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Rob's Top Ten Movies of 1992


 

#10: Bram Stoker's Dracula

It's like a two-hour tour of fantasy-cinema history; Francis Coppola takes the opportunity to dabble in every new and old trick he can get his hands on. On the visual level alone, this is probably the most fun Dracula ever made. Even Keanu Reeves' dorky performance works for it, adding unintended comic relief.

#9: Proof

Elrond and Maximus, together at last! Yes, back in '92 when Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe were still just Aussie schleppers, they appeared in this entrancing comedy-drama from Jocelyn Moorhouse. Hugo plays a blind man who takes photos of his surroundings; Russell is a dishwasher who befriends him and offers to tell him what's in the photos. Original, often funny stuff.

 

#8: Glengarry Glen Ross

"Fuck you -- that's my name!" Aside from being one of the top ten All-Time Guy Movies, this David Mamet classic boasts the kind of cast you won't see again anytime soon, and Alec Baldwin in his few minutes onscreen officially makes up for any past or future bad movies he's in:

"Dude, he was in Pearl Harbor."
"Yeah, but...'set of steak knives.'"
"Okay, we gotta give him that."

 

#7: The Player

Some critics drooled on this as if it were the greatest movie ever; it wasn't, but it is a fun and lively nose-thumb at studios, even if it bears Robert Altman's customary contempt for screenwriters.

 

#6: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

If you never watched the show, you'd be totally lost through this. If you watched every episode ... well, you'd still be lost through some of it (what was up with David Bowie's character?), but David Lynch's study of Laura Palmer's last days is still intense, menacing material, with Sheryl Lee knowing she has the role of a lifetime and acting accordingly.

 

#5: The Crying Game

Peekaboo! Yeah, everyone knows "the secret" by now, but as William Goldman pointed out, it's a better film once you know -- it frees you to concentrate on the story and how Neil Jordan tells it. Away from Miramax's coy hype, it's a great mood piece about the bafflements of love.

 

#4: Reservoir Dogs

Another Guy Movie staple (and if you took the guns away from this group and pitted them against Mamet's guys, I'm not sure who'd win). Quentin Tarantino's debut announced him as a pop-soaked wise guy much more concerned with talk than with action; the movie reminded us that well-written, well-delivered talk can be twice as electrifying as most of what passes for action in modern movies.

 

#3: Malcolm X

If Spike Lee never gets to make another epic, at least he has this one -- a grand, shapely tale of redemption, with Denzel Washington humbly lending his body to Malcolm X for a few hours.

 

#2: Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood's masterwork (from David Webb Peoples' script, one of the few truly perfect structures to emerge intact through the studio system) weighs the consequences of violence -- its allure as well as its annihilating power. Vintage performances all around, and Gene Hackman should be elected president of everything for his work here.

 

#1: Bad Lieutenant

Yes. Abel Ferrara's scathing melodrama about faith (from a script he developed with the late Zoe Lund) probably wouldn't have worked without Harvey Keitel's (literally) naked, completely fearless show-and-tell of the darker corners of manhood. Often risks stupidity, sometimes collapses right into it, but always worth the trip.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Walter Hill's fast, vital comeback Trespass ... Cameron Crowe's gentle Singles ... Woody Allen's "more information than we needed" Husbands and Wives ... Robert Zemeckis' unjustifiably savaged Death Becomes Her ... Tim Burton's goth carnival Batman Returns, in which Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman gave Dominatrixes enough to dine out on for years ... David Fincher's anguished Alien 3, stupidly panned because it wasn't James Cameron ... Eric Stoltz, Wesley Snipes, and William Forsythe making something real out of the potentially gloppy The Waterdance ... Carl Franklin's trim, tough One False Move ... Jim Jarmusch's episodic Night on Earth ... Abbe Wool's ramshackle road movie Roadside Prophets ... John Carpenter's surprisingly good Memoirs of an Invisible Man ... Penelope Spheeris' ode to metalheads Wayne's World ... Ron Shelton's exuberantly trash-talking White Men Can't Jump ... and Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct, the guiltiest pleasure of the year.


SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTION

 
Barry Levinson's Toys was the goat of the holiday season -- the movie everyone loved to bash, joining the ranks of expensive flops along with Bonfire of the Vanities. Not so; this is in fact a relevant and colorful fantasy raising valid questions about the sort of playthings children grow up with, who makes them, and why. The climax gets a bit chaotic in the big-movie tradition, but Ferdinando Scarfiotti's sets redefine "eye candy."


Rob's Top Ten WORST Movies of 1992

 

#10: Sleepwalkers

Heavily advertised as "the first Stephen King story written expressly for the scream." Ha ha. What he came up with was a goofyfest about incestuous cat creatures. It's roughly as bad as any of the King adaptations he didn't write.

 

#9: A Few Good Men

Tom and Jack go head to head; Demi is somewhere off to the side, being whiny; Rob Reiner, whose sense of humor seemed to desert him beginning with this Caine Mutiny retread, just sort of photographs everything that happens.

 

#8: Stay Tuned

A failed satire of television, which worked better when scrappy guys with no money were doing it in the '70s (The Groove Tube, etc.). At the time, the satire was doubly sad because John Ritter (who has since built a second career as a reliable character actor) and Pam Dawber play a couple trapped in TV; thanks to the magic of syndication, Ritter and Dawber were trapped there anyway.

 

#7: Medicine Man

Sean Connery spent a lot of the '90s wading through bad films like this. It doesn't help that he has to contend with Lorraine Bracco, who gives one of the shrillest performances in recent memory -- maybe the jungle heat got to her, or maybe the director coached her to read her lines so they could be heard out at the concession stand.

 

#6: Innocent Blood

John Landis, who gave us An American Werewolf in London, tries to go home again and proves you can't. Lead vampire Anne Parillaud, who's probably worth watching in anything, is the only redeeming quality of this crude, unfunny monster/gangster spoof.

 

#5: Rampage

This sat on a shelf for five years, so when it finally got its day in the sun, William Friedkin fans were psyched to see this intense thriller they'd read so much about. What they got was a thinly cloaked pro-death-penalty essay, which spices things up at the start with some gruesome carnage before imploding into what seems like hours of courtroom arguments.

 

#4: The Lawnmower Man

Does this have anything to do with Stephen King or his short story of the same name? No, and that's why his name no longer appears anywhere near the title. Is it a good movie in and of itself? No, and that's why it appears here -- I suppose it's historically important as being one of the first movies to try to cover up a sketchy script with extended computer animation, though. It certainly wouldn't be the last.

 

#3: Dr. Giggles

Could've been a great sick-joke horror movie to rival The Re-Animator; instead it was a cretinous slasher film wasting the peculiar talents of Larry Drake.

 

#2: Shadows and Fog

Woody Allen shows you some more movies he loves, in a pallid (if sharply photographed) homage that doesn't come within a country mile of those movies, while a high-powered cast of dozens sit around doing nothing.

 

#1: Radio Flyer

A heart-warming fable about two brothers, one of whom is abused by his stepfather until he finally finds escape via his magical Radio Flyer wagon and flies away. Unfortunately, most abused kids don't actually have that fucking option... More enraging than the usual mawkish fable, it deservedly tanked at the box office.


DISHONORABLE MENTIONS:
The programmatic thrillers Unlawful Entry, Passenger 57, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle ... Danny DeVito's atypically dreary Hoffa ... Michael Mann's jumbled, tedious The Last of the Mohicans ... Penny Marshall's hypocritical A League of Their Own, which talks a good feminist game but is cruel to the less attractive women on the team ... and the spectacularly overrated Candyman, little more than a jumped-up slasher film, though reviewed as if it were more.


SPECIAL DISHONORABLE MENTION

 
After almost a decade in the wilderness (TV, videos, etc.), Ralph Bakshi attempted a comeback with Cool World; it's too bad he couldn't have held out for a better script. On the surface, this tale of a cartoonist who gets sucked into his own "doodle world" seems like a perfect fit for Bakshi, but it comes off as cheap and ugly.


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