The Year Before

1993 was an exceedingly good year at the movies.

And, it was the year that America went BACK to the movies.  Diversity
and quality reigned in a year in which most of the films seemed.. well,
better than what came in the years before. Sure, they all had their
Respective Flaws-- but almost every weekend brought something remarkably
fresh and very watchable to the neighborhood cinema. Or, as often was
the case, the neighborhood art-house.  Look at the popularity of THE
PIANO, AGE OF INNOCENCE, and THE JOY LUCK CLUB.  The cineplex was not
the only winner is last year's race. Good movies showed up EVERYWHERE.

Picking a list of the year's best is not a tough task this time around.
Any respectable list of crix picks contains such easy-to-predict choices
and THE PIANO.  (No SCHINDLER'S LIST, because, duh, it hasn't opened in
the Triangle. My travel budget can only get me as far as Fuquay.)

But were these quality films also the most FUN movies of the year?  Not
necessarily.  So, here's my "Middle" Ten List-- ten movies that left
with me with superb smiles, despite any number of critical flaws. And,
so I don't have to do any MORE rating, they're presented in alphabetical


ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES - Maybe *the* wittiest film of the year. An
adventurous director, a superb writer, and a cast of the likes that
Hollywood won't see again for quite some time. Or, at least, until the
next sequel. "Where DO you find those Addams men?"

ARMY OF DARKNESS - Sam Raimi's ultra, ultra-low budget coda to his EVIL
DEAD series is an spectacularly cheesy homage to the days of stop-motion
monsters and square-jawed, stupid heroes. Side-splitting stuff.

CONEHEADS - So what if it couldn't attract mass quantities?  This
"Saturday Night Live" spinoff was one of the most honest (and, yes,
GENTLE) comedies of the year. And, believe it or not, it's all played
100% straight.  (Maintain low tones!)

FALLING DOWN - Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, a whiny Tuesday Weld, a
killer crew-cut, and a sweltering summer day in Los Angeles. A fantastic
formula for disaster from the man who will be helming, yes, the next
Batman movie.  Suddently, he seems like a good choice.

GRUMPY OLD MEN - You don't realize how funny this movie is until you get
to the closing credits, which feature a short reel of bloopers. In those
few, hilarious moments, you can finally appreciate the chemistry that
got you there to laugh so hard.

HOT SHOTS: PART DUEX - Way too underrated. Simple, stupid comedy as it
should be played: simply stupid. And the perfect cast for the task:
Charlie Sheen, Lloyd Bridges, Richard Creena, and, of course, Saddam
Hussein. Watch that refrigerator.

Brickman, Allen delivered a real, honest-to-homicide mystery. And a
hysterical one at that. Don't even ask about art imitating life after
seeing *this* finale!

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING - You can listen to the musical speech of
Branagh. You can watch the brillant fire of Thompson. Or, you can just
get nuts with Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice.

NEEDFUL THINGS - Here's a sick sleeper. And a funny feather in the cap
of Max Von Sydow.  Who plays the devil. This umpteenth Stephen King film
is great fun.  Everyone gets it in the end and, when the smoke clears,
Sydow walks away with a great closing line.

TRUE ROMANCE - Director Tony Scott finally grows up and writer Quintin
Tarantino grows a little order. For the rest of us, that means a glossy
road-trip with Christian Slater, Patrica Arquette, Christopher Walken,
Dennis Hopper, and, yes, the ghost of Elvis. Thank you,

And, on the honor roll:

HARD TARGET  - Chinese filmmaker John Woo's American debut was one of
*the* most visually exciting films of the year. Period.  The film just
happened to star the muscle-bound, four-language-speaking,
I-can-kick-as-high-as-you-like Jean-Claude Van Damme.


The WORST film of the year, you ask?  You don't have to look hard for
THOSE answers. How about:

SILVER?                         Arrrggghhh!
WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S 2           Terrible!
THE REAL MCCOY?                 Phew!
COP AND A HALF?                 Ding! Ding! Ding!

Anyone remember Burt Reynolds, the film actor?

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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