Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Twelve

#12 — Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999) Charlie Kaufman has his screenwriting Oscar for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and he has plenty of swooning admirers ready to step forward and declare either of his metanarrative Möbius bands, Adaptation. or Synecdoche, New York, the purest distillation of his own unique form of absurdist existentialism. There are things to admire in all of those works, to be sure. Kaufman concocts crazy, complicated cinematic puzzles, and the offbeat invention that is seemingly second nature to him gives him one of the most distinct voices in modern movie-making. But from my … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Twelve

Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Fourteen

#14 — The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan, 1997) I tend to be hard on films that present narratives with fractured chronologies, but that’s only because I’ve seen the technique done perfectly, exactly right. Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter is based upon a novel written by Russell Banks. The story deals with the aftermath of a school bus crash in a small town that resulted in the death of most of the children aboard. The residents of the insular Canadian burg are understandably devastated, shell-shocked as they try to proceed with the eternal echo of lives lost far too young hanging … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Fourteen

Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Fifteen

#15 — The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, 1997) I should probably start by acknowledging that any film which uses an old issue of the Marvel Comics series The Fantastic Four to illustrate how dysfunction can envelop and cripple a family is playing directly to my soft spot. The idea is introduced via voiceover narration by the character Paul Carver as he sits on a stalled train bound for New Canaan, Connecticut. He goes to school in Manhattan, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend and he’s headed home, a place that’s held by a chill as deep as the one produced by the … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Fifteen

Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Twenty

#20 — Smoke (Wayne Wang, 1996) Smoke is about the power and pleasure of stories. The film is enamored with the very act of spinning a tale, whether it be complete concoctions, embellishments on personal histories, or even the fictions people create about themselves as buffers against the sadness of the world. The mere craft of it is admirable enough, and there’s perhaps no better indicator of its value than the smile that irresistibly rises to the visage of a teller who has completed their task particularly well. The film is centered around a Brooklyn cigar shop, the perfect setting … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 90s — Number Twenty