1989: 6 movies

posted on 2016 February 29

Majo no takkyûbin
Written, directed, and produced
by Hayao Miyazaki
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Cinematography by Shigeo Sugimura
Editing by Takeshi Seyama
Production design by Hinoshi Ono
Art direction by Hiroshi Ohno
Color design by Yuriko Katayama and Michiyo Yasuda
Voice acting by Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma,
Kirsten Dunst, and Phil Hartman

   It's rare for an animated movie, or any other, to have no antagonist, no bad guys, but this movie is one of those rarities. It manages to keep riveted interest from the audience even as it focuses on a world rooted in goodness and opportunity. That it can do this in a way that is humorous, colorful, and with a spirit of adventure and magic secures this movie as one of the best on this list. It is uplifting and endlessly enjoyable.
   It is most admirable for the way that every location is drawn with such a spirit of joyful detail that I am tempted to watch the whole movie in slow motion so I can fully appreciate every nook and cranny, every adorable shop window, every tree and flower, every panoramic vista, every gentle face in the crowd.
   The title translates from Japanese to "Witch's Delivery Service".

Impresiones en la alta atmosfera
Directed, edited, and painted by José Antonio Sistiaga

   Camera-less. Starts off simply as an interesting experiment. A movie with zero photography, each still a painting etched in small. That is the premise, but by the end, we are hypnotized by the sequencing which overwhelms the senses and raises our consciousness. All through color, shape, and movement! It's a true feat, and its conception and production are evidence of the health and vibrancy of cinema.
   The title translates from Spanish to "Impressions in the upper atmosphere".

Life Lessons
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Richard Price
Produced by Barbara De Fina and Robert Greenhut
Cinematography by Néstor Almendros
Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker
Production design by Kristi Zea
Art direction by W. Steven Graham
Set decor by Nina Ramsey
Hair styling by Milton Buras
Makeup by Allen Weisinger
Principal painting by Chuck Connelly
Paulette's paintings by Susan Hambleton
 Costumes by John A. Dunn, Robert Dean Jackson,
and Ursula Schrader
Starring Nick Nolte and Rosanna Arquette

   Part of a compilation of three movies by different different directors. This one far surpasses the other two, and is possibly director Scorsese's best work. The camera placement, direction, editing, and synchronized soundtrack serves to peak our interest and get us within the psyche of the main character. The movie attains an even greater level of greatness when we discover that the tones of comedy, tragedy, and love-story that begin the movie are all pushed aside by the end, leaving us alone with the character-study of a artist who has an uneasy but cyclical relationship with love. The lead performances are fiery and palpable.

Do the Right Thing
Written, directed, and produced by Spike Lee 
Music by Bill Lee
Cinematography by Ernest R. Dickerson
Editing by Barry Alexander Brown
Production design by Wynn Thomas 
Set decor by Steve Rosse
Costumes by Ruth E. Carter
Starring Spike Lee, Rosie Perez, Danny Aiello,
John Turturro, Bill Nunn,
Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee,
Samuel L. Jackson, and Roger Guenveur Smith

   Starts off happily, brightly, sprinkled with increasing little bits of tension. Then, building and building to the end, the tension explodes. And with that explosion of tension comes a terrifying torrent of truths. For one, there is the underlying truth that an evil as horrific and damaging as slavery has repercussions that extend far into the forseeable future. Maybe 150 or 200 years into the future. Second, some problems have no easy answers. Sometimes, retreat and accepting defeat is the only answer. Sometimes, being loud and proud is not a choice but a matter of survival.
   The cinematography and editing work together to capture the heat of a Brooklyn summer's day, and through that, we are presented with the soul of an oppressed neighborhood. Lee's characters including the lead protagonist which he plays himself are multi-dimensional and unpredictable, making the movie a marvellous study of human behavior.

Directed by Christoph Lauenstein and Wolfgang Lauenstein

   Short animated parable about greed versus team. The setting and characters are quite abstract and yet the fact that we feel suspense, remorse, and tragedy speaks to the magical and technical ability of the creators.

Last Exit to Brooklyn
Directed by Uli Edel
Written by Desmond Nakano
Produced by Bernd Eichinger
Music by Mark Knopfler
Cinematography by Stefan Czapsky
Editing by Peter Przygodda
Production design by David Chapman
Art direction by Mark Haack
Set decor by Leslie A. Pope
Costumes by Carol Oditz
Makeup by Kathryn Bihr and Michael Maddi
Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh

   Multiple protagonists and storylines come together within Brooklyn during the 1960s. We follow the struggle of union politics against greedy companies. We follow a thief as she descends into low self-esteem, alcoholism, depression, and prostitution. We witness the attitude of a community towards homosexual and transgender people. The movie shows us victories and losses, deaths, a marriage, and a birth. All in all, it's an admirable movie because it doesn't simplify reflect reality but it reflects the limitations of a particular time and it points towards the hope of the future. Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance is astounding.

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