#1882 Staying Together (1989)

In a small southern town a father of three brothers sells the family chicken restaurant, consequently triggering a chain of changes in the lives his sons.

Staying Together is built upon numerous conflicts, of which few feel relatable and many less so. This also goes with many of the intentions either the writer or the director had for the story or the main characters; Staying Together is a movie busy being dramatic, but more often than not that drama fails strike the right chord with the viewer.

Between the brothers the movie does have its moments – but much of the sentiment, feeling and intentions that might have been there in the storyboard quite unfortunately remain unfulfilled and unmet.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 48%

#1768 Old Enough (1984)

Story of almost 13-year old Lonnie befriending an few years older Karen from working class family, and taking her first steps out of the childhood, Old Enough is subtle, likeable, and mostly harmless little coming of age movie.

Although their friendship is unlikely, both show genuine, intriguing interest into each others different lives, while spying on young adults they secretly admire.

The movie wraps up nicely as the summer ends, creating a tangible touch point for everyone that know how that one lost summer of the past feels like.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 70%

#1729 The Chosen (1981)

On paper I could not have think of something less interesting than a movie about a Jewish kid becoming a friend with and orthodox Jew in 1940s Brooklyn. But as both start venturing and peaking into the strange and enticing world of the other the movie grasps one in a very unexpected way, like a good movie or book does.

The World War 2 era setting in The Chosen provides a dynamic and colorful background for the experiences of both conservative Jews, who are becoming less and less common, and liberal Jews, who are looking to maintain their traditions while also embracing modern ways of life. The clash between these two perspectives is effectively conveyed through the friendship between two young boys, as well as through the contrasting attitudes of their respective fathers, who despite their belief and heritage represent very opposing worldviews.

Robby Benson and Barry Miller perform their roles admirably and make the improbable friendship between the two young boys easy to buy into.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 79%

#1671 Beat Street (1984)

I love the NYC hiphop culture of the 80s that carried also distant waves all the way to Finland in the forms of graffiti, rap music, beatboxing and breakdancing. There are a few good documentaries out there about the era, but also some cringeworthy movies that haven’t really aged that well. And to be honest, I’ve been putting off watching Beat Street because I always thought it was a movie of the latter kind.

Far from it, Beat Street is actually the 80s hiphop drama to watch and it skilfully balances between showing street life and the struggle to make it out of the ghetto, without being patronising, and having some actual dramatic elements to it without being overly melodramatic and silly by accident.

The movie also features a wide bunch of actual hiphop breakdancers, musical acts and DJs which make it much more credible, and Beat Street has been later recognised as the movie that introduced and ignited hiphop culture around the globe.

80s-o-meter: 98%

Total: 91%

#1565 Clara’s Heart (1988)

An African-American multi millionaire actress in one of those movies where an outsider enters a community to make a change, this time boasting a heavy Jamaican accent? I sure can see many ways how this one could’ve gone heavily wrong.

But this is late 80s Whoopi Goldberg very much on top of her game, and she just manages to make it all work out. Clara does not end up just a Afro-Jamaican Mary Poppins, but has that certain edge to her to make the character interesting; despite all the philosophy in her, she still is very much a human being with the flaws that come with that territory. But this is not just Whoopi’s show. Kathleen Quinlan, Michael Ontkean and Neil Patrick Harris all in their respective roles contribute to the movie in a memorable way, and Robert Mulligan in the director’s seat manages to fully sell the story to the viewer.

I started to quickly glance through the movie again for review purpose, and ended up watching the whole thing pretty much all over again. If this isn’t a testament to Clara’s Heart being a thoroughly enjoyable movie to watch, I don’t what is.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 86%