Monday, February 5, 2018

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We've Met: 1982, Part Two

Continuing our look back at 1982. Yesterday, we talked movies that I finally caught up with after years of waiting. Today, ten films I needed to re-watch.

Blade Runner
dir: Ridley Scott
scr: Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Oscar Nominee: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Visual Effects
Previously seen: The 1992 Director's Cut in high school; this screening, I caught the original theatrical cut

In the future, a specialized cop hunts down rebellious human replicants long past their due date. Clunky voice-over aside, it's a deservedly iconic and jaw-dropping feat of filmmaking, lusciously photographed and meticulously designed. A melancholy, stunning sci-fi noir.

Poltergeist, Tootsie, and more, after the jump....

Sophie's Choice
dir/scr: Alan J. Pakula, based on the novel by William Styron
Oscar Winner: Best Actress (Meryl Streep)
Oscar Nominee: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Score, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design
Previously seen: Freshman year of college

Young writer befriends a couple with shattering secrets in post-War New York. Performances from Streep and Kevin Kline are good, makeup and cinematography impress. Yet it's oddly distant. Languid pacing, cipher characters make for an experience that's more tedious than meditative.

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
dir/scr: Woody Allen
Previously seen: Either sophomore or junior year of college

Three couples experience sexual frustrations and epiphanies during a weekend in the country. Another Allen spin on Bergman (this time, Smiles of a Summer Night), yet it feels fresh and frisky. Great ensemble, hilarious dialogue, dreamlike photography.

Poltergeist (#8 at the box office)
dir: Tobe Hooper
scr: Steven Spielberg & Michael Grais & Mark Victor, story by Spielberg
Oscar Nominee: Best Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects
Previously seen: October 30, 2012

Ghosts take up residence in a family's house. Admire it more than love it (Spielberg's clearly reining in Hooper), but the effects are inarguably fantastic, and JoBeth Williams is just great - Beatrice Straight, too, especially in her monologue discussing the afterlife.

The Last Unicorn
dir: Jules Bass / Arthur Rankin, Jr.
scr: Peter S. Beagle, based on his novel
Previously seen: At a friend's place back in 2013

The last unicorn goes looking for other unicorns. Bright, hideous animation. Plodding pace. Repetitive. And then the songs! Didn't like it the first time, somehow worse this time.

Annie (#10 at the box office)
dir: John Huston
scr: Carol Sobieski, based on the Broadway play by Thomas Meehan and the comic strip by Harold Gray
Oscar Nominee: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Adapted Score
Previously seen: Once in elementary school, a second time in 2014 (I think)

Movie version of the musical version of the beloved comic strip about a lovable orphan. Undeniably charming performances and musical numbers, but momentum lags mid-Act Two - about the time "conflict" starts to come in.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (#9 at the box office)
dir: Colin Higgins
scr: Larry L. King & Peter Masterson and Colin Higgins, based on the Broadway by King & Masterson
Oscar Nominee: Best Supporting Actor (Charles Durning)
Previously seen: A few times since college, but most recently at a friend's place back in 2012

Musical about a whorehouse brought down by a nosy reporter. The choreography, the costumes, the surprisingly moving heart-to-hearts between Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, the perfectly-executed Aggie dance routine: this movie isn't phoning it in. Shouldn't work this well, but it's a little masterpiece.

dir: Sidney Lumet
scr: Jay Presson Allen, based on the play by Ira Levin
Previously seen: High school

A playwright is inspired by a student's debut murder? What a gas! Lumet uses the single location to great effect; true artists like he are not hemmed in by stage adaptations, but inspired. Actors carry pull off the frustratingly meta plotting.

The Thing
dir: John Carpenter
scr: Bill Lancaster, based on the story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Previously seen: All the way through? Probably not since senior year of college...

A research outpost in Antarctica falls prey to a shape-shifting extra-terrestrial. Paranoid, claustrophobic, genuinely horrifying. Makeup, visual effects hold up - impressively so.

Tootsie (#2 at the box office)
dir: Sydney Pollack
scr: Larry Gelbart & Murray Schisgal, story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart
Oscar Winner: Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Lange)
Oscar Nominee: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Teri Garr), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song ("It Might Be You"), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound
Previously seen: About two years ago, maybe three

Out-of-work actor passes as a woman to get a job on a soap opera. On one hand, I can see where this satire on gender and showbiz is not quite as progressive as it thinks it is (Teri Garr's take is hilarious and spot-on). On the other hand, it's laugh-out-loud hilarious, the romance is genuinely felt, the performances are great, its heart is in the right place - what's not to love? It's a great movie!

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