My Favorite Films of 1991

Ninety One was a good year at the cinema. Here is a run down of the five I enjoyed the most.

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5) Point Break (Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey) I love a good heist movie, and this is one of my favorites. A young Keanu plays Johnny Utah, an FBI agent who goes under cover to infiltrate a band of rogue surfers who may also be bank robbers. Patrick Swayze plays the antagonist, but plays it really cool. Point Break has a really good cast: Gary Busey, Lori Petty, and John C. McGinley also star. It has a total 90’s feel, and even has a guest spot by members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This film is a good waste of a couple hours.

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4) Boyz n The Hood (Directed by John Singleton, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Lawrence Fishburne, Ice Cube) This inner-city drama is a sobering reminder that every action has a consequence. Boyz is a coming of age story about the struggles of growing up in a dangerous community, raised by single parents, and just trying to stay alive. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube are amazing as friends growing up in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. The movie captures the racial and economical tension the city endured in the early 1990’s. A very serious tone and some gritty performances make this must watch.

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3) Cape Fear (Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis) This beauty is Scorsese’s vision of the 1962 Cape Fear that starred Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. Both versions are based on the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name. I have watched the majority of Robert DeNiro’s films, and I have to say that his portrayal of ex-con Max Cady is in my opinion, his best. He plays a smart, cunning, intimidating, and savage man obsessed with getting “revenge” on his defense attorney, played by Nick Nolte. This is how a thriller should be made. DeNiro is far and away the best part of the film, and the Max Cady character should be considered one of the greatest movie villains of all time.

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2) Silence of the Lambs (Directed by Jonathan Demme, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Ted Levine) Silence of the Lambs was released on Valentine’s Day in 1991. That would have been a hell of a date. Based on the Thomas Harris novel, this almost flawless film is an example of all aspects of a movie coming together brilliantly. Besides the 1986 film Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs was the first mainstream introduction to Dr. Hannibal Lector. I don’t think I need to tell you what he is about. Sir Anthony Hopkins nails the character, and gives us the chills with his portrayal. Jodie Foster is amazing as the naïve rookie FBI agent assigned to interview Lector. The character of Jame Gumb (aka Buffalo Bill) is a turbo creep, and created many moments that are still relevant in pop culture. This film spawned a bunch of prequel/sequels, and a television, show which deserved a much better fate than it received. From top to bottom, Silence of the Lambs is about as much bang for your buck you can get out of a film.

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1) The Doors (Directed by Oliver Stone, starring Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachalin) The Doors movie is not the best movie on this list, but it is my favorite. Around this time in my life, I was obsessed with Jim Morrison. The music, the lifestyle, the debauchery, it all spoke to me. This film basically put all the things that I imagined into something that I could visualize. My friend Brian (also a huge Doors fan) and I probably watched the VHS every weekend for months. It was a ritual. It was a time and a place in my life that I enjoyed. Val Kilmer was the perfect choice to play Morrison. He looked and sounded so much like the “Lizard King”, that he did the majority of the singing in the film. Director Oliver Stone is a master at capturing a certain time period, and the 60’s come to life in this movie. The Doors is also a tribute to Jim and Pamela Courson’s devotion to each other, even as dysfunctional as their relationship was. That is my kind of love story. This is my favorite movie of 1991, as well as my favorite music biography turned film. It showcased the defiance of a tortured artist, which is the way I thought I felt as a 16 year old dumb kid.

T.

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Top Five – Favorite Screen Serial Killers

Each and every one of us have a little darkness in our soul. It is just human nature.We all go a little mad sometimes…but these next five gentlemen take it maybe a little too far. I am sure they each have their reason for murdering people, but the difference between them and some regular fit-of-rage Joe Blow murderer is that they carefully plot out each and every detail so they don’t get caught. Almost admirable, but wrong none the less. My list has been chosen through a couple of factors. First being style AND substance. You can be as cool as you want, but if you are not smart, you are not a great serial killer. Second being the level of cruelty these characters inflict upon their victims. Please enjoy my top five Hollywood serial killers.

5. Dexter Morgan (Dexter, TV Series played by Michael C. Hall)  Dexter should be higher on my list, but because his kills were restricted to victims whom “deserved to die”, he is bumped down. Dexter had a code, and he pretty much stuck to it. What made Dexter a unique character was that he definitely had a human side. His inner dialogue always had him claim he was a monster, but he was also a husband, father, and brother. The show declined after the fourth season, but when the show was on its game, it was great. Dexter may have been the most intelligent of these five men. After all he did last eight seasons.

4. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, played by Christian Bale)  Young, rich, handsome, and insane. Sounds like the American dream to me. A few things drove Patrick Bateman to murder. Professional jealousy and vanity were the main reasons. The man put on a rain coat and laid down newspapers so he would not get Paul Allen‘s blood all over his luxurious furniture…while Mr. Allen sat there drinking a cocktail. For those that have seen this film, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that Huey Lewis and the News meant something different after this film came out.

3. Sweeny Todd (Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, played by Johnny Depp)  Some musicals are good, some are terrible. Well, most are terrible, but what if you add a maniacal barber who dispatches his victims while they sit down for a trim and a shave. Sweeny Todd not only slits the throats of the good people of London, but he also struck a deal with the neighboring pie shop below. Sweeny kills ’em, and Mrs. Lovett will them into pies. The people of London are eating their own. Sweeny gets bonus points for inventive disposal of his victim’s bodies. Wonderfully dark film with a great cast, including Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

2. Hannibal Lector (Hannibal, TV Series, played by Mads Mikkelsen)  Hannibal Lector has been portrayed three times. First, by Brian Cox in the 1986 film Manhunter, followed by an incomparable performance by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs and also in the 2001 release Hannibal. The most recent and current Dr. Lector is played by Mads Mikkelsen on the NBC drama Hannibal. The big screen version of this character from Silence of the Lambs is an incredible work by Hopkins and the film deserves all the attention it has received. I chose the current television version of Hannibal Lector simply because there has been significantly more time to develop the character, and make him more dynamic, and quite frankly, demonic. “The Chesapeake Ripper”  is a man of well refined taste and talent, and a world-class chef when it comes to human flesh. Hannibal is far more than a cannibal. He is also a master manipulator and plays each other character on the show as he pleases. It is a sickening shame that NBC will pull the plug on this show at the end of the current season. It is truly enjoyable and has pushed the boundaries of network television with its mature content.

1. Jame Gumb “Buffalo Bill” (Silence of the Lambs, played by Ted Levine)  Although not the most amount of screen time a serial killer of this ilk deserves, what we do see of “Buffalo Bill” has left a lasting impression on all of us. Mr. Gumb is an all time creep, and the most disturbed serial killer I recall seeing in cinema or television. What gives him this distinction, you ask? Jame Gumb kidnaps his victims, usually larger females (because they have more skin) and keeps them hostage deep in a hole in his basement. This is all done in preparation to skin them and turn them into suits that he can wear. If that is not enough, he also loves moths, and stuffs one down the throat of his victim’s bodies while he discards them. Ted Levine plays this absolutely disturbed maniac brilliantly. There are a handful of scenes involving this character that have become pop culture references that you see from time to time, including a reference in Clerks II that is equally funny and disturbed. “Would you f**k me…?”

Honorable mention: Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs), Mickey and Malory Knox (Natural Born Killers), The Trinity Killer (Dexter), Norman Bates (Psycho 1960)