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December 12, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-12-12

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One of the pleasantest things about
being a movie freak is that you're
lilerated from the "escapism" charges
levelled at so many people nowadays
because they don't listen to the right
music or read the right books or-God
forbid-watch the right television
shows. Sure, the movies are pure
escapism. But they always have been,
and since the world asks nothing of
them (the same way it asks nothing of,
say, comic books), there's no pretense
Pe, I never was one of those kids with
ceiluloid in my blood. I dodn't see Fan-
tasia when I was six, babble about
n thing else for a month, spend every
s bsequent weekend of my youth
t cked away at the neighborhood
theater, or skip school to watch crum-
nr Westerns on Bill Kennedy's
S owtime. I didn't much care or think
about the movies till I got to college,
were, for no great reason, I discovered
t t they were more fun than
stoolwork and dorm parties, and all
tese other things with which we
freshmen were supposed to be oc-
ci ying our odd hours.
BUT THAT WAS three years ago.
Since then, I decided that in addition to
being preferable to the daily messiness
of Real Life, movies can be
more-something, perhaps, to hold on-
to. The movies on this list appeal to me
for a number of reasons, but what
separates them from a lot of other films
I enjoy is the sense that they're all held
together by some vision, that their
directors had the talent, the bucks, and
(often) the sheer audacity to see
something larger and more coherent
than their immediate surroundings.
It's been harder to pull off that feat in
the seventies than in just about any.
other era. How do you find "order" in
something as mind-bogglingly amor-
phous as the seventies, with all its
pseudo-trends and ephemeral
"movements" and fads, fads, fads?
Nuclear power, Werner Erhard, Salt II,
Roseanne Roseanadanna-they all fall
in that frustrating limbo between the
important and the trivial. If people in

he ten best mc

vies o
surprises that they keep re-inventing
their lives and their culture right before
our eyes, just when we're sure we've
got them pinned. Nashville is a patch-
work of crashed hopes and almost
religious optimism, a rediscovery of
the American soul in an era of dead-
end cynicism. As such, it gave the
seventies the most redemptive
message of all: That there really is
something great about this place, as
long as people keep searching for it.
Scenes From A Marriage (Ingmar
Bergman, 1974) An Unmarried Woman
with three times the pain and honesty.
Bergman's unflinching dissection of a
broken marriage is a dramatic tour de
force, and probably the most surgical
study, of modern middle-class life
we're likely to see. Shooting for
Swedish television, Bergman had to
cope with severe formal and visual
restrictions, Ironically, his movie ex-
plores the tensions between human joy
and suffering with greater complexity
than most of the metaphysical
dramas on which his reputation still
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese,
1973) Near the end of this volcanic
gangster story, Robert DeNiro does a
funky frug to Smokey Robinson's
"Mickey's Monkey" that would have
won him a gold trophy on American
Bandstand-that is, if they ever let
Mafioso hoodlums on as contestants.
For my money, Mean Streets is the
greatest rock and roll movie ever
made, not for its subject, but for the
way Hayvey Keitel's guilt-ridden
Charlie and De Niro's herky-jerky
psychotic Johnny Boy live right on the
cutting edge. No American film comes
closer to counting up the price you pay
for freedom. And Scorsese does more
than tell a story; he brings the lurid,
explosive underside of New York's Lit-
tle Italy to our senses.

The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, December 12, 1979-Page 7
the seventies

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
Would you want to belong to a club that
would have one of these folks as a
member? I would-especially with all
that gorgeous Gershwin music in the
background. Embraceable Woody's
latest and greatest is a textbook-perfect
romantic tragi-comedy, and a glorious
ode to the Manhattan skyline-Annie
Hall with even more shimmering sen-.
timentality and comic panache. All-
from the man who went from top comic
to major filmmaker, made neurosis the
new fashion, and inadvertantly became
the most popular (and unlikely?)
culture hero of the seventies.
The Godfather , pts. I & II (Francis
Ford Coppola, 1971 and 1974) Coppola is
the epic poet of the American cinema,
and the Godfather pictures are his
Illiad and Odyssey. Together, they
make up a tragic, sweeping saga of
family life, of honor and betrayal, of the
obscene clout of America's materialist
monarchs. Brando's personification of
the Banality of Evil is a landmark per-E
formance-his jowls alone deserved the
Oscar. Both commercial blockbusters,
these two films represent the decade's
richest fusion of personal artistry and
popular filmmaking.
Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976) De
Palma's gleefully perverse nightmare
offers high school as a microcosm of

American myths and values-then
drenches it in blood. As Carrie, a quin-
tessential class _geek with "telekinetic
powers who takes apocalyptic reveng.
on her classmates, Sissy Spacek gives..
the kind of creepy, skin-crawling per-
formance you can't forget (though you;.
may want to).. But the movie belongs to
De Palma, a master manipulator and:
the cinema's great unsung schlock e a
genius. His digs as Christianity and,, i
suburban culture are deliciously on-the-r ..
mark; his kinky blend of cruelty and
compassion make Carrie the most fun-,
ny, frightening and altogether inspired
horror movie since Psycho
The Story of Adele H (Francois Truf-
faut, 1975), Perhaps the ultimate True
fant movie, a tale of unrequited love,
that mixes impassioned romance and.
dark tragedy into a sublimely bitter-, c
sweet brew. The film sweeps us up in
the splendid purity of Adele's erotic ob-,
session at the same time we try and .
laugh off her single-minded insanit.
Truffant pays grand reverence to his. ,,t
tragic heroine by painting a portrait of
a love too perfect for this world. And th9I, ,
he asks, Is any other kind really worth-',,
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert
Altman, 1971) The Revisionist Western
to end all Revisionist Westerns, Mc-, .
Cabe is Altman's most despairing look,

'"Nashville" is a patch work of crashed hopes
and almost religious optimism, a rediscovery of
the A merican soul in an era of dead-end

this decade were indeed as apathetic as
some say, at least we could take solace
in the fact that we'd reached some sort
of unique, holistic chaos, that we'd hit
bottom and had nothing to say for our-
selves. But it seems that people out
there do care about things, just not with
the same blind faith-the supreme con-
viction that their caring could make a
difference-they could before.
To me, every movie on this list makes
a difference. That, I think, is why I
come back to them again and
again-because of that confidence that
I'll find something to make a little sense
out of all the loose ends. And ain't that
about all you can really ask from art?
The first pick here is my choice for best
film of the decade. The rest are listed in
no order of preference.
Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975) The
greatest American film since Citizen
Kane-a grand, noisy, passionate,

joyous, patriotic, silly, and ultimately
loving epic of American life in the
seventies. Altman cuts right to the
pulse of the American spirit-its show-
biz vulgarity, its humor, its gutsy,
never-say-die energy. His crew of 24
C&W stars and hangers-on careen
around in a state of controlled chaos,
like chickens with their heads cut off.
Yet they're so exhileratingly alive that
one stares at them in an enraptured,
wide-eyed trance. The magic of Alt-
man's world is its boisterous soon-
taneity. The characters are so chock full of



presents POINT!

the film
100 Observatory Rd.

I7w Ann Arbor Film Cooperive Presents at Aud. A: $1.50
Wednesday, December 12
(Bruno Bozzetto, 1976) 7 & 10:20-AUD. A
A riot of brilliant animation to the accompaniment of six musical classics.
Allegro Non Troppo is an incredibly imaginative and hilarious parody of
EDisney's Fantasia. "Easily the most graceful, intelligent, and imaginative
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(Larry Jordan, 1975) 8:40 only-AUD. A
Bugs is back in the spotlight! A great collection of Warners' best cartoons
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Hennery Hank, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Daffy
"You're Despicable" Duck. Narrated by Orson Welles. Bring the kids!
Tomorrow: The Jimi Hendrix Experience in JIMI PLAYS BERKELEY
and JIMI HENDRIX at Aud. A,

9pm -Iam
40 South University

8:00 p.m.
December 13


befr dAiide Lloyd
Minority Council




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