1978: Movies Sorted By Tier
Submitted by jim on Fri, 02/15/2008 - 12:32
The Deer Hunter... I was expecting, having seen years of war movies, a fairly typical (by today's standards) "war is bad" movie. I was wrong. A marvelous movie, spanning different worlds both in time and geography. I didn't expect it to focus so much on friendship, and how it can transform under extreme stress. The US scenes feel real, and the Vietnam scenes surreal, which is a wonderful effect. The cast is fantastic, the story heartbreaking, and the horrors of war perfectly embodied in the POW torture scenes.
- None Yet
Glad I Saw
Heaven Can Wait... Warren Beatty plays a QB for the Rams who is taken up to heaven prematurely. The Powers That Be find a way to put him back. Fish Out Of Water amusements ensue. This one watches like a fairly charming made-for-TV movie. I usually find Beatty vaguely smarmy, so it was nice to see him as a rather affable lug. I can't shake the feeling that my time would have been better spent doing something else, but it was a decent diversion. My biggest complaint is with the ending, which was grossly unfair:Spoiler: Highlight to viewWe're told that Beatty should have lived another 50 years and that They are going to make it right by finding him another body. When they finally do "place" him, they wipe his memory and he basically carries on with the memories and personality of the guy he now inhabits. By my reckoning, that is tantamount to snuffing him.
Midnight Express... As a manipulative drama, this movie works very well. The opening scene is incredibly tense even though we know exactly what's going to happen. We feel the oppression and cruelty of the Turkish prison, and we long for Billy's release. I'd probably list this here, except I hate it when "true stories" jerk me around with fabrications. Even though the real Hayes made some Turkish friends, there is no room for such depth here, and the Turks are portrayed as a race of pigs without a single redeeming individual among them. From my limited Internet research it *seems* (mostly gleaned from reader comments rather than a definitive source) the most shocking scenes didn't happen (!), and that Hayes's prison was much more modern than the one portrayed. But mostly the blatantly racist stereotyping put me off, when it would have been so much more effective to give more depth to the Turks while still having plenty of room for villians.
Shaolin Master Killer... Based on his youthful innocent appearance Gordon Liu should be called The Baby-Faced Shaolin Master Killer, but that's part of what works here, as most of the fun in this movie is watching him progress from clumsy neophyte to kung fu master. Indeed the entire middle half of this movie is training scenes, so if you dig all the crazy training that kung fu heros usually have to endure after initially getting whupped, this is the movie for you. Actually, it's mostly the fun of those scenes that leads me to recommend this one, since the DVD I watched crapped out not only in the fight scenes where Liu gathers his disciples, but in the final one percent the climactic fight as well.
- None Yet
Could Have Missed
Dawn of the Dead... I think the sprinting zombies of the new millennium put the ultimate bullet into the brain of these old school zombie movies. There's slow, and then there's slow, and these zombies are slow. Totally not a threat. Also, the move from black-and-white to color didn't do Romero any favors, I'm afraid. Still, while this one dates pretty hard, there was fun to be had.
Should Have Missed
- None Yet
El Sucko Grande
- None Yet
Watership Down... This is probably very well done. It gets a special slot at the bottom of the list because I saw it when I was WAY too young, and it was perhaps the most traumatic movie-going experience of my life.
The Five Deadly Venoms... A favorite kung-fu movie from my youth, but it's probably been 20 years since my last viewing.