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The Best Films of 1990--Four Views

December 23, 1990|KEVIN THOMAS

1--"The Travelling Players" and "Landscape in the Mist." A pair of vintage Theo Angelopoulos films that finally received theatrical release this year. Both are shimmering, mystical journeys involving the severe dislocations of war, betrayal and revolution and its survivors' resulting quest for identity and meaning.

2--"Life and Nothing But." Bertrand Tavernier's highly original and enthralling film, set on a rural battlefield in the immediate aftermath of World War I, poses big questions about life, love and war.

3--"The Godfather Part III." Francis Ford Coppola--and Mario Puzo's--continuing saga of the Corleones is screen mythmaking at its most bravura and powerful: operatic, daring, tragic and even, at times, darkly funny.

4--"Cyrano de Bergerac." This glorious new version of the Edmond Rostand play--lusty, earthy and period-perfect--brings together the right role and the right actor, Gerard Depardieu, who gives the performance of the year under the vibrant direction of Jean-Paul Rappeneau.

5--"Dances With Wolves." Kevin Costner, as star and director, takes us into the doomed world of the Native American as no other film has, and revives the Western in the process.

6--"My Twentieth Century." In this vaultingly ambitious, quirkily original and witty debut feature, Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi attempts a consideration of what the 20th Century has meant for society as a whole and women in particular.

7--"Pictures of the Old World." Czech filmmaker Dusan Hanak's long-banned documentary on a group of sturdy, self-reliant Carpathian peasants is astonishingly eloquent in its depiction of what it is like to be old. Where some filmmakers would find only squalor and hardship, Hanak discovers beauty and dignity.

8--"Time of the Gypsies." Yugoslavian filmmaker Emir Kusturica blends fantasy, humor, tragedy and even documentary-like qualities to create a magic realism in this odyssey of a teen-age Gypsy living in Skoplje's large Gypsy ghetto.

9--"The Nasty Girl." Michael Verhoeven manages to find dark humor in a young woman's attempt to research an essay on how the good burghers of her Bavarian hometown resisted Nazism, only to discover that the truth was somewhat different.

10--"Miller's Crossing." Joel and Ethan Coen's fresh take on the period gangster picture in which a shrewd, contemplative underling (Gabriel Byrne), in the midst of a brewing underworld war, questions whether any man is worthy of his allegiance.

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