ABOUT THESE REVIEWS
Here, for your edification and/or irritation, are my capsule reviews of
the 1996 films I've seen to date. These began in mid-1995 as ludicrously
brief analysis-free opinions, but have steadily lengthened over the
course of the past several months, jumping from an average of 75-100
words to an average of 300-400. The analysis quotient has risen
concurrently, to the point where these reviews now might conceivably be
of interest to people who don't happen to be close personal friends of
mine. I wish that I had time to write proper reviews and really tackle
things in detail, but, sadly, I don't. (However, I did write longer
reviews of Exotica and Kiss of Death, if you're interested.)
In addition to my brief comments, I have given each film a rating, using
the four-star rating system popularized by Leonard Maltin's Movie and
Video Guide. These ratings are not intended to indicate how "good"
or "bad" a particular film is; rather, they indicate how much I
personally liked or disliked it. As a general rule, I only see films
that are well-received by professional critics, so almost every film
reviewed here is admired by a lot of other people, regardless of what I
thought. Just because I don't like a film doesn't mean that I don't
The key to my ratings is as follows:
**** I loved it. I want to own it on laserdisc and watch it repeatedly.
***1/2 I liked it very much, and would happily see it again.
*** I liked it, either mildly or with some major reservations.
**1/2 I wanted to like it, and liked some aspects of it, but it didn't
really work for me overall.
** I didn't really like it, but it wasn't painful to sit through.
*1/2 It was painful to sit through.
* I seriously considered walking out before it ended.
zero I walked out before it ended.
Four-star ratings are pretty rare; in 1995, I allotted four stars to only
three films, out of 123 seen. (For the record, those films were
Exotica, Se7en, and Toy Story; I would probably
retroactively upgrade the ratings for Safe and Wild Reeds
from 3.5 to 4.0, after seeing them again.) The vast majority of my
ratings are in the two-to-three-star range, with 2.5 being the most
common. Because I tend to skip films that are lambasted by professional
critics, ratings below two stars are also rare; a 1.5 will often mean not
that a film is bad, but merely that its narrative is sketchy or
nonexistent, as my disdain for non-narrative film remains my major
aesthetic blind spot. The "zero" rating has only been given once in my
entire moviegoing life, to a 1988 adaptation of Isaac Asimov's short
story "Nightfall," called, appropriately, Nightfall. I left after
five minutes and snuck into another theater to see Midnight Run
for the third time. Yes, it was that bad.
New reviews will be added regularly; I generally see one to two new films
each week, and I frequently see advance screenings through NYU.