the years.
A remake of a thriller from 1950 that wasn't too bad.
THE NEVERENDING STORY II: THE NEXT CHAPTER
NIGHTBREED (Clive Barker)
NIGHTBREED sported another fantastic Danny Elfman score, and was interesting in that I grew up in Canada, and here was a movie that was not only shot in Canada but actually kept it as a location. One of the few times in a movie I heard characters referring to Calgary and Edmonton (takes place in Alberta).
NUNS ON THE RUN
I was very happy when a few weeks ago, Anchor Bay released NUNS ON THE RUN on DVD. This movie was a guilty pleasure for me, and when I re-watched it recently, I still laughed a lot.
POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (Mike Nichols)
From the jungle of South America to the jungle of Los Angeles, the Predator takes on LAPD officer Danny Glover stepping in for Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was too busy teaching Kindergarten it seems.
PRESUMED INNOCENT (Alan J. Pakula)
PRETTY WOMAN (Gary Marshall)
Another MONSTER hit of a movie - not to mention an R rated Disney movie about a hooker. Turned Julia Roberts into a mega-star!
PROBLEM CHILD is truly an awful movie, but I love that Martin Scorsese features it in a scene in his 1991 remake of CAPE FEAR (probably a studio edict) that has ex-con Robert DeNiro annoying attorney Nick Nolte and his family (Juliette Lewis and Jessica Lange) by laughing out loud and blowing Cigar smoke in their direction.
I always felt DeNiro did them a favor. They left early and didn't have to suffer through the rest of the movie.
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
A big hit with my fellow high school students.
QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER
Has one of my favorite scores from composer Basil Poledouris.
Cashing in on the success of AIRPLANE and THE NAKED GUN, here is a spoof movie - featuring Leslie Nielson - using THE EXORCIST as the basis. The poster even mocks THE NAKED GUN with Nielson on a crucifix instead of a bullet.
THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER
REVENGE (Tony Scott)
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE (Barbet Schroeder)
Jeremy Irons is so great in this movie. A well deserved Oscar role.
ROBOCOP 2 (Irwin Kershner)
Easily the worst of the ROCKY sequels - but I remember at the showing I went to people standing up and cheering Rocky on during the final street fight, so what do I know.
THE ROOKIE (Clint Eastwood)
THE RUSSIA HOUSE
Great score by Jerry Goldsmith.
THE SHELTERING SKY (Bernardo Bertolucci)
I have a weird like of this movie, and had to re-watch it (considering I think the director) when I worked in my development job and just found it to be a fun and very solid movie.
Cop Dabney Coleman tries to kill himself on the job to get his family the insurance money - and does a pretty bad job of it.
There was a period here where Disney (via Touchstone and Hollywood pictures) churned out low budget comedies with no big stars and there seemed to be a lot of them. Movies like this (although this particular one isn't all that great - granted I haven't seen it since 1990) I don't think can get made anymore - especially at a studio.
STANLEY & IRIS
Jane Fonda teaches Robert DeNiro how to read.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Ok so CGI isn't really a thing yet so here are guys in rubber Turtle suits and it somehow works.
TEXASVILLE (Peter Bogdanovich)
As mentioned above, sequel to THE LAST PICTURE SHOW.
THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY
TOTAL RECALL (Paul Verhoeven)
Forget Segal, forget Van Damme, Arnold is still the best! TOTAL RECALL is great Arnold at that - big action, lots of F bombs, special effects and a very hot Sharon Stone (who kicks major ass) to boot. Great Jerry Goldsmith score.
The night this opened, a local repertory theater had a midnight showing of BLADE RUNNER (both are based on Philip K. Dick novels) and after I got home from RECALL, I jumped on my ten speed and went downtown to complete my Dick double feature. I settled in and promptly fell asleep after the opening credits started (love the movie and had already seen it multiple times). I guess that bike ride really wore me out.
A remake is coming in about a month, but without Arnold...who knows!
TREMORS is a truly awesome and fun movie. It developed a cult following quickly and holds up very well.
TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY (Anthony Minghella)
THE TWO JAKES (Jack Nicholson)
A so so great sequel to CHINATOWN. But then again, CHINATOWN is a tough act to follow.
WELCOME HOME, ROXY CARMICHAEL
WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART (Clint Eastwood)
Film Festival hit WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART has Eastwood loosely using John Huston's hunting adventures while making THE AFRICAN QUEEN on location as a basis. A very fine Eastwood movie that deserves attention.
WILD AT HEART (David Lynch)
THE WITCHES (Nicolas Roeg)
I am a big fan of this movie, and think it is very under-rated and sadly probably forgotten by most people.
YOUNG GUNS II
He'll make you famous! Emilio Estevez proved he could carry a movie (although meant as an ensemble, he runs away with it easily) in this great sequel to YOUNG GUNS which also features a great performance by Christian Slater who was becoming a big name during this period.
Great score by Alan Silvestri.
Next up, 1934!