Monday, November 27, 2006

Ebert's Best: 1983 & 1984


1. The Right Stuff
2. Terms of Endearment
3. The Year of Living Dangerously
4. Fanny and Alexander
5. El Norte
6. Testament
7. Silkwood
8. Say Amen, Somebody
9. Risky Business
10. The Return of Martin Guerre

Of the bunch, the two I'd see again are Terms of Endearment (Larry McMurtry rules!) and El Norte. In 1983 a common rite of passage in small Canadian universities was a humanitarian trip to the coffee fields of Nicaragua or El Salvador. I was too fiscally minded to add an extra few hundred bucks to my mounting school debt, so I stayed home and watched this movie instead. The filmmakers try to cram every possible illegal immigrant experience into the film's two-and-a-half-hour running time, and they pretty much succeed. The story works as an emotionally compelling melodrama, because it is personal and not overtly political.


1. Amadeus
2. Paris, Texas
3. Love Streams
4. This is Spinal Tap
5. The Cotton Club
6. Secret Honor
7. The Killing Fields
8. Stranger than Paradise
9. Choose Me
10. Purple Rain

I somehow doubt Mozart was the giddy frat-boy we see in Amadeus, but historical accuracy is beside the point. This is a personal exposure of Solieri's jealousy eating him alive. Again, there were moral currents to the story that set off depth charges for a churched lad like myself. I loved it. I loved Solieri for saying everything I was too timid to say. And I loved the music and the spectacle for transporting me to a place where Solieri's message had to be heard above it all. It seems fitting that this movie was released the same year as The Killing Fields -- Dith Pran's closing line, "There is nothing to forgive", pretty much sums up my personal ideal.

This Is Spinal Tap -- a little of my public love for this movie is here.

I loved The Cotton Club. Was there a story involved? I can't remember. But I have no trouble recalling Gregory Hines tap-dancing with a couple of old-timers, and a very young Tom Waits looking like he was having fun.

I didn't much like Paris, Texas (though Ry Cooder's score for it was a treat). And Purple Rain? One of the year's ten best movies?! Methinks a certain popular reviewer has a very soft spot in his heart for a certain Appollonia Kotero....


Jim said...

Paris, Texas was just depressing. I hated that final scene.

Here's the weird thing, I saw only that one film from the 1984 list. Well, okay I saw Purple Rain too but that doesn't count, does it?

Jim said...

Oh, I saw Spinal Tap too but not until like 10 years later.

F.C. Bearded said...

"Mediocrities of the world, I absolve thee..."

One of my absolute favorites.

Whisky Prajer said...

Yeah, when delivered with Abraham's poisonous smirk that line right there was enough to get me floating out of the theatre.

Rob said...

One tyically doesn't have a soft spot for Appollonia...

And you really, really should watch Fanny and Alexander. It's stunning visually, emotionally, cinematographically...

Whisky Prajer said...

You're quite right: this critical lapse is likely the momentary (and understandable) result of blood leaving a man's brain.

DarkoV said...

I can't believe Buckaroo Banzai was left off of this list.
I mean it.

And, while I'm at it.
Broadway Danny Rose (When Allen was still into funny. The opening sequence is an absolute classic)
Comfort & Joy
And last, but...
Repo Man (Youth alienation, Aliens, Harry Dean Stanton..what else can one hope for?)

Whisky Prajer said...

Buckaroo Banzai would certainly make *my* list. And I'm surprised Repo Man didn't make Ebert's. Perhaps if Appollonia had been in that movie, instead of the other one...