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.
Also enjoy: Part I and Part II.
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Directed by Charles Crichton
Recommended by Oscar (winner best supporting actor + 2 noms, writing & directing), Will & Kat
I know I got some slack for some of my criticisms of Say Anything, particularly in how it aged. But with A Fish Called Wanda, despite it's definite 80s-ness, I found it to be one of the most laught-out-loud movies I have ever seen. The perfect combination of the multiple styles of comedy that come out of the 4 supporting-leads (Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, John Cleese, and Michael Palin) is perfect. While I found the situational comedy between Cleese and Curtis, I found Kline's role to be the early model of comedy that Will Ferrell has overdone.
This is a great comedy, and won that deserves recognition, not just in the cannon of great 80s films, but in the realm of great comedies, and great film...period. A very pleasant surprise.
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Recommended by Oscar (6 nominations), Fox, Darrell, & Will
Forget Shia LaBeouf - you want to talk about a young up-and-comer... Christian Bale was amazing as a child actor with the opportunity to carry this film. Spielberg's amazing talent to work with children certainly comes through her. Something about this film is highly respectable, in it's unique historical nature, excellent art direction, music, effects, and over all style. YET there is something in this film that was also tedious and uninteresting. I think many times films of this nature are more biographical in nature then literary, and that leads us to become more emotionally attached. I felt like this was Spielburg cutting his teeth and practicing some ideas that would help him create the masterpiece that is Shindler's List.
I love Christian Bale's character. John Malkovich is always wonderful. Ben Stiller suddenly seems mis-cast as a now famous actor. It's a beautiful respectable film, that is probably simply too long.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Directed by Spike Lee
Recommend by Oscar (2 noms), Jandy, jeremy, joe valdez and Will
In 2006 MTV awarded Do The Right Thing the "Silver Bucket of Excellence" for a film from the past that has present-day resonance. While films about racial tension have been over played, it's clear that Do The Right Thing has film merit. Yet Spike Lee's stype, the over-acted characters and the bizarre mix of comedy and drama make this film unique as well as an easy film to love or hate.
I certainly wouldn't recommend it to a general viewer, but even as I've avoided this film, I've frequently seen and heard others reference it, so it's film value is unquestionable. My favorite actors in this ensemble where John Turturro (Pino), Ruby Dee (Mother Sister) and suprirsingly Samuel L. Jackson (Mister Señor Love Daddy).