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The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

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The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 3rd, 2013, 6:55 am

The Criterion Center was a movie theatre in Midtown Manhattan that was open from 1936 to 2000. In 1980, the theatre was totally overhauled and became a six-screen theatre by twinning the auditorium and turning the former lower level lounge area into four additional screens. In 1991, one of the upper level theatres was twinned, which brought it to the final count of seven screens. In April 2000, hampered by the openings of new theatres and its reputation, the Criterion Center closed and today is a Toys 'R' Us.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/35225219@N04/5724010021/lightbox/ (the theatre in 1984)

When the basement screens opened, they became fast known as the Criterion Dungeon for their cramped quarters (the subwoofers were in front of the screen, for example), poor upkeep (I've read of rats climbing up the screens) and B-level movies shown in the auditoriums. However, the theatre managed to play just about everything, from action movies to martial arts films to Oscar bait and even documentaries. The history and the stories alone make the Criterion Center one of the most fascinating theatres in the lifespan of the U.S. film exhibition capital, if not the world.

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1023/1338452143_bf7ddddffd_z.jpg?zz=1 (the theatre in 2000, just months before closing)

I have developed this series to celebrate the history of the multiplex and the various types of films shown in the movie meccas of the world. Every week, I will cover seven films from a given month in movie history between June 1975 (the month Jaws, considered by many the first blockbuster, opened) and now. You do not need to watch every film (because that would take too much time and besides, you've probably already seen some of them) but you can if you want. Conversations are open to all.

First entry is tomorrow. The month (picked randomly): November 1988.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 4th, 2013, 1:20 am

This week's episode: November 1988.


I figured a Feature Presentation snipe was appropriate. ;)

In November 1988, you had a few notable movies (Scrooged, Oliver and Company, The Land Before Time) and a few acclaimed Oscar bait titles (A Cry in the Dark) but most of the films that came out around this time were either forgotten quickly or had their few weeks of glory before hitting the video shelves. Here are seven titles that I personally picked.

They Live
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Why I picked this one: though the film as a decent following today (thanks to references to the film in the Duke Nukem games and South Park), it is also a very good satire on the 1980's and the capitalist culture that dominated the era. Which is probably why the film didn't get a very good reception the first time around (that and the fact that it opened just days before the election). Roddy Piper is serviceable as the lead while Keith David is great in support as a pair of drifters who uncover a secret plot to take over the world. Despite the clear 1980's setting, the themes are still relevant today and while hard-hitting, is also a fun action film.

U2: Rattle and Hum
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Why I picked this one: depending on your opinion on the band, you have to admit that U2 did some of their best work during this time. And this documentary (the first of two theatrically-released documentaries on the band to date, the second one, U2 3D, has yet to get a home video release) is a fascinating account of the band during the making of The Joshua Tree and its concert. This is a film that got lost in the shuffle of other music-themed films that year (The Decline of the Western Civilization II, Tougher Than Leather, Imagine: John Lennon) but it deserves a look.

Distant Thunder
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Why I picked this one: in the 1980's, you saw a lot of films about Vietnam and the aftermath. This is one of the more obscure ones but that doesn't mean it's a bad one. John Lithgow plays one of his most interesting roles as a veteran who hides from the world in the woods of the Pacific Northwest while Ralph Macchio is strong as the son he hardly knew. Not for everyone but a film that didn't deserve to be lost in the shuffle.

Fresh Horses
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Why I picked this one: Though the late 1980's work of Molly Ringwald gets mercilessly trashed (probably because it's not John Hughes), her tastes seemingly improved during that time and for me, her best performances came in 1988, with the one-two punch of For Keeps? and this film. In this one, she plays a teenage bride in the Kentucky backwoods who becomes the desire of a young man from Cincinnati (Andrew McCarthy) and becomes the object of a love triangle between her, the city boy and her abusive husband. An interesting little film with Ringwald at her most attractive, it deserves another look.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
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Why I picked this one: Though this film is very well-known in its native Spain (and played for over a year in New York), I chose this film because it seems to be forgotten today in favor of more recent Almodovar films. In a way, this was where Almodovar came of age after beginning his career making films that were either minor or gratutious. Though this film could be seen as like his earlier work, there are also a lot of trademarks with his more familiar work, such as frequent cast members and his wild and colorful style of humor. After seeing this one, it's no surprise why Almodovar became a big time director.

Buster
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Why I picked this one: when most musicians attempt acting careers, the performances tend to range from so-so to awful. However, I think Phil Collins is one of the better musicians-turned-actors and this is an example of that. Based on a true story, Collins plays a small-time thief who commits a major train robbery and the stream of emotions that occur while on the run. Though better known today for the songs, it's still an entertaining little film and rare for a crime film, charming.

Night of the Demons
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Why I picked this one: though this one originally opened in Detroit in September 1988, I put it in November because it opened on Thanksgiving weekend in New York. Though horror is not everyone's cup of tea and I hate how the die-hards praise every one of from the '80's for the sole reason of them being from the '80's, I liked this one of a party gone horribly wrong. It doesn't aspire to be anything more than a B-movie but that's probably what makes it fun. Out of the numerous horror films during this time, this is one of the better ones.

Next week: December 1996.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 4th, 2013, 3:45 am

Concerning the sarting point of this new thread, the life and death of that NY theater, I think it's a nice one. I have a passion for film theaters, maybe because I spend so much time in them, and it's always a heartbreak when I see a Parisian cinema closing down. It's happened several times those past few years, and I keep fresh memories of them, and the films I went to see there. It's even sadder when they close them and turn them into shops or malls. When I'm abroad (or outside Paris in France) I always like going to see movies to see what theaters are like. I've been to film theaters in Brussels, Dublin, Seoul and San Francisco, and sure hope one day to go see a film in New York.

Concerning the first batch of films, I've only seen "They live" and the Almodovar, two films I enjoy in two very different genres. Almodovar made his latest, "I'm so excited", because he said everyone kept asking him to go back to his movida roots, to comedy, like this one. And I'm always a fan of Carpenter, and They live was a very fun film to watch, as often with Carpenter a nice mix of B-movie pleasure and political comment. I haven't seen it in ages, though.
And Phil Collins made movies ?! Heck, I didn't even know :lol:
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Leestu » July 4th, 2013, 4:52 am

I also have only seen They Live, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and coincidentally I saw them not long after they were released, but have rewatched both within the last 12 months. I have a lot of affection for They Live - a great movie from a genre I am usually not keen on, so it must be great. Women...is not my favourite early Almodovar comedy but it is a good fun romp, especially the gazpacho scene. As to the others Fresh Horses is probably the only one I would consider watching. I will take your word for it that Buster is charming but I doubt I could ever bring myself to watch it.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 4th, 2013, 5:48 am

Where I'm from, I remember the closings of a few places. There was a theatre called the Tower where I saw the first Toy Story that's now a radio station. I remember another place called the North Town that was torn down several years back to become a Wal-Mart. And there were a few mall theatres here that closed and became stores (I know someone who attended the final screening at one of them, Branagh's Hamlet, and mentioned how there was another patron who interacted with the film). The most recent theatre closing here was a six-screen theatre that had a local reputation similar to the Criterion (mostly because it was in a bad part of town and was rarely attended).

But the theatre closing that saddened me the most was a three-screen second run house that I went to a number of times during the summer called the Fremont. Just about every Friday morning, I would go and watch whatever was playing in the yearly summer PTA series (there was a choice of two movies every week, a G title and PG title). The first movie I remember seeing there was The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (my sister wanted to see Harriet the Spy but I insisted on Pippi). The last movie was either Cats Don't Dance or A Troll in Central Park. Shortly before the summer of 1999, the theatre closed due to competition (I remember The Wizard of Oz was one of the last engagements) and the theatre is now a sporting goods store.

However, there have been a few theatres here that either were dead or looked like they'd die but came back strong. There was the Gillioz, who thanks to private donations got restored and became a concert venue (I've seen a few old movies there and saw Weird Al Yankovic in concert back in April). Then there was the Springfield 8, which got an expansion to 11 screens and has had its life renewed thanks to an IMAX screen and renovations. And there is the local arthouse, the Moxie, which was saved thanks to fundraisers and got the funds needed to get digital projectors.

Good thing there are people who care or else I'd be stuck watching the same boring blockbusters in the same theatre with old people in caps and noisy teenagers (the biggest theatre here is also the one with the worst behaved patrons).
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby numbersix » July 4th, 2013, 6:05 am

I think the cinema industry needs to become more focused on who its audience is. A lot of cinema here closed down, mostly the ones in the middle who played some arthouse and some mainstream movies. The best example was the opening of a cinema called The Lighthouse (which I think Ron B went to) which was mostly arthouse, but essentially just ran whatever the other arthouse cinemas ran for longer. It closed down after 2 years, but then was reopened under new management and is now a huge success. Why, because despite showing the occasional mainstream movie (they opened The Dark Knight Rises at 5am in the morning), they now get arthouse exclusives (such as the new Ben Wheatly movie) and most importantly, have opened direct engagement with its audience, often doing votes for seasons and screenings, holding special events (like screening Stop Making Sense, which always sells out). Next weekend they have an Edgar Wright season (Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim, and 2 episodes of Spaced) in which he will attend an open QandA with Simon Pegg. It sold out in minutes. And that's the thing, cinemas need to understand their audience and find their identity and push that as much as possible, whether its hipster arthouse or mainstream multiplexes. Only then can they stay alive.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 4th, 2013, 6:31 am

One of the biggest problems with theatre chains is how elitist they act on movies. Many of them refuse to play movies that premiered on demand first or at the same time (despite the fact that it's become a common occurrence over the past few years), instead booking multiple prints of films that don't need that many prints booked (I remember when The Hobbit opened here and one of the theatres booked it on seven screens since nothing else opened that weekend. The next week, the theatre dropped it down to three screens. Four screens for the first weekend would have sufficed.) Meanwhile, the bookers are more interested on pushing movies that reflect their views rather than if they appeal to audiences (I mentioned how chains wouldn't stop running the trailers for The Great Gatsby while one chain here keeps running religious films despite the fact they don't make money because it's owned by Evangelicals).

Sure, there are arthouses that pick up the slack but there is so much product that many good films slip through the cracks because many arthouses only have 1-2 screens and multiplexes turn their noses and make excuses. Back when the megaplex boom started, I don't believe anything thought it would get to the point where some movies wouldn't get booked at all due to outdated attitudes (people have been claiming theatres will be obsolete since the 1950's). Theatres and VOD will co-exist and not everyone wants to pay $15 to watch a movie on their computer or satellite dish (though some will, such as my sister). So think what the audience wants to see, not some "it's all about me and profits" attitude.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 4th, 2013, 6:49 am

I think that's exactly the key, indeed, Six. Some theaters do not understand who their audience is.
In Paris, the problem is the competition. Paris is the number one city in the world in terms of number of cinema screens, and thus there is a competition between theaters that is often hard to follow for some of them. There are so many films opening each wednesday in Paris, that exclusiveness often isn't enough because you have to have at the same time exclusiveness AND the best film in town because all the 15 or 20 films opening each week can't be a success, even a local one. So it's hard. The good thing here is that multiplexes (or several screens theaters) are not allowed to play a single film on too many screens. 3 is the limit. So even the biggest film, like Intouchables, or Avatar, couldn't play in more than 3 screens to keep a minimum of fairness with the rest of the films.
You've also got the distribs who don't get the audiences. 20th Century Fox France is the worst, because they think that there is no audience in France for US comedies, and thus only release them in dubbed version in one theater in Paris or its suburb. But the only ones who know about those comedies and are willing to see them are the spectators that won't go such films dubbed.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby numbersix » July 4th, 2013, 6:52 am

Wow, that 3 screen limit almost makes me like Paris ;)
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 4th, 2013, 7:02 am

numbersix wrote:Wow, that 3 screen limit almost makes me like Paris ;)


Well it's not just in Paris but in all of France, so that should make you like Paris, France, and the French in general. You like it all, you just don't want to admit it to yourself, I know. ;)
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 11th, 2013, 7:51 am

Today's episode: December 1996.



In December 1996, you had films like Jerry Maguire and Scream tearing up the box office and films like Shine and Sling Blade making the Oscar voters swoon. Here are seven movies that I feel weren't given their due.

Daylight
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Why I Chose It: Loosely based on a true story, this Sylvester Stallone adventure film about a flooding of the Holland Tunnel (which connects New York City to New Jersey) is a thrilling film with entertaining action, great sets (built in Italy, which has the only studio capable of recreating the size of the tunnel) and a thrilling score by Randy Edelman. It's also fun to watch a pre-Lord of the Rings Viggo Mortensen as an ego-driven shoe magnate who lets fame get ahead of reality. In short, a good way to spend two hours.

Mars Attacks!
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Why I Chose It: For some reason, it seems like some of Tim Burton's best films are the ones that flop at the box office. There's Ed Wood (which is perhaps his masterpiece), Frankenweenie (which was more deserving of an Oscar than Brave was) and this, probably his biggest money loser to date. An affectionate parody of old B-movies based on a series of trading cards, the fun of the film comes from the fact that no one takes it seriously and has fun with the material (something sorely lacking in today's sci-fi movies). The huge cast (led by Jack Nicholson in a dual role) takes glee in chewing the scenery and knowing they are in a film about aliens while the impressive visual effects take much advantage in the film's campy nature by making the aliens alternately scary and funny. Sadly, the film's failure likely assured Hollywood that there wasn't an audience for high-budgeted camp.

Citizen Ruth
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Why I Chose It: Alexander Payne's directorial debut (originally premiering at Sundance under the title Meet Ruth Stoops) mixes farcial comedy with hot-button topics with Laura Dern (in a rare comedic role) delivering as a aerosol-addicted mother who becomes the center of the abortion debate when she finds herself pregnant again. Supported by many notable actors (mainly Burt Reynolds, one year away from his Oscar-nominated turn in Boogie Nights), Dern made a great case for an Oscar nomination (maybe had more people seen the film, she would have gotten one) and it was definitely a sign of things to come for Payne, as he would follow the film up with Election (and the rest is history).

Ghosts of Mississippi
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Why I Chose It: Before Rob Reiner's career went completely off the deep end (though I have to admit I liked The Bucket List), he directed this historical drama about the murder of Medger Evers and the struggle to bring his killer to justice. Reiner showed here (as well as The American President) that even after the failure of North, he was still capable of directing quality material and managed to get strong performances from James Woods, Whoopi Goldberg and Alec Baldwin. The material is compelling and it's still surprising that it is hard to sell a movie about what really happened in the 1960's South (while heavily sanitized material like The Help makes millions).

The People vs. Larry Flynt
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Why I Chose It: Though forgotten today, this well-made biopic is well-directed by Milos Forman (two-time Oscar winner for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus) and written by the people who wrote Ed Wood. Woody Harrelson does Oscar-worthy work as Flynt (who else would you of as Flynt) while Courtney Love is surprisingly good as his old flame and business partner. A huge advantage of the film is how well it is cast. In support, you get actors as diverse as Edward Norton to James Cromwell to Crispin Glover and even James Carville (whom I believe made his acting debut here after years as a political strategist). Another advantage is that despite his checkered history, Flynt is an interesting character. From amoral porn baron to born-again Christmas and back, his story was made for a movie. And this one delivers.

Hamlet
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Why I Chose It: Though this one may be a little too well-known for this series, I picked it due to its limited box office success (it grossed only $4 million on a $25 million budget) and the fact that it seems to be overshadowed by other adaptations of the play. But putting that aside, I believe that it is the best adaptation of Shakespeare's magnum opus. A mostly-literal adaptation, Kenneth Branagh put out all the stops for the production and it definitely shows. Running just over four hours, the film is beautifully produced (it was shot in 65mm and was the last film to do so until last year's The Master), designed and scored and features one of the decade's most fantastic casts (Branagh even managed to get Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Jack Lemmon in blink-and-you'll miss-them roles). In the lead, Branagh shines and shows that if you are the best at doing Shakespeare, then why not tackle his most famous story? Meanwhile, it is nice to see Branagh back in form after a few duds (Love's Labour's Lost and The Magic Flute) with Thor and forthcoming Jack Ryan and Cinderella projects. Maybe he can bring us a good modern-day Shakespeare movie (outside of Romeo + Juliet, then tend to be either unable to adapt Shakespeare's word to modern-day or become in-name-only).

Mother
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Why I Chose It: today, we know Albert Brooks best for voicing Marlin in Finding Nemo or his appearances on The Simpsons (where he is always credited as A. Brooks, even in the movie) but he has also proved time and time again to be a strong director with films such as Real Life, Lost in America and Defending Your Life. In this comedy (where he also starred and co-wrote), he plays a divorced writer who is forced to move back in with his mother (played by Debbie Reynolds). Though we always see the mother and grown-up child premise at least once a year (last year, we had The Guilt Trip), this one manages to be one of the better ones thanks to Brooks's talent behind the camera and his screen chemistry with Reynolds. Had this been a project directed by a hack, it wouldn't have been very good. But with Brooks and his highbrow brand of humor, it's a funny movie about life at rock bottom and relying on the people you least want to help you to get out from there.

Next week: December 1986.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Chienfantome » July 11th, 2013, 8:44 am

I really like that movie club of yours, Boosch.
December 1996, the only films I haven't seen amongst those you mention are Citizen Ruth, and I really regret it but the film was never released in France, but I should really seek it out one of these days ; Ghosts of Mississippi and Mother.
The other ones, I have seen. Daylight is a kind of film that's becoming rare in Hollywood but was very popular back then; muscle man saves the day. I've always had a fondness for those B-movies where the hero has to save the day in a closed space, but I've never been a particular fan of Daylight. I haven't seen it in a while though.
Mars Attacks, to me, is the last great film Tim Burton made. In my mind his career is divided in two, and the frontier is right here. Mars Attacks is a jubilatory film, full of fun and derision. I remember the excitement when I saw it in theater back then, this came out at a time when cinema was turning into a big part of my life. I remember having the poster on the wall of my bedroom.
Larry Flint, I haven't seen since theater. I was 15 at the time and I think I had never heard of Flynt before that film. I'm not a fan of biopics, but this one left me a good impression (well, when you're a 15 year-old guy and you see a film about a man who comes up with a magazine where women get naked, you're immediately interested in it).
And Hamlet, well Hamlet was one of my first true cinematographic shock. I realize I really was curious and audacious when I was 15, because I remember I went to see the 4-hour long version, while there were cinemas that showed the short one. But I went to this 4-hour adaptation of Hamlet, and I remember it never felt too long, it was pure amazement during those 4 hours. And I have never seen it since, because I've never had another opportunity to see it on a big screen and I don't want to see it another way.
This was overall a great period of my life as a young cinephile to be. I remember I wanted to see so many films but didn't have enough money. My mom took me to some of those films, and some others I spent my teen savings to go see them. I was so obsessed with films at the time, I was so eagerly awaiting the films back then, at a time when there was no Internet, I still remember the french release dates of many, many films released between fall 1996 and early 2000.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 11th, 2013, 8:56 am

I saw all of these through renting them (especially Mars Attacks!, which I rented many times when I was younger). I would have loved seeing Hamlet in the theatre (but I was only six when it came out).

When I was six, my sister and I had a game called The People vs. Larry Flynt. The objective: get on a tire swing (The People) and knock down the other person standing (Larry Flynt). Yes, my sister and I have a morbid sense of humor.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 14th, 2013, 11:45 pm

For my birthday, I'm thinking of beginning supplemental specials on now-defunct studios and distribution companies. Lately, I've been getting into films distributed by Cinerama Releasing

Image (that logo would make for one hell of a shirt)

and National General Pictures

Image

and decided to go over the histories of labels that are no more, labels that were once big but have been reduced to smaller slates (New Line, TriStar, Disney's labels for edgier fare) and labels that exist today in other forms (Gramercy and October are now Focus Features, Overture became Relativity's distribution outlet). This sub-series will also cover selected films from those libraries but will only appear during Holidays and special occasions (also, it will cover films older than 1975). I'm looking forward to it, as I love doing these archeological digs for the obscure and forgotten.
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Re: The Criterion Dungeon Movie Club

Postby Buscemi » July 18th, 2013, 1:20 am

Today's episode: December 1986. While The Golden Child and Little Shop of Horrors were emerging as hits and Platoon was beginning its monster run, here were some other releases from that month.

Modern Girls
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Why I Chose It: What seems like a standard chick flick on paper (which is what I expected when I first saw it on Encore some years back) manages to be a fun time capsule of 1980's Los Angeles. With a strong New Wave soundtrack and a great atmosphere, it is a good way to kill 85 minutes. Another thing that helped me enjoy the film was that the characters actually felt like real people rather than 1980's stereotypes (or derivatives of 1980's stereotypes, as seen in 90% of today's films aimed towards teenagers). In short, better than the obscurity states.

Crimes of the Heart
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Why I Chose It: An adaptation of Beth Henley's play (which featured Kathy Bates years before Misery launched her film career), this was one of the few Oscar bait projects produced by the short-lived DEG label. Extremely well-cast (with Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek in the leads, you know you've got something special) and directed nicely by Bruce Beresford (who was no stranger to Southern-themed movies, as he did Tender Mercies and later directed Driving Miss Daisy), you get perhaps one of the better adaptations of a play and the go-to example of adapting Henley's work to the screen. Though a film that is mostly two hours of talking might not be for everyone, we do all need a breather from the explosions every once in a while.

Class of Nuke 'Em High
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Why I Chose It: If Troma wasn't already known for the Toxic Avenger series, they would be known for the Class of Nuke 'Em High series (currently standing at four films, with the fourth installment currently awaiting release). Though not exactly the kind of film I cover here, I found enough to like about it to include it here. Along with Avenger, it is the kind of thing you come to expect from Lloyd Kaufman and company (graphic violence, perverted humor, lots of moments that can make you vomit) with a campy charm you've come to expect from them. Though Troma is known for releasing a lot of awful movies, they'd release some good ones too and this is one of them. But you have to be in the mood for it.

No Mercy
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Why I Chose It: Richard Gere in the Bayou, handcuffed to Kim Basinger. How can you go wrong? Anyway, I picked this one as despite what sounds like a cliche premise (cop ventures into untamed land to settle a score) works due to the atmosphere, strong cast, an underrated score by Alan Silvestri (that deserves a release) and directing by Richard Pearce (who also directed my favorite of the three 1984 farm dramas, Country). There's something about New Orleans and the surrounding areas that makes it a good setting for a neo-noir and this film takes advantage. Too bad it got lost in the shuffle.

El Amor Brujo
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Why I Chose It: Carlos Saura is one of Spain's great filmmakers and some of his best work has come from his dance-themed films. This film, the last of a trilogy of flamenco films (which formed a great box set released by The Criterion Collection several years back), is much more dreamlike and old-fashioned than its predecessors but still manages to be an entertaining festival of sight and sound that harkens back to the days of the Golden Age. The plot is more or less a dance-themed version of Romeo and Juliet but it manages to be refreshing thanks to Saura's direction. In short, it is a film worth tracking down and if you can find it for a decent price, buy the Saura's Flamenco Trilogy box set.

The Morning After
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Why I Chose It: Sidney Lumet was a director with a varied career in multiple genres. He was mainly known for hard-hitting dramas that analyzed human nature but Lumet also did other kinds of films. Here, he did an entertaining thriller with a great cast (Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia) and an intriguing premise of an alcoholic who is the prime suspect of a murder case and the detective who is the only person who believes she is innocent. Though one may think the premise sounds too deriviative of Hitchcock, the film manages to work thanks to the atmosphere and talent involved. In the hands of a lesser director, the film may have failed. But with Lumet and the star power involved, it is entertaining.

Native Son
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Why I Chose It: A courtroom drama loosely based on the 1940 novel, this ambitious film came hot on the heels of The Color Purple and though not quite as good, still manages to have some power to it. The film's highlight is the incredible cast, which features names such as Matt Dillon, Elizabeth McGovern, Geraldine Page (right off her Oscar win for The Trip to Bountiful) and Oprah Winfrey (who had just come off of The Color Purple). Though there are people who hate the film for it not being faithful to the book (I have never read the book), it is still a good attempt at doing a hard-hitting drama for the Oscar season.

Next week: a special episode on Cinerama Releasing for Tuesday and January 1984 on Thursday.
Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

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