1999 GRAHAMMY AWARDS (FILM)
Dear Valued Subscribers,
Disposable income. We all have it, although some have more than
others. Some spend theirs on scotch, some on video games, and
some on the girls at Deja Vu. Well in addition to some on the
former and a lot on the latter, I spend my money on movies. Call
me crazy, but I like going to the movies. I like drinking
abnormally high quantities of soda in a two-hour period (because
the signs tell me that 88 ounces give me my "Best Value"),
I love eating over-priced, tooth-annihilating candy, and I really
love the fact that the Internet will never be able to replicate
the feeling of exhilaration you get while sitting in the dark
with hundreds of other people collectively screaming or crying or
clenching their jaws. When the house lights go down and the
trailers begin to flicker on the screen, I'm a happy camper. Good
movies, bad movies -- it doesn't really matter. Horror, action,
chick flick, buddy movie -- these are just plot devices,
secondary to the experience itself. But the point here is not to
ramble on and on about the experience itself, it's to honor (and
stone cold dis) the Best and Worst from Fiscal '98. So without
further ado, I humbly present the 1999 Grahammy Film Awards...
Top Ten Films of
Honorable Mentions: "Rushmore" (Wes Anderson), "Saving Private Ryan" (Steven Spielberg), "Two Girls And A Guy" (James Toback)
Hardly Wait" (James
Elfont & Deborah Kaplan) - Easily the best on-screen party
since "Sixteen Candles." While no one character is
quite as classic as Long Duck Dong, it is impossible not to want
to watch this movie over and over again. It doesn't break any new
ground in the teen film oeuvre, but it doesn't need to. It
addresses all the requisite themes (nerd/jock bonding, beer as a
social equalizer, nerds planning revenge with blueprints, etc.)
with passion and humor. Good show.
Simple Plan" (Sam Raimi)
- Steering smartly away from Coen territory, Sam Raimi's first
character driven effort is marvelous. What would you do if you
found $4.4 million in a gymbag out in the middle of the woods?
After seeing this film, you know damn well the answer is to leave
Art" (Lisa Cholodenko)
- Ally Sheedy has been critically lauded for her comeback
performance in this film, but the real star of the show is
Patricia Clarkson as Gretel, a German smack addicted, ex-movie
star girlfriend of Ally Sheedy's character. The film draws you
into the seedy underbelly of the New York art scene convincingly
and ruthlessly, with no holds barred. Asking (and not necessarily
answering) difficult questions about ambition and addiction, love
and commitment, this film takes you down low and leaves you there.
In Love" (John Madden)
- Made me go down to my basement and pull out my old college
Riverside. Gwyneth Paltrow is elegance personified in this, her
first worthwhile starring performance. The most abysmal beginning
in recent movie history is overcome by stellar peformances by the
ensemble cast, and as the plot delightfully accelerates into the
climactic Opening Night performance of "Romeo & Ethel,
The Pirate's Daughter", you'll find yourself smiling and
laughing and best of all, feeling intelligent.
6) "Happiness" (Todd Solondz) - This guy obviously forgot
to use his Brita pitcher when drinking the Jersey tap water. The
crazed genius behind "Welcome To The Dollhouse" is back
and badder than ever -- desperation is the currency of choice in
his latest film. Let's see, we've got an incredibly sympathetic
pedophile, a masturbating phone stalker, an odorous Russian
adulterer/kleptomaniac/taxi driving lothario, a mammoth female
murderer (or is it murderess?), and we're just getting started.
This movie makes you feel like complete and total shit. Brilliant.
Baumbach) - Part of the reason I give this film so many props is
it is an unofficial sequel to "Kicking and Screaming",
the BEST comedy of the `90s. Some of the same principles return (Eric
Stoltz, Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott) and give typically
brilliant performances. Stoltz and Annabella Sciorra have
surprisingly strong chemistry in this charming tale of love and
the inherent jealousy it causes in the `90s. Extra props for
commissioning Luna to write the score.
66" (Vincent Gallo) -
In a year where lame and predictable films were the standard, out
of nowhere came Vincent Gallo and "Buffalo 66". Gallo
pulls no punches. Sure, he's cocky and self-centered and tends to
accuse people of being gay far too much, but c'mon. He's got
integrity (he refused to do a Nike commercial due to problems
with the script!), he's got 9,000 videotapes (his favorite films
are Robby Benson made-for-TV movies!!), and he's wrote, produced,
directed, scored and starred in this movie (and he shot it on
reversal stock film that he wasn't even sure would develop!!!).
Aside from the fact that Gallo rules, his film is simply
incredible. Pathos doesn't begin to describe the life of Billy
Brown. To say much more would ruin the experience. Stop reading
this email and rent this NOW!
Effect" (Jake Kasdan) -
The most overlooked film of 1998. It opened in January to about $2
million in box office receipts, and died a quick death. People
missed a script that was fresh, funny, smart, and original. Daryl
Zero (Bill Pullman) and his partner Arlo (Ben Stiller) are a `90s
version of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, respectively. Only now,
Zero is, on top of being the most brilliant detective in the
world, a recluse millionaire speed-freak who only eats tuna
direct from the can and drinks Tab. His case? "The Man Who
Lost His Keys". Zero travels to Portland to recover the man's
keys (what sounds quite simple is actually delightfully complex).
This film is acted, paced, and directed with pitch-perfect
excellence by rookie director Kasdan (son of Larry Kasdan, of
"Big Chill" and "Grand Canyon" fame). This
one of the better potential movie franchises out there, and it's
tragic that another film will never see the light of day.
of Sight" (Steven
Soderbergh) - After Steven Soderbergh won the Palmes D'Or at the
Cannes Film Festival for "Sex, Lies, And Videotape", he
was quoted as saying "It's all downhill from here." He
was wrong. This movie is cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Soderbergh's schtick has never been to compromise style for
substance, but what makes this movie work is the delicate balance
he achieves between the two. George Clooney will never be better,
and Jennifer Lopez just shines. Great character performances from
indy heavy hitters such as Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, Ving
Rhames, Dennis Farina, and Don Cheadle add to the mix, but
Clooney and Lopez are the irresistable forces that keep you
enthralled in this smoldering, seductive game of cops &
robbers. Featuring a Tarantino-esque timeline structure, the plot
"Out of Sight" slowly unravels, building characters,
angles, and romantic tensions with the most subtle ease.
Hopefully the team of Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott B. Frank
will pair again and bring more Elmore Leonard tales to the big
Thin Red Line" (Terrence
Malick) - Everyone has heard the term "Ahead Of Their Time."
I think Terrence Malick is the complete opposite, but in the best
possible sense. He thinks and writes and directs in some sort of
time warp -- that time warp being the hey-day of American film,
the late 1970s. While the best known directors of that day have
slipped from top of their respective games (Coppola's "Jack",
Spielberg's "Lost World", Scorsese's "Kundun",
anyone remember Bogdanovich's "Storyville"???), Malick
came back in 1998 better than ever. "The Thin Red Line"
is an opus that was destined not to be appreciated, or probably
even understood. Malick's story, loosely based on the James Jones
novel of the same name, is anything but a war movie in the ilk of
the vastly overrated "Saving Private Ryan." Malick's
film is a meditation on heaven and earth, nature and man, war and
peace. If this sounds unbelievably pretentious, it just may be.
But it is undenaibley the most unique and thought-provoking and
thoughted film in years. The cinematography is unparalleled, the
battle scenes ominous and intense, the score both moody and tense,
the acting is superb. In particular, Jim Caviezel's Private Witt
and Sean Penn's Seargeant Welsh stand out, but the real star of
the film is the mood and thoughts Malick's direction conjures up.
Every shot was meticulously constructed, as if Malick had spent
the last twenty years envisioning every shot. Where "Saving
Private Ryan" left the viewer shell-shocked (initially
covering up the heavily cliched tactics of the film), "The
Thin Red Line" leaves you physically wrought and mentally
drained. Best ever.
Yes, yes...I see where you are going with
this. I would LOVE
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