June 2024



Heat (1995)

DIRECTOR: Michael Mann

CAST: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman, Jon Voight, Mykelti Williamson, Dennis Haysbert, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, William Fichtner, Danny Trejo, Kevin Gage, Natalie Portman


Heat is writer-director Michael Mann’s (Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans) magnum opus ode to the crime thriller genre, what could have been a generic tale of cops and robbers elevated to crime epic by a level of depth and nuance one doesn’t often find in the genre, assured direction, and a smart screenplay that has something to say beyond hard-boiled crimebusters cliches.  This is just as masterful filmmaking as Mann’s 1992 adventure The Last of the Mohicans, and in a completely different genre and setting.   Continue reading

Strange Days (1995)

DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow


Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Fichtner, Brigitte Bako, Josef Sommer, Glenn Plummer


A murder-mystery with the backdrop of a vivid and fascinating slightly futuristic sci-fi visionary thriller, Strange Days is entirely worthy of anything with James Cameron’s name attached, and director Kathryn Bigelow (Cameron’s ex-wife) is entirely up to the task of helming Cameron’s story. Strange Days is the whole package: thinking man’s entertainment while appealing equally to the brain and the visceral. Continue reading

The Scarlet Letter (1995)

DIRECTOR: Roland Joffe

CAST: Demi Moore, Gary Oldman, Robert Duvall, Joan Plowright, Robert Prosky, Dana Ivey, Edward Hardwicke


That Roland Joffe’s film is “freely adapted”, as it puts it, from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel isn’t necessarily an inherent problem. Book purists would grumble, for sure, but a movie adaptation of a book taking significant liberties is nothing new. The problem isn’t necessarily that The Scarlet Letter has been freely adapted into a movie, it’s that it’s been freely adapted into this movie, which cheerfully throws Hawthorne’s themes to the wind and turns his Puritan morality play into a feminist treatsie on sexual and religious liberation. Those themes are all well and good, but they’re not The Scarlet Letter, and what’s worse, it’s all wrapped up in a sudsy, overwrought romantic soap opera.

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Assassins (1995)

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner

CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Julianne Moore


If not for the involvement of action star Sylvester Stallone, one senses Assassins would be straight-to-video fare, and that’s where the quality level lies.  For helmer Richard Donner, this is a disappointing step down from the Lethal Weapon series, and doesn’t represent anything more than a mindless diversion for any but the most undemanding of action fans. Continue reading

Desperado (1995)

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez


Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, Quentin Tarantino, Danny Trejo, Carlos Gomez


In 1992, film student Robert Rodriguez took a group of complete unknowns (his personal friends) and $7,000 to Mexico and filmed El Mariachi. The so-called ‘$7,000 Wonder’ was successful enough for Columbia Pictures to give Rodriguez a Hollywood-scale budget to essentially remake the unpolished indie (although it’s technically a sequel). The concessions to Hollywood influence over indie freedoms are obvious. Continue reading

Virtuosity (1995)

DIRECTOR: Brett Leonard

CAST: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Kelly Lynch, William Forsythe, William Fichtner, Louise Fletcher, Stephen Spinella, Kevin J. O’Connor


Virtuosity, from director Brett Leonard (playing in virtual reality for the second time after 1992’s The Lawnmower Man) and screenwriter Eric Bernt, is another in the mid-90s fad of “high-tech” thrillers, following Sneakers and The Net, and like the latter Sandra Bullock vehicle, it fails to offer up anything very original or creative, using a “futuristic” premise for a cheesy thriller long on generic action sequences and bad action movie dialogue and deficient on intelligence or thrills.

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Apollo 13 (1995)

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

CAST: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan

For those old enough to have watched the April 1970 Apollo 13 crisis unfold live on television, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 may bring back strong memories.  For those who did not experience it at the time, it may serve as a fascinating history lesson.  For everyone else, it’s a well-constructed docudrama, and a tribute to what one character refers to as NASA’s finest hour.   Continue reading

Braveheart (1995)

DIRECTOR: Mel Gibson

CAST: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Catherine McCormack, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Brendan Gleeson



For only his second outing behind the camera, Mel Gibson (who made his directorial debut in 1993’s The Man Without a Face, in which he also starred) has tackled the kind of ambitious undertaking Hollywood rarely mounts anymore, a grand epic throwback to the likes of Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia.  What might be more surprising is that he’s pulled it off in impressive fashion, showing he can handle a lavish production with large-scale battle scenes.  In fact, among the directorial debuts or near-debuts of actors-turned-directors, it’s the most impressive entry since Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves five years earlier.  Braveheart isn’t perfect, but it’s a rollicking, crowd-pleasing adventure painted on an epic scale with the kind of grandeur that might appeal to fans of Spartacus or The Last of the Mohicans. Continue reading

Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

DIRECTOR: John McTiernan


Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Colleen Camp, Larry Bryggman


I don’t know if it’s because John McTiernan is back in the director’s seat, or the inclusion of the always high-octane Samuel L. Jackson, or the script, or a combination, but Die Hard With A Vengeance has a higher energy level than Die Hard 2, even if it’s not as tightly-plotted and well-crafted as the original film. Continue reading

While You Were Sleeping (1995)

20 Things You Might Not Know About 'While You Were Sleeping' | Mental Floss

DIRECTOR: Jon Turtletaub

CAST: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, Peter Boyle, Jack Warden, Micole Mercurio, Glynis Johns, Jason Bernard, Michael Rispoli, Monica Keena, Ally Walker


While a truly exceptional romantic comedy that does something special remains an elusive beast, Hollywood churns out mediocre entries like link sausages. While You Were Sleeping is such a film; it goes down pleasantly and easily for those who don’t demand too much of a movie as long as it indulges their inner romantic, but is assembled wholly from familiar ingredients and does nothing exceptional with any of them. Whether or not you’re the type to appreciate its modest charms, you probably know who you are.

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