1993 in Movies

Movie reviews written for movies released theatrically in 1993, when I turned 12.

1. Trois Couleurs: Bleu, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski (10/10)

The comments I wrote at the time do not do the film justice so I will not post them here. I believe I prefer Rouge overall but this is still one of the best films of the ’90s: engrossing, beautifully and creatively shot, well-acted and just flat-out fantastic. It has been over half a decade since I’ve seen it so I can’t do it justice here.

2. The Age of Innocence, directed by Martin Scorsese (10/10)

I am really frustrated with myself that I cannot find my review for this. Yes, some of the casting is a bit perplexing (Ryder rather than Pfeiffer; I think Pfeiffer is fine here and don’t get the criticism). But this is an extraordinarily well-made film which is one of the best showcases of Scorsese’s “eye” and his gifts as a cinematographer and editor.

3. Farewell My Concubine, directed by Kaige Chen (9/10)

This movie is ambitious and lavish. It is nice to look at. The one problem perhaps is that it is so episodic; in fact it’s one of the most episodic movies I’ve ever seen. This makes it somewhat difficult to understand the motivations of the characters in certain scenes (since each episode in their lives is necessarily short). It’s almost classic but not quite.

3. Short Cuts, directed by Robert Altman (9/10)

It has been a long time since I saw this one, and I can’t tell you the exact reason why I don’t think it is among Altman’s five or so greatest films. On the whole, it is very impressive, but I feel like the coherence of Nashville is somewhat missing. Something like that. Still worth seeing, obviously.

5. Naked, directed by Mike Leigh (9/10)

This is quite the movie. First off, Thewlis is incredible. This is one of the performances of the decade by any measure. He is so utterly convincing as Johnny you really forget you are watching an actor and almost start believing this guy exists. The film itself doesn’t have much of a narrative but it’s a compelling – often hilarious, often disturbing – series of vignettes that portray underclass London in the early ’90s. I might have trouble believing some of it if I didn’t live in a downtown myself.

6. Gettysburg, directed by Ronald F. Maxwell (9/10)

This is, I think, the first movie to truly get the Longest Day formula right since that movie premiered thirty years prior to this one. Rarely has such epic material been handled so well.

7. Alferd Packer: the Musical aka Cannibal: the Musical, directed by Trey Parker (9/10*)

This low budget film’s rating needs a big asterisk next to it. Seen only once, when I was so into South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut that I was ready to write an essay defending it, Parker could do no wrong. And so I saw this intending to love it. and love it I did. And I have no idea if it is actually funny enough – or brave enough – to warrant such a high rating.

8. In the Name of the Father, directed by Jim Sheridan (8/10)

Unfortunately I saw this pretty great film right before I started regularly writing down my thoughts. I have a feeling I would like it less now, but I don’t know.

9. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, directed by Francois Girard (8/10)

I watched this before I regularly wrote reviews but I would highly recommend watching it, even if you don’t know anything at all about Gould (I didn’t at the time).

10. The Blue Kite, directed by Zhuangzhuang Tian (8/10)

Unfortunately I have lost my review for this.

11. Cronos, directed by Guillermo del Toro (8/10)

I regret to say that I have lost my review for this.

12. Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, directed by Todd Phillips (8/10)

Somewhere I have written an eloquent review of this fascinating and disturbing film. The disturbing part isn’t so much that Allin existed, as that’s not very hard for me to believe. The disturbing part is that he had fans and that these fans came back.

13. Carlito’s Way, directed by Brian De Palma (8/10*)

Seen during the height of my De Palma phase.

14. The Remains of the Day, directed by James Ivory (8/10*)

Another Merchant Ivory I saw too young to thoroughly appreciate / judge.

15. Genghis Cohn, directed by Elijah Moshinsky (8/10)

Seen during a politics class way back when.

16. The Piano, directed by Jane Campion (8/10)

Usually I can’t say I like Campion. Everything else I’ve seen of hers has rubbed me the wrong way.

But I really can’t say anything against this, save perhaps that it does seem a slight bit contrived. (I have no idea if mute women of yore traveled the globe with their pianos, but I am slightly skeptical.)

The film goes pretty much where we might expect it to, but there are effective detours along the way and the acting is solid all around. (Keitel in particular is thankfully not his usual self).

17. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, directed by Lasse Hallstrom (8/10*)

I haven’t seen this in ages and so I wonder what I would think of it now that I know Hallstrom for the hack he is.

18. Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg (7/10*)

I saw this at age 12 the first time, I believe.  I don’t know how old I was the second time. I was still pretty young but I was in the midst of my Spielberg-is-everything-wrong-with-American-cinema phase. So obviously I still have to watch it again. But I think even without re-considering it I can still object to two major artistic decisions:

  1. The decision to colour only the girl and essentially make an homage to Track of the Cat; a really odd film to reference in a holocaust film, whether deliberate or otherwise.
  2. The decision to use feathers instead of blood every time someone is shot.

If you think you can defend either or both of these decisions, please let me know. I would like to know why they were made.  I think they are very poor artistic decisions, myself, and I think that they keep this film from being great, no matter what other merits the film might have.

19. The Fugitive, directed by Andrew Davis (7/10)

As a tween and young teen, this was apparently a very good movie. I have seen it way too many times.

20. Philadelphia, directed by Jonathan Demme (7/10)

I have always found this to be way safer than it should be. It boggles my mind that mainstream acceptance for homosexual men and AIDS as a health problem rather than a gay plague has to come through Tom Hanks, a movie named after a city, and kid-gloves.

21. Dave, directed by Ivan Reitman (7/10*)

Seen multiple times as a tween and teen, I cannot be objective about it.

22. Jurassic Park, directed by Steven Spielberg (7/10)

A major accomplishment in visual effects but I have been assured by a few people that my concerns about the ending have much more to do with Spielberg than Crichton. And does that surprise me? No, it does not.

23. The Nightmare Before Christmas, directed by Henry Selick (7/10)

An inventive film, but I have not seen it since I was a teen.

24. A Bronx Tale, directed by Robert De Niro (6/10)

Seen as a teen.

25. True Romance, directed by Tony Scott (6/10)

I liked this a lot more as a teen than now. Now, it doesn’t feel complete. It feels like a bunch of scenes driven by fantastic dialogue – and great turns by several great actors – that have been roped together by a ridiculous plot. In retrospect I feel like this is the weakest Tarantino film, no doubt because somebody else made it.

26 In the Line of Fire, directed by Wolfgang Peterson (6/10)

I feel like this could have been a lot more, given the cast. Perhaps Clint would have made a better film out of it.

27. The Pelican Brief, directed by Alan J. Pakula (6/10)

I feel like Pakula does a better job with Grisham’s material than most but I haven’t seen it in forever.

28. Ground Hog Day, directed by Harold Ramis (6/10*)

As a tween and young teen I loved this film. As an older teen and young adult I got really put off by its sentimentality at the end. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

29. Tombstone, directed by George P. Cosmatos (6/10*)

Though I haven’t seen it in forever, at the time I felt like this was a Hollywood action movie attempting to come off as a western, more than an actual western. Maybe that’s not fair.

30. Rising Sun, directed by Phillip Kaufman (6*10)

Seen as a teen.

31. Wayne’s World 2, directed by Stephen Surjik (6/10*)

Cannot be objective about it.

32. So I Marriage an Axe Murderer, directed by Thomas Schlamme (6/10*)

Seen way too many times to be objective about it.

33. A Perfect World, directed by Clint Eastwood (5/10)

This has always been a strange one for me. I have seen it multiple times and I feel like there is almost something to it that is really worthwhile, but it is almost like the film walks around it. I don’t know how to express that.

34. The Firm, directed by Sydney Pollack (5/10)

It is safe to say that I am not a John Grisham fan, nor am I a Pollack fan.

35. My Life, directed by Bruce Joel Rubin (5/10)

There’s a lot of potential here, but unfortunately the filmmakers can’t avoid sentimentality enough to make it truly effective.

36. Shadowlands, directed by Richard Attenborough (5/10*)

Seen before I even knew who Lewis was, so: oops.

37. Dazed and Confused, directed by Richard Linklater (5/10*)

You must understand that I was forced to watch this a gazillion times before I was old enough to get it.

38. Killing Zoe, directed by Roger Avary (5/10)

As has been pointed out time and again, this is a bit of a Pulp Fiction rip-off.

39. The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, directed by Michael Ritchie (5/10)

I have lost my review for this but the title is the best part. At bottom, it is a TV movie.

40. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, directed by Eric Radomski, Bruce W. Timm (5/10)

Fine for what it is.

41. The Secret Garden, directed by Agnieszka Holland (5/10*)

Seen as a tween.

42. Freaked, directed by Tom Stern, Alex Winter (5/10)

This odd, pseudo-ode to Freaks is at times unbelievably horrible and absolutely hysterically funny. It’s sometimes a fine line between greatness and trash and this film doesn’t walk it, but rather crosses it repeatedly. There is a great movie somewhere in here, and there is also a horrible one.

43. Cliffhanger, directed by Renny Harlin (5/10)

As a teen, this was pretty cool. As an adult, it just seems like a really poor excuse for “oh my god, it’s so fucking high!” moments.

44. Matinee, directed by Joe Dante (5/10*)

When I was 12 I thought this was the worst movie I had ever seen. I have since changed my mind.

45. Public Access, directed by Bryan Singer (4/10)

Seen during the height of my Usual Suspects fixation, my expectations were definitely too high for this strange film. Sometimes I think i should give it another chance.

46. Indian Summer, directed by Mike Binder (4/10)

Boomer nostalgia.

47. Mad Dog and Glory, directed by John McNaughton (4/10)

I feel like I never fully got this.

48. Point of No Return, directed by John Badham (4/10*)

I don’t really remember this all that well.

49. Robin Hood: Men in Tights, directed by Mel Brooks (4/10)

Brooks had been making the same movie over and over again by this point. But I can’t say I don’t laugh at it, even now.

50. Fatal Instinct, directed by Carl Reiner (4/10*)

The first time I saw this, I wouldn’t have got most of the jokes. But I still thought it was funny. I saw it more than once as a teen though, so eventually got some of them. Way too many movies like this. The rating is very, very charitable.

51. Indecent Proposal, directed by Adrian Lyne (4/10)

Lyne’s movies aren’t really effective because they usually consist of “high concept” what-ifs that never happen to anybody ever.

52. Sliver, directed by Phillip Noyce (4/10)

Basic Instinct flipped around backwards and with less ballsy eroticism.

53. Falling Down, directed by Joel Schumacher (4/10*)

Watched multiple times at night, but Schumacher made it so how can we take it seriously?

54. Demolition Man, directed by Marco Brambilla (4/10)

A preposterous and silly science fiction action film that is saved from being terrible by what exactly? I don’t know that 4 is harsh enough.

55. Mrs. Doubtfire, directed by Chris Columbus (4/10)

As a tween, I certainly fell for this. But the whole thing is fucking ridiculous (or at least should be) to adults.

56. Addams Family Values, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (4/10*)

Seen as a tween and teen.

57. Hot Shots! Part Deux, directed by Jim Abrahams (4/10*)

Seen way too many times to be objective about it.

58. David Copperfield, directed by Don Arioli (3/10)

I zipped this by accident. I think I thought it said “1933”. Anyway, way to dumb it down people.

59. Sniper, directed by Luis Llosa (3/10)

Macho nonsense.

60. Aspen Extreme, directed by Patrick Hasburgh (3/10*)

Seen way too many times to be objective about it.

61. Dennis the Menace, directed by Nick Castle (3/10*)

Seen in theatres.

62. Return of the Living Dead III, directed by Brian Yuzna (2/10)

I’m not sure why this exists.

63. Super Mario Bros., directed by Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton (2/10)

I was fortunate to not see this in theatres but was just as confused as all those kids when I saw it on video. Read this.

64. Beethoven’s 2nd, directed by Rod Daniel (2/10*)

This feels charitable.

65. Sister Act 2:Back in the Habit, directed by Bill Duke (2/10)

Very charitable.

66. Weekend at Bernie’s 2, directed by Robert Klane (2/10*)

How I gave this 2/10 is beyond me.

67. Look Who’s Talking Now, directed by Tom Ropelewski (1/10)

Leave me alone, talking babies, now!

68. Son of the Pink Panther, directed by Blake Edwards (1/10)

As a gigantic Peter Sellers fan, this movie’s existence is offensive to me.