Monday, September 11, 2017

9 Essential 9/11 Documentaries You Must Watch

Matt here!

There are so many documentaries about the tragic events of 9/11/2001. I've seen A LOT of them. These are the ones that I found most impressive and important to view.

1.) 9/11 (2002)
Directed by Jules Naudet, Gedeon Naudet, and James Hanlon

This is the quintessential documentary about 9/11/2001. And what is ironic is that it did not start out as being a documentary about 9/11. The event incidentally happened on the very day that two French filmmakers were following a probationary firefighter Tony Benetatos as he was assigned to Engine 7/Ladder 1/Battalion 1 Firehouse in lower Manhattan -- the actual subject for their original documentary. On September 11, 2001, one of the brothers -- the younger Jules Naudet -- rode along with the firefighters on shift to a possible gas leak just blocks from the World Trade Center. The roar of a passenger jet's engines can be heard as Naudet quickly pans up to the Trade Center and captures only 1 of 2 video recordings of Flight 11 flying into the North Tower/Tower 1. From there on, the documentary takes on a new focus as we see Jules' near-death experience with the firefighters as they are in Tower 1 when Flight 175 hits the South Tower/Tower 2 and when Tower 2 collapses with them in the Tower 1 lobby. Also seen is his big brother Gedeon's nerve-racking search for his brother, becoming a spectator, like the rest of the public, until he flees from the collapsing towers. A powerful, haunting film where death is ever present and love, sacrifice and duty take the forefront.


2.) 9/11: Press for Truth (2006)
Directed by Ray Nowosielski

This film follows the four New Jersey widows known as the "Jersey Girls," who lead the families of the victims of 9/11 to push for an investigation into the attacks. The best companion piece to this documentary is freelance writer Paul Thompson's The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 -- and America's Response, an accurate report that agonizingly lists every detail about the history and events which lead to 9/11/01 (if you want to know all the facts and truths regarding 9/11, this is the book to read). This video documents the women's and family members' path from demanding an investigation to all of the obstacles thrown in their way by the U.S. government. This also tells the story of the 9/11 Commission in all of its failures and small successes. By the end of this film, you will find yourself sounding like 9/11 family member Bob McIlvaine: "I'm so pissed off at the American people, I'm so pissed off at this government ... because of this cover-up."


3.) Inside 9/11 (2005)
Directed by Michael Bronner & Grace Chapman

Inside 9/11 is a 2-part bare-bones, hour-by-hour reenactment of what happened on that fateful, tragic day as well as exploring the origins of 9/11. For straight-up, on-its-face facts (culled from the 9/11 Commission Report), this is the documentary to watch!


4.) Inside the Twin Towers (2006)
Directed by Richard Dale

Discovery Channel's originally titled documentary 9/11: The Twin Towers -- or simply Inside the Twin Towers -- was renamed to this current title and released as a docudrama, telling true events with major actors reenacting what occurred within the Twin Towers from the time the first plane hit to the collapse of both buildings. Similar to the History Channel's Countdown to Ground Zero, both films are good, but Discovery's film has better acting and pacing, while also doing a better job at relating the true terror and inspiring hope of that day to the audience. Also well done is the injection of the actual survivors and family members as they recall the events seen on screen, and the injection of actual video footage in with the reenactment footage. This documentary is the closest adaptation to Jim Dwyer's 2005 masterpiece 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers (as seen in the fan-made trailer below) -- an essential book that should be mandatory reading for every public school student and American, for that matter.


5.) On Native Soil (2006)
Directed by Linda Ellman

According to Amazon.com's Jeff Shannon, this 2006 documentary is "essential viewing for anyone seeking to understand how systemic failures in U.S. national security led to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. By focusing on 9/11 survivors, the surviving family members of 9/11 victims, and their passionate demand for an official investigation into the World Trade Center attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden, this riveting documentary serves as a remarkable audio-visual companion to the 9/11 Commission Report (which is included in its entirety on this DVD). Featuring alternating narration by Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank, the film contains much of the same material included in other 9/11 documentaries, but it's informed by an inspiring sense of moral outrage as we learn, step by step, how much the U.S. government and the Bush administration knew about possible terrorist attacks prior to 9/11, and failed to take any significant action against those threats. Beginning with former CNN reporter Peter Arnett's revealing interview with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1997, and ending with the sobering observation that we're still inadequately prepared for another 9/11-like attack, On Native Soil unfolds with a deeply personal perspective that's dramatically contrasted by the galling audacity of administrative spin control. As recalled by surviving family members of 9/11 victims, ample evidence existed to prove that the government was aware of terrorist plots on native soil. In light of their research, then-National Security Advisor (NSA) Condoleeza Rice looks particularly culpable: As one grieving widower observes, Rice either lied in her post 9/11 press conferences (when she claimed "nobody could have known of these attacks") or--worse yet--she was unaware of the voluminous evidence of active terrorist plots available in the public record. It goes on from there: interagency communication breakdowns, disorganized response strategies when the attacks occurred, incredibly lax security at airports, and damning evidence of governmental neglect--all leading to the inescapable conclusion that 9/11 might have been avoided had the Bush administration been more attentive to obvious and immediate threats to national security. In driving these points home, director Linda Ellman doesn't flinch from the harshest realities: This is one of the few 9/11 documentaries to show attack victims leaping to their deaths from the burning twin towers of the WTC, and emotional testimony from survivors adds yet another layer of tragedy to these earth-shaking events. As a tribute to the families who confronted a shockingly reluctant administration and demanded the 9/11 Commission Report, On Native Soil serves a noble and timeless purpose: It honors those who died on 9/11, provides a cautionary warning against complacency among government officials and U.S. citizens alike, and reminds us that terrorism on native soil is a constant threat that must not be ignored." Especially riveting and heartbreaking is the moment when father of a 9/11 victim (Peter Hanson) aboard Flight 175 retells his last conversation with his son moments before the plane impacts the South Tower/Tower 2. This is the first time in U.S. history that an investigation had found an internal "failure of management, capability ..." (quote from 9/11 lead commissioner Thomas H. Kean found at the 4:35 mark here) and no one in the administration was demoted, fired or impeached. In fact, officials were only given promotions! (Even two top military officials were relieved of their command after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941/1942!) Ultimately, this documentary uncovers a disturbing truth which set a disgusting, alarming precedent for the politicians and military leaders of our country: lie and/or be incompetent at your job so much so that nearly 3,000 innocent civilians are killed, and you will thrive in your career.


6.) Rebirth (2011)
Directed by Jim Whitaker

This 2011 documentary is a 10-year record in the making, following five people affected by the 9/11 attacks, whether they were in the WTC, in New York, or were family/friends of victims who perished that day: Ling Young, a Chinese office worker who was badly burned at ground zero and undergoes surgery after surgery; Nick, was a teenager in high school at the time and lost his mother and afterward became estranged from his father; Tanya, who lost her fiancé Sergio; Brian, a construction worker mourning the loss of his brother; and Tim, a New York City fireman who lost almost everyone he worked with. The film documents each year just after 9/11 to 2011, showing the emotional and physical toll taken on each person. The best thing about this film is the overwhelming sense of hope that rises from each person's journey. A beautiful, touching film that has a lot of re-watching potential. Plus, a beautiful musical score provided by Philip Glass.


7.) Voices from Inside the Towers (2011)
Directed by The History Channel

Within minutes, a deluge of telephone calls flooded into the outside world. Voices from Inside the Towers brings an inside perspective to what happened through phone calls made by some who later died and some who survived. While there is a significant visual record of what happened outside the Towers that day, this film, for the first time, provides a moving and emotional record of what was going on inside the Towers. Heartbreaking but an essential viewing!
9/11 Voices From Inside The Tower from Joanna Bartholomew on Vimeo.


8.) Flight 93: The Flight that Fought Back (2005)
Directed by Bruce Goodison

Premiering on the Discovery Channel, this docudrama shows the brave, heroic actions of the passengers of United Flight 93, which was hijacked on 9/11, headed toward Washington, D.C., to crash into either the White House or the U.S. Capitol. If it weren't for the actions of these passengers, countless others would have been killed. Like the 2006 major motion picture United 93, this documentary captures all of the nailbiting suspense and terror these passengers and their families faced.


9.) September 11: The New Pearl Harbor (2013)
Directed by Massimo Mazzucco

Clocking in at about just under 5 hours, this is the be-all, end-all 9/11 documentary, featuring the most up-to-date information on 9/11 and its build-up. September 11 takes the debunkers' ridiculous explanations and proves them wrong. It asks the questions the public should be demanding to have answered ... now! I don't agree with some of the theories expressed here, but most of them leave great questions no one has ever answered! Forget the 9/11 Commission Report! THIS is the essential video that should be watched!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Matt and Jay's Ultimate List - The 50 Best Films of the 1980s - Part 3

Matt and Jay here.

Now we continue our list of the best 50 movies of the 1980's with 10 more great films to debate. This is where Jay and Matt start to agree on the movies which should be on the list! Again, we developed the list creating our own personal lists and then combining through a process that included eliminating some pictures on each others' lists we disagreed with and also using vetoes to save some the other tried to knocked off. It's complicated, we know, but it provides a great opportunity to compare our tastes and debate and disagree about certain movies that made it on. Also, please note that some of these picks are not your usual '80s movies picked for these kinds of lists! For those who may have missed the first two installments, here are numbers 50-41 and numbers 40-31.

Without further ado, here we go with numbers 30-21 . . . .

30. Glory (1989)
Directed by Edward Zwick
Starring Matthew BroderickDenzel WashingtonCary ElwesMorgan Freeman, and Andre Braugher

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw: "We fight for men and women whose poetry is not yet written but which will presently be as enviable and as renowned as any."

Jay: This is a good pick by Matt. An important piece of history about one of the first African American regiments during the Civil War. Led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), a white Bostonian from a wealthy and powerful family, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry would achieve infamy for leading the siege on Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Edward Zwick's film does a great job of really characterizing the men who volunteered to fight for the North. All of the actors do fantastic work here, even Broderick who I have always felt was unfairly criticized for his performance and accent. Special recognition should go to the late James Horner for his amazing score, one of my all-time favorites.

Matt: I think this entry should've ranked a bit higher in the 20s on the list, but #30 it is! This was film that garnered Denzel Washington his first much-deserved Oscar win for his portrayal of slave-turned-soldier Trip. Along with Washington and Broderick's amazing performances, every actor here gives career-defining, amazing performances! The film not only brilliantly recreates the bloodshed and racism of the Civil War, but also the harsh conditioning of what it means to be a soldier. Like Jay said, one of Horner's best scores accentuates a wonderful film! That last scene with Broderick looking out on the beach in South Carolina while Horner's score plays is just one of the saddest non-dialogue scenes that I've watched. After recent events, it seems like a lot of people could use a re-watching of this film!


29. Raising Arizona (1987)
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Nicholas CageHolly HunterJohn GoodmanWilliam Forsythe, and Frances McDormand

Ear-Bending Cellmate
: "... and when there was no meat, we ate fowl and when there was no fowl, we ate crawdad and when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand."
H.I.: "You ate what?"
Ear-Bending Cellmate: "We ate sand."
H.I.: "You ate SAND?"
Ear-Bending Cellmate: "That's right!

Jay: My favorite comedy of the 1980's is the movie that truly introduced two of the most important filmmakers of the last 30+ years, Joel and Ethan Coen. Now, Blood Simple was their first movie, and should also arguably be considered for this list, but it didn't enjoy mainstream success like they would achieve with Raising Arizona and beyond. What you will find here is one of the best "cold opens" in movie history as our main character, H.I. McDunnough (Nicholas Cage) narrates us through a backstory about his compulsion for robbing convenience stores and getting caught. The intro also shows us how he meets the love of his life, Ed (Holly Hunter) a police officer he encounters with every mug shot she has to take of him. The two marry and discover shortly after that they are not able to have children. Desperate to have a baby of their own, H.I. and Ed hatch a questionable scheme to kidnap one of the quintuplets of Nathan Arizona. Then the opening credits roll. Raising Arizona was a kind of comedy that was unique for the time. It was quirky yet digestible to the common moviegoer. It made a parody of these people from Arizona but also treated them with respect. It was clear the Coen's loved these characters and this locale while also holding a mirror up to how ridiculous they could be (this is a common narrative they would return to in later films, i.e., Fargo). What I love most about Raising Arizona, though, is that it has a big heart. Despite all their flaws and the crime they commit, you root for the McDunnough's and little Nathan Jr.

Matt: This is one of my favorite Coen Brothers films, but I'm not sure I'd place it this high. Nevertheless, it is one of the best of the decade and watching these lovable criminals as they strive to love makes your heart go out to them with every scene! It's been quite a while since I watched this comedy gem but the stand-out, to me, is Nicholas Cage, who proved his comedic acting chops with this role. 


28. Footloose (1984)
Directed by Herbert Ross
Starring Kevin BaconLori SingerJohn LithgowDianne Wiest, Chris Penn, and Sarah Jessica Parker

Ren: "
Ecclesiastes assures us... that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh... and a time to weep. A time to mourn... and there is a time to dance. And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. It's the way it was in the beginning. It's the way it's always been. It's the way it should be now."

Jay: It's not just the movie that put Kevin Bacon on the map. Footloose is movie about the distrust of youth, the fear of progress, and how it is always better to take out your frustrations in an epic, anger-filled, solo dance-off in an abandoned warehouse. For that scene alone, this 80's mainstay achieves a kind of glorified spot amongst many of the dance-centric movies in cinema history. I didn't have it on my list, but it is hard to argue about its relevance. There are many things to love about Footloose. The great opening credit sequence with all of the dancing feet/shoes, Bacon teaching Chris Penn how to dance, John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest watching the final dance from afar . . . I've always liked Footloose and I cannot begrudge Matt for putting it on the list . . . . maybe not this high, though.

Matt: Sure, people know Footloose for Kevin Bacon, the definitive 80's soundtrack, and the overall story of city boy moving to a bible belt town where dancing and rock music are illegal. But, as this movie has aged, I'm not sure if viewers fully comprehend the importance of the message set forth in the film. Sure, this film is a teen flick, but it's one of the most significant teen films ever made! Jay touched on the many great themes running throughout this film: distrust of youth, fear of progress. But the other themes explored have to do with timeless cliches such as the helplessness of letting your children go and having to face the inevitability of growing up and all that it entails. There are so many great performances here, but the ones that take the place is the scene between John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest who discuss their values but also the fact that their daughter is grown up and will soon leave them. It's a bittersweet scene set to a wonderful song ("Almost Paradise" by Mike Reno & Ann Wilson) playing in the background, coming shortly after the scene where Lithgow's preacher is addressing his congregation and giving a sermon about letting go. But it's not to all his congregation so much as it's a direct talk to his daughter (Lori Singer). The only drawback to this film, to me, is Singer. Her character is selfish, superficial, and all-around annoying. She doesn't really become likable until three-quarters into the film. But, no matter. The film is a delight and was the start of a genre of film that would go on to echo into today's films aimed at youth.


27. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Directed by Wes Craven
Starring Heather LangenkampRobert EnglundJohn SaxonRonee BlakleyJohnny Depp, and Amanda Wyss

Children (singing): "One, two, Freddy's coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. / Nine, ten, never sleep again."

Jay: Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street is not only one of the best horror films of the 1980's, it remains one of the most important in the entire genre. It also introduced the iconic character of Freddy Krueger, who today is a pop culture legend. Unlike Jason Voorhees, the hulking stalker with a hockey mask from the Friday the 13th series, who really is just a Michael Myers rip-off, Freddy is the embodiment of mischievous evil gone insane, ripping through the dreams of the teenage children of the people that burned him alive. I think almost all of the credit needs to go to Robert Englund, whose performance as Krueger is usually written off as too bombastic or over-the-top, and it certainly would get there by the later installments. But in this first film he is truly menacing and as a kid he would give me many a sleepless night after seeing Craven's masterpiece for the first time. If you want to know how to scare people as a filmmaker, watch the scene where Tina (Amanda Wyss) is massacred by Freddy in her nightmare. While her boyfriend watches, helpless to save her, Tina is dragged up the wall and across the ceiling by Freddy, his knives slashing her body as she struggles against him. But there is nothing there. It is as if she is being lifted by a ghost that only she sees, then ultimately falls lifeless onto her bed in a pool of her own blood. Violent, terrifying and brilliant staged.

Matt: The only reason I can give for this film scoring so high is it is the first of the 27 films Jay and I agreed on. Wes Craven's Nightmare is a revolutionary slasher film in an age of the slasher film. To me, this film topples any of its ilk simply for the idea behind it. A child molester and murderer, Fred Krueger (Robert Englund), is discovered by a group of parents in a wealthy neighborhood, and so the parents band together and murder him. He comes back to haunt the dreams of the parents' teenage children, donning his trademark red-and-dark-green sweater, brown fedora, and customized glove with knives on his fingers. From there, a legend was born! Freddy Krueger becomes the master of nightmares, killing teenagers in their dreams ... and in real life. But not only does Nightmare establish one of the greatest horror film slashers, as well as exploring the neverending theme of the generation gap between parents and children, it also establishes one the greatest heroines: Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) (Take note, fans of Stranger Things: Natalia Dyer's character was named after Langenkamp's Nancy as an homage). She starts off the film a typical carefree teenage girl-next-door, but soon becomes the first in a long line of the ass-kicking women to take Krueger down. As the Nightmare saga continued, Krueger became more and more cheesy with his one-liners and creative ways to kill, but it is this first installment that is immersed in real terror.


26. Caddyshack (1980)
Directed by Harold Ramis
Starring Rodney DangerfieldTed KnightMichael O'KeefeChevy ChaseCindy Morgan, and Bill Murray

Danny Noonan
: "I planned to go to law school after I graduated, but it looks like my folks won't have enough money to put me through college."
Judge Smails: "Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too."

Jay: Harold Ramis knocked this one out of the park. Caddyshack is a an absolute classic and one of the most quotable movies of all time. Nearly everyone in this comedy does the best work of their career. The fact that it is about golf is only window dressing to be honest. My personal favorite is actually the late, great Ted Knight, who is brilliant as Judge Smails, the snobbish "lord" of Bushwood Country Club. He makes me crack up every time he is on screen, he's such a prick. Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray all have many, many moments to shine. Murray's epically improvised Dhali Llama monologue, Dangerfield shopping in the golf shop and making fun of Smails's hat, and Chase "being the ball" are all famous scenes that all combined to make this one of the best comedies ever.

Matt: It's the ultimate movie of slobs versus the snobs! Although not credited as such, Caddyshack is a National Lampoon film, with a good portion of the magazine's alumni serving major roles in the production. Chevy Chase may have top billing here but it is Rodney Dangerfield -- in his first major movie appearance -- who steals the show with his hilarious one-liners and impeccable comedic timing! Another standout performance is Bill Murray as Carl Spackler, the groundskeeper; his improved "Cinderella story" scene has gone on to be one of the most quoted comedy lines ... especially on golf courses across America! The only hitch to this comedy gem is a scene between two comedic actors which one would think would be hilarious and legendary, but the scene falls flat. There is a scene between Chase and Murray and you can tell the scene is largely improvised, but, as the behind-the-scenes story goes, the two were quite standoffish after a confrontation backstage on Saturday Night Live. The scene was thought out by Chase, Murray and director/screenwriter Harold Ramis right before they shot it, but, since these are improvisational actors, that wouldn't be the problem. I think their SNL falling out was still there because the scene simply doesn't work; it's awkward, not funny and doesn't make much sense. Nevertheless, Caddyshack is a hilarious film, full of scenes that have made comedy history!  


25. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Directed by Peter Weir
Starring Robin WilliamsRobert Sean LeonardEthan HawkeJosh Charles, and Kurtwood Smith

John Keating: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play
goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

Jay: I was twelve-years-old when Dead Poets Society came out. I'm pretty sure it was the first movie that moved me in an emotional way that had never happened before. It dealt with adult themes like conformity, patriarchy and suicide in ways that I had never experienced before and for the first time I connected with a film on an mature level, even though I was still a kid. In a way Peter Weir's film influenced me in ways that no other movie has. It inspired me to read more and pursue acting in the theater, which I had never contemplated before. I think of Dead Poets Society in a different context than any other picture on this list because of these things and while it certainly is not the best film of the 1980's, for me, it was the most important one in many ways. I still think it is Robin Williams' finest performance and when I think of how his life ended I think of his John Keating and I hope he understood that this English teacher that he brought to brilliant life on screen inspired more young minds than just the boys in his classroom.

Matt: I still miss Robin Williams after his untimely death in August 2014. The man made many, many absolutely great films, but this is one of the best! Jay has already mentioned the adult themes which strongly run throughout, but it should also be mentioned how not alone you are in the grand scheme of things ... even when it seems and feels as if you are. The themes of conformity and being who you truly should be are not just monumental when you're a teenager but also for when you get older. This makes the film timeless. I definitely agree 100% with Jay that this film was one of the most important of the decade.


24. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Starring William ShatnerLeonard NimoyDeForest KelleyJames DoohanWalter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Kirstie Alley, and Ricardo Montalban

Khan
: "He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give him up!"

Jay: Not just the best of the Star Trek movies (and, to be fair, there are some clunkers in this particular series), but one of the very best revenge flicks ever made, Wrath of Khan has earned its place on the list, for sure. After the disappointment of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it was a brilliant decision to go back into the vaults of the original 1960's television series and revive a mostly forgotten villain and set him on a course to exact his brutal style of vengeance on Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). Everyone is at their best in this movie, especially Ricardo Montalban as Khan who chews threw scene after scene, making it impossible to take your eyes off of him. Star Trek II is also notable for having one of the best death scenes in science fiction history (SPOILER ALERT), as Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sacrifices himself to save the crew of the Enterprise while his best friend, Kirk, can only watch and then mourn his Vulcan friend. "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most . . . . human."

Indeed . . . .

Matt: It's no surprise that I'm a fan of Star Wars, not so much a Trekkie. However, this sequel to the disastrous 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture is one of the best stories not just of Star Trek lore but also of most sci-fi films of the 1980s! The movie is ultimately about revenge and the consequences that can result from our actions. I have to admit I haven't really enjoyed the other Trek films, but Khan is a film which truly encapsulates revenge in its purest form. What worked so well for this film wasn't so much the action (although that's good), but it's more the emotion and there is plenty in this wild ride!


23. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Starring Judge ReinholdJennifer Jason LeighSean PennPhoebe CatesBrian Backer, Robert Romanus, and Ray Walston

Jeff Spicoli: "Well Stu, I'll tell you, surfing's not a sport, it's a way of life, it's no hobby. It's a way of looking at that wave and saying, 'Hey bud, let's party!'"

Jay: Every decade has it's movie that, for many, defines what it was like to be a teenager at that time. Now, there are quite a few that could vie for that title in the 1980's, but I would argue that Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the cream of the crop (even more so than John Hughes' The Breakfast Club). When I watch it today, it so realistically captures the nostalgia of its time without appearing extremely dated in any way. It was one of the first teen films to tackle serious issues that many teens face that Hollywood may have been afraid to tackle before. Sex, drugs, and teen pregnancy are all presented in a mature way and certainly not glorified or vilified in any way. It's a very funny movie too with Sean Penn really stealing the show with his performance as Jeff Spicoli, the stoner surfer who slacks his way through Mr. Hand's (Ray Walston) class. It also has to be noted that Fast Times has one of the most infamous nude scenes with Phoebe Cates removing her bikini top after climbing out of a swimming pool to The Cars' "Moving in Stereo." Before Fast Times, most teen movies wouldn't have even attempted to show nudity like this, but Amy Heckerling's film wanted to be something new and real and achieved that in so many ways.

Matt: Unlike most teen comedies, Fast Times, which is adapted from the novel of the same name by Cameron Crowe, not only tells the stories of an ensemble of students at Ridgemont High School with plenty of goofy comedy here, but the film is one of the few of its genre to explore a very serious topic such as abortion. In the hands of (at the time) first-time director Amy Heckerling, the studio and Heckerling took a big risk at the time by not only featuring the concept of abortion but also showing a good amount of nudity and heavy drug use. The film features future mega stars such as Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, Nicholas Cage, and Forest Whitaker, and has a great 80's soundtrack. From a comedy standpoint, like American Graffiti represents 1960s teenage life, Dazed & Confused represents 1970s teenage life, and Can't Hardly Wait represents 1990s teenage life, Fast Times is probably one of the best representations of 1980s teenage life. 


22. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Kurt RussellKim CattrallDennis DunJames HongVictor Wong, and Kate Burton

Jack Burton
: "Okay. You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn . . . call the President."

Jay: Like a lot of John Carpenter's films in the 1980's, Big Trouble in Little China continues to grow in appreciation over time, even if it isn't the most politically correct representation of Chinese culture. I do not agree that it deserves to be this high on the list, and I had The Thing much higher than it is here, but because Matt and I both picked it and since only I had The Thing listed, it lands here at 22. That being said, Big Trouble in Little China is a ton of fun, mostly due to the excellent charisma and comic chops of the incomparable Kurt Russell. This might be my favorite of his performances, he is just that good as Jack Burton, the trucker who gets pulled into a battle between two Chinese gangs and faces off against the ancient evil that is Lo Pan (James Hong). There's a ton of action and what passes for kung-fu (though purists would protest aggressively) and the effects are great for their time. BTILC is a classic 80's adventure film for sure, and quite honestly one of the funniest of the era.

Matt: As much as I love John Carpenter's The Thing, it is this comedy/supernatural/action film that is probably my favorite film of his! Kurt Russell's portrayal of cheesy, macho Jack Burton is one of my favorite characters he's portrayed. It's like a comic book come to life, but with its own mythology. Like Jay said, yes, the politically incorrect representation of Chinese culture is prevalent, but it doesn't take away anything from this enjoyable film! Like most hero's journeys, this story is no different as Burton does his buddy a favor by driving the guy to the airport to pick up his girlfriend, only to be pulled into a supernatural conspiracy involving Triads and the most ancient Chinese mystical gangs. Anytime this film comes on, it's worth a watch ... no matter how many times you've seen it!


21. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Bruce CampbellSarah BerryDan HicksDenise BixlerKassie Wesley, and Richard Domeier

Henrietta
: "I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul!"
Ash: [aims shotgun at Henrietta's face] "Swallow this."

Jay: Every discussion of Evil Dead II starts and ends with Bruce Campbell and his wild, wacky performance as Ash, the man stranded in a cabin in the woods after his girlfriend is possessed by ancient evil that is resurrected by the words of the Necronomicon. As physical comedy goes, Campbell is a force in this sequel that isn't really a sequel but a remake of the original Evil Dead, also directed by Sam Raimi. The first Evil Dead is a straight up horror film, that achieved cult status for its campiness and outrageous camera work. Raimi would up-the-ante with Evil Dead II, and give us more camp, gore and goofiness, and in the process surpass the original for sheer entertainment value. When Ash's hand is possessed by the evil in the woods, what follows is a hilarious fight scene between a man and his own hand that can only be described as hilarious. Raimi goes absolutely nuts with his camera angles and insane zoom-ins that heighten the absurdity of the movie. He would continue throughout his career to utilize the unique style he created and perfected with Evil Dead II. It's a movie that is often overlooked when the great horror films are discussed but deserves recognition for seamlessly blending humor and terror in such a fantastic way.

Matt: I too love Raimi's horror-comedy classic. I wouldn't say this film is straight-up horror (that goes to the first Evil Dead); it's pure camp. However, the campiness works thanks to Bruce Campbell's energy and love for the character and the world he inhabits. What I loved most about the Evil Dead films is how Raimi took some of the most cliche stereotype aspects of a horror film and changes them up. For instance, rather than have the protagonists stupidly recite an ancient chant anyone knows will release the dead, Raimi has the protagonists innocently just press play on a recording of other stupid people reciting the words. Jay enjoys this one much more than I do, but it still rightfully deserves its place on this list.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Matt and Jay's Ultimate List - The 50 Best Films of the 1980s - Part 2

Matt and Jay here.

Now we continue our list of the best 50 movies of the 1980's with 10 more great films to debate. Again, we developed the list creating our own personal lists and then combining through a process that included eliminating some pictures on each others' lists we disagreed with and also using vetoes to save some the other tried to knocked off. It's complicated, we know, but it provides a great opportunity to compare our tastes and debate and disagree about certain movies that made it on. For those who may have missed the first installment, here are numbers 50-41.

Without further ado, here we go with numbers 40-31 . . . .

40. Field of Dreams (1989)
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan, and Burt Lancaster

Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: "We just don't recognize life's most significant moments while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day."

Jay: Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) thinks he's building a baseball field in his cornfield for the ghost of legendary baseball player, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta). Jackson was part of the infamous "Black Sox" who threw the World Series back in 1919, and even though it appears he played just as hard as he would of during any game, Joe was banned from Major League Baseball along with his teammates, for life. What follows after Ray builds his baseball field and imperils his family's financial future is a touching story of regret and redemption between a father and a son that will leave you in tears by the final scene. Regret is the major theme here. A father's regret and a son's regret, and the supernatural forces that allow them to reconnect through baseball, a passion that connected them in life. As someone who had a complicated relationship with my own father, I identify with Ray's story. Field of Dreams remains one of the great dramas of the 80's and essential viewing for anyone, regardless if you like baseball. It is timeless and very moving.

Matt: Field of Dreams is one of those films that snuck up on your emotions. First, you think it's some random film about a guy who hears voices, then it transforms into something deeper, more poignant. I have to admit I didn't think about this film when it was being released, but when I watched it on video, it won me over! The performances are solid and while this film is essential if you haven't seen it, for me, it is lacking in the rewatchability department.

39. Parenthood (1989)
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, Tom Hulce, Martha Plimpton, and Keanu Reeves

Frank: "You know, when you were two years old, we thought you had polio. Did you know that?"
Gil: "Yeah, Mom said... something about it a couple of years ago."
Frank: "Yeah, well, for a week we didn't know. I hated you for that. I did. I hated having to care, having to go through the pain, the hurt, the suffering. It's not for me."


Jay: This is actually one of Ron Howard's better movies as I am not the biggest fan of his work behind the camera. This movie pretty much gets the joys and struggles of parenting completely right in a way most never do. I like especially how it explores what is to be a parent of children at any age. There is Diane Wiest's single mother struggling with teenage kids she can't seem to find common ground with. Then there is the overbearing Rick Moranis whose demands that he puts on his daughter and wife threaten to destroy his family. Also, there's Jason Robards whose adult son, played by Tom Hulce, is in trouble over money and need's his dad's help to get him out of it. My favorite scene, though, by far, is the one where Steve Martin's sensitive son, Kevin, is made to play 2nd base by his father who also happens to be the coach of the team. When Kevin misses a routine pop-up he cries out in anger at his dad, "Why did you make me play 2nd base?" Martin then imagines a future where his son becomes a sharp-shooting mass murderer because of the psychological damage missing that ball did to him. Hysterical and true all at once.

Matt: I have a deep love for this film in how funny it is but also in how honest it is. The film centers on the Buckman family and their dysfunctions, which make them relatable and real. The film is funny to those who aren't parents, but it's downright hilarious and heartwrenching all at once for those who are. Mary Steenburgen's Karen Buckman is one of my top 10 best onscreen moms, and, to me, Steve Martin gives the best performance of his career here. Issues covered here range from absentee fathers, deadbeat dads, single motherhood, young love, a loveless marriage, and the constant paranoia of screwing up our children -- but it's all set to comedy. I do have to admit, the ending -- with its masterful score by Randy Newman -- gets me a little misty-eyed from time to time.


38. The Right Stuff (1983)
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Starring Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, and Barbara Hershey

Chuck Yeager: "Monkeys? Think a monkey knows he's sitting on top of a rocket that might explode? These astronaut boys, they know that, see? Well, I'll tell you somethin' - it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially one that's on TV."

Jay: This is a realistic and accurate portrayal of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, based on Tom Wolfe's book of the same name. It's a compelling piece of history but what I like the most is how The Right Stuff does a great job selling the comraderies of these different men, and how being under the bright lights of fame effected both them and their wives. The recently deceased Sam Shepard also shines here as famous test pilot, Chuck Yeager, who was the first human to officially break the sound barrier in his experimental plane, the Bell X-1. This film takes us through the initial years of the fledgling U.S. Space Program and through each man's turn to make it into space. The characters seem real and everything about the movie feels authentic.

Matt: For those who loved HBO's From the Earth to the Moon, this would be a solid preface to that mini-series as Stuff tells the beginnings of the U.S. space program. The Mercury Seven, also known as the "Original Seven," were the first astronauts -- former test pilots with many restrictions in height, weight, education and experience -- who had no full clue at the time as to the task that was set before them. I remember first watching this film and thinking: this is what true heroes look like. They knowingly sacrificed their lives so that we could explore space and further our knowledge of what lies beyond our little world. Featuring performances by a who's-who cast of great actors, The Right Stuff is a wonderful ensemble piece and rightfully earns its spot on this list.

37. The Untouchables (1987)
Directed by Brian De Palma
Starring Kevin CostnerSean ConneryRobert De NiroAndy Garcia, and Charles Martin Smith

Malone: "You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?"

Jay: It's a shame Brian De Palma doesn't get more recognition for his work. Sure, there is a case to be made that he is "a filmmaker's filmmaker," as many other prolific directors point to his unique way of shooting and editing his pictures as an inspiration. I know a lot of people love Scarface, probably his most popular 80's film, but my favorite of this decade is Blow Out, starring John Travolta and Nancy Allen. It nearly made my list. Matt has put forward The Untouchables here, and I think it is a solid choice even despite my reservations about the extreme liberties it takes with historical accuracy. As pure entertainment, though, it is excellent. Ennio Morricone's score is fantastic, but his score's are always brilliant; that's why he is one of the best film composers, ever. The scene in the train station towards the end is a masterpiece of pacing, sound design, and editing. It should be shown in every film class as how to create heightened tension through key technical decisions like the echoing sound of the baby carriage on the steps. Who cares if over half of what happens in this movie is total bullshit? It's bullshit filmed by a master in his element.

Matt: As Jay said, this film is about 95% inaccurate (i.e., Eliot Ness and Al Capone never met in real life). However, because of it's excellent writing , direction and performances, The Untouchables is one of the best mob movies made! Morricone's score is brilliant, as usual! Don't get me wrong, because of taking too much creative license, I HATED the film adaptation of Public Enemies, but there's just something about Untouchables that works! Jay is right; the train station scene alone makes this film so damn wonderful and De Palma -- a filmmaker who hasn't been heard from much lately -- is one of the masters of his craft! The cast shines but it is Sean Connery's role as Jim Malone that is most memorable ... and the most quotable!

36. The Road Warrior (1981)
Directed by George Miller
Starring Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells, and Kjell Nilsson

Toady: "Greetings from The Humungus! The Lord Humungus! The Warrior of the Wasteland! The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!!"

Jay: If you want to read in detail why I think The Road Warrior is a brilliant movie, read this column I wrote about it prior to the release of Mad Max: Fury Road over 2 years ago. George Miller single-handedly invented the post-apocalyptic sub-genre with the Mad Max films and he nearly perfected it with this sequel that was supposed to be called Mad Max 2 but because the studio feared no one in America had seen the first Mad Max they gave it an entirely different name. The Road Warrior moves along at a breakneck pace and does not really overly concern itself with an elaborate plot. Our hero, Max, simply has to get this group of besieged people from Point A to Point B, driving a massive gas tanker while fending a angry horde of malicious savages. The stunts are insane, the camera work revolutionary for its time, and the action is unparalleled. It also happens to have one of the best performances by a dog in any movie. *Sniff* If there was an award to give out for "Most Badass Movie of the 1980's," The Road Warrior would run away with it, no contest.

Matt: The franchise that gave Mel Gibson his start is much more beloved by Jay than me, but it's placement here is deserving. The post-apocalyptic film doesn't tread lightly on the brutality and violence of the story Miller is telling. This is a big wham-bam road action flick with a character who started his journey looking for revenge and is soon turned into someone who resembles Clint Eastwood's famous Man With No Name. All of you Fast & Furious fans take note, this is the film series for you!

35. Batman (1989)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, and Robert Wuhl

The Joker: "Now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives. But, as my plastic surgeon always said: if you gotta go, go with a smile!"

Jay: In 1989, I don't think I had ever been as excited to see a movie as I was to see Tim Burton's Batman. The posters were everywhere -- with the yellow oval that has the black bat insignia locked inside. The movie did not disappoint. The two things I remember the most were the elaborate set pieces, like a gothic nightmare come to life, and the over-the-top performance of Jack Nicholson as The Joker. For me, Nicholson owns this movie, which isn't fair to Michael Keaton who is still the best Batman in my mind. It's just Nicholson's movie to blaze through like a tornado. The movie has flaws, though. Kim Basinger is not a compelling Vicki Vale and the fact they decided to make Jack Napier, the man who would become The Joker, the murderer of Bruce Wayne's parents is a step too far for me away from the core origin story of Batman. It's because of this that the movie loses me towards the end. That being said, Batman legitimized comic book movies in a way that hadn't been seen in a while. 

Matt: I know 1978's Superman was the first mainstream superhero movie, but it is this Tim Burton film about the Dark Knight that was the official beginning of superhero movies as we know them today! I can vividly remember seeing this film at least 10 times in the movie theater when it was first released, and I made sure it was the first new VHS tapes I owned. Burton tapped into what would become the "Dark Age" of comics, utilizing dark sets, costumes and lighting to bring about one of the most well-known characters ever created! Most people may argue that this film is dated and doesn't hold up very well but I would argue that. The only part of this film I don't care for is making the Joker the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents. Otherwise, writer Sam Hamm wonderfully captures the dark world of Gotham City and all of Joker's menacing qualities. And even though Nicholson gets top billing here, Keaton's performance of Bruce Wayne/Batman is significantly great -- not bad for an actor who, at the time, was mostly known for comedy roles and who people jeered when they discovered he would play the Caped Crusader! To this day, the dialogue is so damn quotable, the writing and feel  of the film actually reflect Batman comics of that time, and the Batmobile here is my favorite so far!

34. The Thing (1982)
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, and Richard Masur

Macready: "I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won."

Jay: Here is the 2nd time John Carpenter appears on our list. The Thing is his best film (sorry Halloween fans, it is). The placement of it here at #34 is a travesty, but Matt didn't pick it at all for his list, which boggles my mind because I know he has affection for this Antarctic Alien like I do. It should be much higher, but here we are. The make-up and creature effects in The Thing are astounding. Rick Baker's work is legendary but the reason this movie reaches for the very top of the horror charts is the layers of paranoia it manages to lay out as each of these men, stranded at this frozen outpost, turn on each other out of fear that one of them could possibly be the alien, imitating everything about them. As they all fall prey to either the creature or each other, it becomes clear that in order to stop the Thing, all of the few remaining men might have to die to stop it from leaving the frozen continent. Kurt Russell again proves he is one of the best leading men to turn to. His Macready is a desperate man, who seems to understand earlier than everyone else that they are fighting a losing battle against an enemy that none of them can see. The Thing teaches us a very valuable lesson too - just because that dog is friendly and cute doesn't mean you don't burn it anyway when you see a couple of Norwegian's shooting at it from a helicopter. 

Matt: I do love The Thing, based on the 1951 film The Thing From Another World (which was loosely based on the 1938 John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There?)! But the problem with this list is that there are SO many notable films, it's difficult to assign films a number. And when it comes to the other films on this list, The Thing is appropriately ranked; however, I understand Jay's disappointment. That being said, you won't find a much gorier '80s movie than this Carpenter classic! Jay's right -- Halloween may be somewhat iconic, but The Thing is Carpenter's best film! The story works on a person's paranoia of "how much do I really know anybody?", putting the ragtag crew of an American research station in Antarctica against a creature that can assimilate the appearance of any living thing. According to Carpenter, this film is the first in his Apocalypse Trilogy (the other two films being Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness). The performances are all well and good but it truly is Rick Baker's creature special effects and makeup that makes this film so memorable ... especially in a day and age before CGI. If you're looking for the perfect film to give you the heebie-jeebies, look no further!

33. The Natural (1984)
Directed by Barry Levinson
Starring Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Richard Farnsworth, Robert Prosky, and Barbara Hershey

Roy Hobbs: "I guess some mistakes you never stop paying for."

Jay: When Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) shows up out of nowhere to try out for a Major League Baseball team, he seems to have superhuman talent despite being middle-aged and well past what would normally be considered his prime. As everyone is trying to find out more about the mysterious Hobbs and his backstory, we learn more about his tragic past and the career that was stolen from him by a mysterious woman who shot him years ago. The Natural is one of the best sports films of the 80's. It owes a lot to the beautiful cinematography by Caleb Deschanel, and Randy Newman's uplifting score. When Hobbs swings that bat and the ball soars into the lights with Newman's score playing, you can't help but be moved.

Matt: This film, based on the 1952 Bernard Malamud novel of the same name, has got to be one of my favorite films of all time! The story is a mythological tale of a man, Roy Hobbs (Redford) who mirrors the character Sir Perceval (from Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table), and how he has a unique gift but it is soon taken away from him due to pride, self-doubt and the enticement of corruption. This is a classic morality tale set to baseball, with director Barry Levinson utilizing Newman's score and Deschanel's use of lighting and shade to craft a piece of art. Even Hobbs' famous bat, "Wonderboy," is a representation of King Arthur's sword "Excalibur!" I particularly love the scene when Hobbs is given a talking-to by the owner of the ball team he plays for, a man only referred to as The Judge (Robert Prosky), who enjoys the darkness and working from the shadows. This film also holds proof of my theory that there are three archetypes of women in Malamud's stories -- and in most films -- as represented by the film's three main women: Iris Lemon (Glenn Close), Memo Paris (Kim Basinger), and Harriet Byrd (Barbara Hershey). To see my thoughts and comparisons to some of these references -- and my overall gushing of the film -- check out my article by clicking here!

32. Raging Bull (1980)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, and Frank Vincent

Jake La Motta: "Don't give me that look, Joey. I gotta accept your answer, you know? But if I hear anything, I swear on our mother I'm gonna kill somebody. I'm gonna kill somebody, Joey."
Joey La Motta: [angrily] "Well go ahead and kill if you're a tough guy, go kill people! Kill Vicki, kill Salvy, kill Tommy Como, kill me while you're at it, what do I care? You kill yourself, the way you eat! Ya fat fuck, look at you!"



Jay: Robert De Niro lobbied Martin Scorsese heavily to make a movie based on the biography of boxing champion, Jake La Motta. The result ended up being one of Scorsese's best films and a 2nd acting Oscar for De Niro (Best Supporting Actor, The Godfather Part II). Raging Bull may not be the movie for you if you need to have a protagonist that you can connect with or even look up to. La Motta is a vile man. He abuses and mistreats everyone who either loves him or is close to him, especially his wife, Vicki (Cathy Moriarty), and his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci). He is an animal both in the ring and out of it. He is also a victim of his own jealousies and envy as, by the end of the film, when he has lost everything and everyone, he is forced to confront the monster he has been. De Niro's performance is the stuff of legends and he is remarkable. The scene where he is jailed for soliciting a minor and he erupts in a torrent of self-pity and self-destruction by punching the concrete wall of his cell repeatedly is brilliant. In this moment, La Motta has truly hit bottom and is only with himself and who he has become. Scoreses's choice to shoot the film in black & white is smart as it lends a bleakness and starkness to La Motta's world that contributes to overall darkness and dirtiness of the mind of the man himself. In the end, you never really feel sorry for this man, but you do see his humanity and it is a testament to the actor and the director that they were able to be true to his nature and his fractured soul.

Matt: Another collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro, and one of the most brutal. What is most memorable about Raging Bull is not so much the physical violence (although that does make a mark), but the verbal abuse coming from protagonist Jake La Motta (De Niro). Apparently, after watching the film, La Motta turned to his wife, Vicki, and asked her if he was that bad of a man as captured in De Niro's performance, to which Vicki answered, "You were worse." The film is not for the faint of heart, but it is a film that cannot be missed.


31. Brazil (1985)
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Jonathan PryceKim Greist, Robert De NiroKatherine HelmondIan Holm, Bob Hoskins, and Michael Palin

Arresting Officer: "This is your receipt for your husband . . . and this is my receipt for your receipt."

Jay: My love for Terry Gilliam's Brazil knows no bounds. Full disclosure: I had it at #3 on my personal list, and honestly it is interchangeable with what I picked for #1 and #2. Brazil speaks to the daydreamer in me, the kid and man who often finds himself lost in thought about some place he'd rather be. Like Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), I find this fixation on imagined places, people and times is both a blessing and a curse. In Gilliam's dystopian world of class warfare, bureaucratic extremities and total law and order, there is no room for dreamers or heroes for that matter. Like Time Bandits, Brazil is a visually stunning film. It is also darkly funny and very much presented as a black comedy. It uses satire to confront us with the ridiculousness of the realities we accept as a society. In the end, Sam's unfortunate fate is probably best for him. Forced to live out his days trapped in his own fantasies, one can actually be happy that Sam no longer needs to live in this dark, cruel world. It was never going to be a place he could survive in anyway. The story of how Brazil made it the screen is equally fascinating. Unhappy with Gilliam's dark and cynical ending, the studio stepped in and changed it to a more happy one with Lowry and Jill (Kim Greist) escaping the forces aligned against them and spending the rest of their days in an idealistic cabin in a field somewhere. The director was incensed and went public with his rejection of the studio's interference and demanded his original ending be restored. The studio refused and Gilliam continued to get in front of cameras to rail against the studio head, Sydney Sheinberg. In the end, thanks to Gilliam's persistence and help from the film critic community (the Los Angeles Times named it "Best Picture of the Year" after Gilliam screened his cut, despite the studio's orders, for a USC film class 2 weeks before its official release), the higher ups relented making this one of the only times a filmmaker has won a battle like this with a studio over the cut of a film.

Matt: Probably one of the most unique films of the '80s, what I remember best about Gilliam's Brazil was the visuals, from the make-up effects to the special effects. Gilliam's style and art direction are unique and I like Gilliam's original ending compared to that of the studio's saccharine version. I don't have much else to say because I think Jay already said most of it, but it is my favorite original film by him (also worth checking out is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen).