Wednesday, April 7, 2010

1986: Hoosiers (David Anspaugh)

1986: Hoosiers (David Anspaugh)
My most uncharacteristic choice in this entire countdown, and probably the least impressive artistically.  But when it comes to sports movies (and sports were pretty much my life for the first eighteen years), this is the one that moves me the most. 

I don't want to psychoanalyze myself here, but when Jimmy Chitwood says, "There's one other thing: I play, coach stays, he goes, I go", it brings me to tears every time.  It's one of the screen's greatest moments of someone standing up for the underdog, the unconventional, the person who has dared to go against the grain.

I've always been physically slight, and as an independent filmmaker, you certainly spend a good deal of time as the underdog.  We're all trying to beat the machine on some level, and this is one of those movies that always restores my faith a bit.  

It's a pretty good-looking movie with a couple of solid performances from Hackman and Hershey.  But more important, it's a movie.  I love the art film; in fact, it's my favorite kind of movie.  But there's also a time and place where I just want to turn off my brain and be moved. When it comes to those kinds of experiences, this one does the trick as well as any.

Other contenders for 1986: Maybe my favorite year in all of cinema, and yet I still have some things to see.  These include:  Juzo Itami's Tampopo, Edward Yang's The Terrorizer, Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa, John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China, Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married, James Ivory's A Room with a View, Hal Ashby's 8 Million Ways to Die, Pedro Almodovar's Law of Desire, Alain Resnais' Melo, and Stephen Frears' Song of Experience.  I really like Oliver Stone's Salvador, Leos Carax's Bad Blood, Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law, Michael Mann's Manhunter, and Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It.  I love Ross McElwee's Sherman's March, Abel Ferrara's Crime Story pilot, Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice, and David Lynch's Blue Velvet.  And my closest runner-up is Eric Rohmer's Le rayon vert.

11/29/10 I watched Francis Ford Coppola's Peggy Sue Got Married.  A strange outing for sure.  But there are a few wonderful performances, including Cage and Barry Miller.  And John Barry's music combines to provide a few depthful, thoughtful moments.  But all in all, Coppola can't bring it all together to achieve maximum resonance.  

4/28/11 I watched Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa.  I've always been a bit lukewarm on Jordan, and this one's no different.  I find his work often a little broad, and at times lacking some formal discipline.  But Hoskins is really strong here, and the milieu often feels fresh and interesting. Just all in all, not more than a decent experience.  

6/26/11 I watched James Ivory's A Room with a View.  Classy and elegant, and quite beautiful to look at.  But the restrained emotions never really bust all the way out, leaving the whole thing feeling a bit hemmed in.  I also at times doubted whether Sands or Bonham-Carter fully had the chops for these roles.  

9/22/17 I watched Howard Deutch's Pretty in Pink.  I actually had never seen this before in its entirety and sure I'm being sentimental, and sure I'm being overly nostalgic, but I think Hughes captured (or formed?) the zeitgeist of that time better than anyone else in American film.  I felt real chemistry whenever Ringwald or McCarthy was on screen and believed the music, the clothes, the colors, the record stores, and pretty much every other great detail of the Hughes world.  

12/19/21 I watched Edward Yang's The Terrorizers.  A Yang film that I did not love, after thinking very highly of Yi Yi and Taipei Story.  I saw A Brighter Summer Day a long time ago and would need to revisit it to know what I think about it.  I love the way The Terrorizers looks, naturalistic but with a painterly esthetic similar to what Hou Hsiao-hsien did in films like Goodbye South, Goodbye.  I also love the way Yang uses sound, the complete absence of non-diegetic music and sound giving prominent treatment like how Kiarostami or Bresson use it.  All in all though, the film lacks the soft humanism of the Yang films I admire most and seems awash in multiple directions and influences and lacking  a clearness of vision.

12/27/21 I watched Andre Techine's Scene of the Crime.  My relationship with Techine's work spans a wide range of emotions.  There are a couple of his films I love and a couple of his films that I hardly feel lukewarm about.  This one has a major reputation, yet I did not care very much about it from a genre standpoint or from the perspective of character.  

12/10/23 I watched Sara Driver's Sleepwalk.  In the look of early eighties NYC, it reminded me most of Jarmusch's Permanent Vacation but I never could fully penetrate it.

6/8/24 I watched Hal Ashby's 8 Million Ways to Die.  A late Ashby with some great performances by Bridges, Garcia and Arquette even if at times it feels unshaped and needlessly meandering.


  1. It's nice to see a Hollywood hit work its way onto the list! The scene you describe reminds me a lot of the Hawke/Williams "oh captain my captain" moment in DEAD POETS SOCIETY, and has a similar effect. In fact, the Weir film could even be called Hoosiers for the Walt Whitman set.

  2. This is a pretty good film with a stirring performance by Dennis Hopper but for 1986 I'll have to go with his other film, BLUE VELVET.

  3. Jeffrey, I liked "Hoosiers" and understand your affinity for it. Hackman and Hershey, as you say deliver nice performances. I also like your mention of the pilot for "Crime Story" by Ferrara, which I watched about ten years ago or so but remember liking very much. Really need to see that again.
    My own choice is one I consider one of Woody Allen's masterpieces "Hannah and Her Sisters."

    #1 Hannah and Her Sisters

    Best of the Rest

    A Room With A View
    The Color of Money
    Something Wild
    Stand by Me
    She's Gotta Have It
    Blue Velvet
    Round Midnight

  4. I am with J.D. here, but I can't blame you Jeffrey for applauding a film that is too often slighted for its commercial underpinnings. It's better than was originally thought, and it's one of the two great HMy Own #1 Film of 1986:

    Blue Velvet (Lynch; USA)


    Jean de Florette (Berri; France)
    Comrades (Dougles; UK)
    Caravaggio (Jarman; UK)
    Therese (Cavalier; France)
    The Sacrifice (Tarkovsky; Russia)
    Sherman's March (McElwee; USA)
    A Room With A View (Ivory; UK)
    Mona Lisa (Jordan; UK)
    Manon des Sources (Berri; France)
    Salvador (Stone; USA)
    She's Gotta Have It (Lee; USA)
    Down By Law (Jarmusch; USA)
    The Assault (Rademakers; Holland)
    Castle in the Sky (Miyazaki; Japan)
    The Green Ray (Rohmer; France)
    Platoon (Stone; USA)

    I would have really preffered to have a tie with BLUE VELVET and JEAN DE FORETTE, but as this is my favorite Lynch film here I figured I'd maintain the dramatic aspect! Ha! The three that follow on my list though, are also masterpieces.

    Like you Jeffrey, I greatly value films that impressed and moved me in my younger years, and I've never abandoned them, because this one or that one thought in an artistic sense they were lacking. I really have loads of examples of this.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. JD, absolutely no complaint from me on that one. I completely love BLUE VELVET, too, and think it's an incredible film.

    Thanks, JD. Always great to have you here!

  7. John, great to hear from you! Yes that Ferrara pilot is pretty special I think.

    I really need to revisit PLATOON at some point. It's been many years since I've seen it. And I like STAND BY ME and ROUND MIDNIGHT, just a little less than the ones I mention.

    Thanks, John. Always great having you here!

  8. Sam, thanks so much for the support on this pick! Always great having your perspective.

    I still need to see COMRADES, CARAVAGGIO, and THERESE. And JEAN DE FLORETTE I need to revisit. I probably haven't seen it in fifteen years.

    Thanks, Sam. Always awesome having you here!

  9. I have to go with yet another Woody Allen film, as I think HANNAH AND HER SISTERS comes very close to being his best film.

    I also really like both STAND BY ME and PLATOON, but all in all this isn't a great year for me. BLUE VELVET I am actually kind of indifferent toward.

  10. Dave, I love HANNAH, too, and think it an excellent pick! It's also up there for me as one of my favorite Allen films.

    Thanks, Dave. Excited as you enter the home stretch in the noir countdown!