#1655 Beyond the Stars (1989)

It’s hard to fathom a bad movie and bad acting from Martin Sheen – yet here it is in the shape of Beyond the Stars.

The manuscript my the director David Saperstein is nothing short of idiotic and unconvincing, and it is painful to watch Sheen struggling through portraying a retired astronaut troubled with his extraterrestrial conflicts. It is especially the idiotic conclusion that still wants me to facepalm, almost two weeks after finishing the movie.

The fans of Christian Slater will probably find something to like here as Slater gives one of his cookie cutter performances of the 80s, but others should probably steer away.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1646 Patti Rocks (1988)

You know that screw up of a friend you don’t want anything to do with, but who for one reason or another manages to get you involved in his affairs, ”just for this one more time”.

In Patti Rocks that guy is Billy, played by Chris Mulkey. Billy is unlikely many other lovable bastards often seen in movies in a way that he at times manages to hover over likeable, but more often than not comes across just obnoxious. He is the kind of a guy with his sexist jokes that would make me want to switch tables at bar, and kind of a guy who would accuse anyone doing so of not having a sense of humour.

But his friend Eddie seems to be able to stomach him, and drives him on a long road trip filled with sexist jokes to settle the score with a girl – Patti Rocks – he got pregnant.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 40%

#1643 Cross Creek (1983)

I’ve a strange kind of romantic longing for the Everglades, and similar wetlands located in the southernmost states of the eastern USA. Strange because I could likely not stand the weather or humidity, or the isolation. But I guess its the quite unique, secret and hidden world of these parts that manage to catch my imagination.

80s offerings in this area has been something of a hit and miss. Starting from a-ok Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing to pretty nice The River Rat to complete stinkers like Shy People and Soggy Bottom, U.S.A there hasn’t been one definite movie that has been able to provide me the swamp experience what I’ve been looking for – until I came across Cross Creek.

On paper Cross Creek is a movie that was likely to be one of those slow, pompous, utterly boring period pictures, but this director Martin Ritt’s depiction of the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings pushes all right buttons, managing to capture an array of greatly interesting and multi-dimensional characters. I was eager to get back to the movie’s world every time I had to pause the movie, and I felt the movie inviting me already to revisit it some time in the future.

80s-o-meter: 11%

Total: 96%

#1634 Almost You (1984)

Listed as a 1984 movie by IMDB, and a March 1985 release according to Wikipedia, Almost You is a small, little known drama comedy of a love triangle (or a square, depending on how you count).

Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams are a disgruntled New York yuppie couple who get emotionally tangled with a nurse, whose actor boyfriend gets involved in the mess for some reason. All the characters are quite obnoxious and highly unrelatable, the plot feels phoney and the movie subjects us to watch through all of these superficial characters having one of the most dull dinner parties ever with a dialogue written and acted with an blatant intention to be witty, making this inept repartée even more painful to follow.

Almost You is a love movie that fails to make one emotionally, drama that fails to move and a comedy that fails to make one laugh – leaving very little to love about this movie.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 8%

#1632 Carny (1980)

I’ve always been a theme park aficionado, and as such I’ve a soft spot for carnivals and fairs, and similarly themed popular media. It was therefore a delight to see Carny during its first 30 minutes.

By that time many good and interesting things had taken place, and both Gary Busey’s and Jodie Foster’s interesting characters, and their relationship was established successfully. But as the carnival takes off from the town with Jodie Foster with it, so does the plot, going into all sorts of needless directions, none of which as interesting than what the movie had already going in its first minutes.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 52%

#1630 A Man for All Seasons (1988)

Apparently Charlton Heston would have wanted to star in the 1966 version of A Man for All Seasons that took home six Oscars in that year’s Academy Awards.

To the extend that to rectify this wrongdoing he would go on to direct his own made-for-TV version some 20 years later where he this time around stars in. Based on a play by Robert Bolt of the life of Sir Thomas More, this newer version of A Man for All Seasons still maintains the great wit and charm of the original.

Historical dramas – especially the made for TV ones – aren’t my cup of tea, but in this genre A Man for All Season definitely holds its own, thanks to its strong manuscript.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%

#1629 Round Midnight (1986)

A fictional tale loosely based on African-American jazz musicians’ life and influence in late 50s Paris, Round Midnight feels an exercise too keen on substance and being accepted as a cool cat piece of French cinema.

Although I understand the intention for going for an atmosphere that can be sold to American cinema goers, it all frankly feels far too clichéd to be taken seriously: dark, smoke-filled rooms, a gloomy and dark Paris where it always rains, and characters (despite of battling with serious personal problems, like alcoholism) that feel naïve caricatures instead of actual persons.

The musical pieces composed by Herbie Hancock and performed by a bunch of skilled musicians are the best aspects of the movie, hands down. As I enjoyed the jazz pieces, but not so much the interludes between them, I could not but to think that for the selected fictional style of the movie it would’ve been better to go all in and make Round Midnight a full musical instead.

80s-o-meter: 17%

Total: 54%

#1627 Yes, Giorgio aka Bravo, Giorgio (1982)

Written as a vehicle for Luciano Pavarotti, Yes, Giorgio portrays a fictional tenor called Giorgio touring in America.

Giorgio is a big man child with superstition to ever singing at Metropolitan Opera, and so he desperately seeks the love and care of a female doctor. A world class singer, in private life he is something of a half-grown, with the inner life of a 5-year old: he throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, and gets into food fight with the opposite sex.

The only thing Yes, Giorgio has going for it are its opera numbers. But really – you’d be much better off watching any of Pavarotti’s opera performances on VHS, than to sit through this drivel.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 9%

#1624 Nobody’s Fool (1986)

Ok, I’m not even going to hide the fact that I’ve always had bit of a man crush for Eric Roberts. So, I therefore can’t blame Rosanna Arquette in the role of Cassie falling for him as well.

I was a bit puzzled about the plot in Nobody’s Fool and it was only after I accepted that this is a fairytale taking place in the movie la la land that I went along it all. And once you buy the concept the movie and the character of Cassie are actually quite endearing.

And speaking of Cassie, there’s something about her character that I was looking to learn about even more, but the often superficial and caricature like strokes don’t seem to fully capture.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 76%

#1619 Foxfire Light (1983)

Romantic drama does not invoke my interest, especially if it looks like a made for TV movie. But Foxfire Light did feel a bit more interesting to me after I learned that Leslie Nielsen – mostly known for me from his comedy roles – stars in it.

Contrary to all the expectations Foxfire Light actually works as a movie, and all the complex relationships shown here do have that soap opera setup for them, but with much more depth added. It’s easy entertainment, but something that still manages to have an actual heart.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 70%

#1617 Lianna (1983)

Look, I don’t know about the history of movies about homosexuality to say how much Lianna was ahead of its time upon its 1983 release – if any – but at least to me the movie felt quite genuine and earnest in its depiction of a housewife suffering from codependency, who then finds consolation and a love interested in the opposite sex.

Earnest in the sense of how the movie depicts the getting out of the closet and the relationship in a quite realistic manner, and as well how Lianna’s codependency is not fixed with getting out of the closet – it just finds a new object, and it’s only when Lianna starts to learn being alone and being comfortable with herself that the growing as a human begins.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 79%

#1605 Honkytonk Man (1982)

Moving from 70s to the 80s Clint Eastwood’s career was stuck (and built upon) repeating permutations of this lone ranger character, and it was only in City Heat and Heartbreak Ridge where he was able to break somewhat free from this mold. Well, arguably he still kind of played first and foremost Clint Eastwood in all of his movies, and this is what the audience (me included) were looking forward to seeing.

Then, there are movies like Bronco Billy and Honkytonk Man here where Eastwood gets to play a flawed anti-hero that needs others to save him from himself. Here Eastwood plays a worn-out alcoholic travelling musician playing in honky-tonk bars, and who recruits his 15-year old nephew (played by as his son, Kyle Eastwood) as the chauffeur and road manager.

The movie plays its hand straight away, and while the show is somewhat entertaining to watch, there’s very little progression or growth going on here, and I can’t help but to think that without Clint himself in the lead role the movie would’ve been completely forgettable.

80s-o-meter: 7%

Total: 57%

#1565 Clara’s Heart (1988)

An African-American multi millionaire actress in one of those movies where an outsider enters a community to make a change, this time boasting a heavy Jamaican accent? I sure can see many ways how this one could’ve gone heavily wrong.

But this is late 80s Whoopi Goldberg very much on top of her game, and she just manages to make it all work out. Clara does not end up just a Afro-Jamaican Mary Poppins, but has that certain edge to her to make the character interesting; despite all the philosophy in her, she still is very much a human being with the flaws that come with that territory. But this is not just Whoopi’s show. Kathleen Quinlan, Michael Ontkean and Neil Patrick Harris all in their respective roles contribute to the movie in a memorable way, and Robert Mulligan in the director’s seat manages to fully sell the story to the viewer.

I started to quickly glance through the movie again for review purpose, and ended up watching the whole thing pretty much all over again. If this isn’t a testament to Clara’s Heart being a thoroughly enjoyable movie to watch, I don’t what is.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 86%

#1564 Thief of Hearts (1984)

The second collaboration between producer wizards Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer responsible for such 80s gems as Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, Thief of Hearts failed to find its audience in the box office.

The story of a thief falling in love with one of her victims and using ill gained information to win her heart over does not reach the epic levels of Bruckheimer & Simpson’s top movies, but the story is still unique and interesting – basically nothing like I’ve seen before.

There is a moment of bad writing though when the couple finally clashes, as it really feels forced and out of character for the thief figure. But the ultimate plot twist (for the lack of better wording) manages to fully redeem the movie, making for one a totally satisfying finish to the movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 80%

#1562 Rooftops (1989)

You know how youth musicals always have this weird corny world where all the characters are so melodramatic and constantly emotionally hurt oh so bad that they have no other options but to dance to shake their negative emotions off.

Rooftops is like a musical without actual music. Instead we have both youthful dance sessions, and some sort of weird youth showoffs where they fight with dance, without touching each other, similarly to Capoeira.

It is what it is. Jason Gedrick in the lead is like a more handsome, more athletic and less charismatic version of Daniel LaRusso of the Karate Kid fame, and well .. I guess he goes well with the movie. While I did get some enjoyment out of the laughable over the top 80s melodramaticity of it all, this is one of the movies I really can’t see myself revisiting any time soon.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 29%

#1558 Border Radio (1987)

When you see a black and white in the movie netting a mere 5.4 average in IMDb, it usually means the the movie does not even enjoy a strong cult following – so you know you’re not probably going to have a particularly good time with this particular title.

And this is the case with Border Radio as well. As with many other similar indie movies, Border Radio seems to be all about style over substance, and the characters and what we really know about them evolves very little during the 90 minute runtime. Sure, we get exposed to the faces a lot and they grow onto us that way, but it’s still a far cry from really connecting with any of them.

The movie and it’s southern California scenery look nice though.

80s-o-meter: 43%

Total: 22%

#1557 Below the Belt (1980)

A talent scout talks a waitress into entering a sherry show wrestling team. She befriends this motley crew of journeymen, travels around with them, and finally is put against her arch enemy as the so called climax of the movie.

A Rocky this isn’t, nor is it All The Marbles that at least had the star power and indisputable charisma of Peter Falk going for it. In fact, if All The Marbles was a disappointing movie, Below the Belt does it all in a little more disappointing and banal way.

The most interesting part of below the belt is its love story between two worn out wrestlers in the crossroads of their lives where one wants to go in one direction – and one to another.

The one without wrestling.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 31%

#1556 Mr. North (1988)

Anthony Edwards appears in Mr. North as Theophilus North, a young bright student who arrives at a wealthy Rhode Island community with big plans. He soon starts to leave lasting impressions on the locals, some of which he befriends with, while other take him for a miracle healer, thanks to his natural tendency of stacking up static electricity.

Mr. North is one of those period pictures that heavily relies on nostalgic scenes of the yesteryear’s America: a small knit together community helping each other, old money, people dressed up smartly and innocence. And it works out for the movie, making it somehow soothing and relaxing to watch.

But if one’d take the concept to the current day, thus stripping out the nostalgia and the related glamor, there wouldn’t just be much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 40%

#1555 Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

What makes Torch Song Trilogy an above the average movie about gays (and drag) is that is was conceived and lead acted by Harvey Fierstein, an openly gay actor and playwright. This results in a movie that does not aim to explain, sugar coat nor view the gay community through hetero lenses.

A result is refreshing take that portrays all of its characters and their shortcomings, insecurities and sometimes even sheer pettiness in a realistic fashion. Fierstein is a wonderful actor, and a persona on and off stage and his character that often goes from gorgeous to goofy in one scene, depending on the camera direction and his mood swing makes for one of the more interesting and multi-faceted personas seen on screen.

What I did not like about the movie though is how it’s divided in three acts between different eras and lovers as I’d much rather had the movie concentrating on just one time frame in the lifeline of this character.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 74%

#1554 The Escape Artist (1982)

Here’s something I always look forward to when watching these 80s movies: to find a relatively unknown gem of a movie. The Escape Artist tells the story of a son of a famous escape artist who wants to follow his late father’s steps, while also learning what really happened to him.

Griffin O’Neal (the son of Ryan O’Neal) plays the young illusionist thrown in the adult world so convincingly that it was astounding to find out he wasn’t hired based on his magician skills, but only learned the basics for the movie. Griffin is a natural on the silver screen and no doubt ramps up an already decent movie quite a bit, and I was therefore saddened to learn about his troublesome life ever since as it seems to me we lost quite a great skill here. Raul Julia makes for one of his best characters as the slick son of the mayor who form a duo with the young magician, constantly trying to outwit one another.

The Escape Artist is – well, magical – coming of age movie of one exceptional young man on an exceptional journey, relying on his exceptional skills and wit.

Much recommended.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 91%