I’ve been trying to put my finger on the specific vibe I sense in early ‘90s (pre-Tarantino) indie-cinema. We hit on the topic with GAS FOOD LODGING, RUBIN & ED and NIGHT ON EARTH (though the latter is almost too accomplished a version of it to feel like the same category). These are movies that are very different from each other in most respects, but they share a lack of interest in traditional Hollywood storytelling or narrative structure. They’re a little more like dreams, or real life, or poems, or at least meandering novellas than tightly woven tales of adventure. You’re following a story, picking up on themes, wondering what it’s building to, or what it’s saying. But often you have to face that it’s more stream-of-consciousness than that. It’s not about that. It’s more about spending some time with some odd characters, in a specific place, with a distinct tone. What you get out of the experience is up to interpretation.
My instinct is to want a tighter narrative, but there’s something appealing about movies like this too. Some freedom in letting go of any expectation that it’s gonna make itself clear.
I was thinking about it last month on my vacation/Covid isolation in Knoxville, Tennessee. My aunt-in-law showed us writer/director Tom DiCillo’s third film, BOX OF MOONLIGHT (1996), because it was filmed around there. And now, coincidentally, here I am watching his debut, JOHNNY SUEDE, in the final stretch of my summer of ’92 retrospective. It was released August 14, 1992, but DiCillo says on the DVD commentary that it played for a week and a half in New York and then a week and a half in L.A. and that’s it. Somehow we all knew about it when it was on video, though. (read the rest of this shit…)