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January 12, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-12

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THE FILMS OF '78:
The good,

the bad,

The Michigan Daily-Friday, January 12, 1979-Page 7
and the unnatural

THOGH Village Voice film critic
1 Anirew Sarris claimed it was the
poorestseason for movies in fifty years,
we at tle Daily found that 1978 was not
withou its gems and pleasant sur-
prises. The blossoming "rock film"
remais a dubious genre, but never-
theless provided the intermittently
spirit'd antics of American Hot Wax
and The Buddy Holly Story. The horror
film reared its head as well, with
Halbween, Eraserhead, and Martin,
the Last from Night of the Living Dead
director George Romero. And with such
diverse sensitive efforts as Girlfriends,,
Interiors, and Invasion of the Body
£. Snatchers, perhaps 1978 engendered a
little well-founded optimism about the
future of movies, both here and abroad.
Ten best lists contain a necessary
quotient of arbitrariness, so we'll skip
the apologies and get on with it. One
qualification, though, is in order:
. several critically acclaimed films -
notably The Deer Hunter, winner of the
New York Film Critics' Circle award
for Best Picture - have yet to arrive in
Michigan and we haven't seen them.
Their exclusion from this list reflects
economic logistics rather thaa critical
judgement. The list of best and worst
films was compiled by Owen Gleiber-
man and Christopher Potter. Where a
single opinion is given it represents a
concensus. It is, however, inpossible to
get two people to agree on everything
absolutely - especially novies - and
some irreconcilably opp)sing opinions
are represented by the aithors' initials.
The "Notable Distinctins" were com-
piled by Owen Gleibernan, Christopher
Potter, and Anne Sharp. All lists reflect
no order of preference
THE 10 BEST:
1. Days of Heavn. The camera
becomes narrator, is writer-director
Terrence Malick weaves a tale of Texas
sharecroppers in tle early 1900s. The
plot is marginal, involving a love
triangle between tvo field workers and
a wealthy famer, out Malick's lens is
the unabashed sta of the film; the out-
door imagery s so staggeringly
beautiful that thf viewer finds himself
gasping audibly scene after scene, as
Malick and cinematographer Nestor
Almendros revrently pay homage to
America's last ige of isolation and in-
nocence.-
2. Invasion if the Body Snatchers.
Tension, wit, .nd something you don't
see every dW: a sci-fi-horror story
boasting heres as richly drawn as
those of most"normal" films. Director
Philip Kaufnan's flashy meditation on
the plot of tie original 1956 Body Snat-
chers is a trumph of terrifying nuance,
and the files never lets up - a true gold
nugget for novie lovers.
3. Heagn Can Wait. This witty
remake o the 1941 Here Comes Mr.
Jordan isa rather modest effort con-
sidering the high-powered talent
(Elaine ,PIay, Buck Henry, Warren
Beatty) iehind it, but in these days of
excess tiere's certainly nothing wrong
with a little old-fashioned restraint.
Charles Grodin is delightful as a
snivelirg, scheming yes-man, and the
final scene between Beatty and Julie
Christie offers some of the hottest eye
contac since Casablanca.
4. Bread and Chocolate. An ab-
solutdy dazzling tragi-comedy by
Italiai director Franco Brusati about a
man compelled, like many of his coun-
trymxn, to work and live in Switzerland
due to a lack of jobs in Italy. The film is
nimle and often hysterically funny,
yet beneath the humor it becomes a
: terrifying testimony to the agony of
estrangement and the desperate desire
to belong. Nino Manfrendi is stupen-
dous in the lead role.
5. Girlfriends. A story of what hap-
pens to a pair of apartment mates when
one gets married and leaves, provides a
3 stunning naturalistic portrait of urban
loneliness. Claudia Weil's film is unsen-
timental yet incredibly tender, funny

yet gutwrenching almost in the same
breath. Star Melanie Mayron delivers
one of the most subtly modulated per-
formances in many a year.
6. An Unmarried Woman. O.K., so
Paul Mazursky's latest Movie About
Real People is not the definitive
statement on modern life it aspires to
be. There is still much to admire in this
buoyant comedy on the perils of
unheralded separation. Pretention may
hang on some of Mazursky's subtly
pointed dialogue, but his wit always
cuts through.
7. National Lampoon's Animal
House. With everyone slaving for in-
k-

sulatory law and medical degrees these
days, this messy dose of cheerful anar-
chy gave college students across the
land .a healthy little message: Have
some quick kicks before you become an
establishment vegetable. Though the
Lampoon's notably tasteless barbs
keep a low profile, the laughs hit their
mark, and in Bluto we have a Vinnie
Barbarino for the college set. (OG)
One must judge Animal House by a
dual standard: as comedy, it's often
hilarious; as filmmaking, it's wincingly
maladroit. Simply having funny people
say funny lines in front of a camera
doth not a movie make. And for all its
proven comic value, Animal House
remains a series of revue-style set
pieces whose link to the art of motion
pictures is as tenuous as a skit on John-
ny Carson. (CP)
8. Midnight Express. Easily the most
underrated, maligned, and misunder-
stood film of the year. This harrowing
depiction of a young American, trapped
for years in a Turkish prison on a minor
drug offense, is a Kafkaesque parable
of an individual smothered underfoot
by unseen and uncaring political forces
totally beyond his comprehension,
much less control. Accusations to the
contrary, Midnight Express is one of
the least exploitive as well as one of the
best films in a year of stifling cinematic
hucksterism. (CP)
The unabashedly stereotyped Turks
are not the overriding flaw in this vision
of Hell-on-Earth, but they are sym-
ptomatic of director Allen Parker's
thematic impotence. For all its flashy
grittiness, there is amazingly little
agony or desperation in the saga of poor
Billy Hayes; our only option is to sit
back, count the horrors, and be glad it
ain't us. (OG)
9. Interiors. With the very words
"Ingmar Bergman" currently sending
chills up and down the spines of
aspiring film majors, it's no wonder
that Woody Allen's first movie with no
laughs received a critical lambasting
for supposedly emulating someone's
sterile notion of art-films. Never mind
if Interiors looks like Cries and
Whispers. Allen's chamber drama is a
cool but moving study of several won-
derfully affecting characters, and I
haven't seen a better slate of perfor-
mances in a long while. (OG),
L'wish it were possible to like this film
better, since it has so many good
elements. Interiors is never phony,
never dull, yet one just can't avoid the
feeling that it's all in the wrong mode,
that it's Woody Allen masquerading
rather nervously as a total stranger. He
tries so hard to bring his good intentions
to bear that he sublimates thefil's
many fine moments into what becomes
an uncomfortable, slightly em-
barassing experience. (CP)
10. Martin. It's a memorable year
that produces not one but two horror
movies on such a level of intelligence
and sophistication as Invasion of the
Body Snatchers and George Romero's
Martin. The latter, a picture about a
teenage vampire with teenage
problems, is one of the most wildly
complex, funny, and certainly most
erotic horror films in memory. The ar-
chly independent Romero has wrought
wonders with a miniscule budget, len-
ding viable proof to the notion that one
can buck the cinema establishment and

emerge with a work of art. (CP)
I like a good horror movie as much as
anybody, but Martin is a prime exam-
ple of a fine director becoming so ob-
sessed by the cinematic possibilities of
his material that he loses his bearings,
This craft-for-craft's-sake story of a
vampire/sex murderer is a technical
showcase, but little either provocative
or scary resides behind the portentous
hypodermic montages, eerie sound ef-
fects, and graphic gore. (OG)
THE 10 WORST:
1. FM. How can a movie possibly
claim to be anti-commercialism and
pro-FM rock? Answer: it can't. But FM
sure tries, resulting in one of the most
singularly inept concoctions ever to
have emerged from the gates of
Hollywood. May those responsible be
tied down and forced to listen to 100
straight hours of Arthur Penhollow.
2. Convoy. A film even a truck
driver's mother would boycott. Sam
Peckinpah's misanthropic ode to the
joy of the road comes across as one ex-
tended low-IQ belch. It's sole positive
function might have been to torpedo Ali
McGraw's third comeback attempt, but
even that hasn't worked out.
3. Moment By Moment. Whether
writer-director Jane Wagner gorged
herself on too many reruns of Love of
Life or was simply beaten as a child
doesn't seem all that relevant now;
what is relevant is how we're going to
get our money back. John Travolta and
Lily Tomlin copulate their way through
an affair that might have been scripted
in the Gerald Ford School of Dramatic
Arts. Moral: "What a world."
4. The Greek Tycoon. This misbegot-
ten Jackie-Ari gossip column was too
easy a potshot target for the critics
even before it was released. The less-
than-scandalous finished product only
proves that the rich and famous are
every bit as boring as the rest of us.
Come browse
through our
Green House
COCRELL IT
GREEN HOUSE
. A Large Selection of Hanging
Baskets & House Plants includ-
ing Green Plants. Cactus &
Succulents
* Macrame, Pots, Ceramics, Soil
& Accessories
7330 Geddes Rd., 482-8205
(N. of Ypsilanti, 2 miles E. of US 23)

5. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Club Band. If the Monkees were a
plastic incarnation of the Beatles, then
Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees are
pure Saran Wrap. May Maxwell's
Silver Hammer come down squarely on
Robert Stigwood's head.
6. The Boys In Company C. The ideal
Vietnam film recipe: lift every good ole
boy cliche from every World War I and
II picture ever made, mix in some
Nam-era naughty cuss words, and add
just a dash of moral indignation over
jungle atrocities. Then, presto! - the
perfect handy-dandy synthetic war
flick, interchangeable with any other
war film about any other war, and
highly marketable for TV. Must we
vaporize our own heritage just to make
a buck?
7. Foul Play. Exemplifies the worst in
recent American movies. This pale Hit-
chcock pastiche is formula drivel that
masquerades as comedy by including.
some glib references to disco, party
dolls, and - his humorous holiness -
the Pope. With all that Barry Manilow
in the background, you can be glad the
star is Chevy Chase and you're not.
8. House Calls. Doctor Walter Mat-
thau and patient Glenda Jackson shriek
barbs and endearments at each other in
a stupifyingly humorless, wheezy
bedroom farce that would have seemed
archaic fifty years ago. The film is good
for three laughs - I went "ha!" once,
and "ha! ha!" sometime later. Other-
wise, nil.
9. Comes A Horseman. The imminent
death of the western seems heralded by
this stillborn epic. Jane Fonda and
James Caan ride the range a lot, rope a
bunch of steers, and shoot Jason
Robards a few times, their activities all
conducted with a studied freneticism
that inadequately obscures the fact
they have nothing - literally nothing -
to say. Happy trails and shut up.
10. The Revenge of the Pink Panther.
Seeing dear old Inspector Clouseau on
screen yearly is beginning to resemble
an annual visit to your senile, half-deaf,
and very dull uncle. With Revenge,
Sellers, Edwards, and company hit new
lows. If someone doesn't practice
cinematic euthanasia and put the ailing
inspector to sleep, we might all soon
join Herbert Lom in the rubber room.
Revisit
THE FIRESIGN
THEATRE
$3.99 per album
REYCLE .
LIGHT
&SOUND

NOTABLE DISTINCTIONS:
Best underwear: John Travolta's
black bikini briefs in Moment By
Moment.
Actor that should be put out to
pasture: George Burns, for his
smokers'-cough rendition of "Fixing a
Hole" in Sgt. Pepper; Burgess
Meredith, for his George Burns imper-
sonation in Magic..
Worst scene: In The Boys From
Brazil - Laurence Olivier, Gregory
Peck, and six Dobermans.
Most overrated rock concert film:
The Last Waltz. So it has Dolby sound
and professional camerawork; The
Band still isn't God's gift to rock and
roll, and Woodstock still towers.
Most wooden performance: Fats, in
Magic.
Best movie poster: Goin' South.
Most misleading movie poster: Goin'
South.
The AM award for worst soundtrack:
Thank God It's Friday.

Worst Line: John Travolta to Lily
Tomlin in Moment By Moment - "You
only love me in bed!"
Worst remake of Smokey and the
Bandit: Convoy.
Most unoriginal film: Halloween. A
formula rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, Carrie, and Night of the
Living Dead that adds up to more trick
than treat.
Most resounding "Thank you": From
us to Gene Wilder, for not making a
"comedy" this year.
Critic with the most grating voice:
Frank Beaver.
Critic with the most grating opinions:
Susan Stark.
Most disappointing film: A Wedding.
Robert Altman conforms to what his
detractors have claimed for years, with
this trite tribute to unabashed
cynicism.
Worst bedroom scene: In Coming
Home - come on, Jane - everyone
could see it was a stand-in. T,

.1

HAL ASHBY 1978
COMING HOME
The Sixties come alive again in this drama of love and war. Contrary to the
gore and pillage documented in Hearts and Minds, Coming Home depicts the
home front with its embittered veterans and the loved ones left behind. The
insistent beat of such artists as RICHIE HAVENS and the ROLLING STONES
combine with the superb cinematography of Haskell Wexler to create a back-
drop of Sixties paranoia and passion against which the tender love affair of a
paraplegic Viet vet and a marine officer's wife develops. Jon Voight won Best
Actor at the Cannes Film Festival with his sensitive but powerful performance
as Luke. Also starring the incomparable JANE FONDA, with BRUCE DERN.

Ia

SATURDAY-Coming Home

CINEMA II

TONIGHT AT
7 and 9:15

ANGELL HALL AUD. A
$1.50

I

do

Grads D Singles
you are cordially invited to a
WINE 5 CHEESE
P6;RTY
with university grad
studentsfrom Canada
An Evening of Music, Fun!

8 pm-H ILLEL
Sat. ]an. 13

Charge: $1.00

1 429 H ill St.

221 E. Liberty Plaza
corner of E. Liberty & 5th

lowsF level
*bS-US

momod

i

I

e <i se

i

ee Rooksop
Closing its South University Branch
There are still many fine books
for sale in oll sections
ALL BOOKS
40% Discount

1229 South University

q

4

I

t.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 16 at the
Michigan Union Box Office 11:30 a.m.-5:30
p.m. (M-F). $7.50, $6.50, $5.50.

0
NIO
30-- -
"
Got s

I

I-

Sunday

February 11

3
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w

I

K . _.. ..-r awo .r

>r :Y'' M n- Fri

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