Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quality 80s? Part IX

We haven't done an 80s post in almost a month, so if you're new to StrangeCulture or interested in catching up, the point of this posts is to search for quality 80s films that can stand the test of time avoiding overly 80s quirkiness.

This post includes Phillip Kaufman's 2 1980s films and a highly acclaimed Japanese Film...all of which were long, long, long.

Previous 80s mini-reviews can be found here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, & Part VII, & Part VIII.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Recommended by Oscar (2 noms), Will

This film is one of my least favorite 80s recommendations yet. I thought I'd enjoy it since it's cast is so high caliber (Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliet Binoche, Lena Olin, Stellan Skarsgard) but in reality I found this film way too long, more risque then I prefer and with a story I simply could not get too interested in.

Lewis' role as a Czech doctor torn between two lovers (one is a long-term strictly physical relationship, while the other comes with more care and affection) does a good job, as he always does, but even he was less refined than I'm used to seeing him. I thought the most redeeming part of the story line was the passion that Tereza (Binoche) had for capturing war time photography.

The Right Stuff (1983)
Directed by Philip Kaufman
Recommended by Oscar (4 wins out of 8 noms), & kat

As much as I didn't enjoy Kaufman's 1988 feature, I loved this film. Clocking at well over three hours, this film is absolutely enchanting as it tells in a very honest way the early story of the American space story as it specifically related to America's first astronauts. The high level character development, the acting, and certainly the special effects make this film a great joy to watch. I'm certainly glad I caught this one.

Sam Shephard (as Chuck Yaeger), Dennis Quaid (as Gordon Cooper), and Ed Harris (John Glenn) are especially excellent. After a little discussion formed in the comments of my recent Neil Armstrong post my interest increased, and I am so glad I watched this film in my attempt to increase by 80s viewing. It made me want to head to Kennedy Space Center and see it all again in a new light.

Ran (1985)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Recommended by IMDb (#13 80s film), Oscar (won costumes, three additional noms including best director), Jandy, Will, & jasdye

Maybe I'm not supposed to say it, but I wish this film was shorter. I wish the editing was tighter. And I wish the Shakespeare-esque screenplay (fool included) didn't make it such a challengingly painful film to watch.

The story is unique, with all the intrigue you'd expect from a story about an old/competent king who starts to distribute his property and power to his three sons, who for various reasons find their allegiance to each other and their father very weak...leaving the father powerless, homeless, and insane, as the fighting between sons takes place.

To me, this is certainly one of those films I appreciate more than enjoy. The full on battle scenes are very impressive, and in many ways remind me of the work that was done in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the music is great, the costumes, the story line, it's all there. Great fight scenes but too much talking and theatrics. I'm glad I've finally seen it, but I also feel like I could have benefited from some Cliff Notes.

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