YEAR OF FURIOUS FILMS: 1989
Year of Furious Films is our newest series on FC where we’ll be choosing our favorite films from each designated year. You may notice that we won’t be going in chronological order, it’ll be more random, but that’s really part of the fun. We’ll be covering a wide array of movies from various eras spanning from the 20th century to the modern age. We hope you enjoy these lists and that they’ll inspire you to give the movies a watch or even a rewatch if you’ve already seen them.
Black Rain (Dir: Ridley Scott)
A Yakuza member has to be escorted back to Japan by two American cops. However upon landing in Japan, he is whisked away by Yakuza gang members disguised as cops. And that kicks off a wild goose chase all over Japan. At one level a thriller, another level also a commentary on the cultural differences between Japan and US, and a message about the atomic holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaski. One of Ridley Scott’s more underrated movies, this is a pretty good watch, with some excellent performances by Michael Douglas and Ken Takakura.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Dir: Stephen Herek)
Two dimwitted losers go back in time to learn history and the result is a rip roaring ride through the past. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters star as the goofballs and are earnest and natural in this wacky adventure back into time, with it’s tongue in cheek look at historical characters. This is one true cult classic, that has become a favorite of most movie lovers down the ages. Co-starring George Carlin.
Batman (Dir: Tim Burton)
While Nolan’s trilogy is rated as the definitive in the Batman series, due credit must be given to Tim Burton for first bringing that dark tone on to the screen. Before then Batman was mostly known from that campy TV series, til Burton gave the Dark Knight it’s gloomy forbidding atmosphere and the bleak nature of Gotham City. While Burton generally avoids going too deep into the psychological undertones, he manages to keep the mood well and above all Jack Nicholson’s over the top, performance as the Joker, is worth a watch. Starring Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Jack Palance.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids (Dir: Joe Johnston)
An error from a scientist’s machine shrinks 4 kids into a tiny size and results in a crazy, whacked out adventure that involves giant ants, spiders, scorpions and taking a joy ride on a butterfly. This is an out and out entertainer from Disney that manages to keep you hooked till then end. Starring Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, Matt Frewer.
Tango and Cash (Dir: Andrei Konchalovsky)
Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone star in this cop-buddy movie that is pure cheese and testosterone. As cheesy as they came and a perfect movie for some good ol’ fun and action. One of my guilty pleasures to date.
Back To The Future Part II (Dir: Robert Zemeckis)
I certainly am not a big fan of sequels, but this is one of those films that was as good as the first in the series. And must say Zemeckis provides a good view of the future, such as flat panel LED TV sets, snooping cameras, Internet video chat systems ala Skype. Again, not as good as the original, but still worth a watch for it’s slapstick humor, and some crazy chase scenes. Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Dir: Peter Greenaway)
Now this is what you call a true blue cult classic in all ways. It has everything, violence, dark humor, adultery, sex, even some scatalogical stuff too. Gangster’s wife falls for a book shop owner, has a rollicking time, gangster wreaks revenge, however the cook of the restaurant has his own score to settle with him. Not an easy watch, with some really gruesome, graphic scenes of sex and violence, and an ending that could make you choke over. Starring Richard Bohringer, Helen Mirren and Alan Howard.
The Abyss (Dir: James Cameron)
I would rate this as James Cameron’s last great movie, ok True Lies was pure popcorn. One of the best sci fi movies ever about a team of undersea oil rig drillers, who come in contact with aliens. Basically Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind underwater, but with more human emotion. Excellent performances by Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the estranged couple and Michael Biehn as the nasty guy. Brilliant special effects, far ahead of their time. The climax is worth the ticket price, even though the movie gets a tad too indulgent at times.
Dead Poets Society (Dir: Peter Weir)
Wonderful coming of age tale, set in an elite prep school, when a group of students, face an English teacher known for his unorthodox methods. The concept of Carpe Diem is so beautifully explained, as are also the references to “O’ Captain, My Captain”. As the teacher encourages the students to pursue their passions, they begin to discover themselves, and grow out of their own shells. At one level a growing up tale, at another level, a heart warming tale of student teacher bonding. Brilliant performance by Robin Williams as the teacher and Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles as the students.
Born on the 4th of July (Dir: Oliver Stone)
The biopic on real life Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, who loses his legs in the war and becomes a peacenik is worth a watch. Generally not a big fan of Oliver Stone, however this biopic nicely captures Ron Kovic’s transformation from a country kid to a battle hardened soldier to a peacenik, as also questioning concepts like honor, loyalty and patriotism. One of Tom Cruise’s better performances, where the star does not dominate the actor. Co-starring Frank Whaley, Willem Dafoe, Josh Evans, Kyra Sedgwick.
The Fabulous Bakers Boys (Dir: Steve Kloves)
Two struggling jazz pianist brothers in Seattle, find their lives turned upside down, when a beautiful female singer joins them. While she brings success to them, in the course, there is a whole lot of emotional turmoil as the brothers begin to re-examine their own values and relationships. Fabulous performances by real life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges, and the smoking hot Michelle Pfeiffer, make this romcom worth a watch.
A very underrated Vietnam war flick by Brian DePalma of the dehumanizing effects war has on ordinary human beings. As in the character of Sgt. Tony Meserve, a well decorated soldier, highly regarded by his teammates who becomes a raging psychopath. As Meserve and his men take turns at brutalizing and gang raping the hapless Vietnamese girl who becomes their captive, their descent into madness becomes more chilling. In a sense the real casualties of war here are the ordinary people who really have no stakes in the conflict. A top class performance by Sean Penn as the sadistic Sgt and Michael J. Fox moving away from his teen idol image into a more mature role as the soldier with a conscience. Co-starring John C. Reilly and John Leguizamo.
Glory (Dir: Ed Zwick)
Not too often do you see Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman sharing screen space, only time they perhaps ever did is in this Civil War drama. Washington plays a rebellious slave, while Freeman is the more wiser, sober one, in this tale of the first all black regiment that fought during the Civil War. Some stunning dramatic moments, excellent battle scenes, and the way director Ed Zwick, weaves human relationships is worth experiencing. Co-starring Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (Dir: Steven Spielberg)
I did not like Temple of Doom much after Raiders of the Lost Ark, it felt like a complete letdown. However Spielberg was back in form with the 3rd part of the series. Harrison Ford was good as Indy as always, but the bonus here was Sean Connery as his father. The religious minded father, the agnostic son, perfect ground for a bit of a conflict, and enough action, adventure for the popcorn part.
When Harry Met Sally (Dir: Rob Reiner)
Not a big fan of romcoms, but this one remains my personal favorite. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal were a crackling combo, some witty dialogue, great scenes and above all that restaurant orgasm one, enough said. Co-starring Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby.
Turner and Hooch (Dir: Roger Spottiswoode)
Tom Hanks starred in some great comedies early in his career and this was one of them. A cop befriends a sloppy dog, who becomes a perfect partner in crime. Predictable for sure but great fun neverthless, with some rip roaring comic scenes. Co-starring Mare Winningham, Craig T. Nelson, Reginald VelJohnson.
Sex, Lies and Videotape (Dir: Steven Soderbergh)
Contrary to the title, there is very little physical sex in this movie, it is more about exploring one’s fears and insecurities. The movie that kickstarted the 90’s Indie film movement and also launched Steven Soderbergh’s career is a bold look at sexuality, sexual attitudes, that strips the physical layer and delves deep into the emotional part. Starring James Spader, Andie MacDowell.
Field of Dreams (Dir: Phil Alden Robinson)
Kevin Costner stars as Ray Cansella, an Iowa farm owner who hears a voice telling him to “built it and they will come”. That can only mean one thing: “build a baseball field” right? Well Ray says screw it and follows the instruction and soon a figure from the past appears in his yard: Chicago White Sox legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta). That is just the beginning of this strange, mystical journey with Ray and the people he encounters through listening to this crazy voice in his head. The great thing about it, as bizarre as it all seems, IT WORKS! It’s a classic feel good film about hope, faith, reconciliation and BASEBALL the great American pasttime. Co-starring Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Frank Whaley and Burt Lancaster. (Pete)
There’s certain movies that, no matter the genre, are just really entertaining and hold up on repeat viewings. This is definitely one of them. Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, a lead bar bouncer (aka “cooler”) that is hired to clean up a rowdy Midwest nightclub called “The Double Deuce”. Upon his arrival in town the big trouble starts. Dalton not only has to keep the club from being wrecked by redneck patrons, he also has to contend with Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) a wealthy (and sadistic) criminal who essentially runs the town by strong-arming the local business owners. Dalton’s job soon grows into a personal war with Wesley and boy does it make for an exciting film! Many critics regard this as “lowbrow cinema” and I can see why, but if an action movie’s main goal is to satisfy an audience? this cult classic gets 5 stars. Co-starring Sam Elliot, Kelly Lynch, Kevin Tighe. (Pete)