90's-vember Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

90’s-vember: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

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"He who makes a beast of himself takes away the pain of being a man."

It's hard to think of a quote or phrase that really sums up the film any better than that opening epigraph.  Billed as a drug-fueled buddy comedy, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is actually a cynical denouncement of America. It's an ugly film with ugly characters. Raoul Duke and (especially) Dr. Gonzo are unquestionably reprehensible characters. In addition to drug addicts, they're crooks, con-men, kidnappers and (possibly) rapists.

And yet in Vegas, surrounded by crooked cops, desperate tourists, bogus drug "experts," celebrity sycophants and dozens of equally broken and morally bankrupt characters, they are just two more faces in the crowd; perverse reflections of the American Dream.

While it's hard to relate to Dr. Gonzo, Duke is at least somewhat sympathetic, and there is a depth to his character and to the film in general; a fatalistic reason for why he drowns himself is drugs and alcohol.


90’s-vember: The Usual Suspects (1995)

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During this month of 90’s-Vember we have talked about how a lot of movies over the years get boiled down to the shallow of  terms.  It might be a catchphrase that sticks, one moment in the film, an actor’s personal life behind the scenes at the time or a twist ending.  In the 90’s The Sixth Sense,  Se7en and The Usual Suspects are now all remembered for their shocking endings.  This is not fair to any of the movies. The Sixth Sense was a well written and acted film that was(both heartfelt and thrilling.  Se7en was a harrowing thriller that ushered in one of the best directors working today. Finally, The Usual Suspects was a film that was beautifully shot, expertly edited, wonderfully written and introduced us to one of movie history’s best villains.


90’s-vember: Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

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Bringing Out The Dead is criminally overlooked and features every single one of its players operating at a nightmarish level of intensity.  This is partly expected due to the involvement of Scorsese and longtime screenwriting partner Paul Schrader, whose collaborations with Scorsese brought about Taxi DriverRaging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ.


90’s-vember: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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Quentin Tarantino gets a lot of flack from critics, both professional and amateur. There's the accusation that he steals his ideas from other films, and while there are undeniable influences in his work from the grindhouse and exploitation films of the 70s, calling them "stolen" is a gross exaggeration. Tarantino isn't a thief: He's a nerd.

I mean that in the nicest possible way. Tarantino is a film nerd. He loves films, especially obscure films, and he wears his influences on his sleeve. Are there more than a few similarities between the plots of Reservoir Dogs and 1987's City on Fire? Definitely, but Reservoir Dogs didn't just copy Ringo Lam's crime thriller, change the setting to California and call it a day. No, he took the concept of a film that he loved and then he made it his own.

This actually works to the film's credit, too. Reservoir Dogs is a film obsessed with pop culture; from the obvious to the obscure. The soundtrack, to the dialog, even the wardrobe choices are all a parade of the things that entertained or inspired Tarantino. It only makes sense that the film's plot would be a reference itself.


90’s-vember: Swingers (1996)

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With my cohorts already taking a Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino film and the fact that my recent break-up with Robert Rodriguez was still to fresh to look back at his good films, I was all set to review Glengary Glen Ross, my favorite Mamet film. That was until I was talking to an old friend about the movies I was going to do and he said that he was surprised that I wasn’t doing Swingers. I had an epiphany at that moment and realized that there was no other movie that I could review.

The reason Swingers was such a no brainer is not because I love the film (which I do) but because for most of the late 90’s I tried to live the movie. My friends David, Matt and I all wore the retro shirts, shoes and chains. I used to listen to all of the swing music that the movie helped make popular and would have given anything to live their lives. I wanted to grow up and live that life.