Tag Archives: 1994

Review of Natural Born Killers (1994)

16 May

Natural Born Killers (1994) is a thriller/crime/comedy movie, which follows a couple on a killing spree and it’s portrayal in media.

Directed by Oliver Stone (Platoon (1986), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)).

Written by Oliver Stone (Scarface (1983), Alexander (2004)), David Veloz (Permanent Midnight (1998), Behind Enemy Lines (2001)), Richard Rutowski and story by Quentin Tarantino (True Romance (1993), Reservoir Dogs (1992)).

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., O-Lan Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield and others.

From the first frames you understand that this won’t be a conventional movie. I thought „Hey, this has a cool Tarantino-esque vibe to it”, but soon I realised that this is too crazy even for Tarantino, who originally wrote the script, but it was re-written so much he is only credited as the author of the story. Not that Tarantino wouldn’t make this movie, he unsuccessfully tried, but this is not the way he would have made it.

It constantly changes the visual styles, basically using every kind of filter, film stock, digital video format and lens Oliver Stone could get his hands on. If you had asked me before if that sounds like something good, I’d say „well, it might look interesting for 15 minutes, but then it would get self-indulgent and tiring”, but the fact is, it doesn’t. It is fascinating. At first I was a bit confused, especially when it first did this thing, where a dialogue is delivered and then repeated in black & white from different angle and slightly different delivery. When you realize what Stone does there, it’s pretty awesome. It must have been so fun for him to just go crazy and try whatever he wants.

The grotesque visuals also make the violence seem both more disturbing and kind of mesmerizing. So if you like Tarantino’s aesthetics of violence, this is somewhere along those lines. The whole thing feels like watching a really good movie during a bad acid trip.

Woody Harrelson is bad ass in this, a great performance. I have been always not sure about Juliette Lewis, I’ve always seen her as sort of annoyingly eccentric, yet undoubtedly talented. This movie was it, she is one of the greatest actresses of… this generation? I’ve never understood what generation is this and what’s the last generation. So, she’s really good and I can’t believe she’s only 21 in this. No one can pull off this combination of repulsive, sexy and batshit insane, like she does here. She and Harrelson is just perfect as this very stylised 90’s version of Bonnie and Clyde.

Robert Downey Jr. is in this as like an Australian TV reporter with a mullet. Yes, there was a time when he didn’t play billionaire playboys, except for Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. Tarantino’s script was focusing on this character and although I could see it working, I think it is better this way as we actually follow these serial killers.

And the movie actually has a message. Stone’s tendency to hit the viewer over the head with it actually works to this movie’s benefit. A message that in this age of internet is even more current than back then. Now we idolize every fucking new thing and I don’t think it would be all that surprising if there appeared a movement all about some serial killer. Take the TV show Dexter, if news got out that there is in real-life a guy who kills only criminals, people would go crazy over him, he’d be the second coming of Jesus fucking Christ all over the faces of those who suck on the glorious dick of mass media. That’s right. We’re there, people.

Overall, an excellent and bold movie from a time when Oliver Stone still madecool movies and it’s one of those movies that makes 90’s seem a lot cooler than they actually were. Definitely recommended.

Pictured: 1990’s, when red fishnet shirts were cool… no, wait, I can’t say that. Fishnet shirts were never cool. Although, Woody does rock this one.

Review of The Stand (1994)

12 Dec

The Stand (1994) is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy/drama TV mini series, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, consisting of 4 90-minute episodes.

Directed by Mick Garris (Critters 2 (1988), Riding The Bullet (2004)), best known for his adaptations of Stephen King’s works.

Written by Stephen King (Sleepwalkers (1992), Pet Sematary (1989)), that’s right, King wrote the teleplay himself.

Starring: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Ruby Dee, Rob Lowe, Miguel Ferrer, Corin Nemec, Matt Fewer, Ossie Davis and others.

I must say that I am a big fan of Stephen King, even though his writing style isn’t always perfect, I seem to mostly enjoy it. He’s a huge part of horror fiction and the huge amount of screen adaptations is a testament to his talent. Most of it is total rubbish, but some of it successfully captures the greatness of King’s work. I can gladly say that in this case it’s the latter one.

I haven’t seen all of the adaptations, because that’s almost impossible, but I’ve seen quite a few and this just might be my favourite. But keep in mind, that it is my favourite translation of his work to the screen and not the best movie based on his novels. I’ve read the novel and I loved it and the mini series is more faithful to the source material than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it takes some significant liberties, but overall it’s forgivable.

Mini series is what everyone would like adaptations to be, because you can’t do 500 pages justice in 90-minutes. I mean, hell yeah, I wanted The Stand to be 6 hours long, I noticed the time I had spent watching it, but it felt like a standard 2-hour film.

I think I’ve mentioned before that there’s something I love about post-apocalyptic fiction, so I loved the premise. For those who don’t know, it’s about a superflu destroying like 99% of the world’s population and how the survivors gather together through some supernatural (it’s King after all) ways.

This is going to be a longer review, so I better move on.

Gary Sinise is the perfect casting for Stu, yet I would have never thought the role would suit him so much.

I pretty much hated the changes made to Harold’s character, instead of this disgusting slob, he was just a nerdy guy, who’s obviously good-looking, which is hidden by glasses and some bad make-up pimples.

Larry’s story arc was all screwed up, but Adam Storke is good in this role, because what he lacks in acting skills, he makes up for with his rock star presence.

Jamey Sheridan is a very odd choice to play the main villain. He’s ridiculously early 90’s redneck looking. He has this ugly jean suit and either the most stupid or bad-ass looking mullet I’ve ever seen. Also there’s some demon make-up scenes that were totally unnecessary and those also featured some CG transformations, which were… well 90’s CGI, ’nuff said.

Rob Lowe isn’t what I would imagine to play Nick, but he does a good job.

Bill Fagerbakke handles the role of Tom pretty well. Sometimes when actors play mentally handicapped characters it comes across a bit too forced, but he more or less captured the feel of the character in the novel.

I guess 90’s was a time when Molly Ringwald was considered attractive? Ok, she’s not that awful, Fran wasn’t the best character in the novel too, but I can’t say anything good about her performance either.

Another perfect casting choice was Miguel Ferrer as Lloyd. He’s just so great, bringing the subtlety the script had left out, but the book had.

They decided to blend two female characters into one, portrayed by the very unattractive Laura San Giacomo.

Stephen King himself appears a couple of times, even has some lines, some people find things like that distracting, but I liked that.

And one that is less a weird casting and more just an odd performance is by Shawnee Smith (Amanda from the Saw series), who gives an absurdly ridiculous, over-the-top, spoiled, bitchy teenage slut character performance. I wasn’t sure if I was entertained by it or hated it. She must have been overacting so much on purpose.

Casting is overall very good, except maybe for Harold and maybe some others, but, with a cast this huge, that’s forgivable.

If they remade it as it was planned, a trilogy of theatrical films, it might benefit by not being so toned down, but I don’t see it being much better than this,

Some of the minor changes are really pointless and I don’t really understand.

I loved this “movie”. Although, the first episode was the best one and then it went downwards, I enjoyed it throughout. But I can’t really recommend it to anyone. I enjoyed it mostly, because I was already invested in the characters, but for someone who hasn’t read the novel it might seem too draggy and silly. So I recommend this mostly to the fans of the novel.

"What do you mean "MacGyver isn't on TV anymore"? Eh, I guess, I'll have to go and listen to some Michael Bolton records."

Review of Clerks. (1994)

2 Nov

Clerks. (1994) is a low-budget comedy film, which jump started Kevin Smith’s career as a filmmaker.

Directed by Kevin Smith (Dogma (1999), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)), who also appears in the movie as Silent Bob.

Written also by Kevin Smith (Mallrats (1995), Jersey Girl (2004)).

Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes  and others.

Kevin Smith is basically every filmgeek’s „american dream” sort of story, where a guy makes a movie by scraping together 27,000 dollars and  then earning a couple of millions, which opened him the doors to make whatever he wants. So Kevin Smith really lucked out since he sold a lot of his possessions, maxed out credit cards, spent college funds and other reckless things, which he might have had to regret, but instead he basically bought a career. His commitment is quite admirable. And that’s how I feel about him, I think he’s a cool guy and really passionate for movies and so on, but I don’t consider him a great director. I liked Jay And Silent Bob Strikes Back and Dogma , I thought Zack And Miri Make A Porno  was ok, I thought Jersey Girl and Cop Out were watchable, but there’s never anything I care much about in his directing style, on the other hand I must say I do think he is a great writer.

Ok, now about the movie.  It is shot entirely in Black & White, mostly due to the lighting issues caused by the budgetary restraints, but it sort of adds to its minimalist approach, so that is a plus, even though at times makes it feel like an artsy (which it is not) college student film (which it kind of is). But there’s a lot I can forgive low-budget/amateur films. Like at times I thought the editing was slow, scenes often seem to linger for a second too long.

Brian O’Halloran does an ok job as Dante, but I found Jeff Anderson’s line delivery really unnatural, some of the other actors also do a pretty bad job, making their characters more like caricatures, but it is understandable since most of the cast was just Kevin Smith’s friends and acquaintances. Oh, Mewes and Smith as Jay and Bob are pretty good and this is the first time you’re introduced to these characters.

Although the movie has gained like a cult-following, I don’t think it actually is that great, even Kevin Smith himself admitted that the film has been over-praised. While the writing is what carries this film, the whole thing is actually a bit messy, constantly having these weird scenes that contribute nothing to the story, although they often are quite amusing, they are sadly totally pointless.

In the midst of all these comedies with rehashed plots just to tie together some gags and unfunny jokes, it is nice to see a comedy that is based on just witty dialogue and dark humor, even though the delivery isn’t that great. Also it was made in a time when Star Wars jokes were still funny and people hadn’t experienced the horror of Phantom Menace and George Lucas’ full creative control.

I can’t believe that the movie originally received an NC-17 rating, based on just the crude dialogue.

Anyone who has ever worked in a convenience store or something similar (I have) will find the jokes about the stupid customers and the apathetic clerks quite enjoyable and relatable.

It has its high and low points, pretty enjoyable for what it is, but I wouldn’t call it a great film (although it is a great low-budget first film). But regardless of its flaws I would recommend it, however mostly to filmgeeks, I guess.

"You know what, Jay? I've decided that after this movie I'm gonna get fat."

Review of New Nightmare (1994)

6 Oct

New Nightmare  also known as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and commonly known as A Nightmare On Elm Street 7: New Nightmare (1994) is a horror/metafilm/fantasy film and the seventh (and in a sense the final) entry in one of the big three 80’s horror franchises.

Directed and written by Wes Craven (Scream series, The Last House on the Left), who also wrote and directed the original ANOES ten years earlier.

Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, John Saxon, Wes Craven himself and others.

Marks the return of Heather Langenkamp as the lead and after her crappy performance in ANOES 3, this was impressively well done. And she’s also pretty hot. I loved how through the movie she’s just getting gradually all fucked up.

The idea for the movie is kind of genius, and it was a bold new direction to take the franchise, sadly the public interest had already faded by the time, mostly thanks to parts 4-6. So the movie to some extent chooses to ignore those movies, in fact, you can (and I actually recommend this) watch only the first, third and seventh parts and it would totally make sense. The movie shows Langenkamp being interviewed on a talk show, like she’s the star of the whole series and what’s going on with her life would be relevant.

Miko Hughes used to be one of the top child actors of the early 90’s and then as they more often than not do, he just basically disappeared. I think he does a good job here, but still I found him absolutely annoying. And why does his character’s T-Rex toy protect him from Freddy?

It uses this one comically absurd movie cliché, where a character is painting and only when he finishes the last stroke we see the painting and as if the artist sees it for the first time as well, he only then realizes what he has portrayed.

I’m usually unaffected by those, but it had this one jumpscare, where I totally flinched.

Jsu Garcia and Tuesday Knight has really small cameos. Maybe because they wanted to downplay the later movies. I wish Craven had gathered the courage to ask Johnny Depp for a cameo, because he would have done it.

Maybe the only ANOES to put the script as the priority over special effects sequences. But the effects are great too, Freddy’s make-up is improved and he’s actually scary again. Robert Englund’s still got it.

You can’t punch a nurse, apparently, yet they keep hitting them.

Definitely a better conclusion to the series than Freddy’s Dead. It essentially returns to the tone of the original, by being very dark, serious and while having some amazing special effects, making them more horrifying rather than cheesy (and entertaining).

After all that mediocrity of the certain previous ones, I loved this movie. It’s by no means a perfect movie, but if you’re a horror fan, ANOES fan, interesting shit fan, watch this.

Order the Freddy Krueger action figurine now and get a public masturbator trench coat for free!