#1493 The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

After her family moves to an old house, a 14-year old Milly encounters Eric, a young boy shut in his own world.

Soon after befriending him she begins to wonder if there is more to this boy and in his obsession to paper planes and flying, than meets the eye. Two separate site plots follow Milly’s mother struggling to get back to the now-computerised 80s work life, as well as her brother’s struggle with the neighbourhood bullies.

The Boy Who Could Fly is a brief and likeable peek into the life of a suburban family encountering wonderful events, most of which I unfortunately struggled to identify with.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1490 Smithereens (1982)

Smithereens is a low budget in the production depicting a young girl in the early 80s New York punk scene who’s determined she is destined for greatness, despite lacking any talent to make it.

Instead, she tries to hang around local small time music celebrities and makes one bad choice after another that cost her her apartment, friends and generally always seem to take her further away from recognitions she’s after.

I found the movie slow and mostly uninteresting to watch, but it did stick with me later on, thanks to its sincerity, and quite original plot – so, not a total stinker.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 52%

#1489 Immediate Family (1989)

I keep of finding the oddest movies I at first don’t remember watching before, but throughout the movie I have this nagging feeling I’ve seen them before. With Immediate Family this became apparent as soon as Mary Stuart Masterson was introduced as a teen mother giving her to-be-born child for adoption to a couple unable to bear children of their own.

A movie about teenage pregnancy as much as dealing with infertility, Immediate Family plays just the right notes throughout the movie, but for some reason the movie ends up less than the sum of its first class parts.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 64%

#1488 Under the Volcano (1984)

Out of the alcoholic consuls stuck somewhere in the Southern America (Beyond the Limit being the other one), Under the Volcano makes for a stronger contestant.

Although quite different kind of beasts, what both movies have in common on top of heavy drinking is the highly volatile political situation. But with Under the Volcano the emphasis of the thriller and drama elements are more on whether the main character will manage to overcome his alcoholism and demons in the moment when happy ever after is being served to him on a silver platter.

What really makes Under the Volcano is the outstanding performance by Albert Finney whose work as the highly intellectual and sympathetic consul Firmin is often over the board, but never even closely forced nor insincere.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 70%

#1487 Beyond the Limit aka The Honorary Consul (1983)

The weird coincidences the I come across watching all these 80s movies never seize to amaze me: I watched two movies about alcoholic Consuls stuck somewhere in the South Africa almost back to back.

Beyond the Limit is the weaker one of these and it being of British origin it was one of those movies I was on the verge whether I should include it to this movie watching project. Ultimately it was Richard Gere, playing a callous doctor who lusts after the Consul’s (Michael Caine) young wife.

While the movie manages to find a captivating tone of voice during its run time, it’s the final surprising and interesting events that fortunately redeem many of the movie’s shortcomings during the last 20 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 55%

#1486 The Hanoi Hilton (1987)

Portraying a bunch of American soldiers imprisoned in the Viet Cong Hỏa Lò prison during the 1960s and early 1980s, Hanoi Hilton turns a tremendously potent set up into a lot lukewarm and mostly an interesting depiction of soldiers forgotten by the war, and their country.

The movie follows many soldiers, but never quite stays long enough with one, or gets under their skin to make us really root for them. Everything from torture to mind games never quite seems to touch, and the made for television look & feel coupled with a strong shot inside a studio feeling does not really add to the authenticity.

Maybe if the approach would’ve been even more daring – like sharing one single cell all through the movie with a prisoner – we could’ve gotten a better sense of what was it like to locked up with no human contacts.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 45%

#1485 The River Rat (1984)

Just when I saw Martha Plimpton in a swamp themed movie, I came across The River Rat that precedes that movie two years and yes, is also about people living in the wetlands. And sure, one could make an argue for The Mosquito Coast being a distant relative to the both.

Here young Plimpton plays Jonsy, a foul-mouthed kid living with her grandma that tries to connect with her dad (Tommy Lee Jones), fresh out of jail for the first time in her life. The two find some common ground as they refurbish River Rat, an old river boat.

The past returns to haunt the ex-jailbird in the form of Brian Dennehy, and it’s a pleasure to watch these two veteran actors together. Although not much of a thriller, I did enjoy how the movie played out without going down the most obvious route.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 70%

#1483 Resurrection (1980)

What Resurrection has going for it is an interesting premise where a woman discovers she has developed a healing powers after getting nearly killed in a car crash. How the movie handles dramatic structure after this is bit of a hit and miss though.

Her self discovery after the accident, first realisation of the power, relationship with the community and difficult relationship with her father are all very interesting themes, but the latter two could’ve been explored much further. Instead the story drifts off to involve her difficult relations ship with her lover along with religious themes that are far less interesting.

Ellen Burstyn has been flying totally under my radar despite her winning the Oscar for best Actress in academy awards on 1975 with Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. In Resurrection she is simply wonderful, portraying a person with warm supernatural power in her without overdoing or overselling it one bit.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#1482 Making Love (1982)

Sometimes watching a movie without reading the covers can be beneficial. Judging by its name, with Making Love I expected to get a typical daring early 80s, post sexual revolution romantic drama with painful emphasis on the constant love making, but what I got instead is a study into one married man’s journey to coming into realisation of his homosexuality.

Most of the movie and the drama in it is still very relevant, even though the movie is almost 40 years old. The way that the movie portrays the love of the two leads is particularly beautiful, and the moment of them having to let go of each other is truly heart breaking.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 75%

#1481 Face of the Enemy (1989)

Featuring one of the most interesting synopsis’ I’ve encountered in the recent years, Face of the Enemy is a low budget drama thriller about a former CIA agent who after getting caught and tortured in Middle-East has since returned to home and working as a guard, until he one year recognises someone who he suspects is one of his captors that has since moved to the states under different identity. After the officials decline any help he takes the actions to his own hands and decides to prison the suspect to his cellar and force out the confession out of her.

With Face of the Enemy the director Hassan Ildari has managed to create an intriguing little thriller with minimalistic elements. The trip to the depths of the human psyche is dark and interesting from the start to the end, but Face of the Enemy in its 100 minutes of running time does very little but scratch the surface of what could be hidden underneath; this is one of those concepts that would’ve probasbly worked even better as mini series.

That, or a novel.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 70%

#1480 Everybody’s All-American (1988)

What happens to that perfect college football hero and his beauty pageant girlfriend couple after they marry and grow up. This is what Taylor Hackford’s Everybody’s All-American aims to give an answer to.

Based on a 1981 novel of the same name by Frank Deford, Everybody’s All-American manages to avoid almost all of the clichés usually related to sports movies. Similarly its characters avoid falling into typical caricatures and show some actual humane traits.

I wasn’t sold on the final closure of the movie, but the road to there is filled with interesting, lifelike moments that feel nothing like pasted on.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 72%

#1479 Resting Place (1986)

Another made-for-TV movie with a super interesting premise, Resting Place takes place in early 70s as an US Army Major (John Lithgow) arrives to a small souther town to with a body of young deceased African-American sergeant and soon finds out the family is denied of his burial on the graveyard reserved for whites.

When everything else fails, the major turns out to officials, local newspapers and finally his team, who to his surprise seem to keep shush about the actual events leading to the sergeant’s death.

Resting Place is one of those made for tv movies that manages to better 90% of the movies out there, and easily earns my recommendations for watching.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 87%

#1478 Shy People (1987)

American wetlands have always intrigued for their mystique, and I’m always happy to see a movie exploring the swampy southern regions. In Shy People we city slickers get to identify with a New York journalist and her daughter who travel to Louisiana to meet with their weird, backwards distant family.

There are lots of backwards ways in their lives. The family still looks up to an old patriarch of the family who has since left them, lives in a creaky old house and has one of the adult kids permanently locked up in a shed.

I get what the movie makers were going after with the concept, but everything in the movie feels super artificial and implausible. I lost my interest in the events and the characters in the very first minutes when they arrived to the swamp, and the movie failed to pick up my interest afterwards.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 22%

#1477 Square Dance (1987)

Square Dance is an exercise in futility. Stuff happens, people clash and fight and finally get back to the starting point with very little gained along the way.

Everything in the movie feels forced, and it was especially when the intellectually disabled young man played by Rob Lowe appears on screen that I felt the movie was totally without focus. But as it turns out, the only thing really working in the movie is Lowe’s character and I’d rather watched a movie about him rather than being subjected to all the other nonsense the movie tries to serve as a plot.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 16%

#1476 Staying Alive (1983)

Sylvester Stallone (of all people) co-wrote and directed the sequel to the 1977 landmark movie Saturday Night Fever – and it remains one of the few misfires in his career.

Staying Alive picks the story up years later of the original storyline, as Tony Manero (John Travolta) is now trying to make it big in the Broadway. Akin to many musicals of the era, it’s a struggle of getting noticed from a fleet of talented dancers.

The original’s heavy disco approach along with the killer soundtrack is what made it a phenomenon, when again Staying Alive is an early 80s fast food take on the subject; light drama is constantly mixed up with lengthy musical numbers, and neither one have enough memorable aspects to really stick with the viewer for more than a minute or two.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 51%