Plot Summary: Harry Angel is a private investigator. He is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer called Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.
Director: Alan Parker
Writers: William Hjortsberg (novel), Alan Parker (screenplay)
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet
Serious Jest: (Must Own) These are some of the best acting performances I’ve seen from De Niro, Rourke, and Bonet. It is probably De Niro’s creepiest role. It’s also amazing to see the huge difference 25+ years has made in Rourke’s appearance, while how little Bonet has aged.
This flick has the ingredients to keep you on the edge of your seat. Aside from the great acting, it is a film noir featuring murder, sex, the occult, two major cities with very different cultures, and a very solid mystery with a twist that I didn’t see coming. If you predicted the latter, please let me know in the comments, but precede your post with “SPOILER.”
While the quality of the video, effects, sound, etc, is not on par with today’s technology, which could easily render most movies with such a dark tone sleepy, its aforementioned strengths make this movie a classic and one that you will want to watch more than once…probably not right away, but somewhere down the line, someone will say that they never saw this film, and you will suggest that you both sit down and watch it together. You will probably enjoy watching it the second time around, knowing what to look for.
Plot Summary: A rare book dealer, while seeking out the last two copies of a demon text, gets drawn into a conspiracy with supernatural overtones.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Arturo Pérez-Reverte (novel), John Brownjohn (screenplay), Enrique Urbizu (screenplay), Polanski (screenplay)
Stars: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) Depp manages to make a stuffy movie about old book collectors interesting. Well, to be fair, the books are about the devil, the film is full of murder and mystery, and Emmanuelle Seigner is captivating as The Girl. However, some scenes are hokey, and the ending is abrupt and unfulfilling. It seems like the novel is probably much better, as it was probably better suited to delve more deeply into the central themes and inner struggles. In sum, this movie has great buildup, but it leaves you with theatrical blueballs.
Plot Summary: A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood.
Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Plot Summary: In 1948 Los Angeles, a stranger asks war veteran “Easy” Rawlins to help locate a missing woman–a task that gets him embroiled in a murder mystery.
Director: Carl Franklin
Writers: Walter Mosley (book), Franklin (screenplay)
Stars: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) Unlike too many 1990s blockbusters, this film is timeless because it did not rely on big explosions, hoky effects, or the general ignorance of audiences in the pre-Google age. Instead, it showcased a captivating story, interesting characters, a cool setting, and good acting (Don Cheadle & Sizemore are especially badass). In sum, it is a very solid film noir, well worth dedicating a couple of hours to watch it, but it is not so unique that it’s a Must See.
Plot Summary: Urban legend-style killings begin to occur on a movie set, in this non-sequel sequel to “Urban Legend”.
Director: John Ottman
Writers: Silvio Horta (characters), Paul Harris Boardman (written by), Scott Derrickson (written by)
Stars: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) You may be flipping through your cable channels and come across this movie. Parts of it may seem entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of urban legends, like myself. If you continue about your business with this film on in the background and occasionally stop to watch a couple of scenes, you may not be disappointed…but do not waste your time by dedicating over an hour and a half to watch a collection of half-interesting urban legends executed with unconvincing special effects. While the plot twist isn’t bad, the ending is otherwise hokey and ruins what was a mediocre movie featuring some recognizable actors like Anthony Anderson, Eva Mendes, and Joseph Lawrence…and Loretta Devine, shame on you for playing this role…you know what I’m talmmbout. In sum, this flick is bad enough so that its homage to Alfred Hitchcock is a little insulting, but it’s not bad background if you keep your expectations low.
Plot Summary: A detective investigating a series of murders becomes involved with a woman who may be the culprit.
Director: Harold Becker
Writer: Richard Price
Stars: Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) After some deliberation, I’d have to recommend skipping this movie. The passage of time has rendered it obsolete. While the plot had a decent twist to it, and the film wasn’t boring, the action scenes, dialogue, and even the sappy saxophone soundtrack just don’t compare to today’s crime dramas. Pacino over-acted some of the scenes (or maybe his character was written to be unnecessarily dramatic, as in his uncalled-for outburst in a shoe store), and Goodman’s Queens accent was heinous. I’d actually have to say that Barkin stole the show here.
Plot Summary: After getting entwined in an affair with the police detective who’s investigating the murder of a young woman in her New York City neighborhood, insular schoolteacher Frannie Avery begins to suspect that her lover was involved in the crime.
Cast: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici, Sharrieff Pugh, Kevin Bacon, Yaani King, Heather Litteer
Director: Jane Campion
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) Halfway through the movie, I still wasn’t sure what it was about, and the twist was pretty predictable…but the acting was top notch, the dialogue was solid, and some scenes were so steamy that I recommend you watch this with your significant other.
Plot Summary: Four teens are in great danger one year after their car hits a stranger whose body they dump in the sea.
Director: Jim Gillespie
Writers: Lois Duncan (novel), Kevin Williamson (screenplay)
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) Hewitt, Gellar, Hech, Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, and Johnny Galecki show you how entertaining a great cast can make a decent slasher script. Gellar and Phillippe were so good together, they were reunited two years later in another classic, Cruel Intentions.
This film’s general concept is cool, and I appreciate the unexpected resolution of some of the scenes, but too many of the other scenes are run-of-the-mill, some of the stunts are hokey, and some of the dialogue is cheesy. Still, I’m a fan of this cast and the hook-man urban legend, so I consider this flick a slasher classic. Your life won’t be incomplete if you never see this movie, but it’s worth watching if you ever stumble across it.
On a final note, if you’re trying to get your squeamish girlfriend to watch a horror film with you, this movie is a great set of training wheels. It is one of the mildest slasher flicks I’ve seen. I’m actually surprised it got an R rating.
CraigMakk: (Worth Watching) Okay, so bear with me here for a minute, I’ll get to my point eventually. This is a by-the-numbers horror movie in every conceivable way. There’s a: 1) secret of unmanageable shame, 2) person who wants revenge for said secret, 3) bunch of supposedly gory kills committed against those deemed responsible, and 4) a group of dumb teenagers who are literally begging to be killed. Honestly, I’d kill at least two of them just for the stupid things they say and do in the face of an unstoppable killer who is hunting them and picking them off one by one.
That all being said, this movie goes out of it’s way to prominently feature Sarah Michelle Gellar’s boobs. Keep in mind, this is 1997, so SMG is in the prime of her hotness (as noted by the Guiness Book of World Records for “Best Hooters of 1996-1997”) And while she may not get completely naked, they find ways to show her milk bombs anyway (i.e. wet t-shirts, etc). And that makes every movie better in my boob…I mean book. That was a typo. And since I’m typing this on a computer, I could’ve corrected it. But I thought it really drove home my point, so I left it in there. Long story short, her phenomenal funbags make a two mug movie a clear three. So, if you like movies with almost-bare bazookas, check this movie out. And if you can think of a way I could’ve worked in the slang term for breasts “wopbopaloobops” without sounding too contrived, you are a better person than I am..