1980s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 2)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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colinr0380
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Re: Films from 1980

#151 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:35 am

jonp72 wrote:In addition, Scatman Crothers as the "magic Negro" character bugs me a little.
Ah yes but he does get an axe in the back for his troubles! Didn't see that coming! Can you have an "ironic magic Negro"?
Still Haven't Seen Yet, Any Defenders for the Top 50? Heaven's Gate, Kagemusha, The Age of the Earth aka Idade da Terra (Glauber Rocha, available on Brazilian DVD with English subs), American Gigolo, Bad Timing, The Long Riders, Altered States, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, The Long Good Friday, Forbidden Zone, Pepi Luci Bom, Radio On
I still have got so many films to see myself including many from your list such as Ziegunerweisen and Radio On. I do like Altered States, but then again I also like Lair of the White Worm, so what do I know! The Long Good Friday is an excellent film that is only marred, as Narshty perfectly put it, by a confusing and badly handled opening. I love Kagemusha but prefer Ran (and I think on the Kagemusha thread most people got more annoyed by the constant repitition of the main theme that I did!)

Mishima is certainly going to place on my list this time around and I would also like to put Schrader's Cat People remake up there. While the original Cat People was one of the more famous of the Lewton horrors, it has always left me cold and much preferring other films such as The Curse of the Cat People, The Ghost Ship and so on. Interestingly where most remakes fail due to the amount of literalisation and explicitness, Schrader's film felt much more successful to me because of that. No pussy-footing around the subject, if you'll pardon the pun! And of course it was visually stunning, which is a big help!
A wrote:Tenshi no tamago Angel's Egg (Mamoru Oshii / Japan / 1985).
I'm afraid I've only seen it in that film In The Aftermath: Angels Never Sleep, in which the post-apocalyptic live action is intercut with the Oshii animation, so I would be very interested to hear more about the original.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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zedz
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#152 Post by zedz » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:35 pm

I like the list A (no relation) posted, but I can't agree with him on Inferno, which is one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. I actually sort of love it on those grounds: it starts out completely ridiculous / tacky / unscary / badly written / badly acted and just cranks all of those qualities up to the nth degree as it progresses, as well as adding that hilariously atrocious score on top. Suspiria is indeed a masterpiece in comparison.

A's McMullen pick reminds me that I've seen Partition on the excellent Second Run disc. A fascinating film in the intellectually and formally ambitious bargain-basement British tradition, culminating in one of the most incredible sequence shots of the decade: a civil servant stands in front of a (real) mirror in an office: the camera circles around him, he turns and steps into the mirror and walks steadily into its depths. As he walks, the camera tracking alongside on his face the entire time, he transforms into the actor's other character, an inmate of a lunatic asylum, a transformation that entails an complete, invisible change of costume, from civil servant uniform to loose muslin robes. He emerges into the courtyard of the asylum, walks into the background and descends into the position of a corpse as the camera tracks back, now following the movements of a cleaning woman and exploring the rest of the inmates in the yard. It's an unbroken ten-minute tracking shot with only physical special effects. While watching the film, Partition seems somewhat dry and academic, but it's one that unfolds in emotional resonance in the mind for some time afterwards.

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Cold Bishop
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#153 Post by Cold Bishop » Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:00 pm

Suspiria is indeed a masterpiece period.

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tavernier
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#154 Post by tavernier » Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:21 am

A wrote:Sale comme un ange Dirty Like an Angel (Catherine Breillat / France / 1989)
imdb lists this as a 1991 release, and I remember its NY premiere in early '92.....will definitely be on my 90s list.

Mise En Scene
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Wayne Wang

#155 Post by Mise En Scene » Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:55 am

I'd like to recommend people give Wayne Wang's Chan Is Missing a chance. I'm certain it won't crack the final 80s list, but I think it could make it's way on a member or two's Defend Your Darlings list maybe at a spot in the 45 to 50 range.

It's a film about Chinese American identity and, by extension, diasporic identity. Through the framework of the main characters' search for a fellow Chinese American, topics such as Chinatown tensions (e.g., PRC, Taiwan) are brought up. It sounds like a ponderous film, but it's not. There's a nice humorous scene concerning linguistical issues. The film's narration from a directorial standpoint is pretty playful and so are the film's characters.

I thought it was great that we see San Francisco's Chinatown of the early 80s captured on film. The sequence of city shots that end the film is a masterful stroke. There's a scene that includes Filipino immigrants hanging out and dancing at a rec center, too.

At the very least, I highly recommend it as a sort of time capsule. It took me a second viewing to appreciate this film.

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#156 Post by Perkins Cobb » Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:56 pm

Chan Is Missing is brilliant! Maybe second only to The Long Goodbye as the finest deconstructionist private eye movie (and yes, there are a lot of them, especially if you could TV shows).

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tojoed
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#157 Post by tojoed » Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:32 pm

I remember the Taviani brothers' Night of the Shooting Stars as a great film of the eighties and was thinking of revisiting it. Can anyone say which is the best of the DVD editions out there?

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Michael
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#158 Post by Michael » Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:13 pm

A Christmas Story. It's a perfect little film that used to be very little known and so precious in that. Now it's being destroyed by zealous commercialization. Very sad.

RIP Bob Clark.

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domino harvey
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#159 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:19 pm

A Christmas Story is one of those films that I've lost all perspective on due to how many times I was subjected to it as a child.

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Hopscotch
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#160 Post by Hopscotch » Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:54 pm

Same situation here on Christmas Story. I had uncles who'd watch it from morning to night during the annual 24 hour Christmas marathon. I can't count how many times I've seen it, and I'm only 18.

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Michael
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#161 Post by Michael » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:21 am

Hopscotch wrote:Same situation here on Christmas Story. I had uncles who'd watch it from morning to night during the annual 24 hour Christmas marathon. I can't count how many times I've seen it, and I'm only 18.
I'm 40. Christmas Story didn't have that kind of treatment when it came out and for the most of 1980s and maybe 1990s. It was not popular until a few years ago when it became commercialized unfortunately.

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swo17
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#162 Post by swo17 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:15 am

I am 29, and strangely enough, saw A Christmas Story for the first time just five years ago. (I guess I had a pretty sheltered childhood, but I don't see what the point was in sheltering me from that.) As an objective viewer, I can say the film is pretty great.

Perkins Cobb
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#163 Post by Perkins Cobb » Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:58 pm

Well, I saw A Christmas Story for the first time as an adult, and found it crass, loud, unfunny, and basically impossible to take save for Darren McGavin. And boy is Jean Shepherd's voice irritating.

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#164 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:00 pm

Perkins Cobb wrote:Well, I saw A Christmas Story for the first time as an adult, and found it crass, loud, unfunny, and basically impossible to take save for Darren McGavin. And boy is Jean Shepherd's voice irritating.
I can see how you can look at it from that perspective, if you've just seen it for the first time as an adult. For me, watching it is pure sentimentality about my previous childhood Christmas experiences. Mostly because this would be on TV a lot (as it still is, come December 25th).

Also, any family film that references A Clockwork Orange is certainly unique in my book.

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zedz
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#165 Post by zedz » Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:36 pm

Ok, so I watched O.C. and Stiggs. I'd like to think that the Altman 80s Decline theory has been exaggerated, and the evidence is certainly mixed (the further he seems to get from obvious Altman material during this period the better I like it - to wit Come Back to the Five and Dime, Secret Honor, Tanner '88), so this maligned film could serve as a kind of litmus test.

My expectations for this venture into teen comedy were that Altman's personality would be swamped by lame genre conventions and the heavy hand of studio interference, so I was surprised to find that the thing was pure Altman: messy and anarchic, rambling and overlapping, with a large ensemble incorporating several past and future (Paul Dooley, Cynthia Nixon) or parallel universe (Jane Curtin, Dennis Hopper) Altman regulars.

Although it's a genuine Altman film, it's also, unfortunately, a genuinely bad Altman film, its biggest crime being that it's painfully unfunny. In line with other films of its ilk from the period, it completely indulges its protagonists. Being anti-authority trumps everything, including idiocy and rampant narcissism. If O.C. and Stiggs' antics had any wit or panache I might have been able to cut them and the film some slack, but as it was it was all just a numbing grind. The only thing I got out of it was the curiosity value of seeing Altman's favoured techniques being squandered and the bizarre non sequitur of King Sunny Ade being the pop payoff in an 80s teen comedy (now that's a microfad I completely missed!)

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colinr0380
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#166 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:45 am

Cronenfly wrote:And I'll have to track down Drowning by Numbers...Does anyone know of a decent DVD available anywhere? It seems to me that there isn't, but I hope that I'm wrong...
Just found this programme of Greenaway discussing the film.

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#167 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:57 am

Any fans of The Manhattan Project here? I remember it playing ad nauseum on the various cable networks when I was a kid. Caught it on TV last night, actually. Thought it was a nice, well-plotted comedic thriller.

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tryavna
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#168 Post by tryavna » Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:49 pm

Has anyone mentioned The Stunt Man yet? I'm not sure what the feelings are for that film around here, but it really ought to be under consideration. Apart from O'Toole's performance, it also displays a great love for the medium of cinema.

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tojoed
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#169 Post by tojoed » Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:06 pm

tryavna wrote:Has anyone mentioned The Stunt Man yet? I'm not sure what the feelings are for that film around here, but it really ought to be under consideration. Apart from O'Toole's performance, it also displays a great love for the medium of cinema.

I love The Stunt Man.O'Toole's finest performance (with the exception of his Jeffrey Bernard on stage) and one of the best films about film making. The only weaknesses, I think, are Barbara Hershey's performance and the ending. The hero having his paranoia cured by a film director. As if.

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swo17
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Re: Wayne Wang

#170 Post by swo17 » Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:10 am

Mise En Scene wrote:I'd like to recommend people give Wayne Wang's Chan Is Missing a chance.
IFC is airing this on Saturday, August 2.

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domino harvey
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#171 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:34 pm

Saw Tootsie for the first time and what a tremendously bad film this is! As a comedy, it never had a single moment worth even a smile, and as a bonus it featured some of the most abominable morals I've come across in a long long time. Besides the "men dressing like women and kissing men is hilarious" garbage, Hoffman's character emotionally rapes Lange and leads Durning and Garr on in a way that only highlights how these three are actual characters being taken in by Hoffman's smug cipher-- and the movie thinks Hoffman is in the right here? That it tries to counter this with his Dorothy character "empowering" women only underscores how abhorrent and regressive his real-life actions are towards women. Amazingly, this irony isn't really addressed by the film except with glib asides where he goes "Yeah I'm awful" in a way that makes sure the audience knows he's really the bee's knees. And he ultimately learns his lesson how, by realizing given time, everyone will just shrug their shoulders and go "Well, he betrayed all our trust on a basic level but gosh that transvestite was simply too fantastic to stay mad at!" This is really one of the most popular comedies of all time?

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mfunk9786
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#172 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:37 pm

Domino, your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

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#173 Post by PillowRock » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:22 pm

tryavna wrote:Has anyone mentioned The Stunt Man yet?
I liked The Stunt Man quite a bit, although I haven't seen it in very long time. However, I would have to say that my favorite Peter O'Toole movie of the 1980's would be My Favorite Year.

I haven't read all of the posts in this thread; has anybody mentioned The Princess Bride? Maybe the spoofing that it does hits home with me because I had always read a fair amount of fantasy, but that movie has always worked wonderfully for me.

The 80's has got to be the main contributor to my loose, unofficial "Guilty Pleasures" list; things that I know didn't exactly cause a quantum leap in the art of film making, but I can't help enjoying tremendously when I see them. So just to mention a few movies that I love, even if somewhat against my better judgement: Big Trouble in Little China (only in the 80's would you find a ancient Chinese ghost-demon-wizard that built his ceremonial space *filled* with lots of pastel neon lights), Streets of Fire (it has it's own peculiar sense of style and unreality), Oscar (a stomach for silly farce is required), and Escape from New York (so cheesy that it's irresistible).

Edit: My bad. Oscar was actually 1991, and so shouldn't be here.

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Dylan
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#174 Post by Dylan » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:02 pm

I haven't read all of the posts in this thread; has anybody mentioned The Princess Bride? Maybe the spoofing that it does hits home with me because I had always read a fair amount of fantasy, but that movie has always worked wonderfully for me.
I don't think it really comes off, mostly due to the lame score and the static visual presentation (though a few shots are nice), and it feels too short, but the actors are perfect. The novel, which William Goldman wrote in the early seventies (his only children's novel), is a masterpiece of the genre, though, and probably my favorite piece of "children's literature."

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Highway 61
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#175 Post by Highway 61 » Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:56 pm

Is the novel funny like the film, or is it a straight-forward children's fairy tale?

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