#1085 And God Created Woman (1988)

Directed by Roger Vadim who also directed the 1956 Et Dieu… Créa la Femme that launched Brigitte Bardot’s career, And God Created Woman shares the same title, but brings a completely new story in an very edgy form to the 80s, resulting a catastrophic failure of a movie.

Life is tough for the characters of Rebecca De Mornay and Vincent Spano who play a woman prisoner on a parole, and a carpenter single parent respectively. And it’s oh so tough, and so melodramatic all the time. All sorts of emotional quarrels of love follow, so she decides to put together a rock band to pour all that agony into her songs, all while having erotic B-movie scenes with the carpenter and a famous politician played by Frank Langella.

Essentially a filmatisation of some 2-penny erotic novel I didn’t want to read in the first place, And God Created Woman is a remarkably bad movie – a piece of cinematic garbage that I can’t find any justification for.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 4%

#1078 The Black Marble (1980)

Boasting one of the most unappealing posters I’ve seen in awhile, The Black Marble is another one to the exhibit pile for not to judge a movie by its cover. Passing below the radar for the wide audience upon its march 1980 release, it’s a gem of a movie that never got the recognition it deserved.

Not settling with the obvious clichés, the movie based on the novel of Joseph Wambaugh – who also did the screenwriting here – introduces multiple unlikely elements that at first seem like an odd mix, but ends up wrapping them up so triumphantly, I almost gave the movie a standing ovation.

Harry Dean Stanton, whose legacy as the actors’ actor has only grown interest since him passing away in 2017, does once again remarkably solid work here. But it’s the wonderfully elegiac character of Sgt. A.M. Valnikov played to a such a three dimensional perfection by Robert Foxworth that was unlike anything I’ve seen to this date.

So unlike that I did not get through The Black Marble without watery eyes.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 92%

#1075 Kill Me Again (1989)

Kill Me Again begins kind of lame as for some reason deems necessary to rerun all the banalities of the neo-noir genre. It’s only after the movie finally starts steering away from the obvious clichés that it finds its own tone of voice, ending a much better than anticipated thriller.

Although the then-couple Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley make for a dynamic beat up private detective treacherous femme fatale duo, it’s Michael Madsen that ends up stealing the show as the menacing, force of a nature antagonist.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 81%

#1073 Last Rites (1988)

Last Rites follows a New York priest who goes against the mafia protecting a Mexican immigrant.

Tom Berenger is charismatic as always. Heck – he was likeable even as a white supremacist in Betrayed. Daphne Zuniga who already had a number of successful lead roles under her belt on the other hand feels like a miscast as the Mexican femme fatale. Surely there would’ve been many actual latinos that could’ve pulled off the role with more ease.

Despite some obvious loans from other movies, I can’t say I’ve watched anything that really resembles Last Rites, which is why I actually ended liking the movie quite a lot. It’s an interesting twist on similar kind of thrillers and manages to keep a few aces up its sleeve until the very last minutes to the film.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 86%

#1062 Out of Bounds (1986)

Out of Bounds was Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to break out of the numerous nerd roles he got typecast to during the first half of the 80s.

As such the movie is a success and young Hall makes a surprisingly believable action lead here, much better than the performance he would give two years later in Johnny Be Good, his another 80s movie outside the geek mould. Sure, there’s some overacting involved and everything is oh much too touch on the streets of L.A., but this has more to do with the style of the movie itself and Hall isn’t the worst culprit here.

I liked the movie. Cinematography, action and all the good kind of 80s movie clichés were well presented and Jeff Kober who was formerly unknown to me creates certainly one of the more menacing and memorable movie villains out of one’s worst nightmares. Out of Bounds was generally forgotten upon its release and wasn’t available on DVD, but finally got a proper high definition release on Amazon’s Prime Video a few years back.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1033 Murphy’s Law (1986)

A decade of buddy cop movies, the 80s also saw a minor wave of cop & criminal buddy movies with a similar formula, but more concentration on seeing the two clash together.

Murphy’s Law is a pretty decent Charles Bronson action crime flick, but a totally worthless buddy movie. The petty criminal sidekick – who was probably something of a last minute add on to the movie as she doesn’t really contribute to anything here plot wise – never grows along with the movie and suffers from possibly the worst case of inept dialogue I’ve yet witnessed in a film.

Bronson pretty much walks through the movie without passion and can’t breath any real life into his character of the alcoholic cop battling with his demons.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 58%

#1032 Breathless (1983)

Although I always aim to avoid reading of a movie before watching it to keep my bias down, in most cases with the mainstream cinema with notable actors, I already know the movie at least on some level.

Breathless was a complete surprise to me, and a positive one at that. Richard Gere plays a petty criminal from Las Vegas travelling to Los Angeles to find a girl he had a flake and gets involved in killing of a police officer. True to his nonchalant style he tries to shake it all off but soon finds himself on the run, slowly coming into realisation that for the first time in his life his charm can’t buy him out of the situation.

Gere is pretty much born to play the role of the ”seedy Vegas boy. Thinks he’s cute”, like one of the assistants behind the counter aptly puts it. Paul Newman’s amazing performance in Cool Hand Luke remains untouchable, but this is by far the best stab at it I’ve yet witnessed.

Combining elements of crime, sex, comics and rockabilly music, Breathless is stylish, crude crime and love story straight out of a cheap pulp magazine – and very much an underappreciated gem.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 91%

#1028 Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

Throw Momma from the Train, Danny DeVito’s feature film directional debut is a success.

The movie is never taxing to follow, visually pleasing and would’ve even withstood a somewhat longer cut; at its current running time of only 87 minutes, the great roleplay of Anne Ramsey is cut short and the nastiness of the mother from hell is never established quite enough. Not enough to warrant throwing her out from the train, at least.

The movie is based on the 1951 Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train and does a smart move by not trying to hide this, but intertwining it as the central turn of events in the movie.

I do love nods like these in movies.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 85%

#1024 The Private Eyes (1980)

The Private Eyes presents us with a classic mansion whodunnit comedy that makes for a surprisingly entertaining watch.

It’s a slapstick comedy making a solid imitation of the similar movies from the famous comedic duos of the yesteryear, namely Abbot and Costello. Starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts who made a series of comedies together starting from 1975, The Private Eyes is their best known movie, and also their final full length feature film together.

The movie is made with the young audience in mind with spooky bits comparable to an episode of Scooby Doo. The jokes are somewhat tame and obvious, but performed in an entertaining way by the duo.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 68%

#1016 Sunset (1988)

Second cooperation between the director Blake Edwards and the up and Bruce Willis (the first one being a failure of a comedy called Blind Date) Sunset is a modern Hollywood take of a crime story taking place in the classic Hollywood of the late 1920s.

Willis shows a lot of the same onscreen magnetism that made him a superstar later in the same year with the release of Die Hard, and fits well to the part of a fancy pants silent era western star. James Garner also plays the role of the aged Wyatt Earp with a similar charism and his presence on the screen is always a pleasure to follow. And that’s pretty much all the movie has going for it.

Despite all the action the movie just doesn’t have the momentum to keep things interesting enough and I did notice I had to struggle a little to keep up the interest, and Sunset is ultimately kept afloat solely by its above average cast.

80s-o-meter: 59%

Total: 61%

#1003 City Heat (1984)

What was it with the obsession with the 1940s gangster movies? City Heat is another movie to join the club with Harlem Nights, Hammett, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Cotton Club, Johnny Dangerously and many, many others in this seemingly pointless exercise of taking a hard boiled classic crime story and recreating it in color.

Sure, I get it. These are the movies that generation lived up with and they want to pay a homage to the bygone era, and possibly get a spark of that old movie magic along with it. But the movies often rely too heavily on just the atmosphere with a paper thin plot, and if told in contemporary setting just wouldn’t fly at all. So is the case with City Heat as well.

On top the 1940s visuals the movie relies heavily on the personal charism of the two major leads, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood, but the chemistry is just anywhere to be found. To save your time, just watch through the last minute of the movie and you get a thorough overview of what the movie has to offer.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 17%

#998 Harlem Nights (1989)

48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child and Coming to America; for Eddie Murphy the 80s was a series of commercial and critical triumphs after another, and it was only his debut as the director and the writer of Harlem Nights that ended up that honeymoon with the critics.

But not with the broad audience, as Harlem Nights – Murphy’s last movie of the decade – was a box office success, even if not nearly as massive as his previous titles.

The movie itself is a pretty sloppy, Hollywood take on the 1930s gangster theme so clichéd it was obviously inspired by watching other movies rather than digging into the history books. If you get past the pastiche aspect as well as the somewhat uninspired periodical setting established only to justify the caricature-like characters, Harlem Nights becomes a somewhat tolerable scoundrel comedy, and even lands a rewarding feel good ending that succeeded to made the minutes put into watching the movie feel worth the while in the end.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 63%

#990 In Country (1989)

In Country is a drama about a young girl who lost his father in the Vietnam war before she was born and who now on the verge of adulthood is set out to know more about his father through reading his old letters and trying to discuss with his former brothers in arms. Problem is, nobody wants to tear open the old wounds.

The movie never grasped me and the themes In Country tries to convey of coming to age mixed with shadows of the war and healing are obvious, but delivered in a way that is supposed to be touching, but end up indifferent. The big promised revelations of the plot never actually materialise and the powerful ending just does not speak to me.

Bruce Willis does a likeable, but very Bruce Willis like performance as the uncle suffering with PTSD, but his performance alone is not a good reason enough to warrant watching through the movie.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 51%

#988 The Executioner’s Song (1982)

Tommy Lee Jones stars in The Executioner’s Song, a solid made for TV movie documenting the life and ultimate death of Gary Gilmore who was executed in 1977 upon his own request.

Unlike many other crime movies, The Executioner’s Song doesn’t go out to glamourise the killer or the criminal life style and handles its subject in a way that seems semi-documentary at times. Gilmore is pictured as a complex, short-tempered man who often resorts in violence and even in the passing moments of regret he still maintains his ominous, possessive and obsessive presence.

Tommy Lee Jones makes the best out of the role, easily outperforming the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 64%

#986 Hammett (1982)

Directed by Wim Wenders, Hammett is a crime / mystery movie done in the style of the old film noir movies. Rest assured, this is not a neo-noir take of the genre, but a homage that really goes out its way to recreate the look and feel of the old 40s and 50s movies – only in full colour this time around.

The die hard fans of film noir will probably find something like about this recreation, but personally I really wasn’t that sold on the concept, and would’ve appreciated some sort of evolutionary step to make the concept feel less of a rehash of the oldies.

Purely as a film noir movie Hammett fares quite well, and as the mystery starts to unravel, the movie isn’t a chore at all to watch. But I was to choose a movie for a rainy Sunday, my pick would be one of the original black and white movies.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 57%

#917 Without a Trace (1983)

An absolute nightmare of any parent, Without a Trace follows the story of a mother whose six year old boy disappears on his way to the school. Based on the novel Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon, which is in turn partly based on the disappearance of Etan Patz, a New York kid who famously became the first lost child to be profiled on the a milk carton in the early 80s.

What makes Without a Trace interesting is the approach of concentrating on the effect that the disappearance has on the parents, and less so to the actual detective work to find the boy – which here only leads to a number dead ends. As time passes without any clues, the journalists and the public move on and it seems like a much more demanding task to get anyone interested in finding child, now assumed lost for good.

Despite the near made-for-TV quality and disappointing – if a little surprising – resolution of the case, Without a Trace is an emotional ride that manages to keep the interest and the hopes of the viewer up until the very last minutes.

80s-o-meter: 62%

Total: 68%

#913 Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

I’ll never understand people’s fascination with the mob and the huge popularity and high rating of the gangster movies depicting the lifestyle of these crooks. In Once Upon a Time in America we get to see a gang of jewish delinquents who grow up mugging drunkards in early 20th century Manhattan, helping out smugglers and eventually getting involved in a kill and a stabbing of a police officer. Later we witness them running a speakeasy during the prohibition era, and while not involved in shady business, they steal diamonds in violent heists, murder people and just for the heck of it rape a few women along the way.

I couldn’t wait for them to get caught, but as you know this never happens in these movies that beg the viewers to side with the criminals.

The director Sergio Leone has set out to direct an epic movie and it really shows in the fabulous set and costume design that capture the look and feel of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in three different decades in a truly magnificent and cinematic way. I watched the 4-hour Extended Director’s Cut and don’t have any benchmark what the lengthy ’definitive’ cut of the movie adds the original theatrical cut but some tediously long scenes of endless dialogue and fading out lights.

I guess if the organised crime is your thing, you’ll be enjoying what Once Upon a Time in America for what it has to offer. Personally it seems like a totally wasted chance to tell a proper story with some actual human interest.

80s-o-meter: 32%

Total: 41%

#910 Finders Keepers (1984)

Remember The Whoopee Boys that I reviewed a while back? It took me awhile to even make the connection that Michael O’Keefe from that stinker of a movie is the same actor that plays the lead here, so much on another level is his performance in Finders Keepers. Here he manages to make for a perfect lovable scoundrel and even to pull off some genuinely funny physical comedy, both of which not easy feats at all.

Aiding him is Beverly D’Angelo from the National Lampoon’s Vacation fame and I really dug the weird chemistry between the two. Brian Dennehy makes for a terrific constantly outraged local mayor of a Nebraska two horse town and last but definitely not least David Wayne is just simply hilarious as the baffling, demented old conductor. Fans of Jim Carrey might be interested to check out the movie as he visits the set briefly as a local yokel in a performance only a shadow of the things to come.

Finders Keepers is one funny and entertaining comedy and a forgotten gem to add to your watch list.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 87%

#906 Best Seller (1987)

It wasn’t too long into the moody start sequence of Best Seller with the four gunmen violently making their way to the high security police evidence storage unit to steal evidence, that I knew I was onto something good.

It’s after this prologue that we see the cop – turned a writer since – some 15 years later on a pursuit after a suspect, and getting an unexpected help from a mysterious figure in an expensive suit. The stranger eventually encounters him, promising to hand out the biggest revelation scoop ever, guaranteed to land him the next best selling novel.

I wasn’t stoked to see James Woods in the role of the crook, but it seems I just have to admit I’m just completely wrong about him as he once again triumphs in the role, making a great hitman with some chilling psychopathic traits. The huge framed Brian Dennehy – one of our favourite supporting act movie sheriffs – carries the lead role with ease and natural charm.

Stylish, moody and suspenseful, Best Seller is one of the most positive surprises of the year.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 92%

#903 Silkwood (1983)

Whoa. Nuclear processing plants sure weren’t that nice places to work in during the 70s. Safety violations compromising the health of the workers were not unheard of and unions that had interest in workers’ rights and environmental issues were kept out with even some of the employees standing up for the company, afraid to losing their job.

Based on real events that unfolded at Ken-McGee fuel fabrication site in Oklahoma between 1972 and 1974, Silkwood gains a credibility by not representing its subject Karen Silkwood as a saint, but a controversial character and a co-worker who rarely shied away from conflicts.

Meryl Streep wears the role well, making the character her’s. Cher and Kurt Russell both do well in their supporting roles, but somehow just can’t shake of their perfect 10 Hollywood aura to successfully pull off the blue collar worker act.

Silkwood is built towards its climate with such a tour de force that the actual ending falls flat in comparison. Even so, Silkwood’s message of ruthless corporations, money and politics is timeless, and definitely worth a watch.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 81%