Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Quality 80s? Part XIII

I'm not really sure when I will finish this project, it just seems like the more 80s films I watch, the well...more I want to watch. Even when some are disappointing.

For those who are new this project was inspired by an attempt to "catch-up" on some 80s films and finding myself very disappointed. With the help of some recommendations and a little perseverance, I've definitely found a few gems...as well as some that can stay in the 80s.

The previous quality 80s post can be accessed through the following links: Part I, Part II, art III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, & Part VII, & Part VIII, Part IX, Part X, Part XI, and Part XII.

Blood Simple (1984)
Directed by Joel Coen (& Ethan Coen...uncredited)
Recommended by Will & jeremy

The film that helped the Coen brothers begin there film cultism, and I finally watched it for the first time. It's so interesting to see this first film because it's so interesting to see so many of the same themes and same actors continue to play off each other again and again...as if they're often still tweaking this original film. I thought John Getz and Dan Hedeya are great in this film, and even more than a compelling story, it's such a compelling looking film with each scene and shot tweaked for the most unique visual effects. I'm never really sure what I think of the Coen brothers in the grand scope of cinema, but I can't help but keep on coming back and seeing what they do. My favorite scenes in this film are definitely the one pictured in the image I have chosen. The drawn out death/burial scene of Marty (Hedeya) by Ray (Getz) is stunning, particularly the sound and editing choices.

The Verdict (1982)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Recommended by Oscar (5 nominations, 0 wins)

Obviously we live in a post-John Grisham, Law & Order world. But there is something that continues to be intriguing about the courtroom drama...and maybe it's just that justice is placed into the hands of a few people, 12 Jury members, a couple lawyers and witness or two. It's the intrigue of corruption and manipulation mixed with the desire to see justice played out. This film centers on a malpractice case handed over to a down-and-out ambulance chasing lawyer (Paul Newman). Honestly David Mamet's script seems to draw out something that doesn't need to be drawn out...especially in the first half of the film before it gets to the courtroom stage. But once things get going in Act II it's not only enjoyable, but it's great courtroom fun. It actually reminded me some of Michael Clayton.

Tender Mercies (1983)
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Recommended by Oscar (won best actor and best original screenplay, 3 additional nominations)

For starters...I'm starting to think that 1983 was a horrible year for film. I've been generally disappointed. After Places in the Heart and Coal Miner's Daughter, I thought I would love this, but it's completely painful to watch. I blame much of it's painfulness on Horton Foote's Oscar winning screenplay. I honestly don't know how it won? On top of that Tess Harper and her screen-son (Allan Hubbard) have some of the most amateurly delivered dialogue I have ever seen on film. It's horrible. Much of it's the writing, but these two are horrible, and make Robert Duvall look even more amazing as an actor because they stumble so badly.

The only thing redeeming about this film is some of it's film themes, which Horton Foote does do a decent job of putting into the film, and the country music from the film is integrated well into the film and is nicely performed, whether by Betty Buckley or Robert Duvall. But this is an absolutely disappointing and painful film to watch 25 years after it's release.


Fox said...

I completely agree with you on the performances of Dan Hedeya and Ray Getz in *Blood Simple*.

(btw... where is Getz now?... maybe his face has changed too much and I just don't recognize him in stuff).

Oh, and that scene that you pictured creeps the crap out of me!

Lorna said...

Blood Simple, yes; The Verdict doesn't hold up well, to my mind, but I am the Queen of Law & Order, every version, every season

Kimberly Ann said...

Tender Mercies was one of the most painful movies I have ever watched with you...okay, so I only watched 1/2, but I couldn't help but check out with the school "bullies" ran up to the son and shouted "Your Daddy's dead!" - what kind of lame insult is that?

elgringo said...

I'm a card carrying member of the "More People Need to See Tender Mercies" camp. My girlfriend turned me onto this and Stroszek and both of them blew my mind. Good lookin' out on these flicks!


elgringo said...

P.S. Sorry you hated it.

whitney said...

Tender Mercies is one of my favorite films of all time. Not that you have to go to outside sources to appreciate the film, but reading Foote's other plays, you get a feel for his pace and style. He's definitely more concerned with middle-american troubles - mostly money issues. This film is full of redemption and, well, mercy, and it executes these themes slowly and carefully without any real solutions. The script seems largely improvised and natural, but it is carefully planned. This is how real people talk, in my experience. And though I also love films like Blood Simple with stylized dialogue and excitement, films like Tender Mercies deserve close attention. Which is why I show the film to my intro to film class when we talk about religious films.

Anyway. Just thought I'd give a more positive shout out to the movie.