Saturday, March 08, 2008

Quality 80s? Part VI

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 check out: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, & Part V.

Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey
Directed by Michael Apted
Recommended by Oscar (5 noms)

No one really recommended this film, but I felt like I was being schooled in the career of Sigorney Weaver, so why not dive into this film as well? Honestly, I really enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would. I found the story line interesting, and Weaver's acting very respectable. It's kind of a bummer when bio-pics (like this or Silkwood) have mysterious deaths associated with the main character, it certainly makes there resolutions a little unsatisfying, even if the end credits contain title cards explaining what happened next.

I thought the mix of real Gorillas and man-as-Gorillas worked well also. It's a touching story, and tracing American ecological concerns through the decades is certainly an interesting concept. I felt like this movie did a good job escaping "80s quirkiness" and be an intersting and well-made film that could be easily enjoyed 20 years later.

The Element of Crime (Forbrydelsens element) (1984)
Directed by Lars Von Trier
Recommended by Will

This is my first Lars Von Trier film I've ever seen, and I could defintly appreciate the Noir effect that Von Trier was trying to create, especially with the story-telling patterns with the hypnotis, the unique coloration (yellows, oranges, browns), and water dripping everywhere.

While I appreciated this film, I don't know that I actually enjoyed it, it was hard to "get into" and really "enjoy." I don't know if others have drawn the comparison, but I felt like this was a precursor to Christopher Nolan's Memento (2000). I feel like in every way that this film succeed, Memento also succeeded, and yet Momento didn't have the "failings" that I saw in this films.

This film is the first of Von Trier's Europe-trilogy, I'm not sure I'm interested in catching the other two films.

Airplane! (1980)
Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, & Jerry Zucker
Recommended by Will, Jasdye

I am really glad I sat down to watch this film, because it really is funny. I felt like it was one long Saturday Night Live skit. There were certainly funny and memorable scenes and I could definitly recall allusions to this film I have seen in other comedy bits, TV shows, movies, and personal interactions.

Is it quirky? Of course, but it also is successfully done in a way that is purely enjoyable. My favorite scenes where the ones that involved the nuns, the Jive speaking black men, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scenes, and the scene of Lorna Patterson playing the guitar and dislodging the IV of the girl that's going to the Mayo Clinic.


Lorna said...

I loved "Airplane"; I fell in love with both the romantic leads and agree with you on the nuns and the IV. "And don't call me Shirley" always breaks me up.

As you probably remember, I am not a discriminating audience.

Fletch said...

Again, you've lost me on the definition of quirky. Please name one quirky thing about either Gorillas in the Mist or Airplane! (I'm not familiar with the von Trier flick.)

Will said...

Wow, I didn't realize this would have been the first von Trier film you had seen.
It's interesting first of all because it's such an original take on the film noir. I agree that it's surreal enough that it's difficult to follow at times. But, easier than, say, Wim Wenders - maybe only my opinion.
But it's also interesting because von Trier is mainly known for Dogme 95 films (i.e., no artificial lighting, complete realism, etc). So most people who have seen von Trier's recent films would be really surprised by this film.

Glad you enjoyed AIRPLANE! Hilarious stuff. Shows what a difference it makes if a spoof is well written.

general125 said...

You certianly picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue....

Magnus said...

I rip on the 80's fairly often, but it can pretty unfair to the quality works that do come out of that decade. I looked over some of the lists of films that previous posters have listed and I agree with quite a bit of it. My List of notables that still hold for me today would be:

Full Metal Jacket
No Way Out
Das Boot
A Fish Called Wanda
The Milagro Beanfield War
Midnight Express
The Killing Fields
The Mission
Empire of the Sun
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Bllod Simple
Raising Arizona
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Do the Right Thing
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Blade Runner
Bull Durham
Henry V

kat said...

Wow, you hadn't seen "Airplane!" before? That's almost...criminal. How can you have gotten so far in life without having witnessed Barbara Billingsly speak jive?

If you liked the Lars von Trier film, check out "Breaking the Waves" from 1996. That one was a doozy.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I'm not sure that I would count either Gorillas in the Mist or Airplane as quirky. They certainly are good movies though!

RC said...

@ lorna...and you know what's great for you Lorna...Lorna Patterson does a great job, making Lorna's of the world look great!

@ fletch & mercurie - when it comes to "quirky" i started this concept after seeing The Accidental Tourist, which I felt like relied on "quirky" elements, especially in the Geena Davis character treatment, the dogs, the family, etc. How could this film have recived recognition (oscars and other wise)? In addition, 80s films certainly aren't characterized as quality cinema, in fact, it's as though the 80s were there own thing. Yet, in an effort to re-discover the 80s I'm watching these films...hoping to find films that outside of their 80s context are still enjoyable. In the case of Gorillas or The Element of Crime, they simply are not "80s quirky." Yet, Airplane, seems "very 80s." That doesn't make it bad, in fact, as I stated, I enjoyed it. Yet I imagine it's was even funnier in 1980 than it is to a new audience over 25 years later. While it probably has aged better than other comedies of it's time, there are parts of it that are quirky-and-unique to the 80s, that keep it stuck in the 80s.

(Hope that clarifies my thought process? Feel free to disagree with my terminology and/or evaluation)

@ Will...if you hadn't recommended the Von Trier film, I still would have never seen a Von Trier film. (When I think Von Trier I think Bjork in the Swan Dress at the Oscars when she was nominated for Dancer in The Dark...I'm glad I can now also think of this film)

@ Adam, I hear you picked a bad week to stop taking amphetamines.

@ Kat, hey don't bash the blogger...that's why I'm catching up. You're dead on about Billingsly. Also, I don't know if I like the Lars Von Trier film all that much. Do you think I'd enjoy Breaking the Waves or do you just think it's a crticial-must-see?

@ Magnus, thanks for adding to the list! At this rate I'm never going to be done watching 80s films :-)

crackers and cheese said...

I have a tendency to spill things on myself, so I just quote Airplane! to ease the embarrassment, "Sorry, I have a drinking problem." Glad you finally watched it!

Hmm, I remember watching Gorillas in the Mist ages ago, but I don't remember many details. This is one I should rewatch.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, you need to watch Dancer in the Dark. It's an excellent film. And, if you feel a bit more daring, you should check out Dogma. While I'm thinking of it, you should also see The Five Obstructions. That's all.

Notas Sobre Creación Cultural e Imaginarios Sociales said...

The rest of the Europa trilogy gets better.
"Epidemic" is brilliant (you have to listen to the song in the credits) and "Europa" is a bit more restrained almost "normal" filmmaking a bit like "Brazil" perhaps.
I highly recommend the Golden Heart trilogy as well and he should get working on the final chapter of his USA trilogy as well.
*sighs* I love Lars.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

I just found your blog and I'm reading through all of your 80's movie reviews (and loving it!).

I watched Gorillas in the Mist for the first time about 3 years ago, and just loved it. I've since read many books by/about Dian Fossey. She was an amazingly interesting woman.