• The Vanishing

    The Vanishing

    ★★★

    With the 1993 version of The Vanishing, George Sluizer remade his 1988 Dutch classic – this time with an American cast and for an American audience. The plot remains just the same, and just as terrifying on its own terms – a young couple, Jeff Harriman, played by Kiefer Sutherland, and Diane Shaver, played by Sandra Bullock, are taking a holiday when they pull into a service station. In this case, Jeff and Diane are en route from Seattle to…

  • The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

    The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

    ★★★★½

    During the early 90s, there was a convergence of theatrical releases and daytime melodramas. As directors looked for new ways to cement the lush aesthetic that was all the rage, they drew on the beautifully appointed interiors of daytime television, importing many of their plot points and narrative devices as well. The result was a kind of highbrow melodrama – releases helmed by “serious” directors, starring “serious” actors, but indebted to the contorted fabulations of the Lifetime soap. Of all…

  • What About Bob?

    What About Bob?

    ★★★½

    Bill Murray made the neurotic his stock in trade throughout the 80s but he reached new height with the role of Bob Wiley, “an almost paralysed multiphobic personality in a constant state of panic” who’s referred to celebrity psychiatrist Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss, when his regular therapist ditches him. Unfortunately for Bob, Leo is about to take a month’s sabbatical, and retreat from his New York offices to his vacation home in Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire, to…

  • The Good Son

    The Good Son

    ★★★★

    In Sleeping with the Enemy, Joseph Ruben established himself as a master of mise-en-scene, generating so much stillness, silence and poise that décor became a character in and of itself. He continued that project with The Good Son, working with an Ian McEwan script that revolves around an evil child. This kind of lush approach was especially characteristic of 90s telemovies, or releases that straddled the line between movie and telemovie, and The Good Son is very close to a…

  • Internal Affairs

    Internal Affairs

    Internal Affairs was Mike Figgis’ third film, and his first big blockbuster, and it’s every bit as gorgeously atmospheric as Stormy Monday, his breakthrough release. As the title suggests, it revolves around the Internal Affairs Division of the LAPD, where a pair of new recruits, Raymond Avilla, played by Andy Garcia, and Amy Wallace, played by Laurie Metcalf, are charged with bringing down one of the most elusive corrupt cops – Dennis Peck, played by Richard Gere, who leans heavily…

  • Quick Change

    Quick Change

    ★★★½

    Quick Change is one of the more unusual films of Bill Murray’s career – and not just because it’s the only film he co-directed. It’s ostensibly a heist film, but it quickly balloons into a surreal quest in which a trio of white bank robbers try to make their way from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport without taking the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. In other words, it’s an exercise in cognitive mapping – a comic attempt to envisage how New York…

  • Thelma & Louise

    Thelma & Louise

    ★★★★½

    Thelma & Louise must have seemed truly visionary for women who watched it in 1991, since Callie Khouri’s screenplay still seems ahead of its time, yearning towards a feminist Hollywood that never really eventuated. The story centres on the two title characters – Thelma, a housewife, played by Geena Davis, and Louise, a waitress, played by Susan Sarandon. We never learn how these two became friends, and we don’t even learn that much about their friendship before we’re propelled, along with…

  • Misery

    Misery

    ★★★★½

    Like so many of Stephen King’s works, Misery, and Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Misery, is an operatic horror-comedy about the experience of composing a novel. This time around, the writer is Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan, author of the bestselling Misery cycle, a series of Victorian romances centring on the character of Misery Chastain. When Paul has a car accident shortly after completing the last Misery novel, he’s rescued by Annie Wilkes, a nurse who claims to be his…

  • The Exorcist III

    The Exorcist III

    ★★★★½

    The early 1990s represented a watershed moment in cinematic depictions of the serial killer. By this point, the generation who grew up with the emergence of serial killers – or the classification of serial killers – in the 1970s had come of age. Combined with the growing taste for forensic pathology, this produced a wave of films that formally introduced the serial killer as a distinct type and trope – distinct from the slashers that had cornered the cinematic market…

  • Sleeping with the Enemy

    Sleeping with the Enemy

    ★★★★

    Sleeping with the Enemy begins with an almost impossibly immaculate mise-en-scene – Julia Roberts against a burnished beach backdrop, poised midway between Mystic Pizza and Notting Hill, in one of the most radiant tableaux of her entire career. She’s probably never been better positioned against a setting, and as a result the setting seems to emanate out of her presence – and her hair in particular, which casts its sheen across the landscape. This is the perfect opening, then, for…

  • The Long Kiss Goodnight

    The Long Kiss Goodnight

    ★★★★½

    Few 90s films are as lurid, extravagant, maximalist and restless as The Long Kiss Goodnight, a transition point between the classical action film and a more cybergothic mode of action that would reach full flower in The Matrix. Renny Harlin was a master at queasily combining different tones and genres under the umbrella of action, continually expanding his films until they seemed to contain every conceivable Hollywood experience. The Long Kiss Goodnight is arguably his masterpiece, extending action so far…

  • Chocolat

    Chocolat

    ★★★½

    Chocolat, Lance Hallström’s adaptation of Joanne Harris’ bestselling novel, is perhaps the ultimate French film for English audiences – peak Miramax, peak indie-mainstream and peak Palace Cinemas, for those who saw it in Australia at the time. In other words, it’s a classic comfort watch, marking a particular moment in the evolution of chocolate fandom, and the public expectation of what fine chocolate should and could be. We start in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, in the 1950s, although…