Movies – 1990s

Bonfire of the Vanities, The (1990)

Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel about the Greed Decade was penetrating. prophetic and incisively satirical. Director Brian De Palma’s $45 million film version of the book is superficial, shopworn and cartoonish. Let’s start with the miscasting . . . Tom Hanks is a comic actor of proven gifts. But he is not Sherman McCoy, the patrician bond(…)

Boogie Nights (1997)

Pornography, drugs and disco are the driving forces of this potent parable of the partying 1970s in Los Angeles from director Paul Thomas Anderson. Spanning the height of the disco era, this Martin Scorsese-influenced rags-to-bitches allegory is a visually stunning and poignant exploration of the adult entertainment industry. Charting the rise, fall and rise again(…)

Boxing Helena (1993)

The first feature film directed by Jennifer Chambers (daughter of David Lynch) is a tale of obsessive passion that’s as risibly far-fetched as it is morbidly wacked-out. Sherilyn Fenn plays Helena (pictured at right), a free-spirited slut who becomes the unfortunate love object of surgeon Julian Sands’ sexual obsession. His gooey schoolboy advances only invite(…)

Boys (1996)

For a movie that basically puts a 90s spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with Winona Ryder as a runaway babe given shelter by horny teens in a prep school dorm, Boys should be more fun. The tale begins with a cop (John C Reilly) calling on Patty Vare (Ryder) at her Maryland home to ask(…)

Brady Bunch Movie, The (1995)

In the 1990s, Hollywood studios desperately ransacked their old TV archives for cinema remake material, with very mixed results. This is probably the most innovative of the lot, even if it doesn’t always work. For those who missed them the first time around, The Brady Bunch featured a cute-as-pie 1970s American family who suffered the mildest of domestic(…)

Braindead (1992)

Peter Jackson’s zombiefest follow-up to Bad Taste (1987), set in suburbia in the late 50s, is one of the most relentlessly, gleefully nasty movies ever released, incorporating mutant monkeys, zombie flesh-eaters, death by lawn mower, kung-fu priests and jokes about The Archers. It also contains the queasiest dinner scene since La Grande Bouffe, involving spurting blood,(…)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

In 15th-century Romania Count Dracula returns from the Crusades to discover his wife Elisabeta has committed suicide, believing him to have been killed in battle. As a result of her death, Dracula renounces his Catholicism and becomes a vampire. Four centuries later, estate agent Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to sell the Count a London property, but(…)

Brassed Off! (1996)

Brassed Off – written and directed by Mark Herman – takes a look at the plight of the British coal miner. Once, mining was a thriving industry in England, with whole towns built around each mine. But, during the early 1980s, the Tory government began converting the country to nuclear power. The resulting drop in demand(…)

Braveheart (1996)

13th century Scotland. A Scottish rebel, William Wallace (Mel Gibson), leads an uprising against the cruel English reign of Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan) who plans to take the Scottish crown for himself. His father died trying to bring freedom to the Scots when he was a young boy, so Wallace – with the support(…)

Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this romantic drama based on Robert James Waller’s bestseller. National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid (Eastwood) is a sensitive loner drawn into an intense love affair with rancher’s wife Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) when he arrives in Iowa to take pictures of Madison County’s unique covered bridges. The affair is recounted in(…)

Bugsy (1991)

Ben “Bugsy” Siegel was a renaissance mobster back in the Forties – a magnetic, quixotic individual with two wild dreams – to kill Mussolini and open a lavish hotel in Vegas. He wore elegant clothes, screwed the sexiest women – notably starlet Virginia Hill (Annette Bening) – and partied with movie greats like his childhood(…)

Bullet to Beijing (1995)

Thirty years after the film of Len Deighton’s novel The Ipcress File (1965), Michael Caine resurrects his British spy Harry Palmer, first pitched as an off-the-peg rival to the bespoke James Bond. In this very average effort, Palmer has retired from the British Secret Service and is in Russia, working with former KGB agents to prevent(…)

Cable Guy, The (1996)

Cable Guy, The (1996)

Jim Carrey was afforded the opportunity to do something different in this jet-black satire on the power of television, and he responded with a performance that brings a dark edge to his wacky, man-of-the-people persona. Carrey is on top form as manic cable-television engineer Chip Douglas who takes a special interest in his new customer,(…)

Candyman (1992)

Chicago student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) is researching a paper on urban myths, including that of the Candyman, a spirit with a hook hand who appears when his name is said five times into a mirror. When she hears of a murder apparently carried out by the Candyman on a run-down estate, she and a(…)

Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear (1991)

Martin Scorsese’s surprising remake of the 1962 Cape Fear affords a masterly demonstration of his technical virtuosity, but eschews the creepy realism of the original to play to contemporary taste for over-wrought horror. The result is stylistically brilliant and harrowing. The basic plot remains the same: vengeful ex-con Max Cady (De Niro) mounts a terror campaign against the(…)