20 years ago I was just starting at People magazine (the second most miserable job I ever had, right behind working at Entertainment Tonight for three months in the spring of ’98). My Nissan 240SX was newish and in great shape. I’d been divorced for five years. Jett and Dylan were eight and six, respectively, and living in Santa Monica. I was starting to organize my own screening class, Hot Shot Movies, at the Woodland Hills AMC. I’d been attending Sundance Film festival for only the previous two or three years, but I couldn’t afford to do Telluride or Cannes. There was a decent DSL connection at People but I was on 56K dial-up at home (or so I recall).

My favorite films at this point in ’96 were Fargo, which had opened on 5.31, and Trainspotting, which I’d seen in a screening and would open on 7.19. And the fall/holiday season would deliver a few standouts, of course — Jerry Maguire, Sling Blade, Bound, Breaking the Waves, The People vs. Larry Flynt, the under-rated Evita. (The English Patient won the ’96 Best Picture Oscar, of course, but I haven’t had the slightest interest in re-watching it.)

But as I reviewed the remaining summer slate (7.12 through Labor Day), things sure seemed dispiriting.

Courage Under Fire (I barely remember this), Harriet the Spy (forget it), Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (no recollection), Harold Ramis‘s Multiplicity (saw it once, hazy recollection), Joel Schumacher‘s A Time to Kill (never again), the Farrelly brothers’ Kingpin (disposable), Chain Reaction, Danny DeVito’s Matilda, John Carpenter‘s Escape from L.A. (gimme a break), Francis Coppola‘s Jack (awful), Julian Schnabel‘s Basquiat (respectable), Tony Scott‘s The Fan, Ron Shelton‘s Tin Cup (a standout — mostly decent Kevin Costner golfing film), John Frankenheimer‘s Island of Dr. Moreau (decent), A Very Brady Sequel (never saw it, never will), Arthur Hiller‘s Carpool, John Landis‘s The Stupids, Tim Pope‘s The Crow: City of Angels…wow.