Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Quality 80s? Part XVI

And the project continues...

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, Part XIV, and Part XV.

At Close Range (1986)
Directed by James Foley
Recommended By Darrell

This bizarre "based on a true story" film about two boys who deeply want to connected with their criminal sociopathic father is certainly an interesting case study in dysfunction. Now, it's very 80s. 80s music, 80s hair, 80s filming. What really distinguishes this film is it's performers. I would love to know how much the actors payroll was for this film, and how much the payroll would need to be 20 years later now that many of these performers are high-dollar performers. The film stars Christopher Walken, Sean Penn, Chris Penn, Eileen Ryan (the Penn's real mom), Mary Stuart Masterson, David Strathairn, Crispin Glover, Kiefer Sutherland and Candy Clark.

By far the greatest performance of this film is Christopher Walken who is really just creepy and nails this bizarro part pitch perfect. This would not be a film I personally would recommend, as it has the 80s feel of Say Anything, yet at the same time is a dark and morbid thriller, which makes it less fun, more disturbing. Honestly, I can't say I'm a fan, but I'm glad I saw these performances and gave it a shot (sorry Darrell).

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) (1988)
Directed by Isao Takahata
Recommended by Jandy, and IMDb (#24 80s film)

Wow, this film is incredible. Typically I am not into Anime, and have only seen a few films, and the bizarre reliance upon themes of the spirit world and fantasy generally turn me off from watching these films. Perhaps that's one of the reasons Grave of the Fireflies is so compelling. This "cartoon" is really a heart wrenching story of a brother and a younger sister who's family is torn apart during WWII, particularly after their village is bombed and the older brother has to care for his younger sister during the worst of times. The first scene of this film tips you off that the film is going to be filled with sadness, but this film is such a unique piece of art and such an interesting way of expressing a personalized story of war.

I am honestly so glad I saw this film and think that it is a great addition to 80s cinema that speaks in ways that are still prevalent to day, in a style that is unique but is perfect for telling this story.

The Accused (1988)
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Recommended by Oscar (best Actress win for Jodie Foster)

I respect Jodie Foster's performance in this film, she did a tremendous job in this de-glam role. Like many recent Oscar winning women (Charlize Theron, Hillary Swank, Halle Berry), playing someone less-than-glamorous certainly gets you Oscar attention. Unfortunately Jodie Fosters artful execution is far from enjoyable. As a trashy low-income woman who is raped fights to win back her dignity with the assistance of a state appointed lawyer played by Kelly McGillis.

20 years later, the movie The Accused plays out more like a vulgar Lifetime movie with a court scene that is all but predictable. This really isn't an enjoyable movie to watch at all, and other than Foster's performance is relatively un-noteworthy in my opinion.


James (SeattleDad) said...

Christopher Walken is a great actor, period. Now I want to see the firefly movie too. Sounds great.

Michael Parsons said...

RE: The Accused. Rewatched it recently as well, and I have to agree. She was tremendous, but proved in 1991 that she can be flawless.

Out Of Jersey said...

And where are goonies? Or Big Trouble In Little China? Bloodsport? Breakfast Club? or any brat pack movie for that matter. Come on man, I am jonesing!

Darrell said...

Oh, well. I'm glad you watched it, though. Walken really is great in the movie, but it's Sean Penn's performance that blew me away.

elgringo said...

I feel the same way about anime as you do. That being said, you're totally right about Grave of the Fireflies. Incredible.

kat said...

I want to re-push for another recommended 80s movie, "Running on Empty." I haven't seen it in years myself, but I feel strongly that it would hold up, emotionally.