#1274 A Great Wall aka The Great Wall Is a Great Wall (1986)

A Chinese American man gets disheartened with his Silicon Valley job and takes a long vacation to Beijing for the very first time in forty years with his fully Americanised family with no roots to the mainland China.

The few cultural clashes are inevitable in this kind of setup in A Great Wall, but more interestingly the clashes are internal and take place within each family. None of the drama is too big and I did like the approach as it gave both families a great sense of depth and authenticity.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 75%

#1271 Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)

A portrayal of a Jewish family living together in 1937 Brooklyn, New York, Brighton Beach Memoirs concentrate on the story of Eugene, a horny 16-year-old trying to find an outlet for his sexual frustrations.

But almost every other character in the story is more interesting to follow. The movie gets its best moments out of the shared moments between the older brother, who makes several bad choices, and the father, who is surprises the son as well as the viewer with his totally unexpected compassion and wisdom.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 58%

#1270 Bustin’ Loose (1981)

Many of the 80s movies still feel fresh and topical, while others have it quite badly, and Richard Pryor’s Bustin’ Loose definitely falls into the latter category.

Not only does Bustin’ Loose feel badly aged, but it also has some questionable aspects to it. Like when Pryor’s small-time conman arranges a strip poker session with a bunch of 12-year-olds, and later physically attacks one of the kids after losing his temper.

I never was a fan of priors movie work – excluding Brewster’s Millions and the brilliant See No Evil, Hear No Evil – and the much outdated Bustin’ Loose is not going to change that.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 33%

#1268 Housekeeping (1987)

A critical success of movie of an odd ball sisters, who after getting orphaned end up with their eccentric aunt.

Housekeeping is one of those movies where you either get enchanted by the eccentricity, or don’t get much out of the movie, as happened to me. While I did enjoy the overall mood I found the characters uninteresting and pacing of the movie tedious.

For me a much more interesting story would’ve instead been that of the sister who’s torn with belonging to the dysfunctional family and wanting to fit it with the rest of the society.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 30%

#1262 Say Anything… (1989)

Sometimes when I encounter a movie written with great intellect and penmanship, I get an urge to write something equally meaningful and insightful about it.But sometimes the awe for great writing just renders me unable to come up with fancy words or witty similes.

This happened with Say Anything, where the writer / director Cameron Crowe has achieved something so sincere that leaves next to nothing to improve. The movie tells a love story that’s equally minimalistic, yet biggest thing in the universe through well-rounded, three dimensional characters without once resorting to easy solutions or tearjerkery. And it does all this with an illusion of ease, making the viewing experience unlaborious.

If the movie is a triumph for Crowe, it’s one also for the leads Ione Skye and John Cusack. It’s especially Cusack that performs the role of a lifetime, making Say Anything his no.1 film of the 80s, well ahead of Hot Pursuit and Better Off Dead.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 96%

#1259 Cheetah (1989)

Look, I know what I was getting into when starting to watch Cheetah; a family movie made by Walt Disney Pictures.

I had a reason though: I was hoping there’d be something here for us adults as well so that I could’ve added Cheetah to my catalogue of movies to watch with my kids later. But, there’s nothing here, and to be honest I don’t think the movie is that enchanting to the kids either.

One of the problems here is that for a movie that could’ve been about Cheetah (and Africa), it focuses instead on the young American siblings trying to save the day by busting a crooked Indian clerk and a bounty hunter after the Cheetah. Some of the locations are nice, but you’ll get better experience watching almost any National Geography documentary out there.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 25%

#1258 Date with an Angel (1987)

Whether you enjoy watching Date with an Angel at all depends on if you take it as a weird comedy with a huge credibility problem – or an adult fantasy fairytale that it is.

The sooner I accepted this, the more I started to enjoy the movie, especially considering that in a bigger picture it all kind of made sense in the end. My movie experience went from rolling my eyes, to getting somewhat engaged, to actually wanting to watch the movie again some time in the future.

I’d even consider the movie a triumph for managing to sell the viewer such an implausible setup, and I’d hoped the team had had more courage than to wrap up the movie otherwise than its current compromised crowd pleasing ending.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 81%

#1256 Old Gringo (1989)

A big money production depicting two Americans in the midst of the Mexican revolution, Old Gringo is a triumph settings wise, but if it has any deeper points to make, I kept on missing it.

Sure, sometimes the movies don’t need to make a point, but the Old Gringo is told in a way that it seems to make one, before completely sidetracking once again. In other words, there seems to be a good story hiding here somewhere, but it never surfaces.

Greckory Peck – who was 73 years old at the time – makes for a charismatic role a disillusioned author in search of a one last adventure, and maybe that one more sigh from a lady.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 57%

#1255 Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues aka The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (1984)

An official sequel to the 1972 original (there was a similarly named Return to Boggy Creek released in 1977 that didn’t involve the original director Charles B. Pierce) docudrama that became a huge success taking in accountthe shoestring budget it was film on.

While I haven’t seen the original and can’t compare the sequel to it, I do have to say that this is one of the most uninspired pieces of story ever put on celluloid. The director and mastermind Mr. Pierce that was behind the original not only directs, but takes credit for writing and starring as the lead of the movie.

And the lack of proficiency shows all over: the movie is drab, uninteresting show that judging by the trailer looks poorer and more dated than the 70s original.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 2%

#1253 The In Crowd (1988)

Teen dance party TV programs were apparently a thing in 1960s. The In Crowd taps into this phenomenon and offers a look into a life of a young gentleman who makes it to the show and becomes a huge celebrity in his school.

The movie seems extremely silly and trivial so it was very hard for me to have any empathy to their problems, knowing that the male rivals of the movie would settle the score by having a dance off together in a living room.

Yes, a dance off.

The In Crowd tells a story that did not beg to be told and offers a nostalgic trip for meant for those who were there or who really dig the era, or at least when accompanied with thick, rosy nostalgia goggles.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 11%

#1250 Permanent Record (1988)

Although the 80s is a decade of teen movies if any, the films that depict the teens without lowest common denominator generalisations are far and between. Permanent Record joins this small group of movies with flying colors.

First of all it steers away from the usual teen clichés, offering a very believable take on the day to day life of an Oregon high school student. Secondly, it quite rarely condescends to underlining and being over dramatic to make a point; the boy who decides to take his life is a fine looking, popular kid who seems to be going places, but still goes through his final solution. It may be a spur of the moment act, or something he premeditated for year, but just like his friends who are left to mourn, we will never know.

Towards the end of the movie the movie has two distinctive moments that could have easily turned pretentious, but it’s the sincere love that Permanent Record shows towards its characters that just makes them honest and purely heart breaking.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 94%

#1249 Dead Ringers (1988)

Ah, it’s a David Cronenberg movie, so you never quite know what it has to offer, but you know it’s going to be at least interesting.

In Dead Ringers Cronenberg tells a story of two identical twins who run their gynaecology clinic and while identical twins they seem like two sides of a coin that have their distinctive personal traits, but somehow complete each other as one person. They use their resemblance to their advance and so that the introverted twin gets to share the women seduced by the outgoing one, until a clash over one woman finally makes the twins drift apart, with disastrous consequences.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 84%

#1248 Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)

If one had to name Ridley Scott’s movie from 1987, even most of the movie enthusiasts would likely draw blank.

Someone to Watch Over Me is probably by far the least known full length feature film in Scott’s immaculate catalogue of movies. And it is a much more insignificant one, resembling more your typical 80s cop movie than a landmark film Scott is known for.

That being said, it’s still a quality movie written, acted, directed and shot with the best skill Hollywood has to offer, and it’s interesting to see Tom Berenger in this anti hero lead role where he is not a perfect cop, perfect husband nor a perfect human.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 85%

#1247 The Entity (1982)

Based on the story of a Californian woman claiming to having been raped repeatedly by an invisible force, The Entity makes its duty to tell the whole nonsensical story in detail.

While I don’t mind supernatural, the story here is a bit too much to take in, which is a shame since the production quality and acting is not half bad. The movie is also far too long at 125 minutes for a story that doesn’t have enough elements to fill even 30 minutes and the movie ends up just consisting of all too many similar scenes of the force entering the house to violate its victim.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 31%

#1245 No Small Affair (1984)

No Small Affair, a depiction of a nerdy 16 year old photographer falling hopelessly in love with a nightclub singer was originally written for Matthew Broderick in mind. And as much as I appreciate Jon Cryer’s later works, I can’t help but to think that the movie would’ve been much more believable with Broderick in lead.

With Cryer and Demi Moore as his love interest the movie kind of works, but the lack of real chemistry between the two hurt the overall experience. The movie does have its moments and as a whole it’s original and likeable, albeit without much of a rewatch qualities to it.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 72%

#1244 Teachers (1984)

Teachers would have been a better movie if it shifted its focus more on being either a comedy or a drama as the way how it mixes the two was not to my liking.

Right now the emphasis is on comedy, but as the movie later introduces some actually dramatic elements, like a young juvenile student getting assaulted in the school by his own father, the drama lost much of the impact it could’ve had.

Nick Nolte makes a very believable role as a teacher that is a rare breed, but totally recognisable to me: one who can connect with even the lost causes. Ralph Macchio does not cut it at all as a juvenile student, but Judd Hirsch saves the day with his portrayal of a hilariously disillusioned principal.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 61%

#1242 Mystery Train (1989)

Although nothing much happens in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, there’s just something very enchanting about it.

We get to witness three overlapping stories of events unravelling in one day and night in Memphis and while the movie starts stylish but slow, by the third story I found myself fully hooked the the movie and would’ve kept on watching one similar story after another if the movie just offered more.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 85%

#1240 ‎The Pick-up Artist (1987)

We all know what a cool guy Robert Downey Jr of today is. But in his previous life he was a somewhat tiresome character in multiple 80s teen movies.

The Pick-up Artist – Downey Jr’s first leading cinematic role – catches him at his worst. To his defense, there’s nothing much for him to work with in the weak character the script pins on him and I can’t see any contemporary actor saving the movie either.

Nonetheless, the role demands someone with the charm to pull off the lovable scoundrel schtick, but young Downey Jr can’t provide any of that, and his character comes off plain annoying. Same goes for Molly Ringwald who at the peak of her career ends up wasting her time and talent as the romantic interest of this movie.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1239 ‎Only When I Laugh (1981)

The snappy dialogue and the way that the characters throw the wit around in Only When I Laugh is charming at first but soon starts to feel much too theatrical.

But where the movie succeeds is depicting an alcoholic. We are right there with her daughter charmed by Georgia, a recovering alcoholic thespian, and believing every word she says. But as anyone who’s ever been close to an alcoholic, it’s walking on egg shells and the facade they can put up can often look pristine outside – so good that it may fool even the alcoholic herself.

Only When I Laugh is not a bad concept – it’s filled with undeniable talent – but as a movie it’s executed in a way that makes watching much more of a chore than it needed to be.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 58%