The moment that plenty of 40-somethings have both longed for and feared is almost here: this weekend, T2: Trainspotting hits U.S. theaters, allowing an entire generation to revisit that moment in the 1990s when a skinny young Ewan MacGregor almost made heroin chic cool, and everyone remembered that Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” is actually a great song.
But before you head to the theater to see if the sequel stands up to the nostalgia and expectation in your head — don’t deny it, you too want to see if a 20-years-later follow-up is anything other than a disaster, just in case it’s not — perhaps you should revisit some other pieces of 1990s film cool… at least as they were considered at the time. Fire up Netflix and enjoy these pieces of celluloid greatness, some of which definitely haven’t aged that well.
BARTON FINK (1991)
The Coen Brothers take on old Hollywood for the first time, and in the process, turn John Turturro and John Goodman into the heroes of many a weed-smoke-filled student abode.
THE COMMITMENTS (1991)
For the briefest of moments, an entire generation embraced soul music and the idea that, just maybe, they should follow their own dreams. And then, you know, the nihilism of grunge happened.
BASIC INSTINCT (1992)
Twenty-five years later, there are those who still haven’t quite recovered from Sharon Stone crossing her legs during a police interview. Michael Douglas, for one.
PULP FICTION (1994)
Pay less attention to John Travolta and more to Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson, and this movie retains a lot of its charm, even all these years later.
THE CROW (1994)
Remembered — appropriately — for being Brandon Lee’s last movie, the sheer adolescent goth-ness of The Crow is all too often overlooked, and worth a revisit.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)
The movie that arguably made Kevin Spacey’s career just might be better than you remember, and not just because its crime caper background stands up to knowing the twist ahead of time.
Rarely has a movie wanted its audience to believe in its coolness more, and yet there’s something about that desperation that can make even Vince Vaughan come off as… almost charming this time around?
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)
Quite why the reputation of this movie — for awhile, beloved by those who still consider Reservoir Dogs to be a benchmark of cool — has suffered so over time is a mystery; it’s pulpy nonsense, and great at it.
A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (1997)
From the same creative team as Trainspotting, this weird fantasy romance is a mess, tonally, and features some out-there performances, but as an example of filmmakers believing their own hype and creating craziness, it’s hard to beat.
GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)
Try and ignore the accents, and appreciate instead Robin Williams work and the warmth of the writing; this movie remains, despite the subsequent career of Ben Affleck, a genuinely great film.