Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Orion Files: 1990

Like 1989, 1990 was another financially miserable year for the company with the sole bright spot coming at the end. Years of flops were catching up with the company and this would be their last full slate of films (three of which ended up on my worst of 1990 list). Let's take a look.

Nick Nolte is a private investigator looking into a murder in this poorly reviewed mystery flick. Loosely based on a case that took place in the 70's, this sports a decent cast, a script by playwright Arthur Miller and apparently not much else.

And here we have our first from my Worst of 1990 piece. John Larroquette and Kirstie Alley are a put-upon married couple under siege from unwanted house guests in this limp comedy.

Brian Dennehy takes the lead of a group of tough cops in this utterly formulaic action film. A good cast is wasted on a rather dull film.

Another failed private eye film, this has Tom Berenger in the lead and apparently a rather incoherent, uneven script.

I already wrote about this one so here is the way it was the first time around: Really dull, formulaic supernatural horror flick about a cop (Lou Diamond Phillips) who catches a killer and then has to contend with him after he has been executed.  The cast just goes through the motions and it's generally a really bad sign when the notion of the movie has been done better the previous year in The Horror Show and Shocker.  And for the record, neither of those movies is very good.

The only other interesting bit I could find on this is that it's one of the few later releases from Orion not released by their home video line. It was put out by Nelson Home Video (who also helped make it) for what it's worth. All of that one penny plus the lint in my pockets.

Alec Baldwin is a desperate criminal in this well reviewed thriller that also stars Fred Ward and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I've seen bits and pieces but it's pretty damn good.

Robin Williams does what he can with this less than inspired comedy about a used car salesman taken hostage by an unhinged man whose wife is cheating on him. Williams is okay, Tim Robbins is... there, sort of as the hostage taker. The film is uneven and just not that great.
Another one from the worst of 1990 piece cited above, this stunningly disappointing sequel to the fantastic original film does a disservice to Robocop, action films and is 118 minutes wasted.

Another terrible action movie, this has dull action, an unlikable hero and some unpleasant racism (as opposed to the pleasant kind?, you may ask to which I can only reply with a patient shrug) to go with a crappy script.

A good cast is in fine form in this well reviewed but forgotten crime film which stars Sean Penn as an undercover cop working in his old neighborhood. It got good reviews but was overshadowed by the release of Goodfellas. Man, 1990 really was a hell of a year for the gangster film, wasn't it? This film, Goofdellas, Miller's Crossing. Hell, even Godfather Part III isn't that bad, provided you skip over the scenes that don't have Pacino talking.

Dennis Hopper directs this loving tribute to classic old school film noir which stars Don Johnson as a drifter who gets embroiled in a fairly typical plot involving the classics of the genre: greed, sex and murder. As with most films in the genre, it's more about the journey than the destination and this is a fairly good, if somewhat overly long entry.

The lone bright spot for Orion was this solid western that ended up nabbing seven Oscars including Best Picture (at the expense of the far better Goodfellas; the very good Awakenings, the not as good Godfather Part III and in the "how the hell did this get nominated" category, Ghost). Seriously, how the hell did that score a Best Picture nomination? I'd probably give Road House a Best Original Screenplay nomination before even considering Ghost as Best Picture material!

Regardless, the film is a very nicely shot epic with some decent work from Kevin Costner, Graham Greene and Mary McDonnell and while it's certainly not the best picture of the year, it is still a pretty good movie.

This is an okay-ish comedy/drama starring Cher as an eccentric single mother and Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci as her kids. It's not terrible, but also not that great.

Lastly is the obligatory Woody Allen film. This time, Mia Farrow stars as a upper class housewife whose life is changed thanks to some magi herbs she buys. It got the typical reviews Allen's work tends to get and that's really about all I have to say about it.

Even with the lone bright spot of Dances with Wolves, 1990 was an abysmal year for the studio. They would only have seven releases the next year and at the end of 1991, they would end up in bankruptcy. But that is a tale for another day.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.