Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beware The Savage Jaw

People were waiting for the year 1984 so long that by the time it came it seemed like an anticlimax.  But what about the movies?  Let's return to a time when scores had synthesizers and blockbusters had no CGI.

Here are Jesse Walker's top ten for the year:

1. Repo Man
2. Love Streams

3. This Is Spinal Tap
4. Once Upon a Time in America
5. Nothing Lasts Forever

6. Antonio Gaudí
7. Secret Honor
8. Amadeus
9. Ghostbusters
10. Blood Simple


I still remember how wild it was to see Repo Man--I had no idea what it was, and it looked to be pretty stupid, but it sure wasn't. How come Alex Cox's career fell apart?  Love Streams is one of those Cassavetes titles I haven't gotten around to, but if it's anything like his other films, I doubt it'll make my top ten.  (My favorite Cassavetes film is Mikey And Nicky and it's not even his.)  This Is Spinal Tap was, like Repo Man, a wonderful surprise.  Rob Reiner started out so strong in his first few features and then...  There are some fine sequences in Once Upon A Time In America, but I don't consider it a classic (though I don't think I've seen the long version, even if I doubt it would make a difference).  Haven't seen numbers 5 and 6.  Many times I've walked by the building where Secret Honor was shot, but I only caught about half an hour of it once, so I can't comment on the actual film. I consider Oscar-winner Amadeus minor--probably shouldn't be on this list.  But Ghostbuster should definitely be here.  I blow hot and cold on the Coens, and consider their debut, which got them so much attention, to not quite work--it wasn't until Raising Arizona that I became a fan.

 Honorable mentions:

 

11. King Lear
12. Before Stonewall
13. Favorites of the Moon
14. There Will Come Soft Rains
15. After the Rehearsal
16. Paris, Texas
17. Return to Waterloo (Ray Davies)
18. Stranger Than Paradise
19. Two Tribes (Kevin Godley, Lol Creme)
20. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven)


Jesse's seeing a lot of them arty films.  I haven't caught 11, 13, 14, 15 (which is a TV movie originally), 17 or 19 (is that a video?).

Before Stonewall is a well done doc.  Paris, Texas isn't bad, but could profitably lose half an hour.  Stranger Than Paradise should be near the top of the top ten.  A Nightmare On Elm Street is better than most slasher films but it's not a genre I go for (I prefer The Simpsons parody.)

Other films that might make my top ten:

The Brother From Another Planet

Choose Me

Comfort And Joy

Gremlins

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Splash  (Ron Howard's career reminds me a bit of Rob Reiner's)

Stop Making Sense

The Terminator (surprised this didn't make Jesse's list)

What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Wheels On Meals


Other films I liked:

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (seriously flawed by still fascinating), Bachelor Party, Broadway Danny Rose, Finders Keepers, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, The Last Starfighter, Night Of The Comet (quite a year for Catherine Mary Stewart), Revenge Of The Nerds, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (if not as good as II or IV), Streetwise, A Sunday In The Country, The Times Of Harvey Milk (if I have to pick one gay documentary from 1984 it'd probably be this one), Top Secret!


Other films of note:

Against All Odds, All of Me, Alphabet City, American Dreamer, Angel, Another Country, Bad Manners,  Beat StreetBest DefenseBeverly Hills Cop, Birdy, Blame It on Rio, Blind Date, Body Double, Bolero, The Bostonians, The Bounty, Breakin', The Buddy System, C.H.U.D., Cal, Cannonball Run II, Carmen, Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers, Children of the Corn, City Heat, Cloak & Dagger, The Company of WolvesConan the Destroyer, The Cotton Club, Crackers, The Dollmaker, Double Trouble, Dreamscape, Dune (it does have a good look), The Dungeonmater, Electric Dreams, Falling in Love, Finders Keepers, Firestarter, Firstborn, The Flamingo Kid, Footloose, Friday the 13th: The Final ChapterGarbo Talks, Give My Regards to Broad Street, The Glitter DomeThe Goodbye PeopleGrandview, U.S.A.Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesHardbodiesHarry & SonHeartsounds, The Hit, Hot Dog…The Movie, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Ice Pirates, Iceman, In Heaven There Is No Beer?, Irreconcilable  DifferencesJohnny DangerouslyNational Lampoon's Joy of SexThe Karate Kid,  The Killing Fields, Lassiter, Le Bon Plaisir, The Little Drummer Girl, The Lonely Guy, Love Letters, Maria's Lovers, Marlene, Mass Appeal, Meatballs Part IIMicki & MaudeMike's Murder, Missing in Action, Moscow on the HudsonMrs. SoffelThe Muppets Take Manhattan, Nadia, The Natural, The NeverEnding Story, Nineteen Eighty-Four, No Small AffairOh, God! You DevilOxford Blues, A Passage to India, The Philadelphia Experiment, Places in the Heart, Police Academy (it had some nice gags), The Pope of Greenwich Village, Protocol, Purple Rain, Racing with the Moon, The Razor's Edge, Red Dawn (fun concept almost makes it work), Rhinestone, The River, Silent Night, Deadly NightSixteen CandlesSlapstick of Another KindA Soldier's Story, Songwriter, Starman, The Stone  Boy, Streets Of  FireSupergirl, Swann in Love, Swing Shift, Talk to Me, Tank, Terror in the AislesThief of HeartsTightrope, The Toxic Avenger, Toy Soldiers, Twist and Shout, Under the Volcano, Unfaithfully Yours, Until SeptemberUp the Creek, Where the Boys Are '84The Wild Life, The Woman in Red

10 Comments:

Blogger Jesse said...

There are some fine sequences in Once Upon A Time In America, but I don't consider it a classic (though I don't think I've seen the long version, even if I doubt it would make a difference).

You should watch it. I understand that the short version isn't just briefer, but the remaining scenes were put into a completely new order that wrecked Leone's vision.

19 (is that a video?)

Yeah. You disapprove of including shorts, I know, but I feel like you can't look at early-'80s motion pictures and leave out MTV.

The Terminator (surprised this didn't make Jesse's list)

I like it, but I've never been a cultist about it. Still, it and Nausicaa and Comfort and Joy (and Buckaroo Banzai) would probably make it into my next 10. Stop Making Sense might be there too, though I've never really grokked the folks who say it's a fantastic movie, as opposed to a well-filmed concert full of good music.

Bachelor Party

Really?

8:04 AM, December 21, 2014  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I not only think Repo Man is the best film of 1984 but the best film of all time.

Ordinary ***ing people, I hate'em

8:24 AM, December 21, 2014  
Blogger Jesse said...

I not only think Repo Man is the best film of 1984 but the best film of all time.

I might agree with you. It's definitely in my top 3.

8:26 AM, December 21, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

1984 turns out to have been a pretty good year, but what strikes me now is how many films came out of nowhere--new directors with their first major work that was better than it had any right to be. There's Repo Man, Spinal Tap and Stranger Than Paradise. And The Terminator fits right in there. Cameron would go on to be as big as you can be, but he showed he knew how to do a lot with very little here--I've liked some of his stuff since, but nothing has been as exciting as discovering The Terminator.

As for Bachelor Party, I make no excuses. It's a lot of fun. Note I don't rate it as highly as Splash.

10:03 AM, December 21, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Choose Me is kind of a masterpiece, maybe the film of the year.

11:58 AM, December 21, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Good to hear another vote for Choose Me. Reading your comment I'm reminded of Danny Peary's books on Cult Movies, so entertaining but so often wrongheaded. In his essay on Choose Me, which he likes quite a bit, he writes that the film is "not a masterpiece and it won't become a classic." I think he's wrong on both counts. The book is over 25 years old and that line still rankles--he overpraises so many titles in these books, why pick on Choose Me?

12:28 PM, December 21, 2014  
Blogger Jesse said...

1984 turns out to have been a pretty good year

Yeah. I usually think of the '80s as the weakest decade for movies, but this year is definitely an exception. I prefer any of my top four (maybe five) here to my #1 pick for 2004.

12:47 PM, December 21, 2014  
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