#1214 Eddie Macon’s Run (1983)

A young prison escapee tries to make it to Mexico to join with his family with a keen old detective on his tail.

A likeable road movie with some eccentric characters thrown into the mix, Eddie Macon’s Run doesn’t do anything remarkably well – but it doesn’t do anything remarkably badly either.

Both leads Kirk Douglas and John Schneider perform their roles well, with the latter one doing a good job making his character an easy to relate to underdog.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 70%

#1213 Lost in America (1985)

Writer-director Albert Brooks’ Lost in America suffers from having Brooks himself play the main part.

Similarly to Modern Romance, the neurotic character he plays comes across plain annoying, and Brooks cannot breathe any life or likeable traits to his two dimensional man-child caricature.

Other than that the concept of the movie is very unique and interesting, ending up something of an antithesis of a road movie.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 73%

#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%

#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%

#1210 Let It Ride (1989)

After Trotter (Richard Dreyfuss) gambles and bags his second win I kept on wishing out loud this movie wouldn’t be all about him hanging around the race track betting his wins over and over on the horses.

Woefully it is.

Not being a gambler – nor interested in the subject – the plot held zero interest to me. I also missed the cultural references that go with the territory – the aristocrat and worker sides of the race track –– not that I think they’d made the experience any better. Dreyfuss is terrific as always and carries the movie, but still Let It Ride feels like a waste of his talent.

If it’s a movie about gambling you’re after, I’d suggest taking a look at Owning Mahowny instead which is a superb look into the mind of a gambler.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 31%

#1209 The Osterman Weekend (1983)

The director Sam Peckinpah’s attempt for comeback after five years of radio silence was loaded with high expectations. Based on Robert Ludlum’s 1974 novel of the same name, The Osterman Weekend did not meet those expectations.

Sadly, the movie is pretty much on par with many of the made for TV movies of the era. Hidden camera setup has lost the novelty it had in 1983 and it does not help that the movie is not exactly state of the art of its era what it comes to its visions of this hi-tech.

As the movie gets past its first tedious 60 minutes, it does get mildly more interesting as the big web of lies finally starts to unravel.

80s-o-meter: 46%

Total: 52%

#1208 White Nights (1985)

White Nights cooks up a fairly lukewarm dish out of some top shelf ingredients: The synopsis is unique and interesting, soundtrack contains multiple tracks from the contemporary chart-topping artists and the movie pictures its Russian locations credibly, thanks to the footage shot actually in location by the Finnish 2nd camera crew. And most importantly, even if watching dancing isn’t your thing – it for sure isn’t mine – there’s no denying that Mikhail Baryshnikov’s seemingly effortless movement on the stage is pretty darn impressive.

Problem is that I felt really indifferent for all the characters in the film. The golden cage they were locked in felt something of a third world problem as they were still better off than 99,9% of the population – and knowing know that CCCP was only a few years away from collapse, the drama in White Nights did not catch me at all.

I could’ve also lived without Gregory Hines’ tap dancing defector character that added absolutely nothing to the story.

80s-o-meter: 33%

Total: 61%

#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%

#1205 Some Girls (1988)

As the first 15 minutes of Some Girls had passed, I though in horror I was faced with another Twister: a comedy much too weird for its own good about a wacky family where the only running joke would revolve around the annoying eccentricity running in the family.

There’s a bit to that in Some Girls as well, but it fortunately starts to shed off at the point where the beloved grandmother of the family disappears, and it’s at this point where the movie manages to get uniquely interesting and heartwarming.

Some Girls ventures bravely to uncharted territories, resulting in bits and parts of the movie that are just plain annoying, as well as other parts that are genuinely interesting.

80s-o-meter: 67%

Total: 71%

#1204 Hot Dog… The Movie (1984)

If we already had a neural network that could synthesize a generic movie by inputting a list of keywords Hot Dog… The Movie would likely to be an outcome of feeding it words like 80s, rental, downhill skiing, sex and comedy.

For better or worse, Hot Dog… The Movie is as generic as they come, providing things you’d expect it to have (partying, gratuitous nudity), but very little any positive surprises.

One silly piece of trivia for the movie has to be shared: James Saito who was cast to portray a generic Japanese athlete in the movie convinced the entire crew that the pig latin he spoke was actually Japanese, and it was only few weeks into shooting the movie that they figured out the bluff.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 60%

#1203 Checking Out (1989)

A very 80s look into the career driven yuppie life and hypochondria, Checking Out is a black comedy that provides plenty of anxiety, but very little laughs.

The cast is not to blame here: Jeff Daniels who’d hit a jackpot a few years later as the other comedic half of Dumb & Dumber performs his role of a young executive going through a nervous breakdown as well as one would expect, but it’s the uninspired plot that wonders around through the movie without aim, delivering sarcastic jabs that lack targets relatable for the viewer that makes the viewing experience more chore than a delight.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 41%

#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%

#1199 Gorky Park (1983)

Gorky Park, a murder mystery taking place in Moscow always interested me. Not because of the location itself, but for starring William Hurt and Brian Dennehy, both big time favourites of mine.

There is another aspect to Gorky Park that kind of interested me as well. As the American movie crew didn’t get a permission to shoot behind the iron curtain, the location was changed to Helsinki – my home town.

Given the strong cast and the manuscript being based on a bestseller book, my expectations for the movie were sky high, but weren’t even nearly met. The dreary northern location felt all too unexciting and stale, and beneath taking place in the exotic location Gorky Park is nothing but a very average thriller.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 48%

#1198 The Gong Show Movie (1980)

The Gong Show, a weird talent show was something of a TV phenomenon in the late 70s, and The Gong Show Movie here is a fictive look into the life of the show’s host Chuck Barry, and a semi-fictive look into the show itself, including some bits edited out of the TV programme.

While the movie itself does not have much merits, it got me interested in the show itself and I ended up watching a few episodes uploaded to the Youtube. There’s admittedly something mesmerising in the show and if you are brave enough to want to take a look at the movie, you will likely get a slightly better mileage out of it if you check a few episodes beforehand.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 38%

#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%

#1196 They Still Call Me Bruce (1987)

Released straight on video on 1987, They Still Call Me Bruce actually kicks off promisingly – not the Oscar kind of mind you, but discount VHS bin silver nugget kind of promisingly.

The late 80s style suits the movie better than what was seen in the original instalment, the plot revolving around the karate studio is marginally more interesting and the jokes dealing with Bruce misunderstanding English sayings are generally funnier this time around.

But this sequel starts running out of steam soon and the heavy handed padding makes the movie crawl through the finishing line.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 52%

#1195 They Call Me Bruce (1982)

The quite hacky They Call Me Bruce deals with a clueless oriental cook getting constantly mistaken for a martial arts master – and never bothers to clear up the mix-up.

The joke that plays on the stereotypical portrayal with asians is funny, but nowhere strong enough to carry through a full length feature film. The remaining of the movie is less inventive, with most of the humour derived from our antihero misunderstanding your basic English proverbs.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 37%