Films of the 90s

Review by Jack Foley

THE Nineties are rightly regarded by film buffs the world over as a time when Hollywood - and film-makers in general - finally got their acts back together after the dubious excesses of the Eighties (epitomised by such braindead blockbusters as Cocktail, the Rocky sequels and Rambo).

Well, if further proof were needed of what the Nineties offered, then it lies in Jurgen Muller's new book, the appropriately titled Movies of the 90s, which takes us on a largely pictoral guide through some of the decade's finer moments - and some of its guilty pleasures (Sharon Stone's position as cover girl in Basic Instinct mode can surely be no mistake!).

Beginning in '91 and coming right up to 2000, Muller's collection of modern classics is a real must-own for fans who love stills, even if the more discerning may find it less than stimulating as a read. But then, who cares about intellect always?

This is pure coffee table delight for the movie-going masses, taking in such genre-defining movies such as David Fincher's Se7en or Fight Club, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (some classic stills), the Wachowski brothers' The Matrix and the Farrelly Brothers' boundary breaking There's Something About Mary.

No decade would be complete, of course, without the reliable regulars which punctuate any movie discussion, such as Martin Scorsese (included for his remake of Cape Fear), the Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski & Fargo), Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan), Brian De Palma (Mission: Impossible), Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut), Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) and Robert Altman (The Player).

But what of the young pretenders to their crowns - Tarantino (with Pulp Fiction), Michael Mann (Heat/The Insider), Steven Soderbergh (Traffic/Erin Brockovich and Out of Sight), Ang Lee (Crouchin Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Night and Magnolia), Sam Mendes (American Beauty) or M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)? They are all included.

So, too, are the blockbuster kings - George Lucas (Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace), Ridley Scott (Gladiator), James Cameron (Titanic) or John Woo (Mission Impossible 2).

In fact, this is the type of book which delights in how much it includes, rather than what it misses out. There are surprises - the inclusion of several European movies, such as The Lovers on the Bridge, Three Colours: Blue or Life Is Beautiful, or Brit flicks such as Lock Stock, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and Trainspotting - and the welcome presence of notable independents such as Buffalo '66, The Blair Witch Project or the Buena Vista Social Club.

Actors such as Tom Cruise (The Firm, MI series, A Few Good Men) and Clint Eastwood (In The Line of Fire/Bridges of Madison County/Perfect World) are also well represented, as are actresses such as Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone.

The book, which runs to a colossal 800-pages, also benefits from some nicely observed quotes (my favourite, from Out of Sight is included), as well as the odd titbit of information or fact which is likely to amuse rather than seriously inform. And, at a mere £19.99 it is a steal. Go buy it and enjoy flicking.