Category Archives: 1980s

Field of Dreams (1989)

Well, I fell asleep. Twice.

Kevin Costner. Dud.

While this wasn’t my favorite movie in the least, I can definitely understand why it’s a classic, and why many different kinds of people love to watch it.

The separation of generations is even brought up within the film, how fathers and sons cannot bond due to their very different eras. What’s reassuring in the end is that you can be a cranky old man from the golden age, you can be a baby boomer child of the sixties, or you can be just a little kid of the late 80s, you can still love baseball. I think that if this string that ties it all together were the love of Degas, ER, or Cadbury Mini Eggs rather than baseball, I might not have fallen asleep.

Regardless, baseball has forever been known as the classic American past-time. I’ve learned to appreciate sports in general for the simple reason that it brings people back outside, off their personal screens and up on their feet. In an ever changing world, the sports culture has always had the same ability to draw people together. The rules haven’t changed, but it still hasn’t lost it’s ability to create revenue. (This could also show how little I know about sports, so forgive me). But if I’m right, then I truly think that it’s something to be thankful for.

So many great aspects of the past, particularly in the 20th century, have started to lose enthusiasm. For example,the best example, going to the movie theatre, handwritten letters, reading a book and breaking the binding, or playing board games. Is it just because these were the things that were a part of my childhood, and I’m just growing up? I don’t think so, because kids nowadays aren’t dying to play with beanie babies like my sisters and I were.

And dare I say, in a world that I wasn’t even a part of, there seemed to be a common decency and politeness in people. Nowadays, every thought is a crime if not shared, there’s no propriety really anymore, or perhaps these old movies I’ve watched a million times have painted an ideal world for me to only dream of which to be a member. All I can do is hold on to those standards, realize what is great about the world today. And I’m not really this cynical, I know there are a great many things about my era. But what can I say, I’m old fashioned.

Oh yeah, Field of Dreams.. merr.

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Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Music by Hans Zimmer! I’m already excited! All I can think of is Jack Black in the Holiday singing the theme song like scroodle deedin’ doodle scroodle deedin’ doo

I keep laughing to myself, people think I’m crazy.

Driving Miss Daisy was an absolute delight. Morgan Freeman is an absolute gem that really should be ranked among the great ones. Jessica Tandy played the perfect cynical old lady with a kind heart, and their relationship is truly a special one.

I wouldn’t consider this to be another one of those movies that simply claims to be uplifting in the sense of racism. Like the white helping the black, etc. etc. This is a story about friendship. Miss Daisy treats everyone in her life with the same snap, but with Hoke, she discovers a true companion. Black or white, it doesn’t matter. She’s not making an exception, they are just perfect in their quaint, humorous, and loving relationship.

I haven’t felt this great at the end of a movie in a really long time. I mean, I did just watch Die Hard.. So there you go.

Ten billion stars.

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Do the Right Thing (1989)

I can’t say that I enjoy watching Spike Lee‘s films, but I don’t even think that matters. In addressing the race issues that are still alive today in the U.S., Lee is a genius. They are some of the most effective films I’ve ever seen in my life.

I didn’t response as strongly to this film as I did Bamboozled, which I watched for my Race and Racism in US Cinema class last spring. The feeling I got in my gut from watching that movie never really went away. There’s no way to fully describe what the film achieves in a few unorganized sentences, all I can say is just watch it. If you want to understand the race struggle that still goes on, I couldn’t recommend any other film.

The song “Fight the Power” will never be the same.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Before I get too much into it, I think it is just important to mention that when one watches, reviews, or even discusses this film, it’s really difficult to keep their personal belief system out of it. I’ll do my best to look at this from a critical and narrative standpoint. However, I might not be able to leave it un-compared to Ten Commandmentsor Ben-Hur, both movies I did grow up watching. So… we’ll see.

I appreciate Scorsese‘s attempt at showing Jesus Christ as a real man, one with both vulnerability and fear. I remember Sunday school describing him as always the peace maker, always sure of what God asked of him. It was certainly an interesting and new experience for me to see the character in that light. A little refreshing, more concrete. Approaching the character in this way allows the relationships he has with others to make more sense. People don’t want to idolize one that embodies perfection, but rather someone they can see in themselves.

Being Scorsese, naturally the gore factor went way higher than I have imagined in various classes. Willem Dafoe did a brilliant job displaying both the angelic side of Jesus, but also the side that no one sees.

This is really the first time in secular film that Jesus is the main protagonist. In those Easter films growing up, he is simply a presence, usually faceless, a mighty force that provides hope for the weary. Portraying the character up close, personal, and incredibly wounded is a strange difference.

There was, as expected, plenty of controversy regarding this film due to the fact that it embellishes upon the stories told in the Gospels. Like I said, I did my best to not watch this film as a member of any religion, but rather a spectator enjoying a dramatic story.

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The Last Emperor (1987)

All three and a half hours, I did it. You barely notice it though, the constant flashback action that goes on causes the film to be very fluent and quick.

Speaking specifically of the flashback formation of the film, I couldn’t help but notice the technical differences applied between the past and present scenes. Bertolucci, the Italian director, who also did La Conformista, structured the film based on the range of perspective. In the present, Pu Yi is one of many. He is no longer the emperor, but rather a fellow prisoner in Red China. Scenes are shot from a distance, often only going so far as the 9 foot shot. This demonstrates his place in society.

However, in the scenes beginning at his age of three, the camera is often placed directly in front of the child, using a close up to illustrate his vulnerability. He is, at first, completely unaware of his power and responsibility. If the camera is not portraying a close up, it is placed behind him. The environment surrounding him is as important at the subject. Like in the photo above, this scene in the film shows the first time the new emperor is exposed to the members of the Forbidden City. He is so small, taking up only a small portion of the frame, yet you feel his importance vibrating through the image.

The transition between these two forms of filmmaking occur in a very strategically organized scene. At least this when I noticed it. There is some sort of ball attended by Pu Yi and his two wives. From the balcony above, we the audience see a camera man slowly panning down to the main center, filming the group. Since we see this first, we obviously get the sense that time has passed due to emerging technology. Our camera glances toward this camera man, but soon joins it side by side. In just a matter of about 15 seconds, we are once the observer, then suddenly at the same time and place as everyone else. Hello Communism.

This film was great, I definitely recommend it.

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

This has got to be my favorite Woody Allen movie. I loved Annie Hall, but I think the whole “sisters” theme really gets me. Michael Caine is adorable, Dianne West is adorable, Woody Allen is hilarious.

I have come to love films that carry several story lines, and in the end they all resolve in one. It’s like how a real family works. We each have our own issues and problems, and no matter how much we try to be individuals, we will always be associated with our families and backgrounds. I’m not complaining, I’m proud of my background and family, but there are people, like the characters in this film that get trapped in those expectations.

Hannah and Her Sisters was lovely, definitely an eighties classic.

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Children of a Lesser God (1986)

So I don’t usually use movie posters as the picture for these reviews but one: I really love this poster, and two: it was pretty slim pickin’s on the reblog front. I’m snuggled in bed with some tea on this snowy evening to conclude two really bad days, so I’m feeling a little better. Plus, this movie was heart-wrenching, beautiful, and incredibly eye opening.

Let’s begin with William Hurt. He started out as kind of a drugged out intellectual in The Big Chill (in my top five, it’s a big deal), but his character in this film is a complete 180. He’s romantic, passionate, and patient. Perhaps it’s because he’s a teacher, perhaps it’s because he’s a speech and language teacher at a deaf school, perhaps it’s because he’s simply brilliant. I’m thinking all three. His performance in this film completely shattered the seemingly lower expectations that I had approaching this film.

Next up: Marlee Matlin. She’s the first deaf actress to hold a leading role (besides getting an Academy Award for her performance) since a silent film from 1926 in You’d Be Surprised (I’ve seen it and it’s fabulous). For a role in which there are no spoken lines, her performance blew me away. It’s a form of communication that I never understood, it’s a relationship and responsibility that I never understood, and it’s a lifestyle that I could never imagine.

The film basically discusses the hardships with the romantic relationship between Matlin and Hurt. There are tensions due to their differing opinions regarding speech and sign language. She is capable of speaking, but chooses not to. He, as a speech teacher, sees this as a fear of failure. So, of course, he spends a lot of their relationship trying to improve her quality of communication.

After everything, they reconcile and decide that these challenges won’t be ones they hide from, but rather join together to conquer them. I LOVE this, because I’ve seen far too many movies in which the characters whine all day long about their problems and don’t do anything to change it. This is the great last line, they couldn’t have ended it any other way.

Do you think there’s someplace where we can meet that’s not in silence and not in sound? 

This was one of the greats because it relies solely on performance. There weren’t many twists and turns in the narrative, but it didn’t need it. It’s about two people, no props, just two people building and rebuilding their romance.

Also, I just read that William Hurt and Marlee Matlin were a couple for three years. No wonder they had so much chemistry. And he’s got great shoulders. That’s all folks.

Children of a Lesser God (1986)