November 03, 2005

Top 10 of 1999


Inspired by Ed Gonzalez's ongoing 10-best project over at Slant, and seeing as how 1999 is the one year in FFC's history for which there is no list on file, I hereby announce with spectacular punctuality my Top 10 of 1999:

1. Eyes Wide Shut (d. Stanley Kubrick)

2. The Straight Story (d. David Lynch)
3. Being John Malkovich (d. Spike Jonze)
4. Bringing Out the Dead (d. Martin Scorsese)
5. The Blair Witch Project (ds. Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez)
6. Ravenous (d. Antonia Bird)
7. Beau Travail (d. Claire Denis)
8. Election (d. Alexander Payne)
9. Titus (d. Julie Taymor)
10.American Movie: The Making of Northwestern (d. Chris Smith)

Honourable Mentions: The Insider; The Ninth Gate; The Iron Giant; eXistenZ; Rosetta; Human Resources; Fight Club; Summer of Sam; The Limey; Toy Story 2; Sweet and Lowdown
Blind Spots: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai; L'Humanite; The Wind Will Carry Us


Yours?

108 comments:

mimo70 said...

Here, here to the soft-spoken and heartbreaking "The Straight Story" and Micheal Mann's incredible "The Insider." The Oscars, never relevant in my book, re-affirmed its' commitment to the ridiculous that year by awarding the smug and awful "American Beauty" over Michael Mann's remarkable film. Look closer indeed.

Walter_Chaw said...

Wow - I'll bite:

Beau Travail
Iron Giant
The Straight Story
Blair Witch Project
Being John Malkovich
Bringing Out the Dead
L'Humanite
Ravenous
Ghost Dog
Election

honoroble mentions:
The Limey
eXistenZ
Messenger: Joan of Arc
Titus
Fight Club
Eyes Wide Shut
The Insider
Go
Kikojiro

Bill C said...

Aw crap, I glossed over Iron Giant and Ravenous when trolling the archives; revising.

Alex Jackson said...

My own:

1. Bringing out the Dead
2. Magnolia
3. The Blair Witch Project
4. Eyes Wide Shut
5. Being John Malkovich
6. Titus
7. Three Kings
8. Julien: Donkey Boy
9. The War Zone
10. Fight Club

Next ten runner's Up: Election, American Beauty, Boys Don't Cry, Toy Story 2, Cabaret Balkan, Another Day in Paradise, Summer of Sam, The Straight Story, Princess Mononoke, and Twin Falls Idaho.

Dishonorable mentions to: The Sixth Sense, Galaxy Quest, Cookie's Fortune, The Mummy, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Any Given Sunday, October Sky, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, Dick, and American Pie. The worst film of the year was Wing Commander.

I go back and forth on how much I'm going to give to flash. I have decided though that Bringing out the Dead has to be the second best film of the 1990s. Taxi Driver meets After Hours with a taste of Last Temptation of Christ thrown in. So simple, and yet so perfect. Great Martin Scorsese soundtrack too, the man is totally bananas.

I never put any films on my top tens that aren't "four star films" (my principal criterion for awarding that is that the film in question has to be worth owning. Anything more or less and the rating loses all utility). And so in every year I have to look for ten films that would be worth owning. This year I have only found seven, but I'm still searching. Barely got it done in 2003 and 2004. 1994, 1996, and 2000 and I'm still left empty; those were just plainly mediocre years.

Going back further, I think that my breadth of film knowledge is just too rusty. I'm amazed at the work Slant Magazine is doing.

Bill C said...

In the interest of full disclosure, bumped The Ninth Gate to honourable mention. I sorta like it more than The Insider, but I'm also deathly afraid of revisiting it.

Bill C said...

Indeed, Ed's project is very ambitious. I think I'd flounder too much pre-'70s, even though I've seen an above-average number of Code-era films.

And yeah, Mimo, Straight Story just does not get enough love.

Scott said...

I think EYES WIDE SHUT is one of the most underrated films in years. (Even though it has got its fair share of props, I suppose.) The key, for me, was watching the opening scenes of Cruise and Kidman wandering into Pollack's party, and I thought: "Cruise doesn't know he's in a Kubrick movie -- he thinks he's in a Rob Reiner flick..."

Watching a famous, glossy actor's slick persona slowly disintegrate under the weight of his bizarre night of revels was nothing short of genius on both Kubrick and Cruise's part. And the pool-table sequence at the end, where everything is explained and nothing is explained -- brilliant. William Goldman wrote about the genius of that scene years ago, and I think it contains the key to Kubrick: he doesn't explain stuff. He leaves shit out -- the meaning of the monolith in 2001, the photo of Jack Torrance at the end of THE SHINING. What does it mean? Is there a meaning? Was Pollack really at that party? By not providing any answers, by intentionally poking narrative holes, structural vortexes into the heart of his stories, he allows for the incomprehensible to take hold. Some things just can't be explained, so why bother?

Walter -- KIKUJIRO by Takeshi Kitano is, indeed, a great, gentle film, so different than his other stuff. I lived in Japan for four years and would rent that from the local shop again and again. (Oh, and in Japan Kitano is much more well-known as a kooky comedian and chat show host. He's on TV all the time hosting various forms of inane entertainment. In the world of Japanese media,he's this bizarre combination of Regis Philbin and Charles Bronson and Tom Hanks.)

Nate said...

1999 was the last year I reviewed every release (that opened in Reno), and unbelievably I actually have my top (and bottom) 10 in my archive.

1. Fight Club
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. Magnolia
4. Boys Don't Cry
5. The Matrix
6. Three Kings
7. Election
8. The Insider
9. The End of the Affair
10. Being John Malkovich

It might be a little different if I looked at a list of all the 1999 films; I probably missed a few gems that I've since caught on DVD.

Bottom:

1. The Phantom Menace
2. The General's Daughter
3. Cruel Intentions
4. The Mod Squad
5. Big Daddy

Alex Jackson said...

One day, I'm a gonna write a nice long piece on Eyes Wide Shut. I'll probably need to review The Wizard of Oz first. For all the allusions that Eyes Wide Shut makes to that film, Kubrick's daughter is on record for saying that he hated it! That plays right into my theories about Eyes Wide Shut.

I see The Wizard of Oz as essentially being a perversion of the archetypical hero's quest. Luke Skywalker says, "There's nothing for me here, I want to go with you (Obi Wan Kenobi) and train to be a Jedi like my father". Dorothy says, "If it wasn't in my backyard, it probably wasn't worth looking for in the first place".

Similiarly rather than being a pro-marriage film, Eyes Wide Shut is in fact deeply misogynistic. The woman is seen as domesticizing the man and suppressing his quest for spiritual sustenance (defined as sexual adventure). And unlike with Jack Torrence in the still-cynical-but-not-as-much-so The Shining, she succeeds in castrating him.

Walter_Chaw said...

Yeah - I love Kikojiro - wrote a piece, sort of, on Tikano for the LA Weekly last year:

http://www.laweekly.com/ink/04/35/film-chaw.php

Started his career as a stand-up comedian in a comedy duo called "The Two Beats" -hence his screen name, of course. Was actually going to write a book about him one day. And then I was going to take my pig out for a fly.

Walter_Chaw said...

By the way, Another Day in Paradise - great pick, Alex - what a fabbo movie.

Walter_Chaw said...

Third post in a row - how obnoxious, how adult-ADD, of me. Anyway, thought I'd mention that World's Fastest Indian, the new Anthony Hopkins/Roger Donaldson pic, is a remake in essence of The Straight Story without any kind of subtlety.

Bill C said...

One thing I've never understood about The Wizard of Oz, which I watched twice this weekend: shouldn't the film stay in colour when Dorothy returns to Kansas? It's so absurd, y'know (and frankly outside the film's nightmare logic), that the movie deposits us back in this parched-looking world for its happy ending. You'd think the technique itself would reflect Dorothy's newfound acceptance of Kansas.

As for Another Day in Paradise, it is indeed a fabbo movie--but it's also technically a 1998 release.

Alex Jackson said...

Meck. Take it off and tack Stir of Echos on the bottom on that list.

I see that it recieved it's limited release on Dec 30, 1998. While I agree with it's 1998 designation in this case, how does one establish such a thing when it comes to list making?-- particularly with foreign films. Does the IMDB get final word?

Funny, Danny Peary made that same objection toward Wizard of Oz. Odd message, I think. It goes so violently against the American ethos that it can't be read any other way but ironically.

Oz may look great, but the place for Dorothy is in the doldrums of Kansas. Weird.

Bill C said...

Everybody seems to use a different method. When designating a movie's year of release in the body of FFC reviews, I always go by the year it was came out in its country of origin. (Hence Save the Green Planet!, which didn't open in the U.S. until recently, being listed as a 2003 release.) When preparing the FFC Annual, anything that made its North American debut in 2004 was eligible, regardless of its date of origin.

Seattle Jeff said...

Those films are 6 years old?

God, I feel ancient.

Seattle Jeff said...

Ok, here's mine

Top 10 of 1999

Dogma
The Green Mile
Outside Providence
Jawbreaker
The Bachelor
Universal Soldier
Baby Geniuses
Wild, Wild West
She's All That
Star Wars Episode I : The Phantom Menace

Honorable Mention: Mickey Blue Eyes, My Favorite Martian, Never Been Kissed

Seattle Jeff said...

Sorry, at heart, I'm not very mature.

Jack_Sommersby said...

(in no particular order, except the first one)

"The Straight Story"
"Dogma"
"Three Kings"
"The Thomas Crown Affair"
"The Iron Giant"
"Stir of Echoes"
"Election"
"Sweet and Lowdown"

Walter_Chaw said...

Always feel warm and fuzzy about Sweet and Lowdown as the first time I became aware of Samantha Morton.

Summer of Sam, like 25th Hour, is one of those pics that I didn't get for years. Something about Spike Lee doesn't make sense to me until further reflection. Just too stupid, I guess. 25th Hour is one of the worst miscalculations I've ever made in this biz.

Fan of Stir of Echoes, as well. Kevin Bacon wouldn't talk about it with me when I asked him about it. Anyone have any ideas why that might be? (Besides him wanting to kick my ass, of course.)

You know, I have never seen Jawbreaker.

Bill C said...

Sweet and Lowdown really should be another of my honourable mentions. Woody Allen's last interesting movie.

Bill C said...

BTW, Alex, you call Bringing Out the Dead the second-best movie of the '90s. What's the first?

Alex Jackson said...

I had some problems with the ending of Stir of Echoes, but Bacon is what pushed it at the end of my Honorable Mentions. He was bloody fantastic in that film. I have no idea why he didn't want to talk about it. Embarassed?

You left off The Sixth Sense, Walter. You still like it? I think that it might have grown on me just a tad. I still think that the twist ending is derivative to anybody who had ever read or seen a ghost story with a twist ending; and it bugs me that uh, er, the dead people want Haley Joel Osment to help them. Real scary.

But I think I saw it too soon after The Blair Witch Project and it seemed to me to be a product of the pre-Blair Witch age. M. Night Shymalan is a better filmmaker than a screenwriter and that film has it's lion's share of great, cinematic moments.

I thought that Jawbreaker had the spare neat moment and I actually kind of liked the ending; but I can assure you that you would really hate it something awful.

Forgot to piss on Green Mile. Piss piss. Dogma was kind of fun, but too politically correct by half. Jesus is black, God is a woman and the specifics of faith don't matter. Okay, Jesus probably was black but the rest of it, you know, whatever.

And the best movie of the 1990s? Gummo.

Of course.

Bill C said...

Oh yeah.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Best film of 1999, without a doubt in my mind, and probably one of the 5 greatest films ever made :

Bringing Out The Dead.

Mentions: Magnolia, The War Zone, Fight Club.

I can't remember any more.


Walter:

25th hour was in my opinion one of top 10 of 2002. Never quite got your dislike for Spike Lee. I just saw Suckerfree City coupla weeks ago. Spectacular.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Best film of 1999, without a doubt in my mind, and probably one of the 5 greatest films ever made :

Bringing Out The Dead.

Mentions: Magnolia, The War Zone, Fight Club.

I can't remember any more.


Walter:

25th hour was in my opinion one of top 10 of 2002. Never quite got your dislike for Spike Lee. I just saw Suckerfree City coupla weeks ago. Spectacular.

mimo70 said...

"Sweet and Lowdown" is the last decent Woody Allen film. Yes, I'm a big fan. I don't think I'd call it a good film - narratively it's too messy and repetitive - but it has its' funny moments, a moving ending and features two remarkable performances by Morton and Penn.

Penn's character is really interesting. Here's this artist who has an enormous amount of natural talent, yet, he's completely unsophisticated. He doesn't intellectualize, doesn't pretend to be anything that he's not and makes absolutely no apologies for who he is. He's essentially a clone of the Chaz Palminteri character from "Bullets Over Broadway", yet wholly individual at the same time.

Morton is a marvel to watch. She plays cute, simple, naive, innocent, sexual, wise and sophisticated and does it all without saying a single thing! I think she was channeling Giuletta Masina.

I second "The End of the Affair" and add "American Movie: The Making of Northwestern" if it hasn't been mentioned.

mimo70 said...

I think I need to revisit "Bringing Out the Dead." It disappointed me, though, I can't get "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" out of my head.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

I always have a tussel in my head between "Taxi Driver" and "Bringing out the dead". Whichever one I've seen the last becomes my favorite Scorsese (or Schrader whichever way you wanna look at it). I just recently truely noticed the prominent religious subtext in "Bringing out the dead". The whole film is covered with them. For fuck's sake, there is a baby born of virgin parents in a crack-house in the movie ! Yet it never feels too heavy-handed, like Kieslowski.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Best film of the 90s : Thin Red Line.

Close 2nd: Chungking Express.

Alex Jackson said...

Now whenever I hear "Can't Put Your Arms around a Memory" or "Red Red Wine" I go into a deep trance.

I love love love that movie. Sweet God, I love that movie. It's the perfect Nick Cage role and the tone and feeling of it-- so perfect.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Walter,

Fan of Stir of Echoes, as well. Kevin Bacon wouldn't talk about it with me when I asked him about it. Anyone have any ideas why that might be?

Maybe because, quite simply, it's a horror film. After all, he won't talk about Friday the 13th, either. Now, one can understand that, but a quality film like Stir? Nah, I don't get it.

And I third (or fourth) the indelible impression Samantha Morton left on me from Lowdown. Couldn't get her out of mind for for days afterward, and it's another reason to blowtorch the Academy for her not winning the Supporting Actress Oscar that year. And Sean Penn, too, deserved the Oscar for that film (though Straight's Farnsworth is a close-close second).

As for The Insider, while I still think Mann deserved the Best Director award, I now think the film, after first having thought it a masterpiece, is quite flawed: it's overlong, it repeats itself (how many times, exactly, did we need to see the Wingad interview?), and makes Bergman an absurdly faultless white knight (uh, couldn't fear for his reputation in the business also have played a big role in his dogged determination to get the episode aired uncut?).

Jack_Sommersby said...

One film from '99 that I don't think gets enough love -- well, OK, it doesn't deserve love, exactly, but at least some serious like) -- is The 13th Warrior. Didn't expect much of anything, but it entertained me from start to finish, and I loved that above-the-title Antonio Banderas turned out not to be the ultimate hero of the piece, but, rather, the best man to the hero. Very unexpected and interesting. John McTiernan had quite a year with that and the Thomas Crown remake. In fact, that briefcase-switcharoo-museum sequence in Thomas is one of the most brilliantly staged and edited sequences I've ever seen. And Rene Russo got my Best Actress award that year. (I have the top 10 and Best Actor, Best Actress, etc. in a list somewhere but damned if I can locate it right now.)

Seattle Jeff said...

Is it me or does Fight Club just not hold up?

God, I loved Rene Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Women who are hot past the age of 35 get a free pass in my book.

(Though I hear she no longer is in that category - i.e. how she looks in Two For The Money)

And, yes...I am that shallow.

Walter_Chaw said...

That's a kind of shallow I can get behind. . . or wade in. . . whatever. Yeah, shit, Sixth Sense - just recently dropped out of my top ten for that year. Oversight not to make the honorable mentions. Actually speaking on it this weekend so I'm doing a little research as we speak.

The briefcase switcheroo in Thomas Crown remake is fantastic. What's that song that they use in it? "Ghost of a Man" or something? Brilliant stuff. Not a huge fan of the rest of it, must say, but I'm willing to give it another looksee. Always had a secret crush on Remington Steele.

I do like The 13th Warrior a good deal. Dirty little mucky little flick - and for a while, you even had hope that McTiernan wasn't completely played out.

Best film of the '90s:
Hana-Bi

Rich said...

I saw that Thomas Crown remake when it came out and pretty much all I remember it for is that scene where Renee Russo is topless (on a beach or something, I think). I just remember thinking 'huh?' afterwards. Sort of like Halle Berry in Swordfish. Both instances struck me as so forced and out-of-place. But, hey, I could be wrong - maybe there was some sort of significance to it that I missed.

Seattle Jeff said...

I didn't even remeber she was topless in that. Odd.

Best of the '90's?

The Big Lebowski

Jack_Sommersby said...

Well, combine the boob shot with that spectacular shot of her thonged bottom in that black dress in that dance scene (as well as, if memory serves, another boob shot in that staircase-sex scene), and you have a character who's initially depicted as uptight but through this obscenely wealthy man, learns to relax and let loose. Plus, Russo was 45 at the time, and displayed a better body an exuded ten times the sexuality than the sub-par Berry ever has.

Seattle Jeff said...

I have to confess, the only thing I remember of that film is the black dress.

Jack_Sommersby said...

If not for Nick Nolte's magnificent performance in Affliction that year, Jeff Bridges would have definitely earned Best Actor in my book.

(By the way, don't buy the newly-released DVD of that film. It's an absurd example of double dipping: the only thing different is the damn packaging.)

Jack_Sommersby said...

If I went by Bill's criteria -- citing a film in a '99 list that debuted in other countries that year but not until 2000 in the U.S. -- then I'd cite Eye of the Beholder, a mesmerizing, psychologically complex film that apparently only Walter and I like. (Just got around to reading the novel it was based on, and the film is considerably better.)

Here are my best pictures of the '90s by year:

1990: White Hunter, Black Heart
1991: The Fisher King
1992: Falling From Grace
1993: Flesh and Bone
1994: White
1995: Se7en
1996: Dead Man
1997: L.A. Confidential
1998: Affliction
1999: The Straight Story

Chad Evan said...

Lebowski just might be the best movie of the 90's. Certainly the funniest.

Jack_Sommersby said...

Some of Lebowski is indeed hilarious, but there's a lot in it I don't like: John Goodman's unpleasantly obnoxious character (the worst of this type since Dustin Hoffman's Teach in American Buffalo); the occasionally bum dialogue (how many times do we really need to hear someone shout something about fucking someone in the ass?), and, as is the case in most of the Coens' work, an aura of smug self-satisfaction at supposed cleverness that isn't nearly as clever as the filmmakers seem to think. Still, I'll watch it in places just for Bridges, who's simply an acting god.

Seattle Jeff said...

John Goodman's unpleasently obnoxious character is very much like members of my family.

His portrayal is very therapeutic for me. I can laugh and say "Man, that's so true."

Jack_Sommersby said...

The one time I took kindly to him is when he said "Shut the fuck up, Donnie!" in that theatre in response to Steve Buschemi going on and on about that damn In-'N-Out Burger.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

I LOVE Big Labowski. It is the greatest satire of Noir since The Long Goodbye. I think it was best Coen film since Barton Fink. They are absurdists just like Charlie Kauffman, but less defeatist and more indifferent, which I prefer. What really attracts me to them is their need for setting their stories in Herzogian Landscape, which means wherever none has been set before. Loved John Goodman in it by the way, this is who Travis Bickle would have been in 20 years in Coen universe.

Love Affliction by the way. Best by Schrader as a director.

Oh, mistake in last post, "Bringning out the dead" is also the best film of the 90s. Thin Red Line and Chungking Express are close 2nd and 3rd.

Walter:

Just saw "Last Days". Best film of this year hands-down. First film to really catch my attention all year. There have been many excellent ones, but this is the first great one I have seen all year long.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

how many times do we really need to hear someone shout something about fucking someone in the ass?

As many as humanly possible

Anonymous said...

"Always had a secret crush on Remington Steele."

Well it ain't a secret no more.

Bill C said...

1. Rene Russo + sweaty = good filmmaking

2. Adjusted my list (and honourable mentions) ever-so-slightly. The discussions here are helping a lot of mental tumblers click into place.

3. Best movie of the '90s? Miller's Crossing. Confess, though, that I don't know whether I actually believe that, or if I'm just trying to rationalize the 50+ viewings.

4. Big Lebowski has the single greatest TV dub in the history of the sport, better than reigning champion The Breakfast Club. Example: in lieu of saying "This is how you fuck a stranger in the ass," John Goodman now threatens: "This is how you find a stranger in the Alps!"

tmhoover said...

Must admit to never thinking all that much of the so-called renaissance year of '99- most of the allegedly out-there movies were too gentrified and reined-in for my blood. Fight Club is a perfect example, a would-be subversive movie that plays into all Hollywood boys-club conventions and succumbs to what Jonathan Rosenbaum called "Designer Grunge": a representation of filth so aesthetic that it could never be as threatening as actual filth. And the rest of the "eccentric" movies seemed to be trying too hard, never cutting to the bone. But that's just me.

Best films of the '90s:

1. Beau Travail
2. My Own Private Idaho
3. The Wind Will Carry Us
4. Charisma
5. The Puppetmaster
6. Safe
7. The River
8. Yes, Sir! (Madame)
9. The Doom Generation
10. Die Hard with a Vengeance

I will burn in cinematic hell for that last guilty pleasure, but facts is facts.

Bill C said...

Oh, I think you're safe from Satan's fiery claws for now--Die Hard 3 is a no-excuses good movie.

Alex Jackson said...

If you're going to burn in hell for a guilty pleasure it should be the Doom Generation. That movie was considerably more callow than even Fight Club and as filmmaking it's positively dreadful.

What gives dude?

I have problems with Schrader when seperated from Scorsese; particularly with Affliction. He seems to see evil as being a lack of clarity; that if your mind were simply clear you would be a good person. Evil is disorder in his mind. He's either incapable or unwilling of seeing it as a moral choice; the way that tortured Catholic Martin Scorsese is able to depict it.

Seattle Jeff said...

One of the joys of Die Hard 3 is Sam Phillips as one of the terrorists. The former Xtian pop star turned respectable after marrying T. Bone Burnett. Hardcore fundies were most likely outraged by her activities in this film. (I once had a friend who had an autographed picture of hers that she signed "Keep on Trucking with Jesus")

If you've ever heard how high-pitched a voice she has, you understand why she has no lines in the film.

Dave Gibson said...

Ok, here’s my two cents—

1. Eyes Wide Shut
2. The Thin Red Line
3. The Straight Story
4. Rushmore
5. After Life
6. Election
7. The Limey
8. ExistenZ
9. Another Day In Paradise
10. Go

Honorable Mentions: South Park, Limbo, Princess Mononoke, The Minus Man, Felicia’s Journey

Guilty Pleasures: For Love of the Game, Dick, Still Crazy
Top of The Shit List: The General’s Daughter, Cradle Will Rock

I’m still fond of Fight Club—although it appealed to me a lot more when I was younger and angrier. Lot of misguided love for Magnolia too, it has some great stuff buried in what has always struck me as a first-draft, workshop reading than a finished movie.

Adam N said...

The best films of 1999 are Beau Travail, Rosetta and the Wind Will Carry Us -- each of which (especially the Denis) should also warrant serious consideration among the best of the 90s, along with (in no particular order) Eyes Wide Shut, The Puppetmaster and City of Sadness (Hou) Satantango (Bela Tarr), A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang - the best Asian filmmaker at work today), Fireworks (Kitano)and maybe, just maybe Funny Games (Michael Haneke -- whose Code Unknown is a good starting point for the Best of the 00s, by the way).
Sure, Lebowski's good -- ditto the Straight Story, or The Insider, or, um, Gummo (or not) -- but let's pretend that America is Not the World for a bit. If any of you posting on this thread haven't seen the above films, get on it, poste haste. To even mention Bringing out the Dead, or Magnolia or Fight Club alongside Beau Travail or Rosetta is ridiculous, I think.
And Travis: Die Hard with a Vengance JUST missed my roll call. Seriously.

Bemis said...

1. American Beauty (I know)
2. Magnolia
3. Being John Malkovich
4. Fight Club
5. Three Kings
6. Eyes Wide Shut
7. Bringing Out the Dead
8. Election
9. Titus
10. Ravenous - A movie I didn't actually see until far after 1999 due to its horrid, misleading marketing campaign.

Honorable mentions: The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Iron Giant, Toy Story 2, Romance, Man on the Moon

Chad Evan said...

Alex:
Maybe it's cause Schraeder is a Calvinist. Under this belief system, his characters never even have a chance at overcoming their disfunctions, barring divine intervention. You're right, though; I think his work does suffer under the circumstances.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

I have problems with Schrader when seperated from Scorsese; particularly with Affliction. He seems to see evil as being a lack of clarity; that if your mind were simply clear you would be a good person. Evil is disorder in his mind. He's either incapable or unwilling of seeing it as a moral choice; the way that tortured Catholic Martin Scorsese is able to depict it.

You might have something there, Alex. Never thought of it that way. But I find Schrader's interpretation of evil very interesting too though. Especially in Affliction. He has this capability, like Terrence Malick, of being smarter than his characters (and even the audience at time for that matter), but yet he never seems to condescend them. He looks at his world, like proverbial God, with strange sense for compassion for his characters while knowing that there whole existential crisis is an extrapolation of their self-destructive behavior. Much like his other characters. Auto focus was vapid but it had the hints to Schreader's archetype. Ofcourse Scorsese makes it much more introspective and personal, which is great, but with Schrader it is like a sociological statement.

To even mention Bringing out the Dead, or Magnolia or Fight Club alongside Beau Travail or Rosetta is ridiculous, I think.

I haven't seen Rosetta but I find that statement fairly elitist, but maybe it's not. Care to elucidate ?

Never got into Dardenne brothers. The whole idea of verite seems bullshit to me. It provides false truths. Overusing the Hezogian term (andthe term "Herzogian"), I'm more interested in the "ecstatic" truth.

Dave Gibson said...

Adam has a good point—especially since I’m the one that’s been waxing poetic about Canadian movies in another stream on this blog—can’t believe I didn’t even think of Audition or Kikujirô no natsu (and Fireworks!!!)—damn, these lists always cause trouble.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Puppetmaster sucks donkey-balls the size of Australia by the way, I think. I don't think a history lesson should be a pre-requisite for a movie, and if post-viewing research makes people feel special in pat-you-own-back sort of way, then they are missing out on the basic point of all art, the visceral experience one gets from it.

Best asian film-maker working today : kim ki-duk

Pavement said...

No "Run Lola Run"?

Walter_Chaw said...

Wait - I'm confused - I have Rosetta opening in the U.S. in limited release in 2000, The Thin Red Line, After Life, Big Lebowski, and Another Day in Paradise in 1998. Are we having regional/international conflicts?

Here's my revised if we say that Rosetta's a 1999 - Denver's always a little behind the national. Did I mention, by the way, that the f'in DIFF isn't bringing the new Dardennes' flick? Bullshit.

1. Beau Travail
2. Rosetta
3. Iron Giant
4. The Straight Story
5. Blair Witch Project
6. Being John Malkovich
7. Bringing Out the Dead
8. L'Humanite
9. Ravenous
10. Ghost Dog

honoroble mentions:
Election, The Limey, eXistenZ, Messenger: Joan of Arc, Titus, Fight Club, Eyes Wide Shut, The Insider, Go, Kikojiro, Wind Will Carry Us, Romance

Thanks for the nudges.

Seattle Jeff said...

Lebowski is 1998.

Someone broached the "Best of the '90's", and I ran through that loophole.

Alex Jackson said...

Okay, quickly.

I really do love Funny Games. The year of origin for the film is 1997. It played in the United States in March of 1998. Unless you live in Argentina or Eastern Europe, I don't think that it can be considered to be a 1999 release.

Let's assume that Rosetta is 1999. I did see about an hour of it. I taped it off IFC and by the end of the hour the tape cut off. It seems to be pretty good. Better than Bringing Out the Dead, Magnolia, or even Fight Club. I don't quite think so; at least not enough to say that Rosetta must be considered while the other three are dismissed.

In general, I think that we need to be deathly careful about reducing the cinema into nothing more but home movies. I quite honestly don't see how a Fight Club fan will be reformed by seeing Rosetta. They are sort of different experiences.

The Fight Club fan being reformed by Funny Games is more of a maybe. But yeah, I think that that is a different experience also.

Seattle Jeff said...

OK, here's my real 1999 list. Of course, it's limited only to the films I've seen, so admittedly I'm drawing from a weak pool. This also results in Bringing Out the Dead, ExistenZ, Sweet and Lowdown, and The Omega Code being eliminated.

1. Office Space
2. Being John Malkovich
3. The Talented Mr. Ripley
4. Cradle Will Rock
5. Toy Story 2
6. Titus
7. American Movie
8. Go
9. Election
10. American Beauty

Honorables: Sleepy Hollow, Mystery Men (yes, I liked it, ok? OK?), The Limey


What movie recently, and successfully, mocked the floating plastic bag gimick from American Beauty? I know I saw it, and liked it, but can't remember where I saw it.

Seattle Jeff said...

Oh, and I did like Fight Club...it just seems a bit juvenile to me now.

Also, I tried reading a Pahliuchuck book and was not impressed (I don't care to spell his name correctly...)

Seattle Jeff said...

Man, I still haven't seen The Blair Witch Project...

...yep, I'm going to set a record for most consecutive posts!

Jack_Sommersby said...

Thanks to Walter, I've been reminded of Messenger: Joan of Arc having been released in '99. The film is a knockout, and easily made my top-5 of that year. Really, really underrated.

Walter_Chaw said...

Oh, goddamnit, Sixth Sense in there among the honorables, again.

Yeah - Messenger is awesome (so is Eye of the Beholder from the year before)

Jack_Sommersby said...

Found a film journal for '99, so I've been able to re-compile my list:

1. The Straight Story
2. Dogma
3. Messenger: Story of Joan of Arc
4. True Crime
5. Sweet and Lowdown
6. The Thomas Crown Affair
7. The Iron Giant
8. Felicia's Journey
9. Three Kings
10. Anywhere But Here

Runners-up:

Arlington Road
Best Laid Plans
EDtv
Eyes Wide Shut
For Love of the Game
The Insider
Joe the King
The Rage: Carrie 2
Stir of Echoes
Teaching Mrs. Tingle
The Third Miracle

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Fuck !

Rosenbaum just sort0of fucked my whole perception of Apocalypse Now, in his Jarhead review:

Certainly the people who made the trailer did: it's as pro-war as anything in Apocalypse Now -- all lovely explosions, arresting patterns of light and darkness, and terse, macho voice-overs.

The thing is, I never saw the film Rosenbaum saw when it comes to Apocalypse Now. At the same time, now I can see what he sees.

Bill C said...

Yeah, not sure who brought Lebowski into this, but it's incontrovertibly a 1998 release.

Thin Red Line=1998; remember the duelling WWII epics at the '99 Academy Awards?

Rich said...

Seattle Jeff:

That poke at the bag scene from American Beauty that you're thinking of is in Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse. Pretty funny, too.

Seattle Jeff said...

I am to be balmed for Lebowski.

Rich: Love Welcome to the Dollhouse, but doubt it could reference American Beauty as it predates it by a few years.

I bet it was a Daily Show episode I'm thinking about.

Jefferson said...

What movie recently, and successfully, mocked the floating plastic bag gimick from American Beauty?

Not Another Teen Movie?

Alex Jackson said...

The thing is, I never saw the film Rosenbaum saw when it comes to Apocalypse Now. At the same time, now I can see what he sees.

That hurts. I remember unsucessfully trying to convince you that it was pro-war a while ago.

Chad Evan said...

Don't feel bad about Apocalypse, H-man; it may not be an anti-war film, but it's definitely a great film. I find the whole idea of an anti-war film as rather pious and obvious anyway, just as the idea of a pro-war film is bombastic and ignorant. It's in the ambiguity that the richness lies.

Jack_Sommersby said...

I don't find Apocalypse pro-war at all. Take the famous helicopter-assulat sequence: My father, a wounded ex-Vietnam vet, hated watching that, because he took exception to laughs being derived from it; but I responded, "Yeah, but consider this: the audience, along with the gung-ho troops, are expected to get a euphoric high from it, yet we're all of a sudden brought back to reality when that soldier's leg is severed from that on-the-ground explosion, and we're left to ponder the guilt we're coming face-to-face with for having laughed at the previous bits". And take Chef: previously berated for decking himself out in "that grizzly Army shit", he goes to emotional pieces, like a crybaby, after encountering that tiger in the jungle; and when his macho side arises again when he tells Willard, regarding Kurtz, that he'll "kill the fuck", he's soon thereafter on the receiving end of a beheading. Lance? He turns into a dope-head flowerchild among the natives. Let's also not forget Kurtz, who riles the military establishment because he refuses to play by their rules: he goes to sensible -- though unauthorized -- measures to take out the enemy, and because this proves undeniably successful -- thus sticking it into the face of the brass that he views as politically-motivated and hypocritical -- he's targeted for assassination.

Sorry, I don't see so much as a smidgen of pro-war apathy in Apocalypse, and this is coming from omeone who doesn't view the film as one of the greatest things since the vice-presidential nomination of John Edwards.

Adam N said...

Alex: geez. it's not about reforming people, and I don't consider the Dardennes' films (or anyone else's) to be "home movies" -- whatever on Earth that means. (I guess it means I like them and identify strongly with them. Is that it?) What it is about is redirecting the discourse towards two separate ends.
1) In my opinion, Rosetta, Beau Travail and The Wind Will Carry Us really are the best films of that year, by a considerable distance. Almost as if I was... making a list, just like everyone else on this thread.
2) The above films are possibly new to a lot of the people posting here. (Not everyone, obviously.) So I'm touting them in the hopes that other people watch them. Not so they can disown Fight Club, or anything so hysterical... that's a pretty defensive reaction to somebody who's simply attempting to open up the discussion beyond Scorcese, Fincher, et al. You say I'm being reductive -- couldn't be farther from the truth. And please, try watching to the end of Rosetta. It's easily available on video, and it's really, really good.
I did like your loose equivocation of Funny Games and Fight Club: I think that an appreciation of the former kind of invalidates the latter.

H-Man: first off, the Dardennes' films are not verite: they are meticulous, beautifully strucutred narratives in which the action seems to resist the intrusion of the camera. They skilfully appropriate verite techniques, but their true force is in their flawlessly worked out narratives and the plangent humanism that courses through every frame. Rosetta, The Son and L'Enfant are all bona fide, certified modern masterpieces, and I don't generally use that term. Have you seen The Son? I think Walter's with me on this -- it's just bloody astonishing.
As for Herzog and "ecstatic truth," that's all well and good -- the dude is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. But don't confuse admiring Herzog with rejecting the Dardennes, or any other naturalist or social-realist filmmakers. That's hasty and unproductive. There is something of Herzog's ecstatic truth in the Dardennes' films, with their implications of the complex tensions roiling beneath seemingly opaque surfaces. Which, incidentally, is also what The Puppetmaster is doing, and I don't think it sucks balls.
re Kim Ki-Duk as the best Asian filmmaker: have you seen any Edward Yang? Yi Yi and Brighter Summer Day are amazing, and the former is also readily available.

Scott said...

Not sure of my top-ten from '99, but instead I'll offer my top ten Steve Guttenberg list:

1) POLICE ACADEMY
2) DINER
3) POLICE ACADEMY IV: CITIZENS ON PATROL
4) THE BEDROOM WINDOW
5) COCOON
6) THREE MEN AND A BABY
7) COCOON: THE RETURN
8) THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY
9) POLICE ACADEMY III: BACK IN TRAINING
10) SHORT CIRCUIT

Rich said...

Seattle Jeff:

Erm, you're right - oops. That American Beauty bag thing is from a different Solondz movie: Storytelling

Walter_Chaw said...

They also did a thing on it on "Family Guy" where a very petulant God interjects and says "How about your ciculatory system for proof of design, huh? That's pretty freaking intricate." I feel like I've seen it somewheres else, too. . .

Rachel said...

I think they did a parody on Clone High too, when Tom Green is making some after-school special speech and sees the bag, and starts running after it yelling, "PLASTIC BAG PLASTIC BAG!" Man, I wish they never cancelled that. That show should have been on forever.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Oh ... man! I wrote this really long post for adam and walter. It didn't post. Fucking internet connection.

Alex Jackson said...

On the Dardennes and their "home movie" designation:

By the term "home movie" I was meaning verite I suppose. Based on the hour that I saw, I know that they are good; and there is a purpose to what they are doing and a refined visual style, but I also know that they do little to temper preconceptions of foreign cinema as being what Jean-Pierre Jeunet referred to as: "movies about people yelling at each other".

To borrow the voice of a stereotypical Fight Club fan: movies like Rosetta want to snuggle, movies like Fight Club want to fuck. Humanism is not the end point for art, art should be aiming for something beyond humanity. I'm sure that there is "ecstatic truth" in the Dardennes film and I think that there is "ecstatic truth" in Herzog and "ecstatic truth" in Fight Club, and of the three the Dardennes film is the only one that needs to be digested. Intellectually and viscerally it represents a form of delayed gratification.

I'm glad your purpose for bringing in these other films is to expand the discussion, but yeah there is certainly something to be said about Fincher, Anderson, Scorsese and the nature of the American cinema.

On Apocalypse Now being "pro-war": I don't mean absolutely, but Roger Ebert is found of quoting Francois Trauffaut's dictim that anti-war movies are impossible to make because they always make war look fun. Accordingly, Grave of the Fireflies, Paths of Glory, and Johnny Got His Gun are anti-war movies.

Apocalypse Now is unflinching, but it's also deeply macho and deeply exhilerating and so I would say that it's an anti-war film that doesn't deny the pro-war aspects in war.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Jesus Christ Alex ! I practically had written these same things in my above mentioned "long" post.

We are certainly on the same page when it comes to neo-verite (Alan Clarke, Ken Loach, Dardennes). And it is fucking verite. The point is, it really comes down to matter of taste. I just don't dig realism (Alan Clarke) as much I dig "magic" realism (fellow British, Lynne Ramsay). I need some spice spice with it, wether it be beautiful cinematogrphy (Gus vanSant), poetic dialogues (david green) or lyrical pacing (Terrence Malick).

I hate this condescending attitude towards North American films and film-makers. Just because they don't come with "foreign" tag on them, doesn't mean they are not as good. And if I choose to put some of them on my top 10 list doesn't mean I'm ignorant of foreign cinema.

Seattle Jeff said...

Scott:

Three Men and a Little Lady over Short Circuit??!!

You obviously have no real love of cinema!

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Going back to Apocalypse Now, I have finally been able to make my mind up about it. Here's my position:

It's an film that accepts the fact that violence is man's primordial nature, his animal instinct, logical extrapolation of which is war. Yet man has something animals don't, compassion, and that brings the anti-war element into existence. It is proverbial God's P.O.V. of the dual nature of man.

Scott said...

Seatlle Jeff: In THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY we are allowed to see the Steve Guttenberg persona achieve a maturity that was only obliquely hinted at in SHORT CIRCUIT, but that comes full circle with the raising of his daugther in an admittedly unconventional relationship. If SHORT CIRCUIT was about man's burgeoning relationship, benign or malevolent, with the rising spawn of artifical intelligence, THREE MEND AND A LITTLE LADY is about something much more profound and trenchant -- the development of a feminist perspective within the confines of a distinctly masculine environment. SHORT CIRCUIT uses one-lines and Indian stereotypes to postulate a world where robots and various ethnicities can inhabit and interact with amiable glee, but THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY, while on the surface a light, fluffy comedy, is after something much more resonant, a conception of 'family'that is akin to the post-nuclear domestic structure that Spike Lee creates at the end of SHE HATE ME, a circle of love and trust that follows no conventional patterns but nevertheless serves as a model of what can be possible and should be possible.

After all, if we could ALL be raised by Ted Danson, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg,I think the world would be a much more peaceful place...

Adam N said...

whoa....

Alex: the Dardennes' films are not about people yelling at each other. that's just silly, and I think you know it. Jean-Pierre Jeunet -- cited as an "enemy filmmaker" by Jean-Michael Frodon -- is not necessarily a guy to quote with regards to trends and tendencies in French cinema. I mean, did you SEE a Very Long Engagement? Yeesh.
There is nothing "snuggly" about Rosetta: that's an odd comment. It's anything but. And I find it to be more viscerally stimulating then, say, Fight Club: the latter is just so transparent in its operations that I could never get caught up in them. The idea isn't that the Dardennes (or others) are better than American filmmakers across the board... but Bringing Out the Dead, which re-hashes familiar themes for its director and writer, isn't exactly a test case for "the nature of American cinema." Neither is any other single movie. As to whether or not humanism should be the goal of art, I'd never make such a grandiose claim. But I do think that truly humanist films (usually defined as films that don't strive for that designation) speak to me at the moment, given my professional obligation to wade through literally hundreds of callow, cruel and generally morally reprehensible movies a year. (Oops... sounded a little like our man Walter there. But I guess I see where he's coming from.)

H-Man: No, it's not verite. Sorry. And I'm sorry it's not spicy enough for you, either. But you keep setting up these "either-or" situations, which I don't understand. I like Gus Van Sant, too (but not Last Days, which was a pile of guff) and Lynne Ramsey's just terrific. Clinging to what you like is fine and admirable, but don't use it as a club against movies you haven't seen. And please, don't lecture me about "foreign tags" -- most of the foreign movies I see every year in Toronto, both at the festival or in general release, are about as mediocre as the US films I see. The best film of this year -- Los Angeles Plays Itself -- was directed by an American (Thom Anderson) and I'm disproportionately fond of Wes Anderson, David Lynch, George Romero, David Cronenberg (a Canuck, I admit), Jim McKay, Fred Wiseman, M. Night Shyamalan (The Village notwithstanding), Richard Linklater, and John Sayles, among others.

Adam N said...

also, for H-Man:

even though you've been strangely defensive, I have a few other friendly suggestions for you. If you like Van Sant, you should see films by Bela Tarr: I'm sure you're aware that they were a major influence. Ditto Alexsandr Sokurov, whose recent The Sun is profitably analyzed against Last Days: both conclude loose trilogies, and are about revered figures tooling around large houses towards the end of their lives. The difference is that while Last Days strives (and to my mind, fails) to make a transcendent figure of Blake, The Sun examines how Hirohito's tentative, retreat from divinity allows him to finally connect with his humanity. It's really a wonderful movie, and also very funny, believe it or not.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Adam:

You're right man. I have been a little too defensive and a little too abrasive. Your comment earlier just rubbed me the wrong way. Just before I read your comment, I had these snobs at the bar lecturing to me about Kubrick and why 2001-A Space Odyssey is a great film. When I (insert sarcasm) mildly disagreed I was nailed to the wall by appalled bleeding liberal cunts who won't let me finish my point. The most profound thing they had to say about the film was "The special effects were so ahead of their time". They were like gremlins ripping me apart. Anyways, all that defensive attitude that I had stored up from there came out here.

Plus my ideas weren't articulated properly. maybe that has something to do with the fact that this is November (prime weed season people!). So didnt mean to, but did so let's get over it.

Seattle Jeff said...

Scott:

You must consider that in Short Circuit the idea of "feminine gaze" comes into play. We are sometimes forced to see Steve Guttenberg through the eyes of Ally Sheedy (as she drives her ice cream truck - don't get me started on how her occupation symbolizes her frigidity...)In essence, all of humankind is invited to view Guttenberg as an object of sexual fascination.

Whereas, in Three Men and a Little Lady the presence of Guttenberg is diluted with the presence of two sitcom actors while the most significant female is under 10 years of age. Thus, the message of the film is hardly universal.


Please tell me The Boys from Brazil and Can't Stop the Music are in your honorable mentions. Guttenberg, Olivier, Peck, and James Mason...that's a pretty all-star cast.

mimo70 said...

A few posts back I said I'd see "Bringing Out the Dead" again, because so many of you were praising it. Well, I did and I still can't see what all the fuss is about. I respect the opinions on this site but, honestly, I feel that BOTD is nothing more than a failed attempt by Scorsese and Schrader to resurrect "Taxi Driver."

First off, I'm not a fan of Nicholas Cage. I find that he often comes off as phony. He's all wild gestures and disingenuous poses. I think he's incapable of creating a full-blooded and believable character. Furthermore I think he tries to cover up this inability by resorting to cheap tricks and spastic behaviour.

That being said, the major problem with BOTD is that it has no forward momentum. It swings from one chaotic call to the next without deepening our understanding of either the story or Frank Pierce. One scene smashes into the next and leaves nothing of substance to examine.

Also, Frank Pierce is not an interesting character. He's emotionally and physically exhausted and has a guilty conscience, yes, but he's essentially a simplistic do-gooder. I have nothing against do-gooders in films, but deep, off-putting character flaws often lead to compelling characters.

For instance, let's compare the two lead characters, Frank Pierce and Travis Bickle, from BOTD and TD. I think the comparison is more than apt considering that both characters are loners who tour the city at night in a vehicle that is at the service of that very city. Both men are looking for an opportunity of heroism and redemption and connect that very heroism and redemption to a young girl (Rose here and Iris in TD). Travis Bickle is memorable and fascinating for two major reasons - (1) Robert De Niro, in his prime, was a much better actor then Nicholas Cage will ever be, and, (2) Because he is morally complex. Here's a guy who is creepy, delusional and violent, yet he sees himself as a saviour. He sees himself as the last hope for a city that has lost its' way. He cares for Iris, yet also uses her as an excuse for his hero-fantasies and the ultimate acting out of those very fantasies. He's compelling and ultimately becomes a hero in the city's eyes even though he's deeply disturbed. He'll never be forgotten. Pierce's worst flaw is that he cares too much. He's ordinary and therefore every one else we meet - including Tom Wall, Noel and Dr. Hazmat, are far more interesting. You can't say the same about TD. When the secondary characters are more compelling than the primary character, then you have a problem.

One other thing. Robert Richardson was exactly the wrong cinematographer for this film.
He made all of the scuz and sleaze and decay look beautiful. It was all glowing and shiny when it should of looked like what it was -ugly and depressing.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Now, "Affliction" (wherein Schrader goes it alone), that's a film.

tmhoover said...

This thread was long ago abandoned, but in response to Alex's remark about "The Doom Generation" being more callow than "Fight Club": I understand why the hate-on for that movie (DG, that is)has been intense, but for me it's the real thing to "Fight Club's" Disney version of alienated rage. Araki's vulgarity is genuinely abrasive, whereas Fincher's version is a prettified safe version that liberal arts majors can feel is making a statement on something instead of just playing its frat-boy games.

And I don't think "Doom Generation" is just arbitrarily hocking loogies. The great and pointed thing about "The Doom Generation" is that it has a trio of outsiders (who are not just "misunderstood" but in at least two instances sexual outlaws), and lets them drive around the countryside trying to outrun their oppressive situation- only, in the spectacularly bleak finale, to have it catch up with them. To me, it's a chilling statement on questioning North American norms that resonates a hell of a lot more than "Fight Club's" weekend-warrior radicalism.

And as filmmaking, it has the right nose-punching Warholian Brillo-box tone that's just right for a film about a culture's relentless artificiality. But hey, that's just me.

Adam N said...

H -Man:
no worries. it's a good thing I'm not going to explain why 2001 is one of my favorite movies ever... I've got the poster hanging just outside my washroom.

Travis: keep the Araki flames burning. He's a good filmmaker. Mysterious Skin was way better than a lot of its reviews suggested... including the one on FFC, I think.

Anonymous said...

Erm... Walter... I don't know if you've noticed, but Anchorman the secondmost popular review of the month. wtf? Did a cluster of people just randomly decide to dig into the archives? That's weird.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Adam:

Let's not get into 2001. i get so much wrath for that one. You certainly aren't alone in love for it. I think it is Kubrick jerking off to himself and licking cum off his knees.

About BOTD, it is unfair to compare the two actors. Too many morons misuse the word "kafkaesque" but that is the perfect adjective to be used for Nick Cage. DeNiro is DeNiro, undoubtedly, but they are great in their own ways.

I certainly disagree that there is a problem if secondary characters are more interesting than the lead (remember a guy by the name of Dr. Watson). I find BOTD ghoulishly Dickensian while TD is more of a traditional Schrader screenplay.

Overall, two completely different films, thematically and structurally.

tim r said...

What's wrong with snuggling?

Suppose I ought to revisit Bringing out the Dead, but all I remember about it six years on is basically the cinematography, so I'm sceptical. (Made an interesting melting-pot double bill with Summer of Sam though.) Isn't there an argument to be made that Schrader and Scorsese in collaboration = overcooked macho philosophising, and Schrader on his own (esp Affliction and Light Sleeper) = more intellectually precise Calvinist inquiries into same? That's certainly the way I feel.

As well as all the crucial picks for the best movie year in maybe 20, I'm really glad you guys have such a lot of time for Titus, Ravenous, Stir of Echoes and Another Day in Paradise - all terrific and underseen flicks. Was Jesus's Son that year too, or 2000? Liked it very much.

@Walter: one review I remember of that abomination The United States of Leland said the stabbed teen "might as well have been asphyxiated by the bag from American Beauty". Spot on, no?

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Scorsese by himself, mostly, is fickle display of empty style. Schrader by himself, mostly, is over-cooked heavy handed philosphizin'. Together, they the bomb.

tim r said...

So we like our philosophizin' super-stylish or not at all? I dunno, I just find Schrader's chilliness as a director gives me a bit more space to think sometimes. It may be telling that my favourite Scorsese movie - The King of Comedy - is the most Schraderish, style-wise. Kind of remote and creepy, lots of long medium shots. I do like Scorsese pummelling his way through stuff like Goodfellas and Cape Fear though.

Alex Jackson said...

The great and pointed thing about "The Doom Generation" is that it has a trio of outsiders (who are not just "misunderstood" but in at least two instances sexual outlaws), and lets them drive around the countryside trying to outrun their oppressive situation- only, in the spectacularly bleak finale, to have it catch up with them. To me, it's a chilling statement on questioning North American norms that resonates a hell of a lot more than "Fight Club's" weekend-warrior radicalism.

Uh.. I don't think that they were outsiders because they were sexual outlaws or were feeling oppressed. I really don't see any of that in the movie. And even if they were that strikes me as terribly Level One filmmaking.

And as filmmaking, it has the right nose-punching Warholian Brillo-box tone that's just right for a film about a culture's relentless artificiality.

Ugh. How about instead of reacting to artificiality he just make something real instead? From a filmmaking standpoint, the newscasts in The Doom Generation are the some of the most offensively smug and stupid bits that I have ever bared witness to.

I liked Mysterious Skin, better than Walter really. Where Walt saw it as Arakki being up to his old tricks I saw it as Arakki struggling to be sincere but having a number of relapses into his readymade smug everything-is-shit "satirical" perspective. I think that I'm getting to buy into the press that he doesn't have anything to say through these distancing techniques, he's just a coward trying to cover his own ass by pretending that none of it matters. (An attitude reinforced by his dodging of FFC's follow-up interview). I do appreciate your effort to reform though, Gregg.

Thoughts on Fight Club:

It's unquestionably callow. And it does bother me that the film finished number 4 in Total Film's list of the 100 Greatest Films Ever Made (the next three were Godfather Part III, Citizen Kane, and Tokyo Story). I think of it as the third incantation of A Clockwork Orange that includes the 21st chapter. (The first two being Trainspotting and American History X). Two acts of mayhem followed by one act of shallow moralizing--insisting that it was a responsible film all along. Blah! They would be better in being entirely irresponsible.

Still, once you accept that there is a lot of pleasure to be had from Fight Club. In the filmmaking and the craft of it, of course. But also in the ideas and even the attitude. I've outgrown a good portion of Fight Club, but think that I've retained a lot more of who I was six years ago. Is it making a statement about something? Well, yeah. Americans have a bad case of the milk fed blues and are in a state of spiritual atrophy. The hole in their life can't be filled with materialism, and so they join up Brad Pitt's masochistic Fight Club. I don't think that young audiences buy into it because they think that describes the people around them, I think that they buy into it because it describes themselves. I think that they can relate to it. I have to admit that I still can; I don't quite feel at peace with my place in the universe quite yet.

The movie aestheticizes dirt, but it's about making a religion about dirt and so I'm not sure that there is any other way to convey that without aestheticizing dirt. There is some level in which the film has to turn you on with dirt.

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Read Ebert's review of "Dark City" in great movies section. That is what one can call a definitive review.

Harvey_Birdman said...

It's nice to see Ravenous finally get some respect. I remember going to the Cineplex and watching it purely on a lark; the marketing campaign was truly despicably misleading. I don't think there were five other people in the theatre for a Saturday night showing.

Rich said...

H-Man:

Agreed on that Dark City piece on Ebert's site - best thing I've read by him in a while.

Dave Gibson said...

Is Bringing out the Dead really that exceptional? I haven’t seen it since its original release but remember being particularly under whelmed by another self-conscious Cage performance and the inelegant way Scorsese slathers his usual obsessions over a relatively simple text. I was (unfortunately) reminded of his over baked remake of Cape Fear—a nice, brutish little noir tale that he turned into The Gospel According to Max Cady---although, I still have fond memories of that brief scene where Mitchum appears to be saying: What the hell is this pretentious shit? After GoodFellas, Scorsese began to rely far too heavily on his pop soundtracks which I recall as especially ingratiating throughout “Dead”.

And, “Summer of Sam” has got to be one of the worst films I’ve seen in the last twenty years.

Bill C said...

My like of Summer of Sam is distilled in the "Dancing Queen" set-piece, where Leguizamo and Sorvino have the fight that finally causes their marriage to implode. Everything surrounding that sequence is indeed irksome (though I haven't revisited the movie since its theatrical release), but I know I'd rather see it in its entirety again than any five seconds of She Hate Me.

Dave Gibson said...

Agreed. I probably should also confess that Leguizamo and Sorvino are potential cast members for the film I'd be punished with for an eternal in hell...Tim Allen and Kate Hudson are already a lock...