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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
GEN X DAYS: On Monday I listed my favorite films of 2004. Today we'll travel another 10 years back.

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1994, it gave its Best Picture award to Forrest Gump, a film dedicated to the idea that it's better to be retarded than a hippie. It didn't make it onto my list:

1. Pulp Fiction
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Written by Tarantino and Roger Avery

Tarantino is one of those artists, like Hunter Thompson or Marcel Duchamp, who it's better to admire than to imitate. But you can't blame him for that.

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

This has a sequence where a comic book slowly devolves into something else, the illustrations swept aside by page upon page of tiny, illegible words. I don't think I've ever seen a movie portray a man's descent into madness so effectively.

Hoop Dreams
Directed by Steve James

Better than any scripted basketball movie.

Before the Rain
Written and directed by Milcho Manchevski

A Balkan time-loop.

The Secret of Roan Inish
Directed by John Sayles
Written by Sayles, from a novel by Rosalie K. Fry

Aside from
Limbo, which doesn't entirely fit the mold anyway, I'm not a fan of Sayles' big-canvas pictures—those labored films where he tries to create a politically engaged portrait of an entire community but ends up producing a clockwork-powered speechmaking machine instead. But his small movies, like this eerie and endearing fantasy, can be wonderful.

6. Red
Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz

Surveillance, love, and coincidence.

Chungking Express
Written and directed by Wong Kar-Wai

More surveillance, more love, more coincidence. There's a plotline in this movie about a woman who keeps sneaking into a man's apartment and rearranging his things. I'm a sucker for stories like that.

Ed Wood
Directed by Tim Burton

Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski

Alexander and Karaszewski went on to write two other movies about misfits,
The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon. But those were directed by Milos Forman, who turned them into sanctimonious biopics. Burton did much better, because he had the inspired idea to treat Wood's life as a fairy tale.

Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter
Directed by Deborah Hoffman

It's a touching documentary about Alzheimer's, and it's
funny. No, really.

Pipsqueak Pfollies
Written and directed by Danny Plotnick

In the words of the filmmaker, this short "painstakingly details all the crap little kids can get away with."

Honorable mentions:

Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov)
12. The Last Seduction (John Dahl)
The Kingdom (Lars von Trier)
Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)
The Madness of George III (Nicholas Hytner)
White (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Faust (Jan Svankmajer)
Barcelona (Whit Stillman)
Fresh (Boaz Yakin)
True Lies (James Cameron)

Of the films of 1994 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Through the Olive Trees and Wes Craven's New Nightmare. And someday I should sit through Sátántangó, if only as an endurance test.

(If you compare this to the rankings for 1994 that I posted 10 years ago, you'll see I had to bump out The Hudsucker Proxy and Crooklyn to make room for new movies. But I still like them!)

posted by Jesse 4:05 PM
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