Six (Well, Seven) ’90s Indie Filmmakers Who Went Largely AWOL

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Apr. 17, 2012

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"The Blair Witch Project" was actually quite brilliant.

Whit Stillman: The indie scene has changed dramatically since the Sundance heyday. That still doesn’t explain why the world spent 13 years without a new missive from the appropriately named Whit Stillman, poet laureate of the yuppies and preppies, even if his characters prefer the invented term “urban haute bourgeoisie.” Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco are not only richly rewatchable but unique in subject, falling somewhere between glorifications of a traditionally mocked class and self-deprecating gagfest about the same. Damsels in Distress, his way belated comeback, operates as though he’s never been gone. Let’s keep it that way.

Nick Gomez: Inner-city dramas don’t get more raw than Laws of Gravity, Gomez’s 1992 debut starring volatile Pulp Fiction rapist Peter Greene and a youngish Edie Falco. Like many who blasted out of the gate, Gomez had trouble keeping the speed. After 2000’s Drowning Mona, he’s languished in TV purgatory.

Carl Franklin: How did the lean craftsman behind the devastating, off-beat thriller One False Move wind up making a splashy Terms of Endearment knockoff (One True Thing), a goddamned Ashley Judd thriller (High Crimes) and not much beyond TV since? Don’t sell out, kids.

Tom Noonan: A lanky giant whose calm is pure creep, Noonan is most recognizable as the villain of Manhunter, Robocop 2 and Last Action Hero. He’s also a playwright and director whose sole two films adapt his work. What Happened Was... is the delightfully odd answer to “What would Tom Noonan look like on a date?” The Wife is an atypically atmospheric chamber piece that features the 6-foot-6 Noonan towering over the 5-foot-2 Wallace Shawn. (Both are newly on Netflix Instant. Hop to it.)

Darnell Martin: When Columbia agreed to make I Like It Like That (1994), Martin became the first woman ever hired to produce and direct for a major studio. Good for humanity, less so for Martin, whose output since has been the disastrous rap musical Prison Song and the less disastrous Cadillac Records—plus, of course, lots of TV.

Eduardo Sanchez & Daniel Myrick: Because The Blair Witch Project is actually quite brilliant. Like the others on this list, they deserved better than very little.

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1. Dale said... on Apr 19, 2012 at 07:10PM

“What is with all this Whit Stillman revisionist history and lionizing? "The Last Days of Disco" was a terrible film: misogynist and awful toward his cast and his film's characters. His films are sophomoric and sub-Kevin Smith b.s., only dressed up for a weekend in The Hamptons. That is all. Stillman is by no means some sort of preppy Terry Malick. He was a so-so director who made one film in his life "Metropolitan" that was less groundbreaking than a single episode of HBO's "Girls" in capturing arch dialogue and revealing the lives of aspiring New Yorkers (something Lena Dunham does once a week rather than once every 14 years.)”


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