Maybe it was Y2K anxiety. Maybe something was in the Hollywood water. Whatever the reason, 1999 yielded a bumper crop of movies about angry, ordinary men throwing off society’s shackles and finding something extraordinary in themselves.
Magnolia to The Matrix: was 1999 the greatest year in modern cinema?
Fight - Club - Matrix - Blinders - Everyone
Fight Club and The Matrix purported to see past the blinders keeping everyone in line, and revolted against the sinister forces (capitalism and parasitic brain-vat robots respectively) exerting their invisible control. In American Beauty, a henpecked husband gave himself a new lease on life by rejecting suburbia for a simpler existence of weightlifting, pot-smoking, and skirt-chasing. But the most revealing film of that time, about the stifling influence of work and the evolving mores of masculinity, has to be Office Space.
As profoundly unmotivated systems programmer Peter Gibbons, Ron Livingston and his don’t-give-a-**** shrug provided a generation with a hero. Writer-director Mike Judge has spent his entire career jabbing at the indignities of having a job, and in Peter he found the ideal vessel for his contempt. He punches the clock at the oppressively grey headquarters of Initech, a company whose ill-defined mission might as well be breaking the souls of its employees. It’s the most banal vision of ****: lethal doses of tedium, an unceasingly chirpy customer relations rep one cubicle over, an ineffective flow of management so dense with bureaucracy even Kafka would have banged his head against his desk. Other irritants have more of a personal sting, such as the smug pleasure boss Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole, doing a bargain-rack Gordon Gekko) takes in by informing his underlings that, yeah, they’re gonna need to come in on Saturday.
Peter - Colleagues - Scheme - Fractions - Pennies
Peter and his colleagues’ ill-conceived scheme to get rich skimming fractions of pennies from the corporate kitty gives the loose, shaggy plot a semblance of...
Wake Up To Breaking News!