Jeeves & Wooster (ITV)
Season One, Original airdates: April 22 – May 13, 1990
Written by P.G. Wodehouse and Clive Exton
Directed by Robert Young
Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie were a very well-known comedy duo in the U.K. coming out of the late 1980s. They had a top-rated skit comedy series, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, while making appearances in Rowan Atkinson’s Black Adder show. When it came time to cast the iconic English valet and his buffoonish employer Fry & Laurie were hesitant to step into such significant roles. When it became apparent the show was going to be made whether they were in it or not, they took the parts believing they could do the original text justice.
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Goodfellas (directed by Martin Scorsese)
Continue reading “My Favorite Movies of 1990”
No film came out in 1990 that comes anywhere close to Scorsese’s mobster masterpiece. The scope of the movie is epic, covering every post-War decade in America up to the point the picture was released. Scorsese has a lot to say about the American Dream and the disgusting, reprehensible acts that must be committed for people to lock-in their own. There’s also pulsing energy to this film that would go on to inform the rest of the decade, the director sets us off on this roller coaster. Characters are manic and insane, always in macho posturing with each other, never willing to budge an inch lest they are perceived as weak within their community. Goodfellas is the anti-Irishman, while that film is muted and contemplative, Goodfellas is the story of a man in his prime, drunk on power and money, not yet to that point of self-reflection while reality comes slamming down on top of him.
The Grifters (1990)
Written by Donald E. Westlake
Directed by Stephen Frears
The Grifters by Jim Thompson was published in 1963, and while the film adaptation takes place in contemporary 1990s Los Angeles, director Stephen Frears chooses to treat some aspects as anachronistic. The story features a character archetype that seems to fascinate moviegoers indefinitely, the conman or, in this case, the conman and the conwomen in his life. We love to see how duplicitous tricksters trick each other, often leading to tragic outcomes, where even the “winner” feels broken and lost because they’ve played their grift on someone important in their lives.
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To Sleep With Anger (1990)
Written & Directed by Charles Burnett
To Sleep With Anger is a mixture of things. It’s a meditation on modern urban family dynamics. It is a retelling of the Biblical stories all mashed together. The film is an extension of fears about nostalgia, especially in black communities who have lots of moments in history that they reasonably should fear. It’s ultimately hard to classify this picture into a single genre, which is a benefit and a flaw at times.
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Reversal of Fortune (1990)
Written by Nicholas Kazan
Directed by Barbet Schroeder
I have faint memories of the names of Klaus & Sunny von Bulow in the late 1980s/early 1990s likely from episodes of A Current Affair or Inside Edition. I was a child, so I didn’t really know who these people were or what the reporters were talking about. As time has passed, it seems the von Bulows are becoming a forgotten piece of pop culture, fading from the collective memory as our 24-hour news cycle floods us with new information. So who are these people that they would devote a whole movie about them based on a book by Claus’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz?
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Total Recall (1990)
Written by Philip K. Dick, Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, and Gary Goldman
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Total Recall is not the best film ever made. It’s not even the best science fiction movie, but it is a beautiful example of a type of science fiction film that died out around the beginning of the 1990s. The practical effects, the matte painting, the clever use of computer effects in minimal ways, all add up to a world I wish we could spend more time in. But, I’m sort of glad that we don’t get more of this setting because it makes the bits and pieces provided all that more interesting to mull over.
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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
Written & Directed by Tom Stoppard
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are schoolmates of the title character as well as sycophants for King Claudius in his machinations to eliminate his nephew as a problem. They ultimately agree to take Hamlet to England after he murders Polonius, unaware that Claudius’ letter to the monarchy calls for Hamlet to be killed. Hamlet discovers the letter and rewrites it so that upon arrival, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the ones hung. It can be argued that these two supporting characters navigate the narrative in complete ignorance as to the greater agendas at work in Castle Elsinore. They just sort of bumble about and then die.
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Written & Directed by Clive Barker
Nightbreed has so many great elements and ideas but ultimately fails at everything it is trying to do because it overflows with stuff. That stuff is characters, mythology, plot, pretty much everything. Horror legend Clive Barker wrote and directed this adaptation of his own novella, which I think might be at the core of the problems. He wants to have everything in this movie, but that means so much gets abbreviated but still presented, which leaves the audience confused about who certain people are or what some of this mythology being spoken about is.
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Written by Sam Raimi, Chuck Pfarrer, Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin, and Joshua Goldin
Directed by Sam Raimi
What do you do when you want to make a superhero movie, but you don’t have the rights to any superheroes? Well, you invent your own. That’s what filmmaker Sam Raimi did as he embarked on making his first Hollywood studio feature. Originally, Raimi wanted to make a movie about Batman or The Shadow; however those characters were already in development with other directors at the time. Raimi managed to combine the shadow mystery men of comic books’ Golden Age with the brooding angst of classic Universal monsters to bring audiences Darkman.
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Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Written by Bruce Joel Rubin
Directed by Adrian Lyne
My wife’s first remarks as the credits rolled were, “That was intense.” Now, it takes a lot to phase my wife when it comes to movies. Between the amount of horror cinema I’ve exposed her to and the limited sentimentality, she has towards many films, she is a tough nut to crack. I’ve only known her to weep at two movies, Dancer in the Dark and The Elephant Man, otherwise, she appreciates the pictures but doesn’t get too deeply emotionally invested in them. I tell you all this as a way to begin talking about this heartbreaking existential horror film, a movie that the first time I viewed it, my maturity wasn’t at the level to really understand what the filmmakers were saying. This time around, I agreed with my wife, I was shaken and found a deep appreciation for the performances and themes in this movie.
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