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World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s 
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Post World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
I mean, Jesus, is there anything?

Cinema goes through its periodic ebbs and flows, with the two deepest American nadirs being (in my opinion) the early 1960s and the late 1980s. Each was followed by a renaissance. The former with influence from the French New Wave, the ending of the Production Code, and the Era of the Directors turning the late 60s and most of the 70s into (arguably) the high water mark of American cinema. And then the 1990s saw independent films revive the moribund industry.

But, man, the late 80s...that was a rough time. There were some good to excellent action films: I love Aliens, The Last Crusade is a gas, and other people love Die Hard. But as far as artistic or cerebral films go? I mean, Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture for God's sake. Off the top of my head, Platoon is close to a great film, and Do the Right Thing has moments of greatness. You guys got anything?

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:11 am
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
The Last Temptation of Christ
Robocop
Full Metal Jacket
Wall Street
Empire of the Sun
Cry Freedom
Evil Dead II
Raising Arizona

Perhaps not uniformly master-level films, but made by filmmakers who took some chances and produced occasionally great results.

And now that I look them up, I'm pretty sure they're all from the same year, which is uncanny.

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:58 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
Ken wrote:
The Last Temptation of Christ
Robocop
Full Metal Jacket
Wall Street
Empire of the Sun
Cry Freedom
Evil Dead II
Raising Arizona

Perhaps not uniformly master-level films, but made by filmmakers who took some chances and produced occasionally great results.

And now that I look them up, I'm pretty sure they're all from the same year, which is uncanny.


Interesting. They largely fall outside the "intelligent, cerebral" category. So even if I found those great (I don't -- Empire of the Sun has moments of greatness and moments of cloying irritation, Raising Arizona and Evil Dead II are quirky and fun but not A-grade, Wall Street is a *** movie, Full Metal Jacket is a great half a movie, Robocop is undeniably awesome but I don't think it's great, and I haven't seen the other two) it would only reinforce that the late-80s absolutely sucked for dramas, even if they contributed some fine genre films.

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:12 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
Crimes & Misdemeanors
Unbearable Lightness of Being
Enemies A Love Story
Mystery Train
Sex, Lies and Videotape
Drugstore Cowboy
Miracle Mile
The Big Picture
Fabulous Baker Boys
Farewell to the King
Dead Ringers
The Dead
Street Smart
Bird
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Another Woman


Last edited by calvero on Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:14 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
Not my idea of great movies, but are to some:

Au Revoir Les Enfants
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover


Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:20 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
CasualDad wrote:
Not my idea of great movies, but are to some:

Au Revoir Les Enfants
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover


Ah hah! Both absolutely great IMO, but neither American

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:30 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
calvero wrote:
Crimes & Misdemeanors
Unbearable Lightness of Being
Enemies A Love Story
Mystery Train
Sex, Lies and Videotape
Drugstore Cowboy
Miracle Mile
The Big Picture
Fabulous Baker Boys
Farewell to the King
Dead Ringers
The Dead
Street Smart
Bird
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Another Woman


I like a lot of these, though some are not American, but if you have to place Miracle Mile next to Pulp Fiction or the Godfather...

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:31 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
JamesKunz wrote:
Interesting. They largely fall outside the "intelligent, cerebral" category. So even if I found those great (I don't -- Empire of the Sun has moments of greatness and moments of cloying irritation, Raising Arizona and Evil Dead II are quirky and fun but not A-grade, Wall Street is a *** movie, Full Metal Jacket is a great half a movie, Robocop is undeniably awesome but I don't think it's great, and I haven't seen the other two) it would only reinforce that the late-80s absolutely sucked for dramas, even if they contributed some fine genre films.

Hey, man, you have to get it where you can find it. You can view this as a signpost of where the '80s went wrong, or you can view it as an indication that filmmakers were deliberately challenging themselves, veering from the path they were on and exploring new ground. They plied their talents and seeded their qualities into films where you wouldn't normally expect them. As with any experiment, sometimes they don't pan out, but sometimes the results are terrific--and the fact that they're so atypical makes them better grist for conversation than the more universally accepted great works in the filmmakers' respective canons.

Who knew that our sharpest social satire would come in the form of a clomp-clomping robot policeman? Plenty of brain food to chew on there.

Who knew that the guys who did Blood Simple would apply their deft visual storytelling to a screwball comedy about Nicolas Cage and a baby? While the plot self-consciously silly, the style of the picture is fertile ground for an intellectual review of visual rhetoric in movies.

Who knew that the Jaws/Indiana Jones guy would team up with the "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" guy and do a film about a young boy taken prisoner during WWII? If anything, this and The Color Purple are the unexamined connective tissue between Spielberg the Blockbuster and Spielberg the Artist.

Who knew that Scorsese, the most personal, gritty, and urban of filmmakers, would funnel his anxieties about his own talents and responsibilities into a New Testament epic and pull it off? For my money, this, not GoodFellas, is his third essential film. It's more theoretical and a little more distant than Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, but Scorsese's Jesus is more of a kindred soul to Travis and Jake (and therefore to Scorsese himself) than Henry is.

Who knew that a kid from backwoods Michigan and his friends, who presumably had a promising career ahead of them in low-budget horror/exploitation films, would deliver one of the great seminal horror comedies? That's a deceptively tough genre, because for every Shaun of the Dead, there's a dozen Scary Movies in which the two genre halves work against each other.

I grant you, it was a strange time in film, but it's also a good time for underappreciated treasures.

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:35 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
:oops: I didn't read the title very well did I? Sorry for the side track.

JamesKunz wrote:
CasualDad wrote:
Not my idea of great movies, but are to some:

Au Revoir Les Enfants
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover


Ah hah! Both absolutely great IMO, but neither American


Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:37 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
I think calvero may have illustrated James' point. There are a few great American films from the era, but mostly we're listing good films. The Last Temptations of Christ is about the best, and I like At Close Range, Big, Say Anything... and Glory a lot, but the late 1980s do seem a bit short. Do The Right Thing still resonates very well.

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:23 pm
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Post Re: World's Shortest Books: Great American Films of the Late 80s
Surprised Blue Velvet wasn't mentioned yet. That plus Platoon, Do The Right Thing, The Last Temptation, Mona Lisa, Drugstore Cowboy and a few others stand out.

Sure on one hand the highest grossing movie of 1986 was Top Gun. But it was also the year in which David Lynch and Oliver Stone broke through and Spike Lee made his debut.

Sure Driving Miss Daisy won the Academy Award. Do The Right Thing didn't get nominated. But today Do The Right Thing is regarded as a classic while Daisy is pretty much forgotten, its academy award notwithstanding.

To me, the seventies and the nineties were thwe two best eras for cinema. The 80s in general offered some good blockbusters and good work by arriving edgy directors (The Coen Brothers, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone).. But yeah when I think of mainstream films from that era the likes of Top Gun come to mind.

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Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:23 pm
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