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Best of 1994 (part 2)

Read Part 1

We continue our look at 1994, the third best year of the '90s for movies. In some ways, 1994 was the Year of Jim Carrey. He burst onto the scene with three funny movies. I ask you in all seriousness: has any comedian ever had a year where they produced three movies funnier than ACE VENTURA, THE MASK and DUMB AND DUMBER?

1994 was also a big year for controversy, and before I go any farther I need to do a:

Dishonorable Mention - NATURAL BORN KILLERS – The film is savagely brilliant, and deserves to be on any year’s best-of list. However, I completely reject Oliver Stone’s assertion that the movie satirizes the Media’s obsession with making Criminals Celebrities. You cannot claim to sit in judgment of what you clearly are celebrating.

#10-6 contain four big budget Hollywood films, showing that occasionally they could get it right. I enjoyed such popcorn flicks as THE CLIENT, NORTH, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, THE GETAWAY, BLUE CHIPS, DISCLOSURE. WOLF, JUNIOR, FRANKENSTEIN, STARGATE and even MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (although I still recommend the original heartily).

Well, without further ado, here are the next five from 1994:

#10 TRUE LIES – Arguably Arnold’s best non-travelling back from the future movie, TRUE LIES had the added bonus of being very very funny. Tom Arnold was so funny I remain shocked he couldn’t make a serious run at Buddy-film stardom (you’re telling me Tom Arnold wouldn’t have been funnier than Owen Wilson in those Jackie Chan films?) I’m also surprised they didn’t make a sequel, as Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis had great chemistry, not to mention how hot Eliza Dushku turned out. Tia Carrerre, Bill Paxton and Charlton Heston have great smaller parts. The whole thing works, except for one small part: the anti-Arab bias is as embarrassing as those ‘40s cartoons that are now usually banned. Still, it was the times, I guess, and TRUE LIES has so much to offer.

#9 INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE – Continiuing the year’s theme of forbidden underage love, Brad Pitt and a then-11 year old Kirsten Dunst deliver some of the hottest most erotic scenes of the year (and it’s “okay” because they are both vampires, and therefore she’s not young). Pitt and Dunst are fantastic, Tom Cruise surprised everyone by how great he played the role, and we were introduced to Antonio Banderas (we’d soon come to know him better). INTERVIEW may not be the very best vampire movie ever, but it might be. Can anyone name one better?

#8 BULLETS OVER BROADWAY – Woody Allen’s best film of the decade. I know it was a down decade for him, but BULLETS is still hillarious. John Cusack, Rob Reiner, Chazz Palminteri, Jennifer Tilly and Jim Broadbest are fabulous, but Diane Wiest gives what is perhaps the best supporting performance by a woman in the entire decade. She owns the movie as an aging theatre star trying to make one more comeback. For those who hate Woody know that he isn’t in this. A remarkable intelligent comedy; so worthwhile.

#7 FOREST GUMP – Without question not the best film of the year, but so likable that it’s hard to hold it against people who voted that way. Tom Hanks is wonderful (again, definitely not the best performance of the year, but so likable it’s hard to get mad), and the movie's “gimmick” is so powerful that we forgive it a multitude of schmaltz. I’ve read the book, and they made a fantastic decision to get rid of the pessimistic tone and make Forrest the ultimate optimist. Two years into Clinton America needed this. We still do.

#6 THE LION KING – Everyone has their favorite Disney film, but it’s hard to argue that they reached the pinnacle of production values, star power, music quality and event programming in THE LION KING. The first cartoon to be a “must see” opening night kind of thing, THE LION KING burst onto the scene and didn’t disappoint. Full of chills, thrills, laughs and gaffes (S-E-X, anyone?), THE LION KING had something for everybody, and is the one Disney movie that nobody hates. Still worthwhile.

Up Monday: The top five films of 1994

Best of the '90s #3 - 1994

1994 is such a tremendous year for movies. You had your blockbusters, many of which were good movies besides raking in the cash. You had all these small independent films that were hip and cool, and then you had films that changed the movie industry forever.

1994 was such a good year that I realized I couldn't contain it in just ten spots. So I'm going 15.

First, there are a few films I didn't manage to see, critically acclaimed movies that might have made your list, so I apologize in advance for leaving out:


Next, there were three acclaimed films from the year that I simply hated, so much so that I am giving them my personal anti-recommendation: ED WOOD, TO DIE FOR, MIXED NUTS. How did anyone like ED WOOD?

Let's get to it.

As it coincidentally worked out, #11 - 15 all happen to be satires, black comedies, a genre Hyperion simply loves. I guess there was just something in the water that year.

#15 FEAR OF A BLACK HAT – Truly a black comedy. HAT makes fun of the rap world, but also makes fun of the people who make fun of the rap world. No ‘90s target is safe as they riff on all things rap and black culture. Some of it may seem outdated (or incomprehensible if you don’t understand rap culture), but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my entire life. This movie is NOT for your parents.

#14 CLERKS – The tiny little film –shot in black and white on a budget so small he put it on his credit card—that started the Jay and Silent Bob revolution. The sets are minimal, the actors are all amateurs, and the “direction” is pretty much just static, but that’s not why you watch a Jay and Silent Bob movie; you go for the dialogue, for the conversations you wish you could have with your friends. With all the hysterical adult humor (there is no nudity or violence, but the movie was initially NC-17 simply for language), the profound message of personal responsibility often gets lost in the shuffle. And here’s my weird story: I found out about CLERKS by none other than Rush Limbaugh, who was singing that Personal Responsibility” mantra. (And if you hate him, don’t worry: most conservatives would be way too uptight to enjoy CLERKS.) An absolute must.

#13 THE REF – Until BAD SANTA, THE REF was the only Christmas anti-comedy available to us. Leary is brilliant as an exasperated thief who just wants to rob people on Christmas Eve, and never bargained for the family from hell. Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey make the film, but the entire cast adds wicked charm. This is a must see with your extended family at Christmas, especially when they are starting to act bitchy.

#12 SIRENS – Elle MacPherson is naked about 34% of the movie, and arguably she isn’t even the hottest naked chick. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to say more, but in case I do, SIRENS is a satirical look at morals, and how we define and judge who is a “good” person, and why. Hugh Grant and Sam Neill trade rhetorical barbs, but it is the women who dominate this film (in more ways than one).

#11 THE PROFESSIONAL – The whole “girls I’m legally and morally not allowed to lust after but by god I will one day soon” phenomenon started with Natalie Portman in THE PROFESSIONAL. Natalie made the movie at 13, and the director totally plays up her budding sexuality. Portman plays a girl who has lost her entire family to gangsters, and becomes attached to a French hit man (Jean Reno). Reno is one of the most underrated guys out there; always brings his A game, and this is his best role. The American version has Reno more bemused by Portman’s attachment (not quite sexual, but so damn close, in a “Early Britney” sort of way), but plays down any taboo territory. (The French version went further, which gives me hope for the CESMs.)

Up tomorrow: #10 - #6, plus a Dishonorable Mention. See you then.

Love and Marriage

[My parents' anniversary is Friday, and in honor of that I asked my youngest sister to write a top ten list about them. This is what she came up with:]

Top Ten Things Mom And Dad Taught Us About Marriage

10. You should never run out of things to say: My parents have been together for 36 years, 3 of which they were dating, and the others they were married. They are each other’s best friends, and they never run out of things to talk about. Many of their conversations seem to be repeated over and over, yet neither seem to notice, so I guess it works.

9. He kills the spiders, she deals with underwear: Many men can do their own laundry; some are even good at it. But let’s face it, no matter how tough you are, it makes a man feel good to kill the creepy crawly things. So ladies, put down the Raid, and grab the fabric softener.

8. Always write it down: Whether it’s a shopping list or an anniversary, write it down. You won’t forget if you just take the time to jot it down. Leaving each other notes seems to be handy little romance trick too.

7. It’s somehow always his fault: It has become a running joke in our family to blame it on dad. No matter what happens, including the times he’s not there, it always comes back to him. Men seem to shoulder a lot of the blame in relationships. Just remember that the sooner someone accepts blame, the sooner the other forgets it.

6. Never undermine the other: As a child it would have been nice if when one parents said no, to go to the other one and get a yes, but my parents thought ahead, GRRR! They always supported each other, to a fault sometimes. If they disagreed, we kids rarely saw it. They always would wait to be alone, so they wouldn’t embarrass each other. A life lesson they taught us early.

5. Say Sorry First: My parents don’t hold grudges. They don’t even fight. They aren’t angels, they have their issues. But they never let more than a couple minutes go by without apologizing and working it out. My Dad always says sorry first. He taught us that a real man owns up to his mistakes. My mom never stays mad. She taught us that a real woman lets him. I’m convinced that this is why our family is so close. We don’t ever forget to forgive, and we always remember to accept it.

4. Clearly Communicate: My parent’s first fight after they were married was over butter. Mom asked Dad to get some butter for a recipe she was making. He went and did just that. Mom grew up with margarine however, and thought that butter meant a big tub, not sticks. While she could have used either, it became a big thing. They learned that marriage was going to be hard, often having the tinniest things upset you, but they laugh about it now.

3. Romance: My parents are still in love. They go away together, even if it’s just for a day. They go to the Movies, or dinner, or just coffee. They try to do this at least once a week. They take trips, and they surprise each other with little “Aunt Trudy” gifts. They put effort into each other, and the result is 33 years and still crazy in love.

2. Laugh: My parents laugh all the time. My dad’s sense of humor was what won him mom. He does little things like putting pillows on his head or napkins on his face at dinner. He isn’t an idiot; he just always wants to make her laugh. He sings to her, and changes the lyrics just for her. They reminisce, and tell stories. They passed on their sense of humor, and if you know Hyperion you might be able to gauge just how important laughing is in this house. Laugh…I guarantee it will add years to your marriage.

1. It’s Possible: The divorce rate is over 60% now, and skeptics surround us. Well my parents taught me that marriage is possible. It is possible to find someone to love, and be happy, and evolve with this person for your whole life. It’s possible to share everything, to not resent the other, or grow apart. It’s possible to be faithful, honest, and really commit. They do it, every day. Their lives haven’t been too shabby either, they got me and my siblings, remember. This last lesson is what keeps me going. Maybe I’ll have my story book beginning after all. Oh and they taught me one last thing, although this may be cheating. Marriage is not an ending, it’s a beginning.


Elessar jumped in to help again, this time with his favorite tastes. When I asked him why there were no meat, he said it was because he became a vegetarian in 1973. I almost wouldn't let him do this, but he'd worked so hard (he also had a comment that was hilarious but I can't print it here, because my mother patrols these waters like a gator in a castle moat). Elessar broke down his tastes by Sweet and Savory.


(no comments--you know these tastes or you haven't lived a full life!)

10. Vanilla
9. Apple
8. Orange
7. Ginger
6. Tomatoes (gotcha--fresh from the garden they are the most versatile fruit in the pantheon)
5. Strawberry (with or without cooperative partner)
4. Pineapple
3. Sugar
2. Blueberry
1. Chocolate


10. Onion. For mexican and italian and polish and American sauces, burgers, submarine sandwiches: if you can't eat these, you are seriously depraved.

9. Garlic. It's good for you, separates the loved ones from the hangers-on and flavours the humblest sauce with a sharp snap.

8.Bread. It smells better fresh from the oven than it tastes, but even the taste is innately human-friendly, and it is the staff of life. Whether it's a rye, a toasted bagel, banana, whole wheat, challah, spelt, crackers or a pumpernickel--you gotta have the stuff.

7. Lime. Lemon's good, but lime is better, if less versatile in cooking, and superior in cocktails. Nuff said.

6. Basil. No comparison between fresh and dried, though either is essential to a slew of sauces, and pesto lifts me from the short 'n' curlies right on up. (There's that garlic again!)

5. Nuts. I lean towards peanuts (groundnuts), pecans, cashews, almonds and walnuts, but that's just for starters. Whole or in paste, toasted or raw or baked--here's some serious protein. I pity the modern generations who have an allergy.

4. Beer. Canadians make some decent hot weather ales & lagers, and the Americans developed some tasty quaffs in the last couple of decades, but I think the Germans and Brits win in the full-taste department. You can drink an English beer at 40 degrees F., and it still tastes good.

3. Peppers. Some of you can't stand the heat, but I thrive on it. My favorites are roasted poblano, red bell, chilpotle and, right up at the top in both heat and taste---the mighty habanero!

2. Dill (weed). Simply, my herb for all seasons.

1. Cheese. Run the range from a melty brie to a sharp Canadian cheddar to a nutty Edam to a piquant Danish blue to yo-yo mozzarella to creamy chevre...cheese just plain rocks.

[Elessar and Ajax are my all-star raters. Can anyone match them?]

Elessar buys records

[Elessar sent me a great list of albums from the past, albums that must be owned. He's the music man, so I'll bow to his experience, and if you disagree, take it up with him at]

Ok, Hypey---

Here's a list of what I would have tried to buy, knowing everything I know now, back then, for the foundations of my collection of music, which is primarily rock- (but also folk and classical , a wee bit of jazz & blues & swing, a lot of electronica) based. I figure it wasn't until the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (and others, for sure) realized that 12" records could be more than a collection of 2 or 3 'hits' and a bunch of 'filler' that the rock album could be a truly satisfying sonic journey. So I present a list of avatars, with a huge tip of the hat to psychedelic leanings

North American

10. Quicksilver Messenger Service--Quicksilver Messenger Service
9. Jimi Hendrix & associates--Electric Ladyland
8. Steve Miller Band--Sailor
7. Jefferson Airplane--Crown Of Creation
6. Simon & Garfunkel--Bookends
5. Blues Magoos--Psychedelic Lollipop
4. The Doors--The Doors
3. It's A Beautiful Day--It's A Beautiful Day
2. The Byrds--5D
1. Joni Mitchell--Blue


10. Pink Floyd--A Saucerful Of Secrets
9. The Beatles--Revolver
8. King Crimson--In The Court Of The Crimson King
7. Led Zeppelin--Led Zeppelin
6. Traffic--Mr. Fantasy
7. The Nice--Ars Longa Vita Brevis
5. Eric Burdon & The Animals--The Twain Shall Meet
4. Rolling Stones--Between The Buttons
3. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown--The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
2. Deep Purple--The Book Of Taliesyn
1. Moody Blues--To Our Children's Children's Children

I can't rank these in order--I like them all very much, and it would be like telling your kids which one you like best, and traumatizing the lot of them, the chosen ones and the unchosen ones alike. That's the beauty of music: it's a very large room, and everyone can play. I'm just tossing a bunch of birds into the air and watching them fly. If you are in your teens or twenties, and a musicHEAD, consider these the suggestions of an insurgent, 30 years ago.

Gangsta Movies

Ajax has once again stepped up to the plate (for shame, fellow Monkey Barn Contriubtors) to produce another Top Ten list, this time:


10. Donnie Brasco: The manufactured friendship between mafia crewmember and undercover FBI agent is compelling, yet hard to watch: you know before the final credits roll, things will resolve themselves, almost certainly in bloodshed.

9. Gangster Number One: How hard, how crazy, how ruthless do you have to be to rise to the top of the British underworld? Well, apparently you need a chisel...

8. Sexy Beast: Kingsley as Don Logan. There are other details, but nothing as gripping and compelling as the man who portrayed Ghandi as the most terrifying British thug ever.

7. Snatch: British gangsters and thugs, astonishing music choices, a diamond the size of a fist, and a Pikey boxing champion, and a caravan. Perriwinkle blue. Fer me ma.

6. Casino: Pesci and DeNiro narrate the rise and fall of mafia-controlled Las Vegas. The Sharon Stone/Joe Pesci sex scenes are pretty much the creepiest thing I've ever seen.

5. Bugsy: Beatty, Benning, Keitel, and Kingsley. And how could you not feel the psychotic anger that would burst from Beatty when someone called him Bugsy? Whooo.

4. Untouchables: An Oscar for Connery, a career for Andy Garcia, and a notch on the belt for Costner and De Palma.

3. Goodfellas: Joe Pesci transforms himself from small comedic actor to monster (with an Academy Award to show he did it right). You think any casting directors ever laughed when he auditions for serious roles? 'You think I'm funny?'

1 & 2. The Godfather, The Godfather Part II: Argue placement all you want, Coppola's masterpieces stand untouched as the definitive mafia movies. Nothing will be said about any other... (gag) movie (gag) which rides on the coattails of the title, but desecrates the idea of the Corleone family.

[Hyperion's Note: Before I saw the list, I talked over with Ajax his criteria. He said he left off earlier films (like the 1932 SCARFACE) because he hasn't seen them, and others because their connection to Gangs is a tough sell. (For example: GANGS OF NEW YORK is definitely about gangs, but is it a "Gangster" movie?) However, having thought about it for awhile--and still very glad Ajax has helped me out--I have to say that not including Urban Gang movies is a huge oversight. BOYZ IN THE HOOD should be a given, and I personally would include NEW JACK CITY. There may even be others. Even worse than that, though, how the hell can you omit The Apple Dumpling Gang?]


Sometimes I watch HGTV with my mom, for some quality family time, and then later when I ask her to watch something I can claim that I try to share her interests. (Although trying to get her to sit through poker is like pulling teeth.) I asked Mom to list her five favorite programs and why.


5. Design U - here a poor, “un-creative” schmuck is given one day of intense training with a designer, then some money and several helpers, and he must in two days transform a certain place, usually for a spouse or fiancĂ©. It’s great fun and entertainment while you learn.

4. My Parents’ House - The houses they tackle are for parents about my age, so it’s fun to see what they do to bring new life and color to worn-out family homes!

3. Mission: Organization - a messy, out-of-control area is brought under control, and as you watch, you can see how to do it for yourself

2. Neat - Same dynamics as Mission: Organization. Here the “neat freak” gently helps the person “purge” and think through why they have clutter in the first place, and gradually she brings beautiful peace and order to their mess.

and my mother's number one favorite show on HGTV.......

1. Debbie Travis’ Facelift - I like Debbie’s creative, humorous way of designing and bringing life to something old and tired! And I love the fact that it’s a secret from the person who owns the house or room. I love surprises!

[Hyperion's note: The second post I ever did at Monkey Barn was about Debbie Travis, wondering who she was. Now that I know (having watched a few episoded with my mom), I'm not that impressed. She seems like Marth Stewart but not as refined or talented. All that anger, though, I bet that comes out in other areas, if you know what I mean, and in case my mom is still reading, I'm talking about the basketball court.]


I seriously doubt that today will bring us the Apocalypse, but just in case, I thought I would list the signs you should look for


#6 Billy Graham announces he is leaving his wife Ruth of over 50 years, will wed Paris Hilton. The two plan to start a gangsta rap/folk music duo and tour Lillith Fair.

#5 The seventh Harry Potter book comes out, called “Harry Potter and the Important Life Lesson.” In the book Voldemort beats Harry like he stole something, and takes up with Hermione and Ginny in a sordid Love Triangle.

#4 The CEOs of Coca Cola and Pepsi hold a joint press conference to announce that the two products are identical and the joke has been on the consumer all this time. “All those taste tests….what a bunch of rubes!” they splutter, laughing so hard they can hardly stand. When asked about “diet” colas, the two soft drink leaders almost have coronaries. “There’s no such thing!” they manage at last. “I mean, c’mon! Didn’t you get a little bit suspicious when you saw so many fat-asses drinking Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi?”

#3 The world is revealed to be an incredible hoax, as all of history has been faked. The world actually began in 1984 with the creation of The A-Team, and all history, artifacts and memories before then were implanted or concocted. Giddy scientists explain that carbon dating was a huge joke, and they just made up dates to piss off Creationists. B.A. Baracus shows up and says, “I pity the fool who suffered through World History” and grandmaster of the universe Hannibal Smith is seen puffing on a cigar and exclaiming happily: “I love it when a world comes together.”

#2 The Polar Ice Caps melt and Oceans rise, killing millions of animal species and flooding every coastal town. 70% of the world is displaced, and food becomes more valuable than anything. Riots are constant, wars are started, chaos ensues. The pressure of the water causes the earth to rend, and the Seas to rise up. Fire erupts from the molten core, scorching and destroying everything in its path. All of humanity, the entire world is engulfed in a cataclysm of Biblical proportions.

Oh, and the sign of the Apocalypse? People realize that Al Gore was actually right about something.

And the number one sign that the Apocyalypse might be upon us…..

#1 Delighted Readers donate to Hyperion’s PayPal account, eager to support such a treasure trove of great writing.

Pirate Movies

Ajax sent in his list of best pirate movies. I was a bit perplexed by some of his omissions, but Ajax explained that he was pretty rigorous that the film had to be about pirates in a significant way. (And except for his bizarre obsession with Tommy Lee Jones, he complies.)

Anyway, thanks to Ajax and enjoy the list:

10. Cutthroat Island: A former guiness world record holder for money loss, it actually bankrupted Carolco, it's production company. I thought it was okay, but I don't imagine Geena Davis has it at the top of her resume.

9. Pirates of Penzance (1983): Because really rough and tough pirates also sing and dance.

8. The Pirate Movie: a.k.a. The Teen-Romantic-Comedy (with Keelhauling)

7. Yellowbeard: Monty Python meets Cheech and Chong to do a pirate film. Freaking insane.

6. Nate and Hayes: Another Tommy Lee Jones movie. Again, the piracy is technically implied: slave trading and gun running have to suffice. But there's fencing, gunplay, cannons, and a guy with a skull-and-femur pegleg which cinches it.

5. Under Seige: This is a bit of a stretch, but Tommy Lee Jones was wearing the traditional pirate bandana when he and his men took over the battleship.

4. The Goonies: Who didn't want to follow the map to One-Eyed-Willie's treasure with a bunch of kids from the wrong side of the tracks? Or adopt Sloth?

3. Peter Pan: including both animated and live-action versions, and Hook. Is it the prosthetic? Is it the alligator? Personally, I think it's a first-mate named Smee.

2. Treasure Island: Including the original, Treasure Planet, and Muppet Treasure Island. The charisma of of John Silver transcends interpretation.

1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: Duh. Singlehandedly revitalizing and electrifying a genre considered dead since Cutthroat Island. Now if Keith Richards could just stop falling out of trees long enough to cameo...

Honorable mentions to:

Dread Pirate Roberts: Princess Bride was by no means a pirate movie. But he had the title, and fenced. And chicks love the mask...

Dread Pirate Steve: Dodge Ball was about saving a gym, but Steve wore the clothes, talked the talk, carried a knife, and claimed to have buried treasure. Gar!

Jerry Seinfeld: Was unbelievably non-piratey, until he put on the puffy shirt. AND WAS TRANSFORMED!

[HYPERION'S NOTE: If you're interested, check out my reviews of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN; if only to prove that I can predict the future and you all should bow before me, and TREASURE PLANET, the most underrated Disney Movie in some time. ]

Too Cute for Words

I thought to add a lighter note I’d list the top five cutest things on TV right now. I talked it over with Kaida, each of us getting a veto. She suggested George from Grey’s Anatomy, but I don’t know his new haircut. I suggested Stewie, but she said megalomania is unattractive (which means I’m in trouble). She suggested Dakota Fanning, but I protested: “Dakota isn’t cute! She’s deep, she’s soulful, she’s almost legal in Delaware!” (Note: I threw that in there just to show you that even on a somber day I can still have a sense of humor.)

Kaida then suggested the Snuggle Bear, and I refused to speak to her any more that night. (She KNOWS about me and the Snuggle Bear, and Kaida if you’re reading this, I expect my apology in beef jerky form.)

After some more fiddling I finally came up with a top five.


#5 Katie Couric – If she ever gets a fragrance she should call it “Forever Pixie”

#4 Hans Moleman – “I was saying Boo-urns!”

#3 Pillsbury Dough Boy – That guy gets so much finger. (That sounded way worse than it is.)

#2 Grover – I defy you to find a cuter monster anywhere

and the number one thing on TV right now is……

#1 Finola Hackett – I totally got into this year’s National Spelling Bee, and when I found out there were Canadians participating I couldn’t help but root for her. Look how cute she is! When she made the finals (eventually placing second) I was happy. (For more on my thoughts about the bee, see Hyperion's Blog.)