Fight Club (USA, dir. David Fincher)
In the final year of the 20th Century the flood-gates opened to release a torrent of cinematic gold onto those hungry cinephiles not huddled on an arm-chair made of Heinz baked bean and Spam cans in bomb shelter. To some extent, I would venture that much of the late 90s’ cultural lineage is owed to the pre-millennial furor, in particular the Y2K bug theory. With the imminent collapse of modern technology looming on the horizon (and many rubes happily buying-in to the bullshit theory) one can be forgiven for thinking that perhaps artists and their financiers were a little more keen to turn-out something remarkable and extraordinary – their dream project – before the digital clocks went kaput and filmmakers the world over found themselves wishing they’d spent more time reading John Wiseman’s SAS Survival Guide than rambling through the collected essays of Lacan or, more likely, fast-forwarding through Basic Instinct to catch a glimpse of Sharon Stone’s beef curtains.
At any rate, the sense that a great change was upon the world could not be shaken-off and the natural marker flag that comes with the end of a century (let alone a millennium) lent a great creative energy to people across all industries and disciplines. Many writers, directors, producers, financiers and distributors wanted in on the race to make the last great American/French/British/Japanese/Russian/Sci-fi/Action/Horror/Comedy/Porn masterpiece of the 20th Century. The result was an average of 2.91 exceptionally good films per month by my reckoning, to say nothing of the many, many lauded films of 1999 that I still haven’t gotten-around to.
One particular change marked by the end of the century, one that was still much in doubt at the time, despite its seemingly obvious inevitability, was that of the rise in digital filmmaking techniques, ably represented by the likes of Fight Club, The Blair Witch Project, The Matrix, South Park and Toy Story 2.
One Day In September demonstrated the resurgent potential for the cinematic distribution of documentaries, which have all but dominated the art house release schedules in the digital age, and Takashi Miike’s Audition began the slow incursion of twisted East Asian genre movies into the international cult market. And heavy-hitting auteurs, like Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Claude Chabrol, Woody Allen, Werner Herzog, Pedro Almodovar, David Cronenberg, Steven Soderberg, Raul Ruiz and Anthony Mingella, contributed end-of-an-era masterpieces along with emergent talents, like Spike Jonze, P.T. Anderson, Antonia Bird, Alexander Payne, M Night Shyamalan, Sofia Coppola, David O’Russel, John Lasseter, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, to enrich one of the most remarkable periods in the history of pop culture.
Audition (Japan, dir. Takashi Miike)
1999 Watchlist: 8½ WOMEN – AFTER THE RAIN – AMERICAN MOVIE – BANGKOK DANGEROUS – BEAU TRAVAIL – BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB – THE CUP – GIRL ON THE BRIDGE – HIMALAYA – HOLY SMOKE – THE INSIDER – THE IRON GIANT – JULIEN DONKEY-BOY – KIKUJIRO – MAN ON THE MOON – TIME REGAINED – THE MISSION – MY NEIGHBOURS THE YAMADAS – NOT ONE LESS – RATCATCHER – RIDE WITH THE DEVIL – SEX: THE ANNABEL CHONG STORY – TABOO – TOPSY-TURVY – THE WAR ZONE – THE WIND WILL CARRY US
Merci, Pour le Chocolat (France, dir. Claude Chabrol)
Honorable Mention: ARLINGTON ROAD – THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT – BOYS DON’T CRY – BRINGING OUT THE DEAD – DEAD OR ALIVE – EAST IS EAST – eXistenZ – FELICIA’S JOURNEY – GRASS – ’"THE LIMEY":http://mubi.com/films/the-limey – THREE KINGS
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (USA, dir. Trey Parker)
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