Movie reviews written for movies released theatrically in 1982, the year I turned 1.
1. Fitzcaraldo, directed by Werner Herzog (10/10)
What I said at the time: Fitzcarraldo is just incredible. You must see it to believe it. Basically, it’s about human ambition and how absurd it is. But get this, the movie details a boat being dragged over a hill, running some rapids and then hosting an opera in the middle of the jungle. Herzog, being apparently an absolute lunatic and the model for the character of Fitzcarraldo, actually drags a boat over a hill, runs the rapids with it (with cameras on the boat too) and has an opera company perform on the boat in the Amazon. All of these things. No effects. No sets. He did it in the Amazon. That’s crazy, man. That in itself warrants attention. But the movie is also spellbinding.
Should be watched together with Burden of Dreams, if only to further blow your mind.
2. Missing, directed by Costa-Gavras (10/10)
Costa-Gavras’ Missing (1982) is one of the best political thrillers / conspiracy movies I’ve ever seen. It’s the second film of his that I have seen (the other being the also excellent Z, the film that made his reputation) and I think I’m going to have to seek out more of his movies. He has a knack for making suspenseful films about conspiracies that generate huge amounts of righteous moral outrage in their audience (at least that happens to me when I watch them). They work as political statements and as thrillers at the same time, which is no small feat. Missing is based on the true story of the disappearance of an American citizen during the coup that defeated Allende in 1973 Chile (Chile is never identified, except by the capital city, and the year isn’t identified except by the picture of Nixon at the US embassy….Costa-Gavras is remarkably skilled at pretending details have been changed but revealing the real details to those who are paying attention…). You may say: “of course it’s about an American” but that’s actually just necessary to real the audience in. They know they need an American family to use for the critique of Chile, but they use it merely to pull you in to what is basically an expose of what happened during the coup. Both the central personal story of the father (Jack Lemmon) looking for his estranged son and the surrounding story of what happened in Chile in 1973 are very well dramatically interpreted (that sounds awkward). Anyway, if you like political thrillers or conspiracy movies, you should see this right away. It’s fantastic. And I’m gonna go add more of his movies to my list.
3. Fanny and Alexander, directed by Ingmar Bergman (10/10)
I lost my review.
4. Burden of Dreams, directed by Les Blank (10/10)
I failed to write down my thoughts to this documentary about the making of Fitzcaraldo. Since then, I have also read Herzog’s diary of the shoot (Conquest of the Useless). Watch this rather than read the diary, but both are illuminating about both the creative process in general and specifically about one of the late 20th century’s great creative daredevils.
5. Veronika Voss, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (9/10)
This seems to me to be Fassbinder’s Sunset Blvd., though I’m not sure if that conveys everything about this movie (certainly it doesn’t convey the third act). As usual, some of his camera moves are just bonkers (though more subtle than Lola) and the lighting is often beyond bizarre. I was spellbound and I think it might actually be the strongest of this trilogy (though I would have to watch them all together to make that decision). A very strong final film.
6. The Thing, directed by John Carpenter (9/10)
Aside from some pretty silly soft science fiction, this is near-perfect.
7. Koyaanisqatsi, directed by Godfrey Reggio (9/10)
Iconic and mesmerizing.
8. Austeria, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz (8/10)
This is a Polish neo-realist film covering the first day of World War I as it affects a community of Jews. It breaks with realist tradition by having flashbacks, but those are treated in the same way as the present. (I believe it only covers 24 hours, outside of the flashbacks.)
This is pretty unexplored territory, to my knowledge. And that makes the film rather unique. It is also believable and naturalistic, like the best realist films.
It’s interesting that Kawalerowicz NARCed on his fellow filmmakers who were in the Solidarity movement because this film feels like a bit of allegory for oppression. Is it his apology?
Anyway, this an affecting film, but the pacing isn’t awesome and it is, at times, hard to tell whether he has love for these people or a faint disdain.
9. The Dark Crystal, directed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz (8/10*)
Seen multiple times as a kid.
10. Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan, directed by Nicholas Meyer (8/10*)
Seen too many times to be objective about it.
11. Sophie’s Choice, directed by Alan J. Pakula (7/10*)
Apparently I watched this as a teen in the middle of the night, which is why I don’t remember it.
12. Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper (7/10*)
Seen multiple times as a teen.
13. Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott (7/10*)
I have promised friends I will re-watch this for a third time.
14. The Toy, directed by Richard Donner (6/10)
Yes, this really is the most inappropriate kids movie ever mad. At one point, Richard Pryor tells a 9 year old to jump his girl’s bones. Amazing. If this movie were a little more consistent, it might be a classic. I still can’t really believe it exists. I’m also glad to see adults are watching it with their kids (I totally would, had I kids). But it really is shocking that an American movie so clearly geared towards a young audience would feature so much stuff that so many parents would object to. Brave, if not exactly flawless.
15. My Favorite Year, directed by Richard Benjamin (6/10)
I have lost my review for this. It is enjoyable.
16. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, directed by Carl Reiner (6/10*)
I think I watched this too young to get most of the jokes but I think I liked it anyway.
17. 48 Hrs., directed by Walter Hill (6/10)
18. Creepshow, directed by George Romero (6/10)
A mixed bag, but mostly entertaining.
19. Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, directed by Terry Hughes, Ian MacNaughton (6/10)
The most annoying thing about this is the audience.
20. Gandhi, directed by Richard Attenborough (6/10*)
Had I watched this as an adult rather than a teen I might have been more offended.
21. Portrait of a “60% Perfect” Man: Billy Wilder, directed by Annie Trescot (6/10)
This is an interesting, if brief and slight, documentary about Billy Wilder. It’s mostly just an interview and it’s edited together in such a way that it sort of hops around between his films, his personal life, his hobbies, and, at the end, maybe a real bit of his true persona. Lemmon and Mathau show up for a bit too.
Worth watching if you’re interested in interviews with old directors. Otherwise, it’s nothing you need to see.
22. Fast Times at Ridgemount High, directed by Amy Heckerling (5/10*)
I am with Ebert on this one.
23. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, directed by Woody Allen (5/10)
Unfortunately this is a bit of a mess.
24. Tootsie, directed by Sidney Pollack (5/10*)
Seen as a teen.
25. ET, directed by Steven Spielberg (5/10*)
Seen multiple times as a child and tween.
26. I Was a Zombie for the FBI, directed by Marius Penczner (5/10)
I have lost my review for this movie which should have been more entertaining than it was.
27. Porky’s, directed by Bob Clark (5/10*)
Seen as a teen.
28. Annie, directed by John Huston (5/10*)
Seen as a kid.
29. The Secret of NIMH, directed by Don Bluth (5/10*)
Seen as a child.
30. Friday the 13th Par III, directed by Steven Miner (5/10*)
Seen as a teen.
31. Conan the Barbarian, directed by John Milius (5/10*)
Saw this ages ago. Cannot judge it fairly. 5 seems kind.
32. Airplane II: The Sequel, directed by Ken Finkleman (5/10*)
Seen multiple times as a teen. Very charitable rating.
33. Pink Floyd: the Wall, directed by Alan Parker (4/10)
This is one of those films that works better under certain “conditions” but as a sober experience is ineffectual.
34. First Blood, directed by Ted Kotcheff (4/10)
The attempt to make this a serious movie is pretty silly.
35. Rocky III, directed by Sylvester Stallone (4/10*)
Seen as a teen.
36. Visiting Hours, directed by Jean Claude Lord (3/10)
Though there are certainly elements of interest to this film (including a hell of a lot of attention spent to the motivations of the characters…relatively speaking of course) the problem is that there are so many cliche and improbable moments as to nullify all the effort into making this something more than your average ‘slasher’. I did jump once though.
37. Summer Lovers, directed by Randal Kleiser (3/10*)
I was in quite a bad mood when I watched this, evidently.
36. Class Reunion, directed by Michael Miller (1/10)
I’ve seen it at least ten times. It is one of the worst “comedies” ever made, I think.
39. The Trail of the Pink Panther, directed by Blake Edwards (1/10)
Sellers was dead. The definition of a hack job.