PRINT December 1999


Thomas Vinterberg’s brilliant The Celebration (1998) is especially important because it signals the future of the medium, away from Hollywood’s excesses.

JOHN WATERS, filmmaker: During the 1994 Cannes Film Festival I was sick in bed with the flu on the night Pulp Fiction premiered. Suddenly, from blocks away I heard the most stupendous roar of approval from the opening-night audience. I was so pissed to have missed the night Quentin Tarantino became an instant cinematic icon. But once I saw the movie I knew he deserved it. I guess you could call me a Quentin-hag.

KIMBERLY PEIRCE, filmmaker (Boys Don’t Cry): Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern (1991). I loved the film’s reds, the scene at dawn in the courtyard lit with Chinese lanterns—and I fell in love with Gong Li.

DOUG AITKEN, artist: Jafar Panahi’s The White Balloon (1995). I liked this Iranian film’s directness, which is especially pleasurable given the intense indirection of most contemporary art.

RICHARD PRICE, novelist/screenwriter (Clockers): Carl Franklin’s One False Move (1991). Clean and sharp, it was a perfect throwback to the double-bill films of the ’40s. An interracial balancing act of compassion and intimacy, with a thriller’s sense of the inexorability of violence.

BELL HOOKS, social theorist: Ma vie en rose. For me, Alain Berliner’s 1997 film expressed the intense anxiety we have about difference—in this case, a boy’s sexual difference.

KAREN COOPER, director of Film Forum: Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster” series (1995– ). The films’ dense, erotically charged, mythopoeic imagery updates C.S. Lewis’s vision, moving someplace obscure and dangerous, a world beyond good and evil.

DAVID SALLE, artist: Happy Together (1997) by Wong Kar-wai. The first film in the ’90s to remind you of watching Godard.

JONATHAN ROSENBAUM, film critic: Abbas Kiarostami’s Life, and Nothing More (1991), A Taste of Cherry (1997), and The Wind Will Carry Us (1999). Three prodigiously beautiful features that redefine cinematic economy—in several different ways at once.

RICHARD FLOOD, curator: Safe (Todd Haynes, 1995) and The Rapture (Michael Tolkin, 1991). Afraid of engaging with the everyday, both protagonists cocooned themselves, in films diagnosing ailments so symptomatic of the ’90s: anomie and loss of physical and spiritual stimulus. I love The Rapture’s Mimi Rodgers: She survived Tom Cruise, after all.
—compiled by Alissa Quart