Moments out of time 1993

Moments out of time 1993 – includes related articles on best films of the year

Richard T. Jameson

* Willing his warmest fantasy-Ellen Olenska’s embrace–into motion behind him, Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) gazes out at a window-framed winterscape along the Hudson: the aestheties of desire in The Age of Innocence…

* The one that got away in Short Cuts: a woman’s body in the water, neither lady of the lake nor rainbow trout, just dead meat for Kodak consumption…

* Any one of Johnny’s (David Thewlis) psychiatrically Socratic inquiries of a night’s worth of Naked pilgrims: to an affectless Elvira-punk in obligatory black lace, leather, and chains–“would you describe yourself as a happy little person?”; to the thick Scottish lout whose head jerks in massive tics as he periodically bellows a lost girlfriend’s name into empty London streets–“What’s it like being you?”…

* Opening of Fearless: A blank-faced man (Jeff Bridges) clutching a child leads a gaggle of grimy refugees through rows of green corn stalks; disaster’s raw shock unanchored from time or place…

* The wired quiet and summer evening dark that presses up around a prairie farmhouse, death heavy in the air; the opening of Flesh and Bone…

* Loveliest main-title sequence: The streets of Philadelphia, according to Bruce Springsteen and Jonathan Demme; promise of an epic of contemporary America–unfilled…

* Lizard climbing out of vase, The Scent of Green Papaya…

* “Put your little hand in mine…” Groundhog Day’s wake-up call from hell–or Punxsutawny, PA filling in for Dante’s Purgatorio…

* Gettysburg: Expecting to die from a pistol shot at point-blank range, Col. Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) expels a puff of air through his mustache. The hammer falls on a spent, cartridge. Chamberlain disarms the Rebel who would have killed him and says, “Wait here”…

* The first clear look at Oskar Schindler, after an elaborately reticent introduction via haberdashery, authoritative tracking shot, and the power of money: Liam Neeson’s echt-Irish physiognomy somehow transformed from within, into a profile as hawkishly Teutonic as Hans von Twardow-ski’s–Schindler’s List…

* Kieslowski’s Blue: Juliette Binoche sees a man beaten in the street beneath her window, then waits in dread for him to knock at her door…

* “I DON’T CARE!” Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones)’s bottom-line, utterly self-possessed rejoinder to Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford)’s protestation of innocence in midchase–the Fugitive…

* Scene that defines “multivalenced,” In the Name of the Father: the prison screening of The Godfather; Marlon Brando onscreen in age-and-ethnic makeup…Pete Postlethwaite (as Daniel Day-Lewis’ father) nodding off on the upper tier…the immolation of the block captain (John Benfield) who bad just shown a surprising degree of sympathy … Day-Lewis’ rejection of IRA violence … the film burning in the gate …

* Angie Dickinson punching daughter Dana Delany in the stomach, Wild Palms…

* Tina Kellegher to Colm Meaney, The Snapper: “You’re my knight in shining armor”…

* Leonardo DiCaprio checking out his stepsister’s ass, This Boy’s Life…

* Short Cuts: the screw-loose symmetry of motorcycle cop Tim Robbins, in helmet and shades, and the rocking, bobbing, dark-eyed clown head atop Anne Archer’s car…

* The Age of Innocence: The casual sexual contempt of Beaufort’s “That’s the only kind of target she’ll ever hit” when nymphlike May achieves an archer’s bull’s-eye; a rake’s myopia missing the grace of predatory innocence…

* During diplomatic toasts and elsewhere in Remains of the Day, James Fox’s perfect take on Lord Darlington’s befuddled honor and killing goodwill; an upright anachronism erasing itself before our eyes…

* Gene Hackman’s weary understanding that he is not desired by Jean Tripplehorn, or indeed anyone; the only real blood spilled in The Firm… Truer words never spoken: Johnny’s “You don’t want to fuck me–you’ll catch something cruel.” Naked…

* Sweet comedy and soul-deep yearning commingled in Bill Murray’s “Stay…” when the woman he loves (Andie MacDowell) starts to leave his bed, in Groundhog Day…

* Kurtwood Smith, Fortress: “I am enhanced!”…

* Sandal floating by on flooded bedroom floor-Rebels of the Neon God…

* Mary Steenburgen behind the Rice Krispies, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape…

* “Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’!” Expectant grand father singing the theme from “Rawhide” as he drives his daughter to the hospital–The Snapper…

* Flesh and Bone: The long drink of water in dark glasses (Gwyneth Paltrow) throws herself on the body of the grifter who was her lover and some kind of daddy (James Caan) –and lifts a time-piece to remember him by…

* A miscellaneous yet deeply gratifying image in midtrial, Philadelphia: the plaintiffs father (Robert Castle) coming back into the courtroom; out for a piss, but in for the long haul; thick of trunk, stalwart as an oak–and it doesn’t hurt that he’s the director’s Cousin Bobby…

* Other inspired familial casting: Lily Tomlin and Lili Taylor as mother and daughter, Short Cuts…

* The chilling SNICK of a cigar-clipper–signalling the precise decapitation of an after-dinner amenity or a woman’s good name–in The Age of Innocence…

* The horrific crucifixion of a false madonna in Baby of Macon: rape-by-hundreds as religious ceremony, soldiers’-night-out, and sumptuous Greenaway theater…

* Truffaut’s goddess-muse far gone into earth-mother grotesquerie: Jeanne Moreau as great red ravisher at the end of The Summer House…

* Drunken coleen to the fellow shagging her atop a handy car bonnet: “Is that you squeakin’?”–The Snapper…

* Sherri Shepard (Madeleine Stowe) scenting another woman on husband Gene (Tim Robbins)’s fingers–Short Cuts…

* Body Snatchers: Meg Tilly as the “wife,” shrieking as husband Terry Kinney flees from their house, “Where ya gonna go, Steve?”…

* A Casper the Friendly Ghost mask looking out the back window of a car; pursuers and pursued passing on a lonely Texas road, A Perfect World…

* The Pelican Brief: a D.C.-area suburban street at night–housefront, lawn, great spreading tree–rapturously well-lit (by Stephen Goldblatt) and splendidly acrawl with nameless jeopardy: the return-to-form of Alan J. Pakula…

* Little Jo (Suzy Amis) transfixed by the sight of a half-naked Chinaman (David Chung) bathing in her river, his long, black hair a wet banner; a gently telling reversal of Western sex roles, The Ballad of Little Jo…

* Carlito’s Way: The way Carlito (Al Pacino) slowly becomes physically attuned to the many vectors of impending violence in a long poolroom; an old dog running on instinct…

* A bantam warlock failed by troglodyte minions, Lance Henriksen throwing a hissy fit on the grand scale in Hard Target…

* Schindler’s List: As the baggage left behind by the latest trainload for Auschwitz is carried into a nearby warebouse, the accompanying tracking shot inventories the processes of the Holocaust in small–the sorting of eyeglasses, rings … teeth…

* Short Cuts: Claire Kane (Anne Archer) pretending to sign the guestbook at the funeral of the girl from Bakersfield…

* An almost Jamesian moment in Remains of the Day: Anthony Hopkins’ Stevens up against the mantel in his den, cornered but unfortunately never ravished by the woman–Emma Thompson’s Miss Kenton–who would have opened doors for him…

* The flat-eyed guile and pushy physicality of David Straithairn’s redneck in jockey shorts … a grufty rodent cornering A Dangerous Woman (Debra Winger) in the airless afternoon light of a deserted bungalow…

* Hara-Kiri as penitentiary theater-in-the-round: Jeremy Irons’ bloody apotheosis as his own obscure object of desire, the first and final sign of real passion in M Butterfly…

* The Ballad of Little Jo: Bo Hopkins’ expression as he gazes on the dead and disrobed body of the elusive Little Jo–so that’s why they was never friends! …

* Short Cuts: painter sister (Julianne Moore) and naked sister (Madeleine Stowe) cackle in eerie rapport after flustered husband/brother-in-law (Matthew Modine) has passed through the studio…

* Philadelphia: seconds after giving birth to their son, Lisa Miller (Lisa Summerour) loads film in the famiy camera so Joe (Denzel Washington) can take a picture…

* At Geronimo’s elegiac end, in a Florida-bound cattle-car, the lineaments of Wes Studi’s weathered face map a lost Western race and landscape …

* Erogenous zones: The tiny island of white flesh surrounded by black stocking that Harvey Keitel touches beneath Holly Hunter’s skirts in The Piano … Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer)’s naked hand, passionately ungloved by Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), an exquisite intimacy in an Age of Innocence … Marian Wyman’s (Julianne Moore) confession of casual infidelity, in Short Cuts, semaphored by flashes of red pubic hair…

* Lili Taylor’s loopily beatific smile when Jesus drops in to do a “loaves and fishes” number on the red-checked shirt she’s ironing-household Saints…

* Framed in the window of a barn, Carlotta’s tiny figure proudly astride her great white horse–a sight that ensorcels Matcello Mastroianni’s jaded soul in I Don’t Want to Talk About It…

* In the Line of Fire: Old hand Clint Eastwood sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, betting the object of his growing affections (Rene Russo) will look back as she walks away–and she does…

* The Age of Innocence: waiting for the ship to pass the fighthouse…

* In fairy-tale silence and dark of night, a silver horse flows round a moonlit curve of beach, trailing out the film’s title credit: Into the West…

* In a rare moment of authentic FX magic in Jurassic Park, a wave of little saurians sweeps over hill and dale, threatening to overrun scientist Sam Neill and the two kids he’s babysitting: “They’re herding toward us!”…

* Le Sexe Estoiles: The look on die gentleman’s face when a teenaged girl breezes into the restaurant and greets the attractive matron he’s been chatting up: “Hi, pop!”…

* The exchange of stares between Buck Henry and Lili Taylor when they collect one another’s snapshots at the Fotomat–Short Cuts…

* Like Water for Chocolate: a Rubenesque redhead, naked as a jaybird, exploding out of a burning privy in the middle of a Western prairie, to be snatched up and carried away by a bandit on horseback…

* Sea-changes: In the cold depths off the Irish coast, a drowning child finds a mother’s long hair and gathering hand where a horse’s white mane had been–Into the West … The body of a woman umbilically anchored by a piano below, the muted life of potent imagination suspended underwater, surety for everyday words and embraces on firm ground–The Piano…

* “What’s this?” The edgy delight in Jack Skellington’s musical response to the rich paraphernalia of Christmas–Night of the Living Dead hunger sweetened, but still the alien appetite of the grave, in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas…

* Postmodern prophet and reluctant audience of one lean at each other, silhouetted against white-lit windows, Naked: Brian the security guard (Peter Wight) mesmerized by Johnny’s rant about bar codes and the mark of the beast, apocalypse and the death of hope…

* The way an old man’s blood suffuses the snow in Schindler’s List: in a black-and-white hell, the stain of this sin seems to let in all the darkness there is…

* Christopher Walken playing flawless Sicilian-psychotic variations on his do-you-believe-this-shit? reaction to Dennis Hopper’s calculated insults, during a typically explosive interrogation in True Romance…

* Arne’s obese mother (Darlene Cates) cradles her retarded son, begging him never to “disappear” again: being there in a What’s Eating Gilbert Grape pieta…

* The way Kevin Costner pronounces “Philip,” in A Perfect World: overly precise, almost prissy, a damaged child’s babytalk thinly veneered in grownup formality…

* “That is a good painting!”–the centered certitude of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Short Cuts…

* An angle on a parking garage no one has ever done before–the Pelican Brief ..

* Charles Grodin’s deserted sheet music just barely seen to blow away in the sidewash from the bus after it has picked him up; now and again, Ron Underwood’s direction comes near imparting a genuine delicacy to Heart and Souls’ facile, much-rewritten fantasy

* Geronimo: Walter Hill/Lloyd Ahem’s zoom-lens version of one of the big shots in Sam Fuller’s Run of the Arrow, with Gene Hackman (as General Crook) in the Tim McCoy position for an Indian parley

* From the kitchen one floor below, a Jurassic Park velociraptor rises straight up into the camera and among the humans scrambling for safety: virtual reality pushing the envelope…

* The Snapper: baton twirler in shaving foam practicing to the phono accompaniment of “My Irish Molly”…

* Camera angle and hillside conspire to mute, yet somehow heighten, the glancing contact of Doreen Piggot (Lily Tomlin)’s car and Casey Finnigan (Zane Cassidy)–death commonplace and teasingly deferred in Short Cuts…

* The aesthetics of casual murder, Schindler’s List: we see the bullet impacts from the pair of rifle shots that bracket the Jewish servant-boy, who never veers or turns to look over his shoulder; cut to Itzhak Stem (Ben Kingsley), walking a similar course a few yards behind, flinching at the third gunshot but pressing on, to pass the bloodied. boy without comment or further glance …

* Just at dawn, the blue-saturated silence that envelops the circus grounds as Carlotta finally finds her real home and family–I Don’t Want to Talk About It..

* Tom Waits praising Lily Tomlin’s trailer cuisine, Short Cuts: “You make the food look like a little show down there”…

* The Snapper–Nothing on telly, so Dessie (Colm Meaney) has to wonder: Suppose a ride is out of the question?” Wife (Ruth McCabe), knitting and purling: “Hang on till I get this line done”…

* The camera recedes from, circles, and returns–after a sweep of miles and eons–to a man (Matthew Modine) poised on the lip of the Grand Canyon: the metaphysics of identity in one vertiginous shot at the end of Equinox…

* “Is that a map of Ireland … or a damp patch?” Naked…

* Bats swarming for earthquake and murder, Short Cuts…

* Philadelphia: The closeup of Andy Beckett (Tom Hanks), on the sidewalk outside the offices of the tenth lawyer (Denzel Washington) to tum down his case …

* The last line/shot of the haiku that is The Scent of Green Papaya: film and woman ripened into fruit

* The Snapper: Des Curley, his granddaughter safely born, studies the foam on a perfectly achieved Guinness…

RICHARD T. JAMESON

BEST OF 1993 I The Age of Innocence The Piano The Scent of Green Papaya Short Cuts II Blue/Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Fearless, flesh and Bone, Groundhog Day, Naked, A Perfect World, Schindler’s List, The Snapper IIa Homicide / NYPD Blue III Equinox, Farewell My Concubine, The Fugitive, In the Line of Fire, In the Name of the Father, Ruby in Paradise, True Romance ACTORS Jeff Bridges, Fearless Colm Meaney, The Snapper David Caruso and Dennis Franz, NYPD Blue Jeff Daniels, Gettysburg Bruno Kirby, Fallen Angels ACTRESSES Holly Hunter, The Piano Michelle Pfeiffer, Age of Innocence Rosie Perez, Fearless Ashley Judd, Ruby in Paradise Jennifer Jason Leigh, Short Cuts NEWEST OLD MOVIE Story of a Cheat BEST DIRECT-TO-VIDEO MOVIE The Refrigerator BEST COMEDY HALF-HOUR THAT WASN’T SEINFELD OR THE LARRY SAMDERS SHOW Dream On: |Pop Secret’ UNINTENTIONAL SELF-PARODY The Remains of the Day GUILTY AS SIN The Crush (not Crush), Falling Down, Flight of the Innocent, Indecent Proposal, Kalifornia, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Sliver OVERACHIEVER OF THE YEAR Noncritic Michael Medved, who succeeded in lowering his standing even further by suggesting that The Piano’s Jane Campion won critics groups’ Best Director awards on a sympathy vote over the death of her newborn son

GAVIN SMITH

BEST FILMS OF 1993 The Age of innocence A Brighter Summer Day Savage Nights/Les Nuits Fauves Toutes Peines Confondues Body Snatchers The Long Day Closes Geronimo Naked Raining Stones and Riff-Raff Heaven and Earth and Dien Bien Phu Short Cuts II Ladro di Bambini BEST METACINEMA True Romance; Jurassic Park; The Pelican Brief (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Movie Star) SPECIAL MENTION J’Embrasse Pas, Andre Techine World (The Price of Love), New Order music video, d. Baillie Grant Hated. G.G. Allin and the Murder Junkies (documentary that makes This Is Spinal Tap look like D.A. Pennebaker) Rebels of the Neon God, Tsai Ming-Liang Map of the Human Heart Tall Ships, Gary Hill, video installation, Whitney Biennial UNDERRATED Bound by Honor aka Blood In, Blood Out (’93’s best Disney movie) Alive (’93’s second-best Disney movie) Lost Action Hero (esp. Hamlet trailer) Boxing Helena BEST CREDIT SEQUENCE Flesh and Bone

KATHLEEN MURPHY

The Age of Innocence The Piano The Scent of Green Papaya Schindler’s List Short Cuts The Snapper Naked Blue/Trois Couleurs. Bleu Flesh and Bone and Fearless WHAT ARE LITTLE GIRLS MADE OF? MARATHON Farewell My Concubine Le Sexe des Etoiles I Don’t Want to Talk About It The Ballad of Little Jo

NEW FACES

Aside from Ashley Judd (Ruby in Paradise), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List), Leonardo DiCaprio (What’s Eating Glbert Grope), and David Thewlis (Naked), who all justly received their dues: Gwyneth Paltrow, Flesh and Bone As James Caan’s young sidekick, she hauntingly captured a flat affectlessness, a matter-of-fact amorality; there’s no trace of sentimentality in her hard eyes. Romaine Bohringer, Les Nuits Fauves A performance of stunning commitment and frightening abandon, her striking androdgynous looks and tempestuous energy took the film by storm. Roberto Sosa, Lolo, Angel del Fuego, Highway Patrolman Appealing innocence, animal cunning and tormented self-loathing seem to coexist in this boyish Mexican actor’s expressive face. Jerry Adler, Manhattan Murder Mystery The soft-spoken wife-murdering neighbor, his dull-creepy blandness had the ring of truth — the killer as lowbrow bore. Lesley Sharp, Naked As David Thewlis’ frustrated ex, subsisting in bedsitland London, she was the film’s calm, moral eye of the storm. By turns passive, resolute, self-doubting, and generous, she painted with startling accuracy a very recognizable Northern English-twentysomething type. Don Baker, In the Name of the Father One of the year’s best debuts, this Irish musician was chillingly authentic as the quietly self-sufficient, infinitely dangerous IRA prisoner. As a brute in a suit, beneath the casual sadism he demonstrated a hilarious capacity for sentimentality in a motel room interlude with intended-victim Patricia Arquette. Ewen Bremner, Naked Memorable sketch as a unintelligibly accented Scots runaway. Twitchy, belligerent, distracted — his behavior was undiluted inner-city pathology.

-Gavin Smith

COLLECTOR’S ITEMS

Keith Szarabalka, A Perfect World Excellent as the dim, runty psychopath convict — Kevin Costner’s escape partner — who gets held at gunpoint by a 9-year-old.

Forest Whitaker, Body Snatchers Seemingly capable of making minor roles (two scenes here as a very paranoid Army major) memorable by force of personality, he remains a quietly compelling, valuable screen presence.

Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park A textbook example of comic relief; Goldblum is great at wringing every drop of sarcasm and irony from the film’s wisecracker-in-peril archetype. So good, in fact, that the movie, reluctant to kill him off imagine the shock had it done so), doesn’t know what to do with him in the last act.

Lucinda Jenney, American Heart As Jeff Bridges’ cabdriver lover, her good-natured wariness and been-around reserve evoke an entire unstated history. Also sympathetic as the mother in Matinee and memorable as the waitress questioned by Harvey Keitel in Thelma & Louise.

David Caruso, Mad Dog and Glory As De Niro’s feisty cop partner, ready to get In your face. Seriously underused, until NYPD Blue, his reckless aggression and volatile emotional energy were put on the map by King of New York

Patrika Darbo, In the Line of Fire Brief but memorably sympathetic as a bank employee killed by John Malkovich. Movies have little use for the unglamorous; Darbo is a fine instance of an honesty they can benefit from.

John Turturro, Fearless Imaginatively cast as an unprepossessing crash-disaster psychiatrist, he found refreshing pockets of humor in the character’s tactful hesitations and never resorted to cheap shots.

Robert Pastorelli, Striking Distance Worth checking out this B-pic to catch his manic, near-cartoon scene-stealing as a serial-killer cop.

CHRIS CHANG

A Brighter Summer Day, Savage Nights, Naked, The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, Dark at Noon, The Abyss: Special Edition, Hated, Blue (Kieslowski), Blue (Jarman), Blue (NYPD)

GODFREY CHESHIRE

The Age of Innocence, Close-up, Time indefinite, The Puppetmaster, II Ladro di Bambini, Savage Nights, Ruby in Paradise, La Sentinelle, The Piano, Schindler’s List

RICHARD CORLISS

The Age of Innocence, The Simpsons: Mr. Burns’ Casino but really the whole year), Leolo, Farewell My Concubine, The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, The Long Day Closes, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Piano, Groundhog Day, The Secret Garden

MOLLY HASKELL

The Piano, The Story of Qiu Ju, Groundhog Day, Short Cuts, The Long Day Closes, Olivier, Olivier, Borjo, Farewell My Concubine, Flesh and Bone, The Last Days of Chez Nous, A Perfect World, Rock Hudson’s Home Movies

PETER HOGUE

IN ORDER VIEWED: Passion Fish, Olivier, Olivier, II Ladro di Bambini, Calendar, Simple Men, Danzon, A Bronx Tale, Un Coeur en Hiver, Opening Night, Intervista

ROBERT HORTON

ALPHABETICAL: The Age of Innocence, Dazed and Confused, Gettysburg, Groundhog Day, It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles, The Last Days of Chez Nous, The Piano, The Scent of Green Papaya, Schindler’s List, Three Colors: Blue

HARLAN KENNEDY

Short Cuts, The Piano HEREAFTER ALPHABETICAL: The Age of Innocence, Farewell My Concubine, Groundhog Day, In the Line of Fire, The Long Day Closes, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Orlando, Schindler’s List, The Wedding Banquet

DONALD LYONS

The Age of Innocence, II Ladro di Bambini, Flesh and Bone, True Romance, King of the Hill, Les Nuits Fauves, Matinee, Scent of Green Papaya, Malice, Dazed & Confused/Totally Fucked Up

ANDREW SARRIS

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE: Bad Behaviour, Flesh and Bone, The Piano, The Long Day Closes, Riff-Raff, Short Cuts, Groundhog Day, King of the Hill, The Age of Innocence, The Remains of the Day, The Last Days of Chez Nous, A Perfect World FOREIGN-LANGUAGE: The Story of Qiu Ju, Barjo, Un Coeur en Hiver, Olivier, Olivier, Farewell My Concubine, The Accompanist, Like Water for Chocolate, Betty, Tito and Me, La Vie de Boheme

RICHARD SCHICKEL

ALPHABETICAL: Un Coeur en Hiver, Farewell My Concubine, Groundhog Day, In the Line of Fire, King of the Hill, A Perfect World, Schindler’s List, Shadowlands, The Snapper

DALE THOMAJAN

My moviegoing budget being limited to an occasional roll of quarters, I’ve seen few films released in 1993. I hope the readers of Film Comment will accept instead, along with my best wishes for a nifty ’94, my Ten Best list for 1963. The Easy Life, The Sound of Trumpets, Knife in the Water, America, America, My Life to Live, Hud, Shock Corridor, 8 1/2, Sparrows Can’t Sing, Pickpocket

ANNE THOMPSON

The Piano, Farewell My Concubine, The Age of Innocence, Short Cuts, Orlando, Naked, Schindler’s List, Ruby in Paradise, Story of Qiu Ju, The Joy Luck Club TV-MOVIES: Barbarians at the Gate, Gypsy

ARMOND WHITE

The Long Day Closes, Short Cuts, Naked, Schindler’s List, Equinox, Guelwaar, Jurassic Park, Geronimo, Highway Patrolman, Untamed Heart, Time Indefinite

COPYRIGHT 1994 Film Society of Lincoln Center

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