Remember the 90's? The decade when America ran out of cocaine and was forced to go to the movies instead? Some of those movies were really good! So why did those filmmakers turn out to be so disappointing?
There was a ton big budget slop but there was also a hefty amount of grit.
Movies like Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, Memento, L.A. Confidential, aw hell, even Fight Club were a great mix of pulp and substance.
With dynamos like Quentin Tarantino leading the charge, it looked as though Hollywood had a new surge of quality filmmakers. If you remember all that then you certainly remember the sense of betrayal you felt when you heard something, like, say Robert Rodriguez was directing Spy Kids 2? What happened to these guys?! Was it the pressure? The art? The women? According to a new GQ interview with Tarantino, it was the swimming pools!
"When you gotta go out and make a movie to pay for the kids' private school and for the three ex-wives, don't talk to me about your artistry. It's their job. I don't want to have to watch the movie I made to pay for my pool." Taraneninto went to say he didn't want to be making movies into his 60's."
It's true! On a long enough time line everyone's success rate reaches zero. And judging from the mixed reviews of Tarantino's newest flick, it looks like that timeline is really short! So we looked at some of the best directors of the 90's and tried to mark the precise moment they decided to re-tile their pools.
And sure, some will nab a prestige comeback flicks but there will always be that bottomless chlorinated beast to feed.
David Fincher: Se7en, The Game, Fight Club
Pool Movie: Panic Room
Fincher was a decorative filmmaker with a pretty morbid vision. Then he made Panic Room with Jodie Foster, who some time in late 90's also decided that she would stop picking plum roles and just you know, show up. Now grasping at commercial success with movies like Benjamin Button, it's safe to assume that Fincher will continue to splash around in the shallow waters of mediocrity.
Jonathan Demme: Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia.
Pool Movie: The Truth About Charlie
Silence of the Lambs was a game changer for all psychological thrillers about wang-tucking serial killers. Then he encouraged us to reach out and touch a gay, which was fine. But then Demme dropped the Whalberg bomb with The Truth About Charlie. That is an awful movie! And Demme has not made anything not-awful since!
Curtis Hanson previous films: L.A. Confidential, Wonderboys, 8 Mile
Pool Picture: Lucky You
Three years too late, Lucky You tried to capitalize of the poker craze of '02 with a jerky rom-com staring Eric Bana (whose appeal is still a mystery to me) . Lucky You was an undredeemableIe flop. Rex Reed put it best: "I don't know a grand slam from a royal flush and couldn't care less, so I might just as well have been watching a two-hour translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics."
Steve Soderbergh: Sex, Lies, Videotape, Traffic, Che
Pool Movie: The Good German
When Soderbergh made Ocean's 11 in 2001 you could fill an Olympic sized pool with the art house tears. But Ocean's was crowd-pleasing pop at it's best. Soderbergh's real paycheck flick was The Good German . An updated noir vehicle for George Clooney that mucked the line between homage and mockery.
Ang Lee: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain
Pool Movie: The Hulk
Way to go, Ang! Just when we were starting to believe that you were as good as everyone said you were, you go and make The Hulk.