Friday, March 30, 2012

some fun, some silly and some dramatic 90s picks: a guest post by karen g.

Here's a fun list of 90s film favorites from Karen G.!

Directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann, the story centers around an Australian ballroom dancer Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio) and his desire to dance in his own style to win a big Dancing Contest that is riddled with archaic rules and traditions.  After losing a competition, Scott, who is dumped by his regular dance partner, ventures out and finds a disheveled girl, Fran (Tara Morice) who he teaches to dance, in secret, at his parents studio.

One of the most visually intriguing and disturbing movies I’ve seen, Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” tells the gritty true story of an obsessive relationship between two friends Juliet Hulme (a then unknown Kate Winslet) and Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey), who in the 1950’s, murdered Parker’s mother while on a picnic.  The strong and passionate performances by the young actresses carry this thought-provoking and difficult story to new heights.  The unraveling of these young girls is beautifully and tragically portrayed in the film.

Looking over my movie list, I realize I have quite a thing for movies about women who have lost touch with reality.  Muriel’s Wedding is a romantic comedy about an awkward and overweight young woman who has a mild obsession with ABBA, pathological lies and getting married (in no particular order).  Muriel’s belief is that by having a glamorous wedding, her life will miraculously change.  This movie has delightful performances by Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths before their big breaks in Hollywood.

This movie made me realize that I HAD to get out of my home town.  Depp stars as Gilbert, the “man of the house," caring for a mentally challenged brother, a morbidly obese mother and a needy mistress in a small town in Iowa.  When a young woman named Becky (Juliette Lewis) gets stuck in town with her aunt in their motor home, Depp starts to realize the urgency of his desire to leave the responsibilities that have befallen him and the want to live a “normal” life.  A touching story about how guilt and fear can stop us all from following our dreams.

A coming-of-age indie about an unattractive, extremely unpopular high school girl, Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo).  Dawn’s brother is a nerdy musician who tries to start a band while her little sister is the family’s little “princess”.  Scenes of baby sister, Missy, doing ballet in the background as their mother dotes and Dawn skulks is particularly funny, and at times, unsettling.  Dawn is ignored by her parents, bullied at school and her brother has little patience with her even though he is an outcast as well.  When handsome teenager, Steve Rodgers, (Eric Mabius) joins Dawn’s brother’s band, Dawn falls deeply and pathetically in love.  This is a dark, but extremely enjoyable and relatable comedy about that “awkward phase” in our lives.  Sadly a phase that some of us never grow out of.

Directed by Luc Besson, Léon tells the story of a quiet hit man living in Little Italy, who takes in a young girl Mathilda (played by 12 year-old Natalie Portman) after her family is murdered by the mob.  Portman plays the young “Lolita-type” Mathilda, who smokes cigarettes and is hardened and wise beyond her years.  Mathilda’s abusive father does wrong by some corrupted DEA agents and he and the rest of his family is murdered, leaving Mathilda at the mercy of a reluctant and solitary Léon.  Mathilda is drawn to Léon in an attempt to learn his skills as “a cleaner” to take revenge on the people who killed her family.  The unlikely friendship that forms between the hitman and the young girl is the basis of this stunning and original story. 

This visually fascinating film by Luc Besson, can only be described by me as a science fiction fashion feast.  The survival of humanity takes the form of a young girl (Milla Jovovich) that is known as the “Fifth Element” and is protected by Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) a cab driver who is a former special forces Major.  Earth’s impending attack is surrounded by electrifying music, a beautiful opera performance by a blue alien diva and over 950 costumes designed by Jean Paul-Gaultier.  A hilarious performance by an unstable Gary Oldman with a terribly bad hair day gives the movie part of it’s comedic “element”. 

I don’t know if I love this movie because it’s so easy to watch or because of the incredible soundtrack, but Dazed and Confused is probably one of my favorite movies, centering around a day in the life of some Texas teens during the last day of school in 1976.  The movie has a particularly enjoyable performance by a stoned and idealistic Matthew McConaughey as a high school grad that refuses to grow up. 


The movie that redefined marketing!  The legend of the Blair Witch crept through the world before the film was released and the anticipation of seeing the “recovered footage of the students that went missing in the Black Hills” was what drew millions to the box office when it was released in 1999.  One of the first of what has now become an annoyingly familiar genre, "recovered real life footage of things gone terribly wrong."  I have to say at the time, the movie had the world of horror buffs like myself buzzing with excitement and peering into the dark corners of our homes at night.  While so many people hate this film I have to say I have always found it intriguing, original for the time, extremely fun and enjoyable.  Watch it one day and then go camping. I dare you.

Clerks (1994)

Kevin Smith in 1994, when I was a young, hope-filled teenager, put the idea in my head that I could shoot a movie in my local convenience store with just enough money to cover a few Alice in Chains songs.  Then I grew up and realized that Hollywood does not work that way and luck has EVERYTHING to do with it.  Still, one of the movies I quote and laugh out loud at to this day.  A quirky black and white picture about two disgruntled Clerks who rant about the future, the state of their lives, ex-girlfriends who are getting engaged and a riveting conversation about The Death Star.  The perfect movie for comic book nerds who lived and breathed during the grunge-era of the 90s. 

The Craft (1996)

If you were a teenager in the 90s, dabbling in all sorts of curiosities, you’d be a liar to say you’ve never seen this movie (and liked it).  It’s silly, on every level, but oh so fun!  I find it on cable even now and find myself unable to look away.  The story centers around three teenage girls who use witchcraft to get what they want.  When new girl Sarah (Robin Tunney) moves to town, the three teenage girls quickly befriend her and invite her into their “circle."  When head witch Nancy (Fairuza Balk) decides during one of their rituals to “invoke the spirit” all hell breaks loose in L.A. and the power-hungry witch quickly starts turning on the people around her.  Being the only one with real powers, Sarah starts to fight back.  Witches gone Wild!

Some more gems:

Boogie Nights (1997)
Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Devil's Advocate (1997)
Fear of a Black Hat (1994)
Kids (1995)
A League of their Own (1992)
Tank Girl (1995)
Clueless (1995) - Make over!!!
Blast from the Past (1999)
Benny & Joon (1993)

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