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Best Films of 1970
Best Films of 1971
Best Films of 1972
Best Films of 1973
Best Films of 1974



Best Films of 1975
Best Films of 1976
Best Films of 1977
Best Films of 1978
Best Films of 1979



Performance
Mean Streets
Spirit of the Beehive
Edvard Munch
Desert of the Tartars



Minnie and Moskowitz
Martin
That Obscure Object of Desire
Violette
Nosferatu the Vampire

BEST FILMS OF 1971 - List in Progress
by Mike Lorefice


Brian's Song
Buzz Kulik

No one expects great artistic achievements from TV movies, but many used to be designed to add something to the world. As they were less expensive and thus risky, they could be used to deal with important issues and help mold positive human beings. Brian's Song can be melodramatic, sentimental, and manipulative as it tugs at the heartstrings, but it's easy to overlook the flaws in the construction because it's one of the greatest examples of the power of real life friendship. Any film that maturely and honestly shows us how to overcome the barriers that threaten to separate us is worthwhile. In addition, Brian's Song shows us how to make competition into a positive. Rather than falling into the trap of allowing the situation to put them at odds, the duo handle the situation maturely and their friendship is strengthened by pushing each other to be better. Brian Piccolo felt he was a starting quality halfback who was a second stringer because he's trapped behind his new roommate Gale Sayers, one of the greatest running backs ever. When Sayers is injured, Piccolo drives him hard to recover because a friend should be helpful. Of course Piccolo wants to get more playing time, but for no reason other than that he has truly earned it. When Piccolo develops cancer, Sayers returns the favor. The story would be inspirational enough on it's own, but obviously gains an additional layer of relevance because in getting over their initial huge differences they show us how to look past the fact that one is black and the other is white. [2/6/07] ***

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The Clowns
Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini's style is to make his scenes visually engaging and technically intricate, causing some of his serious films such as La Dolce Vita to suffer from his directing choices not only making appealing but seeming to glorify that which his mind clearly seeks to condemn. In his made for TV film The Clowns, his style and his head are on the same page. He finds the circus performers hilarious, and captures their act in ways that add to performances which have no problem standing alone. The fact that the clowns act is silent and tells isolated little stories fits perfectly into Fellini's wandering dream world. Clowns are windows to Fellini's history, and thus his mind, as they lead him to his latest series of reminiscences of characters from his past. After peaking with 8 , Fellini's "minor" films tended to be far more worthwhile than his "major" ones. He began using a parody of the documentary form to take stabs at the subjectivity of films. Though interacting with famous clowns of his youth, the subject of the "documentary" is, like most Fellini works, Federico himself. Staged in good fun with the aim of making Fellini and his "inept" film crew low key clowns, as his perspective is the world could regain the humor it has lost by through people making fools of themselves as the clowns do. Fellini provides little insight into the world of clowning, but the circus acts are far more interesting than the vaudeville dancers he focused on in his even shallower directorial debut Variety Lights. Fellini's playful but slightly melancholy work shows a way in the world has changed; clowns are still around, but they are overshadowed to the point we might not even realize it. Fellini longs for the aging clowns to be replaced by glorious new ones so future generations can have wondrous experiences similar to the ones he recreates, but if nothing else he's done the world the best service he could, preserving for all eternity some of the masters who keep us from becoming too serious. [5/20/07] ***

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Minnie and Moskowitz
John Cassavetes

****

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Tombs of the Blind Dead
Amando de Ossorio

***

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WR: Mysteries of the Organism
Dusan Makavejev

A theoretical film on sexual and political freedom that starts as a documentary on Freud's former psychoanalytical assistant Wilhelm Reich, but quickly develops into a whimsical satire notable for its bold mixture of styles and juxtaposition of ideas. Reich believed that sexual health bred mental health, and thus fought against the imposition of morality (religion and uptight bourgeois) and repressive socio-economic structures. One way Makavejev depicts this idea is linking footage of so called pornography with sexual repression, showing the former to be harmless while the later harmful. Makavejev's point here and in Sweet Movie is sexual freedom breeds political freedom and thus any power wielding group that works to deny one will ultimately deny both. Like Reich he fought against the capitalist worship of consumerism (by making these people look like bloated buffoons) and communism's intolerance of creativity (with his collage style). I'd say it's the theory more than the content that caused him to have such huge problems with the censors. WR was banned in Yugoslavia (resulting in Makavejev leaving the country) and Italy, and after Sweet Movie he couldn't even get work for over half a decade. The similarity of both films is they will find a way to offend you, they are films against rigidity that either force you to flee or work to loosen you up. Fans of Luis Bunuel's L'Age d'or will probably enjoy this film, but whatever you think of the sex and politics subject matter, Makavejev's form is notable for using every means possible. He interweaves fiction and documentary, Serbian and English, 16 and 35-millimeter, archival audio and video. He certainly does not fear his brazen material, with this absurd poker faced black comedy even putting forth the theory that Joseph Stalin was eroticised in Soviet propaganda films to the point of subbing for pornography. [9/3/06] ***1/2

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