Posted in Freedom Friday

1999

I am convinced that 1999 was one of the best years in film. I didn’t notice this until one night when I was looking through my DVD collection and came upon The Matrix, a movie about a reality within a reality. Flipping the box, I came upon the date and remembered Fight Club came out that same year. This led me also to note American Beauty and Magnolia released that year, too.

Brad Pitt in Fight Club
Brad Pitt in Fight Club

I have a few minutes, grab a chair, and let’s talk movies for Freedom Friday.

Did you know The Mummy and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999? Both mega-blockbusters took in just under $1.5 Billion. That’s a lot of money, especially for back then.

What thrills me, though, is not the blockbusters, but the movies that have become annual events here at my home. Movies like Drop Dead Gorgeous, Analyze This, and Payback get a yearly viewing from me. Why? They’re fun movies! Whenever I’m bored, which happens more often than you think, I grab one of these movies, ease into my couch and let the story carry me away. I’m like a little kid wanting to watch the same movie again, even after having watched it twice already in a row. I never tire of these.

The Matrix
The Matrix

Anyway, about 1999—the world held its breath wondering if the lights would go out because of that supposed nasty Y2K bug that would have otherwise crippled North America’s very capable power grid. Of course, Y2K came and went with not even so much as a whimper. But the movies remained and the stories tempted their audience to be different. The majority of films imposed the message on us that we humans are unique, different, and filled with hope, and that we should go ahead and fulfill our dreams.

Here is a list of movies that hit theaters that year and why I feel they merit more than an once-in-a-lifetime viewing:

JanuaryThe Thin Red Line: A military movie gone crazy. So many cameos hit the film that I can hardly keep up including George Clooney, John Travolta and John Cusack.
FebruaryPayback: Mel Gibson as the bad guy out to settle a score. Notable mentions go to October Sky, Office Space and 8mm.
MarchAnalyze This: Robert De Niro spoofing his mob boss roles from the past. Hilarious. Notable mentions go to Cruel Intentions, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and The Matrix, of course.
AprilGo: One drug deal, three different points of view. Incredible.
MayThe Mummy: A mummy comes back to life and eats people’s body parts. Sounds like a modern zombie movie. Notable mentions go to Election, and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
JuneTarzan: Disney’s animated version. Great song by Phil Collins.
JulyDrop Dead Gorgeous: A mockumentary about teen beauty pageants. Notable mentions go to American Pie and The Blair Witch Project.
AugustThe Sixth Sense: The kid sees dead people. Scary as heckfire. Notable mentions go to Dick and The Iron Giant.
SeptemberAmerican Beauty: Kevin Spacey has a midlife meltdown. Awesome! Notable mention goes to Double Jeopardy.
OctoberFight Club: Don’t talk about Fight Club. Notable mentions go to Mystery, Alaska, Three Kings, and Bringing Out the Dead.
NovemberDogma: A loophole in Catholic dogma may undo creation. Hey, anything with George Carlin is funny. Notable mentions go to The Bone Collector, The Insider, Sleepy Hollow and Toy Story 2. You didn’t really think I was going to forget this one, did you?
DecemberMagnolia: Multiple plotlines that all intertwine somehow. Notable mentions go to The Green Mile and Man on the Moon.

Quite a list, isn’t it? Can you believe these great movies came out all in one year? I suppose the fear of the Y2K bug consuming civilization made for a situation where creative juices flowed freely.

Speaking of which, I have to head off. I think later tonight I’ll pop in Fight Club and have Jack’s complete lack of surprise engulf me.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What 1999 movie do you remember as the one you cannot forget?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Amber Atkins

Once a year, hundreds of young girls compete in The Sarah Rose Cosmetics American Teen Princess Pageant all across America. This year, Amber Atkins is one of those girls. A documentary film crew sent to Minnesota will commemorate this occasion.

Kirsten Dunst in Drop Dead Gorgeous
Kirsten Dunst in Drop Dead Gorgeous

Sarah Rose Cosmetics’ motto goes like this: “Making American teens beautiful for over 50 years!” In Mount Rose, Minnesota, Pop: 5,076, a handful of girls sit in the gymnasium waiting to wow the organizers with their talent and intelligence. Actually, only nine girls sit there. The rest of the town’s teen population couldn’t care less.

Before I get to Amber Atkins, let’s talk about the cast of Drop Dead Gorgeous. The movie features a whack of actresses who are now staple names in Hollywood. Girls such as Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams and the late Brittany Murphy have made their mark on the entertainment industry since this movie came out in July 1999. Adding to the roster are Kirstie Alley and Ellen Barkin who play the matrons of the film.

With such a recognizable cast, you’d think they’d get in each other’s way, but this dark comedy has a few surprises for viewers who have never seen it. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it. I’ll only touch on Kirsten Dunst’s character Amber Atkins for this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday series.

Kirsten Dunst is Amber Atkins
Kirsten Dunst is Amber Atkins

The first thing the audience has the pleasure watching consists of a scene featuring a big sign on the outskirts of town that says, “Welcome to Mount Rose, Minnesota, Home of Freda Hegstrom—Minnesota’s Oldest Living Lutheran.

She was Minnesota’s oldest living Lutheran, but now she’s as dead as a doornail. This sets the tone of the comedy.

Getting back to Amber, her two favorite people in the world are her mom and Diane Sawyer. She wishes however, she’d grow up like Diane Sawyer. After school, she has a job like any other teen. Of course, unlike other teens, she works in the town’s morgue. She practices her tap dance routine every chance she gets, including doing hair and makeup on dead corpses.

Many of her competitors take ballet to learn grace, something Amber already possesses. Between a regiment of “tendu, close, tendu, close, tendu close, plié,” the choreographer believes Amber has a chance of winning. It’s a dream of Amber to win, but her main goal is to get out of Mount Rose and become a big-time reporter like Diane Sawyer.

Dreaming big makes Amber one of a kind. In the midst of competition, she keeps her cool and delivers. The best part about Amber is her easygoing nature, taking things in stride and not letting others sour her mood, even if others can be sour on her.

Told you I wouldn’t spoil it for you.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you ever seen Drop Dead Gorgeous? What did you think of it? What did you think of the cast involved in the production of this film?