Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quality 80s? Part XV

I'm not yet sure when I will finish this project, it just seems like the more 80s films I watch, the well...more I want to watch and "caught up" on. (Even when some are strange, boring or 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 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, Part XII, Part XIII, and Part XIV.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Directed by Hugh Hudson
Recommended by Oscar (3 nods)

This movie is admittedly odd. And is certainly an interesting follow up to Hudson's Chariots of Fire. For starters, the child, and young male nudity in this film is odd. The apes are odd...especially the disturbing opening scene with the dying baby gorilla. It's intriguing and odd at the same time.

Overall though, I have to admit that it's a convincing Tarzan film, and can't imagine the story being told any more convincingly. But I think Disney captured the magic of the Tarzan story, especially the love story. While Hudson's focus was more on the psychological dilemma of whether socialization was a means to happiness and peace.

The Thing (1982)
Directed by John Carpenter
Recommended by imdb (#20 80s film)

I have no idea how this film ends up so high on the IMDb movie list. This movie reminded me very much of Alien, yet it's intrigue, suspense, and special effects is so much weaker. Kurt Russell does a good job, and it seems like a decent enough film for the genre, but it's so long, with so many non-interesting scenes. Editing, editing, editing...please. Especially with such an annoying film score.

Kurt Russell did a good job. And the only great thing about this film is it's unique and head-scratching ending. But otherwise, this movie is super-80s and is hardly enjoyable if you're watching it for the first time over 25 years later.

The Year of Living Dangerously (1983)
Directed by Peter Weir
Recommended by Oscar (1 win, Linda Hunt, best supporting actress)

If only Peter Weir had a bigger budget and perhaps a screenplay re-write this film would be great. Sometimes the plot of this film, is confusing and hard to follow. The basic story line is Australian novice newspaper man (Mel Gibson) receives a significant amount of help from half-Chinese dwarf (Linda Hunt, playing a male photographer) who gets caught up in a revolution. Susan Sarandon also has a strong supporting role, as love interest and informant.

The character of Billy Kwan is by far the most intriguing aspect of this film. I had no idea while watching that the Asian dwarf Billy was actually a woman from New Jersey. Her voice work and acting totally warrants her Oscar win. For my time I enjoy the Killing Fields better, which seems to have a similar feel, but a much clearer story.


PIPER said...

I would say that The Thing is so high up on the imdb list because it's one of the greatest horror/sci-fi movies ever made.

Bad sfx? I would argue that they still hold up as some of the best special effects in history. And none of it was done by computer which makes it even more amazing.

But more than that, it's the sheer paranoia that runs throughout this movie that keeps me coming back to it again and again. One of the few times that although the effects are center stage, the story is strong enough to hold its own.

The scene where they test the blood is not only a great scene as far as effects are concerned, but it's just a fantastic scene as far as building tension. To me, this is Carpenter at his best. Unfortunately it got buried because it was released within weeks of ET.

I never got that feeling with Alien, although it's an excellent movie but I would never think to compare the two.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I love Carpenter's The Thing. It is not so much a remake of the 1950s classic, as it is a reinterpretation of the novella upon which they wre both based, Who Goes There? by Joseph Campbell.

As to the FX, I think they still hold up. They may not be as spiffy as modern day FX, but for their time they were cutting edge.

Michael Parsons said...

I applaud you for doing this. As much as I love movies, I do feel the 80's have a very tarnished rep. However you do get reminded that there was some real quality out there.

I am curious to see what is next!

John W. Morehead said...

Wow. I couldn't disagree more with your take on Carpenter's "The Thing". And I think much of the critical film community which enjoys horror, not to mention rank and file horror fans, disagree as well. This film represents an interpretation of the original story that contributes something different than the original 1950s classic. Russell does indeed do a good job in the lead, which is complimented by the ensemble cast. In addition, the special effects are great and add an extra dimension to the story of paranoia and questions of human identity. Plus, the score is well done as well. I'm afraid your take on this film misfires.

RC said...

@ piper,mercurie, & john -- I appreciate your comments on the Thing -- I knew it was liked but I was struggling to see the "whys." I appreciate your perspective.

kat said...

First of all, congrats on the new baby! How fun!

Secondly, a couple other 80s titles had occurred to me to check-out again as I haven't seen them in quite some time:

"My Favorite Year" and "The Thin Blue Line" most prominently come to mind.

Also, I can't believe I didn't have these as recommendations to begin with, but I think Steve Martin had a string of really great comedies in the 80s that were funny without being "quirky" including "Roxanne" "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" & my personal favorite, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid."

Hope you continue to enjoy the 80s flashback.

Anonymous said...

Yeah those comments on The Thing would get you lynched in some circles. I can't say I disagree, though it's been a while since I've seen it.