• ERIC BUTLER

Other Films from 1996 that you should know about.

I skipped the other movies of 1996 at the end of Monday's post not because I didn't have some to share, but because I am swamped with work. I decided to rectify that with a quick top 10 list of movies you really need to know about. Like Always, I'm avoiding the top Box Office winners, but if you haven't seen Ransom, you really should.

One of my favorite directors, Terry Gilliam brought together an amazing cast to give us this super creepy, super fun mind twist of a movie - 12 Monkeys. I can't believe there are people out there that haven't seen this film, especially since there is a show based on it to remind people it was made forever ago. But just in case, it is my #1. You have to rent/buy to stream.


Gilliam had such a bad experience with the Hollywood studio system on his movie Brazil, that he bartered with Universal for final say on the movie. They gave it to him but kept the budget small - $29 million. He rewarded them by making 5x that back in the box office.


In 1996, Willis was a pretty big name and an actor whose normal asking price was more than the budget could handle. He wanted to work with Gilliam so much, he did the movie for free - getting his money after it was released.


Brad Pitt signed on when he was relatively a nobody, but by the time the movie was released, he had exploded because of Interview With a Vampire & Se7en. This was the first movie where I actually thought he was more than a pretty face. He received an Oscar nomination for his role.


I wish I had an interesting fact about Madeleine Stowe from this movie. All I got for you is I had and still kinda do have a major crush on her. She checks all my boxes.


Blurb - In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.



I've always been a Johnny Depp fanboy, especially when he took on bizarre projects that steered him away from mainstream success. Dead Man is one of those films. It's a movie of layers, and I feel like you discover something new or interesting with every viewing. The cast is spectacular, and the cinematography is stunning in this B&W "Western". You can stream it on HBOMax.


Blurb - On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange aboriginal American man named Nobody who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world.



There was a time when sketch comedy was funny, and after a little while, they would be rewarded with a movie. Kids In the Hall got their shot in 1996, the result was Brain Candy. Kids in the Hall were more Monty Python than SNL, but they tackled both styles very well.


You may have missed this one in theaters because the Kids refused to remove the character of Cancer Boy at the request of a studio higher-up. This led to a limited release and almost no advertising. While the character is harsh to watch, the Kids hold firm that it was a necessary character as it showcased how famous people exploit the sick for their benefit. It's not available to stream anywhere, but keep your eyes out for this one. It's a good-good.


Blurb - A pharmaceutical scientist creates a pill that makes people remember their happiest memory, and although it's successful, it has unfortunate side effects.




Nightmare on Elm Street 4 director, Renny Harlin quickly shifted to action director in the 90s and one of his best movies is The Long Kiss Goodnight. Written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3, & Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang), The Long Kiss Goodnight gave us Geena Davis as an action star and Samuel Jackson as her sidekick. It's a fun movie filled with twists & turns, and Davis doing her best to show up all the aging action stars of the 80s. It's a rent/buy to stream.


Blurb - Samantha Caine lives in a small town with her daughter. Eight years ago she emerged, two months pregnant, from a nearby river with no memory of her past or who she is. However, she's getting closer to finding out about her past.



I have always been a big fan of low-budget movies, even those that went straight to video(which was a big no-no back in the day). Many of these types of films are still being made, but they show up on streaming services or cable instead of getting slapped with the dreaded straight-to-video tag.


The Last Supper is one of those art-house, low-budget looks at life that I think everyone should see. Hell, this movie is probably being acted out in real life as people fall more and more into their political bubbles. The cast is perfect, and the movie has the intimate feel one might get from a play. If you have DirecTV, they say you can stream. I'm thinking most people will have to rent/buy it.

Blurb - A group of idealistic, but frustrated, liberals succumb to the temptation of murdering rightwing pundits for their political beliefs.



So you should read the book by William Diehl before watching Primal Fear. That said Edward Norton's performance is mesmerizing - especially when you realize this is his debut motion picture. I love the book - if you think Silence of the Lambs is horror, you could easily find your way to Primal Fear as horror as well. This is another movie. I'd be shocked if you hadn't seen or at least heard of, but just in case I threw it on the list. It's on Cinemax streaming stuff.


Blurb - An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.



One of my favorite sub-genre of action movies is the crappy High School vs Teacher/Principal. The Substitute delivers on this theme and then some. As I noted above with The Long Kiss Goodbye, most of the action stars of the 80s and early 90s weren't making movies and there was a vacuum forming for good action films. Plus if you really like it, there are like 4 or 5 sequels. You can check it out on VUDUfree, tubi, and IMDB(Prime with ads).


Blurb - Mercenary Shale's team is retired after a (not so) covert mission in Cuba. He becomes substitute teacher at his teacher fiancee's Miami high school to get those behind kneecapping her. His team helps him.



Everything comes back, and in the 90s there was a return to the big band & swing dance culture. Swingers captures this vibe while telling us the semi-autobiographical story of Jon Favreau(director of Iron Man, Elf, & creator of The Mandalorian). He was tired of being passed up for roles or being typecast as a "fat" stoner, so he wrote the script for Swingers. It's based on his time when he first arrived in Hollywood, and Vince Vaughn & Ron Livingston are basically playing themselves in the movie. You can stream it on HBOMax.


Blurb - A wannabe actor has a hard time moving on from a break-up, but he is lucky to have supportive friends.



Tommy Boy was such a hit, that the studio wanted to pair the 2 SNL stars in another film. Sadly, Black Sheep was the last film David Spade & Chris Farley would get to do before Farley's death. Is it as good as Tommy Boy? No, but there is a charm and chemistry whenever you can see these two friends together. Gary Busey is great in his cameo role, and there are some laugh-out moments. You can check it out with Starz.


Blurb - A gubernatorial candidate hires a wormy special assistant whose only job is to make sure the candidate's well-meaning but incompetent brother doesn't ruin the election.



There wasn't an Adam Sandler movie I didn't love in the 90s (my first "date" with my wife was seeing the premiere of The Wedding Singer). An even bigger bonus for Bulletproof was the R-rating and Damon Wayans as the co-star. If you've listened to Sandler's comedy then you know how blue he can get, but we had yet to really see it on SNL or in the theaters since he was always getting PG-13 ratings.


James Caan plays the heavy in the film, and he is quoted as saying "playing the heavy between these two clowns took a lot of serious concentration." You'll have to rent/buy to stream the madness.


Blurb - Two criminals, Keats and Moses, end their friendship, when Keats turns out to be an undercover cop. Many years later, the two are forced to work together when Keats is assigned to protect Moses as a witness.


So there you have it. 10 films from 1996 to look for after you get done reading all my books.

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