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

Thursday, December 27, 2012
TWOS UPON TWOS: So far we've seen my favorite films of
2002 and 1992. Onward to the '80s.

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1982, it gave its Best Picture award to a bland biopic called Gandhi. You certainly won't find that one on my list, and I say that both as a movie buff and as an admirer of the man who gave his name to the film.

1. Fanny and Alexander
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

"It is necessary and not at all shameful to take pleasure in the little world."

2. Danton
Directed by Andrzej Wajda
Written by Wajda, Jean-Claude Carrière, Jacek Gasiorowski, Agnieszka Holland, and Boleslaw Michalek, from a play by Stanislawa Przybyszewska

Probably the best film ever made about the French Revolution, though you can make a good case for Marat/Sade too. Any parallels to events in the director's native Poland are strictly intentional.

3. Blade Runner
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, from a novel by Philip K. Dick

In a blow to the director-as-auteur theory, this movie owes its greatness less to Scott's direction than to Dick's story and Lawrence G. Paull's production design. That said: If you haven't seen Blade Runner before, it's the director's cut that you should watch, not the studio's somewhat blandified original release.

4. Fitzcarraldo
Written and directed by Werner Herzog

My favorite Herzog, about a mad scheme to build an opera house deep in the Brazilian jungle.

5. Dimensions of Dialogue
Written and directed by Jan Švankmajer

Terry Gilliam praised Švankmajer's films for "moments that evoke the nightmarish spectre of seeing commonplace things coming unexpectedly to life." And, in this one, seeing them digest and regurgitate one another.

6. Say Amen, Somebody
Directed by George T. Nierenberg

I've never been to Heaven, but I kind of like the music.

7. Veronika Voss
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Written by Fassbinder, Pea Fröhlich, and Peter Märthesheimer

If David Lynch directed Sunset Blvd....

8. Forbidden Zone
Directed by Richard Elfman
Written by Elfman, Matthew Bright, Nick James, and Nick L. Martinson, from a story by Elfman

If John Waters directed Hellzapoppin'...

9. The Draughtsman's Contract
Written and directed by Peter Greenaway

Greenaway is one of those moviemakers whose shorts tend to be better than his features, perhaps because there isn't enough time for the picture's conceit to get tiresome. Despite that, this feature-length puzzle-box about sex, sketches, and secret societies is my favorite of his films.

10. Burden of Dreams
Directed by Les Blank

A documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo (see above), in which Werner Herzog seems at least as mad as his protagonist.

Honorable mentions:

11. Moonlighting (Jerzy Skolimowski)
12. The Verdict (Sidney Lumet)
13. Liquid Sky (Slava Tsukerman)
14. Honkytonk Man (Clint Eastwood)
15. Down to the Cellar (Jan Švankmajer)
16. The Atomic Café (Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, Pierce Rafferty)
17. The Return of Martin Guerre (Daniel Vigne)
18. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling)
19. The Year of Living Dangerously (Peter Weir)
20. Salamanders (George Hornbein, Marie Hornbein, Tom Keiter, Ken Thigpen)

Best mess: Q: The Winged Serpent.

If you compare this list to the version I posted a decade ago, you'll probably notice that the film in the old number-one spot—Chris Marker's Sans Soleil—is now missing. Apparently I misdated it last time, and it belongs atop my 1983 roster instead.

Of the films of 1982 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in You Are Not I.


posted by Jesse 2:16 PM
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