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Spring '99 in Review

Opening Commentary: For those unacquainted with the Hollywood system, there are unwritten rules about the seasons. Winter/Fall is where the studios release most of their award worthy film (usually dramas), Summer is the time for big budget high-grossing films (usually action/adventures), and Spring is the dumping point for the films that are unreleasable in the other months (usually comedies). There are exceptions to the rules of course (the Coen Brothers prefer a Spring release; Patch Adams made its bow in the Winter) but for the most part, the studios follow these rules. At this point last year one forth of the films viewed had received a recommendation. This year it has risen to a nice 35% (keep in mind I had only seen 16 1998 films for the first time in the Spring as compared to 52 this year). Last year my #1 Spring film was a sci-fi action film (Dark City), my #3 a quirky but unusual comedy (The Big Lebowski). This year it is the exact same way with The Matrix and Go respectively. In the body of this week's column, I shall analyze the season and its often repeated ideas by genre as well as my own personal awards for the year so far. Then in the Blatant Opinion I shall give the 52 films in order of worth (along with ratings).



Action/Adventure

Not the best time for Action films as I only gave three recommendations to action films (The Matrix, Payback, and Twin Dragons). Meanwhile crap like Virus, The Mod Squad, and Wing Commander wasted 18 hours of my life (9 films times 2 hours). The action film hidden in a dark comedy Ravenous proved to be the most threatening as at times it seemed like any second it would let up and become enjoyable. I think I'm one of only maybe thirty people that have seen Hunter's Moon which seemed like one of the biggest wastes of talent for the year (Pat Hingle is great, no matter what everyone else say). And evidentially sex doesn't sell when it comes to action films. Not only did critics turn their heads, but audiences did too on adventure films this year that either had a sex scene or nudity. 8mm, Hunter's Moon, The Rage: Carrie II, The Corruptor, and The Mod Squad all found out that being a little more moral like The Matrix (except for the near nude Keanu) or Twin Dragons might have brought a little more money to their coffers.

Best: The Matrix followed by Payback
Worst: Virus edging out Wing Commander


Drama

The nice thing about Spring is that you know that the sappiest films of the year will make their bows before May. At First Sight, Gloria, The Deep End of the Ocean, October Sky, and Message in a Bottle all attempted to ride waves of tears of pain and joy into the theatres with only mediocre success (if I hear one more "I love October Sky" comment, I will scream). And speaking of sex killing a movie, A Walk on the Moon found very small receipts to take home to Miramax with its entirely out of place sex scenes (I still laugh when I think of the waterfall seen in consecutive weeks with A Walk on the Moon and Hunter's Moon). The only 5 tough dramas had three finds cover in my raised thumb (Cruel Intentions [sex sells in dramas some times], True Crime, and In Dreams) while A Walk on the Moon and Varsity Blues sat back with about as much respect as Paul Anderson's sci-fi films (Soldier, Event Horizon).

Best: In Dreams followed by True Crime
Worst: A Walk on the Moon edging out Varsity Blues


Documentary

What can I say, I have only seen one so far this year (The Last Days). But it sure was great.

Best: The Last Days
Worst: The Last Days


Foreign Language Film

I saw Life is Beautiful three more times this year, as well as Central Station for the first time, but they are considered 1998 releases in America. In 1999 releases, Tango proved to be one of the most monotonous films of the year. The only other foreign film I've seen this year was The Harmonists from Germany. It proved to regain my trust in foreign cinema (Tango came directly after the mildly mediocre Central Station) as it now stands as the fourth best film of the year. One thing that was off setting about The Harmonists was that the lead resembled Roberto Benigni and there was a character named Robert (not half as weird as Central Station having the lead female named Dora and child named Joshua a la Life is Beautiful).

Best: The Harmonists
Worst: Tango


Comedy

Of the 52, 27 are considered to be comedies by me (some comedy/dramas like October Sky were not counted as comedies). Ranging from the good (Go), the bad (Jawbreaker), and the ugly (The Other Sister), comedies dominated the market with hits like Analyze This and Never Been Kissed as well as continuing support for 1998 releases like Shakespeare in Love and, alas, Patch Adams. Most of the comedies were teen oriented with few lucks (the proud and the few included Go, Never Been Kissed, and Idle Hands). The most annoying thing was the over use of the prom. I saw a school dance in Doug's 1st Movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, She's All That, Never Been Kissed, Jawbreaker, Cruel Intentions (counted as a drama), and Idle Hands (you might as well go ahead and throw in other dance culminators like Blast from the Past, Lost & Found, The Other Sister, The King and I, 200 Cigarettes, Forces of Nature, Go, and Simply Irresistible). I guess it can be of some note that the edgier comedies seem to do better with me, all but three (Cookie's Fortune, Never Been Kissed, and Blast from the Past) of the 10 recommended comedies had a R rating. I would like to thank Cookie's Fortune and Life for giving a job to Ned Beatty, whose Deliverance cohorts got jobs too this season: director John Boorman made The General (wide release came in 1999), and co stars Burt Reynolds performed in Hunter's Moon while Jon Voight produced Baby Geniuses.

Best: Go followed by Cookie's Fortune
Worst: Jawbreaker edging out Baby Geniuses



Accolades

I'm simply going to reuse the categories from the annual Golden Brando awards while adding a worse category for each (hence no Ed Wood Humanitarian award this time around).

Best Sound Effects Editing: The Matrix
Worst: Foolish
Best Visual Effects: The Matrix
Worst: Forces of Nature
Best Original Song: Yoohoo by Imperial Teen (Jawbreaker)
Worst: its not original but...Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer (She's All That)
Best Sound: The Matrix
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Comedic Score: Goodbye, Lover (John Ottman)
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Dramatic Score: In Dreams (Philip Glass)
Worst: A Walk on the Moon
Best Film Editing: The Matrix
Worst: Lost & Found
Best Makeup: The Matrix
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Cinematography: The Matrix
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Costume Design: The Matrix
Worst: Lost & Found
Best Costume Design: The Matrix
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Supporting Actor: Steven Rea (In Dreams)
Worst: Artie Lang (Lost & Found)
Best Supporting Actress: Katie Holmes (Go)
Worst: Pam Grier (Jawbreaker)
Best Actor: Ulrich Noethen (The Harmonists)
Worst: David Spade (Lost & Found)
Best Actress: Annette Benning (In Dreams)
Worst: Juliette Lewis (The Other Sister)
Best Comedic Acting Ensemble: Go
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Dramatic Acting Ensemble: In Dreams
Worst: Wing Commander
Best Original Screenplay: Go
Worst: Baby Geniuses
Best Adapted Screenplay: In Dreams
Worst: The Deep End of the Ocean
Best Director: Larry & Andy Wachowski (The Matrix)
Worst: Bob Clark (Baby Geniuses)
Best Picture: The Matrix
Worst: Jawbreaker



Blatant Opinion:
As the dust clears, 52 1999 films were seen for the first time between January 1 and May 1. In addition are multiple viewings like five of The Matrix, two of Go, as well as 1998 releases not seen until this year like The General, Rushmore (five viewings), Central Station, and Gods and Monsters. The ending tally is 84 viewings of films this year, quite a bit up from the 48 last year. So here it is the complete listing of 1999 films with ratings:

1 Matrix, The ( A- / ***1/2 )
2 Last Days, The ( B+ / ***1/2 )
3 Go ( B+ / ***1/2 )
4 Harmonists, The ( B+ / ***1/2 )
5 Cookie's Fortune ( B+ / ***1/2 )
6 In Dreams ( B / *** )
7 Blast from the Past ( B / *** )
8 Pushing Tin ( B / *** )
9 True Crime ( B / *** )
10 Never Been Kissed ( B / *** )
11 Analyze This ( B- / *** )
12 Goodbye, Lover ( B- / *** )
13 Office Space ( B- / *** )
14 Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels ( B- / *** )
15 Payback ( B- / *** )
16 Cruel Intentions ( B- / *** )
17 Twin Dragons ( B- / *** )
18 Idle Hands ( B- / *** )

-------END OF RECOMMENDED FILMS-------

19 10 Things I Hate About You ( C+ / **1/2 )
20 24 Hour Woman, The ( C / ** )
21 Tango ( C / ** )
22 Entrapment ( C / ** )
23 Message in a Bottle ( C- / ** )
24 Life ( C- / ** )
25 EDtv ( C- / ** )
26 October Sky ( C- / ** )
27 8mm ( C- / ** )
28 Gloria ( C- / ** )
29 At First Sight ( C- / ** )
30 Deep End of the Ocean, The ( D+ / *1/2 )
31 Simply Irresistable ( D+ / *1/2 )
32 Hunter's Moon ( D+ / *1/2 )
33 Varsity Blues ( D+ / *1/2 )
34 Rage, The: Carrie II ( D / * )
35 Out-of-Towners, The ( D / * )
36 My Favorite Martian ( D / * )
37 Corruptor, The ( D / * )
38 Mod Squad, The ( D / * )
39 Walk on the Moon, A ( D / * )
40 Forces of Nature ( D / * )
41 200 Cigarettes ( D / * )
42 Doug's 1st Movie ( D- / 1/2 )
43 King and I, The ( D- / 1/2 )
44 She's All That ( D- / 1/2 )
45 Ravenous ( D- / 1/2 )
46 Other Sister, The ( D- / 1/2 )
47 Foolish ( F / NO STARS )
48 Wing Commander ( F / NO STARS )
49 Virus ( F / NO STARS )
50 Lost & Found ( F / NO STARS )
51 Baby Geniuses ( F / NO STARS )
52 Jawbreaker ( F / NO STARS )


Analysis by:
David Perry
1999, Cinema-Scene.com

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