How a Bunch of Kids Made “Kids” And Freaked Out The Adults

Harmony Korine has established himself as a cinema provocateur but in 1995 he had just graduated from high school and moved to New York City. He collected real-life snippets from the lives of the wild childs around him and condensed it into the script that would become “Kids,” somehow sold that in Hollywood, and then helped recruit the other amateur teenagers that would make the film so startlingly real. These other teenagers included future stars Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny. The stark portrayal of unrepentant excess of every kind shook up the conservative PTA crowd and the film stands as a valuable snapshot of NYC youth culture in the mid 1990s.

‘Kids’: The Oral History of the Most Controversial Film of the Nineties, 7.26.15

Harley Quinn Takes Over the World

Harley Quinn was undeniably the breakout pop-culture star of 2016, largely because of Margot Robbie’s electric portrayal of the comic-book femme fatale in Suicide Squad. Ms. Quinn first appeared in a Batman animated TV show in 1992 and Complex tracks her subsequent rise to superstardom.

The Oral History of Harley Quinn, 8.4.16


“Good Will Hunting” (1997)

The development of Good Will Hunting has achieved near-mythic status since the creators were two young unknowns named Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and the outcome was an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a $215M profit. The piece also links to another post where the principals reflect on their favorite scenes from the film.

Good Will Hunting: An Oral History, 1.2.13

“Boogie Nights”: Porn Parody Perfection

Boogie Nights (1997) launched many careers: Director Paul Thomas Anderson, star Mark Wahlberg, vixen Heather Graham, as well as the pudgy duo of John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s entrancing mix of 70s naivete and porn exploitation, with the decor to match, still stands up nearly 20 years later.

Livin’ Thing: An Oral History of ‘Boogie Nights’, 12.10.14

Independent Smash: “Swingers” (1996)

The story of Swingers is a bunch of nobodies with no money and no real experience making an incisively funny look at 90s single culture and burgeoning bro-hood. It launched the careers of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and Ron Livingston and remains one of the more successful independent projects of recent vintage.

So Money: An oral history of Swingers, 1.22.14


The “Wayne’s World” Rocking Tribute to “Bohemian Rhapsody”

It’s one of the true “rock out” scenes in American film: five white boys headbanging to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a tiny car. Mike Myers insisted on the song choice, and the rest is history.

The Oral History of the ‘Wayne’s World’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Scene, 11.30.15

“Hoop Dreams” (1994)

“Hoop Dreams” was an independent documentary created by three unknowns, but its impact is still felt today. The Dissolve provides an encyclopedic oral history that covers not just the backstory and smashing success, but also the film’s influence on the documentary genre, Academy Awards voting processes, and continuing social impact.

An oral history of Hoop Dreams, 20 years after its première, 1.5.14

Les Grossman: Tom Cruise’s Wildly Profane Redemption Song

The Les Grossman part in Tropic Thunder (2008) was added late because the screenwriting team thought they needed another villain besides a 12-year-old Asian drug kingpin. Tom Cruise was originally targeted for the lead ultimately played by Ben Stiller, but agreed to play Grossman and he played the part to the max: an iconically demonic portrayal of a Hollywood studio boss with many incredible one-liners–most of which are completely unrepeatable in decent company.

The Making of Les Grossman: An Oral History, 7.30.15


The Long Shadow of the Special Effects Company Behind “Star Wars”

Industrial Light & Magic was born out of necessity–20th Century Fox didn’t have a special effects department and 1975’s Star Wars clearly needed one. The unrelenting drive for innovation led the small startup to eventually work on 317 movies and it remains at the forefront of its industry.

The Untold Story of ILM, a Titan That Forever Changed Film, 5.19.15