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

Thursday, December 22, 2005
THE WAY IT WAS IN '85: In which we continue our look back at the best movies made in years ending with the numeral 5. Monday we covered
1995. Here's my ten favorite films of ten years earlier:

1. Ran
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, and Masato Ide

The story of King Lear predates the Bard, so it shouldn't seem odd that the best movie it inspired doesn't include a single line of Shakespeare.

2. Brazil
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Written by Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown

They could have called it Monty Python's 1984.

3. Louie Bluie
Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Zwigoff's first film is a charming documentary about the bluesman, artist, and porn aficionado Howard Armstrong. It's also utterly fake: The living room it's filmed in is an artificial set, some of the people reminiscing with Armstrong barely know him, and the director had to persuade his subjects to play the early string-band songs he loved rather than the more complex music they preferred. You can decide for yourself whether all that artifice is a flaw or an enhancement.

4. Vagabond
Written and directed by Agnes Varda

Not a simple celebration of a free spirit, and not a disdainful condemnation of a marginal life either. Like a hobo Citizen Kane, it circles its title character but never touches her directly; instead it views her through other people's eyes, and never claims to have solved all the riddles she poses.

5. After Hours
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Joseph Minion

Better critics can weigh this picture's place in Scorsese's filmography. I'll just point out that it's the best movie Cheech and Chong were ever involved with.

6. Static
Directed by Mark Romanek
Written by Romanek and Keith Gordon

Before he was shooting videos for Bowie, Beck, and Johnny Cash, Romanek made this terrific indie flick about a man who believes he's built a machine that'll let you peek into heaven. Why doesn't this have a bigger cult following?

7. Prizzi's Honor
Directed by John Huston
Written by Richard Condon and Janet Roach, from Condon's novel

The godfather of mafia comedies.

8. Fluke
Directed by Emily Breer

An animated collage.

9. Chain Letters
Written and directed by Mark Rappaport

In most conspiracy movies, the plot -- funny word, that -- reveals a hidden order lurking behind our seemingly chaotic world. This one's about the order we invent to make sense of the world's genuine chaos.

10. The Purple Rose of Cairo
Written and directed by Woody Allen

A different sort of cinephilia: Mia Farrow's character falls in love with a movie character, and vice versa. Those of you who prefer Allen's onscreen persona to his offscreen life will appreciate the ending.

posted by Jesse 5:20 PM
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