1988: 5 movies

posted on 2016 January 30

Written and directed by John Waters
Produced by Rachel Talalay
Music by Kenny Vance 
Cinematography by David Insley 
Editing by Janice Hampton 
Production design by Vincent Peranio 
Art direction by Vincent Peranio 
Costumes by Van Smith 
Makeup  by  Nancy Broadfoot, Chuckie Dennis,
and Van Smith
Hair by Bridgid Hoover, Christine Mason,
and Patricia Wintermeyer
Starring Ricki Lake, Divine,
Ruth Brown, Debbie Harry,
Jerry Stiller, Vitamin C,
Leslie Ann Powers, and Shawn Thompson

   In so many ways, this is the perfect movie for our times. It's fun, colorful, smart, it's got a great soundtrack, the leading lady is spilling with charm, it's got a racially and sexually even-handed cast, and the story is ethically righteous. It's strange to think that this came from the same mind that gave us "Desperate Living" (1977)! It's delicious for the way the soundtrack is cut to the image flow, and for its great overarching spirit of the underdog triumphant. Ricki Lake will lift your spirits and add a skip to your step.

Camille Claudel
Directed by Bruno Nuytten
Written by Bruno Nuytten and Marilyn Goldin
Produced by Bernard Artigues
Music by Gabriel Yared
Cinematography by Pierre Lhomme
Editing by Joëlle Hache and Jeanne Kef
Production design by Bernard Vézat
Costumes by Dominique Borg
Starring Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu

   Passionate biography of sculptor who studied under Rodin, collaborated with him, and may have surpassed his artistry. Adjani is brilliant in the title role. You can admire her as a martyr of the arts, you can criticize her as a needy bitch, or you can appreciate the total commitment to the realistic role, and accept that you want to believe that this is what Camille Claudel was like. The pace, though elegiac, still holds riveted interest through its supreme score, cinematography, and editing. And yes, of course, the director is loaded with immeasurable vision. Depardieu is fun to watch, as well.

Another Woman
Written and directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Robert Greenhut
Cinematography by Sven Nykvist
Editing by Susan E. Morse
Production design by Santo Loquasto
Art direction by Speed Hopkins
Set decor by George DeTitta Jr.
Costumes by Jeffrey Kurland
Starring Gena Rowlands, Mia Farrow,
Ian Holm, Blythe Danner,
Gene Hackman, Martha Plimpton,
and Sandy Dennis

   So graceful, meditative, every scene, the way it all fits together like a delicate puzzle. It's the puzzle of a woman's life, put together through photographs, memories, dreams, theater, and conversation. It's not really sad, it's more accurate to describe it as blue. The actors alone are reason to watch as they are an intensely amazing cast. The cinematography is crisp, chilly, with the burnt red hues of autumn. It's a dreamy and subtle masterpiece about coming to know one's self. The strongest and most magical thing about it is that it makes you reflect on your own life and relationships, and you start to wonder if you are a little like the protagonist.

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
Directed by Charlotte Zwerin
Starring Thelonious Monk

   A unique documentary for a unique human being. There has never been a person so positively influential, so charming, and so hard to really understand as Thelonious Monk. He seems at times the wise and all-knowing sage, and at others a man clueless and suffering from dementia-like symptoms. Is this the mark of true genius? Or the cohabitation of genius and disease in one person? Skimming over the biography of Monk, we are treated to a wealth of great photographs, stunning live performances, and clips of Monk at his more mundane. We are left with a taste, a whiff of the man, and we feel the struggles of black America and of innovative artists. It feels right to celebrate him and to try to understand.
   And really, while watching this movie and listening to his music, it kind of makes you feel like Thelonious Monk is your grandfather in some way. He's kind, and mischievous, and cool and curious, and amazing, and he's fricking weird in an enjoyable way! The subject is most of the reason for the inclusion, and the vehicle is perfect in its delivery and honor. Smart! 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Written by Jean-Claude Carrière and Philip Kaufman
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Music by Mark Adler
Cinematography by Sven Nykvist
Editing by Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam, Michael Magill,
and Walter Murch
Production design by Pierre Guffroy
Costume Design by Ann Roth
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche,
and Lena Olin

   It's really sweet, with great cinematography, and awesome acting. The whole thing is imbued with a love of photography, freedom, and love itself. It can be annoying how it's in English with forced accents, but another way of looking at it is that we are treated to master actors performing a marvelous Czech work as best as they can. There is an epic feel to it, it is a saga, from naivete to wisdom, from provinciality to worldliness and then back to the essential roots of life. It's about transformation. Binoche proves herself to be the It girl of the times. Olin astounds, and Day-Lewis grounds it all in his role as a playful bull being tamed by love and time. 
   The title comes from the English translation of Milos Kundera's Czech novel.

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