1995, one of the worst years – to pick a favourite that is. So, so many good movies. There were big hits like Se7en that impressed the audiences as well as the critics, and silly yet excellent comedies like Clueless and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. And more obscure cult movies like the unconventional vampire flick The Addiction. But I had to narrow it down, so none of these made my list. But what’s in it is pure gold. Once again all these titles are considered to be more or less cult movies. Whatever the “it factor” is in these movies that makes them “cult”, it also seems to appeal to me.
The Appreciated One:
The Usual Suspects
Kevin Spacey is a strange dude. In 1995 he starred in two great films: the before mentioned Se7en, and this one. These two praised movies happen to also be the top #22 and #23 in IMDb. Well, Spacey definitely hit big that year and became a superstar. And while I don’t necessarily think Se7en is the worse from these two, I decided to leave one out, and this happened. Despite the huge difference in US Box Office numbers (Se7en making 100 million and The Usual Suspects 23) the latter actually seems to be the more popular title today.
So what was this whole movie about? It’s a story of a heist gone wrong, told by none other than Spacey’s character, the survivor. So here we have an intricately built crime thriller with great characters and humour. And that’s pretty much the most anyone should ever know about this movie before starting to watch it. If you haven’t yet – go watch it.
Genres: Thriller, Noir
The Quality Drama:
This year’s drama is a bit unconventional one. It’s a black and white western that focuses on drama more than action – and travels on the border of fantasy. Johnny Depp plays an accountant who finds himself suddenly on the run for murdering a man. He gets help by a Native American called Nobody, who thinks Depp’s character is the poet William Blake reborn. This is how a strange journey begins.
Dead Man is a peculiar film, a slow paced one and very beautiful, also funny at times. Johnny Depp just kills again. The rest of the cast also features colourful people – and my favourites – like Iggy Pop and Crispin Glover. The movie is written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, another creative genius.
Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Historical
The Cult Movie:
Terry Gilliam did it again. I’m not the least bit surprised to adore the result when the combination is Gilliam and sci-fi. Twelve Monkeys is based on the French short film La Jetée from 1962 (worth watching). The movie is set on post-apocalyptic world where a virus has almost wiped out humanity. Not much is shown of that world, as the viewer mostly follows a convict (played by Bruce Willis) who travels back in time to find out what exactly happened, and to find a cure or a way to prevent the spreading of the virus.
The movie is a joy to watch just by its visuals and atmosphere. It handles interesting matters like extinction and predestination. It’s a well built mystery with great characters (this is where Brad Pitt showed he could ace a non-prettyboy role), and should also appeal to people who are not sci-fi nerds. There’s also a new TV series out with the same name, but I haven’t watched it yet.
Genres: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Noir
The Weird One:
La Cité des Enfants Perdus
City of Lost Children is a bizarre fantasy film by Marc Caro and Jean Pierre Jeunet. An aging scientist kidnaps children to steal their dreams. On the other parts of the city there’s a slow-witted strongman looking for his baby brother, and a resourceful girl who’s part of a thieves’ guild of orphaned children. Eventually everyone’s paths will cross.
The whole movie is like a surreal and nightmarish adventure in a mind of a child. It’s enchanting and disturbing. One can find an incredible amount of symbolism in it, or just embrace it as an imaginative adventure – a little bit like Labyrinth (except that City of Lost Children is not a family film at all).
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dark
The Obscure One:
The Young Poisoner’s Handbook
Long before Dexter there already were some stories that told everything from the point of view of the killer instead of the victims, family or the officials trying to catch them. And these stories can be so good. The Young Poisoner’s Handbook is definitely one of the successes in this field. It’s based on a true story of “The Teacup Murderer” in Great Britain in the 60s and the 70s.
The story is told in a form of a twisted and dark comedy. Its macabre humour might not be everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended) but it definitely gives this film style. The protagonist Graham is a highly intelligent young man fascinated by science. Unfortunately for people around him, his moral compass seems to be somewhat lacking. The wide-eyed Hugh O’Conor is brilliant and charming as Graham. The film has been compared to A Clockwork Orange and not without merit.
Genres: Drama, Dark, Comedy