"KEEP BUSTIN'."

The Player

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

“It’s an art movie. Doesn’t count. I’m talkin about movie movies.”

April 10, 1992

I have enjoyed some of Robert Altman’s movies over the years, but never became a full-on “he’s one of my favorites” convert like so many film buffs a little older than me. In fact the only ones I’ve ever reviewed are MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, POPEYE and NASHVILLE. POPEYE was definitely the first Altman movie I saw, since it starred my biggest childhood hero (not Robin Williams – Popeye). THE PLAYER was the first one I watched as a grown-ish person trying to see good movies for adults.

I don’t hear people talk about it that much these days, but it has an 86 on Metacritic, which they quantify as “universal acclaim.” And it has a Criterion Edition. I remember it being viewed as a major cultural event in the film coverage I read in magazines and alternative weeklies of the time. In his review, Roger Ebert brought up Wall Street scandals and said the movie “uses Hollywood as a metaphor for the avarice of the 1980s,” but in my memory people enjoyed it as a satire of Hollywood executives. My most specific memory about it was a certain cameo in a movie-within-the-movie meant to parody the “pat Hollywood endings” joked about throughout the movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

FernGully: The Last Rainforest (and the weird animation of summer ’92, part 1)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

“This ‘weird creature’ is a human!”


FERNGULLY: THE LAST RAINFOREST is a well-meaning but not so great movie that was more successful than most of the non-Disney animated features in this very strange early ‘90s period. It didn’t make a ton of money, but it seemed to capture the imagination of some kids, and even got a DTV sequel in 1998. I would venture to guess it will be the most normal animated feature of summer ’92, but like most of the movies that were trying to compete with Disney without doing something drastically different from them, it feels kinda off and out of touch.

It reunites PUMP UP THE VOLUME couple Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis, this time with Mathis as the lead and Slater as the jealous secondary boy in her life. Mathis (before SUPER MARIO BROS.) plays a hummingbird-sized fairy named Crysta, and Slater is her shirtless male friend Pips. They fly around and can turn into blue and green (respectively) light and they live in a rainforest that’s supposed to be in Australia and has kangaroos and platypuses living in it. Also there are little goblin guys voiced by Cheech and Chong who fly around on large beetles, but I was a little distracted that they sit on top of their wings, so the beetles seem to just magically float. (read the rest of this shit…)

Thunderheart

Monday, May 16th, 2022

April 3, 1992

“We choose the right to be who we are.”


THUNDERHEART is not a weird movie like some of these other 1992 releases, but it’s a pretty unusual one: a procedural thriller that attempts to shine a light on real life injustices taking place on tribal land in the U.S. An opening title says “This story was inspired by events that took place on several American Indian reservations during the 1970’s.” From what I’ve read it’s largely inspired by the Wounded Knee Incident of 1973, but director Michael Apted (COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER) also released the documentary INCIDENT AT OGLALA later in the summer, and that was about similar clashes between traditional and Americanized Sioux and a shootout with the FBI on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. I assume those events influenced it as well.

After the murder of tribal council member Leo Fast Elk (Allan R.J. Joseph, later a stuntman on DESPERADO) on a South Dakota reservation, FBI Agent Ray Levoi (Val Kilmer following his MTV Movie Awards nominated role in THE DOORS) gets called to Washington DC by his boss (Fred Dalton Thompson, who had ACES: IRON EAGLE III coming out in June). They know from his file that he has mixed Native heritage through his biological father, but he’s so out of touch with it he has to be told it’s Sioux and that his father died when he was 7 (he says it was when he was a baby). It’s just not a part of his life, but they make it very clear that they’ve chosen him for this case so they can tell the locals he’s one of them. “You’re going in there as who you are— an American Indian federal officer.” Should go great. (read the rest of this shit…)

Delicatessen

Friday, May 13th, 2022

“Just like you said, the wind’s shifting. Everyone’s gonna get it.”


At the 65th Academy Awards, the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar went to a French film – the historical drama INDOCHINE. I’m sure it was great, but people like me didn’t know to pay attention to movies like that. We paid attention to the French film that we heard was really cool looking and darkly funny and had something to do with cannibalism. That was DELICATESSEN, the feature debut of directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro, which Miramax released in the U.S. on April 3, 1992, a year after it came out in France.

I don’t know how many screens it played on, because it didn’t make enough to show up on the box office charts, but I think it traveled around for a while. I remember seeing ads for it at the arthouse theaters – it was a much discussed cult movie of its time. Since this is maybe the most interesting of the April releases that kept playing into the summer it seemed like the best way to kick off this 1992 – Weird Summer series. (read the rest of this shit…)

Prelude: 1992 – Weird Summer (featuring Check Your Head)

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

It doesn’t seem like it yet in my part of the world, but summer is almost here, and that means that I will once again be starting a summer movie retrospective. This year I’ve decided to look back at the summer of 30 years ago in a series I’m calling 1992 – WEIRD SUMMER. ‘Cause it was kind of a weird summer, you know? The overall selection of films was unusual, and a bunch of the movies – even the big blockbuster sequels – were not exactly aimed at the normal people with the normal tastes. I’ll try to review most of the major movies of interest, and when applicable I plan to zero in on the theme of weirdness (both intentional and unintentional), the artists who managed to push weirdness into major movies, and how people reacted to it at the time. (read the rest of this shit…)