Summer Viewing: Linklater Follows Up 'Jewels in the Wasteland' with Early 80s Film Recs
By Richard Linklater
[Editor's note: Austin Film Society co-founder and filmmaker Richard Linklater recently curated "Jewels in the Wasteland," a series focusing on films of the early 1980s. Today, as a guest columnist for Slackerwood, he recommends other movies he was unable to include in the series.]
We're looking forward to continuing the "Jewels in the Wasteland" series at some point with films from 1984-1986! Below are various titles that would have fit nicely in this first section of 80s films. Before we get going again, we'll likely have some one-off screenings (hopefully Pixote and Baby It's You) that represent additional titles from the first part of the 80s, so keep an eye out for them.
In the meantime, please feel free to check out the below suggestions:
- Last month's Atlantic City begs you to continue with both Louis Malle's My Dinner with Andre and Bill Forsyth's Local Hero with Burt Lancaster. If you love Local Hero like I think you will, please check out an earlier film of his, Gregory's Girl. I noticed Danny Boyle included a clip from it during his Olympic opening ceremonies.
- A unique double feature from this time would be Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo and Les Blank's Burden of Dreams, the amazing "making of" that I once got the chance to tell Les Blank was "the Citizen Kane of documentaries." By that I meant the subject of his film (Herzog) seemed like a different guy every time I watched the film. And I guess it is one of the best documentaries ever made.
- Other docs from the early 80s you should check out: Chris Marker's incredible Sans Soleil, Penelope Spheeris' seminal punk document The Decline of Western Civilization (pictured above), Errol Morris' Vernon, Florida, the groundbreaking Koyaanisqatsi, and, if you've never seen it, why not hang out a little with the greatest comic of his time in Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip, which seems to have gone down in history as the greatest of the subgenre of filmed one-man shows.
- Branching off from Rumble Fish, feel free to check out not only Coppola's One from the Heart, but also The Outsiders, and if you want to have a mini-Matt Dillon fest, you have permission to jump a year back into the previous decade to see his debut, the incredible Over the Edge, and continue with My Bodyguard and any of the others.
- While many others struggled in the shifting Hollywood of the 80s, of course Woody Allen was immune to all that, cranking out one great film after another: Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy and Zelig are all top Woody Allen, although I noticed this kind of "it's not Annie Hall or Manhattan" thing had crept in and was to hang around for a long time.
- The great Eric Rohmer had a wonderful 80s and The Aviator's Wife, Le Beau Mariage and Pauline at The Beach are all worth checking out.
- While in France, also check out Godard's other early 80s offerings: Prenom: Carmen (pictured above) and Passion, as well as a couple of Truffaut's final films: The Last Metro and, for anyone who somehow thinks of Truffaut as "light" or "sentimental," The Woman Next Door.
- It was a close war film pick between Das Boot and Gallipoli, but we've been proven correct because the Paramount's Summer Schedule includes a showing of Peter Weir's wonderful film on July 10 – don't miss it! And then you can continue with Weir and the young Mel Gibson in The Year of Living Dangerously. While in the Australian mood, check out Breaker Morant and (if you've somehow never seen it) The Road Warrior.
- Lindsay Anderson and Malcolm McDowell completed their seminal "Mick Travis Trilogy" with Britannia Hospital in 1982. If you haven't seen If ('69) and O Lucky Man! ('73) check them out first if you want, but don't miss Britannia Hospital!
- Some indie titles from the early 80s not to miss are John Sayles' The Return of the Secaucus 7, Wayne Wang's Chan Is Missing, Charles Burnett's My Brother's Wedding and Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul. Also, Robert Altman had taken up residence in the American indie world with Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Streamers, both kinda great.
- A special contemplation of cinema awaits in Wim Wenders' The State of Things, which features a wonderful performance by Sam Fuller as the older cinematographer on a stalled-out film production.
- Other international standouts include Oshima's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Renais' Mon Oncle D'Amerique, Tanner's In The White City, Makavejev's Montenegro, Skolomowski's Moonlighting, Kurosawa'a Kagemusha (pictured above), The Return of Martin Guerre, Immamura's Ballad of Narayama (and throw in his 1979 Vengeance is Mine while you're at it -- no one saw it here until the 80s), Fassbinder's Lola and, if you need a binge-watching fix of the German classical kind, Berlin Alexanderplatz.
And in conclusion, here's a nice list of films, mostly American and bigger releases, many you've probably seen, but if not, please round out your early 80s cinema by enjoying:
- American Gigolo
- ...All the Marbles
- Ordinary People
- Bronco Billy
- Altered States
- Bad Timing
- Dressed to Kill
- The Elephant Man
- Body Heat
- Heaven's Gate
- The Chosen
- Fade to Black
- Quest For Fire
- Used Cars
- Modern Romance
- Raggedy Man
- Southern Comfort
- They All Laughed
- True Confessions
- Sophie's Choice
- An Officer and a Gentleman
- Author! Author!
- My Favorite Year
- Shoot the Moon
- Terms of Endearment
- The Right Stuff
- Reuben, Reuben
- Tender Mercies
- Trading Places
Obviously, there's no such thing as a bad decade, or even bad year, of cinema.