The Year in Film

The movies of '98 posed the question: Haven't we seen this somewhere before?


Ten Great Ones to Watch For (or Hope For) Next Year: Hou Hsiao-hsien's Flowers of Shanghai; Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du cinema; Ingmar Bergman's In the Presence of a Clown; Samirah Makhmalbaf's The Apple; Lodge Kerrigan's Claire Dolan; Gaspar Noe's I Stand Alone; Shohei Imamura's Dr. Akagi; Abel Ferrara's The Blackout; Vin Diesel's Strays; and, needless to say, Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.


Best As-Yet-Unreleased Movie of the Year: Angel on My Shoulder. Exploring the limits of documentary as therapy and dying as a kind of performance art, filmmaker Donna Deitch (Desert Hearts) trains a video camera on her best friend, the actress Gwen Welles (Nashville), as she battles a terminal case of anal cancer. (The movie played but once at U Film's LGBT festival in October.) A self-diagnosed obsessive-compulsive even when in good health, Welles constantly philosophizes her condition ("We're all dying, every one of us") and is eventually faced each waking day with the decision of whether to let herself bleed to death. One of the things that seems to keep her going is the movie: There's always another (near-)death scene to play. Deitch's devotion to the work is equally remarkable as, watching her friend's struggle through the lens, she gives Welles free reign to dictate the terms of her demise.


RIP: Akira Kurosawa, Frank Sinatra, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Alan J. Pakula, J.T. Walsh, Bruce Williamson, Seventh Place Cinema.

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