The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Saturday, December 18, 2004
NOW IT IS 1984, KNOCK KNOCK AT YOUR FRONT DOOR: On Wednesday, when I reeled off my favorite movies of
1994, I mentioned that I might have to revise the list if I ever get a chance to see Satantango. For 1984, the movies I regret missing include Ingmar Bergman's After the Rehearsal and Tom Schiller's Nothing Lasts Forever, among many others. Ask me to redo this countdown a few years from now, and it might look very different.

That said:

1. Repo Man
Written and Directed by Alex Cox

"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes."

2. Love Streams
Directed by John Cassavetes
Written by Cassavetes and Ted Allan, from a play by Allan

The last and best of Cassavetes' unvarnished, unpredictable character studies. "All through the making of this picture," he later said, "I kept reliving my father's words. 'For every problem there's an answer.' But since Love Streams is about a question of love, there didn't seem to be an answer I could find, that Ted Allan could find, or that our hundred conspirators in this painful study of what love means could find....Even now, I still don't know what the brother and sister really feel about each other."

3. This Is Spinal Tap
Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer

My favorite rock movie; the first and best of the Christopher Guest troupe's semi-improvised comedies; and the strongest evidence that, back in the '80s, the now-insufferable Reiner was capable of doing good work.

4. Once Upon a Time in America
Directed by Sergio Leone
Written by Leone, Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini, and Stuart Kaminsky, from a novel by Harry Grey

The apotheosis of the gangster picture -- arguably even better than The Godfather. Make sure you get the 227-minute version.

5. Antonio Gaudi
Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

The next best thing to seeing the buildings yourself.

6. Amadeus
Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Peter Shaffer, from his play

I was a teenager when this one came out, and it took us all by surprise. I don't think any of us expected a movie about Mozart to be so entertaining.

7. King Lear
Directed by Michael Elliott
Written by William Shakespeare

Olivier plays Lear.

8. Before Stonewall
Directed by John Scagliotti, Greta Schiller, and Robert Rosenberg

A documentary about gay life before the modern gay rights movement -- and, though it's not billed as the topic, about the history of American bohemia.

9. Secret Honor
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, from their play

Altman's Nixon movie. Possibly the only time he worked with a cast of one.

10. Ghostbusters
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

A pleasant little comedy about a small business and its run-ins with the Environmental Protection Agency.

posted by Jesse 5:53 PM
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