Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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1986: The First 10

We'll see how long this lasts, but I will try to keep track of every movie I'm watching for 1986 as I see them! So here: the first ten movies I watched, in order of viewing.

Top Gun
dir: Tony Scott
scr: Jim Cash/Jack Epps, Jr., from the article "Top Guns" by Ehud Yonay
Oscar Winner: Best Original Song ("Take My Breath Away")
Oscar Nominee: Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing

Sweaty, sexy, with a real feel for the competitive camaraderie between men. A visual feast that had me practically licking the screen, and I'm not just talking about the locker room scenes: Jeffrey Kimball's amber waves of plane are enchanting.

[the remaining nine after the jump]

dir/scr: Derek Jarman, from an original idea by Nicholas Ward-Jackson

Well-mounted. Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, and Tilda Swinton are a raw, sexy menage à trois, with varying levels of manipulation and affection. All I ask in an artist's biopic is that it looks good - and honey, this baby's a masterpiece, recreating Caravaggio's works within its mise-en-scene.

Legend (original US theatrical cut)
dir: Ridley Scott
scr: William Hjortsberg
Oscar Nominee: Best Makeup

Fabulous and ridiculous. The story's full of gaps, characters disappear and reappear within scenes, a shower of glitter is continuously pouring down the screen - it's nonsense! I adore it. Because if nothing else, it is goddam committed to its weirdness.

Blue Velvet
dir/scr: David Lynch
Oscar Nominee: Best Director

Bizarre pulp noir - the colors of Douglas Sirk, the feel of a nightmare. It's not every movie that has a rape scene that gets your skin crawling and makes you laugh - out of nervousness? Disbelief? We've seen the small-town noir before, all the elements are familiar, but Lynch's unique spin makes for a disturbing, unforgettable experience.

dir/scr: Ridley Scott, from the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

A dull movie, if prettily-shot. Despite a gripping Tom Noonan, the rest of the movie falls short. William Petersen's Will Graham feels like he's overcompensating. How else to account for his random acts of violence and sudden shouting and practiced intensity?

Under the Cherry Moon
dir: Prince
scr: Becky Johnston

An odd mix of old-fashioned Hollywood style and 80s attitude, weirdly juvenile in its dialogue and characterizations yet clearly adult in its basic plot. It shouldn't work, but surprise! Credit its glamorous style, infectious energy, and unexpected chemistry between Prince and Kristen Scott Thomas.

dir/scr: David Schmoeller

Would love to know the production history, as it seems to have been truncated: rushed ending, characters suddenly dropped from the plot. Klaus Kinski telegraphs terror - he leers, he whispers, I don't think his teeth are real - it's too much. Is it supposed to be funny?

April Fool's Day
dir: Fred Walton
scr: Danilo Bach

I loved every second. It's suspenseful and funny and its ensemble has genuine chemistry. Plays fair, too, with a twist that could be disappointing but is instead a great pay-off, wittily executed. A welcome tonic after the disappointment of Crawlspace.

An American Tail
dir: Don Bluth
scr: Judy Freudberg/Tony Geiss, story by David Kirschner/Freudberg/Geiss
Oscar Nominee: Best Original Song ("Somewhere Out There")

Inventive take on the immigrant experience and the promise of America. Fievel is frustrating sometimes, always wandering, forever curious, leaping before looking...and yet his imagination and curiosity, his taking stock of everything around him, is what saves the day. A beautiful little movie.

dir/scr: Oliver Stone
Oscar Winner: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Sound
Oscar Nominee: Best Supporting Actor (Tom Berenger), Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography

Stone's a master at coordinating chaos - the jungle is unnavigable, the loyalties are negotiable, the violence is unfathomable. And he's assembled an ace cast: yes, Berenger, Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen - but there must be praise, too, for Keith David, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, Reggie Johnson.

The Best of the Ten: Blue Velvet

The Worst of the Ten: Crawlspace

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