#1224 The Accused (1988)

There’s one piece of trivia for The Accused that’s particularly interesting: when seeing the screening cut of the film for the first time Jodie Foster thought her performance was bad – career ending bad –, and started looking into options what do for the rest of her life.

She would go on to win the Oscar for the best actress in a leading role for her performance in The Accused.

Based on actual events, The Accused is an unscrupulous movie that poses many interesting questions that challenge both the prosecuting lawyer and the viewer.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 88%

#1223 Daniel (1983)

Featuring one of the most interesting synopses along with the acting talent provided by Timothy Hutton, Daniel turns out disappointingly pointless exercise.

The movie aims to tell the fictive story of the two children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed in US for giving nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. But not only does the movie take liberties in its story (the names of the characters are completely changed), but manages to create a dull rendition of a super interesting piece of American history.

The movie assumes one to be aware of the incident, but still wades in lengthy flashbacks that do not really bring much information to explain what eventually took place or what were the motivations behind the accused acts. Even more disappointingly the movie weasels out and refuses to take any kind of stance on the events, leaving the viewer with pretty much a big pile of nothing.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 21%

#1219 The Natural (1984)

Here’s a movie that presents us with a big mystery, but does very little in explaining that mystery to us.

Furthermore, the movie seems to solely concentrate on glorifying the saintlike, handsome and talented Robert Redford. While Redford is a totally cool dude in my books, the movie offers very little else than him a pedestal performing miracles, expecting for us to stand in awe in front of his greatness.

I thought I was going to see a biographical movie – usually the most interesting approach to what it comes to sports movies – but it isn’t. It isn’t much of a sports movie either; they could’ve picked anything else they wished as Roy Hobbs’ super power. Like knitting, horse riding or firefighting.

For The Natural they decided to go with the baseball.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 43%

#1217 Punchline (1988)

There’s a definite moment in Punchline that made me fall in love with it; as Lilah Krytsick (Sally Field) – a housewife aiming to be a standup comedian – finally comes out of her shell in front of the audience, aided by the talented, but troubled comedian played by Tom Hanks.

John Goodman as her polish husband provides rest of the wholesome, heartfelt moments in the movie. Such a big hearted guy.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 77%

#1216 Murphy’s Romance (1985)

A divorced woman along with his son move to an old ranch in Arizona and forms a deep friendship with an older gentleman.

Just when the relationship starts to form into something more meaningful things get interesting when her scoundrel of an ex-husband shows up, swearing it’s all water under the bridge now and that he is a reformed man. Brian Kerwin’s performance as the charming but petty man child of an ex-husband is perfectly executed and provides the best comedy bits of the movie.

A romantic comedy is always a triumph when it’s something us men can also stomach. Murphy’s Romance definitely falls into this category.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 76%

#1215 Missing (1982)

Missing is a movie about a daring subject: the disappearance of an American journalist after a violent US-backed military coup in Chile and the cover-up that took place afterwards.

Too bad the execution of the the movie is nowhere as interesting as the subject itself; most of the films running time is spent with the father not really grasping the situation, when the gravity of the events has been clear to the audience a long time ago. Also, to me the movie lacked actual context of where (Chile as a location is never mentioned in the movie) the events took place and why and how did they unravel the way they did.

The message of the movie (and its original book) still remains strong and is a good reminder to us small people of the collateral damage approach many countries have driving their foreign policy.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 61%

#1211 That’s Life! (1986)

A non-union film shot with family members at the Malibu house of the writer-director Blake Edwards, That’s Life! could be the most professional home movies ever shot.

The movie has that Blake Edwards look and feel to it, but in a positive way. Jack Lemmon carries the movie through making a perfedct example how to play a neurotic character without being annoying to watch, like is often the case.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 62%

#1207 Ironweed (1987)

Ironweed is not nearly as grand movie as it wants to be.

Futhermore, the movie is not a triumph for neither Jack Nicholson nor Meryl Streep, who typically can carry any kind of movie, but here they come across multi-millionaires dressed up in rags and pretending to be alcoholic vagabonds. As weak as the story in Ironweed is, the movie could’ve actually gained from not going for the top billing actors, but trying to introduce new talent instead. This way the movie would’ve at least had the advantage of being an underdog.

Now Ironweed remains an expensive exercise that kept Nicholson and Streep on the peak of their careers from undertaking something more substantial – something that the time would not have already forgotten.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 55%

#1206 The Jazz Singer (1980)

Based on the 1927 movie of the same name, The Jazz Singer depicts a 40-year old jewish cantor rebelling against his father in a story that did not beg to be told.

It’s not exactly a good sign if during a remarkably bad musical movie it’s the music parts that you end up wanting to fast forward.

Most people that have seen The Jazz Singer seem to agree that it’s worth watching only for Neil Diamond’s songs and performances. As someone to whom the monumental success of mr. Diamond remains one of the biggest mysteries of popular music, I don’t have even that.

80s-o-meter: 7%

Total: 3%

#1202 Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Steven Soderbergh’s idea of using filmed video confessions as the way to drive the plot is brilliant; women opening up to share their sexual dreams and desires to the camera is both more believable and fresh than the usual approach of confiding to a shrink.

The interhuman relations and tensions are mouth watering right off the bat, but after the pinnacle of the movie is done with, Sex, Lies and Videotape leaves a strangely hollow and unsatisfactory feeling inside.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 70%

#1201 Five Corners (1987)

Another movie with a strong cast (Jodie Foster, John Turturro, Tim Robbins) but that has remained totally unknown to me – and presumably also for the wide audience.

Odds for finding a lost gold nugget with such a setup is usually slim to none, and such is the case also here. Based on the writer John Patrick Shanley’s experiences in growing up in Bronx during the sixties, the movie throws together a wide array of eccentric characters, out of which only few tie together in the end in a satisfactory way. The sixties does not provide any kind of additional story drivers nor elements, but serving only to provide a dose of nostalgia to certain audience segment.

Five Corners offers a few interesting insights to its quirky characters, but those characters and their real emotional drivers end up woefully hollow.

80s-o-meter: 15%

Total: 61%

#1200 Another Woman (1988)

Another Woman is exactly what you’d expect out of 80s drama by Woody Allen: Neurotic, middle-aged New York intellectuals going through life changing moments in their relationships.

Woody is a natural born story teller, and his sense for subtle drama is very well presented here: not once does the drama in Another Woman feel theatrical or forced.

Another Woman is an all around solid drama, but played through a bit too much as expected for my liking, failing to provide surprises to keep my interest at full 100%.

80s-o-meter: 52%

Total: 68%

#1197 A Soldier’s Story (1984)

The playwright Charles Fuller had a stroke of genius when he came up with the concept behind A Soldier’s Story: a murder mystery taking place deep south in segregated Louisiana and involving a African-American regiment looking forward to be shipped to serve in WWII.

A Soldier’s Story includes multiple intriguing themes: the struggle for equality, the mental stress while stuck in a limbo, and of course all the bigotry and racism that takes place in the army camp – but not the way you expected.

The movie is a triumph; its story is equally entertaining and thought provoking, directing solid, time period effortlessly established and the cast does not include one single weak link.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 93%

#1194 The Border (1982)

One of the rare misses for Jack Nicholson that didn’t gather nominations nor become a box office success, The Border is far from a failure as a movie.

in fact, it’s one of the most interesting looks into the situation at the U.S – Mexico border, picturing the very different everyday struggle that takes place on each side. Nicholson plays to a perfection the role of a border control agent trying to make the ends meet while struggling to hang onto his integrity, making it in my books one of the more memorable roles of the era.

The Border ended up being much, much more enjoyable movie than I anticipated and it is kept from greatness only by its 70s style sudden death ending that cuts the potentially gratifying final events much too short, leaving some vital questions unsatisfyingly unanswered.

80s-o-meter: 63%

Total: 78%

#1193 Christmas 2019: The Christmas Star (1986)

This year’s Christmas special is by far the shortest yet. But, it’s also 100% longer than I previously anticipated as I thought I’d run out of eligible movies already last year,

The Christmas Star is one of those movies shot in Canada, but with U.S. actors and look & feel to make a saving in the production costs. The cast is actually remarkably good for a totally unknown little movie; familiar faces here include Ed Asner (who’s known for portraying Santa in various films), Rene Auberjonois (who sadly passed away earlier this month), Alan North and Fred Gwynne.

The story itself is basic, but manages to find an interesting sidetrack from the usual Santa Claus movies. The Christmas Star is not a big budget movie, but being a Disney movie there’s a certain quality to the production.

I watched the movie together with my 6-year old daughter who was glued to the screen right from the beginning to the end. So did The Christmas Star just become a xmas tradition for our family? That’s to be seen next year!

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 83%

#1192 Author! Author! (1982)

Al Pacino’s winning streak that started in the 70s continued to the early 80s.

Author! Author! is Pacino’s lesser known work between Cruising and Scarface, but turned out to be a positive surprise. It’s a drama of a playwright going through a divorce process, but there are no manipulative tearjerker elements here – nobody gets sick or dies – and the movie draws its strength from everyday elements of a broken family trying to get from a day to another.

What seemed on a superficial level yet another pretentious early 80s romantic comedy with forced dramatic elements turned out to be one of the most moving depictions of changing modern family dynamics.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 72%

#1150 Little Nikita (1988)

What would you do if your parents would turn out to be something completely different than you grew up believing? And furthermore, would you betray them to save them?

The set up of Little Nikita is certainly thought provoking and it seamlessly mixes up interesting aspects of family dynamics, betrayal, cold war and coming to age while realising nothing you’ve built your life upon so far might not actually be as they seem.

I found very little that I would like to change in Little Nikita and the concept felt refreshingly different while still maintaining good dramatic sense and all the basic building blocks of a solid thriller.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 88%

#1149 China Girl (1987)

China girl is a modern Romeo and Juliet kind of take on forbidden love between two youngsters of different ethnic backgrounds.

The movie establishes its fairytale like mood well right of the bat and mixes it up with some delicious eighties aesthetics and over the top dramatics.

The pacing of the movie works well, and what starts as a harmless rush soon escalates further and further out of control, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat until the very end that wraps up true to its classic story origins.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 87%

#1144 The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

The Unbelievable Truth follows a man returning to his home town after serving a prison sentence for homicide and trying to start anew, and the daughter of a car repair shop, who rebels against his father and her old life as a Harvard admitted grade-A student.

This is one of those movies where the actual plot sounds somewhat lame if recapped, as The Unbelievable Truth is all about small quirky things that take place outside the main storyline. Like for example the scenes with the cocky, soon to be ex boyfriend who, dressed up in a $170 suit, who at first declares the world is his oyster, only to later go into pieces throughout the movie as she walks out of his life without ever looking back.

While I didn’t fall in love with the movie, I do want to give this one another go in the future to see if there are another layers to be found within.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 65%

#1134 Alamo Bay (1985)

”I don’t know what to tell you, Dinh. You gotta be one of the last cowboys left in Texas”.

Alamo Bay, a fictive movie about actual clashing between refugee Vietnamese and local fisherfolk around Galveston Bay, Texas in the turn of the decade did not catch my interest at first as I was excepting yet another superficially inspirational tale of prejudice and racism rooted deep within the people that just gets sorted with overnight. But the director Louis Malle does not let things slide that easily and turns the movie into nerve wrenching thriller where in the end there might not be any winners at all.

Ed Harris delivers something of a immaculate performance as the unforgiving local fisherman who seeks for vengeance after losing his boat to the bank.

80s-o-meter: 77%

Total: 84%