LAST YEAR'S (BELA TED) BEST.
From Allen to
The Michigan Daily-Thursday, February 7, 1980-Page 5
. Among last year's best movies: Peter Yates' summer hit "Breaking Away"
(left), with Dennis Christopher, Jackie Earle Haley, Daniel Stern and Dennis
Quaid in a moment of triumph after the climactic bike race; Philip Kaufman's
neglected gang movie, "The Wanderers"(center), in which Ken Wahl,John
Friedrich, Tony Ganios and Jim Youngs are seen looking over some passing
merchandise; and (far right) Jerzy Skolimowski's eerie supernatural thriller
"The Shout," with Alan Bates and Susanah York.
By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
These films (in no particular order of
preference) strike me as the cream of
what amounted to a rather strange and
bizarre crop last year:
0 Manhattan (Woody Allen). A. film
predicatably flawed by the director's
cloying self-absorption, which per-
meates all his recent work like a
hedonistic virus. Yet Manhattan's
exquisite use of sights and sounds, its
abiding though melancholy good
humor, and especially the director's
all-forgiving gentleness toward his bit-
tersweet characters" make this film a
poignant, unforgettable study of the
hazards of being a card-carrying mem-
er of the Beautiful People.
Dawn of the Dead (George Romero).
Zombies once again terrorize the earth
in Part II of Romero's highly unconven-
tional horror trilogy-in-progress.
Myopic filmgoers may rant against
Dawn's violence and cheap thrills; 'yet
lurking beneath Romero's stock-in-trade
blood and gore is one of the most
sophisticated black comedies to tickle
the jugular in many a full moon. The
great god Consumerism takes a bath as
a quartets of protagonists hole up in a
giant shopping mall to do endless battle
with ghouls and motorcyle maniacs in
protecting their vinyl-coated turf. No
one celebrates degeneration into chaos
with quite the diabolcal joy of Romero;
now that he has mastered the technical
virtuosity to accompany his mad
visions, his potential for celluloid anar-
chy seems to have no limit. My jaded
soul can hardly wait for his next un-
The China Syndrome (James
Bridges). The tumultuous post-relesae
topicality of Syndrome's theme may
ironically have obscured and
cheapened the film's dazzling
cinematic mastery of the thriller genre.
Few motion pictures have ever
managed to milk more sheer, gut-
wrenching terror out of watching their
characters standing motion-
less - waiting, watching, with
breathless helplessness, a disaster they
can do little or nothing to avert. At the
same time Syndrome is the most in-
tuitive, merciless satire ever made on
the shallowness of TV newscasting,
with Jane Fonda turning in the perfor-
mance of her life as a "happy-news"
commentator hurtled face to face with
the dangers that lurk in a large, un-
Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert
Benton). Inconsistent and often in-
furiatingly one-sided, Kramer is still
one of the few unfrilled, uncom-
promising intelligent studies of human
:interaction ever to come out of the
Hollywood system. The film is a
thoughtful feast for audiences of all
races, incomes and age levels, wren-
chingly acted by Dustin Hoffman,
Meryl Streep and Justin Henry "as a
family unravelled at the seams.
The Shout(Jerzy Skolimowski). A
cryptic, terrifying little masterpiece
about an English drifter (Alan Bates)
who claims to have perfected an
Aborigine secret of the "terror
shout"-a human shriek so sonically
resonant that it can kill any living being
within its range. The film demands that
you take it entirely on its own terms; if
you can accept the offbeat in general,
you're likely to be blown away by this
diminutive, arcane wonderment. The
film is hypnotically directed by
Skolomowski, and incisively acted by
Bates, Susannah York and John Hurt as
combatants in a three-way psycho-
sexual power struggle.
Breaking Away (Peter Yates). An
exultant, euphoric howl of joy to the
triumph' of Middle America. Yates'
film about teenagers and bycicle racing
in Bloomington, I. treads rarely-
tested cinematic ground by involving
the frustrations of the American class
sytem. Yet, Breaking Away is all too
consumingly good-natured to render its
protagonists in a state of proletarian
grimness. I can'tremember a film
which makes such exquisite use of
sunlight; it sweetly bathes you, lifting
your psyche just as it does Yates' cast of
brilliant unknowns. Breaking Away is a
film for all seasons, to be savored and
cherished as long as people love to go to
Alien (Ridley Scott). A film coldly
calculated to scare the daylights out of
you, and succeeding traumatically.
Director Scott and macabre artist H. R.
Giger have tapped the darkest corners
of the human consciousness to create a
work of almost unbelievable menace,
wherein a strange, chamelon-like
creature stalks one by one the panic-
stricken crew of a ship traveling
through deepest space. In Giger's
universe, starships and planetoids
become virtual living, breathing
organisms, while his monsters assume
the most terrifying trappings of one's
most private nightmares. Alien is ad-
mittedly not to everyone's taste; yet
within the limits of what it sets out to
Be an angel.
Read CA E tifg!
do, it strikes me as an almost perfect
Hard Core (Paul Schrader). A
daring, grievously misunderstood film
about a religious Midwestern
businessman who plunges into the
counter-universe of West Coast por-
nography in search of his missing
daughter. Schrader's episodes are oc-
casionally hokey and a few characters
fall flat; yet Hard Core remains a
unique, endlessly fascinating study of a
cataclysmic clash between unstable
.cultures. The film is graced by George
C. Scott's agonized performance, and is
shiveringly photographed by master
cinematographer Michael Chapman.
The Wanderers (Philip Kaufman).
The Artistic Thuggery Award of 1979 is
hereby presented to Warner Bros. for
effectively murdering this marvelously
atmospheric film about teenage gang
members growing up in the Bronx in
the early ii's.Perhaps phobic about the
bad ;publicity generated by the
similarly-titled The Warriors, Warners
arbitrarily pulled the plug on any
chance Kaufman's film may have had
for success-booking it at second-run
theat~s, then yanking it entirely a
week rso later. Few films have been
less deserving of such shabby treat-
ment: Kaufman's work never quite
holds together, jumping wildly from
arch realism to a Fellini-esque
surrealism; yet it remains as
imaginative and poetic a motion pic-
ture as any in recent memory. More's
the pity you'll probably never get a
chance to see it.
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Cop-
pola). Perhaps if this film were locked
away for about ten years, most of its
accompanying mea culpa publicity
would have faded and Apocalypse could
be viewed for what it is: one of the very
best films ever made, an overwhelming
work whose day will surely come when
all the extraneous hubbub has died
away. Possibly by then the film's much-
damned ending will be seen as the
logical low-key counterbalance to the
assault of phantasmic chaos that came
before it; perhaps by then even Marlon
Brando's performance will be accepted
as a passionate, honorable climax to
this definitive actor's career. We can
only wait and hope.
1140 South University
ST AR TING TOMOR ROW
MON, TUE, THURS, FRI 7-9:15-SAT-SUN-WED 1-3-5-7-9:15
that fools around a lot!
GEORGE SEGAL- NATALIE WOOD
RICHARD BENJAMIN - VALERIE HARPER
and DOM DeLUISE in "THE LAST MARRIED COUPLE IN AMERICA
A CATES BROTHERS/EDWARD S. FELDMAN Production A GILBERT CATES FILM
Also starring BOB DISHY written by JOHN HERMAN SHANER Music by CHARLES FOX
Sat, Sun-12:40, 3:00, 5:30, 7:50, 10:10
Sat, Sun-$1.50 til 1:00 (or capacity)
m - - ard
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Thursday, February 7
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
John Kolisch, instructor: 25 years in the field of
hypnotism as a lecturer, hypno-technician, and a
member of the American Institute of Hypnosis.
Viewpoint Lectures presents
Kl i I IrC- "Phenomena nf the Mind"
I . I