#1525 Made in Heaven (1987)

Made in Heaven is a movie narrated in two acts: in the first act we see the protagonist as a young boy heading off to California, getting killed in an accident, ending up in heaven and falling in love with another soul.

In the second act they both have been born again, unaware of their previous lives and mutual time together in heaven, and the thrill the movie offers to the viewers is of course the hope of their life lines somehow intertwining, perhaps leading them to find each other once again.

I have to admit I found the movie incredibly dull and slow paced for most of its running time, but the final events did admittedly get to me to the extend of turning the overall experience quite positive. Clearly this concept of soul mates has something special going for it, only if the endless taxiing before final payoff of a takeoff was crafted just a bit more exciting.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 61%

#1512 Flowers in the Attic (1987)

When ran into Flowers in the Attic I already knew it by its name. Based on the 1979 novel of the same name, this was the first movie adaptation of the book.

But I did not know the grim gothic tale it was. A story of a grandmother locking the children to wither away in a north wing of the family mansion, and their mother betraying them the movie is not an easy thing to watch – especially considering this kind of abuse in the world is not fictive.

I haven’t read the book or seen the 2014 made for TV version, but based on what I’ve read the director Jeffrey Bloom has made the right call downplaying the incest relationship between the children that would’ve made the movie even harder for me to stomach, and toned it down to normal teen curiosity and a strong comradeship between the two elder siblings.

80s-o-meter: 28%

Total: 85%

#1509 Raggedy Man (1981)

Raggedy Man almost feels like three movies blended into one. First of all you have a story of a single mother (Sissy Spacek) caught in a dead end job as a switchboard operator in a small rural town. Secondly there is a movie about a sailor (Eric Roberts) on a four-day furlough passing through the town, who grabs onto the chance of some day having a family of his own. And thirdly there is the thriller about times for Luke, the gossipy, sometimes violent bunch of people amongst whom is a mysterious old man everyone calls just a Raggedy Man, keeping mostly to himself.

The good news is that every single one of these stories is an interesting one, backed up with smart screen riding and skilled acting, and it was especially the story of the young soldier that stayed with me long after the end credits had rolled: what ever become of him? Did he ever find happiness, or a family of his own?

Such is the power of a good movie that I ended up caring for this totally fictive person.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 85%

#1505 The Chocolate War (1988)

The very definition of a storm in a teacup, The Chocolate War studies the weird power play and hierarchy inside a Catholic Private School.

The movie gets surreal from the get go as we see Brother Leon (John Glover) with his unorthodox ways of teaching and ways of publicly disfavouring students who don’t yield to his kind request of selling out a record number of chocolates door to door. Adding to the tower of power are The Vigils, an openly secret student society who usually pull of harmless pranks but are now forced to form an alliance with Brother Leon to make his fundraising dream come true.

Although the whole world of Catholic schools is alien to me, the cliques shown in The Chocolate War are easy to identify with, representing the glass walls of politics and group dynamics I trust we’ve all run into at some point of our lives.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 60%

#1504 The Good Mother (1988)

The world is full of great stories so it’s at times astounding what sometimes gets greenlighted and funded.

In Leonard Nimoy’s The Good Mother Diane Keaton plays a divorced mother dating Liam Neeson who then lets her daughter that’s his genitals for educational purposes – so they both get sued.

All this nonsense is padded with a story of her family and the difficult relationship with her father that is all totally disconnected from the main story line (albeit, much more interesting).

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 8%

#1501 The Trip to Bountiful (1985)

A movie that thematically reminded me quite a lot of The Whales of August, The Trip to Bountiful is one of those slow-paced movies where not too much happens.

Similarly to The Whales of August, this movie is about home, roots and inevitable change and passing of the time.

Geraldine Page – who was only 60 at the time – does a great role as the old, rough around the edges mother, and despite our age and gender difference, it was easy to empathise with the her throughout the movie.

80s-o-meter: 20%

Total: 60%

#1499 Chattahoochee (1989)

Chattahoochee is based on the life of Chris Calhoun, a Korean war veteran who in 1955 suffered a violent mental breakdown resulting him to be incarcerated in a high security mental health prison in Chattahoochee State Hospital, Florida.

From thereon his problems get worse as the patients of the asylum are subjected to various sorts of abuse. The systematic cruelty was eventually exposed by The Tampa Tribune, aided by the letters that Calhoun wrote while committed.

Chattahoochee features a wonderful story coupled with the strong performance by the wonderful Gary Oldman, but is ultimately held back by a poor screenplay that often fails to portray cause and consequence of various events; we see the violent breakdown, suicide attempt and eventual recovery but never quite understand the catalysts behind them.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 67%

#1498 The Stone Boy (1984)

Joe Hillerman has a grave problem. His 17-year old has just been killed in a morbid firearm accident and his younger brother who is the sole witness refuses to talk about the incident in detail. Furthermore, he seems mostly inconvenienced about the death rather than showing any other emotions.

Watching The Stone Boy I often got to reminiscence Square Dance, but only in the way how the former underlines how it totally failed to make us feel for any of its characters. With The Stone Boy the absolute opposite is true – and even if we don’t agree with some of the characters, they are written well enough for us to always sympathise with them.

While I don’t feel quite right criticising the work of a child actor, I was admittedly expecting something of an Oscar worthy performance during the movie’s culmination point, but that never came to be. Luckily it’s the more seasoned actors that still make the ending work in a totally satisfactory way.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 86%

#1497 The Beat (1987)

An eccentric boy moves into neighbourhood to find himself an outsider with the local gangs and clicks – until one of the students finds himself gravitating towards the strange world and poetry inside the boys mind. And soon the others follow.

The title of the movie is something they all then begin to chant together.

The Beat is a totally ridiculous depiction of the youth – high school musical ridiculous – but somehow escapes total cringeworthiness, probably due to its somewhat charming, naïvely honest approach.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 65%

#1495 Suburbia (1983)

Writing about teens, especially the troubled ones it’s not an easy feat, and can easily turn condescending and cringeworthy. Suburbia get this totally right and its portrayal of the era, including young punk kids is exactly how I remember it to be.

The movie manages to capture both the dark tones as well as the moments of happiness, and the sense of belonging beautifully, true to its characters, without any excessive sappiness.

The array of amateur punk rocker kids cast to the movie (including young Flea of the RHCP fame in his first credited performance) perform their parts admirably. And in case you wonder: yes, Pet Shop Boys were inspired by this movie when composing their hit song of the same name.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 86%

#1493 The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

After her family moves to an old house, a 14-year old Milly encounters Eric, a young boy shut in his own world.

Soon after befriending him she begins to wonder if there is more to this boy and in his obsession to paper planes and flying, than meets the eye. Two separate site plots follow Milly’s mother struggling to get back to the now-computerised 80s work life, as well as her brother’s struggle with the neighbourhood bullies.

The Boy Who Could Fly is a brief and likeable peek into the life of a suburban family encountering wonderful events, most of which I unfortunately struggled to identify with.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 61%

#1490 Smithereens (1982)

Smithereens is a low budget in the production depicting a young girl in the early 80s New York punk scene who’s determined she is destined for greatness, despite lacking any talent to make it.

Instead, she tries to hang around local small time music celebrities and makes one bad choice after another that cost her her apartment, friends and generally always seem to take her further away from recognitions she’s after.

I found the movie slow and mostly uninteresting to watch, but it did stick with me later on, thanks to its sincerity, and quite original plot – so, not a total stinker.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 52%

#1489 Immediate Family (1989)

I keep of finding the oddest movies I at first don’t remember watching before, but throughout the movie I have this nagging feeling I’ve seen them before. With Immediate Family this became apparent as soon as Mary Stuart Masterson was introduced as a teen mother giving her to-be-born child for adoption to a couple unable to bear children of their own.

A movie about teenage pregnancy as much as dealing with infertility, Immediate Family plays just the right notes throughout the movie, but for some reason the movie ends up less than the sum of its first class parts.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 64%

#1488 Under the Volcano (1984)

Out of the alcoholic consuls stuck somewhere in the Southern America (Beyond the Limit being the other one), Under the Volcano makes for a stronger contestant.

Although quite different kind of beasts, what both movies have in common on top of heavy drinking is the highly volatile political situation. But with Under the Volcano the emphasis of the thriller and drama elements are more on whether the main character will manage to overcome his alcoholism and demons in the moment when happy ever after is being served to him on a silver platter.

What really makes Under the Volcano is the outstanding performance by Albert Finney whose work as the highly intellectual and sympathetic consul Firmin is often over the board, but never even closely forced nor insincere.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 70%

#1487 Beyond the Limit aka The Honorary Consul (1983)

The weird coincidences the I come across watching all these 80s movies never seize to amaze me: I watched two movies about alcoholic Consuls stuck somewhere in the South Africa almost back to back.

Beyond the Limit is the weaker one of these and it being of British origin it was one of those movies I was on the verge whether I should include it to this movie watching project. Ultimately it was Richard Gere, playing a callous doctor who lusts after the Consul’s (Michael Caine) young wife.

While the movie manages to find a captivating tone of voice during its run time, it’s the final surprising and interesting events that fortunately redeem many of the movie’s shortcomings during the last 20 minutes.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 55%

#1486 The Hanoi Hilton (1987)

Portraying a bunch of American soldiers imprisoned in the Viet Cong Hỏa Lò prison during the 1960s and early 1980s, Hanoi Hilton turns a tremendously potent set up into a lot lukewarm and mostly an interesting depiction of soldiers forgotten by the war, and their country.

The movie follows many soldiers, but never quite stays long enough with one, or gets under their skin to make us really root for them. Everything from torture to mind games never quite seems to touch, and the made for television look & feel coupled with a strong shot inside a studio feeling does not really add to the authenticity.

Maybe if the approach would’ve been even more daring – like sharing one single cell all through the movie with a prisoner – we could’ve gotten a better sense of what was it like to locked up with no human contacts.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 45%

#1485 The River Rat (1984)

Just when I saw Martha Plimpton in a swamp themed movie, I came across The River Rat that precedes that movie two years and yes, is also about people living in the wetlands. And sure, one could make an argue for The Mosquito Coast being a distant relative to the both.

Here young Plimpton plays Jonsy, a foul-mouthed kid living with her grandma that tries to connect with her dad (Tommy Lee Jones), fresh out of jail for the first time in her life. The two find some common ground as they refurbish River Rat, an old river boat.

The past returns to haunt the ex-jailbird in the form of Brian Dennehy, and it’s a pleasure to watch these two veteran actors together. Although not much of a thriller, I did enjoy how the movie played out without going down the most obvious route.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 70%

#1483 Resurrection (1980)

What Resurrection has going for it is an interesting premise where a woman discovers she has developed a healing powers after getting nearly killed in a car crash. How the movie handles dramatic structure after this is bit of a hit and miss though.

Her self discovery after the accident, first realisation of the power, relationship with the community and difficult relationship with her father are all very interesting themes, but the latter two could’ve been explored much further. Instead the story drifts off to involve her difficult relations ship with her lover along with religious themes that are far less interesting.

Ellen Burstyn has been flying totally under my radar despite her winning the Oscar for best Actress in academy awards on 1975 with Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. In Resurrection she is simply wonderful, portraying a person with warm supernatural power in her without overdoing or overselling it one bit.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#1482 Making Love (1982)

Sometimes watching a movie without reading the covers can be beneficial. Judging by its name, with Making Love I expected to get a typical daring early 80s, post sexual revolution romantic drama with painful emphasis on the constant love making, but what I got instead is a study into one married man’s journey to coming into realisation of his homosexuality.

Most of the movie and the drama in it is still very relevant, even though the movie is almost 40 years old. The way that the movie portrays the love of the two leads is particularly beautiful, and the moment of them having to let go of each other is truly heart breaking.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 75%