SCARFACE (Brian De Palma)
It is sometimes said that Brian De Palma needs a strong script in order to anchor his tendencies towards excesses in his visual style and approach. Whether or not you agree with that probably depends on how much you like De Palma in the first place. But it’s hard to deny that with Oliver Stone’s script for SCARFACE and Al Pacino’s broad approach to playing Tony Montana, this film just hit the jackpot. SCARFACE just bristles with energy. Hugely entertaining, it’s the kind of film that you just can’t stop watching. Wicked humor is always simmering just under the surface. Nobody takes themselves too seriously and Pacino adds another character to his gallery of rogues.
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (James L. Brooks)
Every now and then, a film with mass appeal rings the bell with critics, as well. When James Brooks hit all the right notes, he had an uncanny ability to register with just about everybody. For a brief time, with his humor and humanistic approach, evrybody loved James. Casting had a lot to do with it, and here everybody shines. Oscars were given out all over the place.
KING OF COMEDY (Martin Scorsese)
At the time of its release, most people weren’t quite ready for Robert De Niro as the nerdy but aggressive Rupert Bumpkin. De Niro certainly was though, and time has been good to this dark comedy. In fact, today it looks better than ever. Everybody looks like they knew exactly what they were doing, including Jerry Lewis whose casting was a work of sheer genius. Impossible to imagine the film being this good without him. KING OF COMEDY has gone beyond cult status to become simply a classic.
LOCAL HERO (Bill Forsythe)
One of the joys of cinema is the appearance of the occasional one-off. Despite my respect for the auteur theory, I recognize that film is a collaborative art. And sometimes it is simply the the lucky accident of the right mix of artists that can make the art. So it is with LOCAL HERO. Bill Forsythe’s breezy direction perfectly matches the material, and the performances, particularly Burt Lancaster’s, are right in step. A feel-good classic.