#1793 Barfly (1987)

Charles Bukowski led a heavy drinking life himself that he romanticised in his novels as his alter ego Henry Chinaski who’s a lovable bum heavy on drinking. Enter Barfly, the first US-made movie featuring the character, played by Mickey Rourke.

A movie that does not really have much of a plot going for it, the show is ultimately kept afloat by the sheer charisma put into the role by Rourke – although Bukowski wasn’t reportedly entirely sold with his version of Chinaski. I don’t know, Rourke really puts a lot of himself – or rather, his lovable bum persona – to the role. I do like it, but I can also see the movie being quite different and more poetic in some other hands.

As far as the hybrid Rourke/Bukowski character goes, he is an interesting mix of far ends of the same spectrum: self destruction vs skill to survive, intelligence vs acting like an ass, poetic vs foul mouthed and depressed vs smile that never seems to wear out.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 62%

#1792 A New Life (1988)

Pretty much the same thing than Adam Alda’s previous The Four Seasons, A New Life is a comedy about middle aged people getting bored with each others, divorcing, getting confused and then finding new love interests, with the difference here that it’s Alda himself here that divorces. Or rather, he is at the receiving end of being divorced as her wife is the one to pack her packs and go.

Can’t blame the wife as the main character is petty, loud and obnoxious most of the time.

The end result is plastic and very superficial take on the subject that fails to push any of the buttons to make this exercise worth anyone’s time, and very thin on laughs, wit or anything that would make A New Life even mediocre.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 18%

#1782 Cross My Heart (1987)

Cross My Heart is a captivating comedy of a two people going to their third date having put on a perfect dating facade for so far. Maybe a bit too perfect, as they both are about find out a lot of new things about the other – and of themselves.

The movie is a two person show between Martin Short and Annette O’Toole, and both provide big grins for the viewer. It’s especially Short whose movies of the era always surprise me how great physical actor and a comedian he was at the very top of his game.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 76%

#1774 A Change of Seasons (1980)

As you can tell from the poster, A Change of Seasons tries to get the masses interested in it by blatantly advertising a hot tub scene of Bo Derek in it.

Well, that scene does exist, but little of worth anyone interest follows. We have Derek once again picking up an older gentleman, and his wife trying to be a swinger also by starting a relationship with a semi hippie nature type. And everything that follows is just downright ridiculous. With no real characters to work with, Anthony Hopkins just ends up walking around confused producing one silly line after another in scenes that seem downright forced.

A Change of Seasons is classified as a comedy, but really there’s nothing side splitting here, and the comedic aspect is just overall silliness and unrelated persons performing nonsensical lines. If you really, really have to see Bo Derek, my advice is to pick up 10 (1979) instead.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 13%

#1772 Flesh and Bullets aka The Wife Contract (1985)

Written and directed by Carlos Tobalina, mostly known for his adult movies, Flesh and Bullets – or rather the more descriptive The Wife Contract – is an amateurish take on thrillers that very much looks like a porn movie, but without porn. The movie also looks old beyond its year, with a certain 70s vibe to it.

It is therefore quite a surprise that the movie is actually .. not that bad at all! Despite the obviously clumsiness and wooden acting the story is quite unique and the ingredients of a passable thriller are to be found here.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 59%

#1771 Desert Hearts (1985)

Feeling dissatisfied with her marriage a young Professor Vivian Bell arrives in 1950s Nevada ranch to seek a quickie divorce. In the middle of a big change in her life, Vivian finds herself unexpectedly and irresistibly drawn to Cay Rivers, a carefree and free spirited young lesbian who is the daughter of the ranch owner, disapproving her lifestyle. As their intimacy develops, Vivian’s insecurities about her feelings for Cay clash with the emotions they unleash.

Desert Hearts is a gem of a movie that totally grasped me and took me to another time, place and life. And for this along it’s a triumph.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 87%

#1767 Dance Goddess (1987)

Look, I don’t even pretend to know enough movie business to understand how something like Dance Goddess gets green lighted and funded, but now that it exists, you can congratulate yourself as you belong to about ten people in the world who know of it.

Sometimes an idea can sound good on paper, but fail on the execution – but I honestly can’t fathom how a concept of an American Bollywood musical has ever gotten enough traction and people backing it up for it to get made. The end result is perhaps the thinnest amount of plot ever seen on the silver screen, coupled with Bollywood style dancing and music acts, performed by American amateur actors. While I’m fully aware that musicals aren’t exactly know for the stellar scripts, at least they usually have either the singing or dancing going for them. Dance Goddess has neither.

At the day of writing this, Dance Goddess has no reviews in Imdb, and only 13 ratings averaging to 3.4 – meaning there was probably more people in the production team than those who’ve seen the movie to date.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 3%

#1754 Liar’s Moon (1981)

Liar’s Moon feels like someone first wanted to write a tragic love story, but was never quite sure how to wrap it all up. And actually this is pretty much what happened, apparently; Liar’s Moon was shot and distributed with two very different endings, one tragic and another where ”the forbidden love” ends well for everyone.

The weak writing ultimately leads to the movie turning into a complete soap opera in its third act. I watched the happier version, and I can only imagine the other version being even more soap opera like.

On the positive side young Matt Dillon and Cindy Fisher make a great pair on the screen though, and I did find myself genuinely rooting for them.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 51%

#1748 The Moderns (1988)

The Moderns is a dreadful movie about pretentious, obnoxious and horrible human beings trying to act the hipster artist life in the 1926 Paris.

I never understood the American movie makers’ affection to recreate a Paris that never was, and after seeing The Moderns I understand it even less. My guess is that it’s for getting some street credibility; put the same movie to the current day and location and one would immediately see there’s really nothing to this story but smoke and mirrors.

The only good thing I can think of this mind numbingly dull movie is the stylistic character played by John Lone. He may be pretentious and obnoxious like all the others, but at least he manages turns it all to his favour, totally dominating every scene he is in with sheer coolness.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 6%

#1744 Fool for Love (1985)

Fool for Love is classic Robert Altman, whose work has always been bit of a mixed bag for me. In the scale of horrible misfire of Popeye, and the brilliance of Streamers, Fool for Love fall somewhere in between.

Written and starring Sam Shepard, the movie takes place a remote, run down motel somewhere in the desert. I’ve always found the movies taking place during one single night magical, and Fool for Love is no exception here, and the mood and cinematography here are worth watching the movie alone.

The plot is built by adding more and more tension, and then defusing it which itself works well. But the plot is just too weak to carry the movie through and the dullness unfortunately starts to wear the viewer down well before the third act.

80s-o-meter: 22%

Total: 62%

#1734 Butterfly (1982)

Looking at Butterfly, and the first few moments of it I assumed it to be one of those icky 80s sensuous erotic movies with the theme of teasing daughter of a mine guard moving in with his father and driving him crazy in a very off putting forbidden incest love relationship.

And here I was thinking; how on earth has Stacy Keach gotten himself involved in such a sleazy piece of celluloid.

But, Butterfly surprises positively as there’s much more depth in the story than first meets the eye. Sure, it takes a leap of faith to go with some of the wildest plot twists, but if you if you get over that Butterfly is surely one of those few rare, original movies that leave a lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 71%

#1733 Talking Walls (1987)

In Talking Walls A peeping tom records and ”studies” couples having sex for ”his thesis” while struggling in his own love life.

If this sounds like just a cheap excuse to show some naked skin, this is pretty much what it is. Sometimes the movie is quite blatant about this, but really the worst parts is when it occasionally pretends to be something else. It’s in those moments that the movie feels like wanting to be intellectual, but ultimately with an IQ equivalent of one’s shoe size.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 21%

#1731 Falling in Love (1984)

Not a sequel not a prequel to the Falling Love Again from 1980, Falling in Love tells a story of two married people running into each other by accident a few times and soon falling in love.

Starring perhaps the two biggest stars of the era, this is also the problem with the movie. As good as actors these two are, I never quite could shake the feeling I’m watching a character played by Robert De Niro falling in love with a character played by Meryl Streep.

Lack of credibility aside, the still has good aspects to it. For one, it feels very 1984, and cinematic in a good way. There’s also one great scene where De Niro reaches the last car of the train and looks out of the rear window, having never found the person he was looking forward to find.

We all know the feeling and have been there, and this is where I connected with the character the most.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 65%

#1730 Falling in Love Again (1980)

Not to be mixed up with totally unrelated Falling In Love released in 1984, Falling in Love Again is a look into a middle aged couple in a marital crisis, and even more into their past.

This is where the movie fails for the first time, as I would be much more content with the movie leaning totally with either one (although preferably the present moment – and pretty much primarily because it’s the part of the movie featuring Elliott Gould).

The movie feels like two movies in one, but disconnected – and despite them both being a-ok, neither one are nothing really that special.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 58%

#1717 Weekend Pass (1984)

I can add Weekend Pass to the list of movies that I misinterpreted due to its name and, theme and poster.

We’re led to expect a raunchy comedy where three horny sailors go paint the town red, with lots of gratuitous nudity thrown in, but even though Weekend Pass starts off as such movie, it finds a much more interesting tone by exposing the vulnerabilities and insecurities among the sailors, eventually turning into kind of sweet romance movie about them falling in love with three nice girls.

While this was a positive surprise, I doubt that this was the innovation that most of the audience at time was looking for, which may explain the low ratings the movie received.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 78%

#1716 Buddies (1985)

I was delighted to find Buddies, the first movie about AIDS is a non-exploitative one. Directed by Arthur J. Bressan Jr., a director with a long history of gay movies, Buddies feels quite honest in its depiction of the events and characters, never robbing any of the characters their personal traits and sexuality.

The movie is muted in most of its expression as it follows the growing friendship and emerging romance and sexual interest between a young gay man volunteering to be a buddy for an AIDS patient abandoned by his friends and lovers in the final stages of the disease.

A sign of a good movie, Buddies is still thematically relevant, as well as an interesting look into the history of the mid-80s where humanitarian groups had to step in to help for the lack of wider support from the government, and a tribute to those who risked their own safety to help others.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 81%

#1713 Maria’s Lovers (1984)

Andrei Konchalovsky’s 1984 drama follows the story of Ivan, a Yugoslav-American soldier returning home to Pittsburgh traumatised after being held captive in a Japanese POW camp during WW2.

Despite being desperately in love with Maria (Nastassja Kinski) and overcoming his rivals in love, Ivan’s mental health struggles prevent him from fully embracing their relationship physically and mentally. As a result, Maria becomes attracted to a travelling musician casanova.

Maria’s Lovers is visually pleasing movie that has a promise of a great movie written all over it, but ultimately feels confused about what story does it want to tell. The movie is heavy on poetic symbolism that feels similarly intriguing at times, but woefully clumsy at others.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 63%

#1710 Halloween 2022: My Demon Lover (1987)

There’s little fun to be had with movies that introduce a concept doomed to fail, and then fail, but amazingly lot of entertainment when the opposite happens.

My Demon Lover is one of those cases where something I absolutely hated on paper – A street musician becoming a demon when sexually aroused and attacking women – surprises and finds an interesting tone of its own, ending up more of a romantic comedy, sprinkled with some dark, grim humour.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 71%

#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%

#1658 Crossing Delancey (1988)

A few good tiles excluded, romantic comedies were never quite my thing, but I’ve grown a bit more understanding for them along the years, and willing to give them a fair chance. That being said, Crossing Delancey seemed on the paper something that I would not enjoy at all: a film with a pretentious title, New York self-centered and someone neurotic characters, and a setting in the people engaged in the literary arts, and embracing that lifestyle.

Not that I don’t like any of that, but I’ve been scarred with so many Henry Jaglom’s movies, or by writer/directors who wish to be the next Jaglom or Woody Allen that I had al the warning signs up. But despite its theme Crossing Delancey does not come across too pretentious, and it’s especially the pickle seller Peter Riegert’s very likeable character that seems to get the most honest, most touching lines in the movie.

Fans of Frasier might be delighted to find David Hyde Pierce in a role of a bookstore clerk, pretty much 1:1 to Niles.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%