#1341 Nadine (1987)

Let me start with a confession: I’ve browsed through this poster in my collection about a thousand times and always skipped the text, looked at the picture and assumed that it was Patrick Swayze who is starring in Nadine with Kim Basinger. I was therefore more than a bit stunned to see Jeff Bridges instead.

Not that I mind, Bridges is one of the greats that I always enjoy seeing on the silver screen. In fact, he is much too good to be in Nadine, a pretty tame action crime comedy set in the 1950s Texas.

On the positive note he does make the movie better than it rightfully deserves to be; the tale of an impulsive hairdresser and his soon-to-be bum ex husband is not very interesting nor is their constant quarrelling funny. The movie does have its exciting moments though as the shady real estate kingpin played by the great Rip Torn finds out the couple has obtained a confidential document he has been looking forward to getting in his hands.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 61%

#1316 Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Bloodhounds of Broadway is an ensemble comedy based on four Damon Runyon stories: ”The Bloodhounds of Broadway”, ”A Very Honorable Guy”, ”The Brain Goes Home” and ”Social Error”, written in the 1930s.

I’ve often criticised period pictures for having their historical settings without any point but to provide nostalgia, but as Bloodhounds of Broadway is more of an adult fairytale, the setting actually works here. I liked quite a lot in the way that the various personas and their stories intertwined during the movie, and the screenplay and direction of Howard Brookner works exceptionally well.

The casting also works well with Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Esai Morales, Steve Buscemi, Randy Quaid, Rutger Hauer and Madonna seen in atypical roles.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 89%

#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%

#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%

#1263 Lionheart (1987)

Starring Eric Stoltz, Lionheart is a 12th century adventure film that the time forgot – and for a good reason.

The reason being that nothing in it really stands out in a memorable way. Released in the era that already gave us terrific adventures like Excalibur, Legend, Willow and Conan the Barbarian that all have their unique thing going for them, Lionheart feels completely lukewarm and odourless.

While similar movies visual landmark movies of their time, Lionheart has the look & feel of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, sans the humour.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 22%

#1257 Nate and Hayes aka Savage Islands (1983)

A totally unknown adventure movie for most, Nate and Hayes (or Savage Islands as it was known in the Europe) depicts a scoundrel of a captain, and a green-behind-the-ears missionary joining forces to find the missionary’s kidnapped wife to be, while having (an often hilariously courteous) for her hand.

The movie played out completely different than I anticipated, but in a good way. The tropical, piratey setting looks beautiful and makes for a perfect setting for an hour and a half of escapism. Tommy Lee Jones and Michael O’Keefe that possessed some alluring star quality at the time show tremendous chemistry, and both are joy to watch in their respective roles.

Nate and Hayes took me by surprise, making its way up to my top-10 list of 80s adventures. What a thrill!

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 92%

#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%

#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%

#1243 The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

An 80s take on classic 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera starring Robert Englund of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame sort of disappoints for not being an absolute stinker I took it for.

In fact, it’s a surprisingly well made movie with great atmosphere, majestic songs, well executed special effects and impeccable scenic design.

Although the movie’s marketing was strongly built upon Englund’s role, it remains the least interesting part of the movie, and the movie could’ve actually gained from having a lead that didn’t have such burden of a typecasting to carry.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 78%

#1234 Ragtime (1981)

My general dislike for period pictures is probably well known for any regular visitor; I often find them either unimaginative projects that rely much too heavily on just the nostalgia, or are annoyingly pretentious.

Ragtime surely has all the warning signs all over it it – starting with its name – and begins as a snore fest, but as soon as the first of the many violent outbursts of the movie take place it soon occurred to me this was not your average period picture. After introducing an interesting array of upper class white characters Ragtime concentrates on telling a story of a black piano player who gets vengeful after denied justice after getting insulted and harassed by racist voluntary firemen, starting a crusade that soon escalates out of hand.

Directed by Miloš Forman and based on E. L. Doctorow’s book of the same name, Ragtime ends up one of the best period picture thrillers in my book

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 91%

#1229 The Idolmaker (1980)

Based on the life of rock promoter/producer Bob Marcucci, The Idolmaker tells a story of a musician who after failing to become a music idol himself, ends up a producer talented in finding and sparring the next generation of stars.

While the movie and its late 50s, early 60s nostalgia wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, Peter Gallagher as the lead makes a perfectly magnetic performance as Caesare, who makes a transformation from a mere busboy to a star with enough charism to fill a big stage.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 61%

#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%

#1212 Bird (1988)

Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, Bird is a biographical film about the life of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.

The movie is super long for an 80s movie at whopping 161 minutes, and unfortunately it does not work for the movie’s advantage. Even for a person who’s interested in the character – both the movie character and the real musician – the movie seemed to come to full stop at times. Accompanied by dark, murky visuals the movie makes for a dream-like late night watching experience that is at times enchanting and at times enough to make you drowsy. From the current day’s perspective I suspect Bird being hard to follow movie for those that don’t have any previous knowledge of Parker, or jazz in general.

Bird’s performances in the movie are equally intensive and impressive; the saxophone for the sound was isolated from old tapes and brought to modern era by then re-recording all the accompanying instruments, which resulted Bird to win Oscar for its sound – very rightfully so.

80s-o-meter: 8%

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%

#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%

#1130 Ladyhawke (1985)

Sad news hit us this week with the news of Rutger Hauer passing away at the age of 75.

To commemorate him I watched through Ladyhawke, a fictitious fantasy tale taking place in the 13th century. It was only too bad that pretty much the only interesting bit for the movie was Mr.Hauer himself, and I really didn’t find other aspects of the movie that interesting.

Shot in location in Italy, the damp and drafty atmosphere did not lure me in, and although I’m not a fan of sword and sorcery movies, I wished the movie had had some more interesting fantasy element to it than the dodgy shapeshifting to animals, like the landmark movies Willow or Legend did.

The movie does have a strong fan base that really seem to dig it, so if the genre interests you, you might still find something here to love.

80s-o-meter: 38%

Total: 51%

#1118 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

When reviewing these movies I often talk about how the difference with good and bad movies is the directors’ ability to just sprinkle in that special movie magic into their creations. Francis Ford Coppola surely possesses that skill and Peggy Sue Got Married, his look what one would do differently if they could relive their past – and if they could help falling in love with the same person they’ve just divorced – is an exceptional

Kathleen Turner plays the leading role with grace and certain heavyheartedness that the part really calls for. I can see Debra Winger – originally cast for the role, but gave it up due to an injury – performing the role with flying colors. But it’s really Turner’s ability to bring in the role a layer of melancholy that’s almost translucent but still weighty like a bag of boulders that makes her seemingly impeccable fit for the role.

Peggy Sue Got Married is a delight of a movie to watch and only slightly held back by its ending that seems to cut the story short.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 87%

#1056 The Hollywood Knights (1980)

The Hollywood Knights follows a gang high school fraternity of the post–World War II baby boom generation during one long halloween night of 1965 as they go around playing nasty pranks to teachers, policemen and fellow students.

Considering that the pranks aren’t particularly funny, nor creative – pissing to a punch bowl is as high brow as it gets – they are showcased far too much in the movie. The real human interest story of the young couple played by Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer is bypassed with a few quick shots and does not get the attention it deserves. Same goes for the story of Jimmy, one of the Hollywood Knights, who’s enlisted and heading to Vietnam unbeknownst of the horrors that await there. Although this part of the movie is better handled, I would’ve liked to see more even more emphasis on this side of the story.

What makes this movie is not its plot, characters nor even its humour, but the way it successfully invites the viewer to be a part of this one wild night as one of the Hollywood Knights.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 68%