Category Archives: 1995

Movies released in 1995.

Review: The Crossing Guard

Director: Sean Penn
Year: 1995
Score: 4.5/10

Wow, Kristen Wiig was not looking good back in 1995.

Wow, Kristen Wiig was not looking good back in 1995.

Misguided, fruitless, angst-filled tale about redemption, forgiveness and guilt. My least favourite film from Sean Penn (as of 2013), though I still count myself amongst his fans. Jack Nicholson is solid in the lead role, and he’s given a few emotional moments in which to really shine, but his character’s struggle is neither engaging nor moving. David Morse is fine too, though he was better in The Indian Runner. Oddly it was Angelica Huston who received award nominations; to be honest I found her a touch wooden. There are occasional effective scenes but overall it doesn’t come together dramatically or narratively, and it’s extremely heavy-handed at times. The music is also pretty bad, especially the pieces featuring saxophone. Skip it; if you want a Sean Penn movie worth watching, stick to The Indian Runner or Into the Wild.

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Review: Waterworld

Director: Kevin Reynolds
Year: 1995
Score: 6/10

Alas, I wasn't the first to spot the fact that these jet skis are already on fire before they actually collide and explode; someone else already listed it in IMDb's Goofs section.

Alas, I wasn’t the first to spot the fact that these jet skis are already on fire before they actually collide and explode; someone else already listed it in IMDb’s Goofs section.

I went in with such low expectations – which is difficult not to do, given this movie’s legendary status as a terrible flop – that its general adequacy quite impressed me. It’s often hokey and silly, there are some glaring plot holes and nonsensical premises (Enola can’t swim? Seriously?! And some humans will evolve gills and webbed feet within a few hundred years??!), Kevin Costner’s accent is just weird, Dennis Hopper is a cartoon, and some of the action set-pieces are pretty lame. Putting all that aside, it’s easy enough to just go along for the ride, with some reasonable action and a unique setting. I admit I laughed every time Gregor’s airship was conveniently framed just out of shot; despite the enormous budget, apparently it was too expensive to show the airship most of the time, so instead we get hilarious glimpses of its edges and ropes and shadows. The brief appearance by Kim Coates – later of Sons of Anarchy fame – is quite entertaining. Also look for Jack Black as a pilot in Hopper’s employ.

Review: Ghost in the Shell

Director: Mamoru Oshii
Year: 1995
Score: 7.5/10

And that's why you always leave a note!

And that’s why you always leave a note!

Impressive anime that focuses more on its ideas and philosophical discussions than on plot (in other words: not that much actually happens). It also only bothers properly developing two characters, and even they seem useful only for advancing the exploration of the (admittedly quite stimulating) philosophical themes at the film’s core. There are some interesting visuals and a nice meditative tone outside of the action scenes, of which there perhaps aren’t enough. The depictions of female nudity seem a bit fetishistic at times. It’s been highly influential; watching it made me reevaluate my appreciation for The Matrix (one of my favourite films) now that I know the Wachowskis stole so many of its ideas.

Review: Tank Girl

Director: Rachel Talalay
Year: 1995
Score: 6.5/10

Remember folks, stay hydrated!

Remember folks, stay hydrated!

Dynamic but uneven comic book adaptation. The animated sequences and montages of comic book-style graphics are quite effective at giving it a snappy, fun feel and making the silliness feel organic rather than awkward. Cool ’90s soundtrack also helps in this regard. Having said all that, I think that without the title character’s winning smartarsery, and Lori Petty’s wonderful portrayal of her, this might well be unwatchable. As it is, there’s a lot that doesn’t work, not least the plot, everything involving the Rippers, and a pointless and nonsensical musical number half way through. Look for Iggy Pop as a pedophile and Richard Schiff (Toby from The West Wing) in a small role as a bad guy who gets blown up early on.

Review: Apollo 13

Director: Ron Howard
Year: 1995
Score: 8.5/10

Apollo 13

As with all good space movies, there’s a piss joke: we get to see it being sprayed all over space. Notice the words ‘UNITED STATES’, and the US flag, shown prominently on the left; is the subtext something about the US treating the space race as a pissing contest..?

I don’t really know why it took me so long to watch this – it feels like I’ve been deliberately putting it off for years. Now I’ve finally seen it – and wow, it’s great! Solid performances from an excellent cast, taut drama throughout, an incredible story, and a real thrill ride despite knowing in the back of my mind that they’d manage to make it back to Earth in one piece. Considering this was made almost twenty years ago, the special effects are quite amazing – but notably, they don’t dominate, they simply assist in the telling of the story. Miko Hughes, the little kid who plays Tom Hanks’ son, distracted me because in my mind he can only ever be Simon, the autistic kid Bruce Willis protects in Mercury Rising (“Mummy, Simon is home! It’s hot, sip it slowly!”). If anyone else has been avoiding this as I had, please stop! Along with Gravity and Alien, it’s one of my three top space movies of all time.

Review: Before Sunrise

Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 1995
Score: 8.5/10

I had seen this before but it had been a long while. It’s a lovely movie, wringing every possible delight from its very simple premise: two strangers meet on a train, make a connection, get off together in Vienna, and spend a whole night walking around the city getting to know one another. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are perfect and their chemistry is the glue that holds it all together. The twists and turns of their conversation are as riveting as any thriller. The scene in which they role-play phone calls with each other’s friends is a highlight. Having now seen the full trilogy, I regard the first as the best of the three (though only by a very small margin; they’re all worth watching); perhaps that’s my inner romantic speaking, since this is the one that feels the most joyously lovey-dovey as Jesse and Celine experience the thrill of budding romance.

Review: Kids

Director: Larry Clark
Year: 1995
Score: 8.5/10

Gripping and frightening portrayal of a day in the life of a bunch of sexually active kids in New York who drink and take drugs and steal and talk almost exclusively about sex. The casual nature of their exploitation of each other (and of kids even younger than themselves), and of their occasional violence, is quite shocking. There’s a strong sense of reality to this; it’s entirely believable despite its excesses. This is the result of its quasi-documentary style, director Larry Clark’s decision to cast kids he discovered hanging out in New York skate parks in lead roles, and the honesty and personal experience Harmony Korine brought to the script. A really great movie.

Review: Dead Man

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Year: 1995
Score: 5.5/10

Dead Man

I admit I enjoyed this scene. Funnily enough, this is what Australia’s Classification Review Board apparently said about it: “The Review Board found that a scene at about 73 minutes of the squashing of a dead man’s head with a boot, with the brain spurting out, to be cruel and relished and likely to offend some sections of the adult community”.

Strange but strangely compelling western doesn’t really work but still has enough interesting things in it to warrant a watch. Johnny Depp is unremarkable in the lead role, though to be fair he isn’t given all that much to work with. One odd scene features Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thornton and Jared Harris (Lane Pryce from Mad Men) as three bickering vagrants at a campsite. The Neil Young soundtrack, heavy with grungy electric guitar, initially works well but eventually becomes repetitive and overbearing. By the end I knew Jim Jarmusch was trying to say something with this film; unfortunately, I hadn’t the faintest clue what that might have been.