Monday, February 26, 2007

Time Out of Joint Top Ten List: 1992

My favorite movies from 1992:

  1. Reservoir Dogs
  2. Hard-Boiled
  3. The Last of the Mohicans
  4. The Player
  5. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
  6. White Men Can't Jump
  7. Batman Returns
  8. Red Rock West
  9. CrissCross
  10. Captain Ron

I also liked: Tresspass, Unforgiven, Unlawful Entry, Death Becomes Her, and Thunderheart.

My take: By 1992 I was getting to be a genuine film buff, so, I saw most of these movies for the first time in the theaters (although I've re-watched them since).

This list is mostly All-American, which is definitely my bad, but, at the time, I didn't spend too much time tracking down foreign films. (This is a good time to mention that these "Time Out of Joint" lists are works-in-progress.) Still, it gives a pretty good cross-section of what I like when it comes to contemporary movies: high style action/adventure pictures (Hard-Boiled, The Last of the Mohicans, and Batman Returns), well-crafted B-movies (Tresspass and Unlawful Entry), unconventional genre flicks (Reservoir Dogs, Red Rock West, and Unforgiven), screwball comedies (White Men Can't Jump, Captain Ron, and Death Becomes Her), and creepy, sexy, scary off-kilter thrillers (Fire Walk with Me).

I've gone back and forth with Reservoir Dogs almost from the moment I walked out of the theater. I had gone with my dad, and neither of us knew what to make of it. All we were sure of was that the torture scene had been very upsetting. (Personally, it's never been the cutting off of the ear that gets to me: it's imagining what the gasoline on the cut must feel like that makes me cringe). There are times when I think that this scene sums up all of the movie's problems, that it's all flashiness and nastiness, just trying to make the audience squirm. Other times, though, like right now, the movie's (black) sense of humor and ballsiness win me over.

I also have mixed feelings about The Player. I really like the movie - it's so well made and it's very, very sharp. But I think it's also kind of shallow, which isn't such a sin, except that, ever since it came out, the critics have made more out of it than is really there (IMO, of course). But that's my problem to get over, not the movie's, which has so many great little moments (Richard E. Grant talking about "reality", Lyle Lovett quoting Freaks, Alan Rudolph pitching a psychic political thriller "with heart", Burt Reynolds's theory on assholes) that, in my heart of hearts, I guess I don't care that when it comes to the bigger issues it strikes me as being superficial (compared to Sunset Boulevard, say).

I have a great deal of affection for Captain Ron, which is one of those movies like Dumb & Dumber where the non-comedian - in this case Kurt Russell - is as funny or funnier than the comedian - in this case Martin Short. There are quite a few movies where Kurt Russell gets to do his jokey, tongue-in-cheek take on traditional action heroes (Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, Sky High), but not enough like this one, where he gets to give an all-out comic performance (Used Cars is the other big one).

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