25. 'Brazil' (1985)
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Released just after 1984 — and, clearly, after "1984" — Terry Gilliam's
masterpiece takes place in a grim world where war is eternal, the secret police
are no secret and our fascist overlords can't even make the trains run on time.
Released as a stinging slap against the Reagan-Thatcher years, what's impressive
and depressing is how much of the comedy now looks like prophecy. When Buttle
(not Tuttle) is hooded on arrest in a warrantless raid — and then his survivors
are charged for the cost of his own imprisonment and interrogation — it's scary
how much a 1985 film looks like news from our now.
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A dizzying fantasia made without digital effects and with the kind of
surrealist, savage structure Gilliam had honed in "Monty Python's Flying
Circus," Jonathan Pryce's Sam Lowry is Orwell's Winston Smith with a
strangulated smile and a nicer suit. For all of its ducts and drabness and
dreaming, "Brazil"'s opening credit notes the film takes place "Somewhere in the
20th Century." Reading that title card these days, it's easy and sad to note
that "Brazil" holds up entirely too well, and while the calendar has moved on,
we, unfortunately, have not. — James Rocchi What's your
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(Jonathan Pryce in "Brazil"/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett