It’s not just a question of a good or bad year any longer—the decline in the quality of American movies has been precipitous for about two decades now. At least as depressing is the extent to which our screens have become increasingly off-limits for interesting work from abroad. All the feel-good drivel gets here quick enough, but the distribution of more-demanding fare like Angelopoulos’s Eternity and a Day—Palme d’or or not—becomes a cliff-hanger thing. Parisian audiences are currently lining up for Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flowers of Shanghai. But the Momus the Times sent to review it at the New York Film Festival was not partial to its subtleties. And that in itself seems to mean that those flowers may never get delivered here in a proper release. What’s more, unless you’re a frequent flier, it doesn’t look as if you’ll be able to get acquainted with the considerable oeuvre of the great Portuguese director Joao Cesar Monteiro—he’s an unknown quantity here.
In alphabetical order:
The Butcher Boy
Caresses (Ventura Pons)
The Eel (Shohei Imamura)
Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance (Catherine Gund Saalfield)
The Hanging Garden
I Went Down
Mrs. Dalloway (Marleen Gorris)
The reconstructed Touch of Evil
Read other Voice critics’ 1998 favorite film lists.