Tuesday, February 7, 2017

1987: A Very Special Year

by JB and Jan B.
Take a walk down movie memory lane with JB and Jan.

Scene: Jan walks into JB’s office, where he is gently French-kissing his life-sized bust of Nosferatu.

Jan: Hey, Pumpkin! I’ve been thinking…

JB: Don’t you ever knock?

Jan: …about a really special day that’s coming up. Kind of a 30-year celebration – a special day marking 1987, and the specialness of what happened in 1987.

JB: Me too, Honey Bunny! I’ve been thinking about it. And I’m so happy I get to be with you to celebrate….

Jan: …our 30th Anniver….

JB: ….F This Movie Fest!


JB: Featuring 1987!

Jan: Yes. That is what I was going to say.

JB: 1987 was such a cool year! Do you remember? When we were dating, I used to throw all of our ticket stubs into a giant brandy snifter and then made a list of all the stubs I saved. I know the original dates we saw most of the movies Patrick is showing at F This Movie Fest! Those were the special days of 1987. We spent them together, at the movies.

Jan: Hey, that really is cool! Let’s see that list… We saw Raising Arizona on April 7, Predator on June 29, RoboCop on July 2, and The Princess Bride on November 1. Wow! Wait… I don’t remember seeing Predator in a movie theatre.

JB: No, you didn’t. I went with Terry and the guys.

Jan: Terry is a good man. You could say that, in 1987, Terry was the BEST MAN. You know, the best man at…

JB: …that screening of Predator! I agree. You and I saw a shit ton of movies that year, remember? Mostly at the Plitt Woodfield theatres, which is now a discount shoe store. Hey, I know that look you’re giving me—it means you agree that so much has changed in 30 years!

Jan: Sure, that’s what it means.
JB: There was one movie we didn’t see at Woodfield – we saw it at a theatre on Columbus Circle in New York City! And that movie was Spaceballs. I call Spaceballs “minor Brooks.” You’d think that Star Wars would be ripe for parody, but apparently not as ripe as Westerns or horror films. With Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks has an entire genre to make fun of; Spaceballs makes fun of a single film, but Brooks doesn’t really adjust his approach. I was really disappointed in this one.

Jan: Me too, actually. There’s one terrific scene—the videotape scene—but in a way, that’s also the most disappointing scene, because you spend the rest of the movie wondering why every other scene isn’t funnier.

JB: And the art direction doesn’t do Brooks any favors. Young Frankenstein really looks like a 1930s horror film—they even used some of Kenneth Strickfaden’s original lab equipment from Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein! Spaceballs looks a sitcom, a sitcom from 1987, our special year for movies.

Jan: Right. Pumpkin, don’t you remember WHY we were in New York? Together? Seeing Spaceballs?

JB: We were taking a special kind of romantic trip. That was the first time I ever visited New York – the first time I saw Spaceballs – the first time I’d ever flown on a plane!

Jan: It was the first time you did a lot of things.

JB: I’ve written a lot of columns about movies we love from 1987 – including The Hidden, Near Dark, and Tough Guys Don’t Dance. “Oh man, oh God! Oh man, oh God!”

Jan: Hahaha! Since 1987, I always get your movie references. Hey, do you know what 1987 movie is FULL of great lines? Broadcast News, directed by James L. Brooks (no relation) and starring Albert Brooks (no relation.) You and I still love to quote this one. The characters are so great! For 1987, Holly Hunter’s Jane was really different—smart, determined, but kind of a mess. And the triangle they set up between her, Aaron (Brooks) and Tom (William Hurt) ends up in a different place than the 1987 moviegoer would expect.
JB: As a director, James Brooks is really good at using dialogue to reveal relationship. In Broadcast News, he captures how friends really talk to each other—that shorthand. Consider the line, “OK, I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time”… it leaves out all the details, but reveals all the intimacy. And there’s that line I always say to you.

Jan: Yeah, I know the one. But speaking of relationships… are you sure you don’t remember something ELSE from 1987? Relationship-wise? Think back… we bought a little house… does that remind you of anything?

JB: Yes – our crippling mortgage payment. And also…

Jan: …also our wedd…

JB: …. House of Games!

Jan: Damn. That’s a good one. I love me some David Mamet. He wrote and directed, right?

JB: Yep. For a first directorial effort, it’s remarkably accomplished. The script is twisty (#twiscript) but manages to continually upend our expectations without cheating. And House of Games features the actor that is best at delivering Mamet’s stylized dialogue: Joe Mantegna.

Jan: Agreed. We’re never 100% sure of the characters’ motivations; as the movie goes on, the level of tension becomes unsettling, almost like watching a horror film. It’s got a sexy-dangerous vibe. Mamet’s style—the rapid back-and-forths; the syncopated, contractionless rhythms; the noir-ish poetry of his diction—almost gives the sense of an alternate reality.
JB: Right! I love how the film itself becomes a metaphor for what it’s about; it’s a confidence game, and the audience is the mark; but the con is so good, so dark and interesting, that we don’t mind getting played. Yep, House of Games—really, Honey Bunny, all the movies we saw together—that was the highlight of 1987 for me. The highlight. Literally, it’s the only truly important thing that I can recall from that year… the only thing.

Jan: Look, Pumpkin. I love you. And I love 1987! But it’s not ONLY for the movies… it’s because that was the year I wore a beautiful white dress and stood beside you before our family and friends, in the church our son would later be christened in, and I pledged that I’d stick with you through thick and thin, sickness and health, blockbuster hits and miserable flops, as your friend, your helpmate, your movie buddy… and your WIFE, you fucking lunkhead! We’ve been legally sharing a bed, a home, and large popcorns for 30 years because another special day in 1987… was our WEDDING DAY.

JB: ….

Jan: ….

JB: Wait, we’re married?


  1. This made me smile incredibly hard. Also, what a great picture.

    1. The first time I read this I missed smile and thought it was very disturbing which then made me laugh.

  2. Good gravy, have I got a crush on Jan. (・_・;)

  3. Great post, and pic! JB, you looked like Oliver Reed!

  4. This made my day!!!! Thanks for sharing your movie love with all us movie lovers. <3

  5. well, this is super cute. and i'm a bit jealous

    it sounds like your 30th is very soon, so happy anniversary. may the next 30 years be filled with movies that you'll love and hate together

  6. That was amazing. And that picture! Hubba-hubba! And I'm talking about both of you.

  7. Awww this is great. You two...

  8. Aww! And what a great comedy duo!