The Independent's critical guide to the top films of 1997
Very Weird, Very Good
Kissed (d. Lynne Stopkewich) Starring Molly Parker and Peter Outerbridge. Rated R. A daring and gorgeous Canuck take on necrophilia.
Crash (d. David Cronenberg) Starring James Spader, Holly Hunter and Deborah Unger. NC-17. A twisted and provoking Canuck take on auto-eroticism.
Lost Highway (d. David Lynch) Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette. Rated R. The mastermind behind Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet does the migration of souls.
Movies only on the list of Montana reviewers because the rest of the world saw them when they came out last year
Sling Blade (d. Billy Bob Thornton) Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam and Lucas Black. Rated R. A classic tale of Thornton's good vs. Yoakam's evil.
The English Patient (d. Anthony Minghella) Starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas. Rated R. Not as good as the book, but what movie ever is? A stunning visual complement to Michael Ondaatje's fine novel.
Movies that only uptight prudes didn't like
The People vs. Larry Flynt (d. Milos Forman) Starring Woody Harrelson, Countney Love and Edward Norton III. Rated R. Woody rolls, Cobain's widow rocks in this complete tour de force.
Ulee's Gold (d. Victor Nuñez) Starring Peter Fonda and Patricia Robertson. Rated PG-13. A redemption for Fonda, this flick moves like honey: slow and sweet.
Scream 2 (d. Wes Craven) Starring Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell and David Arquette. Rated R. Hip, smart, fun and scary too.
Paris Was A Woman (d. Greta Schiller) NR. Not the most scintillating documentary, but an intriguing look at the most vibrant time and place of 20th century literature.
Movie that deserves its own Bottom Ten list all to itself
Fire Down Below (d. Félix Enrîquez Alcalá) Starring Steven Seagal, Marg Helgenberger and Kris Kristofferson. Rated R. Seagal's effort to champion environmental causes gets pulverized by his own grotesque ego. Look for his next vomitous effort filmed near Ennis next year.
1) L.A. Confidential (d. Curtis Hanson) Starring Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger. Rated R.
2) Deconstructing Harry (d. Woody Allen) Starring Billy Crystal, Demi Moore and Robin Williams. Rated R.
3) Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (d. Errol Morris) Documentary. Rated PG.
4) Boogie Nights (d. Paul Thomas Anderson) Starring Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore. Rated R.
5) Titanic (d. James Cameron) Starring Leanardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Rated PG-13.
6) John Grisham's The Rainmaker (d. Francis Ford Coppola) Starring Matt Damon and Danny Devito. Rated PG-13.
7) Starship Troopers (d. Paul Verhoeven) Starring Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer and Michael Ironside. Rated R.
8) Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (d. Jay Roach) Starring Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley. Rated PG-13.
9) Amistad (d. Steven Speilberg) Starring Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey and Djimon Hounson. Rated R.
10) Face/Off (d. John Woo) Starring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. Rated R.
1) Contact (d. Roger Zemeckis) Starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Rated PG-13.
2) Emma (d. Douglas McGrath) Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam and Ewan McGregor. Rated PG.
3) Sling Blade
4) Koyla (d. Jan Sverák) Starring Zdenek Sverák and Andrej Chamilon. Rated PG-13.
5) L.A. Confidential
6) In and Out (d. Frank Oz) Starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack and Matt Dillon. Rated PG-13.
7)Shine (d. Scott Hicks) Starring Geoffrey Rush, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Lynn Redgrave. Rated PG-13.
8) Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion (d. David Mirkin) Starring Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow.
9) Temptress Moon (d. Kaige Chen) Starring Gong Li and Leslie Cheung. Rated R.
10) Ulee's Gold
Megan McNamer's Roundup '97
A handy guide to 20 movies in no particular order
Microcosmos -- (d. Claud Nuridsany and Marie Pérennon) Documentary. Rated G. Snails kissing with wet, popping sounds. Both an alien world and an analogue of ours. You'll think of yourself as some approximation of a bug. (Three stars.)
When We Were Kings -- (d. Leon Gast) Documentary. Rated PG. Faded white writers remember witnessing glory. The apotheosis of The Greatest. This is ecstatically about winning. Has Muhammad Ali. (Four stars.)
Titanic -- (d. James Cameron) Rated PG-13. How is it a sunken ship becomes uplifting? We enter a private world on the perpetual upswing of creation. Has Kate Winslet. (Three-and-a-half stars.)
The Devil's Own -- (d. Alan J. Pakula) Rated R. More storyhour than story. "Let's play IRA."Has Brad Pitt, who is too cornfed to be a proper Irish terrorist. (Two stars.)
Fierce Creatures -- (d. Fred Schepisi and Robert Young) Rated PG-13. Breasts and bandicoots. A zoo striving to be big, provocative, and downright daunting achieves only a wobbly, antique charm. Has Jamie Lee Curtis. (Three stars.)
Some Mother's Son -- (d. Terry George) Rated R. Dying for Ireland is supplanted with living for your mum. Has John Lynch as Bobby Sands, a proper Irish terrorist. (Three stars.)
In the Company of Men -- (d. Neil LaBute) Rated R. A clever movie about cruelty. Fun to watch and frightening to think about. Inspires an odd, involuted twist of the heart. (Three stars.)
Marvin's Room -- (d. Jerry Zaks) Rated PG-13. Dying daddy, psychotic teenager, goofy Aunt Ruth. Has Leonardo Di Caprio. (Two-and-a-half stars.)
American Buffalo -- (d. Michael Corrente) Rated R. A lot of interesting waiting for what never comes. Compelling types. It's Mamet. Has Dustin Hoffman. (Two-and-a-half stars.)
Mad City -- (d. Costa Gavras) Rated PG-13. Suffers from the affliction it is trying to describe. (Media stuff.) Has John Travolta. (Two-and-a-half stars.)
My Best Friend's Wedding -- (d. P.J. Hogan) Rated PG-13. Effective like any overwrought wedding can be. Inspires both sneers and tears. Has Julia Roberts. (Two stars.)
Hamlet -- (d. Kenneth Branagh) Rated PG-13. A murdered papa, a pernicious mama and a very difficult child. Too indoors. Lacks chill. Has Kenneth Branagh. (Two stars.)
Ghosts of Mississippi -- (d. Rob Reiner) Rated PG-13. History book square. The quavery nature of hate just doesn't come through. Takes a violent subject then tries not to stir things up. Has Whoopi Goldberg. (Two stars.)
Dante's Peak -- (d. Roger Donaldson) Rated PG-13. Close-ups of silly putty would have done the job. The mud flows provide many monster truck moments. Has Pierce Brosnan. (Two stars.)
The Game -- (d. David Fincher) Rated R. Ominous but never scary. Notes from the Hitchcock class, scrambled. Has Sean Penn. (Two stars.)
Excess Baggage -- (d. Marco Brambilla) A likable movie without goals. Has Alicia Silverstone. (Two stars.)
Gattaca -- (d. Andrew M. Niccol) Rated PG-13. Stylistic torpor. A future that feels dated. Somehow evokes car ads from the sixties. Has Uma Thurman. (Two stars.)
Seven Years in Tibet -- (d. Jean Jacques Annaud) Rated PG-13. Never mind the problem of icons, it captures the quality of the air at higher elevations. Has Brad Pitt and still succeeds. (Three stars.)
Gabbeh -- (d. Mohsen Makhmalbaf) NR. Wind and space and flowing water. You'll feel as if you're riding a large, slow-turning wheel. From Iran. (Three stars.)
The Lost World -- (d. Steven Speilberg) Rated R. Not a movie, a movie event. Chase-and-chomp. Has Jeff Goldblum. (Three stars.)
-- Megan McNamer