Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quality 80s? Part X

As I continue to search and seek out the best 80s movies...trying to discover if there really were any great 80s movies...I have been watching reader recommendations for the past couple months. I'm now up to 30 different 80s films I've caught up on.
This post specifically contains three very unique 1980s love stories.

Previous 80s film viewing thoughts can be found here: Part I, Part II, art III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, & Part VII, & Part VIII, and Part IX.

Directed by John Huston
Recommended by Oscar (8 noms, 1 win supporting actress Angelica Huston), & Will

Definitely a quirky black comedy. While acting accolades seemed to go to everyone but Kathleen Turner, I thought she did an excellent job. Angelica Huston is perfectly cast, and it's unique that she won her Oscar in a film directed by her father. Yet, I'm sure if blogging existed during that 1986 Academy Awards, people would have definitely suggested there was some Color Purple vote splitting.

Jack Nicholson plays a classic-Jack role, as a gangster hit man. The story unfolds in a way that is definitely predictable, but it's always a challenge when you see a film a couple decades old...you wonder is this film a cliche, or did this film set trends that generic films later would follow. It's definitely an entertaining "gangster romantic black comedy." (I can see Blockbuster having the title cards over this genre of film now GRBC for short.)

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Directed by Rob Reiner
Recommended by Oscar (writing nod), Will, & Crackers and Cheese

This of course is a delightful and popular hit in one of the multiple Nora Ephron/Meg Ryan productions. I love the actual initial scene when Harry Meets Sally because for the actual hair and acting of Billy Crystal to look and act young is absolutely hilarious in itself.

I love the dialogue in this film, which in many ways almost reminds me as a more basic, more comical version of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, simply in the fact that so much of this film is a progression of dialogue between two characters, walking and talking, driving and talking, eating and talking, etc. I think I was surprised to what a high degree this film deals with the concept and idea of sex. I'm not sure if that was part of the initial appeal or comedy in this film, but when I think of it's "follow-ups" of Sleepless in Seattle (a personal favorite) or You've Got Mail, these films do not carry with them such a strong sexual theme.

Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Directed by Randa Haines
Recommended by Oscar (5 nods, 1 win best actress Marlee Matlin)

This film was surprisingly captivating, telling the story of a hearing teacher at a school for the deaf (William Hurt) and a bright and stubborn deaf graduate who refused to learn to speak or read lips (Marlee Matlin).

This film definitely is a love story, and yet at the same time feels like the precursor to Mr. Holland's Opus at times as well. While Marlee Matlin won the award, I was actually far more impressed with Hurt's performance. In this film he basically provides the dialogue for two people in a complicated love story, and when he's not creating two part dialogue, he's providing narration. It would have been really easy to make this line delivery distracting, or out of place. But yet, it seems so natural. Hurt's performance is incredibly impressive. I definitely enjoyed this film very much.

This is one of those films where half way though you realize that a completely satisfying ending is impossible. Had it been made today, I imagine the DVD would have contained an alternate ending, just to assuage those who weren't satisfied with the way play writer Mark Medoff chose to end it.


Dad of Divas said...

One of my favorite scenes in a movie was the faked orgasm scene in the restaurant by Sally. That is one I will never forget!

crackers and cheese said...

Wow, all three of these sound like quality films that you really enjoyed. There's usually one 80's film in the batch the you're a little iffy about.

I'm sorta surprised that you hadn't seen When Harry Met Sally. Having recently watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, I didn't thing of WHMS at the time, but I definitely can see the similarities. I wonder if it was an inspiration in any way? You're right it's much more sexual than popular 90's romantic comedies. I wonder why that is? Did it push the boundaries too much, and future rom coms felt the need to tone down?

general125 said...

You have such nice things to say about William Hurt after one of his movies started your journey down the "quirky 80's movie" path.

RC said...

@ crackers and cheese...i know it's pathetic...I needed incentive to catch up on my 80s movie viewing and your recommendation among others have helped me make it happen.

@adam, i know...i thought the same thing myself...William Hurt is growing on me (i actually thought in Accidental Tourist his best moments were the ones where he was the voice of the author mentally reading his book).

Magnus said...

Pete would agree with When Harry Met Sally, as would I, but it is an obvious choice in many respects. Prizzi's Honour is one I had completely forgotten about. I need to see it again.