Cinema: Best of '84: Cinema

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AFTER THE REHEARSAL. A stage director rehearses Strindberg with his star pupil and falls a little in love. In this lovely "chamber movie," Ingmar Bergman describes his passion for the theater with Olympian irony and demon force.

L'ARGENT. In his most serene and terrifying parable in a 50-year career, French Film Master Robert Bresson cauterizes modern France as a society built and run on counterfeit values. The moral of this metaphysical slasher movie: greed kills.

CAL. With a despairing love affair, a troubled youth and an anguished widow kindle a circle of warmth against the encircling chill of Northern Ireland's mad terrors. Director Pat O'Connor turns their tragedy into a strangled cry from the heart.

COMFORT AND JOY. Sitcom becomes surrealism in this tale of a Scottish disk jockey's miserable Merry Christmas. The best film yet from cockeyed visionary Bill Forsyth.

ENTRE NOUS. Two young wives (Isabelle Huppert and Miou-Miou) feel marooned in the stay-at-home '50s and ignite a protofeminist friendship. In this bittersweet comedy, Writer-Director Diane Kurys alchemizes anger into understanding.

GREMLINS. What kind of monster movie is this? One that dares to turn on its own young. Joe Dante's impish summertime satire is also a fable that cautions its audience against consuming the detritus of pop culture like so much junk food.

A PASSAGE TO INDIA. The subcontinent is not merely the setting for David Lean's masterly adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel; it is its heroically scaled hypnotic central character.

PLACES IN THE HEART. A plucky widow saves farm and family in Depression America. And Writer-Director Robert Benton transcends bathos with his soft- spoken camera poetry.

A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY. A gentle old painter (Louis Ducreux) tries one summer Sunday to reconcile family responsibilities with a renewed passion for his art. In this hugely affecting miniature, Director Bertrand Tavernier illuminates the twilight of a man's life with the colors of compassion.

THE TERMINATOR. Audiences were lured by the giddy premise: Arnold Schwarzenegger as a killer cyborg from the 21st century. They stayed to cheer James Cameron's thriller machine as it swanked toward its heavy-metal apocalypse.