Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vintage Trailer of the Week 50

In a way, Sleep With Me (Rory Kelly, 1994), is the most 1990s film ever made. Just look at the cast. Front and centre is Craig Sheffer, a man who looked like he might be a contender in 1990 and 1991, when he made Nightbreed and A River Runs Through It. Turns out he wasn't a contender, and he's a fixture on sundry tv shows these days (One Tree Hill the most notable and regular). He had an odd, vaguely constipated presence, like he was trying reeeally hard to remember his lines, and it carried him few a few years worth of movies before his luck ran out around the turn of the Century.

The other leads are just as wedded to that decade: Eric Stoltz may have arrived in the 1980s with Mask and Some Kind of Wonderful, but he peaked between 1993 and 1995 with a run including era-defining indies like Pulp Fiction and Killing Zoe mixed with studio productions like Little Women and Rob Roy. There is something about him indelibly associated with that period, perhaps that whimsical stoner delivery he is so adept at, and he too is now a fixture on tv with Caprica.
Meg Tilly is an actress who never fulfilled her potential. Lovely, talented, perhaps too careful in her choice of projects - meaning that she worked too rarely - she is now retired from acting and writes, instead. Sleep With Me was her last film. Perhaps she found the 90s unpleasant by comparison to the 1980s, a decade in which she was Oscar-nominated.

As if that trio are not enough, this film is probably best known for Quentin Tarantino's "Top Gun" monolgue, delivered in that familiar machine gun manner to Todd Field (also now a celebrated Director, of both In the Bedroom and Little Children) in a corner at a party. Tarantino changes the ending of Top Gun to suit his thesis, but its still a hilarious riff, and at that time, with Tarantino riding high on the back of Pulp Fiction and its enormous critical and commercial success, his presence served as a welcome calling card for the movie. Then there are another pair of 90s icons, Parker Poesy and Joey-Lauren Adams, in smaller parts, Pere Ubu on the soundtrack, and the lo-fi, DIY ethos of 90sUS Independent cinema screamingly obvious in every shot and cut.
The film itself is an oddity - each of its six main passages written by a different screenwriter, making it an elliptical and tonally eclectic portrait of an eternal triangle. Some scenes work brilliantly, some not at all, as it flits between comedy and drama, becomes an elegy, then a sort of rom-com, then a social satire. Watching this trailer, however, makes the 1990s feel like a very long time ago...

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Blogger Monsterwork said...

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11:08 pm  
Blogger Monsterwork said...

In your list of what is quintessentially 1990s about this film, you neglected to say that the men have worse hair and clothes than they did in the eighties. It's like watching Friends. Hideous suit jackets and gigantic khakis. Centre-parted curtains. This trailer made me want to vomit.

11:08 pm  
Blogger David N said...

Well yeah, the fashions speak for themselves. Natural hair, oversized everything, drab colors - there's a grunge hangover evident. It's not quite as pastel bright and fluffy as Friends was though.
You know what else I neglected to mention: Meg Tilly is the best reason to see the film. She won't make you want to vomit.

12:38 am  

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