Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quality 80s? Part II

In a search to find timeless, non-quirky 80s films (inspired by my viewing of The Accidental Tourist) I have begun my movie viewing. Here are some 1980s films I've just watched for the first time and my thoughts on whether they're any good 20-or-so years post-release.

You can read Part I here.

Silkwood (1983)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Recommended by Oscar (5 nominations)

This story based on the Oklahoma plutonium plant whistle blower Karen Silkwood, reminded me of a less satisfying Erin Brokovich. Meryl Streep of course is excellent in this unglamourous role, but the character of esentric, irresponsible, crude Karen Silkwood is a hard character to become attached to, and the film's final climax is unsuccessful, perhaps because of it's efforts to not make final judgements about the real life scenario as it played out.

As far as 80s film, it's certainly has an 80s feel, but it doesn't have excessive quirkiness, Cher and Kurt Russell's performances are "very 80s," in my opinion. Although quirk-free it's value as a film over time certainly isn't there. This is hardly a must see film.

The Trip to Bountiful (1985)
Directed by Peter Masterson
Recommended by Oscar (1 win Best Actress, also nominated for best adapted screenplay)

When I saw Out of Africa for the first time, I couldn't imagine how Meryl Streep could not win in her unique perfectly executed role, and knew I had to see Geraldine Page in A Trip To Bountiful. I loved this movie. It's not very 80s, because it's a period piece about 1940s Texas and is based on Horton Foote play he wrote in 1954.

You can tell, especially in the first scene that this Independent Film was based on Stage Play, but the story of a old hymn singing woman (Page) living with her son and daughter-in-law in a small Houston home is fantastic. Her son is a coward, and her daughter in law is a cruel money hungry lady, and Carrie Watts in the evening of her life wants to visit her small hometown, even if it means attempting multiple times to run-a-way.

I whole-heartedly recommend this film.

Say Anything... (1989)
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Recommended by Crackers and Cheese

This is certainly and 80s film, and has all the quirk that defines 80s films. Now, don't get me wrong, it's an enjoyable film that could have been super lame had it simply been about the relationships between a slacker boy (John Cusack) and a sweet goal-driven achiever (Ione Skye). Yet the storyline about the girls father (John Mahoney) is really where the Cameron Crowe's creativity is really shown. Here is a unique story, and a unique relationship, integrated in a pre-packed overtold story.

I see the appeal of this story, although the classic scene with Lloyd Dobbler (Cusack) blasting Peter Gabriel "In Your Eyes" is classic 80s, it's just that. If you loved this film in the 80s you'd still love it, but if you're catching it for the first time it's appeal certainly is more limited.

Not only did the 80's really have some wonderful movies... the films have some wonderful movie posters. Show your love of movies with movie memorabilia and decorate your home with some of the best old movie posters to be found.


Anonymous said...

I also watched Say Anything recently, and loved it. I don't know how I managed to miss that one.

Anonymous said...

I think Say Anything has aged better than you suggest. If it were updated, Lloyd might be blasting an iPod docked to an amp and some speakers, but it would probably be the same song.

I watched it recently and loved it again. I've always thought Lloyd Dobler to be one of the top 100 screen characters.

Glenn Dunks said...

I love Silkwood. Absolutely fantastic.

crackers and cheese said...

I'll have to check out those first two films sometime. I'm glad you gave Say Anything a shot! Yes, it is very quirky and 80's. It's funny, the famous scene of Lloyd Dobbler blasting "In Your Eyes" isn't the defining scene for me. It's scenes like their awkward but natural first kiss in the car, the painfully confusing and realistic breakup, the father doting over his daughter when she gets the fellowship and her embarassment, the father's breakdown in the bathroom when he discovers that his world is crashing down, and the final ambiguous but hopeful scene all stand out vividly in my memory. Overall, the film is very quirky, but these and other moments in the film just really resonate with my own experiences.

Just curious, what did your wife think of it?

Fletch said...

Someone, please tell me what is "quirky" about Say Anything?

I guess I'm not understanding what it is that makes many of the films listed quirky. Are you using that just as a synonym for "dated," because that's what it seems like. Films that feature 80s pop hits = quirky? Films that feature fashion of the 80s = quirky?

It sounds like you're looking for period pieces that came out in the 80s and/or military films that lack a fashion option and are more inclined to have a classical score. Try Taps.

Since Crowe was brought up, what about Singles (or Reality Bites)? Is that 90s quirky? Because they're already pretty dated...

Michael Parsons said...

That was Whoopie's Oscar!

Anonymous said...

I saw Say Anything for the first time last year, and I didn't like it very much at all. It has not withstood the test of time. It's not as terrible as Elizabethtown, but certainly not even close to Crowe's best work, Almost Famous.

For kicks, if you've never seen Love Story... well, don't. But, like Say Anything, it's incredibly dated. It also has one of the most annoying characters you will ever see on screen in the female lead. Her sarcasm is supposed to be cute and endearing, but it is annoying and ridiculous. Any rational guy would walk away after a second of talking with her. Terrible movie.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I love both Say Anything and The Trip to Bountiful. Both are great movies.

Dad of Divas said...

I have to agree on most of the movies...especially Say Anything!