Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quality 80s? Part VII

The voyage through 80s cinema continues. (Check out: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI).

Working Girl (1988)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Recommended by Oscars (6 noms, including best song win) Jeremy, Will

I thought this was a great film. Apart from the fact that 20 years later the role of women in the workforce has surely changed and probably a decrease in the number of "administrative assistants", the issues at hand are not fully dated. Many businesses and sectors still remain male dominated, and far more than gender issues, this film deals with office humor, and office humor is always funny to anyone who's worked in an office.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, this is the type of film that as a male you have to feel secure about checking out from the library, I certainly felt silly carrying it out. The performances of course are great, I am honestly surprised Joan Cusack scored an Oscar nod for this bit-size comic role that largely is pure 80s as a result of her bad hair and make-up. Melanie Griffith is great and plays such a likeable character. I joked with my wife that man women think they're Tess McGill, extremely intelligent and only disadvantaged among peers because of their good looks, and if given the chance could really show their stuff ("I have a head for business and a bod for sin.")

The Big Blue (Le Grand bleu)(1988)
Directed by Luc Besson
Recommend by Heather & Adam

Although Adam said not to watch the director's cut, I did. And there I'm sure is a big difference between the 118 minute version and 168 minute version. There's a handful of weird things that are going on here, that somehow you're just able to excuse. The rivalry between Enzo (Jean Reno) and Jaques Mayol (Jean-Marc Barr), Jaques dolphin-lovin', Jacques awkward silence and facial expressions, Johana (Rosanna Arquette) and her weird job that is investigating insurance fraud that leads her to South America and her fraud that takes her to Torino, her instant obsession, and Jacques continued obsession with Dolphins.

Yet...despite all the weirdness, the film is shot so beautifully and the intrigue of the deep water diving is enough to keep you watching and intrigued. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, I'm sure it's beautiful in it's own way, but also falls in line with the weirdness previously mentioned. Jean Reno is fantastic in this film, and I love his and enjoy his character. Barr and Arquette are also good, and really the three main characters all really get an exceptional opportunity to develop their unique and illogical characters, in such a pleasant and entertaining way.

The Natural (1984)
Directed by Barry Levinson
Recommended by Oscar (4 nominations), AK, Kat, & Heather

I feel like the Natural is one of those movies you're supposed to love. You're supposed to love Robert Redford, the themes, the music. I think I like all these things, but because the theme and style of this film is so overplayed (including the theme music) it's hard to experience like you might imagine experiencing it for the first time in 1984. Glen Close has an excellent understated role.

The well principled sportsmen who gives his all, despite his age/race/past, and overcomes adversity in the final moments is overplayed I think the one unique quality of this film that separates it from other similar baseball/sports movies is it's discussion of the past and personal failings. While the movie paints a relatively optimistic view of redemption and honor, when Close delivers the lines "You know I think we have two lives...the life we learn with and the life we live with after that," it is certainly a powerful concept. I'm glad I've finally seen this movie the whole way through, although I think in the grand scheme of things has the unfortunate disadvantage of being a film that it's story was not unique enough to limit others from rewriting the same story a hundred different ways.


Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Interesting trio there, and all iconically 80's. I too am surprized how well Working Girl holds up over time, but that theme song all the way though...

I'm glad you saw The Big Blue! What a lovely movie. Again, crazy mus-zak!

I've not see the natural since I was a kid, from your description I might leave it in and just go with the fond memories.

general125 said...

I'm happy you liked The Big Blue. I'm telling you those 50 min that were cut were worthy of cutting. The directors cut seemed to plod along and didn't add much to the story or any character development. It is still one of the most beautifully shot movies ever made. It rivals Lawrence of Arabia for its beautiful cinematography.

The Natural is one of those movies that invokes so much childhoon nastalgia, I still love it to this day. It's one of those movies that is starting to show its age. Only because hollywood studios have beaten that formula into the ground. Apparently, the book was pretty depressing.

Love the 80's movies reviews. I can't wait for you to get to the 60's.

Fox said...

I can't get over Melanie Griffith's hair helmet when I think about *Working Girl*.

And I agree 100% with what Adam said about *The Natural*. As a child, I watched the climactic "bleeding home run" scene over and over again.

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...

I agree with Adam that the shorter version of THE BIG BLUE is the one to see. Especially for the music score which is infinitely superior.

I wrote about it here a few months ago.

Michael Parsons said...

Jean Marc Barr is what the perfect man is.

I will forever love this movie.

Heather said...

I am so happy you liked The Big Blue. I am in the minority here, in that I really preferred the director's cut. I felt like it gave you enough background to understand more of the character's motivations, and that helped.

Meanwhile, the theme is almost one of a man deciding between his girl and his work, but his work is so unique, and so many people can relate to the allure of the ocean, you can almost see it as a passion apart from just a job, and that makes it a little more acceptable.

Now you just have to find the French version. The soundtrack is better than in the version they released in the US. :)

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I'd have to say I think he is choosing between her and his spirit. He never seems that keen on the job as a job perse, but the drive of the environment of the water and the dolphins.

Now I'm curious which soundtrack I've heard, I'll have to pop it in and see although I remember it feeling pretty 80's it also felt very akin to other Besson/Serra films.

Anonymous said...

I think that's Joan Cusack in WORKING GIRL, not Joan Allen :)