Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ebert's Best: 1981 & 1982

1981

1. My Dinner with Andre
2. Chariots of Fire
3. Gates of Heaven
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
5. Heartland
6. Atlantic City
7. Thief
8. Body Heat
9. Tess
10. REDS

Between 1980 to 1985 I probably saw more movies than I've seen since. Were this my list, not Ebert's, you'd see Alien, First Blood, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Victor/Victoria and Sean Connery's High Noon set in space, Outland. I saw that last one twice in as many days, the second time ensconced in a row of female classmates who shrieked at the sight of the strangled man whose tongue resembled a blue tennis ball. Yep. Definitely Outland.

Yahmdallah calls REDS a "spinach movie", and that's how I'd categorize most of these movies (with some obvious exceptions). The same bunch who attended that Outland viewing attended Tess (we were supposed to have read the book for school). Typical high school senario: endless chatter and ham-fisted flirting. But both genders were silent when Natassja Kinski bit into the strawberry.

I saw My Dinner With Andre and Gates of Heaven several years later, when I could almost qualify as a young man. Both of them left a deep impression on me. In the former, you had a conversation between two people trying to come to grips with the cosmos; in the latter, you witnessed (among many, many other sights) two children facing their genetic destiny. I saw both of these films on VHS. Both of them forced me outside, where I could walk and weep.

Chariots of Fire -- if you grew up in Evangelical circles, you HAD to see this movie. You didn't have to like it.

Atlantic City -- anyone who's lived in Toronto for a few years has seen this movie after staggering home and shutting down the subway (at 11:30 p.m. -- tres provincial, is our Toronto). CITY TV mogul Moses Znaimer is the would-be Polanski-esque gangster in this flick, and his station broadcasts this movie every three weeks. For all I know, it's a great movie; I've usually drifted off after the lemon scene.

Body Heat -- about 30 minutes into this movie, William Hurt is jogging by the sea. He shuffles to a halt -- a sweaty, worked-out mess -- and lights a cigarette. So too, this movie: it hits the sweet spot so hard, it is a verifiable hazard to your health.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
-- I don't really want to comment on this film. Lucas and Spielberg got all the elements so fantastically right, they felt the obligation to try again. And again. And again?! Say it ain't so, and leave it alone.

1982

1. Sophie's Choice
2. Diva
3. E.T.
4. Fitzcarraldo / Burden of Dreams
5. Personal Best
6. Das Boot
7. Mephisto
8. Moonlighting
9. The Verdict
10. The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time

In the summer of 1983 I vowed never to see E.T. So far, so good. However, I'd very much like to see The Weavers, Fitzcarraldo and Burden of Dreams.

My thoughts on Das Boot are here. And Mephisto is a terrifically disturbing film. A rich, successful artist is such a rarity, how could a mediocrity not sell out once the opportunity is finally presented to him ... by the Nazis?

2 comments:

ジョエル said...

REDS was a big disappointment for me. As a history buff I was real excited when I rented it, but it was really dry. I think part of the problem was that it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a love story or an historical epic. Mixing genres can be great in the right hands, but it's not easy to do, and this is one of the failures.

Never seen ET? I haven't seen it for years, and can't remember it well enough to comment now. I remember liking it as a child. I'm sure its not the best movie ever made, but when I think of all the crap I've watched on the tube over the years, it is far from the worst either.

Whisky Prajer said...

I think you're right: REDS was a confused project, from start to finish. And I'm not holding off on E.T. out of a loyalty to quality (God knows). It's become a point of honor.