Friday, June 30, 2017

1999 Capsule Reviews

Man on the Moon
rating: *****
review: This was the "two" in Jim Carrey's 1998/1999 one-two punch (following The Truman Show), once and for all demonstrating how unique a performer he really is, pulling off a version of Andy Kaufman that does the myth proud.

The Matrix
rating: *****
review: Became instantly iconic for a reason, because it introduced a bold new cinematic myth (there's that word again) with a bold cast headlined by Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
rating: *****
review: I really don't care what people say about it, this was an instant classic, profoundly expanding the scope of the saga in bold ways, including a phenomenal "Duel of the Fates" sequence with Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn, who belong on a Star Wars Mount Rushmore.

Office Space
rating: *****
review: Such a biting workplace satire, filled with classic characters, all of it hilariously downplayed, impossible to not spend the next decade or so of your life quoting obsessively.

The Sixth Sense
rating *****
review: It was always going to be impossible for M. Night Shyamalan to live up to something like this, and in a lot of ways the same could be said for Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.

Galaxy Quest
rating: *****
review: In a lot of ways, the Star Trek movie Star Trek itself was never going to be able to make.

rating: ****
review: Instantly a personal favorite, but casually dismissed on the whole as a derivative of Silence of the Lambs, simply because Anthony Hopkins plays another disturbed inmate.  How absurd!  The two movies really have nothing in common.  Instinct, rather, is a piercing study of mankind's casual instinct for inhumanity.

The End of the Affair
rating: ****
review: Breathtakingly gorgeous.

The Green Mile
rating: ****
review: This is what happens when Stephen King remakes The Shawshank Redemption on a mythic scale.

Cradle Will Rock
rating: ****
review: A sensational ensemble piece about the power of creativity.

Fight Club
rating: ****
review: A punk classic.

The Virgin Suicides
rating: ****
review: A casual introduction to the lush sensibilities of Sofia Coppola.

The Insider
rating: ****
review: Russell Crowe enters the big time by holding his own against Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer.

The Mummy
rating: ****
review: Surely the most entertaining riff on Indiana Jones ever.

Three Kings
rating: ****
review: George Clooney makes a terrific bid to finally be taken seriously in movies.

The 13th Warrior
rating: A moody Antonio Banderas gamely continues his action hero streak in this riff on Beowulf.

Any Given Sunday
rating: ****
review: Oliver Stone indicts football culture, years before the NFL would truly dominate the popular imagination.

Toy Story 2
rating: ****
review: A perfect sequel that manages to increase the poignancy of the concept.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
rating: ****
review: Ironically, if the TV show had ended at this time, the movie would be remembered as the masterpiece it really is.

American Pie
rating: ****
review: My generation's raunchy answer to the classic teen flicks of the '80s.

10 Things I Hate About You
rating: ****
review: In hindsight, this is the one movie Heath Ledger allowed to be about his charm, and it was at the beginning of his career, which I suppose is kind of ironic.  Most stars would have milked that for years and years.  Makes him what Brad Pitt only ever dreamed of becoming.

rating: ****
review: Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin are comic gold together. 

Mystery, Alaska
rating: ****
review: Russell Crowe in a movie about hockey, but really a movie about a community.

Liberty Heights
rating: ****
review: A rare movie about anti-Semitism in America.

rating: ****
review: A rip-roaring movie about Gilbert & Sullivan.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
rating: ****
review: A positive dream cast (Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow) years before anyone could really appreciate it.

The Hurricane
rating: ****
review: Denzel Washington's last great statement on race.

Two Hands
rating: ****
review: Heath Ledger in one of his Australian dramas, playing the quintessential troubled youth role.

The Thomas Crown Affair
rating: ****
review: Another of 1999's absurdly stylish movies.

American Beauty
rating: ****
review: Kevin Spacey in an elegiac ode to the loss of innocence.

rating: ****
review: Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence are an inspired combination, too.

Bringing Out the Dead
rating: ****
review: Kind of evidence that Martin Scorsese should cast Nicholas Cage in more of his movies.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
rating: ****
review: The '90s were a Shakespeare boon period.

The Buena Vista Social Club
rating: ****
review: Heavenly music.

Muppets from Space
rating: ***
review: After years of riffing on literary material, the Muppets tell their own Gonzo story again, and it's a refreshing change of pace.

Wing Commander
rating: ***
review: Given the stiff sci-fi competition in 1999, this one never really gets the kind of love it deserves as a competent execution of a video game concept.

rating: ***
review: Sultry Catherine Zeta-Jones?  Clashing with aging ladies man Sean Connery?  Isn't this basically his last James Bond?  What's not to like?

rating: ***
review: Irreverent Kevin Smith at his peak.

rating: ***
review: Sort of the junior edition of Pulp Fiction.

The Limey
rating: ***
review: Terrence Stamp getting a chance to make a quasi-sequel to one of his early films.

Fantasia 2000
rating: ***
review: One of the few nonlinear mainstream films gets an update.

Bicentennial Man
rating: ***
review: Robin Williams remaking himself, or trying to.

Mansfield Park
rating: ***
review: Jane Austen for the casual fan.

The General's Daughter
rating: ***
review: John Travolta doesn't quite make his A Few Good Men.

rating: ***
review: Ralph Fiennes trying to extend his English Patient reputation with an entirely too bleak multigenerational saga.

End of Days
rating: ***
review: Arnold Schwarzenegger seems depressed that he's no longer a big star.

rating: ***
review: Arguably the last classic Disney animated flick.

But I'm a Cheerleader
rating: ***
review: Basically the complete opposite of American Pie.

rating: **
review: Patricia Arquette's quasi-religious horror movie, a would-be Exorcist.

rating: **
review: Nicholas Cage in probably one of the first movies that demonstrated he was coming down from his incredible high, and his career was not going to thank him for it.

The Blair Witch Project
rating: *
review: I never got the appeal of this "real world" airheaded horror movie.  Except that it made found footage storytelling cool.


  1. Some great films in there. Plus some rather forgettable ones that your reviews just reminded me of….

    1. It's sad that I don't get to see as many new releases these days.