Emma Thompson

Five Decades of Nominees – 1994 – ‘The Remains of the Day’

Snooze

Alright. We’ve come to the end of the 1994 nominees for Best Picture. And what a snoozy doozy way to end them. I’ve been sitting on how to approach writing about this movie for a couple days, and I just…well, let’s give it a shot.

I’ll start with the acting. Anthony Hopkins, the most recent, and controversial winner of the Best Actor award, is so Anthony Hopkins in this. He’s a butler of a giant estate owned by a nazi sympathizer in pre-World War II England, and he rules every scene, as he always does. When I say Hopkins is so Hopkins, you know what I mean: he’s got those signature tics, the witty little reactions, the head-held-high snootiness that he’s best known for.

As always, he’s great, and I really think this movie would have been in a lot of trouble without him. Emma Thompson, like Hopkins, is who she always is – not bad, just incredibly British and sad, and honestly, it took me three sittings to finish this movie because Thompson films put me to sleep.

Something strange to see is Christopher Reeve, just a couple years before his debilitating accident that ultimately led to his death, as the American ambassador that attempts to convince the owner of the manor not to work with the Germans. The acting is here, the problem is, there’s not much else.

There are also a couple of Game of Thrones alums in this, not surprising since it’s probably the most British movie ever made. We’ve got a really young Lena Headey as a housekeeper, and that old blind dude from the wall as Hopkins’ dad.

This movie drags. Hard. I haven’t read the book, of course, but I came away from the film wondering what the hell just didn’t happen. I won’t ruin it for you, but when the credits rolled, I was really surprised. It’s one of the dullest endings to a movie I’ve ever seen, and I’m guessing it’s explained better in the novelization.

The strangest part of the film for me, is that there is this clique of butlers and housekeepers, and they’ve all crossed paths at some point. And there is also this hierarchy in which these people are fighting over, and the top spot is butler. Like, I’m sorry, but what the fuck? Is this a strictly British thing that I’ve never heard of or read about? Or was this made up for dramatic effect? What the hell is going on in this movie?

Sorry. I will say, the movie is pretty. It’s shot so well, and though it doesn’t really take many risks, each shot feels like a painting you’d find in a gallery. There’s a scene toward the end, where Hopkins and Thompson are sitting on a pier and the lights come on, and the contrast of the lights’ colors are absolutely mesmerizing. There is also a sunset scene with Hopkins driving that really is amazing. Trouble is, a lot of these shots make you feel like you’re watching something on PBS. I know there’s a market for that (probably bigger than I think), but woof, not my bag, man.

This is the sort of movie that’s playing at your grandma’s house on her tiny TV on a summer afternoon. It’s a costume designer’s blueprint, a Masterpiece Theater special stretched long, the film that appeases your groaning grandparents so they’ll watch the Oscars. It’s undeniably, the worst of the five ’94 nominees: not necessarily bad, but without the substance of the other four.

Where is ‘Philadelphia,’ by the way? How did that movie not get nominated? It’s cool that Hanks won Best Actor, but that movie carries so much more emotional depth and focuses on a much bigger worldwide issue than The Remains of the Day attempts to. Perhaps AIDS was still much too taboo for the Academy, but Philadelphia absolutely crushes me every time I see it.

Well, that’s the end of the 1994 nominees. Overall, the right movie won, and it really wasn’t close. I feel like four of these should have been nominated, but that seems to be the case every year. Next up for this month, we’ve got the 1985 nominees. I’ll try to squeeze them all in this month, but life has a way of making that tough, so we’ll see.

Have you seen The Remains of the Day and want to tell me I’m absolutely wrong? Think some other movies from 1993 should have been nominated for the ’94 Oscars that weren’t? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram, and it’ll probably help me write these in the future.

Five Decades of Nominees – 1994 – ‘In the Name of the Father’

abACABadoo!

Another film on this enormous list that I have not yet seen was this Irish drama that stars the greatest actor of our generation, Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis, in an absolutely amazing performance, that probably comes as expected at this point.

The movie begins almost just like ‘Children of Men,’ with a cafe bombing in London. The story kicks off with an incarcerated Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon, who’s been falsely imprisoned by the English government. Conlon, an Irishman, is in London to dodge a minor charge in his home of Belfast, but the classic wrong place-wrong time puts him, his friends, and family into an embroiled mess with the IRA.

Long story short, Conlon is imprisoned along with his father and friends for 15 years, before Emma Thompson takes his case. It’s peak-90’s Drama, almost too PBS for its own good with a score that screams ‘your grandma’s going to love this movie,’ but overall, it’s a really damn good flick.

Day-Lewis steals every scene, his usual physical transformations throughout the film, which would be a marvel if it had been any other actor. Pete Postlethwaite is refreshingly kind and warm-hearted throughout the movie as Conlon’s father, Giuseppe, and some scenes between the two are undeniably heartbreaking.

Of the films on this list (the only one left I haven’t ever seen, ‘Remains of the Day’), this one feels the most dated. Perhaps it’s the score, or the rather pedestrian cinematography, but it just didn’t bring too much excitement to the table when compared to its honorary counterparts. I did appreciate the theme throughout regarding cops’ mistakes and lack of care, which ultimately brings down the system as a whole, and how relevant this is today, especially since I watched this the day before a certain murdering cop was surprisingly found guilty of all charges in Minnesota.

Overall, I’d definitely suggest checking this movie out. It totally drags at times, but I think it’s a mistake to ever pass up a chance at watching a Day-Lewis romp. He’s unbelievable at times in this one, and makes the whole 2+ hours absolutely worth the ticket price.

Up next, we have the soul-stomper, ‘Schindler’s List,’ the movie that ultimately took home the little gold dude in ’94. I’ll see you in a few days with my thoughts on my second time through that chest ripper.

Sloppy Saturdays: Volume 2 – ‘Junior’

junior

What is ‘Sloppy Saturdays’?

I realized that I own over 300 movies, many of which I have not watched a second time. Whether on Blu-Ray, DVD, or the legendary LaserDisc, I have a lot of films I need to watch again. So, I’ve decided I should probably go through these and justify why I own them, and perhaps, why you should too. I put them all into a database and will randomly mix them up once a week. Come back every Saturday for a new review. 

-Nick, Editor of CinemAbysmal

 

Sloppy Saturdays – Volume Two

Junior (1994) – Comedy | Absolutely Insane

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Format I Own: LaserDisc

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Synopsis

OK. Bare with me. Junior is about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays some kind of scientist that deals in pregnancies, with his OBGYN partner Frank Reynol…Danny DeVito (if you’re not already gagging at the thought of this, you might need to reevaluate your life) in San Francisco. They create a drug that supposedly induces healthy pregnancies in women after they tested it on chimps or some shit, but the FDA turns them down and they lose their funding. It’s basically the setup for Ghostbusters, but about two dudes that want to get women pregnant instead of chasing spectral entities through New York. Anyway, DeVito convinces Schwarzenegger that he should carry the baby in some kind of abdominal cavity, sans anything that would biologically allow a baby to grow or thrive, but yeah. Guess what happens by the end of the movie?

What I Love

I have absolutely no reservations in calling this movie a huge fucking turd. Honestly, it’s an insult to film and really should never have been made. That being said, I love and respect a lot of what Ivan Reitman has done as a director, and most are allowed their misfires (I’m looking at you, Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler). Reitman is responsible for GhostbustersMeatballsStripes, and more. However, he’s also at fault for a lot of shit, so whatever.

If you saw 1988’s Twins (also with Schwarzenegger and DeVito), well, you know what you’re getting. So in a way, this falls along the same lines as that film and his other Schwarzenegger-helmed flick, Kindergarten Cop. This movie has an absolutely fucking batshit plot in which a god damn baby grows inside of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscly abs. If you don’t love that a movie was made strictly around that nuthouse premise, you need to learn how to enjoy this weird thing called reality. Because, guess what? This movie actually, really exists.

My Favorite Scene

About 80 minutes into the film (yes, this shit factory is nearly two hours long), Arnold goes full drag at about eight months pregnant. He and DeVito show up at some kind of compound for expecting mothers to find shelter from the evil dicks at the college that want to steal her…er, his baby away from him as it was experimental, so belongs to them. At this point, the estrogen has completely taken hold of Arnold and he and DeVito hug as the James Newton Howard score intensifies. He even starts speaking like a woman, and it’s so insultingly bad, I couldn’t help but giggle like a little kid.

THEN, holy shit. A god damned montage in which Arnold does Lamas and races other pregnant women down stairs and cries to doctors and shovels food into his mouth. It is so spectacularly out of control and really saved this movie for me.

 

What You Might Not Like

What really bothered me about the film was my now current familiarity with perhaps Danny DeVito’s most iconic character in his career: Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Now, I realize this film was made in 1994, but holy shit, all I can think about is Frank alone in a room with a woman doing gawd knows what down there, and it just does not work. Other than that, the film really is just shit. Arnold is practically yawning the whole film and the story is laughable, at best. I couldn’t imagine watching this with anyone that had a trace of a Medical education or even faintly studied Biology. It’s so ridiculous.

Honestly, the last time I watched this movie was over 20 years ago. I remembered liking it, so swooped up the LaserDisc copy and have just had it sitting there for years. Will I watch it again? Eh, maybe? If I want to show someone how not to make a movie, I’ll definitely show them this. But did I enjoy it again? Oh, hell no.

How You Can Watch

  • Streaming on HBO Now as of 04/07/2017
  • Rent for $2.99 on Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu

 

Final Score: 1.5/4

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Similar Films: Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Any Movie that a Dude is Pregnant in…