BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

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The Modernist

Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby The Modernist » 03 Nov 2012, 09:57

To say Britain is not a visual culture is a gross simplification. Even if we restrict ourselves to the twentieth century you have the revolution in sculture headed by Moore, Epstein, Gill etc. The St Ives Scene of abstraction which became one of the crucibles of the world art scene, the pop art of Hamilton and Paulozzi. I'd suggest you investigate these a bit more thoroughly before making such sweeping dismissive statements about British Art. These weren't parochial movements, but ones which had a lasting international impact.

On Withnail, I think the direction serves the material beautifully. The camera gets close to the performers giving the film a suitably claustrophic quality which it barely loses - other than some wide angled shots when they're in the country to show another side of bleakness and isolation, the other side of the coin to the city scenes. The directorial style has to be restrained because the performances are so deliberately overwrought. Had the camerawork tried to emulate the frantic performances with lots of zooms, whip pans, rapid cuts etc. you would have ended up with the kind of fevered mess Gilliam made of "Fear and Loathing..".
I don't view cinema through some fixed aesthetic ideology, I can embrace different styles and choices based on the material itself and the director's own vision. So absolutely I can embrace "lavish visual cinema", hence the inclusion of films like Diva in my list, but that doesn't mean to say I want every film directed in such a way.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby meetthesonics » 03 Nov 2012, 10:07

My list, everything given five points. Not listed in order so much as just listed. Looking at it fresh, sent it in June I think and not looked at is since, I'd probably stick with it, more or less.

Good list overall, the main list that is, lots of films I've not seen in years and several I've never seen, now added to Netflix.
The love of anything Star Wars flies above my head, and maybe I'm the only one who never saw the big deal with Blue Velvet, think it rather shit actually, but whatever

Anyway, here's how I voted.


1. Right Stuff
2. Diner
3. Ordinary People
4. Local Hero
5. My Favorite Year
6. Valley Girl
7. Arthur
8. American Werewolf in London
9. My Bodyguard
10 Racing With the Moon
11. Repo Man
12. Amadeus
13. King of Comedy
14. World According to Garp
15. Blues Brothers
16 Trading Places
17. Paris, Texas
18. Purple Rain
19. Flamingo Kid
20. Matewan
21. Shag
22. Strange Brew
23. Das Boot
24. The Verdict
25. Vacation

Points distributed equally.
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The Modernist

Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby The Modernist » 03 Nov 2012, 10:12

I was surprised Local Hero didn't make it. Did people just forget about it?

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby the masked man » 03 Nov 2012, 10:18

It's a very minor film, much like most 80s BCB favourites. I actually preferred Comfort and Joy, which was more successful in mining a seam of poignancy behind Forsyth's trademark whimsy. It also has subtle but accomplished cinematography from Chris Menges - as a result, the wordless scenes where Bill Paterson cruises around Glasgow in his BMW go beyond standard realism into more uncertain, dreamlike territory.

The Modernist

Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby The Modernist » 03 Nov 2012, 10:54

For me Local Hero is the closest we've come to a modern ( if I can call the 80's modern!)) Capra film. It is sentimental and heart-warming in all the right ways. Hollywood would have poured too much syrup on it.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby the masked man » 03 Nov 2012, 11:00

I think it overdid the sentimentality; it strained too hard to be 'heartwarming' of whimsical, and I'm always suspicious of that (I'm also not a fan of Capra). That said, I thought the film's final shot was very haunting.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby PENK » 03 Nov 2012, 12:02

Goat Boy wrote:If I voted The Vanishing would have made it :oops:


If I'd voted then Blade Runner would have been number one. That and Withnail are the only ones from the top five I really like.

Well, I like Tap, but this being a music board it places disproportionately highly. It's quite good.

Blue Velvet I don't like: found it rather directionless and insignificant. Brazil I've never made it to the end of, and I've tried about five times. I just found it very very boring.
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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby algroth » 03 Nov 2012, 12:25

the masked man wrote:We've had this argument before regarding the visual sense (or lack of it) in British film. The fact is, we're just not a visual culture - we can do literature and music, but we generally distrust flair in our cinema. (Also there are very few great British artists - after Turner and Hockney, you'd struggle to name any significant British painters.)


Well, not a "painter" per se, but I'd rank William Blake high on my list of favorites too. Same for Waterhouse.

Those filmmakers who dare to dream (Powell, Roeg, Greenaway...) have all faced huge barriers in their careers because of their bad luck in being born in a puritan country. The best modern British director, Lynne Ramsey, set her last film in the USA - which may be a good move for her. The British either go for the middlebrow blandness of the Richard Curtis school or the social realist drabness of the Loach / Leigh school.

As for Withnail, I did give it a vote as it's genuinely funny and insightful. But the cinematography is incredibly amateurish - it looks like a student film. Surely a little more visual brio could have turned a good film into a great film? I'm not suggesting that the stylisation that, say, Sacha Vierny or Christopher Doyle might have added is entirely appropriate, but sharper images would have definitely helped.

I'd turn Moddie's question on its head - what is wrong with lavish visuals?


I'd like to point out that I'm not sure where these comments regarding the lack of visual style in British cinema are coming from. For once, the Archers, Roeg and Greenaway are all stellar on this front, and along with Gilliam, Russell, Jarman, Watkins et al. they've given us some of the most aesthetically vivid scenes in the world of film. On the other hand, to say people like Leigh or films like Withnail & I have no visual style is odd to me, because for me the art in their locations, the means they construct the filth and decadence into the spaces the characters inhabit and are affected by, all show there is a strong concern for the films' visual style and for what the aesthetics bring to the matter. The lens choices also have a great effect here. Withnail would never be the claustrophobic, pessimistic piece it is if it were not for its particular palette and the clutter and filth that close in on its characters. Even if the centre of the film may be its actors, the visuals are every bit as commendable as the usual Gilliam film to me.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby the masked man » 03 Nov 2012, 13:11

Well, the figures you mention are all outliers (and Gilliam is actually American). I've seen a lot of British cinema; when I first became interested in film back in the 80s, 'kitchen sink dramas' were always showing on TV. These were extremely drab and clichéd affairs, which could not create an authentic cinematic style out of the genre's literary and theatrical traditions. When I compared these sorry, one-dimensional films to wonderful contemporary films from France, Italy, Sweden, Czechoslovakia or Poland, which displayed imagination and flair, I could see why Truffaut once complained that 'cinema and the British are antithetical concepts'. Likewise, the 80s saw a glut of modest television-funded efforts (often backed by Channel 4) which put visual aesthetics firmly at the back of the queue.

But as you say with your examples, it's not the whole story. Truffaut wasn't entirely correct, as there are a handful of British directors who have fought to create a more vibrant strain of British cinema. But these figures have had to fight a lonely struggle to get their art on screen. Roeg and Russell both struggled to raise funds after their heyday, while Greenaway had to turn to the Netherlands to fund his singular visions. Ramsey doesn't work nearly as much as she should; a more supportive film culture would have cherished and nurtured her obvious talent. Jarman meanwhile suffered because he could never raise sufficient funds, and so his films are frustratingly low-budget; he once joked that he liked directing pop videos because it was the only time he got to work with state-of-the-art equipment. It's uphill all the way for these directors, and I salute them for that.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby Copehead » 03 Nov 2012, 14:42

TheModernist wrote:To say Britain is not a visual culture is a gross simplification. Even if we restrict ourselves to the twentieth century you have the revolution in sculture headed by Moore, Epstein, Gill etc. The St Ives Scene of abstraction which became one of the crucibles of the world art scene, the pop art of Hamilton and Paulozzi. I'd suggest you investigate these a bit more thoroughly before making such sweeping dismissive statements about British Art. These weren't parochial movements, but ones which had a lasting international impact.

On Withnail, I think the direction serves the material beautifully. The camera gets close to the performers giving the film a suitably claustrophic quality which it barely loses - other than some wide angled shots when they're in the country to show another side of bleakness and isolation, the other side of the coin to the city scenes. The directorial style has to be restrained because the performances are so deliberately overwrought. Had the camerawork tried to emulate the frantic performances with lots of zooms, whip pans, rapid cuts etc. you would have ended up with the kind of fevered mess Gilliam made of "Fear and Loathing..".
I don't view cinema through some fixed aesthetic ideology, I can embrace different styles and choices based on the material itself and the director's own vision. So absolutely I can embrace "lavish visual cinema", hence the inclusion of films like Diva in my list, but that doesn't mean to say I want every film directed in such a way.


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The Modernist

Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby The Modernist » 03 Nov 2012, 15:11

Andrew the problems you identify are largely institutional ones to do with lack of private investment or state funding towards cinema. That may well indicate a lack of interest historically among the artistic establishment in this country, however I think you are once again guilty of huge generalisations, and there are too many examples which counter your statement that Britain is not a "visual culture".
The story of British cinema is a complex one and one often of dashed dreams, but I wouldn't say its struggles are due to a lack of creative talent.

The Modernist

Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby The Modernist » 03 Nov 2012, 15:16

the masked man wrote: Likewise, the 80s saw a glut of modest television-funded efforts (often backed by Channel 4) which put visual aesthetics firmly at the back of the queue.
t.


Whilst it is true that some of the films were in a social realist tradition, the films Neil Jordan and Stephen Frears made showed a distinctive visual eye.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby the masked man » 03 Nov 2012, 15:19

I would never describe Frears as visually distinctive (he's a competent hack at best) and Jordan is Irish, although it's true that The Company of Wolves was a welcome change from British cinema's usual lack of ambition.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby Goat Boy » 03 Nov 2012, 15:34

TheModernist wrote:Andrew the problems you identify are largely institutional ones to do with lack of private investment or state funding towards cinema. That may well indicate a lack of interest historically among the artistic establishment in this country, however I think you are once again guilty of huge generalisations, and there are too many examples which counter your statement that Britain is not a "visual culture".
The story of British cinema is a complex one and one often of dashed dreams, but I wouldn't say its struggles are due to a lack of creative talent.


It's just another one of Masked Mans 'Britain is shit' moments.
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The Modernist

Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby The Modernist » 03 Nov 2012, 16:19

the masked man wrote:I would never describe Frears as visually distinctive (he's a competent hack at best) and Jordan is Irish, although it's true that The Company of Wolves was a welcome change from British cinema's usual lack of ambition.


He made films for Channel 4, which was the company you were talking of.

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby meetthesonics » 03 Nov 2012, 19:03

Two on my list I don't know if anyone else voted for or remembers:

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Give them a go if you haven't. Even if you don't, like me, usually like Cage and Penn, good stuff. Not sure if Matewan is still available though.
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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby algroth » 03 Nov 2012, 19:12

the masked man wrote:Well, the figures you mention are all outliers (and Gilliam is actually American).


Gilliam is an American-born Brit, though, and developed his film career mostly in the British industry. To say he's an American filmmaker is a bit like saying Gaspar Noé is an Argentinian one.

I've seen a lot of British cinema; when I first became interested in film back in the 80s, 'kitchen sink dramas' were always showing on TV. These were extremely drab and clichéd affairs, which could not create an authentic cinematic style out of the genre's literary and theatrical traditions. When I compared these sorry, one-dimensional films to wonderful contemporary films from France, Italy, Sweden, Czechoslovakia or Poland, which displayed imagination and flair, I could see why Truffaut once complained that 'cinema and the British are antithetical concepts'. Likewise, the 80s saw a glut of modest television-funded efforts (often backed by Channel 4) which put visual aesthetics firmly at the back of the queue.

But as you say with your examples, it's not the whole story. Truffaut wasn't entirely correct, as there are a handful of British directors who have fought to create a more vibrant strain of British cinema. But these figures have had to fight a lonely struggle to get their art on screen. Roeg and Russell both struggled to raise funds after their heyday, while Greenaway had to turn to the Netherlands to fund his singular visions. Ramsey doesn't work nearly as much as she should; a more supportive film culture would have cherished and nurtured her obvious talent. Jarman meanwhile suffered because he could never raise sufficient funds, and so his films are frustratingly low-budget; he once joked that he liked directing pop videos because it was the only time he got to work with state-of-the-art equipment. It's uphill all the way for these directors, and I salute them for that.


Ramsay had a massive gap in her career due to having been trying to get The Lovely Bones off the ground, though, which eventually was made by Peter Jackson instead. I think all artists like these would have trouble funding their films, only because of their niche appeal and because that's how the industry works, even for fairly populist works. Unless you're Christopher Nolan, getting a challenging film, in both artistic and production terms, off the ground is going to take a lot of fighting and grinding to achieve. Even big names like Hitchcock, Kubrick and Tarkovsky, even when they had made a name for themselves, had to push really hard to get any financial backing. I'm sure the industries of Poland, Czechoslovakia and France were the same way. If anything, Jarman and Greenaway were lucky they could do a film every year or two! :)

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby algroth » 05 Nov 2012, 15:09

No problem!

I'm already looking forward to the 70s poll. :D

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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby Goat Boy » 05 Nov 2012, 16:51

Aye, cheers mate. Awesome work.
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Re: BCB's Top Films of the '80s poll (FULL RESULTS).

Postby Matt Wilson » 05 Nov 2012, 17:17

algroth wrote:No problem!

I'm already looking forward to the 70s poll. :D


Which will contain films that are at least three times better than the ones in this poll.