Friday, June 3, 2011

Miramax, Part Two: Pulp Fiction and Transitional Indies

Part Two of our brief tour of the Miramax collection on Netflix Instant View will focus on the mid-1990s, as several American independent filmmakers found crossover success on their way to later careers in Hollywood.  Of the filmmakers mentioned below, only Jim Jarmusch has arguably maintained a staunch maverick stance with his filmmaking.  Tarantino, Smith, Liman, Payne, and Schnabel have each found degrees of success working within the Hollywood system.

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, USA, 1994, 149 minutes)
Netflix: A burger-loving hit man (John Travolta), his philosophical partner (Samuel L. Jackson), a drug-addled gangster's moll (Uma Thurman) and a washed-up boxer (Bruce Willis) converge in this sprawling, comedic crime caper fueled by director and co-writer Quentin Tarantino's whip-smart dialogue. Their adventures unfurl in three stories that ingeniously trip back and forth in time, resulting in one of the most audacious and imitated films of the 1990s.  Netflix link. Netflix is also streaming Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Jackie Brown (1997)

Clerks (Kevin Smith, 1994, USA, 91 minutes)
Netflix: Convenience and video store clerks Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) are sharp-witted, potty-mouthed … and bored out of their minds. So in between needling customers, the counter jockeys play hockey on the roof, visit a funeral home and deal with their love lives. Produced on a shoestring budget by director Kevin Smith, this classic indie comedy won awards at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. Netflix link. Netflix is also streaming Chasing Amy (1997) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

Dead Man (Jim Jarmush, USA, 1995, 121 minutes)
Netflix: Only Jim Jarmusch could direct a Western like this: a poetry-loving American Indian mistakes accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) for the English writer by the same name, while bounty hunters take Blake for a murderer. Jarmusch packs his independent-minded film with an unlikely collection of castmates, including Iggy Pop, Gabriel Byrne, John Hurt -- and Robert Mitchum, in one of his final big-screen roles.  Netflix link. Although it was not a Miramax film (Jarmusch was not pleased with the distribution of Dead Man) Netflix Watch Instantly is also streaming Broken Flowers (2005)

Swingers (Doug Liman, USA, 1996, 96 minutes)
Netflix: Director Doug Liman's career-making look into the psyche of 20-something males stars Jon Favreau as struggling comedian Mike, whose pathetic love life prompts his Hollywood wannabe pals to pump up his nightlife and immerse him in cocktail culture. Vince Vaughn turns in a scene-stealing performance as Mike's smooth-talking friend Trent, a would-be actor who purports to be an expert in all matters of the opposite sex. Heather Graham co-stars.  Netflix link.  Netflix Watch Instantly is also streaming Liman's Go (1999) and The Bourne Identity (2002)

Citizen Ruth (Alexander Payne, USA, 1996, 105 minutes)
Netflix: In this satirical look at a controversial issue, unfit mother of four Ruth Stoops (Laura Dern) discovers while in jail that she's pregnant again. The judge charges her with endangering the fetus, but tells her he'll reduce the charges if she has an abortion. When word of this gets out, Ruth's caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between anti-abortion and abortion rights activists who want to use Ruth to get their messages across.  Netflix link.

Basquiat (Julien Schnabel, USA, 1996, 106 minutes)
Netflix: Director Julian Schnabel's biopic won an Independent Spirit Award for its depiction of Jean-Michel Basquiat's meteoric rise in New York's art world, his anguish over his family, and his hatred of a society that both courted and exploited him. In 1981, Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright) was a 19-year-old graffiti artist living on the streets. Eight years later, he was a world-renowned painter -- and the tragic victim of his own addiction  Netflix link.

No comments:

Post a Comment