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International Cinephile Society picks Top Films of the 90s

Today our friends at ICS unveiled a list of their Top 100 Films of the 1990s. From obscure to wildly popular, mainstream to indie, European auteur to Hollywood icon, these films and filmmakers provide a fascinating perspective on the Twentieth Century’s final decade. Films that pitted realism against poetry (The Thin Red Line), took a walk on the wild side (from Mike Leigh’s Naked to David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch), and spoke to us in glowing postmodern imagery (Trois couleurs: Bleu), all the while intertwining millennial angst with personal anxiety.

A few excerpts below:

Yet at the same time, it’s that melancholy tone which makes the movie the classic it is. Malkovich captured the spirit of a nation concerned with its identity at the end of a long millennium. Was it really the benevolent father figure it saw itself as? Or some sort of adolescent tyrant wanting only its own way? A host of movies grappled with this theme in 1999 (Fight Club and American Beauty among them), but Malkovich was the best of them, fascinated by a species and a nation that would go out of its way to be someone ‚Äî anyone ‚Äî else. –Todd Van Der Werff, USA

Set on the oldest bridge in Paris, the Pont Neuf, Les amants marks a radical departure from Carax’s previous aesthetics in its jaw-dropping first ten minutes. After a gloomy opening scene in a tunnel under the Seine on a Shostakovian air, we meet a dazed Alex (Denis Lavant). He has been run over by a car on a nocturnal Parisian boulevard under Binoche’s right eye, for she appears to be half-blind. What comes next as a total sensory shock is a long graphic sequence √† la Raymond Depardon during which the viewer is plunged in the underworld of some vagrants’ shelter in Nanterre, where Alex was taken after being found inert by a medical night patrol. This ultraviolent prologue abruptly cuts to a close-up on a notice board informing us that the Pont Neuf is currently closed for repairs. Les amants may now start, and Mich√®le, a painter who lives on the streets because of a disastrous relationship, is filmed lying on the bridge that both Alex and Hans, an older vagrant, have made theirs. “I thought you were dead,” are her first words to Alex when the latter wakes her up. The city is about to celebrate the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. –C√©dric Succivalli, France

And, finally, a cool observation on Todd Haynes’ Safe:

I love how, in her two starring roles in Todd Haynes films, Julianne Moore’s characters go to private places to cry. Crying, no matter how much we witness in public, is a very singular affair. Only we know exactly why we’re crying, and articulating that is not always possible. Especially when you’re not exactly sure what it is you’re suffering from.

Todd Haynes expertly ups the ante of the psychological thriller by having Moore’s Carol White among many apparently allergic to the 20th century. –Danny Hall, Canada

To me, these will be worth dipping into again and again. Enjoy!