1995 was famous for it’s box office bombs and critically panned blockbusters but it had it’s fair share of brilliance as well so let’s look on the positive side and check out the best of the best.
35. Lord Of Illusions
Yet another movie based on the brilliant “Books Of Blood” by Clive Barker but this one based on the short “The Last Illusion” is more fantasy based than pure horror although there are still plenty of scares to be found. Barker directed it too and wasn’t overly pleased with the movie and claims the director’s cut is his real vision.
A movie that gained a cult following due to it’s fun depiction of a group of young computer hackers who cause mischief until they hack the wrong person and a game of cat and mouse commences. It’s stylish and the soundtrack is good but objectively speaking it’s pretty corny and the characters aren’t great. That said if you were young and watched it at the time you’ll no doubt have thought it was cool and have some connection to it.
Best Bit-“Mess with the best, die like the rest”
I’ve never felt that poster does what it thinks it’s doing…..terrifying. Ok let’s get this out of the way, why in the name of Jeebus is Showgirls in a list of top movies of 1995?. Well, beneath all the mockery and derision it gets (deservedly in most cases) it’s hilariously over the top in a typical Paul Verhoeven style with his trademark satire, this time of the high class stripper scene and the cutthroat nature of the business. I remember first seeing this and thinking “Is that the lassie from from Saved By The Bell?” and being shocked at this cute teen actress turning into a raging psychopathic stripper. I like Kyle MacLachlan and Gina Gershon so their involvement is fun too. It also has the most hilarious and therefor best sex scene of all time. It was critically ravaged at the time and since but I love it for all it’s eccentricities.
Best Bit-Watch your step
32.The Jerky Boys: The Movie
Johnny Brennan and Kamal Ahmed made a name for themselves throughout the 90s as a comedy duo that would release albums of prank calls they would make. Brennan in particular would shine as the star of the group and would later use a couple of those voices in Family Guy, mainly Mort Goldman. Anyway they somehow got their own movie and although in the traditional sense it’s terrible, Brennan is so god damned funny that nearly everything he says in the movie has me laughing out loud in this crime caper.
Best Bit- Drive though
31. Batman Forever
Probably better than you remember it being. It gets lumped in with the other Joel Schumacher disaster that is “Batman And Robin” which is actually brilliant if you watch it with friends. I went to the cinema with my cousin to see Batman Forever and at the time I was obsessed with the previous movie, Tim Burton’s Batman Returns so what I got was very different and more indicative of the 60s tv show that Schumacher was a fan of. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it isn’t what generation x were looking for at the time. As a kid though it had energy and looked pretty with lots of neon and over the top performances. Ok so Jim Carrey is basically confusing his Riddler performance with The Joker and Tommy Lee Jones is confusing his Two Face performance with…….The Joker and Robin is in his mid 30s but, and I stand by this, Val Kilmer is an excellent Bruce Wayne. Oh and the video game on snes was balls.
Best Bit-The circus
I AM NOT A CROOK!. Oliver Stone’s biopic of the disgraced American president caused a stir when it was released, (as do most of his movies) mainly from Nixon’s family and friends. Anthony Hopkins plays the titular president and although Stone is a very left wing director he manages to create a sympathetic character at times whereas it would have been easy for him to make him pure evil. That said it doesn’t skimp on the dark stuff as the Watergate scandal which led to his impeachment is the main focus of the movie.
Best Bit- Cambodia discussion
Also seen in my comic book movies list. A fun, light hearted and funny slapstick comedy that’s held up surprisingly well and has plenty of emotional moments. I mean we are talking about a dead child here!. Chistina Ricci plays the girl who befriends wee Capser and I think I fell in love with her when I saw this, she was great in it.
Best Bit-Dr Harvey vs the uncles
A huge hit with folk my age when it came out and with stunning special effects that still hold up well today and Robin Williams in good form. He plays w man who gets sucked into a board game while playing with his friend and emerges decades later when a couple of kids find and play the game, freeing him. They decide to finish their game from years before and unleashes all kinds of animals from the game into the real world which causes all kinds of havoc. It’s great fun.
Best Bit- Monkey riot
Ron Howard’s drama about the real life failed lunar mission from 1970 has a plethora of stars and was probably the most talked about movie of 1995. It was everywhere and although I find it overrated I still enjoyed it and Tom Hanks makes anything likeable. It’s well acted, the effects are great and they went to great lengths to make the science realistic.
Best Bit- Re-entering earth
26. The Basketball Diaries
Based on the teen years of punk poet Jim Carroll who was a promising basketball player who descended into heroin addiction and street hustling. It’s as harrowing as it deserves to be and Leo’s performance is excellent as the wasted talent circling into a seemingly endless spiral of obliteration. It’s a great movie but suffers a little from it’s dreamy nature, leaving you wondering what parts are biographical and which are part of his mind.
Best Bit- First time at the shooting gallery
25. A Goofy Movie
Oh gawrsh!. Based on the Goof Troop series which was a great show, this movie sees Goofy and his son go on a road trip with Max mortified as he feels too old and cool to hang out with his dad. I’m sure all dads and even a lot of teens related hard to this movie and it’s surprisingly poignant and emotional with great musical numbers and of course lessons to be learned for all.
Best Bit- Stand Out
24. Mortal Kombat
Lol this beat Apollo 13…..Well I wore this damn vhs out I loved it so much. I loved the games (I was particularly obsessed with MK2 when this came out) and when this film, which is essential Enter The Dragon with Mortal Kombat characters I just couldn’t get enough of it. It’s still kind of fun and although the special effects are terrible it has a certain charm and respects the games unlike a lot of adaptations of the time. Great soundtrack too, avoid the sequel like the plague.
Best Bit- Johnny Cage vs Scorpion
23. Godzilla vs Destoroyah
This was advertised to be the one that kills Godzilla off once and for all.The final Heisei era movie and that was a strong time for Kaiju movies. Godzilla is suffering a nuclear meltdown and it’s causing monsters to emerge from the sea with the humans having to battle both problems to save earth. Even Godzilla’s wee adopted boy makes an appearance, falling at the hands of Destoroyah.
Best Bit- Junior vs Destoroyah
22. Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh
The sequel to my 1992 list winner and one that gets a harder time than it deserves. I often don’t like it when the villain of the piece gets a big back story exposed throughout the movie but in this case where we already knew he was a very sympathetic character it actually makes this sequel worthwhile and not just a rehash of the original.
Best Bit- Becoming Candyman
21. The Quick And The Dead
I didn’t know until years after I saw this movie that Sam Raimi had directed it. It’s a great western with an all star cast including Gene Hackman, Sharon Stone Leo DiCaprio and more. Stone plays a gunfighter who turns up in a frontier town controlled by a tyrannical sheriff and joins a dueling tournament to extract revenge on her Dad’s killer. It’s like a pastiche of the best cliches from the best westerns and that’s fine by me.
Best Bit- Revenge
A stoner, slacker comedy that stands out because it doesn’t just recycle the same weed jokes over and over again. Munchies, that’s funny eh?. Ice Cube is good as the straight man to Chris Tucker’s over the top insanity that he does so well. It also feature Tiny “Zeus” Lister as the villain which was cool for a young wrestling fan to see.
Best Bit- Bike chase
The first mainstream look the world got at Robert Rodriguez and his slick, stylish and uber cool style. Antonia Banderas is The Mariachi who is after a drug lord who killed his girl and he became an international style icon for his cool and sexy look. Independent cinema was becoming a hot thing in the mid 90s with the likes of Rodriguez, Tarantino and Kevin Smith being plucked from obscurity to make movies for big studios so new names were getting a chance to show their skills.
Best Bit- Guitar wars
A beautiful and emotional film from Japanese director Shunji Iwai about a grieving woman who sends a letter to the old house of her deceased fiance who died two years previous. Shockingly she gets a reply and the movie takes all sorts of turns from there and it truly is a beautiful movie, from the sleepy town to the pacing and of course the story.
Best Bit- The ending
A Scorsese film about power and all it’s pitfalls….sounds familiar. In the tradition of Goodfellas, Scarface and the like where the protagonist tries to cling to as much money and power as he can only for it to consume him, here it’s De Niro as the manager of a successful casino. It has all of the directors usual style and musical panache with the mob involved in everything and violence following them everywhere.
Best Bit- Cheaters never prosper
16. Meltdown aka High Risk
I’m running out of superlatives for Jet Li and whilst this isn’t his greatest movie it still showcases what a ridiculous talent he is. His speed, his movement and his unique dramatic physical intricacies. This one had more comedy than a lot of Li’s movies and is an ode/parody to American action movies like Die Hard. It caused huge controversy in Hong Kong due to it’s Jackie Chan parody.
Best Bit- Burning car scene
15. The Usual Suspects
Who is Keyser Soze?. One of the biggest twists in 90s movies and one that surprisingly never got spoiled for me and I didn’t see it until a few years later. Bryan Singer’s neo noir is one of those movies that really relies on the twist and has you guessing all the way through and it’s a taught, clever thriller.
Best Bit- The ending
14. 12 Monkeys
Terry Gilliam’s futuristic sci fi noir is a massive mind f**k of the highest order as is often the case with time travel movies. Interesting plot twists and excellent performances from the likes of Brad Pitt make it a really entertaining watch. I haven’t caught any of the new series of the same title but if it’s up to the quality of the movie then I’d be happily surprised.
Best Bit- Meeting Jeffrey
Kevin Smith’s first studio movie was by all accounts a pretty big letdown for people who were expecting big things from him at the time but over time it’s grown a sizeable cult following. I loved it as a teen and the juvenile humour worked on me as well as the pop culture references and constant tribute to geek culture like comics which wasn’t as cool and popular as it is now. It felt a little more like a club of misfits being into such things and here we had a director making movies for us. The character played by Jason Lee hasn’t aged well for me though, he’s the most negative, unlikable protagonist in any movie I can remember.
Best Bit- The dating game
Putting aside Disney’s always heavy handed looks at different races and cultures and looking at it as a piece of entertainment, Pocahontas is a highly enjoyable and moving movie with the usual high standard of animation and music you’d expect from the company. It’s a love story about an Englishman (played by an Aussie doing an American accent) and his group of settlers and how he met a Native American girl and white people are lovely the end.
best Bit- Meeting Pocahontas
Michael Mann’s crime thriller did what a generation of film lovers had dreamed of for years. They brought De Niro and Al Pacino together to co star in a movie that has them acting together. While it lives up to the billing with incredibly intense scenes and pacing, it’s not quite the jizz fest be all and end all that many critics have it down as. Pacino plays an LAPD who is after De Niro’s highly wanted thief. Val Kilmer is ace as part of De Niro’s gang.
Best Bit- The restaurant scene
10. Leaving Las Vegas
Nicolas Cage’s best performance if you don’t count his hilariously over the top and terrible performances from the mid 00s which are so bad they’re fantastic. This is the one that got him the Oscar and it really is a great performance. It’s based on the novel by John O’ Brien who unfortunately killed himself as the movie was being made at the age of 34. Cage plays a man who goes to Vegas to drink himself to death but ends up falling in love with a prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue. Cripplingly depressing.
Best Bit- The ending
9. La Haine
A disturbing look at life in the ghettos of Paris. It look sat 2 days in the lives of three friends in the aftermath of a riot with one of the friends, Vinz vowing to gain respect by killing a cop. Hubert is the polar opposite and wants out of the ghetto because he is surrounded by hate but sees no way out and Said is the third friend who is the more neutral of the three. It’s a bleak, disturbing and incredibly affecting piece of cinema.
Best Bit- The ending
8. Ghost In The Shell
Along with Akira, this was the other crossover success from what I would consider the golden era of adult anime, getting worldwide theatrical releases. It also happens to be an intelligent cyberpunk sci fi masterpiece based on a manga androids, hackers and political cover ups with an overarching theme of existential philosophy. Some breathtaking art and animation and a complex but entertaining plot make this a classic, just avoid the recent Hollywood adaptation ……it’s not great.
Best Bit- Invisible arse kicking
Ooooft what a controversial film this was. Larry Clark’s disturbing look at the nihilistic youth of the 90s and their boredom leading to underage sex and drug use. It all centres around a group of kids in New York mainly discussing and having sex during the height of the aids epidemic. It feels disturbingly realistic in it’s depiction of some parts of society and it brought us the acting talents of Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny. Devastating in it’s realism. Justin Pierce who was discovered as a street skate punk and plays the disgusting Casper was utterly captivating in his debut but sadly the enigmatic actor would kill himself a few years later.
Best Bit- “Best” is a terrible word for it but the shocking and devastating ending
“I want my muuuum”. Jesus effin Christ just looking at the trailer for this had me in tears. If a movie has an animal in any kind of sad situation I’m a mess, always have been. This adorable tale of a pig who wants to be a sheep dog. James Cromwell, who is now a hyper left wing anarcho-protestor which is awesome, is the shepherd who looks after all the anthropomorphic animals who have great voice actors like the late great Christine Cavanaugh who voices Babe and Hugo Weaving as the lead sheep dog.Amazingly it’s produced by George Miller of Mad Max fame!.
Best Bit- “That’ll do pig”
5. Whisper Of The Heart
Yoshifumi Kondo was supposed to be the successor to the legendary Studo Ghibli mastermind Hayao Miyazaki but sadly this ended up being his only movie after his tragic death in 1998. It’s a beautiful tale of young love with some incredible dream sequences that influenced a later Ghibli movie “The Cat Returns”. One of the most underrated Ghibli movies.
Best Bit- Meeting The Baron
4. Toy Story
John Lasseter’s directorial debut and the debut of Pixar who have obviously gone on to become the kings of cgi family films. Come on, you’ve seen this movie, I know you have and there’s nothing I can really say that you don’t know already. It’s an amazing movie that captures the imagination of any child whoever played with toys. Likeable characters, stunning animation and great voice acting make it an all time classic.
Best Bit- Toy meeting
David Fincher’s neo noir classic is still celebrated today for it’s incredible performances and great concept. A serial killer is offing people based on the seven deadly sins and Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are on the case. Such are the intensity of some scenes there are elements of horror with the gruesome murders like something out of a slasher. All actors are bang on form and Fincher delivers and incredibly power movie that goes down as an all time classic.
Best Bit- The final sin
2. Die Hard With A Vengeance
One of the most fun action movies ever made and I often switch between this one and the first for the best movie of the series. Instead of the confines of a high rise building here the villain (played by Jeremy Irons) has Bruce Willis racing around Manhattan as he’s placed bombs and is making him solve riddles to stop them going off. Sam Jackson is great as the shop owner roped into tagging along for the ride and the whole movie is just an adrenaline rush of epic proportions.
Best Bit- Taxi ride
Come on, I’m Scottish this should have been a given. I mean, yes there are historical inaccuracies all over the place and one of our greatest heroes is played by a crazy Aussie but as a movie, any emotional Scotsman gets hyped up when they watch this. Mel Gibson directs and stars in this biopic of William Wallace and his struggle to free Scotland from the tyrannical King Edward 1 of England. Oh those evil English…..I mean obviously not all of them were evil but don’t tell that to Gibson….jeezo, like a white guy in a Spike Lee flick. A beautiful score adds to the passion and emotional with the obvious love story (that couldn’t possibly have happened in real life) is added on but it works so it’s all good. A legendary movie in these parts and one that I heavily bonded with my buddy Liam over when I met him at a summer camp in America. When I was homesick he actually put it on one night and gave me a wee cuddle…..that’s a real mate right there.
Best Bit- Battle of Stirling Bridge
We’re past the half way mark in our trip through the 90s so let’s see what the latter half has in store for us. Catch me @swing_kinker Byeeeee xx.