90's-vember Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

90’s-vember: Chasing Amy (1997)

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We can't discuss the '90s without taking a quick detour into the Askewniverse.

Kevin Smith (love, tolerate or hate the man), along with the Weinstein's and Miramax, built a cult of personality around being the guy we were all afraid would never leave the basement.  He writes characters obsessed with Star Wars, emotionally and sexually insecure to an unhealthy degree, trapped in dead-end jobs with great potential but little intellectual curiosity.  This is the dark underbelly of the well-off protagonists of Danny's pick, Kicking and Screaming, a great film but not nearly as influential as Smith's best film to date, 1997's Chasing Amy.

So why Chasing Amy and not Clerks?  Amy, for all it's directorial flaws, hit the sweet spot of dark, sexually tinged comedy centered around mentally stunted "adults".  Clerks' characters can be accused of just never finding their niche and tolerating what they have, Amy set the tone for ensemble comedies trying to get some emotional growth mixed in with their raunchy humor.  If There's Something About Mary hit the tone for content, Amy let's the audience know just what's going on through these people's minds, and it's a horrible place to be.

One thing Smith's films lacked going into the new millennium was a certain revelry in how dingy they are.  Clerks and Mallrats both embraced this as a source of humor but Amy goes straight for the harsh truth.  Men who sit around discussing Star Wars and are scared of their girlfriends' past sexual experiences are not developing properly and are one bad situation away from hurting the minds and hearts of anyone around them.  Smith found his muse for this venue of expression in his current girlfriend (and soon-to-be ex) Joey Lauren Adams and an unlikely schleb Ben Affleck.


90’s-vember: Kicking and Screaming (1995)

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Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

"You know, even though all 618 of us were wearing caps and gowns out there today, I couldn't help but think it was a coincidence that we were both wearing black."

Okay, so let's catch up with the 90's real quick. Cold War? Dead and gone by 1992. The United States is, as the newspapers are putting it, the only super power in the world. It's a triumph of America, the good ol' USA, the red, white and blue.

So, uh, what next? Thoughts of the era become reflexive and introspective (when they weren't dwelling on sloppy blowjobs in the White House), and soon film began to deconstruct images of America, modern and past, in an attempt to etch out how we define our heroism (Saving Private Ryan) and disillusionment (Natural Born Killers). But still, these were inching closer to becoming postmodern pastiches, and the movies, filled with remakes and re-imaginings, began to feel just as directionless.

So what next?


90’s-vember: Independence Day (1996)

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Everyone else is doing the classic, “one man against the world” style action movies, but I just had to be different.

Michael Bay might be the current King of Action Films, but in the mid-90s, that title belonged to Roland Emmerich. Emmerich was no stranger to action, and had some modest success with Universal Solider and Stargate, but it was Independence Day that really put him on the map.

Blending action, science fiction and disaster films, Independence Day ditched the muscled-up supermen of the 80s in favor of focusing on (relatively) common men: Jeff Goldblum as (shockingly) a scientist, Bill Pullman as the U.S. President and Will Smith, the 'Fresh Prince' himself, in his first (of many) action roles. It also led the charge for the big budget "doomsday" films that because all the rage leading up to the end of the century and into the next millennium.


90’s-vember: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

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When I first started dating my wife there were many reasons why I knew she was a keeper, but one of the first clues was when I was shopping for my first DVD’s.  The movies I was thinking about getting were Austin Powers, The Rock and The Long Kiss Goodnight.  My future wife looked at my pile and commended me on The Long Kiss Goodnight.  The fact that I found someone else that knew how fun this critically maligned movie was, I knew I was in love. The Long Kiss Goodnight is one of those movies that most people don't understand my love for but when I think 90's it is one of the first films that come to mind.  Other people will take their ass kicking females in the form of Uma Thurman or Kate Beckinsale, but I perfer Geena Davis' Charlie Baltimore to any of the later versions.

The Long Kiss Goodnight marked the end of the Shane Black love affair after  popular screenwriter was rumored to have been paid $3 million (a record at that time) for the script.   The story revolves around a school teacher with amnesia learning that she is really a assassin/spy working for the CIA.  After a one-eyed man tries to take her out in her own home she goes with PI Mitch (Sam Jackson) to learn the truth and of course stop terrorists from blowing up the Niagra Falls area.


90’s-vember: The Rock (1996)

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"Losers always whine about their best.  Winners go home and fuck the prom queen."

Danny, while praising the great Rumble In The Bronx, decided to take a quick jab at the rest of our picks in a bit of a preemptive assault and deem our selections "cold and calculated".  I'd just like to gently caress my middle finger up the center of my screen while thinking about this line and ponder Jackie Chan at his best versus the attitude and strangely progressive displays of manliness on hand in The Rock.  I'll take the promise of a lifetime of misery after one night of debauched excess in the face of a bit of his martial arts prowess.

A bit harsh, perhaps, but this is Michael Bay we're discussing.  The very same Michael Bay who manages to turn explosions into profits and once called The Island his art film.  It speaks well to a man's frame of mind when an extended hoverbike chase translates into a self-conscious attempt at making an "art film", but such is the nature of the beast.  There was a time when Michael Bay might have made something which confronted the nature of the very films he was promoting, but the time has long since passed and we're left with countless Transformers films.