Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012 by Jordan Hoffman
Just last week /Film was part of the announcement that the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is recreating the Summer of 1982. There are many who believe that, for whatever cosmic reason, ’82 was a perfect year in cinema. Between The Thing, Blade Runner, Star Trek II and E.T. (whose event /Film is co-hosting) it is hard to disagree.
But there are more than just the popular favorites. Indeed, I had a very hard time selecting the usual eight when looking for what to choose for this week’s TBMYPHS. (By the way, that is the first time I have eve referred to the “The Best Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen” column as TBMYPHS. I suggest we pronounce it Tub-My-Fuss, which sounds like a bronchial disease.) All I can say is this: there was definitely something in the air that year – and I hope it comes back.
Fitzcarraldo; Werner Herzog, director.
Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski rafted down the Amazon with Aguirre: The Wrath of God and it went well. They tried it again a few years later with Fitzcarraldo and barely made it out alive.
The subject of a famous documentary (Burden of Dreams) the behind-the-camera woes of Fitzcarraldo are much of what propelled the myth Herzog-as-maverick/madman. But you can put all that aside and still be fascinated by this remarkable film about a European rubber baron compelled to bring an opera house to the hinterlands of Peru, even if it means his very life. The surreal sequences of a giant steamship being dragged up the side of a hill have the relentlessness of a fever dream, and Kinski’s possessed performance a demonic quality.
Warning: a viewing of Fitzcarraldo may just turn you into a Werner Herzog junkie.
Tempest; Paul Mazursky, director.
While not quite as cool as Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, this loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s last (and trippiest) play has got a lot going for it. John Cassavetes is an architect suffering a loveless marriage to Gena Rowlands and seeing visions of his own doom. He flees his emotional turmoil in New York society and takes his daughter to a Greek island. Raul Julia is terrific as the Caliban character and the movie weaves between fantasy, satire and drama. There are also scenes of Susan Sarandon rockin’ some rough ’80s hair.
Dig how young Molly Ringwald is in that video – and the muzak version of Blondie’s “Rapture” ain’t so bad either.
My Favorite Year; Richard Benjamin, director.
Everything that happens in Get Him To The Greek happened a little classier in My Favorite Year.
Set in the 1950s, Mark Linn-Baker is something of an ur-Liz Lemon for a Sid Caeser-esque comedy show. This week’s guest host is Peter O’Toole, a swashbuckling Hollywood star/drunken maniac, and our hero has to keep him sober until the big night. Shenanigans ensue, especially when the gang ends up in the ol’ Brooklyn neighborhood.
If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve probably heard the famous sound-byte. When O’Toole realizes the show goes on live he cries out “I’m not an actor; I’m a movie star!”
Eating Raoul; Paul Bartel, director.
How best to describe this? Okay, the dude from the original Piranha and a former Warhol Factory denizen kill sex perverts and trade their corpses in for dog food. They eventually team up with Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager because they dream of one day owning their own home. Buck Henry and Ed Begley Jr. have supporting roles. It’s a comedy.
If that didn’t sell ya, know that this whacked-out and transgressive independent film somehow cut above the chatter and became something of a minor hit. I remember my parents going to see it and trying to explain it to my sister and I the next day. We thought they were kidding.