Category Archives: 1992

Movies released in 1992.

Review: Unforgiven

Director: Clint Eastwood
Year: 1992
Score: 7.5/10

For the ten months between the release of Unforgiven in August 1992 and the release of Jurassic Park in June 1993, this was cinema's most inglorious toilet death.

For the ten months between the release of Unforgiven in August 1992 and the release of Jurassic Park in June 1993, this was cinema’s most inglorious toilet death.

Touted as Clint Eastwood’s anti-western, to me this thoughtful film came across as a regular western but one with a clear message: that behind all the bluster and mythologising and storytelling, the Wild West was a harsh, violent world full of cruelty and injustice. The acting is excellent all around (though Eastwood himself doesn’t do a whole lot with an admittedly unflashy lead role), the exteriors are beautifully shot, and the music is quite nice. Some of the events seem to happen a little too easily, but that’s easy to overlook. The line “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”, used to great effect in a climactic scene, was later reused in The Wire, and I think of it often. Overall, it’s a quality film, probably my favourite of those Eastwood has directed (caveat: I haven’t yet seen Flags of Our Fathers or Letters from Iwo Jima), but I wouldn’t say it deserved to win Best Picture. Having said that, looking at the other films released that year, I’m not surprised it did win, and I’m hard-pressed to pick a better winner; perhaps Glengarry Glen Ross, Malcolm X or The Crying Game? There was also a little animation by the name of Aladdin…

Review: Army of Darkness

Director: Sam Raimi
Year: 1992
Score: 5.5/10

Is there anything funnier than a skeleton finger yanking Ash by the nose? (Did anyone else answer 'yes, almost anything'?)

Is there anything funnier than a skeleton finger yanking Ash by the nose? (Did anyone else answer ‘yes, almost anything’?)

The weakest instalment in the Evil Dead trilogy, I give Sam Raimi points for ambition but he loses them for shoddy execution. It seems bizarre that the sequel to a pair of cabin-in-the-woods horror movies should be a medieval quest comedy, but in some ways it kind of works. It is, however, often very silly – and not in a good way. It’s also got the lamest plot of the trilogy. I love the totally inconsistent use of Flowery Elizabethan English, e.g. “When thou retrievest the book from its cradle, you must recite the words…”. Many locations look more like we’re watching a western than a medieval movie. It’s also not clear where Ash learnt swordplay, leadership, battle tactics, or how to make gunpowder. Plot holes? Surely not!

Review: Hoffa

Director: Danny DeVito
Year: 1992
Score: 5.5/10

Jack Nicholson stars in this biopic about corrupt and mob-connected union leader Jimmy Hoffa, with Danny DeVito both directing and playing Hoffa’s closest friend and associate. Several things ruin it: plodding direction by DeVito, a dodgy performance from Nicholson (he’s basically doing an impression of Hoffa rather than actually playing the character, and his impression is wildly inconsistent, especially in terms of the exaggerated nasal Hoffa voice that he only uses about half the time), and a misguided decision to try to heroise Hoffa. Funnily enough, in terms of acting, I thought DeVito’s performance in this was the best I’ve seen from him.

Review: The Player

Director: Robert Altman
Year: 1992
Score: 6/10

I was looking forward to this but was disappointed, possibly because it suffers by comparison to the other Robert Altman film I’d previously seen – the wonderful Nashville. Tim Robbins is fine and the many celebrity cameos are quite funny, but as satire I don’t think it succeeds. Still, there’s that excellent self-referential opening shot that lasts for almost eight minutes without a single cut (and features characters talking about previous films that used similar techniques).

Review: Scent of a Woman

Director: Martin Brest
Year: 1992
Score: 7/10

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I didn’t realise the ‘Hoo-ah!’ typically used by comedians doing impressions of Al Pacino came from this movie (for some reason I had thought it was more of a generic over-the-top Pacino-esque expression). To me this represents the turning point for Pacino, an actor I regard as one of the greats; it’s a huge and easy-to-counter generalisation, but basically everything before this had the good (often brilliant) young Pacino and everything after it had the old hammy caricature of Pacino. Anyway, to the movie itself: like Pacino’s performance, it’s certainly not subtle but it’s quite effective. Despite the length and occasional cheese, it’s hard not to get swept up in the story of an arsehole-with-a-heart-of-gold (Pacino) and a timid-but-otherwise-flawless-student (an impressive young Chris O’Donnell) who fix each other over the course of a weekend in New York. Philip Seymour Hoffman has a small role and despite only being 25 and playing a fellow student, he seems – as always – middle-aged.

Review: Malcolm X

Director: Spike Lee
Year: 1992
Score: 8/10

Long but engaging biopic of – you guessed it – Malcolm X. Denzel Washington is superb in the title role and – since I watched this just a few weeks after Scent of a Woman – I feel qualified to say he was robbed at the Oscars; his searing portrayal of Malcolm X was far more deserving than Pacino’s ‘Hoo-ahs!’. As any good biopic does, it immediately left me wanting to find out more about the subject. A criticism: Al Freeman Jr’s portrayal of Elijah Muhammad is laughably bad, an SNL-style caricature, detracting from the (numerous) scenes he appears in. Look for Wendell Pierce (The Wire), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Richard Schiff (The West Wing) and Nelson Mandela (real life).

Review: Of Mice and Men

Director: Gary Sinise
Year: 1992
Score: 5.5/10

Disappointing adaptation of a great novel. It tells the story faithfully – almost slavishly so – but lacks the power of the source material. It also has a slightly TV-movie-ish feel to it, for some reason. Gary Sinise is good as George, but his direction is fairly plodding. John Malkovich overacts as Lennie; perhaps if I’d never seen Malkovich before, I would have bought his performance here, but since I have, it just came across as laboured, hammy, and borderline offensive. John Terry is quite good as Slim. I’d advise avoiding this and reading (or rereading) the book instead.