FILM / The bad and the beautiful: Laurence Earle canvasses opinion on 1992, the year of The Player, Unforgiven and Beauty and the Beast

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The Independent Culture
GORE VIDAL, writer: 'I have seen a lot of films on video this year but I really can't say that anything marvellous springs to mind, although I did like The Player - anybody who's had anything to do with Hollywood knows how extraordinary and funny and precise it was. My contribution might be a more general observation: that a movie on video cassette always looks better than it is, but is somehow less interesting; whereas in the cinema films often look worse than they are, but are more interesting. You figure it out.'

KEN LOACH, director: 'Another bad year, I'm afraid. The Player was amusing but indulged the people it was apparently satirising - you could imagine people being miffed at being left out, whereas they should have been pleased to escape. One film I did enjoy was Husbands and Wives: perceptive with some very good lines - a pity about the mannered photography.'

JOHN WALKER, editor, 'Halliwell's Film Guide': 'A great year for breathing new life into the living dead: Clint Eastwood revived the western with Unforgiven; Disney revived animation and the musical with Beauty and the Beast; Robert Altman revived satire with The Player; and Martin Scorsese brilliantly remade Cape Fear.'

BERNARD ROSE, director: 'There is no question what my film of the year is: Bram Stoker's Dracula. I think it is a total masterpiece - what Coppola has done is take the techniques of the silent movie and apply them in a Post-Modernist manner to the story. I can't remember seeing such a feast of cinematic brilliance - some of the images will stay with me for the rest of my life.'

JANICE HADLOW, editor, 'The Late Show': 'Bob Roberts was that rare thing, an entertaining film about politics; and Husbands and Wives was simply the best thing Woody Allen has done in years. Also the first 15 minutes of The Player and the beginning of Reservoir Dogs, before it became truly stomach-churning.' TOM DICILLO, director, 'Johnny Suede': 'I was hard pushed to remember anything this year, though Black Robe did make an impression on me. What struck me about it was the purity of its vision. It was as if you suddenly had the opportunity to glimpse ordinary human life of two centuries ago.'

BARRY MCILHENEY, managing editor, 'Empire' and 'Premiere UK': 'No real classics - unlike Silence of the Lambs last year and GoodFellas in 1990. The one I'd most want to sit through again, though, is Barton Fink, the one I'd pay not to is Far and Away.'

TERENCE DAVIES, director: 'Leolo, about a child growing up in Montreal, and Olivier Olivier, about a couple whose child is kidnapped. They both tell their stories in a completely cinematic manner - in the first, the story is told from the child's point of view; in the second, the camera is the omniscient narrator.'

QUENTIN TARANTINO, director, 'Reservoir Dogs': 'Who would have guessed that Alan Rudolph would eventually make a brilliant movie, but Equinox is brilliant, incredibly romantic.'

SHEILA WHITAKER, director, London Film Festival: 'Unforgiven proved that the western can say something important; and The Crying Game showed you can still make a complex and constantly intriguing film in Britain.'

CHARLIE PARSONS, executive producer, 'The Word': 'Strictly Ballroom took the suburban attraction of ballroom dancing and made it glamourous; Wayne's World was just very, very funny.'

PHILIP DODD, editor, 'Sight & Sound': 'Three films: Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho for being as disrespectful of established film grammar as was early Godard; Unforgiven for showing that the western isn't dead and buried; and Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern as a sign of just how powerful the new Chinese cinema is.'

ISMAIL MERCHANT, producer: 'Aside from my film, I enjoyed The Player for its biting humour; Husbands and Wives for showing so honestly how relationships can crumble; and Peter's Friends, another honest look at friendships over time.'

THE BLACK AUDIO FILM COLLECTIVE (who asked to be billed collectively): 'Another bad year, exceptions being Sally Potter's Orlando, for Tilda Swinton's stunning performance; Srinivas Krishna's Masala, which re-casts ancient myths as New World stories; JFK, one of the most incredibly edited films ever; and Raise the Red Lantern, a tour de force of storytelling.'

OSCAR MOORE, editor, 'Screen International': 'My favourite film, Jamon Jamon (which is directed by Juan Jose Bigas Luna - Spain's sexiest film-maker), hasn't come out yet. Otherwise, Jean-Pierre Juenet's Delicatessen was the funniest, blackest fantasy film of the year; and, for sheer unabashed schmaltz and gloss, Strictly Ballroom was the year's outstanding debut.'

MICHAEL WINNER, director: 'Basic Instinct was fairly jolly; Boyz N the Hood was interesting; The Player, of course, for the downside of Hollywood, which I know very well; Single White Female was a very good thriller. I also very much liked The Muppet Christmas Carol - extraordinarily well done, with a moving performance from Michael Caine.'

SHEILA JOHNSTON, critic, the 'Independent': 'This year saw the Hollywood studio system hit rock bottom - the great exceptions were Disney's triumphal Beauty and the Beast and Clint Eastwood's magnificent Unforgiven. The best came from independents, or from outside America: My Own Private Idaho with its witty, original use of film language; the weird, mysterious The Naked Lunch; Raise the Red Lantern; Black Robe; Neil Jordan's audacious The Crying Game; and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf.'

KIM NEWMAN, author, 'Nightmare Movies': 'A good year for the grim and gothic. Eastwood's Unforgiven proved that major studios can still tackle thorny issues; Batman Returns managed a deeply grotesque Gotham City of thoroughly unreasonable people; Michael Tolkin's The Rapture, proof that the writer of The Player is no one-trick pony.'