1981-1990

William Friedkin – To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

Quote:
Worthy of the director of “French Connection,” the pace of this set- in-LA action thriller immediately draws the view in and never lets up. A car chase in the best traditions of “Bullitt” and of Friedkin’s own “French Connection” is centers the action, but the motivation of a rogue agent obsessed with the death of his partner, and clearly with his own death, are well- and credibly- drawn. The most sympathetic character in the story is not one of the principals. It is a female informer. An ex-con at the mercy of those on both sides of the law, she is callously exploited by all. Her feelings for Agent Chance are more implied than explicit, but they are believable as is his indifference to her as a person. This riveting film never lets your attention wander. Thanks to Friedkin, we are told, we are given a credible ending to this taut, tightly- wound thriller. An under-exposed, under-appreciated work; excellent for the genre. Read More »

Sara Driver – Sleepwalk (1986)

Quote:
Sara Driver’s first feature–a luminous, oddball comic fantasy about ancient Chinese curses and Xerox machines, set in Manhattan’s Chinatown and its immediate environs–may well be the most visually ravishing American independent film of its year (1986). Set in an irrational, poetic universe that bears a certain relationship to Jacques Rivette’s Duelle, this dreamy intrigue breaks a cardinal rule of fantasy by striking off in a number of directions: an executive barks in the street, a young Frenchwoman (Ann Magnuson) loses her hair, and machines in a copy shop start to purr and wheeze on their own initiative. Read More »

Mario Monicelli – Speriamo che sia femmina (1986)

PLOT:
This family drama by Monicelli features an impressive international cast: Liv Ullmann, Catherine Deneuve, Philippe Noiret, Stefania Sandrelli and Bernard Blier, and it won a series of prestigeous film awards upon its release. It is a less comedic film, than most of Monicelli’s oeuvre up to this point, although the folly of the Italian male is still a central theme, as it had been in so many of his films from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
In this case, a group of several generations of women are pulled together, when an accident strikes the padre familias (Noiret) that they all in various ways are, or have been, involved with. Thus, the second half of the film focusses on this group of very different women, and how they manage to relate to each other and get along, when they are faced with a series of serious challenges. Read More »

Margarethe von Trotta – Die bleierne Zeit AKA Marianne & Juliane (1981)

Germany, 1968: The priest’s daughters Marianna and Juliane both fight for changes in society, like making abortion legal. However their means are totally different: while Juliane’s committed as a reporter, her sister joins a terroristic organization. After she’s caught by the police and put into isolation jail, Juliane remains as her last connection to the rest of the world. Although she doesn’t accept her sister’s arguments and her boyfriend Wolfgang doesn’t want her to, Juliane keeps on helping her sister. She begins to question the way her sister is treated. Read More »

Aníbal Di Salvo & José María Paolantonio – El juguete rabioso (1984)

This is an adaptation of one of the most important novels of Argentine literary modernism, Roberto Arlt’s El juguete rabioso (1926). Similar in many ways to Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1917), this novel (and the film) chronicles a young man’s journey through a life of poverty on the margins of society in Buenos Aires among anarchists and gangsters during the first years of the 20th century. The novel is essential reading for an understanding of subsequent Argentine literature, yet it is little known outside of Argentina. In El beso de la mujer araña AKA Kiss of the Spider Woman (1976), Manuel Puig was very consciously drawing the whole conceit of the homosexual ‘traitor’/’lover’ and the political prisoner directly from this book.
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Alan Rudolph – Return Engagement (1983)

Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy went on a debating tour in 1983. This odd couple apparently bonded in prison, or some shit, despite Liddy personally busting Leary in the 60’s! They debate about a wide variety of issues from their very unique perspectives.
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Yôji Yamada – Otoko wa tsurai yo: Tabi to onna to Torajiro aka Tora-san 31: Song Of Love (1983)

Quote:
On a ship en route to the Sado Islands, Tora-san enjoys the company of a beautiful woman (Miyako Harumi), unaware that she’s a famous enka singer traveling incognito. In this variation on Roman Holiday (1953), the enka star enjoys Tora-san’s company when her boyfriend left her. Eventually, she returns to her glamorous life, but not before surprising everyone in Shibamata by showing up to give Tora-san a ticket to her latest concert. Tora-san thought that this could be a good start, but she finally tells him that… her boyfriend is back. Read More »