#1669 Apprentice to Murder (1988)

A US-Norwegian-Canadian co-production Apprentice to Murder portrays of Pennsylvanian folk healer and his apprentice getting far too deep into dark powers of their craft in a story that very successfully blurs the line between real and make-belief, wrong and right, and good and bad.

I was surprised to learn the movie was shot entirely in Norway, so my hat is off to the production team who very skilfully concealed this fact, and totally sold me the location of 1920s Pennsylvania.

Although shot in mainstream Hollywood fashion, Apprentice to Murder (apparently based on a real historic event) is a very untypical movie but in a good way. It boldly goes quite deep into religious fanaticism, dark sides of human psyche and superstition.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 72%

#1668 Agnes of God (1985)

Agnes of God presents us with an enigma of a young, eccentric nun giving a birth, insisting the now dead infant was a result of virgin conception, but it never really gives a solid answer to the actual events, or who was the culprit behind it all.

It’s an interesting concept, but the movie never manages to tell it in an interesting way. The same dullness continues in the cinematography and the locations, and the movie is never quite entertaining to watch.

The most prominent feature of the movie is seeing the 80s fitness idol Jane Fonda smoking a truckload of (fake, as it turns out) cigarettes, lighting one up in pretty much every scene she is in.

80s-o-meter: 15%

Total: 31%

#1667 The Bostonians (1984)

I sigh audibly every time I’m to sit down and watch another period picture set in 19th century, especially one with a romantic theme to it.

The Bostonians wasn’t as bad costume drama as I feared, though. Its manuscript based on Henry James’ novel of the same name has some interesting aspects to it, like women’s rights movement and the implied one sided love story between the female leads, but as with many similar movies the end result is just plain dull, and the plot is stuck in the same place pretty much throughout the movie.

I was surprised by the ending, though.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 32%

#1666 Endless Love (1981)

Endless Love is one of those movies that you learn to appreciate much more after you realise it’s a pure work of fiction not even meant to resemble anything that might take place in real life.

It’s after this realisation that you might find yourself enjoying the movie, like myself. In fact the whole concept of a love story gone horribly wrong is a really interesting one, and one that I can’t find any resemblance from the movies I’ve seen.

It’s only the weak, open ended ending that felt to me keeping this movie from greatness; after creating such a bold plot twists I hoped the movie makers had the guts to ride the wave all the way to the ending.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 76%

#1664 The Killing Fields (1984)

A  biographical drama film about the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, based on the experiences of journalists Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg, The Killing Fields may a British film taking place in Asia, but there are numerous things that make it interesting, and very much worth your time.

First of a all, it was nominated in seven categories in the 1985 Academy Awards, taking home awards for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Actor in Supporting Role for Haing S. Ngor, for whom this was amazingly his first acting experience ever.

Secondly, it’s a good movie about an interesting historical events, told in a realistic – even nihilistic – way, but spiced up with interesting supporting characters we learn about, and soon learn to care for. Its story about journalistic integrity, human rights and inequality is every bit as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 87%

#1663 Six Weeks (1982)

Ho hum. It’s Dudley Moore once more playing Dudley Moore, this time not only falling in love with beautiful woman, but also with her daughter who is terminally ill.

It’s not the most original concept as far as tear jerker dramas go, and for the Six Weeks felt really, really calculated effort that never managed to move me. Call me cynical, but this one did not feel like coming from the heart at all.

There are some good moments between Moore and the daughter, and the odd love triangle between the three is something that keeps the interest somewhat up in an otherwise snoozefest of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 29%

#1662 Prime Risk (1985)

The poster for Prime Risk makes a bold comparison to War Games, stating this movie will make it look like ’kid stuff’.

The reference is not unfound as prime risk successfully draws from its paragon, presenting us a similar setup where youngsters’ mostly innocent tomfoolery turns out something much more than they originally bargained for. In Prime Risk, it’s hacking credit cards that leads to a plot of a hostile nation aiming to crash the U.S. monetary system.

What it comes to hacking and peeping behind curtains of state secrecy and international politics, Prime Risk is an excellent contender to War Games, only taking a few missteps towards the end by turning more into an action packed agent movie rather than what War Games ingeniously pulled off. Still, anyone who enjoyed War Games will find a lot to be loved here.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 84%

#1661 Mata Hari (1985)

After starring in Emmanuelle, Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel got typecast to movies of the similar nature, ie a sexually liberated young woman in seek of erotic moments, tied together by a very loose plot.

The value of these erotic movies in these days and times are close to zero, and Mata Hari is no exception. It is a shame since some real effort was done to put the movie together, and the locations, costume design and war scenes are pretty well done, considering how weak the movie is otherwise.

80s-o-meter: 13%

Total: 11%

#1657 Ratboy (1986)

Even before I started to watch Ratboy, I had a feeling that it was going to be something exceptional. But little I knew that it was going to be exceptionally bad.

And bad it is, oh boy. I would go as far as to say that out of the 1657 80s movies I’ve watched so far this one is the worst. Sondra Locke is apparently the primus motor behind this train wreck of a movie, starring in the lead role and sitting on the director’s chair, and for both parts she fails miserably putting on one of the least likeable characters ever and acting like it was a chore for her, and not being able to find any gold nuggets from Rob Thompson’s script. Maybe there was nothing there to be found – I don’t know – but at that point it could’ve been a better call to go for another script instead.

If there is anything good about the movie is the way it never manages to show its main character favourably like these kinds of movies usually do; having a heart of gold, or some other supernatural skill that makes him exceptional for the viewer. He is just a small man with glued on rat like features who enjoys living in dirt, is not that bright, farts, panics and gets angry easily (resorting to even beating up two women with a stick).

Ratboy is one of those movies that just leaves one scratching their head wondering what kind of reasoning got this project greenlighted, funded and cast with a relatively well known actors. Was there never anyone in the project team with the guts to stand up to say what we are doing here might ultimately be a just a huge waste of celluloid?

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: -10%

#1655 Beyond the Stars (1989)

It’s hard to fathom a bad movie and bad acting from Martin Sheen – yet here it is in the shape of Beyond the Stars.

The manuscript my the director David Saperstein is nothing short of idiotic and unconvincing, and it is painful to watch Sheen struggling through portraying a retired astronaut troubled with his extraterrestrial conflicts. It is especially the idiotic conclusion that still wants me to facepalm, almost two weeks after finishing the movie.

The fans of Christian Slater will probably find something to like here as Slater gives one of his cookie cutter performances of the 80s, but others should probably steer away.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1646 Patti Rocks (1988)

You know that screw up of a friend you don’t want anything to do with, but who for one reason or another manages to get you involved in his affairs, ”just for this one more time”.

In Patti Rocks that guy is Billy, played by Chris Mulkey. Billy is unlikely many other lovable bastards often seen in movies in a way that he at times manages to hover over likeable, but more often than not comes across just obnoxious. He is the kind of a guy with his sexist jokes that would make me want to switch tables at bar, and kind of a guy who would accuse anyone doing so of not having a sense of humour.

But his friend Eddie seems to be able to stomach him, and drives him on a long road trip filled with sexist jokes to settle the score with a girl – Patti Rocks – he got pregnant.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 40%

#1643 Cross Creek (1983)

I’ve a strange kind of romantic longing for the Everglades, and similar wetlands located in the southernmost states of the eastern USA. Strange because I could likely not stand the weather or humidity, or the isolation. But I guess its the quite unique, secret and hidden world of these parts that manage to catch my imagination.

80s offerings in this area has been something of a hit and miss. Starting from a-ok Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing to pretty nice The River Rat to complete stinkers like Shy People and Soggy Bottom, U.S.A there hasn’t been one definite movie that has been able to provide me the swamp experience what I’ve been looking for – until I came across Cross Creek.

On paper Cross Creek is a movie that was likely to be one of those slow, pompous, utterly boring period pictures, but this director Martin Ritt’s depiction of the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings pushes all right buttons, managing to capture an array of greatly interesting and multi-dimensional characters. I was eager to get back to the movie’s world every time I had to pause the movie, and I felt the movie inviting me already to revisit it some time in the future.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 96%

#1634 Almost You (1984)

Listed as a 1984 movie by IMDB, and a March 1985 release according to Wikipedia, Almost You is a small, little known drama comedy of a love triangle (or a square, depending on how you count).

Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams are a disgruntled New York yuppie couple who get emotionally tangled with a nurse, whose actor boyfriend gets involved in the mess for some reason. All the characters are quite obnoxious and highly unrelatable, the plot feels phoney and the movie subjects us to watch through all of these superficial characters having one of the most dull dinner parties ever with a dialogue written and acted with an blatant intention to be witty, making this inept repartée even more painful to follow.

Almost You is a love movie that fails to make one emotionally, drama that fails to move and a comedy that fails to make one laugh – leaving very little to love about this movie.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 8%

#1632 Carny (1980)

I’ve always been a theme park aficionado, and as such I’ve a soft spot for carnivals and fairs, and similarly themed popular media. It was therefore a delight to see Carny during its first 30 minutes.

By that time many good and interesting things had taken place, and both Gary Busey’s and Jodie Foster’s interesting characters, and their relationship was established successfully. But as the carnival takes off from the town with Jodie Foster with it, so does the plot, going into all sorts of needless directions, none of which as interesting than what the movie had already going in its first minutes.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 52%

#1630 A Man for All Seasons (1988)

Apparently Charlton Heston would have wanted to star in the 1966 version of A Man for All Seasons that took home six Oscars in that year’s Academy Awards.

To the extend that to rectify this wrongdoing he would go on to direct his own made-for-TV version some 20 years later where he this time around stars in. Based on a play by Robert Bolt of the life of Sir Thomas More, this newer version of A Man for All Seasons still maintains the great wit and charm of the original.

Historical dramas – especially the made for TV ones – aren’t my cup of tea, but in this genre A Man for All Season definitely holds its own, thanks to its strong manuscript.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%