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April 15, 1993 - Image 26

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Page 12- The Michigan Daily -Weekend etc. -Best of Ann Arbor-April 15,1993

0

TIemMichigan-Daily Weekend etc. - Bestof Annrbi

Film critics duel, give
For our final column, we'd like to Round One: Great Films of the '90s
talk about, in SiskelandEbertform, the AlH: In the'90s, there seems to have
great movies of the '90s - so far. been a resurgence of excitement and
originality in American filmmaking.
S IR Even big studios are getting into the act
ElNA. by letting fringe filmmakers like
Jonathan Demme and David
Cronenberg direct big-budget features.
The only foreign film on my list is the
astounding "An Angel at My Table."
MICHAEL H L No film has so carefully captured the
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their picks for great films of '90s

BEST OF D~iLYONE-LINEI

experience of the artist's isolation from
society. Janet Frame (and Jane Cam-
pion) are my heroes.
MJW: Her "Sweetie" is on my top
ten of the decade, but I wouldn't call
either of them "great." What is "great,"?
Round Two: What is great?
AH: Great is an arbitrary term im-
posed on movies by dim-witted film
critics like us. Whocares if we're wrong?
MJW: Fine, but what I'm saying is
that there haven't been more than a few
so-called "great" films in the past few
years. Lots of small masterpieces, like,
say, "Delicatessen" or "Metropolitan,"
but nothing in a league with the truly
greatfilmsof the early'70s like "Nash-
ville," "Godfather IT"and "Taxi Driver."
Round Three: "Goodfellas"
AH: I agree with you that "Metro-
politan" is a small gem, but there have
been plenty of films that have exceeded
the meager accomplishments of the
overrated "Nashville," and "Godfather
II." What about "GoodFellas"? Or
"Malcolm X," in which Spike Lee com-
bines exciting filmmaking with a grip-
ping portrait of one of the most contro-
versial figures of the century?
MJW: First of all, have you seen
"Nashville" on a big screen in scope?

Didn't think so. You haven't seen it.
"GoodFellas" I love, but there's some-
thing vaguely superficial about it, I
can't quite pin it down ... itjust doesn't
have the resonance of other Scorseses.
What I do have on my list ...
Round Four: What's on Mike's list
MJW: ... are the films of Mike
Leigh. "High Hopes" is from the '80s,
of course, soI can't mention it here, but
"Life is Sweet," I think is as brilliant.
AH: Now thatIthink aboutit, you're
rightabout"GoodFellas."I sawitagain,
and it just didn't have the same zip as it
did on the first viewing. Consider it
stricken from my list. "Life is Sweet" is
nice, but rambling. I've never been a
big fan of the artless, ultra-realist
Altman-Leigh school of filmmaking
anyway. What I like is artifice, like
"NakedLunch"and "The Silence of the
Lambs," films that are deadly serious
and totally ludicrous at the same time.
MJW: You want artifice? You want
pretentiousness?There's a special place
on my list for Peter Greenaway's "The
Cook, the Thief etc" and "Prospero's
Books."Both are overdone, but at least
Greenaway's trying something, push-
ing beyond mere entertainment like,
oh, "The Silence of the Lambs."

Round Five: A defense of "Lambs"
AH: "The Silence of the Lambs"
can indeed be enjoyed as superficial
entertainment. However, this film works
not only asacontemplationof America's
sexual repression and the declining
moral state of our culture (a la "Blue
Velvet), but also as a meditation on
Freud and feminism.
MJW: Bravo. You do realize, of
course, that you're full of it. "Blue
Velvet" it ain't. Afilm we haven't men-
tioned which I think will improve with
repeat viewings is the Woodman's"Hus-
bands and Wives."
Round Six: They agree
AH: Icouldn'tagree with you more.
I think "Husbands and Wives" is cer-
tainly his most complex in terms of
character. "Hannah and her Sisters"
seems silly in comparison. However,
we can't forget Merchant Ivory, the
greatest character filmmakers of the
decade. Their haunting "Mr. and Mrs.
Bridge" and the godlike "Howards End"
feature a rarity in film: real people.
MJW: I've seen "Howards End"
three times and had completely differ-
ent reactions every times. It's that rich,
and I suspect it will only get better.
AH: That's real excitement.

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r

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"A series of erotic films by women,
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