The Screening Meemies

Judd Nelson? Howard the Duck? The Eighties weren't exactly the best years of our lives

(In alphabetical order)
Atlantic City (1981). Louis Malle's poignant comedy of dreams and second chances, featuring an astonishing late-career performance by Burt Lancaster.

Blue Velvet (1986). Yes, David Lynch's investigation into the sexual secrets of small-town America was weird. And brilliant. And disturbing.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). Woody Allen at peak maturity, as wise as any guru but a whole lot funnier.

Hope and Glory (1987). John Boorman's memoir of growing up in London during World War II had heart, humor and scenes of the purest cinema.

The Killing Fields (1984). Roland Joffe's agonizing re-creation of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge tracked a national tragedy through an intimate story.

Local Hero (1983). Maybe there were funnier comedies, but none outcharmed Bill Forsyth's fable of American greed vs. the Scottish coastline.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Sergio Leone's American- gangster epic is--in its unbutchered 227-minute form--a haunting experience, both violent and beautiful.

Shoah (1986). Claude Lanzman's extraordinary, 9 1/2-hour documentary of the Holocaust is built not from archival footage but unflinching interviews from both sides of the horror.

Wings of Desire (1988). Fallen angels and broken hearts were the subjects of West Berliner Wim Wenders' masterfully told and photographed romantic fairy tale.

Wise Blood (1980). John Huston's magnificently acted adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel, a Southern Gothic tale of obsession and salvation.

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