Criterion Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

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

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

"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?


Blood for Dracula (1974)

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

Making an unpleasant film about an unpleasant thing has always been somewhat of a risky proposition. Film's that take this path always bring to mind Tim O'Brien's book The Things They Carried, which argued that exaggerated truth is just as acceptable as a real one if it can better convey to the audience what the actual experience was like. A falsified truth ergo is better than the real truth.

This exaggeration is often at play in a film like Blood for Dracula, and a host of others: Salo, A Serbian Film, or The Human Centipede. They're films where truth or accepted fictions are reconfigured in an intentionally crass way to provoke the audience in a way that simple truth or statements of facts cannot.


When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)

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

Danny LIKELoneliness is a killer, and it's infinitely worse when you're surrounded by other lonely people. This tensions is acutely tuned by Mikio Naruse in When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, a character study about someone who has lost control of her fate to the melancholy world she's resigned herself to.

Let me back up for a second. Mama is a hostess in Tokyo's Ginza district. The district is an intricate series of restaurants and bars that fill up at the end of the work day. One of the older women working, she spends her nights drinking and carousing. She has a number of wealthy clients who enjoy her charms, but she resists them when they make their amorous advances towards her bedroom.


Ingmar Bergman: The Seventh Seal (1957)

Each Tuesday Andrew will be going through every available film of Ingmar Bergman.

Andrew COMMENTARYI worked at a movie theater for about five years during my late high school and early college years.  My taste in films had not really been fully defined yet, and I was watching whatever I could get my hands on to get a better view of the cinematic world.  That eventually led me to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, which was regarded by many non-idiots to be the best film ever made.  So I sat, plopped the VHS (obtained from Blockbuster, no less) into my player and prepared to be wowed.


Noir-vember Day Fourteen: Night and the City (1950)

Lookit his handsome face.  So boyish and sparkling, eyes glancing about without a care in the slums.  Why, were he born just twenty years later he might have been on Leave It To Beaver, or he could have at least got a walk on with My Three Sons.  Yes he should have been wholesome, should have been a star, he shouldn't have had to clean mud off himself running from the entire underworld.  But this isn't the cheery fifties, this is the transitional hell that Night and the City walks through.