Monday, June 29, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
The King of Staten Island
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
An Update on Myself and This Blog
I know that it has been a while since I posted anything new. As I mentioned, I recently was laid off of my job, and I needed some time to rest and get myself together.
Well, the good news on that department is that I do have a path set toward a career. I'm going to be taking an at home training program that comes highly recommended in order to study to be a court reporter. It will take between 1 to 2 years to complete the course, but I am determined, and I have a lot of support, so I know I will be okay. I am both excited and nervous to start the program in early July, but the program allows me to go at my own pace, and I will have a lot of help.
Now for the movies. My local theater has still not set a date as to when they will reopen. They've announced that they will be showing classic movies for a while, but as I said, I do not know when they will reopen.
So, naturally, I'm not going to be doing reviews every week until new films start going into wide release. Until then, I do plan to review some movies that I will be watching On Demand, similar to my review of Scoob! a few weeks ago. The reviews will likely be scattered, so for a little while, I will be updating with new reviews when I can, not on a weekly basis like usual.
I appreciate your understanding and support, and please check back regularly for new reviews. I plan to have my first new review up this weekend. I'll try to update fairly regularly, that's for certain.
I promise to continue to update you all when needed, and not to keep you too much in the dark. Just bear with me as I start this new path in my professional life. I love writing these reviews, and I do not want to stop, so once the movie schedule is back to normal with regular wide releases, you will probably see weekly reviews here like before. Again, I will update if anything changes.
Thanks again, and I hope everyone is safe and enjoying the early summer.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Summer Movies of the 90s: 1999
Well, this is it, folks. 1999 is here at last! And oh boy, do we have some big movies to cover here. The summer movie season of 99 was one of the bigger ones of that particular decade. It wasn't enough that we were getting our first new Star Wars movie in 16 years, but a lot of other huge blockbusters, and even a couple experimental movies hit the big screen that summer as well.
Summer 1999 was an exciting time. The decade was closing, and we were on our way to the 21st Century. We had no idea what kind of technology was going to hit. The movies and TV had been filling our young minds with images of flying cars, hoverboards, and automated everything. And then of course there was Y2K. Some people were certain our society was going to crumble the very second the clock hit midnight on the New Year. Sure, we laugh now, but I actually knew people back then who had bought into the whole concept, and were preparing for the end. How did I celebrate the coming of the year 2000? I think I was in my room playing Final Fantasy VIII. When I noticed that it was midnight, and the lights and electricity were still working, I knew I was safe.
And what was life like for me in the summer of 1999? Pretty good, actually. I turned 22 that summer, I was finishing up my college days, and getting ready to look for work. I started my very first long-term relationship with a woman. I took my first trip to New York City that summer, which has become a regular thing for me to this day. And of course, I went to the movies. A lot.
And that's obviously what I'm here to talk about, so let's get started on the Summer Movies that closed out the decade.
RELEASED: MAY 7
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: British librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) teams up with American Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) to explore the ruins of the ancient city of Hamunaptra. Unfortunately, another group is exploring the ruins as well, and wind up awakening an ancient curse placed upon the ruins by High Priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). Imhotep returns to life in the form of a mummy, and now our heroes must do battle with the ancient evil in order to save the world.
WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: Many people (myself included) assumed that this would be a horror film from the title. But, as the trailers and footage started to come out, it seemed as if it were taking more of an old fashioned adventure movie tone similar to the Indiana Jones films. Some people were disappointed with this approach, but I personally enjoyed it. I liked the mix of adventure and comedy, thought Fraser made for a good old fashioned square-jawed hero, and finding the movie kind of goofy, but overall enjoyable.
STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
RELEASED: MAY 19
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: Does anyone who was sentient in the summer of 1999 not know what this is about? It's the first prequel to the Star Wars saga, where a young Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) encounters a young Anakin Skywalker (played here by Jake Lloyd) for the first time. There's a new Jedi named Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson), some cameos by old favorites like C-3PO and Jabba, podracing, and a character you might remember getting some attention named Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), who was supposed to win everybody's hearts, but instead ended up being everybody's favorite CG whipping boy, and was ultimately written out of the franchise as the new movies went on.
RELEASED: MAY 28
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: A timid small bookshop owner (Hugh Grant) has his life turned around when Anna Scott, one of Hollywood's leading actresses (Julia Roberts) walks into his store one day. They have several more chance encounters, and over time, the two actually strike up a friendship and possible relationship. But with Anna constantly being followed with photographers and reports, and his friends wanting to know about their relationship, it may be hard for the couple to lead a private life.
WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: This is one movie I have returned to many times, and usually find myself watching it whenever it's on TV. It's still wonderfully funny, Grant and Roberts have really great chemistry as a screen couple, and the movie itself is just so likable. I remember this becoming a big word of mouth hit during the summer among all the big blockbusters, and rightfully so. This is simply a charming and very funny romantic movie.
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
RELEASED: JUNE 11
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: Swinging 60s spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) finds his existence in jeopardy when the villainous Dr. Evil (Myers again) travels back in time to steal Austin's mojo, thus rendering the super spy unsexy and uncool to the ladies. Austin travels back in time after Evil, and with the help of female agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), must set things right for both himself and history.
RELEASED: JUNE 18
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: As a baby, Tarzan is stranded in the jungle, and then has his parents killed by a fierce jungle cat. Fortunately, the gorilla Kala (voice by Glenn Close) finds and rescues him, and under his care, he grows into a strong and powerful ape-man (Tony Goldwyn). He lives among the apes, not knowing anything about his true kind, until a woman named Jane (Minnie Driver) enters the jungle looking to study gorillas along with her absent-minded father (the late Nigel Hawthorne) and the treacherous guide Clayton (Brian Blessed) who has ulterior motives of his own.
RELEASED: JUNE 25
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: A slacker loser living off a settlement he got from a lawsuit (Adam Sandler) thinks he'll be able to impress his girlfriend (Kristy Swanson) and show how mature he is when he takes charge of a five-year-old kid (played by twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse) that is dropped on his doorstep, and actually belongs to his close friend and roommate (Jon Stewart) who is away on business. But when his girlfriend rejects him and the kid, he is stuck with the boy, and is forced to raise him on his own, taking responsibility for the first time.
RELEASED: JUNE 30
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: The President of the United States, Ulysses Grant, needs help to save the country from a madman inventor named Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh). He calls in a gunslinging former Civil War hero, Jim West (Will Smith) and genius inventor and master of disguise, Artemis Gordon (Kevin Kline), who will have to work together and put aside their differences if they want to save the country.
WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: The movie was a notorious bomb back in the day, but has largely gone forgotten in the present. These days, it's more famous for being the movie that Will Smith decided to do instead of taking the role of Neo in The Matrix. Catching up with the film, I can definitely say it doesn't work. It's loud and chaotic, and is obviously the victim of blockbuster bloat, where the studio just kept on throwing more money at a troubled production, hoping that would solve the problem, when in reality the movie really just needed a new script. It's silly, it's messy and it looks like nobody knew what kind of movie they were making, but it's not the worst thing I've seen.
RELEASED: JUNE 30
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: In this animated musical based on the smash hit Comedy Central prime time cartoon, the four South Park kids (voiced by series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone) bribe a homeless man to sneak them into an R-rated movie starring their Canadian TV heroes, Terrance and Phillip. When the boys start imitating the obscene language and raunchy acts from the film, the parents of the town decide to start a crusade against indecency, and plot to have Terrance and Phillip arrested and executed as criminals. This leads to a bloody war between South Park and Canada, with nobody being aware that this is the apocalyptic event that will lead to Satan walking the Earth, along with his gay lover, Saddam Hussein.
WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: I still consider this to be one of the better film adaptations of a TV cartoon, and easily the funniest movie of this particular summer. Parker and Stone truly took advantage of the movie format, not only giving us a bigger South Park adventure in scope, but doing things few would dare to do at the time in the film medium. The guys could have easily just made an extended episode for the fans. Instead, they went above and beyond, and made a brilliant animated musical satire on violence in the media, and the reaction to it.
RELEASED: JULY 9
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: In this throwback to 80s teen sex comedies, a group of four friends are on the verge of graduation, and make a pact with each other that they will lose their virginity before they leave high school. Of the four lead kids, the main character Jim (Jason Biggs), has the worst luck, always getting into embarrassing situations, or being caught in awkward scenarios by his long-suffering father (Eugene Levy).
EYES WIDE SHUT
RELEASED: JULY 16
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: A New York medical doctor (Tom Cruise) is shocked to discover that his wife (Nicole Kidman) has fantasized about other men. When she becomes angry at him for refusing to admit his own outside sexual fantasies, he hits the streets and becomes obsessed with having an outside sexual encounter of his own. This leads him to a secret sexual society that meets privately, and when he goes to one of their meetings, he quickly finds that he is in over his head.
WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: This is a movie where my appreciate has actually grown for it over time. I can see why some people are turned off by the movie, and it really is one of those movies that makes me wish we could get some mainstream movies with the NC-17 rating, which this film obviously deserves. (It had to be edited down in order to get an R.) But, I find the movie fascinating, kind of psychological, and really quite interesting. It's not exactly a "fun" movie that I can return to time and time again, but as a film study in tension and eroticism, it's very strong.
RELEASED: JULY 23
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: In this big budget and loose adaptation of the classic horror novel by Shirley Jackson, a somewhat shady psychologist (Liam Neeson) wants to study the effects of fear on people by inviting a group of insomniacs into an abandoned mansion. His experiment is using the guise of a sleep study, but his real plan is to fill their heads with stories of the house's supposedly haunted past, and study how they handle the situation as they learn more about the story. But as it turns out that the house actually is haunted and the entire staff and patients are in danger, things turn much more dire.
RELEASED: JULY 16 (LIMITED) JULY 30 (WIDE RELEASE)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: In this "found footage" horror film, three college students plan to spend a weekend in the woods catching footage for a film documentary project they are making about the local legend of a witch who supposedly haunts them, and may possibly be connected to a string of disappearances that have happened over the centuries. As the young heroes go deeper into the woods, they are not only tormented by strange sounds and angry visitors whenever they set up camp, but they also find themselves lost and ominous signs that someone is watching them very closely.
WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: This movie really was the film that kicked off the idea of viral Internet marketing. It sold itself as actual footage, and that the three young kids at the center of the film supposedly were missing, and that this footage that made up the film was all that had been found of them. The studio also played this around film festivals leading up to its release, building hype and the urban legend talk that what was being depicted up on the screen actually happened. This helped this low budget horror movie that had been made for only pocket change and shot on a handheld camera turn into a blockbuster phenomenon that everyone was talking about in one way or another. When people finally got to see it, reactions were severely mixed. They ranged from "not scary", to "the camera work gave me motion sickness", to "that was the scariest flipping thing I've seen in my life". My reaction? I had fun watching it. It worked as a campfire supernatural story, and I liked the background information and legends that the filmmakers dreamed up for their monster.
RELEASED: AUGUST 6
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: A lonely and isolated young boy (Haley Joel Osment) has a secret that he can't share with anyone, not even his well-meaning yet emotionally distant single mother (Toni Collette). The boy has the ability to see the spirits of the dead, who are trying to reach out to him, but he is afraid of his gift and of the spirits. It us up to a child psychiatrist (Bruce Willis) who is suffering through personal and emotional issues of his own to help get through to the boy. In the end, it turns out that they will need each other in order to conquer their own personal demons.
THE IRON GIANT
RELEASED: AUGUST 6
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: Growing up in the time of the Cold War and American paranoia, a young boy named Hogarth Hughes (voice by Eli Marienthal) makes a wonderful discovery and a new friend when a giant metal man from outer space (Vin Diesel) crashes in the middle of a forest nearby. As the boy and Iron Giant develop their friendship, government agents begin closing in, thinking that the robot-like creature may be a weapon from the Soviets sent to destroy the U.S. It is up to the boy to convince the Giant that he can be more than just a weapon, and that he can be whatever he wants to be.
RELEASED: AUGUST 6
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: Champion City has its resident superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), who keeps the people safe. But, there are also a team of B-squad superheroes who are less known but have just as much passion for fighting crime, including Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy), Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), The Bowler (Janeane Garafalo), The Spleen (Paul Reubens) and Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell). When Captain Amazing is captured by his arch nemesis Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), the wannabes get the chance to be the heroes they always dreamed of being.
WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: Yeah, this has "troubled production" written all over it. Maybe the problem lied with director Kinka Usher, who has never directed before, and hasn't since after this. Or maybe the actors just couldn't work magic with the script they'd been given. Whatever the case, this is one of those movies I really want to love just by the premise and the cast alone. I mean, any film that gives Paul Reubens a noticeable role is okay with me. But, the movie just never comes together sadly.
RELEASED: AUGUST 13
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: Robert Bowfinger (Steve Martin) is a struggling film producer who wants to hire the biggest star in Hollywood (Eddie Murphy) to be in his upcoming low budget Sci-Fi horror film. When the star rejects him, he decides to shoot around this fact by having his actors run up to the star on the street, and start doing the scene with him. The poor guy obviously has no idea what's going on, having all these people walking up to him talking about an alien invasion, and eventually starts to crack up and has to be sent away. That's when Robert discovers a nerdy lookalike working at a local fast food place (Murphy again), and uses him as a stand in so he can finish the film.
Well, that was my entire 90s cinematic history.
I really want to thank each and everyone for their support for this series. It was a daunting challenge, but your support made it possible. I had a lot of fun doing this series, and catching up with all these movies, some of which I hadn't seen in years, or even not since they were new in theaters. Even if the movie wasn't that good, I still had fun watching and writing about them. I really am thankful that so many readers got behind this series.
That said, I think it's time for a break. My original plan was to do a series of articles on the Fall and Holiday Films of the 90s. Unfortunately, during the process of posting these pieces, I was laid off from my job of 15 years when they cut 40% of their workforce. So, I am going to be focusing on the next chapter of my life for a little while.
Please don't be concerned too much. I do have a plan, I just need to figure out the best way to take it. I also have a lot of support from family, friends, and the love of an amazing woman, so I know I will be okay.
I still plan to review movies again when my local theater opens, so please look for updates in the coming weeks. I know it's an uncertain time for everyone, but hopefully we will all come out of this as better people.
Until I do return with an update in the coming weeks, I wish all of you to stay safe, and thank you again for the support you all have shown. I will try to return as soon as I can.