Category Archives: Movies
1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.
Join us here at LeBlog over the next couple of weeks as we take a look back at the film landscape of twenty years ago and help us decide which of our pre-selected movies from 1998 is the best of the bunch. Is it a smaller independent film, a highly-touted prestige film, or one of those aforementioned big dumb action flicks?
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Usually, I go ahead and put the winner of the bracket game in the title. But this time, I am going to keep you guys in suspense just a little while longer because this one was close! I spent a lot of time working on the Sequels of 1988 article that I posted today, so I didn’t check the votes very often yesterday, but every time I did check, it was a dead heat. This morning, the victor was decided by one vote and I think the end result will come as a surprise to a lot of readers (approximately half of you based on the votes). Which comedy was the readers’ favorite movie from thirty years ago?
For the last couple of weeks, we have talking about some of the best movies 1988 had to offer. But before you find yourself waxing nostalgic about how they don’t make ’em like they used to, here’s a little reminder that Hollywood made just as much crap thirty years ago as they do today. If you’re looking for bad movies, sequels are usually a pretty good bet. As it turns out, 1988 was one of the worst years for sequels I have ever seen.
Happy MLK Day, everyone! It so happens that the final round of our Movies of 1988 bracket game falls on a holiday, so hopefully everyone has plenty of time to consider and cast their vote! There are usually some surprises in these annual games, but I found this year’s contest to be pretty unpredictable. When I put this together late last year, I fully expected it to come down to Die Hard vs. Beetlejuice. Turns out I was completely wrong in my predictions. Instead, we have two very funny movies either one of which would be deserving of being crowned champion. Which movie will get that honor is entirely up to you guys.
It may seem like a lifetime ago, but in the mid-nineties Neil Patrick Harris was still Doogie Howser to a lot of people. If you would have bet against the actor making the successful transition to adult roles, you wouldn’t have been alone. There was no reason to suspect that Harris would have the career he has today. In this profile from the January 1998 issue of Movieline magazine, Harris discussed his plans to distance himself from his squeaky clean TV image.
It’s time to pick our last finalist for the Movies of 1988 bracket game. We have two offbeat comedies with cartoonish sensibilities. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? blended actual animated footage of iconic cartoon characters with a live-action spoof of film noir. While Beetlejuice basically introduced American audiences to the full glory of the Tim Burton aesthetic for the first time. Which one will get a shot at the crown? That’s up to you.
We are entering the final stretch of the Movies of 1988 bracket game! It’s down to action hero Bruce Willis against of trio of very different comedies. Can any of them stop John McClane on his march to victory? Just like in Die Hard, the “fly in the ointment” finds himself opposed by a motley band of criminals led by a suave European. But the gang from A Fish Called Wanda is a whole lot sillier than the terrorists who invaded Nakatomi Plaza. Still, if Detective McClane isn’t careful, he is in imminent danger of having chips shoved up his nose.
We are rounding out the second round of the Movies of 1988 bracket game. After today’s match, we will have our final four. Today’s contest is between two popular comedies both of which had some cross-generational appeal. Roger Rabbit‘s blend of animation and live action appealed to both kids and adults. To sweeten the deal, the movie includes a heavy dose of nostalgia and some risqué gags that will go over the heads of most youngsters. Big created a fantasy that plays out differently depending on your age. Kids could fantasize what adult life and the freedom that comes with it might be like whereas adults could imagine what it might be like to recapture some of their childhood wonder.
One of these ostensibly family friendly comedies will advance to the final four and the other will be eliminated from the game.
Over the course of this bracket game, we’ve talked a lot about what a great year 1988 was for comedy. But that’s a pretty broad umbrella. Both of our movies today could be classified as comedies, but aside from laughter they don’t share a lot in common. Bull Durham is equal parts sports movie and romantic comedy. A lot of the humor comes from how perfectly Ron Shelton captures a world he knew well; minor league baseball. Beetlejuice, on the other hand, is a fantastical creation filled with oddities without a sports team or a love triangle in sight.
Today’s match-up features two movies which slyly sent-up corporate culture in the 1980’s. In Working Girl, Melanie Griffith played a put-upon secretary who finds that her hair style and tacky clothes have impaired her ability to break through the glass ceiling. Bonnie Bedelia’s character in Die Hard experiences similar career frustration. She has to go so far as to move across the country and revert to her maiden name in order to advance. And then she ends up working with some coked-up jackass who gets himself killed by terrorists. Come to think of it, if there was one thing Working Girl could have used more of, it was terrorists. Imagine Han Solo and Ellen Ripley teaming up to take on some intergalactic mercenaries. That sure would have pepped up Mike Nichols’ rom com. Where was I again? Oh yeah, today’s match features to movies with almost nothing in common.
We are kicking off the second round of our Movies of 1988 bracket game with two sublimely silly comedies about con men and criminals who are constantly trying to get one over on each other. Both A Fish Called Wanda and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels feature dim Americans pitted against sophisticated Europeans and the culture clash that results generates a lot of laughs. As does the ridiculous physical comedy. While both movies are smart, neither shies away from low-brow humor. As we keep saying, 1988 was a great year for comedy. But there’s only room for one intercontinental caper comedy in the final four. Which one will it be?
Today’s match focuses on two high-concept comedies that have’t held up as well as audiences might have expected them to. Twins was a massive hit thirty years ago. More than The Terminator, Twins was the movie that established Arnold Schwarzenegger as an A-list movie star. But as big as it was back in the day, the comedy hasn’t held up especially well. When was the last time you even thought of it? Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, on the other hand, is still pretty well liked I think. But it probably isn’t as highly regarded as we all thought it would be in the late 80’s when it was being hailed as an instant classic.
By any reasonable standard, Stockard Channing has had a pretty amazing career. In terms of movies, she’s always going to be best-known for playing Rizzo in Grease, but she was also nominated for an Oscar for Six Degrees of Separation. Where Channing has really shone is on stage and television. She has racked up an impressive list of Emmy and Tony nominations. This profile comes from the January 1998 issue of Movieline magazine. This was just before Channing started playing the first lady on The West Wing.