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Rob's Top Ten Movies of 1995


 

#10: Casino

Martin Scorsese's epic about the crimes that try businessmen's souls. It was, of course, unfairly compared to GoodFellas, but in some ways this is the more thought-provoking movie.

 

#9: Leaving Las Vegas

Mike Figgis' darkly magical drama breathed new life into movie love, guided by vulnerable and gutsy performances by Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. This is the romance movie for anti-romantics.

 

#8: Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson proved herself as adept a screenwriter as actress with this warm and winning valentine to Jane Austen.

 

#7: 12 Monkeys

The first (and probably only) Terry Gilliam film that you have to see at least twice just to understand the damn plot. Confined to a relatively conventional story, Gilliam uses it to get us spooked about the unreliability of perception.

 

#6: Clockers

Richard Price provided the blueprint for Spike Lee to come out swinging with a lacerating view of what drugs are doing to the African-American urban community.

 

#5: Nixon

Oliver Stone takes on the most reviled president of his century, and emerges with a fractured, chaotic, and ultimately compassionate portrait. Anthony Hopkins doesn't "do" Nixon so much as deliver a prolonged riff of despair. Probably the greatest overlooked Stone film.

 

#4: Babe

A lovely accomplishment -- the rare kiddie movie that adults can also sit through happily.

 

#3: Safe

Todd Haynes' triumph of mood and metaphor benefits immeasurably from what may still be Julianne Moore's career performance to date.

 

#2: Seven

Gimmicky? Sure, but it grabs you by the short hairs and doesn't let go even after it's over. Like most great work in this genre, it's not about detective work or hunting a mad killer. It's about how men of good will and intelligence can co-exist with ungovernable evil. The movie doesn't offer a terribly comforting answer.

 

#1: Crumb

Terry Zwigoff's astonishing autopsy of Robert Crumb, the greatest living cartoonist, introduces us to the Crumb gene pool and demonstrates that Robert, for all his fetishism and calloused weltschmerz, is actually the most normal Crumb. What begins as Interview-with-the-Artist turns out to be a family portrait, and among the film's many surprises is that we come to see the famous, artistically successful Crumb as the least fortunate of the Crumb brothers.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:
The Rubik's Cube The Usual Suspects ... Ian McKellen in Richard III ... Parker Posey as the world's funkiest librarian in Party Girl ... Sean Penn starring in Dead Man Walking and directing The Crossing Guard ... Edward Burns' engaging debut The Brothers McMullen ... Gary Fleder and Scott Rosenberg's Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, the best of the post-Tarantino crop ... Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington butting heads in Crimson Tide ... Katherine Bigelow's confused but transfixing Strange Days ... Alicia Silverstone in Clueless and The Babysitter ... Geena Davis swashbuckling in the noble misfire Cutthroat Island ... Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh acting at each other in Dolores Claiborne ... Michel Negroponte's diverting documentary Jupiter's Wife ... Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress, which deserved to be the start of a franchise for Denzel Washington ... John Travolta ambling up a flight of stairs to deal with James Gandolfini in Get Shorty ... And in the "C'mon, they weren't that bad" department, Congo, Waterworld, Judge Dredd, and Mallrats -- I enjoyed them one and all. Fire away.


SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTION

 
How many people who slam Tank Girl ever actually saw it? The movie I saw was fresh, funky, imaginatively designed, ideally music-selected (Bjork, L7, Hole, and other riot grrls are on the menu), and vibrantly acted by all, including the much-maligned Lori Petty, who finally got a role suited to her prickly style only to have it be ignored in theaters. But that's what home video is for.


Rob's Top Ten WORST Movies of 1995

 

#10: Heat

Critics rhapsodized over this, as if the pairing of De Niro and Pacino automatically conferred greatness upon it. Well, first you need a script...

 

#9: Assassins

Sylvester Stallone takes Antonio Banderas under his wing and shows him how to make a boring "action" movie.

 

#8: Jumanji

The textbook example of a movie that exists solely because of computer-generated effects; certainly it throws the Chris Van Allsburg book to the four winds.

 

#7: Rob Roy

This oafish Death Wish-in-a-kilt melodrama prepared audiences for the marginally better Braveheart. In both, though, you have virile stud heroes against effeminate villains (i.e., Evil Fags).

 

#6: Copycat

Two great actresses are squandered in this dull, unpleasant slasher movie, of the sort that offers you the lengthy and agonized deaths of women while pretending to be horrified by its own misogyny.

 

#5: Batman Forever

And the franchise goes in a crucifyingly stupid direction -- away from gothic angst and right into the self-conscious camp of the '60s TV show.

 

#4: Four Rooms

Except for Robert Rodriguez's segment, this was a brutally unfunny anthology that would never have seen the light of day if Tarantino hadn't had Miramax in his hip(ster) pocket.

 

#3: Showgirls

I really wanted this to be so-bad-it's-good; it wants to be, too. But it settles for a lazy, squalid sort of badness that makes you want to take a prolonged shower afterward.

 

#2: The Brady Bunch Movie

Good Lord, was this annoying. "Let's be smug and superior to the corny old '70s sitcom -- and let's scrupulously recreate it! Let's have it both ways!" No, let's not.

 

#1: Johnny Mnemonic

"I WANT ROOM SERVICE! I WANT MY SHIRTS LAUNDERED!" Hey, Keanu, I WANT MY MONEY BACK!


DISHONORABLE MENTIONS:
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys, which ushered the Anti-Christ -- Michael Bay -- into the world ... the offensively beside-the-point Die Hard with a Vengeance, opening not long after the Oklahoma City tragedy ... Larry Clark's Kids, which wasn't half the crusading movie it pretended to be ... the idiotic Virtuosity, which wasted Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe ... the religious thriller The Prophecy and the tedious Nick of Time, both redeemed by some amusing Christopher Walken moments ... the latest penny on the eyelids of an icon, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers ... and the overhyped, overpraised Disney/Pixar tripe Toy Story, and I don't care if you do love it.


SPECIAL DISHONORABLE MENTION

 
Exceptionally obnoxious. Leonardo DiCaprio is Arthur Rimbaud! Uh, not in this or any other universe. For two hours we get to watch Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine act like absinthe-addled clowns. They test the boundaries of poetry! They test the limits of bourgeois propriety! They test the outer reaches of our patience! DiCaprio needn't worry about ever making a worse movie than Total Eclipse.


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