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1999: A Look Back, Pt. 4

11.26.2009

So far, we've taken a look back at the blockbusters, sleepers, and prestige flicks of 1999. Now it's time to look at some of the more unconventional films of the year. One is a film that flopped upon it's release, but is now something of a cult classic, the other- a film that blew many minds, and heralded the arrival of two great talents, that would continue to make thought provoking films over the next decade.

GO

Initial reaction: GO was a flick I missed in theaters, and never bothered catching until it was on pay-TV in the spring of 2000. One could hardly blame me for not expecting much from it, as the film was sold as just another teen flick, starring DAWSON'S CREEK starlet Katie Holmes.

Of course, GO was far from a teen flick. Some critics called it "PULP FICTION-lite", and while, yes, it does share some elements with that film (mainly the time-bending narrative structure), it's much more than just a Tarantino rip-off.

It's really an adrenaline rush of a film, depicting a wild, and crazy Christmas Eve, in the lives of several groups of friends, including two super-market cashiers, turned amateur drug dealers (Sarah Polley, and Katie Holmes), a group of guys who run afoul of the mob in Vegas (Taye Diggs, Desmond Askew, James Duvall, and Breckin Meyer), and two gay actors (Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr), tangled up in a sting operation with an overly friendly, and flirtatious cop (William Fichtner).

Director Doug Liman, just coming off SWINGERS, immediately differentiates himself from Tarantino, by establishing a happy go-lucky tone right from the outset. GO, despite it's occasionally heavy subject matter, is all about fun, and even in the darkest parts of the film, things never get too serious. The tension is always relieved by some comedy, be it one character's drug-controlled, psychic conversation with a cat, or another setting a fire while in the middle of a threesome.

Sadly, audiences at the time missed out on a good thing, with the film only pulling in $16 Million domestically.

Effect: Luckily, the film became a cult sensation once it hit DVD, and pay-tv, and now the film is highly regarded. Director Doug Liman went straight the the A-list, after his next film- THE BOURNE IDENTITY, established Matt Damon as THE action star of the decade. As for the cast, Sarah Polley continued acting- mainly in Canadian films, and also directed a great, critically acclaimed film called AWAY FROM HER, proving herself to be a major talent on both sides of the camera. Jay Mohr, and Taye Diggs have both worked steadily, while Scott Wolf dropped off the radar, until recently re-emerging on the new V reboot. As for Katie Holmes, for better or worse, she became the next Mrs. Tom Cruise, although her film career seems to have stalled somewhat...

Read JoBlo's original review

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH

Initial Reaction: Like many other film-goers in '99, I had no idea what to make of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. I liked it- that's for sure, but I sure as hell didn't understand it. I mean, c'mon- it's a film about a puppeteer (an almost unrecognizable John Cusack), finding a portal into the mind of John Malkovich (playing himself, and proving to be one heck of a good sport), and then taking over his life, with the real Malkovich losing his mind in the process (love the scene where he goes to Charlie Sheen for guidance).

It was the first film for both director Spike Jonze, and writer Charlie Kauffman, and it set the tone for the genre/reality bending films both would come out with over the next ten years. In a happy turn of events, audiences actually proved themselves to be very open-minded as far has this film went, with it grossing a surprisingly sturdy $22 Million domestically, and also garnering several Oscar nominations (I remember hearing gasps from the press when Jonze's nomination for best director was announced during the live nominations telecast).

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Legacy: Three years later, Jonze and Kauffman re-teamed for ADAPTATION, which turned out to be a great companion piece to MALKOVICH, and won co-star Chris Cooper a much served Oscar. While Kauffman went on to be an extremely prolific writer (putting his enigmatic stamp on such films as CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, HUMAN NATURE, the brilliant ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, and his directorial debut, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK), Jonze ended up laboring for many years after ADAPTATION on his follow-up, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. When the film finally came out a few months ago, it proved to be a modest success at the box office, and pulled in many polarizing reviews (I've yet to see it, but JIMMYO gave it a 10/10, so I will definitely check it out). Both have proven themselves to be among the most creative people working in Hollywood today, and each film they put out, while not always a smashing success, is worth seeing.

Read JoBlo's original review
Source: JoBlo.com

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