PRINT December 1995

Martha Frankel


It was a bad year for good movies. No Pulp Fiction, nothing that galvanized moviegoers and shot them right out of their seats. Hollywood offered little new, only recycled television shows, bad cartoons, and witless comedies. But a few films remain memorable. William Hurt’s New York accent was dreadful, but SMOKE was almost perfect. This little story of Brooklynites who connect over their cigars can be watched again and again and still offer up new insights into its characters. UNZIPPED, the documentary about fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, was a side-splitting piece of reportage, guaranteed to make you think twice before buying the newest trend in anything. And CRUMB, Terry Zwigoff’s brilliant documentary about cartoonist R. Crumb, was both exhilarating and disturbing. The film, and this man’s life, are like a car wreck: you don’t want to watch, but you can’t keep your eyes off it.


On the other hand, it was a great year for bad movies. And the worst trend in movies was the use of NAKED WOMEN WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT. In Kiss of Death, while David Caruso and Nicolas Cage did their idiotic business in the forefront, naked women gyrated behind the action, so to speak, shaking their breasts in the faces of bit players. In Sean Penn’s The Crossing Guard, Jack Nicholson takes his well of grief over the loss of his child to the strip clubs, where the mindless tits and ass only make him angrier and more obsessed. Showgirls decided to forget the plot entirely. Why bother with a story when you can just watch unclothed women? Elizabeth Berkley was so bad that her lip gloss seemed to be a major player. The script by Joe Eszterhas was both vile and inane, the dialogue so embarrassing that you had to wonder how this guy keeps working. Now that even 12-year-olds know what lap dancing is, can we please go back to making movies that have a story? But the worst part was that it contained this joke: Question: What’s the useless piece of skin around a twat called? Answer: A woman! Could you just throw up?

Martha Frankel is a contributing editor of Movieline.