While watching Repo Man about a week ago, an odd, intriguing sci-fi film from Sid & Nancy director Alex Cox, I had a thought I often have when I think about cinema of the 80's: I have not seen enough from it. I'm sure I've talked about this before, but ever since I fell in love with the cinema, I have been a strict devotée of TCM. I have seen many, many, many wonderful films on that channel, so I would never say anything negative about the channel. However, the word "classic" is in the title and that means they show very little from the 80's (outside of their annual 31 Days of Oscar marathon). People are surprised when I, the huge film geek that I am, haven't seen such-and-such big, widely known film from the 80's.
I've thought about this "problem" before, but this is the first time I decided to do something about it. I came up with a list of five films from each year of the 80's I'm determined to see. In an attempt to keep this interesting, I tried to come up with a mix of box office hits, popular arthouse films and cult films from a variety of different genres (even from genres I'm not normally interested in). What I tried to stay away from was the major Oscar films of the decade; most of what I have seen from the decade have been the Oscar nominees in the major categories. When I did pick an Oscar nominee, it was either an atypical, genre film (Raiders, Aliens) or something I have been curious about for years (Last Temptation).
So, what should you, as a reader, expect from this big project of mine? I'd like to say I'll review each of these films, but I realize that is a farfetched goal. Hopefully I can manage at least a paragraph about each of them, when I do get around to seeing them. I don't have a set date to finishing this project because we all know that I'd never make it. I plan on taking my time and enjoying some of the high points of the decade.
Without further ado, here is the list. What do you all think? Are there any must-see films I'm missing?
The Shining Eerie, unsettling sense of environment lends much more grit to this horror film. A-
Friday the 13th
Fame The precursor to nearly every great high school film made afterwards. B+
Raiders of the Lost Ark Efficient filmmaking, everything lacks true passion. Sexism a joke. C+
Diva A film full of missed opportunities: bulky narrative when it should be as sleek as possible, dull lead characters, including a toned down, in-control diva (what?!). D+
Man of Iron
Fitzcarraldo All the elements of an epic never once come together to feel like an epic. Great set pieces, though. B-
Making Love Dated gay melodrama that has neither many highs or lows. Mostly ho-hum but a few moments in the lives of these "ordinary people" ring true. C+
One From the Heart
Ballad of Narayama
WarGames Not as silly as expected. No real sense of terror here but it is a sleek, engaging thriller. B-
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
Beverly Hills Cop
The Times of Harvey Milk A lively and engaging portrait of a man who could honestly be called a visionary hero. A-
Once Upon a Time in America
Clue One of the finest comedic ensembles ever assembled. Raise what should have been lame cash-in on "brand" into a genuinely hilarious film. B+
Back to the Future
The Official Story
Aliens Brilliant sense of environment. True edge-of-your-seat excitement. Weaver is a motherfucking badass. A-
The Last of England
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
Hollywood Shuffle Striking observations about race in Hollywood. Couldn't it have pushed a little harder? B
Withnail & I Comedic British Miserablism. Certainly has its merits but not for me. B-
The Last Temptation of Christ
Hairspray Every bit as joyous as its musical adaptation with the added benefit of Waters' sly racial commentary and the glorious Divine. B+
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Grave of the Fireflies Haunting, paralyzing, tense, melodramatic, but never soft or overly sentimental. An exemplary look at the cost of war. *Breaks down in tears again* A
When Harry Met Sally... The reinvention of the romantic comedy. Ryan & Crystal are the perfect romcom couple. Who'd have guessed? A-
Heathers Brings style and substance to high school comedy subgenre. Has a very unique voice that is sometimes completely stumbled over by actors. B+
Jésus de Montréal