Monday, February 10, 2014
Riske Business: Catching Up on the Films of 1985
In addition to Witness, I caught up with ten other movies from 1985 – some big hits, others overlooked and worth a watch plus a couple that are flat-out disappointing. So let’s dive in and don’t forget to join us on Saturday, February 15th for F This Movie Fest 3! It’s the most fun you’ll have since you sang “We Are the World” in your car while drinking a New Coke on your way to WrestleMania.
Woody Allen when he's on top of his game. The Purple Rose of Cairo is one of those occasions. This movie is completely charming and amusing, especially when the Jeff Daniels’ fictional character walks off the silver screen and into the life of Mia Farrow, leaving his co-stars in the movie-within-the-movie stranded and exasperated. Allen’s script is full of great dialogue (“You make love without fading out?” and “Dad was a card. I never met him. He died before the movie began,” to name a couple of examples), plus an amazing sequence with Dianne Wiest where Daniels slowly comes to the realization of what a brothel is. I also love the message the movie leaves you with: your life may be disappointing in the present, but the right movie can make you feel all better. So much was made of The Artist and Hugo being movies for movie lovers, but I never got that sense because those express movie love from a filmmaker point of view rather than a filmgoer. I did get that movie love exhilaration though from The Purple Rose of Cairo, as it shows a woman who keeps going to the movies to see the same one over and over again because she loves it so much. We’ve all been there.
Ghostbusters, Die Hard, Bio-Dome), who HAS to be this guy in real life. There is no way it’s a coincidence he plays the same asshole in every movie. My favorite line of his in Real Genius is “What are you looking at? You’re laborers; you should be laboring. That’s what you get for not having an education.” I think I’ll never like Real Genius as much as most people because I didn’t grow up with it, but I’m happy I saw it nevertheless. Does anyone else think Mitch’s girlfriend looks like Selma Blair?
Tim Burton stepped aside after hearing Scorsese wanted to direct) because he was frustrated with pre-production falling apart on The Last Temptation of Christ and needed a movie on which to focus his attention. Scorsese has said he approached After Hours as primarily an exercise in style; if that’s the case, the movie does not suffer from the old "style over substance" adage. In fact, it’s what greatly adds to the feel of unease in the movie. After Hours is comparable to watching a bad dream. Griffin Dunne is you, and no other character will connect with you including the beautiful girl you want to sleep with but something is always going wrong (Rosanna Arquette), the girl you don’t want who will not go away (Terri Garr) and the one who is absolutely nuts (Catherine O’Hara). No one will answer your questions, innocuous comments make others upset and you can never achieve the one thing you want to do. After Hours might actually be about dating and what a crazy, frustrating experience that can be. The movie builds and builds to an absolutely nutty climax which includes one of the biggest laughs I’ve had in a movie in a long time. Hiding from an angry mob, Griffin Dunne is on a fire escape and witnesses a wife shooting her husband dead in a nearby apartment. His reaction is priceless (“I’ll probably get blamed for that...”). An overlooked gem in Scorsese’s filmography and the one film on this list you have to see the most. Just buy it, don’t even rent it.
Steven Spielberg. I’m glad I gave it a chance, as I found the movie to be a really emotional and powerful experience similar to how I feel about The Shawshank Redemption. It’s simply good drama. What I found so touching about The Color Purple is that it’s really about how the power of loving one another can sometimes triumph over irrational evil and hatred, in this case caused by fear of empowerment. The movie is full of magnificent performances, including Danny Glover as the detestable Mister. Whoopi Goldberg is almost a backwards revelation for me here, because I had a specific image of her in my head and was really blown away by how much I believed her to be this character in her first screen appearance. Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery are also very moving in their performances as the women that slowly give the Goldberg character her self-esteem back. The Color Purple is better than I expected and features a line of dialogue that sums up best what I like about the movie: "I’m poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear G-d, I’m here. I’m here." It's a declaration that every person is entitled to fair treatment, equal respect, the pursuit of their own happiness etc. and should stand up to get it when they are not. The Color Purple is an absolutely beautiful movie.
More Recommendations from 1985:
Back to the Future
Death Wish 3
Return of the Living Dead
Summer Rental (enjoy the worst dub in movie history)
The Sure Thing
To Live and Die in L.A.
Can’t wait to chat with all of you next Saturday and follow me on Twitter @AdamR38. I just want to be happy and I want you to be, too. It all starts on Twitter is what I’m saying. So many jokes. So good.
Leave a comment with your take on any of these 11 movies. I’d love to hear what you think.