The Hit (UK, dir. Stephen Frears)
1984, from what I’ve seen at least, was surely a great year of funky odd-balls. Woody Allen recaptured the essence of his comic brilliance in Broadway Danny Rose without sacrificing the maturity that came in the wake of his graduation from silly sex comedies to intricate satires of romance, sexuality, intellectualism and monogamy. Similarly, Milos Forman finally scored big in his adopted home with Amadeus, shot in the director’s native Prague and infused with such a sly Czechness that it stands, to my mind, as one of the least American of any of Hollywood’s Best picture Oscar winners. Jim Jarmusch scored yet more recognition in the states and Europe with his cutely off-beat slice-of-life Stranger Than Paradise and American genre fans had no shortage of tension, action and dead drummer anecdotes, thanks to Blood Simple, The Terminator and This Is Spinal Tap. That is, of course, to say nothing of the long-awaited and sadly final film by Sergio Leone, Once Upon A Time in America, a loving, breath-taking homage to pre-war New York by a man whose visions of the USA were deeply rooted in literature and the cinema.
Outside the states Werner Herzog flew a particularly curious fable of his own devising under the radar and Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, after years slogging-away at popularizing a manga series and assembling a studio group from scratch, released Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, the film that would pave the road to success for Studio Ghibli – founded a year after the release of Nausicaa…
Broadway Danny Rose (USA, dir. Woody Allen)
1984 Watchlist: 1984 – AFTER THE REHEARSAL – AND THE SHIP SAILS ON – THE ELEMENT OF CRIME – FACE TO FACE – FOUR DAYS IN JULY – THE HOME & THE WORLD – PARIS, TEXAS – A PASSAGE TO INDIA – A PRIVATE FUNCTION – SECRET HONOR – SEXMISSION – SHANGHAI BLUES – SHARAABI – THREADS – UNDER THE VOLCANO – THE WAY IT IS – WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?
Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind (Japan, dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
Honorable Mention: THE BALLAD OF THE LITTLE SOLDIER (short) – BODY DOUBLE – THE CABINET OF JAN ŠVANKMEJER (short) – DUNE – FEELINGS (short) – GHOSTBUSTERS – MACROSS: DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE? (Japan, dir. Shōji Kawamori/Noboru Ishiguro) – STOP MAKING SENSE (concert film)
Once Upon a Time in America (USA/Italy, dir. Sergio Leone)
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