Movie list

(Last updated 7 September 1999.)

Note in 2023: I haven’t updated this page in nearly 25 years. Some day I hope to get my more recent movie ratings and reviews online (as a searchable database instead of one huge table), but that may never happen; so in the meantime, I’m leaving this old page in place.

I’ve made the table sortable; click any column header to sort by that column.

I don’t necessarily still agree with anything on this page; in particular, I would give lower ratings these days to several of the highest-rated movies here.

These are not all of the movies I had ever seen; as of 1999, I had probably seen fifteen hundred or so movies total. But this list does include pretty much all of my favorites (as of 1999), plus most of the movies I saw between summer 1996 and late 1999. About half the listings include one-paragraph reviews (with no spoilers); all of them include numerical ratings.

Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10. Five is neutral; below 5 means I didn't much like it; above 5 means I liked it. If I've seen a movie more than once, the date is the most recent date, and the rating may reflect either the first time or the most recent time; usually whichever is higher. Anything rated 8 or above is highly recommended. Movies I rate 10 are boldfaced in the following for ease of picking them out.

A question mark next to a title means I wasn't sure I wanted to see it; left in for historical purposes.

Title Rating Review Date seen
101 Dalmatians 2 Glad I saw this on a 3" screen (on the plane) when I didn't have anything better to do; otherwise I'd have been disappointed that most of the movie consists of (a) barking dogs, and (b) various humans being hurled through the air. Glenn Close is fine as Cruella De Vil, and Hugh Laurie is delightful as one of her bumbling lackeys, but the rest of the movie would've benefited greatly from the Babe treatment; the non-human characters would've been far more interesting if they could talk. 1997-05-19
Adventures in Babysitting 7 Possibly the silliest movie I saw in '96, and I mean that in the best possible way -- silly in the same sort of way as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lots of laugh-out-loud great moments, as long as you're in the right mood for fluff. 1996-12-05
After Hours 10   unknown
Alien Resurrection 4   unknown
Always 6   1999-08-03
American President, The 8 Utterly charming, quite funny. Would love to see it on a big screen. 1996-08-27
Anastasia 6   unknown
Angels & Insects 6   unknown
Antz 7   unknown
As Good As It Gets 7   unknown
Auntie Mame 6   unknown
Avengers, The 3   1998-10-04
Babe 7   unknown
Band Wagon, The 6   unknown
Batman & Robin 3 Lousy flick, and I say that as someone who very much enjoyed Batman Forever. Bad acting, bad dialogue, ho-hum effects and action sequences, disappointing underuse of Clooney and O'Donnell (two of the best-looking actors around, in my opinion), and really almost nothing worthwhile except a few seconds here and there: specifically Uma Thurman's Mae West impression and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. 1997-07-10
Beauty & the Beast 8   unknown
Belle Epoque 6 (dubbed) Not, as the advertising would have you believe, a sexy farcical romp about a soldier sleeping with four sisters; rather, a semi-absurdist comedy about the transfer of power from the monarchy to the Republic in Spain in 1931, in which sex happens to figure prominently (albeit largely offscreen). Several good moments, an intriguing cross-dressing sequence, but never stopped feeling a little out of kilter, probably partly because I was so unfamiliar with the political situations being satirized. 1997-01-20
Better Than Chocolate 8 Very funny, very serious in places, superb performances. Best young-dykes-in-love movie ever. 1999-09-04
Big Chill, The 6 Entertaining and nostalgic; I hope that when I get together with college friends in ten years we get along this well. 1996-09-24
Big Easy, The 6 Pretty good, and not as predictable as I thought. I wish Quaid's character weren't quite so pushy, though. 1996-10-01
Big Night 6 Often lovely film about two brothers, love, following a dream, restaurants, and food food food. Stanley Tucci, like most of the rest of the cast, is marvelous, and though parts are too slow or too unresolved, the movie is well worth seeing. 1997-07-21
Birdy 10   unknown
Bitter Moon 5 Mostly dreadful, but with some very poetic bits of writing here and there. 1996-09-20
Black Mask 6   unknown
Blade 3   unknown
Blade Runner 8   unknown
Blood Simple 10   unknown
Bloodhounds of Broadway 6 This attempt to mix four Damon Runyon stories into one movie would be far more successful if half the actors didn't think they were in a bad modern gangster flick. The actors who understand they're in a Damon Runyon story are delightful, especially Randy Quaid as Feet and Julie Hagerty as Harriet MacKyle; if only the dialogue were better, the voiceovers were removed, and the characters were introduced more gradually, this could have been a superb movie. (Note: lots of big names in this one: Matt Dillon, Madonna, Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Grey, Steve Buscemi (in a tiny role), and so on.) 1997-01-05
Blues Brothers, The 9   unknown
Bound 8   unknown
Brain Candy 5   unknown
Brazil 10   unknown
Breaking Up 5   unknown
Bug's Life, A 4   unknown
Bullets Over Broadway 6 Another Woody Allen film that would've been way better if it didn't seem to be a Woody Allen film. Some lovely turns of plot, reminiscent in some ways of Get Shorty only (alas) far less funny; worth seeing for writers and wannabe writers, and Woody Allen fans (if only to be surprised at how well John Cusack can play a part clearly written to be played by a young Woody Allen), but others might want to give it a miss. 1997-01-23
Can't Buy Me Love 6 Somewhat disappointing late-'80s teen romantic comedy; it wants to be a John Hughes movie but doesn't quite make it. It's not as funny as I wanted it to be; still, a lot of good parts if you don't mind the heavy-handedness of the message. 1996-12-06
Casablanca 10   unknown
Chasing Amy 8 Okay: the lead actress' voice is really really grating, and I have certain political problems with some of the characters and how they're represented, and some of the characters are too naive to live. But: this movie was made for people like me -- despite its flaws, I loved it, and laughed at an awful lot of it, and highly highly recommend it to folks in their twenties and thirties whose romantic lives aren't as straightforward as the fairy tales we were always told would've had us expect. (Note: I haven't seen either of the director's previous movies, so it's not like I was a fan going into it; in fact, I didn't even expect to like it much.) 1997-05-24
Cheap Detective, The 7   unknown
Children of the Revolution 5   unknown
City of Angels 5   1998-10-09
City of Lost Children 6   1998-07-30
Clueless 7 Forget 'loosely based'; this is a modernized remake of Emma, in nearly every detail. Lots of fun, if a bit predictable. 1996-12-01
Cold Comfort Farm 8   unknown
Con Air 3 Despite the stellar cast, this disappointing flick never really gets off the ground. Lots of big explosions, some very tight parallels with the far superior The Rock (I'm told the same people made both films), some entertainingly silly bits; but the few female roles are ridiculously minor, the dialogue is largely laughable, some of the bluescreening is dreadful, and there's just nothing much to distinguish this from the generic action flick I was hoping it wasn't. 1997-06-26
Conspiracy Theory 6   unknown
Courage Under Fire 4   unknown
Court Jester, The 6 I've been hearing the 'vessel with the pestle' bit from this for years, so was surprised to find it one of the lesser highlights. Danny Kaye is a delight to watch, especially if you're in a silly enough mood to not care about such trifles as plot, consistency, or realism; and it's nice to see Basil Rathbone and an amazingly young Angela Lansbury in supporting (if somewhat two-dimensional) roles. (Note: I had no idea that the 'Get it?' 'Got it.' 'Good' exchange was from this movie; I've heard people quote that since I was in elementary school, but didn't know what it was from.) 1997-03-03
Cry the Beloved Country 5 Spectacular landscapes, but disappointing over all. Would rather hear James Earl Jones read the book (which I love) aloud. 1996-10-12
Cutthroat Island 6 Not as lousy as I was led to believe: some superb characters, some great lines, few if any lapses of genre, and Geena Davis is fabulous as an action heroine. Still, it was missing a certain spark; it committed the cardinal adventure-movie sin of being kinda boring, and much as I like Matthew Modine, he's no Errol Flynn (and neither, alas, is Davis, though she comes close). 1997-01-27
Dangerous Beauty 8   1999-03-23
Dangerous Liaisons 10   unknown
Dark City 7   unknown
Dark Star 8   unknown
Dead Calm 4 The talented leads don't make up for the fact that this is a fairly generic psycho-bad-guy thriller. I'm not impressed. 1996-10-13
Dead Man Walking 6 Good performances all around, evenhanded treatment of issues, and some very powerful scenes, but left me a little unsatisfied -- maybe just 'cause it didn't affect me quite as strongly as everyone told me it would. 1997-01-24
Deathtrap 8   unknown
Desire 7 Cooper is much better in this comedy, largely because he has the marvelous Marlene Dietrich (who I didn't know could be funny) to play off of. Superb movie, much funnier than I expected, with Cooper in a part that (for the first two-thirds of the movie) could've been written for Fred Astaire; also, much racier than I expect from old movies (I guess the Hayes Office hadn't been started yet in 1936). 1997-08-11
Devil in a Blue Dress 7 Quite good; a cross between The Big Sleep and Chinatown, only with way more black characters (and way more very interesting minor characters). Fairly violent, but that's part of the noir genre. 1996-10-11
Die Hard 9   unknown
Diner 5   1996-08-15
Diva 6   unknown
Do the Right Thing 6 I went in expecting an angry young Spike Lee full of fire, and was disarmed by a gentle, evenhanded, philosophical comedy; I loved the characters' names/nicknames and I was utterly charmed by the subplot involving The Mayor and Mother Sister. But once I'd been led down that garden path by the first three-fourths of the film, the ending infuriated me, especially since I felt that Lee was blaming the wrong people. (Note: Unintentionally my second Danny Aiello movie that week.) 1997-01-26
Donnie Brasco 3 The posters are extremely misleading; this entire movie is set in 1978, and is mostly a pretty standard affair about an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the Mob, with standard (though interesting) issues of trust and betrayal. Pretty much any episode of the first three seasons of the TV series Wiseguy did at least as good a job, though, and even stalwarts like Johnny Depp and Al Pacino can't really save this movie; I expected much better from director Mike Newell. (Who, by the way, has the same birthday as me...) 1997-03-31
Election 5   unknown
Elizabeth 5   unknown
Emma 7 I liked it better than the book, but the book is my least favorite Jane Austen so far. Not nearly as good as the other recent Austen movies. 1996-09-13
English Patient, The 8 Extremely good, and much less fluffy than I'd expected; it's more a war movie (in the sense that Casablanca is a war movie) than a heartwarming romance. The leads (Ralph (Strange Days) Fiennes and Kristin Scott (Four Weddings and a Funeral) Thomas) are superb, while the rest of the cast is only remarkable; the story/structure is occasionally surprising (in mostly good ways); and the movie deserves every bit of praise that's been lavished on it. At least as good the second time around; more room to relax and enjoy scenery and notice subtleties. 1997-03-06
Eraser 6 Fun Ahnold romp -- not as enjoyably over-the-top as his action comedies (Last Action Hero, True Lies), but silly and fun nonetheless. I'm pleased that female leads in action pics finally get to do a little more than scream and be rescued. (Side note: this features possibly the first gay characters ever to appear in a Schwarzenegger flick, and the portrayals aren't overtly negative. Second side note: there are some remarkably exact parallels between parts of this and parts of Mission: Impossible.) 1996-12-20
Erendira 3 The best magic-realism effects I've yet seen, but the movie is (as I suppose is part of the genre) extremely slow and inconclusive. Marquez' work just doesn't translate to film terribly well, I'm afraid, though this was as good a try as one could hope for. 1997-01-28
Ever After 7   1998-10-03
Every Man for Himself and God Against Al 4 By turns didactic and boring, even though based on the true and interesting story of Kaspar Hauser. Some wonderful lines and bits of story, though. 1996-09-22
Evita 6 Fairly good -- better than I'd expected. 1997-08-31
Fairytale 7   unknown
Far Away, So Close 6 Disjointed but at times lyrical. Not as good as Wings of Desire, but more or less worth seeing if you've seen the original. 1996-09-27
Fast Times at Ridgemont High 6   unknown
Female Perversions? 3   unknown
Few Good Men, A 7   unknown
Fierce Creatures 6 Second outing from the A Fish Called Wanda people (though not a sequel) is thoroughly enjoyable and often laugh-out-loud funny, despite some accent-comprehension difficulties in the opening minutes and a slight overemphasis on Jamie Lee Curtis' cleavage and Freudian-slip jokes. (Notes: Nice to see Ronnie Corbett (of The Two Ronnies) onscreen again, albeit in a small part; also, the woman who looks a bit like Connie Booth (Polly from Fawlty Towers) is Cleese & Booth's daughter. Also, Fred Schepisi, the guy they brought in to direct the revised ending, also directed Six Degrees of Separation, which I just saw the week before...) 1997-02-04
Fire 5   1999-07-22
Fish Called Wanda, A 8   unknown
Flirting With Disaster 7 An oddball movie, completely off the wall, very over-the-top, and quite funny most of the time; the reviews didn't nearly do it justice (besides containing lots of spoilers), but then, I'm not sure a review could adequately describe it. Great cast, a script that's impossible to predict from one minute to the next, and possibly the strangest movie ever to co-star Alan Alda and Mary Tyler Moore. 1997-07-23
Forrest Gump 6 Much better than I expected. Funny, sometimes charming, even moving in one or two places; the special effects are the least effective parts of the movie. 1996-10-02
Four Weddings and a Funeral 9 Marvelous script, quite good cast; laugh-out-loud funny for much of its length, and cry-out-loud sad for the rest. It's true that Andie MacDowell's char has very little in the way of character or background, but that still didn't bother me at all on second viewing. 1997-01-08
From Dusk Till Dawn 3 Utterly dreadful, though the first half is a semi-interesting Tarantino clone. Skip it unless you like B-grade horror flicks. 1996-08-27
Fugitive, The 9   unknown
Full Monty, The 6   1998-10-02
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A 6 Fun, fluffy; not brilliant, but not bad. Unfortunately boring songs even though they're by Sondheim. 1996-09-19
Georgia 5 More strong performances depicting people I don't like. Leigh's a great actor, but I wish she'd pick less self-destructive roles. 1996-09-30
Get Shorty 7 Almost as much fun on second viewing. Charming, funny, doesn't waste any time trying to justify plot points. 1996-10-03
GI Jane 3   unknown
Gigi 6 Good. 1996-08-09
Girl 6 7 Possibly my favorite Spike Lee film so far: little or none (depending on interpretation) of his usual sexism; some great characters, some interesting situations, and several very funny scenes (as well as a couple of quite disturbing ones). Much better than most of the critics indicated, and makes me very interested in seeing his latest (Get On the Bus?) if I'm correct in thinking this film shows a growing maturity. 1997-02-15
Glengarry Glen Ross 5 Seven of today's finest male actors playing really unpleasant people. I blame David Mamet's script. 1996-09-28
Gods Must Be Crazy, The 10   unknown
Good Will Hunting 6   unknown
Goodbye Mr. Chips 6 Better and funnier than I'd expected. 1997-08-29
Grand Canyon 5 It's no Big Chill, alas. Good performances, but overly didactic script and doesn't really hold together. 1996-09-28
Grease 3   unknown
Grosse Pointe Blank 8 Very funny, frequently silly, great music, quirky plot and actors (I consider this a good thing), occasionally a little too gory. Anyone who's recently been to a high school reunion or is considering going to one ought to see this, especially if you belong to an unusual profession like, say, hit-man. 1997-04-28
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 10   unknown
Hackers 3 Dreadful -- they'd clearly interviewed some hackers for background, but they'd equally clearly ignored much of what they were told. Effects, acting, and story are all bad, with the exception of a few great lines from one minor character (and a couple of cute leads), which are definitely not enough to recommend actually seeing the movie. 1997-04-28
Harold & Maude 10   unknown
Harvey 10   unknown
Heathers 10   unknown
Henry V 8   unknown
Hercules 6 Fun songs, so-so to good art/animation (and oddly, Herc looks in several places like he was drawn by Zander Cannon, creator of the comic book Replacement God), pretty straightforward story. Quite a few good jokes, and a female lead who's got a little more depth than most Disney heroines (even if she's still a little stereotypical, at least it's a different stereotype this time). 1997-07-08
Hero 7   unknown
His Girl Friday 10   unknown
Holiday 8   unknown
Hollow Reed 6 Very intense, very frightening, very well acted/directed/written movie about child abuse, a topic I'm usually not thrilled with (because I feel it's been way overdone in fiction in the past ten years or so) but in this case I didn't mind. I could never tell what was going to happen next, and the movie never lost sight of its characters' complexities. 1997-05-31
Hot Spot, The 6 Sharp script, good acting in this sordid but stylish tale of -- well, a wide variety of crimes and antisocial behaviors, but listing them would spoil the surprises. Lots of violence and cheesecake, but what would you expect from a film directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Don Johnson? (Note: soundtrack includes Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, and kd lang... Further note: the author of the novel this is based on also wrote the novel Dead Calm.) 1996-10-15
Hudsucker Proxy, The 9   unknown
Hunchback of Notre Dame, The 7 Marvelous and moving; very dark and scary in some places, superb colors and of course animation, snappy dialogue, decent songs by Menken and Schwartz. If only Disney were willing to make adult movies, this could've been perfect; the weakest parts were the parts that catered to kids (like the gargoyle sidekicks). 1996-10-12
Hustler, The 4 Disappointing, but I had high expectations for it; a few marvelous scenes (and the best pool shots I've ever seen) don't save the movie from a plodding pace and several scenes that have no business being in the film. A classic, but dissatisfying nonetheless. 1997-08-12
Ideal Husband, An 7   1999-07-03
Impromptu 10   unknown
In & Out 7   unknown
Independence Day 6 Much more fun than I expected, if you can ignore impossibilities, plotholes, and general silliness. Worth seeing (on a big screen, of course) at a discount, and if you don't take it seriously. 1996-10-28
Jackie Brown 6   unknown
Jeffrey 7 This is almost as much fun the third time around as the first -- it's still kinda fragmented, still a little heavy-handed, still has offbeat moments that make no sense; but it's also still delightfully funny, sad, wise, and refreshingly sex-positive. And Patrick Stewart is utterly fabulous. 1996-12-19
Jerry Maguire 6 Funny, romantic, perhaps a little too heartwarming, but worth seeing if you're not in a cynical mood. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Bonnie Hunt are particularly good. (Note: Bonnie Hunt's character, Laurel, reminded me of the best-friend character (Kate) in Only You -- unsurprisingly, as it turns out, since the latter part was also played by Hunt...) 1997-03-18
Key Largo 3   unknown
Kiki's Delivery Service 6   unknown
Kindergarten Cop 3   unknown
King of Hearts 9   unknown
Kiss of the Spider Woman 9   unknown
Kissed 7 The best movie about necrophilia that I've seen; a nicely made, tight little story, with fascinating characters and good acting, and if it slips over the line into pretension now and then -- well, what art movie doesn't? In my opinion, it's neither particularly sexy nor particularly offputting; your mileage may vary widely in either direction. 1997-05-25
LA Confidential 8   unknown
La Salla 8 A delightful eight-minute movie that marks Canadian animator Richard (The Big Snit) Condie's first foray into 3D computer animation. Quite possibly the silliest computer-animated mini-opera ever to contain the line 'there's a cow in my nose'; highly recommended. 1997-06-23
Lady and the Tramp 8   1999-07-31
Lady Vanishes, The 6 For some reason, I thought this was a Hitchcock thriller, not a Cybill Shepherd comedy-thriller, so I got off on the wrong foot; once I figured out it was funny, I more or less enjoyed it. If you ignore the frequent ridiculous implausibilities and focus on the interplay among the main characters, it's worth seeing. (Note: aha! What I saw was a remake of the Hitchcock movie; it didn't have a proper box in the video store so there was no way of knowing that. Grr.) 1997-01-06
Lake Consequence 6 Billy Zane demonstrates that he can actually act (something he didn't do in Dead Calm), and the writers demonstrate that a movie whose focus is sex can actually have interesting characters and philosophical questions. I'm still not satisfied with the conclusions drawn, and I felt a little misled by my expectations about what was going on; but what the hell, there's lots of nice scenery along the way. 1997-01-22
Leaving Las Vegas 6   unknown
Lie Down with Dogs 2   unknown
Light Sleeper 6 Fascinating writing, but overall didn't quite work for me. The interactions between DaFoe, Sarandon, and their partner are well done, though. 1996-09-19
Little Mermaid, The 9   unknown
Little Murders 3 Despite two superb monologues, the pacing of this Alan Arkin comedy (based on a Jules Feiffer play) is far enough off to make most of its comic moments fall flat. Don't bother. 1996-11-17
Lives of a Bengal Lancer 4 I don't think I'd ever see Gary Cooper in a film before; I'm afraid I wasn't much impressed with him in this overlong epic of bravery, patriotism, and deceit in colonial India. I did, however, like costar Franchot Tone quite a bit (I always seem to like sidekicks, costars, and best-friends better than leads), and Sir Guy Standing was pretty good as the ramrod Colonel Stone. 1997-08-11
Lock, Stock, & 2 Smoking Barrels 7   unknown
Lone Star 7 Rich, compelling Sayles movie; not, alas, as surprising as it wants to be, but quite good. 1996-09-21
Long Kiss Goodnight, The 5   unknown
Looking for Richard 6   unknown
Love Me Tonight 6   1997-08-22
Lover, The 5 Kinda interesting in several ways, but not terribly compelling. 1996-09-27
Ma Vie En Rose 6   unknown
Maltese Falcon, The 9   unknown
Man in the Iron Mask 5   unknown
Man of La Mancha 7 Fascinating stuff about reality, fantasy, and madness (and roleplaying!), and good songs. Not superb, but pretty good. 1996-09-22
Map of the Human Heart 6 Some very cool images and moments, but not enough of 'em. (Though Rob and Ananda, whose opinions of movies I usually agree with, both liked it.) 1996-09-26
Marathon Man 10   unknown
Mars Attacks 6 Goofy, silly, fun; great cast; a one-joke movie, but it's a fairly good joke (and between this and Independence Day, they manage to blow up a substantial percentage of the world's great monuments); too bad the Martians don't actually attack for far too long. I nitpicked about the computer animation, but only because I knew what to look for; the effects are really quite good, and couldn't have been done at all ten years ago. 1996-12-26
Mary Poppins 7 Delightful, though a couple of the production numbers are overdone and slow. Mary herself (played by Julie Andrews) is Practically Perfect. 1996-09-25
Mask, The 5   1999-06-29
Matewan 6 Powerful but badly lit. Chris Cooper is particularly effective as a union organizer; Sayles does his usual fine job of portraying a fascinating set of characters. 1996-10-14
Matrix, The 5   unknown
Mediterraneo 6 Sweet Italian film about soldiers marooned during WWII; some great (and funny) moments, but nothing terribly special. 1996-10-14
Men in Black 7 Much more fun than I expected; Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones excellent as always, mostly good effects, fun and inventive story (with a much more interesting premise than I'd thought it had), and mostly just plain laugh-out-loud funny. Lots of guns and explosions and such, of course, but it's all comic-book window dressing to keep the jokes comingand btw, many of the jokes are asides as something else goes on. (Note: It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, director of (among other things) Get Shorty. No wonder I liked it!) 1997-07-02
Metropolitan 6 I was annoyed at the start -- I don't really care much about young preppy characters in general, and these were particularly naive ones (I thought they must be in high school at first) -- but then I remembered being told that it was a loosely adapted Jane Austen story (which may not actually be the case), and began to feel much more at home with the characters (which is indicative, I admit, of a certain reverse snobbery on my part). Several funny bits, some good acting from various newcomers, but still felt a little on the slight side; I'd hoped for more meat to the story. 1997-01-28
Microcosmos 5 Also known as 'that bug movie'; a feature-length film consisting almost entirely of closeups of insects. Some fascinating bits, some parts so slow that I drifted off; overall, would've benefited from far more focus and a bit more explanation (it couldn't seem to decide whether it was a nature documentary, a whimsical view of how human-like bugs are, a camera-tricks showcase, or a day-in-the-life of a meadow); still, worth seeing if you're at all interested in insects, as long as you don't expect too much. 1997-02-16
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil 4   unknown
Midsummer Night's Dream, A 5   1999-07-25
Mighty Aphrodite 5 The parts involving the Greek Chorus were marvelous and funny; the parts involving Woody Allen were mostly boring. Helena Bonham Carter does a great American accent. 1996-10-06
Monster (Il Mostro), The 6 Roberto Benigni displays his usual superb physical comedy; though this isn't as good as his earlier Johnny Stecchino, it's still the funniest movie about rape and murder since Anatomy of a Murder. 1997-07-21
Moonstruck 9   unknown
More Tales of the City 6   unknown
Mother Night? 4   unknown
Mr. Nice Guy 5   unknown
Mulan 7   unknown
Mulholland Falls 7 Violent but mostly well-made in the best noir tradition: LA cops who work outside the law; atomic secrets; cigarettes, gunplay, hats, and dames. The cast reads like a Tarantino reunion party, and some of the dialogue reads like good Tarantino pastiche, but Tarantino couldn't have written a plot like this. 1996-11-30
Murder, My Sweet 6 Not quite as good as The Big Sleep, with which it has a lot in common, but more comprehensible and a bit funnier. 1997-03-02
My Best Friend's Wedding 6 Fairly enjoyable and kinda unusual romantic comedy which I can't talk about much because almost all of my reactions have to do with the final scene. However, I can say that Julia Roberts does a fine job and that almost every scene containing Rupert Everett (as her friend George) is superb, as is Everett himself. 1997-07-09
My Own Private Idaho 10   unknown
Network 6 There are many fine moments in this classic comedy about the power of media and the eternal battle for ratings at all costs, but I kept wishing it had been made in the '90s instead of the '70s; for one thing, the older male characters wouldn't all look so similar to each other. Even if there were nothing else good in the movie (and there is), it would be worth watching for one priceless sequence in which a couple of black communist radicals argue with network representatives. (Note: My second Ned Beatty movie that week, my third in the previous six months. Weird.) 1997-01-22
Never Cry Wolf 6 Not as enjoyable as someone had led me to believe, but after a slow 45 minutes of voiceovers, risks to life and limb, and frozen snowy wastes, it picks up tremendously to become fairly funny and (in places) chillingly sad. The Major Surprise of the story, however, is something I first learned about wolves when I was about ten, so it didn't have quite as much impact as it was supposed to. 1997-01-09
NeverEnding Story, The 5 Like the book it's based on, this never quite worked for me, and Barret Oliver as the boy (Bastian) is dreadful and whiny. On the other hand, many of the effects (especially those involving clouds, and the Rock Biter) are so well done that I can even forgive the terrible bluescreening during the flying scenes, and Noah Hathaway as the young warrior Atreyu is not at all bad at acting. 1997-01-06
Nick of Time 5 Cute gimmick, mediocre execution. 1996-08-22
Notorious 4   unknown
Notting Hill 6   1999-07-20
Object of My Affection 7   unknown
Oliver! 7 Fun; Fagin and Dodger were great. Favorite song: 'I Would Do Anything for You.' 1996-08-18
On the Town 7 Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra sound like enough reason to see this, but the other actors turn out to be better reasons (especially considering how few good dance numbers there are). The song 'You're Awful' is particularly lovely and sweet. 1996-12-17
Once Were Warriors 5   unknown
One Fine Day 6 Thoroughly enjoyable, if a little fluffy, light romantic comedy. I saw it 'cause I think George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer are sexy, but didn't expect much from the movie, and was pleasantly surprised. 1997-02-27
Only You 6 Surprisingly fun romantic comedy starring Marisa Tomei as a woman who believes she's destined to marry a man named Damon Bradley. Romantic and funny (with a mostly quite good supporting cast); what more could you want from a romantic comedy, after all? 1997-03-08
Operation Condor 6 Fun Jackie Chan James-Bondian fluff; not quite as good (or as funny) as Rumble in the Bronx, but worth seeing even if only for the scene in which Chan goes over a fence as only he can do. The female characters, alas, though fairly entertaining, have little to do besides standing around screaming for help (and coming undressed at strategic moments). 1997-08-17
Orgazmo? 4   1999-07-18
Out of Sight 7   unknown
Pale Rider 5 Eastwood directs himself in a slow-paced and ham-handed but beautifully filmed Western that doesn't quite hold together. I love what Eastwood does with shadows (especially with the hat he wears as if born to it), but I wanted to know more about his character and less about how faith binds communities together to make them stronger than their evil oppressors. 1996-11-13
Paper Chase, The 6 Lots of nice moments, some good writing and acting, some very funny bits, and Timothy Bottoms is way cute if you like that '70s look. But I was annoyed by the film's initial treatment of Lindsay Wagner (whose first several scenes consist of her gazing doe-eyed at Bottoms as he babbles journal entries about his life), and I didn't have a lot of sympathy for most of the characters, and I felt the ending wasn't justified by what led up to it. 1997-01-27
Passion Fish 6 Didn't like it as much as I wanted to, but some superb performances and fine moments. I love Sayles' writing. 1996-09-23
Pat and Mike 8   unknown
Peacemaker, The 4   unknown
Phantom Menace, The 5   1999-05-28
Phantom, The 6 Fun, very pulpy; fortunately more like Rocketeer than like The Shadow, but unfortunately the pacing is off throughout the movie, leaving characters standing around looking confused for seconds on end after every action scene. Had forgotten Billy Zane played the Ghost Who Walks, making this my second Zane movie that week; he makes a pretty good pulp-action star, and Kristy Swanson (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) makes a great pulp heiress/adventuress; both of them have some great interaction with Catherine Zeta Jones as the chief female baddie. (Note: despite my love of The Prisoner, I would never have recognized Patrick McGoohan as Zane's father if I hadn't read the blurb on the box.) 1997-01-25
Philadelphia 6 Treads too softly around gay issues (casting Banderas as Hanks' lover but not even giving them a visible kiss?), but moving anyway. Washington particularly good as a homophobic lawyer, who's really what the movie's about. 1996-12-07
Postman Always Rings Twice, The 4 Some good acting and mood-evocation, and some nicely unexpected plot developments and pacing shifts (including possibly the shortest courtroom scene in any movie ever); but too heavy-handedly moralistic for my tastes, and several parts seemed a bit contrived. I suspect the book is better. 1997-03-02
Prelude to a Kiss 8   unknown
Pret-a-Porter (Ready to Wear) 6 I'm still stunned with Altman's ability to comprehensibly present twenty major characters in complexly intertwingled stories, but this film was marred (for me) by several characters looking too much like each other, by my lack of interest in (and knowledge about) the fashion world, and by a couple of the substories not having satisfying payoffs or conclusions. So it's no Short Cuts or The Player, but pretty good anyway. 1997-01-26
Primary Colors 5   unknown
Princess Bride, The 8   unknown
Princess Caraboo 7 Charming. I laughed and cried; it has problems, but well worth seeing anyway. 1996-09-18
Prisoner of Zenda, The 8 The best swashbuckling film I've ever seen. Ronald Colman utterly charming as hero, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. marvelous as villain. Disappointing ending. 1997-08-29
Prophecy, The 6 Quite good (though rather gory) angels-at-war movie, with the frightening Christopher Walken as a particularly unpleasant angel. Dialogue and background details particularly sharp; way better than the director/writer's previous effort, Highlander. 1997-03-28
Quiet Man, The 5 Wayne and O'Hara strike sparks in Ireland, but it didn't quite work for me. Too slow-paced; some funny moments, but too many (some unintentional) to work as a romance and too few to work as a comedy. 1996-11-13
Radioland Murders 8 Non-stop comedy set in the twilight of radio's golden years; little known (undeservedly so) despite the talent involved. Mary Stuart Masterson is marvelous as always, and while the movie never quite achieves the heights of The Hudsucker Proxy, it comes in a close second in the 1940s-style-comedies-made-today genre. (Note: The director, Mel Smith, also directed The Tall Guy. Now are you convinced you should see this?) 1997-01-20
Rashomon 5   unknown
Real Genius 10   unknown
Rear Window 7   unknown
Rebecca 7 Starts slow, but a major plot twist halfway through makes the entire movie work. Extremely gothic; Olivier is superb, Joan Fontaine less so, Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers pretty damn scary; I can see why this won an Oscar. 1997-01-25
Reluctant Debutante, The 8   1996-08-09
Remains of the Day 5 I wanted to take Hopkins by the lapels and shake some sense into him. Good performances, but irritating story/character. 1996-09-21
Repo Man 10   unknown
Reservoir Dogs 4 Hated it. I guess the only Tarantino I've really liked is Pulp Fiction. 1996-09-24
Restoration 6 Some great parts, some boring parts. The parts with Meg Ryan were the best. 1996-09-11
Risky Business 5   unknown
Road to Wellville, The 3 Disappointingly sophomoric considering the talent involved (Alan Parker, Matthew Broderick, Anthony Hopkins, John Cusack, et alia); lots of 'humor' derived from characters talking about bodily fluids and body parts. On the plus side, the supporting cast is largely excellent, and there are several very funny moments; still, on the whole not worth watching. 1996-12-25
Rocky 5 Did nothing for me, possibly because I've seen enough later Stallone that this didn't look fresh or new. 1996-09-23
Roman Holiday 6 Good stuff. 1996-08-10
Romy & Michele's High School Reunion 6   1998-10-01
Ronin 2   unknown
Rumble in the Bronx 7 Lots of fun, if you don't care about details. Jackie Chan does what Buster Keaton would've done if he'd known Kung Fu. 1996-09-12
Run Lola Run 6   1999-07-13
Running Scared 9   unknown
Sabrina 8   unknown
Scream 7 Very funny, even for folks like me who don't usually like horror movies, and does a very nice job of keeping the audience on their toes. Not really particularly scary most of the time, and nothing especially deep -- but I'm tempted to see it again just because I confused two characters with each other near the end and therefore missed some very important bits (which I think I've reconstructed, but would prefer to see with full comprehension). 1997-06-15
Scream 2 5   unknown
Secrets and Lies 6 Intriguing, often quite good movie which I'm told is more coherent than Nichols' usual style, since he started with a bit more of a script than usual (so it was a tad less improvised than his other movies, which I haven't seen). Some very nice moments, some good (though often a bit one-note) acting, some interesting characters and situations; worth seeing, but not as stunning as some people had told me. 1997-04-26
Set It Off 4   unknown
Seven Samurai, The 5   unknown
Seven? 4   1999-08-03
Shadowlands 8   unknown
Shakespeare in Love 8   1999-02-07
Shall We Dance? 8 Lovely, charming, funny film. 1997-09-05
Shallow Grave 8   unknown
Shane 3   unknown
She's All That 7   1999-08-04
Shining, The 6 Pretty good, & Jack is awfully scary. Would've been scarier if I hadn't known about a few of the surprises ahead of time. 1996-09-03
Shop Around the Corner 6   unknown
Silence of the Lambs 9   unknown
Simple Plan, A 4   1999-06-30
Singin' in the Rain 10   unknown
Singles 4   unknown
Six Degrees of Separation 8 Quite a bit better than I expected; Will Smith and Stockard Channing are superb. A few parts sound a little like written words rather than spoken dialogue, but even there the words are poetic, not stilted. 1997-01-30
Sleepless in Seattle 6 Not bad, some v. nice moments, but not great. Sweet, cute, good dialogue, but kinda contrived. 1996-08-31
Sliding Doors 7   1999-02-15
Smilla's Sense of Snow 2   unknown
Some Kind of Wonderful 5   unknown
Some Like it Hot 5 The only particularly funny parts are the (unintentional?) gay references. Monroe and Lemmon are annoying; Curtis is at least versatile. 1996-09-26
South Pacific 6 Good, fun movie. 1996-08-06
Stand-In 7   unknown
Star Trek: First Contact 5 Felt to me more like an extra-long episode of the series than anything else, but for some reason I was much more willing to forgive the many many logical flaws and holes in the plot here than I usually was in the series. Nothing really wonderful here, but by far the best Trek movie since #4 or so. (Note: James Cromwell, the actor who plays Zefram Cochran, is better known for his superb job as Farmer Hoggett in Babe. 'Away to me, pig.') 1997-03-29
Star Wars 6 (Special edition.) Fun on a big screen, but not as spectacularly thrilling as I'd half-expected. A couple of the new additions are pretty good, but the Jabba scene should've been left on the cutting-room floor, especially since most of the dialogue is identical with that of the Solo/Greedo scene just prior... 1997-02-14
State of the Union 5   unknown
Sting, The 10   unknown
Strange Days 9 Best movie I saw in '96, best cyberpunk movie there is. Unfortunately also rather graphically violent and very intense; not for everyone. 1996-09-16
Strangers on a Train 5 Fairly suspenseful, if somewhat overdone (at least one completely innocent person gets iced at random near the end, and nobody seems to notice). I liked it more than most Hitchcock (but not as much as Rear Window); particularly liked Patricia Hitchcock as Babs and Robert Walker (looking a bit like Kevin Spacey) as Bruno. 1997-01-05
Sure Thing, The 6 Sweet and funny, but far from the best of Reiner's films; would be better if Cusack's character were a little less of a jerk. Minor but fun roles for Tim Robbins and Lisa Jane (Big Easy) Persky ('Showtunes!'), but my favorite character hands down is Viveca Lindfors as the English professor. 1996-10-13
Sweet Hereafter, The 8   unknown
Swingers 7 Funny movie more or less about getting over a breakup; at times it can be difficult to tell a couple of the characters apart, but with dialogue this sharp that doesn't matter much. Far superior, in my opinion, to other buddies-hanging-out-philosophizing-about-life movies (like, say, Diner). 1997-07-29
Tales from the Gimli Hospital 2 A bizarre, semi-surreal ultra-low-budget Canadian movie (they were denied funding by the National Film Board) set in the New Iceland region, filmed largely in black-and-white and largely without spoken lines. A few nice moments and a couple of strange plot twists (involving disease, a pair of fish shears, and a bit of necrophilia) give way eventually to bagpipes, angels, and total incomprehensibility. 1997-06-24
Tarzan (Disney) 5   unknown
Ten Things I Hate About You 7   1999-04-13
Terminator 9   unknown
Thing Called Love, The 7   1999-07-17
Tin Cup 5   unknown
Titanic 6   unknown
To Die For 5 Disappointing. 1996-09-06
To Have & Have Not 6   unknown
Torch Song Trilogy 6 Disjointed beginning, but gets better. Matthew Broderick kisses a man on-screen! 1996-09-20
Total Eclipse 4   unknown
Trainspotting 5 Disappointing considering that it's from the people who gave us Shallow Grave. I didn't like it nearly as much as others seem to; too raw for my tastes, though I have to give it bonus points for a realistic portrayal of drug use. 1996-10-13
Treasure of the Sierra Madre 5   unknown
Tribute 8   unknown
Truly, Madly, Deeply 5 Slightly off-kilter ghost story, not as good as I'd been told but better than I'd expected from the previews. The cast are (this is a British film) all marvelous, but the only scene that I really loved was the hopping scene, and the ending didn't really work for me. 1997-01-03
Truman Show, The 8   unknown
Twelfth Night 6 Nobody's heard of this even though the cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Kingsley, and Richard E. Grant. Good film version of what's possibly my favorite Shakespeare play, but not quite as good as the recent Branagh Shakespeare movies. 1996-11-14
Two Much 3 The only redeeming features of this unromantic non-comedy are Joan Cusack (as Banderas' secretary) and Eli Wallach (as his father). Otherwise, it reminds me of a bad attempt at a Fawlty Towers episode, and Banderas (alas) just isn't very good at physical comedy. (Note: Unintentionally my third Danny Aiello movie that week.) 1997-01-29
Ulee's Gold 4   1999-07-30
Unstrung Heroes 8 Fabulous movie: very funny, and very sad. Quirky, but not enough so to be offputting. 1996-10-04
US Marshals 5   unknown
Valmont 5   unknown
Vampire Hunter D 3 (dubbed into English) Visually interesting, with some particularly cool bright-light effects, but a dull mishmash of a plot and lots of gore. Skip it. 1997-01-02
Vampire Princess Miyu 4 Four episodes on videotape of (apparently) a Japanese animated TV series, about a young vampire whose mission is to send all the other monsters back to the Dark. Interesting ideas, some fairly cool non-traditional-anime art in places, but nothing really spectacular (and doesn't live up to the tape-box's cover art). 1997-04-14
Wag the Dog? 6   unknown
Watership Down 9 The animation is every bit as good as I thought it was when I first saw this, when it came out; it's not as scary or as intense as it was when I was a kid, but that's to be expected. Quite good, and definitely not a kiddie movie. 1997-05-22
Wedding Banquet, The 10   unknown
Westworld 3 I knew this would be schlock going into it, but went to see it anyway because I figured I'd be unlikely to get another chance to see it. Found it interesting mainly for the ways in which it prefigures both Jurassic Park (many remarkable similarities, unsurprising since Crichton wrote & directed; the only surprising thing is how little Crichton's stories have changed in 20 years) and Terminator. 1997-03-24
When Harry Met Sally 10   unknown
Wild Things 7   1999-03-29
Wild Wild West 5   1999-07-18
Wilde 4   unknown
Wings of Desire 7   unknown
Wizard of Speed and Time, The 9 Probably my fourth or fifth time seeing this; still wonderfully sweet and funny, but worth seeing a less fuzzy copy, and repeat viewings don't particularly enhance the movieI think I'll hold off on seeing it again for a while. 1997-03-31
Woman in the Dunes 5 Allegorical Japanese art film about the constraint and petty struggles of life in trying to maintain civilization in the face of chaos; reminded me more of The Prisoner than of anything else. Was surprised to find that it was (intentionally) funny in several places, and more coherent plot-wise than I expected; still, it's significantly longer than it needs to be, and if you've seen The Prisoner it doesn't say much that's new. 1997-04-23
Woman of the Year 5 The weakest Hepburn/Tracy comedy I've seen; seems to me the writer and director hadn't quite worked out how Hepburn and Tracy would work together yet (and alas, it just isn't especially funny). Nonetheless, quite good performances, interesting characters, and you can see the beginnings of their chemistry that developed in later films. 1997-01-21
Year of Living Dangerously, The 5 Superb (and unsettling) performance from Linda Hunt can't quite save this movie. Gibson and Weaver are charming together, but the movie as a whole just didn't quite work for me. 1996-09-25
You've Got Mail 4   unknown
Zero Effect? 6   unknown