Forget TITANIC — 5 films from 1997 we want to see again

TITANIC re-hits theaters today in 3D. Of course, unless you’ve been living under a rock you already knew that. It’s okay if you’ve been living under a rock. I certainly was back in 1997! I never saw TITANIC and I don’t really think it entered into my consciousness much back then. My ‘rock’ in this situation was my own teenage malaise and the fact that there was no Joy Division on the film’s soundtrack. Back in 1997 I was a senior in high school who had just secured a New York State driver’s license and spent most of my time studying for AP exams, going to punk shows and wishing I was just in college already. I did manage to see some movies, and a few of them were pretty awesome! So, let’s travel back in time to the year that George Clooney was Batman, Keanu Reeves was married to Charlize Theron and Meatloaf drove the Spice Girls around to check out five films we’d happily pay to see in the theater again (especially if we are talking about 1997 prices):


I like to remember things my own way, not necessarily the way they happened. And I’d like to think I first saw this one on the big screen, but I didn’t. Upon reflection, maybe it is better that I didn’t. I was still pretty impressionable and LOST HIGHWAY really does have a classically Lynchian, eff’d up sex scenario. It involves another weird thing from 1997, Marilyn Manson. I wonder if he helped David Lynch make his music video?


Luc Besson has had some hits and some misses (TRANSPORTER 2, anyone?), but THE FIFTH ELEMENT was pretty spectacular. Admit it, it’s what you think of whenever you hear Besson has a film coming out. It’s fun to watch Bruce Willis do John McClane in the future and Milla Jovovich be a weirdo-badass in those Gaultier costumes. This film actually popped into my head during some of the Capitol scenes during THE HUNGER GAMES. Effie Trinket ain’t got nothing on Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rohd.


Remember when everybody cared about Tibet? So much so that Martin Scorcese made a biopic about the Dalai Lama? Well, nobody here may care anymore, but Tibetans are actually setting themselves on fire in China so I’m putting KUNDUN on this list. Well, I’m actually putting it here because of the gorgeous cinematography and scenic vistas. They’re especially stunning when you consider that they were shot in Morocco and not Tibet.


Countless film studies papers have been written on how Paul Verhoeven made a classic Western when he sent the future to war with those bugs, so I’m just going to leave it be. What I love about this movie is the ridiculous cast and how they sort of make the entire thing work. You’ve got Neil Patrick Harris in his post-Doogie/pre-America’s favorite gay man period, Denise Richards before she got involved with Charlie Sheen and Casper Van Dien as Casper Van Dien! Verhoeven could not shut up about how his cast never really got the satirical nature of the film, but, unfortunately, audiences didn’t seem to “get it” either. Just think about what this movie would be like if it were made with that kind of budget today? You don’t have to think too hard, because there have been rumors of a remake. I hope that doesn’t happen, because the original is perfect.


Could you imagine if we had a president in the late-90s who wound up embroiled in a sex scandal while in the Oval Office? And what if some advisors crafted up some kind of international conflict to distract attention from the scandal? It’s totally crazy, yet totally believable. WAG THE DOG encapsulates 1997 really well. We had a recently re-elected President who was about to be embroiled in a sex scandal. News about the Monica Lewinsky situation was breaking while this movie was in the theaters! It was also really funny and, I think, stands the test of time. Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman and Anne Heche (so 1997) lead a crazy ensemble cast that includes William H. Macy, Woody Harrelson and Willie freakin’ Nelson. They should re-release this movie every four years, on the eve of the Presidential election and especially when there is an incumbent involved.