July 2024



Apt Pupil (1998)

apt pupilDIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

CAST: Brad Renfro, Ian McKellen, Bruce Davison, David Schwimmer, Joshua Jackson, Ann Dowd, Elias Koteas, Michael Byrne, Joe Morton, Jan Triska



Apt Pupil is a morbidly engrossing psychological thriller crafted with enough professionalism and ability to sometimes persuade us to overlook its questionable taste, even if the bad aftertaste lingers.  An adaptation of a novella by Stephen King (a previous attempt at filming it was mounted in 1988, starring Ricky Schroder and Nicol Williamson, but fell through), it uses that ever-convenient go-to-guy of villains—Nazis—as a launching pad for a psychological character study.  Those seeking a conventional “thriller” might be disappointed.  Apt Pupil is disturbing, sometimes chilling, but the horror is not of the “boo!” variety.  Apt Pupil is a slow-burn foray into the heart of darkness that resides within two seemingly very different men, and how they feed each other’s worst impulses. Continue reading

Elizabeth (1998)

Elizabeth. 1998. Directed by Shekhar Kapur | MoMA

DIRECTOR: Shekhar Kapur

CAST: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston


The reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England began in 1558, when at the age of twenty-five, she succeeded her half-sister Mary I. Over the course of the next forty-five years, she ushered in the so-called Golden Age and became one of the longest-reigning and most popular and successful monarchs ever to sit on the British throne. Director Shekhar Kapur’s lavish period costume drama Elizabeth, however, focuses on the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, when the young queen was surrounded by enemies and plagued with uncertainty, and facing the prospect of losing her throne—and her life—so soon after taking it.

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The Mask of Zorro (1998)

DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell


Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letscher, L.Q. Jones


The Mask of Zorro provides just about everything we could ask for from a crowd-pleasing summer action-adventure blockbuster: swashbuckling derring-do, romance, and action-comedy, helmed with a high level of energy and flair by director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye), and a somewhat irreverent tone that doesn’t go so far as to parody the legendary character. Continue reading

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner


Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci, Chris Rock, Jet Li, Darlene Love, Traci Wolfe, Steve Kahan, Mary Ellen Trainor, Kim Chan


Lethal Weapon 4 is a classic example of a sequel that was assembled to make money, not because of necessity or because there was even anywhere particularly fresh to take the story. There were rumors of its production since 1992, but development only rushed full-steam ahead once the reluctant Mel Gibson was convinced to return with a massive paycheck. In retrospect, no one should have bothered. Lethal Weapon 3 wasn’t as good as the first or second installment, but it would have been a much better place to end the popular series than this. Lethal Weapon 4 is a mess of a movie, a big, bloated, unwieldy, sputtering, past-its-prime cash grab that has a few entertaining moments scattered around but not enough to justify its existence, and creaks as badly as aging action heroes Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s joints. Continue reading

A Perfect Murder (1998)

DIRECTOR: Andrew Davis

CAST: Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Viggo Mortensen, David Suchet


A Perfect Murder is a slick, stylish Hitchockian thriller that serves up plenty of diabolical twists and turns (in fact, it’s a loose remake of Hitchcock’s 1954 film Dial M for Murder, although much is changed).  For fans of this genre, it’s a suitably devious little entry. Continue reading

Deep Impact (1998)

DIRECTOR: Mimi Leder


Téa Leoni, Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, Leelee Sobieski, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, James Cromwell, Ron Eldard, Jon Favreau, Laura Innes, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, Blair Underwood, Dougray Scott, Betsy Brantley, Denise Crosby, Mike O’Malley, Kurtwood Smith, Charles Martin Smith


An asteroid on a collision course with Earth, threatening the very existence of mankind. Any number of movies have examined this theme, most of them forgettable. Deep Impact, director Mimi Leder’s take on this scenario and a product of Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks Pictures, came out almost back-to-back with Armageddon, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer’s action flick. The basic premises were similar- humanity launches a desperate mission to destroy an approaching asteroid large enough to wipe out all life on Earth- but the filmmakers’ ways of approaching it were not. Continue reading

Les Misérables (1998)

DIRECTOR: Bille August

CAST: Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes, Hans Matheson, Peter Vaughan


Those wanting the musical numbers of the popular stage musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables—a mainstay onstage since its debut in 1985—may be disappointed, but among non-musical film adaptations, Bille August’s interpretation of the oft-told tale is a handsome adaptation, picturesquely-filmed, well-cast (at least in the two lead roles), and finding an effective balance of condensing Hugo’s sprawling epic into a coherent abridged film version that—while some of its omissions will not sit well with purists—retains the novel’s key themes and heart.  The result is not only one of the better examples of the assorted Les Mis adaptations, but a handsomely-crafted period drama in itself accessible to Hugo neophytes. Continue reading