(t5!) Movies Of The 1980s [#080 — #061]

#080: Empire Of The Sun
1987
Directed by Steve Spielberg
Starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson

Clark Griswold is on a quest to take his family on a quest to Walley World theme park for a vacation, but things don’t go exactly as planned.

“I can’t remember what my parents look like.”
 — Jim (Christian Bale)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Spielberg has dreamed of flying before, and this time he earns his wings.”
 — Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine

“No special use is made of the talents of Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano and the others, so it is up to young English thesp Bale to engage the viewer’s interest, which he does superbly.”
 — Variety Staff

“It’s fascinating to see war from the perspective of a child behind enemy lines.”
 — Nick Brown, Letterboxd

#079: Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi
1983
Directed by Richard Marquand
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

As Rebel leaders map their strategy for an all-out attack on the Emperor’s newer, bigger Death Star. Han Solo remains frozen in the cavernous desert fortress of Jabba the Hutt, the most loathsome outlaw in the universe, who is also keeping Princess Leia as a slave girl. Now a master of the Force, Luke Skywalker rescues his friends, but he cannot become a true Jedi Knight until he wages his own crucial battle against Darth Vader, who has sworn to win Luke over to the dark side of the Force.

“Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Luke… Luke… do not… do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor or suffer your father’s fate you will. Luke, when gone am I… the last of the Jedi will you be. Luke, the Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned, Luke. There is… another… Sky… walker.”
 — Yoda (Frank Oz)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“It’s everything it ought to be — glorious, exhilarating, exciting, absorbing, technically wondrous. But there also is something bittersweet in the knowledge that, with Jedi, we are bidding a fond farewell to all of the characters we got to know so well.”
 — Rena Andrews, Denver Post

“The characters and dialogue get lost somewhere between the bug-eyed monsters and the exploding spaceships, but it is all so much fun it probably really does not matter a whole lot.”
 — Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“the moment when leia strangles jabba is literally the birth of feminism”
 — brat pitt, Letterboxd

#078: The Abyss
1989
Directed by James Cameron
Starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn

A civilian oil rig crew is recruited to conduct a search and rescue effort when a nuclear submarine mysteriously sinks. One diver soon finds himself on a spectacular odyssey 25,000 feet below the ocean’s surface where he confronts a mysterious force that has the power to change the world or destroy it.

“We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.”
 — Lindsey Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Colossally ambitious, this logistically boggling and technically brilliant film from writer-director James Cameron is a visual tour de force, featuring overall, the greatest underwater sequences ever seen on film.”
 — Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter

“The movie was a bear to make and it shows onscreen, parading around a series of mesmerizing set-pieces that look deliciously hard-earned in ways our current CG-drenched filmmaking climate never allows.”
 — Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com

“Cameron’s ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS and one of the greatest technical accomplishments in the history of the medium. it’s easy to say they don’t make ’em like this anymore, but i can hardly believe they ever made ’em like this in the first place, especially without casualties.”
 — matt lynch, Letterboxd

#077: Bull Durham
1988
Directed by Ron Shelton
Starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins

Veteran catcher Crash Davis is brought to the minor league Durham Bulls to help their up and coming pitching prospect, “Nuke” Laloosh. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start and is further complicated when baseball groupie Annie Savoy sets her sights on the two men.

“Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”
 — Crash Davis (Kevin Costner)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed the film, displays a knowledge of and affection for the national pastime. You can see it in the knowing detail he brings to even the minor characters.”
 — Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

“The acting in Bull Durham cannot be faulted and should be remembered at Oscar time. Sarandon has one of the juiciest female roles in years and she makes you think no one could play it better.”
 — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

“Costner and baseball. Two things that go together.
Sarandon and Robbins. Another two things that went together for many years but sadly no more.”
 — Andy Summers, Letterboxd

#076: The Last Temptation Of Christ
1988
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey

Jesus, a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into revolutionary action against the Roman occupiers by Judas — despite his protestations that love, not violence, is the path to salvation. The burden of being the savior of mankind torments Jesus throughout his life, leading him to doubt. As he is put to death on the cross, Jesus is tempted by visions of an ordinary life married to Mary Magdalene.

“You think God belongs only to you? He doesn’t. God is an immortal spirit who belongs to everybody, to the whole world. You think you’re special? God is not an Israelite.”
 — Jesus (Willem Dafoe)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“In an age of post-Christian facetiousness, Martin Scorsese’s work daringly attempts to restore passion and melodrama to the Gospel story.”
 — TIME Magazine

“What emerges most memorably is its sense of absolute conviction, never more palpable than in the final fantasy sequence that removes Jesus from the cross and creates for him the life of an ordinary man.”
 — Janet Maslin, New York Times

“A painful, yet challenging and spiritually conflicting character epic that brings up many heavy themes and content, and leaves us with the same fate of it all.”
 — The Entity, Letterboxd

#075: Blade Runner
1982
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young

In the smog-choked dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, blade runner Rick Deckard is called out of retirement to terminate a quartet of replicants who have escaped to Earth seeking their creator for a way to extend their short life spans.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.”
 — Batty (Rutger Hauer)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“This is perhaps the only science-fiction film that can be called transcendental.”
 — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“Even when over the top, Scott’s uncompromisingly disorienting film is a singularly hallucinatory experience and nothing short of exhilarating.”
 — Michael Joshua Rowin, Stop Smiling

“not to be THAT BITCH or anything but Harrison Ford can slurp me like he slurps those noodles any day of the week”
 — Katie, Letterboxd

#074: Sex, Lies, And Videotape
1989
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, James Spader

A sexually repressed woman’s husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

“I remember reading somewhere that men learn to love the person that they’re attracted to, and that women become more and more attracted to the person that they love.”
 — Graham (James Spader)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“This is a sexy, nuanced, beautifully controlled examination of how a quartet of people are defined by their erotic impulses and inhibitions.”
 — Variety Staff

“The actors are superb; working from Soderbergh’s funny, perceptive, immaculately wrought dialogue, they ensure that the film stimulates both intellectually and emotionally.”
 — Geoff Andrew, Time Out

“I’m attracted to the insularity of this four-person drama.”
 — Alice Stoehr, Letterboxd

#073: Blue Velvet
1986
Directed by David Lynch
Starring Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper

The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child.

“In dreams, I walk with you. In dreams, I talk to you. In dreams, you’re mine, all the time. Forever. In dreams…”
 — Frank Booth (Blue Velvet)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“The charged erotic atmosphere makes the film something of a hallucination, but Lynch’s humor keeps breaking through, too.”
 — Pauline Kael, New Yorker

“Shocking, visionary, rapturously controlled, its images of innocence and a dark, bruising sexuality drop straight into our unconscious where they rest like depth charges.”
 — Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

“I feel like I was assaulted and beaten in a nightmare, only to wake up into another nightmare that’s even worse.”
 — SilentDawn, Letterboxd

#072: Beetlejuice
1988
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Michael Keaton

Thanks to an untimely demise via drowning, a young couple end up as poltergeists in their New England farmhouse, where they fail to meet the challenge of scaring away the insufferable new owners, who want to make drastic changes. In desperation, the undead newlyweds turn to an expert frightmeister, but he’s got a diabolical agenda of his own.

“Ah. Well… I attended Juilliard… I’m a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT… NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY… NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I’m qualified?”
 — Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Beetlejuice means something good: that imaginative artists can bring a fading genre back from the dead.”
 — Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine

“Luckily, Keaton pops up from his grave to liven things up when the antics pitting the good ghosts against the intruders become a trite cat & mouse game.”
 — Variety Staff

“Yes yes yes I know we all give lots of attention to EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and ED WOOD and that’s all lovely.

But.

This is the best Tim Burton movie do not @ me I will fight you so hard.”
 — Laura Saladino, Letterboxd

#071: The Land Before Time
1988
Directed by Don Bluth
Starring Gabriel Damon, Candace Hutson, Judith Barsi

An orphaned brontosaurus named Littlefoot sets off in search of the legendary Great Valley. A land of lush vegetation where the dinosaurs can thrive and live in peace. Along the way he meets four other young dinosaurs, each one a different species, and they encounter several obstacles as they learn to work together in order to survive.

“Let your heart guide you. It whispers so listen closely.”
 — Littlefoot’s mother (Helen Shaver)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“The Land Before Time is as handsome and honest an animated feature as any produced since Walt Disney`s death; it may even be the best.”
 — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

“It’s a beautiful movie to watch, and the cartoony characters are as endearing as they come.”
 — David Sterritt, Chirstian Science Monitor

“Wow. Just nostalgia’d all over my new jeans.”
 — Rocco, Letterboxd

#070: Rocky III
1982
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Mr. T

Now the world champion, Rocky Balboa is living in luxury and only fighting opponents who pose no threat to him in the ring. His lifestyle of wealth and idleness is shaken when a powerful young fighter known as Clubber Lang challenges him to a bout. After taking a pounding from Lang, the humbled champ turns to former bitter rival Apollo Creed to help him regain his form for a rematch with Lang.

“No, I don’t hate Balboa. I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!”
 — Clubber Lang (Mr. T)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Rocky III marks the point where the series starts to get silly, but the end result is so enjoyable that it’s hard to carp too much.”
 — Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

“The real question with Rocky III was how Sylvester Stallone could twist the plot to make an interesting difference. He manages.”
 — Variety Staff

“Mr. T may be somewhat of a jokey association with the 80s (at least with the ninja bacon mustache crowd), but give the man some credit: His persona is so strong that in this, his first feature film, he’s given maybe a cumulative 3-minutes of screentime to speak, and he crafts a character that is very well defined and memorable. Some actors can’t do that with 150 minutes.”
 — laird, Letterboxd

#069: An American Werewolf In London
1981
Directed by John Landis
Starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne

Two American tourists in England are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

“A naked American man stole my balloons.”
 — Little boy (Rufus Deakin)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“One of the few horror films that explore the psychological effects of lycanthropy alongside the physical and the fallout…”
 — Felix Vasquez Jr.

“Not just gory but actually frightening, not just funny but clever, ‘American Werewolf…’ has its flaws, but these are outweighed by the film’s many, mighty strengths.”
 — Tom Huddleston, Time Out

“John Landis’ horror comedy is probably the best werewolf movie ever made with a fantastic transformation sequence that still holds up to this day it looks and feels painful, a true landmark moment. A true classic of the genre.”
 — Mark Mooney, Letterboxd

#068: The Karate Kid
1984
Directed by John G. Avildsen
Starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, William Zabka

Hassled by the school bullies, Daniel LaRusso has his share of adolescent woes. Luckily, his apartment building houses a resident martial arts master: Kesuke Miyagi, who agrees to train Daniel … and ends up teaching him much more than self-defense. Armed with newfound confidence, skill and wisdom, Daniel ultimately faces off against his tormentors in this hugely popular classic underdog tale.

“get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,””
 — Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“An exciting, sweet-tempered, heart-warming story with one of the most interesting friendships in a long time.”
 — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Morita is simply terrific, bringing the appropriate authority and wisdom to the part.”
 — Variety Staff

“my favorite thing about this is the kid is friendly, polite, and respectful to begin with. martial arts just focuses him. though it’s comparable as a purely inspirational story, this isn’t ROCKY; fighting and winning aren’t as intrinsically meaningful here. knowing how to fight can’t teach you when to do it or why. only empathy and attention can.”
 — matt lynch, Letterboxd

#067: Clue
1985
Directed by Jonathan Lynn
Starring Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn

Clue finds six colorful dinner guests gathered at the mansion of their host, Mr. Boddy — who turns up dead after his secret is exposed: He was blackmailing all of them. With the killer among them, the guests and Boddy’s chatty butler must suss out the culprit before the body count rises.

“Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage!”
 — Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Mostly successful and entirely strange… a comic [mystery] that doubles as a parody and triples as an ironic deconstruction of the form.”
 — Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

“Like a well-oiled machine, “Clue” uses slapstick and situational humor to tell a rather pointed story.”
 — Wesley Lovell, Cinema Sight

“Choosing just one quote from Clue is worthless considering that it is basically a 28 year old well full of golden quotes and endlessly rewatchable slapstick humor.”
 — Larry, Letterboxd

#066: The Evil Dead
1981
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor

When a group of college students finds a mysterious book and recording in the old wilderness cabin they’ve rented for the weekend, they unwittingly unleash a demonic force from the surrounding forest.

“Why have you disturbed our sleep; awakened us from our ancient slumber?”
 — Cheryl [possessed] (Ellen Sandweiss)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Sam Raimi directed this 1983 horror feature fresh out of film school, and his anything-for-an-effect enthusiasm pays off in lots of formally inventive bits.”
 — Pat Graham, Chicago Reader

“Short on characterisation and plot but strong on atmospheric horror and visual churns.”
 — Steve Grant, Time Out

“You will believe a girl can be raped by a tree.”
 — Wesley R. Ball, Letterboxd

#065: The Running Man
1987
Directed by Paul Michael Glaser
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, Maria Conchita Alonso

By 2017, the global economy has collapsed and American society has become a totalitarian police state, censoring all cultural activity. The government pacifies the populace by broadcasting a number of game shows in which convicted criminals fight for their lives, including the gladiator-style The Running Man, hosted by the ruthless Damon Killian, where “runners” attempt to evade “stalkers” and certain death for a chance to be pardoned and set free.

“I’m not into politics. I’m into survival.”
 — Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“It’s an arcade-game romp done with flair.”
 — Film4

“The fun of the movie is really in its premise, its cool confrontations between Arny & villains, the cheezy one-liners and Maria Conchita-Alonso in tights!”
 — JoBlo, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

“Did you know that when you eat cheese it releases an opiate called ‘casomorphin’ into your stomach, making you feel all good and giddy?

I guess eighties cheese is no different, because for some reason I really, really like this cheese fest based on source material a gazillion times better.”
 — DirkH, Letterboxd

#064: The Blues Brothers
1980
Directed by John Landis
Starring Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, James Brown

Jake Blues is just out of jail, and teams up with his brother, Elwood on a ‘mission from God’ to raise funds for the orphanage in which they grew up. The only thing they can do is do what they do best — play music — so they get their old band together and they’re on their way, while getting in a bit of trouble here and there.

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
 — Elwood (Dan Aykroyd)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“The film retains a huge nostalgic kick, thanks in large part to Aykroyd and Belushi’s easy rapport, a smattering of daft, shaggy humour and some truly iconic musical sequences.”
 — Tom Huddlestone, Time Out

“There’s even room, in the midst of the carnage and mayhem, for a surprising amount of grace, humor, and whimsy.”
 — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Got to introduce my father-in-law to this movie; somehow he’d missed it all these years despite his love of cars and reckless car stunts. It went over very well — except for the parts where I was driving him crazy by quoting the dialogue along with the movie. He laughed hardest at the Nazis’ car soaring past Sears Tower. That’s my favorite part too.”
 — Matt Singer, Letterboxd

#063: Paris, Texas
1984
Directed by Wim Wenders
Starring Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell

A man wanders out of the desert not knowing who he is. His brother finds him, and helps to pull his memory back of the life he led before he walked out on his family and disappeared four years earlier.

“I… I used to make long speeches to you after you left. I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone. I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don’t know what to say. It was easier when I just imagined you. I even imagined you talking back to me. We’d have long conversations, the two of us. It was almost like you were there. I could hear you, I could see you, smell you. I could hear your voice. Sometimes your voice would wake me up. It would wake me up in the middle of the night, just like you were in the room with me. Then… it slowly faded. I couldn’t picture you anymore. I tried to talk out loud to you like I used to, but there was nothing there. I couldn’t hear you. Then… I just gave it up. Everything stopped. You just… disappeared. And now I’m working here. I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice.”
 — Jane Henderson (Natassja Kinski)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Paris, Texas is that rare thing: a movie of intelligence and beauty and poetry, but also based on emotionally believable characters and a forward-moving, narrative thrust.”
 — Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

“…this vision of America is one of vast landscapes and fluorescent signs, the latter being almost as visually poetic as the former.”
 — Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm

“Gracefully slow-moving, much like the flow of the course of life, what Wim Wenders creates and presents in Paris, Texas is one of the most beautifully moving tales that I’ve come across in my whole life so far.”
 — Jaime Rebanal, Letterboxd

#062: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1988
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy

Toon star Roger is worried that his wife Jessica is playing pattycake with someone else, so the studio hires detective Eddie Valiant to snoop on her. But the stakes are quickly raised when Marvin Acme is found dead and Roger is the prime suspect.

“You don’t know how hard it is being a man looking at a woman looking the way you do.”
 — Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“Technology has advanced significantly since 1988, but Roger Rabbit doesn’t just hold up, it wows.”
 —Christy Lemire, Christylemire.com

“Imagine watching cartoon characters and relating to them as if they were flesh-and-blood instead of paint-and-ink. This is the slap-happy effect of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and — please — a 24-carrot salute to director Robert Zemeckis”
 —Carrier Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

“This film really holds up, but I do not know why that woman thought Roger Rabbit would be a good babysitter. He’s really well-intentioned, but patently unqualified for the position. That aside, it was quite swell.”
 — Nathan Rabin, Letterboxd

#061: Body Double
1984
Directed by Brian De Palma
Starring Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry

After losing an acting role and his girlfriend, Jake Scully finally catches a break: he gets offered a gig house-sitting in the Hollywood Hills. While peering through the beautiful home’s telescope one night, he spies a gorgeous blonde dancing in her window. But when he witnesses the girl’s murder, it leads Scully through the netherworld of the adult entertainment industry on a search for answers — with porn actress Holly Body as his guide.

“ I do not do animal acts. I do not do S&M or any variations of that particular bent, no water sports either. I will not shave my pussy, no fistfucking and absolutely no coming in my face. I get $2000 a day and I do not work without a contract.”
 — Holly Boddy (Melanie Griffith)

Trailer | IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

“It’s an expertly crafted B-movie, a brisk and twisty mixture of the slick and sleazy, the glossy and grungy.”
 —Christy Lemire, Christylemire.com

“It’s a mystery, a romance, a horror flick, and a straight-faced parody all rolled into one unique little movie.”
 —Scott Weinberg, DVD Clinic

“Fuck you, purists.
This is better than Hitchcock.”
 — MovieGenius, Letterboxd


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