Category Archives: 1993

Movies released in 1993.

Review: Rochelle, Rochelle

Director: Terrence Malick
Year: 1993
Score: 9.5/10

An erotic romance about life, love, and becoming a woman.

An erotic romance about life, love, and becoming a woman.

Easily the finest European film I’ve ever seen. The Village Voice called it “a masterpiece”, and I completely agree. It follows a young girl as she travels from Milan to visit her relatives in Minsk, but it’s about far more than her literal journey: the subtext is an exploration of the transformative power of physical connections, but beneath even that (a subsubtext, if you will), at its core, it’s a film about nothing at all.

Upon first viewing, some of the dialogue may seem cheesy (such as when the unnamed farmer character says to Rochelle, “Here, stand by the fire. Take off those wet clothes, you’ll catch cold”, and she replies “Oh, my hand’s so cold, I can barely get these buttons open”), but closer analysis reveals that the cheese is in fact the liberating kind; the kind of cheese a short bald man might want to bite into as though it were an apple.

The performances are all top-notch, particularly Frances Bay, who’s hauntingly brilliant in the title role. The farmer is played by an actor I didn’t recognise, but whose voice sounded almost like Larry David. Look for Eduardo Corrochio and Art Vandelay in small roles as two of Rochelle’s conquests.

There is a legitimate debate to be had as to whether the constant female nudity is gratuitous. For me, it was so central to the dialectic nihilism underpinning the narrative that it was neither gratuitous nor excessive in the least. It helps, of course, that Bay is so pleasing to the eye.

I’ve listed the director as Terrence Malick, though I should acknowledge this is an unconfirmed rumour. Bizarrely, the film has no director credit; could this be the ‘missing film’ in Malick’s career, made at some point in his 20-year hiatus between 1978’s Days of Heaven and 1998’s The Thin Red Line? I think we all know the answer to that question.

I really can’t recommend this film highly enough. Unfortunately, readers of this review may have trouble tracking down a copy; it still hasn’t received the DVD or Blu-ray releases it so richly deserves. Please join me in lobbying for a Criterion Collection release!

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Review: Ninja Scroll

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Year: 1993
Score: 6/10

And that's why you always leave a note! (Seriously, what's with arms getting cut or torn off in every single anime I watch?)

And that’s why you always leave a note! (Seriously, what’s with arms getting cut or torn off in every single anime I watch?)

The third and weakest of the anime films I sampled. Rather than the futuristic sci-fi settings of the others, this one’s set in a version of feudal Japan with some fantasy elements. There’s a plot, to be sure, but mostly it seems to just be an excuse for over-the-top ninja action scenes – some quite good – featuring bucketloads of exaggerated gore (don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with gore and I recognise that showing it in an exaggerated way can be a legitimate stylistic choice; I’m just not convinced it adds a lot in this case). Ridiculously, the key romance is between a female character who inadvertently fatally poisons anyone who kisses or has sex with her and a poisoned male character who is told the only way to cure himself would be to have sex with her. On reflection I think this story and this world might appeal to young boys, but there are too many elements that aren’t age appropriate. The strangest line of dialogue would have to be this one: “Don’t let it cross your mind that I wouldn’t mind raping a dead girl”.

Review: The Age of Innocence

Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 1993
Score: 7/10

The Age of Innocence

Scorsese’s cameo. He seems to be gesturing towards someone off-screen, the director of the film perhaps, as if to say “Look, just stop already – the movie’s long enough. And stop fetishising food!”.

Handsome and well-made but overlong Scorsese adaptation of the Edith Wharton novel (which I haven’t read). It includes some lovely language, particularly in the narration, which I presume derives from the book; for example: “She remained in his memory simply as the most plaintive and poignant of a line of ghosts”. The time and place are captured well, conveying the sense that we’re seeing a faithful recreation of New York high society in the 1870s (quite a contrast to the version of 1860s New York Scorsese would bring to life a decade later in Gangs of New York). However, the love triangle is irritating in its handling and ultimately ends up being far less interesting than would warrant inclusion as the central plot thread of a movie. Also, Scorsese seems to be a bit of a food fetishist (I don’t mean this as a criticism; it’s just hard not to notice).

Review: The Remains of the Day

Director: James Ivory
Year: 1993
Score: 7/10

The Remains of the Day

At this point I wanted Mr Stevens to stick his head out of the car window, look toward the camera, and say “Look! I’m driving through the ACTUAL remains of the day!”.

The Remains of the Day

I was quite impressed by the CGI they used to make Christopher Reeve look like he could walk.

The second (after A Room with a View) and thus far best Merchant Ivory film I’ve seen, this is an engrossing story buoyed by wonderful performances from Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The world of 1930s Darlington Hall, with all its rules and norms and characters and goings-on, is made to seem entirely real, and it’s a shame when things are all over and we return to the 1950s framing story. Hopkins’ character, marked as much by his repression of feelings and thoughts as by his devotion and skill as a butler, is compelling but frustrating to watch. The resolution of the central romance (if it can be called that) is understandable, and thematically appropriate, yet deeply unsatisfying. Having enjoyed this, I find myself slightly more likely to give Downton Abbey a try since I suspect it would scratch the same itch.

Review: Jurassic Park 3D

Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 1993/2013
Score: 9.5/10

One of my favourite movies and a key piece of my childhood. It’s very hard to fault: thrilling, funny, impeccably well-paced, and full of fine performances and incredible special effects that still hold up. I love how many action / suspense / thriller moments Spielberg is able to throw in that DON’T involve dinosaurs – e.g. a jeep falling through a tree, an electric fence being switched back on, etc. – thereby ensuring we aren’t overwhelmed with dinos and they maintain their power. Rereleased in 3D at IMAX for the 20th anniversary, it’s never looked better and I’ve never enjoyed it more. Stirring John Williams music gets me every time. “Shoot her… shooooooot her!!”

Review: King of the Hill

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Year: 1993
Score: 7/10

Very watchable Soderbergh film set during the Depression. Great performance from its child star Jesse Bradford (who never really amounted to much). A particularly memorable scene depicts him cutting pictures of food out of magazines (or cookbooks?), arranging them on a plate, and eating them with a knife and fork.

Review: The Room

Director: Tommy Wiseau
Year: 1993
Score: As an actual drama, 1/10; as an unintentional ‘worst movie ever’ comedy, 8.5/10

I’ve seen a few candidates for worst movie ever, but none are quite as entertaining as The Room. I’ve watched it several times now and each time I notice new and hilarious terribleness. Highly recommended, particularly with a group. The greetings… the sex scenes… the terrible dubbing… the football… the roof… Denny’s drug subplot… Claudette’s throwaway cancer reference… it’s all comedy gold, none intentional. “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”