Terry Gilliam

My Favorite: Movies: 1981

My last year as not-quite-a-teenage was the year Raiders of the Lost Ark came out.  I saw a pretty random assortment of movies in the theater that year. I remember seeing Raiders, Clash of the Titans, Time Bandits, Taps, Saturday the 14th and Modern Problems pretty clearly.

Raiders was easily my favorite movie that year.  It was cool in a way I hadn’t really seen in a movie before and I’m far from alone in thinking it was a great revitalization of the old action movie serials.  I wouldn’t say it was a reinvention of the form but just like Star Wars, it applied A level talent to what had previously been a mostly B movie genre.  I don’t know when this story came out but the fact that a very famous and funny scene between Indiana Jones and a scimitar wielding foe was improvised because of Harrison Ford’s stomach ailment during shooting is pretty amazing.

HAVE SEEN: Raiders of the Lost ArkFor Your Eyes OnlyThe Evil Dead, Excalibur, Escape from New York, The Fox and the Hound, Time Bandits, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Stripes, An American Werewolf in LondonClash of the TitansThe Cannonball RunHeavy Metal, Victory, Arthur, Quest for Fire, Taps, Neighbors, Under the RainbowPennies from HeavenHeartbeepsSaturday the 14th, Continental Divide, Zoot Suit, Modern Problems

HAVE NOT SEEN: Das Boot, Southern Comfort, On Golden Pond, Chariots of Fire, Body Heat, History of the World: Part I, Outland, Blowout, My Dinner with Andre, Scanners, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Reds, Gallipoli, Nighthawks, The Howling, Thief, Ragtime, Absence of MaliceFort Apache the BronxTake This Job and Shove ItThe Pursuit of D.B. CooperCutter’s WayAmerican Pop, Wolfen, The French Lieutenant’s WomanPrince of the City

Besides Raiders, Time Bandits also is a great favorite from that year.  It was a weirder movie than maybe anything I had seen before and really my introduction to the imagination of Terry Gilliam and ultimately — Monty Python too.  It’s not a perfect movie but it’s incredibly inventive.


I also am tremendously fond of Victory — I’ve always played soccer but when I was a kid there were very few representations of soccer in America.  Victory was not only fun for me to watch but kind of validating in a way.  It also featured world class soccer football players in it that you just never saw on television in America (soccer was hardly ever shown on teevee when I was a kid):  Bobby MooreOsvaldo ArdilesKazimierz DeynaPaul Van HimstMike SummerbeeHallvar Thoresen and Pelé. Stallone was a terrible goalkeeper though.

My top ten is rounded out with Stripes and Escape from New York — both movies I saw much later.  Actually I also saw An American Werewolf in London at least a few years later.  Pennies From Heaven, Heartbeeps nd Modern Problems are all movies I have fond memories of but I have to wonder how they would hold up on watching now.

TOP TEN

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Time Bandits
  3.  Stripes
  4. Escape from New York
  5. Victory
  6. Pennies from Heaven
  7. An American Werewolf in London
  8. Heartbeeps
  9. Clash of the Titans
  10. Modern Problems
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My Favorite: Movies: 1995

1995 marks the beginning of the second half of my review of my favorite movies from the Nineties.  Picking a top ten from each year is an interesting (to me) challenge — I do not look forward to trying to distill a top ten list for the decade.  But onward!

As usual there are a bunch of decent to probably great movies from 1995 that I haven’t seen yet including: GoldenEyeSe7enCluelessCasinoDead PresidentsDead Man WalkingRob RoyFridayTo Die ForClockersMighty AphroditeBefore SunriseTank GirlMallratsLiving in OblivionDead ManKicking and ScreamingEmpire Records; Strange Days; Nixon; and Ghost in the Shell.

My favorites of the movies I’ve seen are:

  1. Smoke
  2. 12 Monkeys
  3. The Usual Suspects
  4. Leaving Las Vegas
  5. Apollo 13
  6. Toy Story
  7. Get Shorty
  8. Heat
  9. Braveheart
  10. Tommy Boy

Weird year.  Smoke is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.  Based on Paul Auster’s story (I think he wrote the screenplay too) and starring Harvey Keitel; for many years if you asked me what my favorite movie was I often said this.  Not a deeply thought out answer but this definitely is in a sweet spot of quirk, substance and intensity for me.  I think it’s still my favorite from this year although I like Twelve Monkeys a lot too.  Terry Gilliam is definitely one of my favorite directors and this creepy time travel story really stuck with me.

Of the other movies I saw this year — Kids, I remember it being pretty shocking, in your face, but I can’t remember much of it.   I kind of remember Screamers as a low budget but pretty effective sci/fi horror movie.

I’d like to see Crimson Tide again — all I remember about it was the hype that Quentin Tarantino had punched up some of the screenplay.  Robert Rodriguez’ Desperado was okay but essentially a big budget redo of Mariachi Man.

Both The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain and The Brothers McMullen were pretty good, similar sort of comedic dramas.  Not too far afield was The American President which I remember now more for being a precursor to The West Wing than for itself.

UPDATES

12/6/12 Saw Friday on Amazon Prime. Parts were funny, but people definitely had built it up for me too much.  Chris Tucker and Ice Cube should have done more movies together though – not a bad comedy team.

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