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January 21, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-01-21

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ARTS
Monday, January 21, 1991

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

r-

Film reviewers rate, rank, rant
Mike Kuniavskv's top

evi

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194

8 films The hest of thevar- 1990

1. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife
and Her Lover
More than for its avante-gard-
ness, this film deserves recognition
"s one of the few films to blend
art, commentary and general inter-
est successfully. Though it has a
tendency to get operatic at times
and ODs a bit on symbolism, it's
not as preoccupied with itself as it
could have been. Plus, it's got one
of the best soundtracks of the year.
2. Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer
If anything, this will go down in
film history as one of the most dis-
turbing feature films ever made.
An awesome bit of criminal psy-
chology, it's also got some good,
very black comedy (featuring the
best use of the words "turn it on")
and some of the best low-budget
acting in a long time.
3. Monsieur Hire
As psychological thrillers go,
this film is excellent. Superficially
about voyeurism and obsessive
sexuality, it manages to lift itself
,above what could have been an-
,Other peeping tom film and tells an
involving, complicated and emo-
tional tale. With some of the best
cinematography of the year, too.
4. Cyrano de Bergerac
Okay, so I saw it in 1991, but it
-was out somewhere in 1990 and
I'm not gonna be here next year to
talk about it. Definitely see this:
it's a great story, and has great
cinematography and a great lead.
With that many greats it can't
loose. Well, it shouldn't loose,
anyway.
5. Goodfellas
This is definitely not Martin
Storsese's best film, but in a year
chock-full of gangster films, this
one comes out as the freshest and
roost innovative of the bunch. The
,hole film reeks professionalism
apd basically pulls you along
(toward the end, seemingly at su-
personic speeds) through a "mom
and pop" underworld which is si-
multaneously inviting and horrible.
6. The Krays

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Most Inspired Casting Done in 1990 for a 1991 Film: Raul Julia and
Anjelica Huston as Gomez and Morticia Addams in the much-anticipated
big-screen version of The Addams Family.

Another of the year's gangster
film plethora, The Krays has re-
markably few gangster-isms in it.
Instead, it concentrates on the
identical-twin gangsters' relation-
ships with the women in their lives
and with post-war Britain. It also
has some beautiful shots and a
great washed-out look -
metaphorically mirroring the emo-
tional shallowness of the twins
themselves.
7. Ernest Goes to Jail
No, I'm not kidding. Yes, this
film is dumb. Yes, it has no so-
cially redeeming value. Yes, it is
not really doing anything new. But
how often do you get to see a guy
get attacked by a vacuum cleaner

I

Film Staff's Best, Worst, etc.
Best gangster film: Goodfellas
Best way to be killed: Hot Spot, where Virginia Madsen ties her
husband to a bed and fucks him to death
Best sex scene: Wild at Heart, when Willem Dafoe gives his "fuck
me" speech to Laura Dern
Best tan: George Hamilton (15th year running) in Godfather III
Best Godfather on ice: Marlon Brando in The Freshman
Best Arnie-ism: "Consider this a divorce" (Total Recall)
Best performance by an animal: Jean-Claude Van Damme (Death
Warrant)
Best instance of art imitating life: Bad Influence, where Rob Lowe
videotapes a sex scene
Best performance by Winona Ryder: Mermaids
Best film with a Roman numeral: Henry V
Best children's film: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Best Blow Job: (tie) Hot Spot, White Palace
Best open-minded, non-sexist Pygmalion remake: Pretty Woman
Most disappointing film: (tie) Godfather III, Wild at heart
Most unique source for an adaptation: a National Enquirer story (I
Love You to Death)
Most surprising casting: Mel Gibson as Hamlet.
Most surprising actor-turned-director: Kevin Costner (Dances With
Wolves)
Most schizophrenic film: Awakenings (which resembles One Flew
over the Cuckoo Nest, Charly, Cocoon, Rainman)
Character we'd most like to meet Blue Velvet's Frank Booth: Albert
Spica (The Cook, the Thief; His Wife and tier Lover)
Character most likely to be marketed as a doll: Sofia Coppola's from
The Godfather Part I1 - pull a string and it says, "Dad!"
Worst on-screen chemistry: Robert Redford and Lena Olin (Havana)
Worst looking film yet to be released: King Ralph
Best overheard dialogue in theater: at Quigley Down Under: "Why
can he shoot so far?" "Because he's a cowboy, honey."

and lose? In other words: it's very
funny in a rather brainless way, but
isn't that the escapism we want
from a film?
8. Dances With Wolves
Yeah, it's an egotistical tour-
de-force for one Kevin Costner,
and as much as I hate this kind of
Oscar-material, just-cause, tear-
jerking, zillion-dollar extravagan-
za, this one is a pretty good film.
For all of its "look at me, look at
my butt" scenes, it has a naivete
which makes it an enjoyable ride.
David Lubliner's 10
best films
1. Metropolitan
Whit Stillman's funny and in-
sightful look inside the lives of
New York Upper East Side debu-
tantes exposed the dilemmas of
the well-to-do and proved that the
best movie of the year can be
made by a complete novice.
2. Men Don't Leave
No one saw this underrated
movie about a widow (Jessica
Lange) and her two sons. However,
everyone did see Charlie Korsmo,
who played the younger boy, in his
other film of the year, Dick Tracy.
3. Longtime Companion
This movie about the lives of
gay men living in the '80s in-
cluded one the year's best perfor-
mances from Bruce Davidson.
4. Edward Scissorhands
It made Johnny Depp believers
out of even the most fervent skep-
tics, marked a comeback (albeit
tragic) for Anthony Michael Hall
and once again proved that Tim
Burton is the most imaginative
filmmaker working in Hollywood
today.
5. Reversal of Fortune
This surprisingly dark comedy
about Claus Von Bulow (Jeremy
Irons) and his lawyer, Alan Der-
showitz (Ron Silver), was hysteri-
cally funny and provided abso-
lutely no answers to the questions
surrounding Sonny Von Bulow's

strange death.
6. Pump Up The Volume
Hot young actor Christian
Slater made this otherwise corny
film a lot of fun. Samantha Mathis
is no Winona Ryder, however.
7. Awakenings
Robert DeNiro and Robin
Williams delivered outstanding
performances and made director
Penny Marshall's follow-up to Big
a success.
8. Goodfellas
More great acting by DeNiro
(with some help from Joe Pesci,
Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco);
Martin Scorsese's story of the mob
came before most of the other
gangster films and was, without
question, the best.
9. Wild at Heart
Every 1990 top ten list must
mention David Lynch somewhere.
His film about the fiery lives of
Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lulu
(Laura Dern) on the run in the
deep South featured half the cast
of Twin Peaks.
10. To Sleep With Anger
Charles Burnett's intelligent
script about the life of a modern
Black family living in America
certainly deserved a lot more at-
tention than it received.
Mark Binelli's top 10
films
1. Best Film: Goodfellas'
Gangsters, cocaine and an un-
forgettable performance by Joe
Pesci (Do I look funny? Am I a
clown or something? Quit bustin'
myfuckin' balls!)
2. Other Best Film: Monsieur Hire
Film is the ultimate form of
voyeurism, so films about
voyeurism are inevitable, and this
is a good one.
3. Best Epic by a First-Time Direc-
tor: Dances With Wolves
How could you not like a film
so politically correct that it even
had a little disclaimer at the end
reassuring us that no animals were
hurt? Costner's no David Lean, but
easily better-looking.
4. Best Film About Elvis: Mystery
Train
Jim Jarmusch in Memphis.
5. Second Best Film About Elvis:
Wild At Heart
David Lynch may have been
trying a bit too hard to be David
Lynch with this one, but smoothing
over the many excesses was the
best Elvis attitude ever captured
on film.
6. Best Comedy: The Icicle Thief
Calling Maurizio Nichetti the
Italian Woody Allen just because
he's a short, funny-looking, irrev-
erent director is like cajling Spike
Lee the Black Woody Allen for
the same reason. But this film does
have an awful lot in common with
The Purple Rose of Cairo, only it's
sub-titled and more entertaining.
7. Best Sappy Date Movie: C'est
La Vie
Also Worst Title of the year,
but otherwise a really nice film
from director Diane Kurys.
8. Best Giant Monster Movie:
Tremors
It's no Destroy All Monsters,
but then again, what is? Pretty
good B-movie fun anyway.
9. Best Use of Ultra-Violence
Since A Clockwork Orange: The
Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her
Lover

10. Other stuff I liked: House
Party; Roller Coaster Rabbit
(cartoon short); Akira Kurosawa's
Dreams; Miller's Crossing; Rever-
sal of Fortune; Henry and June;
'Mo Better Blues; Henry, Portrait
of a Serial Killer
Gregg Flaxman's Best
of 1990
(not necessarily in any order)
1. The Godfather Part III
2. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife,
and Her Lover
3. A Short Film About Killing
4. Alice
5. Goodfellas
6. Dances with Wolves
7. The Krays
8. Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer
9. Hamlet
10. May Fools
Michael John Wilson's
top 10
1. The Civil War
2. Miller's Crossing
3. Goodfellas
4. Metropolitan
5. Sweetie
6. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife
and Her Lover
7. Longtime Companion
8. Edward Scissorhands
9. Postcards from the Edge
10. Dances With Wolves
Yes, the best film of the year is
a made-for-TV movie, seen only
on PBS. But Ken Burns' eleven
hour long documentary is unques-
tionably the best and most impor-
tant work of film produced last
year. Also impressive were the
gangster films of the Coen brothers
(Miller' s Crossing) and Martin
Scorsese (Goodfellas), as well as
the debut Woody Allen-esque
comedy by Whit Stillman,
Metropolitan. The best foreign
films of the year include Aus-
tralian Jane Campion's family
"comedy," Sweetie, and Peter
Greenaway's brilliant and repul-
sive art film, The Cook, The Thief,
His Wife and Her Lover. Yet these
films just aren't in the same class
as Burns' monumental and timely
achievement.
Jen Bilik's best films
Longtime Companion, written
by playwright Craig Lucas, was

McFeud jams
Rick's on Tuesday, Blind
Pig and the U-Club on Wednes-
day, Fiji on Saturday... Ryth
McFeud (pun intended) is mak-
ing the Ann Arbor music scene
tour. A five-man band plus a
four-man horn section, Ryth
McFeud performs a garage band
selection of songs with impres-
sive expertise and originality in
interpretation.
On Thursday night at the
Blind Pig, they opened with an
instrumental piece which set
the mood. It does not matter
what song they are playing.
Ryth McFeud is at their peak
when they unleash themselves
with an intense jam.
The covers were the most
fun because we could sing
along, but the originals worked
as well. The most notable of
these included "Love Monkey"
and "Simplify," the stage antics
of which were thoroughly amus-

ing. Bluesy lead singer Rich
Volin seemed learned at the an-
tics part; he's quite the "air
drummer" extraordinaire.
The horn section was amus-
ing to watch as well. Swaying
to the music, they nearly per-.
fected the barn-yard dance-.
slight bend in the knees, elbows;
out, up down, up, down. It's
cute and so are they, especially
Paul Geddes, who frequently
pretended his trombone was a
guitar as he strummed at it.
Musically, they are very
tight. Their rendition of Sting's
cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little,
Wing" was electric, and Gabe
"Boy Wonder" Whyel was un-
faltering on the guitar, even
mesmerizing at times.
Other highlights included an
enjoyable version of Warren
Zevon's "Werewolves Of Lon-
don" and a classic rendition of
Led Zeppelin's "Fool I-n the
Rain."
-Kim Yaged

the first dramatic enactment of -the
AIDS crisis. Although it encoun-
tered criticism for its lack of com-
prehensiveness, every pioneer falls
prey to such complaints. When
there aren't numerous angles, of
representation from which to draw
a complete picture, the work that
addresses a marginalized subject
attains the level of spokesperson,
as if its story were the only one to
be told. Take Longtime Companion
for what it is: a beautiful and sad
depiction of the devastation AIDS
has wrought in the gay community.
The Unbelievable Tru-th
stretched the limits of the narrative
story with its witty script and inno-
vative structure. The film is a
beautiful love story that illustrates
a community as well as two char-
acters, Long Island residents who
drop aphorisms while maintaining
their working-class reality.
Louis Malle's May Fools and
Denys Arcand's Jesus of Montreal
respectively developed the con-
ventions of the comedy and the al-
legory. May Fools consistently
constructs believable but bizaire
situations, taking the audierice
with it all the way, until it briigs
in an outside character to remibd
you of the scene's absurdity.
Berkeley in the Sixties, unfortu-
nately, seems very relevant now.
Through news footage and inter-
views with then-activists, it tejls
the story of a time of upheaval ihd
progress, reminding us that pollti-
cal activism can have an effect
with unity, compromise and in-
formed participants.
Frank Henenlotter's (Basket
Case and Basket Case 2) Franken-
hooker didn't play in Ann Arbor
theaters, but is available on video-
tape now. Henenlotter uses his low
budget to advantage, reworking the
Frankenstein myth with a feminjst
twist. It's the perfect cult film,
late-night humor without being too

strange.

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