Monday, February 26, 2018

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My Top Ten of 1982

After two months, I am ready to unveil my Top Ten of 1982. Before I do, I'd be remiss not to name some honorable mentions... Blade Runner and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


Blade Runner's groundbreaking future-noir aesthetics. Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean's incredible ensemble of women. Fast Times at Ridgemont High's poignant sense of humor. Their absence from the Top Ten is greatly felt, and is in no way a reflection of their quality. I wish I had room in my Top Ten for thirteen titles, but that's not how numbers work. As it stands now, these will do. The Top Ten of 1982, in alphabetical order, after the jump...

Best Friends
dir: Norman Jewison
scr: Valerie Curtin & Barry Levinson
cin: Jordan Cronenweth

Everyone knows their family is crazy, but everyone else's family is beyond hope. That's at the heart of this unique romantic-comedy about a couple who finally get hitched quick and meet each other's parents, much to their mutual frustration. It's just a glimpse into their lives and upbringing, but in that quick peek is a smart, sexy movie about marriage, family, and romance, at every stage.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
dir: Colin Higgins
scr: Larry L. King & Peter Masterson and Colin Higgins
cin: William A. Fraker

Texas has a whorehouse in it, and it's the site of a smart and funny send-up of American Puritanism. It's also a celebration of small businesses and local economies, as a long-standing whorehouse comes under the scrutiny of a fame-hungry investigative reporter. Plenty of T&A, plus naked college athletes dancing in the locker room, yet it never feels raunchy! Infectious musical numbers, and a central romance beautifully played by Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton.

Edo Porn
dir/scr: Kaneto Shindô
cin: Keiji Maruyama

Sex, sex, sex. But also art! Despite the provocative title, Edo Porn isn't just lurid thrills, but an exploration of the motivations and influences that guide an artist - in this case, the legendary Japanese artist Hokusai. Yes, there's a sequence where an octopus explores a nude woman's body, but though I wouldn't exactly call it tasteful, it's a surprisingly beautiful sequence, an epiphany for the protagonist. Buoyed also by its focus on Hokusai's daughter; no daddy's little girl she, but a canny adviser, facilitator, and hype man.

dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
scr: Pea Fröhlich / Peter Märthesheimer / Rainer Werner Fassbinder
cin: Xaver Schwarzberger

Rainer Takes On...capitalism and the free market! As West Germany establishes itself as an economic power in the post-War years, a town's new building commissioner finds himself both at odds with local power and smitten by an upwardly mobile woman who, unbeknownst to him, is the favorite whore of his chief antagonist. A darkly funny film shot in breathtakingly beautiful candy colors.

The Long Good Friday
dir: John Mackenzie
scr: Barrie Keeffe
cin: Phil Meheux

And speaking of upward mobility! So I really liked 1986's Mona Lisa, but this is some neo-noir gold, with a never-better Bob Hoskins trying to figure out who is eliminating the members of his organization on the eve of a lucrative deal with Americans. The twisty narrative is constantly raising the stakes and mining suspense, even as it gives away the whole show early on - that's great writing.

Making Love
dir: Arthur Hiller
scr: Barry Sandler, story by A. Scott Berg
cin: David M. Walsh

This one is personal! I spent five years in a wonderful heterosexual relationship and didn't admit my attraction to men, even to myself, until two years after we broke up. Obviously, here the stakes are much higher, as an apparently happily married man comes to terms with his homosexuality after eight years with his awesome, devoted wife. I recognized the people in this movie; I recognized the situations, too, right down to getting cold feet while cruising. It's genuine, respectful, empathic, and all around wonderful.

The Thing
dir: John Carpenter
scr: Bill Lancaster
cin: Dean Cundey

People who rail against remakes should watch this to see what's possible. No mere sci-fi adventure (though let's be clear, there's nothing wrong with that); instead, a gruesome, paranoid horror in which a shape-shifting alien slowly takes over the crew of a remote research outpost in the Antarctic. A claustrophobic mystery that keeps you guessing long past the final frame.

dir: Sydney Pollack
scr: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal, story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart
cin: Owen Roizman

As I mentioned a few times, the story of a male actor who dresses as a woman to get a part on a soap opera, only to learn the struggles of the opposite sex and face his own chauvinism, has lots of opportunities for missteps. It doesn't avoid them all, but it's trying, and it acknowledges that struggle in the arc of Michael Dorsey. Besides all that, it's a whole lot of fun!

The Verdict
dir: Sidney Lumet
scr: David Mamet
cin: Andrzej Bartkowiak

You'd think it'd be too much juggle, a character study of an alcoholic lawyer that's also a legal drama about him taking on an Archdiocese-backed hospital for negligence. And certainly, as I've stated before, the script gets too clever by half. But as a whole, this movie just works: crackling performances, patient direction, moments that anger, wound, and amuse you. Serious entertainment!

dir/scr: Blake Edwards
cin: Dick Bush

Gay Par-ee, literally, as a self-described aging queen takes a cis woman under his wing and makes her over into a drag queen - or as she puts it, "a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman." This is the work of an ally, unapologetically out and proud, acknowledging complications while pooh-poohing stereotypes. Would that more movies - even now - were this unabashedly, casually queer!

Tomorrow, my nominees for the 1982 Retro Hollmann Awards. 'Til then, let me know what you would include on your Top Ten of 1982. And if you want to now just what I was watching, you can always check out the reviews, or take a look at the list below:

Ashes and Embers
Basket Case
The Beast Within
The Beastmaster
Best Friends
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Blade Runner
Das Boot
The Border
Cat People
Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Conan the Barbarian
The Dark Crystal
Eating Raoul
Edo Porn
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Evil under the Sun
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
First Blood
Grease 2
Gregory's Girl
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
The House Where Evil Dwells
The Last Unicorn
The Long Good Friday
Lookin' to Get Out
Making Love
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
My Favorite Year
Night Shift
An Officer and a Gentleman
One from the Heart
Personal Best
Pink Floyd The Wall
Quest for Fire
The Road Warrior
Rocky III
The Secret of NIMH
Sophie's Choice
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Swamp Thing
The Sword and the Sorcerer
That Championship Season
The Thing
The Verdict
The World According to Garp
Yes, Giorgio

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