1980s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
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1980s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists Project Vol. 3)

#1 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:50 am

VOTING CLOSED. RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE.

If you are reading this sentence, you are eligible to participate in our forum's latest decades lists project exploring the films of the 1980s. If you know anyone adventurous enough--on or off the forum--that you think would also enjoy participating, feel free to invite them as well.

Please PM me your list of what you believe are the top 50 films from the decade toward the end of the project. You may feel that you could compile a list of 50 favorite films from this period much earlier than the deadline, but it's still highly recommended that you engage in the discussions here. Don't keep your favorites a secret, and always be open to suggestions from others!


THE RULES

1) Each individual list is to comprise no more or less than 50 films, ranked in your order of preference (with no ties). If you haven't yet seen 50 films from the decade that you think are genuinely great (or even if you have), please take advantage of the resources listed below and participate in the ongoing discussions to find films that you can be proud to put on your list.

2) Any feature film, documentary, experimental film, short film, music video, TV miniseries, TV movie, TV special, or isolated episode from an anthology TV series released in the 1980s (1980-1989) is eligible.

3) The date given on IMDb is the relevant date for determining a film's year of release, even when it's clearly wrong (unless a special case is made below). If the film is not on IMDb and you say it was released during the 1980s, I'll take your word for it.

4) In certain cases, it may be appropriate for films that are technically separate to be combined, or for films that are technically combined to be separated. In such cases, you may vote for either a part or the whole, but bear in mind that all votes will be competing against each other (e.g. a vote for Ivan the Terrible Pt. 1 will not count toward the vote for Ivan the Terrible in the final tally). Generally, if multiple films are allowed to be combined for voting purposes, you should probably vote for them that way unless you are strongly opposed to doing so. The most common cases:

• Single-director multi-part films for which each segment was released separately (e.g. Feuillade's serials, Lang's two-part epics) may be considered as a single film. Films included in trilogies may not be combined.

• Variant edits: For films that exist in multiple versions (e.g. Welles' Mr. Arkadin, Rivette's Out 1), all votes that don't specify a "secondary" version will be counted toward the "primary" version.

• Portmanteau films: Each of the individual segments and the film as a whole are all separately eligible.

We may occasionally need to make a special case related to rule 3 or 4. If you are seriously considering including a film on your list that you have a question about in this regard, bring it up in this thread and we'll iron it out. However, I will not make any further exceptions during the last week of the project.

For more details about rules and procedures, please refer here.

Finally, though it is not strictly required, it is recommended that you include titles for films that you discuss in this thread in bold, as it will help the film titles stick out amidst all of the other information that will inevitably pile up in this thread. If you particularly like a film, you might even highlight it in another color.


ELIGIBILITY – REMINDERS / SPECIAL CASES

The following are examples of multi-part films that are eligible to be voted for as a single film: Heimat, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Dekalog, Shoah, Fanny and Alexander, Manoel on the Island of Marvels, Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources.

Dekalog, A Short Film About Love, and A Short Film About Killing are each separately eligible.

The Terence Davies Trilogy is not eligible, even though IMDb has a separate entry for it. The two '80s films from the trilogy are, of course, separately eligible.

The Living Planet and Eyes on the Prize are eligible as miniseries, even though IMDb calls them TV series.

Histoire(s) du cinéma will be eligible during the 1990s project, so it's ineligible now.

The following films may be cited as 1980s releases in some places, but not on IMDb, and so are not eligible for this list: Gates of Heaven, Siberiade, Grass Labyrinth, Buffet froid, Autumn Marathon, Tale of Tales, Two Wondrous Tigers, Moscow Distrusts Tears, S'en fout la mort, Sink or Swim, The Guard, Cabeza de Vaca, A Intrusa, Korova, Bashu the Little Stranger, Dias Melhores Virão, Only Yesterday, Chiedo asilo, Twin Peaks: Pilot, L'Enfant secret

The following films are cited as 1980s films on IMDb, and so are eligible for this list, regardless of what anyone else might say: Poto and Cabengo, Stations of the Elevated, The Falls, New York Portrait II, Confidence, Build a House Plant a Tree, How to Live, The Fog, The Beyond, Breaker Morant, Warsaw Bridge, Arrebato, Pièce touchée, Ilha das Flores, Darkness Light Darkness, The Runner, Horse Thief, Merry-Go-Round, Tongues Untied, Freeze Die Come to Life, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Architecture of Doom

RESOURCES

Past Forum Discussions
Discussion from the Forum's Prior 1980s Project
Defending of Sad Pandas from the Forum's Prior 1980s Project
Defending of Sad Pandas from the Forum's First 1980s Project
Discussion from the Forum's Genre List Projects
Discussion from the Forum's Shorts List Project
The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture 1969-Present
100 Russian and Eastern European Classics
Premium Cable Staples Worth Revisiting
Cheesy 1980s Comedies

Forum Discussions of International DVDs
African / Bulgarian / Chinese / Cuban / Czech / Dutch / Finnish / German / Hungarian / Norwegian / Polish / Romanian / South American / Swedish / Turkish / Ukrainian / Yugoslavian

Forum Discussions of Filmmakers Active During the 1980s
Woody Allen / Pedro Almodovar / Robert Altman / Theo Angelopoulos / Michelangelo Antonioni / Dario Argento / Ingmar Bergman / Bernardo Bertolucci / John Boorman / Robert Bresson / Leos Carax / John Carpenter / Claude Chabrol / Chen Kaige / Michael Cimino / Alan Clarke / Joel & Ethan Coen / Larry Cohen / David Cronenberg / Brian de Palma / Rainer Werner Fassbinder / Federico Fellini / Jess Franco / Terry Gilliam / Jean-Luc Godard / Peter Greenaway / Dennis Hopper / Hou Hsiao-hsien / John Huston / Shōhei Imamura / Krzysztof Kieślowski / Alexander Kluge / John Krish / Stanley Kubrick / Akira Kurosawa / Spike Lee / Sergio Leone / Sidney Lumet / David Lynch / Louis Malle / David Mamet / Michael Mann / Hayao Miyazaki / Errol Morris / Kira Muratova / Sergei Parajanov / Arthur Penn / Roman Polański / Satyajit Ray / Alain Resnais / Glauber Rocha / Nicolas Roeg / George Romero / Raúl Ruiz / Martin Scorsese / Ousmane Sembène / Jerzy Skolimowski / Aleksandr Sokurov / Jan Švankmajer / Andrei Tarkovsky / Béla Tarr / Bertrand Tavernier / Jan Troell / François Truffaut / Agnès Varda / Andrzej Wajda / John Waters / Edward Yang / Zhang Yimou

Guides Within This Thread
Do you feel you have an especially informed opinion about the work during the 1980s from a particular director, country, genre, etc.? Many people here would greatly appreciate your taking the time to prepare a guide for navigating through all that's available. (Though they do not necessarily need to be comprehensive.) Guides are especially welcome for extremely prolific directors/movements, or to summarize availability for films (such as shorts) that are often hidden away on releases for other films or only available on the web. Past examples: Director Guide, Country Guide, Genre Guide, DVD Availability Guide

bamwc2 on Spielberg, Verhoeven
Tommaso on Nina Menkes
YnEoS on Rachel Zen
Satori on Duras and Costa-Gavras

AWAITING FURTHER GUIDES

External Resources
A list of films from the 1980s appearing on They Shoot Pictures, Don't They's Top 1000 or Doubling the Canon lists
(This list is by no means comprehensive, but can serve as a good reminder of some of the more prominent films that are eligible from this decade. Conversely, if you love a film that doesn't show up here, that might be a good indicator that it could use an extra push.)
2014 Doubling the Canon update
National lists
LoveHKFilms.com's 101 Hong Kong Films from the 1980s
Cahiers du Cinema's Top 10 lists for the decade

AWAITING FURTHER SUGGESTIONS

Recommended Reading

AWAITING SUGGESTIONS


FORUM MEMBER SPOTLIGHTS

Is there a film you love that you fear is under most people's radar? Try shining a light on it! To inaugurate a film into the spotlight section, just follow these three simple steps:

1. Make a post about the film discussing why you find it so exceptional.
2. Clearly indicate that you wish the film to be one of your spotlight titles.
3. Direct others to where the film can be found.

I'll keep track of all the spotlight titles here so that they can be easily referenced. You're welcome to have more than one spotlight title, but try not to have too many more, so it's manageable for everyone to be able to see them all. Remember: This might be the only time someone goes out on a limb to take one of your recommendations, so make it count!

Everyone is strongly encouraged to give each of these films the same chance that you would hope others would give your own spotlight titles.

Alphabet City (Amos Poe) (knives)
The Annunciation (András Jeles) (domino harvey)
True Stories (David Byrne) (matrixschmatrix)
Interrogation (Ryszard Bugajski) (bamwc2)
Chameleon Street (Wendell Harris) (bamwc2)
Long Arm of the Law (Johnny Mak) (Cold Bishop)
Betrayal (David Hugh Jones) (Black Hat)
Sleepwalk (Sara Driver) (Black Hat)
Nadine (Robert Benton) (domino harvey)
The Terrorizer (Edward Yang) (zedz)
Camp De Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembene) (thirtyframesasecond)
Cycling the Frame (Cynthia Beatt) (Tommaso)
Oro, Plata, Mata (Peque Gallaga) (the preacher)
Return to Oz (Walter Murch) (Feego)
Thunder (Takashi Itō) (swo17)
Mammame (Raúl Ruiz) (swo17)
The Sword (Patrick Tam) (Cold Bishop

AWAITING FURTHER SUGGESTIONS


DESPERATELY SEEKING SO AND SO

Is there a film you're dying to see but you've exhausted all possible avenues for finding it and still come up short? List it here and perhaps some kind soul will be able to direct you to a copy by PM. Please limit listings here to only a few films that you're most desperate to see.

knives is seeking:
Cat Chaser (Ferrara) uncut, and in correct AR

ANYONE ELSE?


***Please PM me if you have any suggestions for additions to/deletions from this first post.***
Last edited by swo17 on Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:15 pm, edited 15 times in total.

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TMDaines
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#2 Post by TMDaines » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:18 pm

My excuse for barely contributing to the 70s project was being away from the forum for several months. This time, however, I'm determined to try and do brief write ups of most of what I see, and expand upon and help plug lesser known gems from the regions of cinema that I'm most interested in. Whilst I don't do New Year's resolutions, I resolved to try and start articulating my responses to films much more often after the rush of the end of the 70s project was over.

Interesting that BA and Heimat are eligible for single episode votes. I'm sure we've gone over the reasons why before, but whilst I can understand people voting for single parts of something like Dekalog, where each part is a self-contained short, even if part of a bigger whole, I can't think of why anyone would ever votes for a single episode of a mini-series with a clear narrative throughout.

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swo17
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#3 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:35 pm

I can't think of a reason for anyone to do that either, which is why I suspect that it won't come in to play. But the rule is there for those crazy people who, say, love Ivan the Terrible I but hate Ivan II and so would be very conflicted in casting a vote for "Ivan the Terrible". In these cases, you should definitely vote for the whole thing unless you have a strong aversion to everything but the individual part that you want to vote for.

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YnEoS
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#4 Post by YnEoS » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:14 pm

LoveHKFilms.com put together a really outstanding top 101 Hong Kong Films from the 1980s list from polling their readers. Lots of really great treasures to be found there, even way down at the bottom of the list. You can see the full list here. But it's a lot more fun to go through the countdown in the order it was posted and read all the reviews, which I think do a great job of capturing the spirit and tone of the films from the era.

101-81
80-61
60-41
40-31
30-21
20-11
10-6
5-1

Hong Kong was making some really interesting films in the 1970s, but I feel like the 1980s is when the industry really hit its stride. The conditions were perfect for producing a ton of really great and unique genre cinema, and it's unlikely we'll ever see anything quite like it ever again.

I'll probably highlight several films and write up a few guides later, but I've also got a lot more gaps in my 1980s viewing that I need to fill, so I won't be spending as much time on HK films as I did for the 1970s list.

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Yojimbo
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Ireland

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#5 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:37 pm

YnEoS wrote:LoveHKFilms.com put together a really outstanding top 101 Hong Kong Films from the 1980s list from polling their readers. Lots of really great treasures to be found there, even way down at the bottom of the list. You can see the full list here. But it's a lot more fun to go through the countdown in the order it was posted and read all the reviews, which I think do a great job of capturing the spirit and tone of the films from the era.

101-81
80-61
60-41
40-31
30-21
20-11
10-6
5-1

Hong Kong was making some really interesting films in the 1970s, but I feel like the 1980s is when the industry really hit its stride. The conditions were perfect for producing a ton of really great and unique genre cinema, and it's unlikely we'll ever see anything quite like it ever again.

I'll probably highlight several films and write up a few guides later, but I've also got a lot more gaps in my 1980s viewing that I need to fill, so I won't be spending as much time on HK films as I did for the 1970s list.
I know it's not eligible for the 1980s list, but nice to see 'Infernal Affairs' top the list: Scorsese's 'The Departed' remake/remodel really does pale into insignificance compared to it
Which is no mean boast given that it was Scorsese who inspired so much of the HK Young Turks output.

'The Killer' and 'City on Fire' definitely overdue re-watches, though; as is 'Peking Opera Blues'

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jindianajonz
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#6 Post by jindianajonz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:40 pm

Yojimbo wrote:I know it's not eligible for the 1980s list, but nice to see 'Infernal Affairs' top the list
That seems to have been a joke entry, as was the one that followed it. The REAL number one was two entries down.

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thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#7 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:45 pm

Looking forward to this one. The rise in African cinema and the films of Hong Kong/China/Taiwan alone make this one of the better decades for viewing.

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YnEoS
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#8 Post by YnEoS » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:49 pm

jindianajonz wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:I know it's not eligible for the 1980s list, but nice to see 'Infernal Affairs' top the list
That seems to have been a joke entry, as was the one that followed it. The REAL number one was two entries down.
Yeah they traditionally put a joke film in the #1 slot, because it's usually really obvious to the readers what the top 5 films are going to be once they've revealed the previous 95 in the countdown. They're poking fun at how Infernal Affairs won by such a ridiculous margin in their Top 50 HK Films of the Aughts Poll.

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Yojimbo
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#9 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:15 pm

YnEoS wrote: They're poking fun at how Infernal Affairs won by such a ridiculous margin in their Top 50 HK Films of the Aughts Poll.
And so it should have; even the sequel paled into insignificance, compared to it.
And let's not go there with IA#3

But looking at the runners-up in the Aughts Poll just showed how much HK standards had slipped; although it's not perfect, I would have placed 'Mad Detective' a helluva lot higher

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#10 Post by zedz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:39 pm

YnEoS wrote:
jindianajonz wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:I know it's not eligible for the 1980s list, but nice to see 'Infernal Affairs' top the list
That seems to have been a joke entry, as was the one that followed it. The REAL number one was two entries down.
Yeah they traditionally put a joke film in the #1 slot, because it's usually really obvious to the readers what the top 5 films are going to be once they've revealed the previous 95 in the countdown. They're poking fun at how Infernal Affairs won by such a ridiculous margin in their Top 50 HK Films of the Aughts Poll.
You know you've really disappeared up your own arse when you top your own poll with a "joke" entry that's incredibly popular and has topped other, similar polls.

It would be like if The Godfather topped our 70s list and then swo tells us it's a "joke" because obviously that isn't a cool enough choice for our forum.

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swo17
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#11 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:42 pm

More like if I said that our top film of the '70s was Season 1 of Deadwood.

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Yojimbo
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Location: Ireland

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#12 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:43 pm

zedz wrote: It would be like if The Godfather topped our 70s list and then swo tells us it's a "joke" because obviously that isn't a cool enough choice for our forum.
Do you really think The Godfather has a shot at topping our 70s poll, zedz? :o

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FerdinandGriffon
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#13 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:45 pm

zedz wrote:You know you've really disappeared up your own arse when you top your own poll with a "joke" entry that's incredibly popular and has topped other, similar polls.

It would be like if The Godfather topped our 70s list and then swo tells us it's a "joke" because obviously that isn't a cool enough choice for our forum
But their two fake-out winners aren't even eligible to win, being from the oughts and the twenty-teens respectively... So I don't think that's what they're doing.

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#14 Post by zedz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:45 pm

swo17 wrote:The following are examples of multi-part films that may be voted for as a single film, or each segment as a separate film, if you insist (with all votes competing against each other): Heimat, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Dekalog, Shoah, Fanny and Alexander
This is such an incredibly foolish ruling that I can't believe it's actually a rule. Surely it hasn't come into play before, because there haven't been any miniseries with that kind of profile before the 80s list. To me, it's the equivalent of being able to vote for "the bit before the first intermission in Napoleon," or "the second mezzo of Otto e mezzo" - and since all of these films have screened theatrically, it's an exact equivalent.

Let's end this madness now!

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#15 Post by zedz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:46 pm

FerdinandGriffon wrote:
zedz wrote:You know you've really disappeared up your own arse when you top your own poll with a "joke" entry that's incredibly popular and has topped other, similar polls.

It would be like if The Godfather topped our 70s list and then swo tells us it's a "joke" because obviously that isn't a cool enough choice for our forum
But their two fake-out winners aren't even eligible to win, being from the oughts and the twenty-teens respectively... So I don't think that's what they're doing.
So what's the point, except to signal that those films aren't cool enough for them?

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jindianajonz
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#16 Post by jindianajonz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:11 pm

zedz wrote:So what's the point, except to signal that those films aren't cool enough for them?
Well, Infernal Affairs topped their 00's list (and these lists are voted on, it's not some guy picking them himself, joke entries aside), so it clearly is "cool enough" for them. In fact, the rampant success is presumably why he made the joke in the first place.

A better anology would be if next year Dom gave the Most Disappointing Criterion award to Madame De again, just to emphasize how awful that release was, despite the fact it clearly wasn't eligable as a 2014 entry.

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domino harvey
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#17 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:23 pm

I got a head-start on viewings for the project this weekend. Looking forward to doing a better job of making a dent into unseen titles over the upcoming months:

Absence of Malice (Sydney Pollack 1981) Only in the 80s could we have a film where Sally Field's moxie-filled journo is the villain and the poor little mobster's son is the victim. Paul Newman and Melinda Dillon received classic pity nods from the Academy for voters feeling sorry for their characters. I did enjoy WIlford Brimley's last minute appearance as a comically harried federal investigator, though. Every second of this film is a testament to safe, MOR mediocrity.

Diner (Barry Levinson 1982) Wonderful and highly entertaining coming of age flick set in 1959 Baltimore with a bevy of young actors who went on to bigger if not necessarily better things (whoever was casting NBC sitcoms in the 90s must've loved this movie, huh?). Levinson is a flat director, but he shows some rare visual acumen thanks no doubt to his closeness to the material. Of course, the writing is what really sells this, and the film is filled with great extended scenes of dialog and interplay between the central characters. It also does what few other teen films from this decade pull off in making crude sex jokes funny and clever-- Rourke's on-the-spot explanation to his date on why he pulled the ol' popcorn box trick is truly one for the ages. Sad modern day fact: There are no longer any good diners in Baltimore, and there aren't too many more recent films as good as this either. A lock for my list.

the Fabulous Baker Boys (Steve Kloves 1989) Michelle Pfeiffer'd been around all decade but this is the movie that turned all the right heads with audiences to cement her stardom. Unlike something like Roman Holiday, which was engineered to introduce a star, Pfeiffer's role as written is barely a co-lead and could have been played by anyone else to negligible results. It's testament to Pfeiffer's sensuality that she makes an underwritten role of a standards chanteuse who comes between two piano playing brothers into an enduring icon of cinematic sexuality. It's actually kind of funny to go back and read the period reviews for this, as they're all the equivalent of a Tex Avery cartoon character dropping their jaw and letting a twenty-foot tongue unfurl in lusty excitement. What a joke that she lost the Oscar to the somewhat less sexy portrayal of an old Jewish woman who can't drive anymore. There are things in the movie that aren't Pfeiffer, though, and the Bridges brothers do okay, I guess, even if the film finds Jeff Bridges' central character far more interesting than I ever did. The film's tone is nicely mellow and it all looks very nice indeed.

Grease 2 (Patricia Birch 1982) And to the surprise of no one, conventional wisdom is wrong again. Somehow, despite everything I've ever heard anyone express to the contrary, Grease 2 is superior to the original film in every way but one-- and just because the first film has better songs doesn't mean the songs here are all bad, they're just not as omnipresent (or at all) in our collective cultural consciousness and often creep into early 80s pop-rock sludginess. Even so, admittedly the best song here doesn't reach the heights of a mid-range song from the original, and a couple are out-right duds. All that is secondary however since, to my great delight while watching, Grease 2 is most unlike its predecessor in that it is a film that knows how to be a musical. The numbers are imaginative and staged with visual wit and an understanding for how film musicals function. Gone are the obnoxious characters of the first film and in their place is a more pleasingly bland crew of mostly interchangeable "teens" plus Michelle Pfeiffer in the lead (the roles are gender reversed from the first film and now the girl is the rebel-- a funner choice to be sure). Even the period cameos are smarter, with Tab Hunter and Connie Stevens cast as fellow teachers, and Hunter leads one of the livelier numbers in the film, "Reproduction." Speaking of, in contrast to the first films occasional vulgarity, this film is squeaky clean on the surface (I don't believe a single swear is uttered) but then half the songs are not so thinly veiled odes to sex (post-Animal House/Porky's influence, no doubt). This is a film musical in desperate need of a reevaluation because every single human on the face of the planet is wrong about this movie-- I barely tolerated the first film, so I could hardly be accused of being predisposed or biased towards liking this movie. It just is a great post-classical musical, and there are so few of those made with the kind of intelligence and craft of this film that it's worth a bit of extra attention.

Married to the Mob (Jonathan Demme 1988) Cute mob movie (now there's a modifier you rarely see with this subgenre!) with dangerously silly antics that stop the whole airy affair from ever getting bogged down in gratuitous violence or downbeat moralizing. It's even harder to take Lorraine Bracco's perf in Goodfellas seriously after seeing Mercedes Ruehl's histrionic parody of the same sort of Mob Queen here, and the equally entertaining Dean Stockwell garnered himself a somewhat surprising Oscar nomination for his Mob Boss. This is highly inconsequential fluff, but who doesn't love some well made fluff? One interesting sidenote: running wordlessly under the end credits are what appear to be alternate takes and deleted scenes edited together to form a short, bizarro world version of the film's events. A strange but interesting experiment in using the required time in a novel fashion.

the Morning After (Sidney Lumet 1986) Jane Fonda's alcoholic actress wakes up in bed next to a dead stranger. This is a delightful film that opens with its noir-ready premise and then, in true b-movie fashion, meanders and sidewinds towards a conclusion that no one really cares about because we're having too much fun being distracted by the surprisingly humorous complications suffered by Fonda and the jovial interactions between Fonda and Manic Pixie Dream Guy Jeff Bridges as they deal with an undealable situation. Great fun from beginning to end (though it loses some of its punch once the completely obvious solution forces the characters to wrap things up in the home stretch) and a good candidate for new holiday favorite to add to the rotation (the film opens on Thanksgiving morning).

Second Time Lucky (Michael Anderson 1984) Around the World in 80 Days director takes a journey spanning from the Garden of Eden to some shitty 80s college(?) party, but only takes 99 minutes to do so, thankfully. No part of this film makes any sense-- God and Devil challenge each other as to whether or not a chosen mortal will be able to… uh… star in bad period reenactments wherein a girl screws him over? Everyone involved in this film appears to have known it existed for one reason: to give perennial 80s teen movie qt Diane Franklin a vehicle in which she could appear almost constantly naked. And in that the film is an unqualified success. The finale of this movie involves Satan promising the soul of Franklin to the male hero in return for his new wave band performing a "pro-nuke" song on a live simulcast TV program being watched by every human alive. Ah, the 80s!

Serial (Bill Persky 1980) Lame satirical take on the waning new age mysticism of the period before it was swallowed up by consumerism and selfishness of the 80s. Some of the conservative jabs at liberalism work-- a funny moment finds Sally Kellerman asking her black maid to not dress in a maid's outfit because she doesn't like the message it sends-- but most are tired shots everyone's heard fifty times over from any Elk's Lodge poker game. Shame that such a comic giant like Martin Mull, coming off his hilarious Fernwood 2Nite run, is saddled with such weak material. Mull's own the History of White People in America this decade did a much better job of skewering suburban close-mindedness. There is one amusing bit of bizarro novelty in Christopher Lee's role as a business exec who heads a gay biker gang on the weekends, if only for the chance to hear him utter the line "We're tough dudes!"

Three For the Road (Bill L Norton 1987) Standard issue teen riff on the Last Detail, with Charlie Sheen and Alan Ruck escorting Senator's daughter Kerri Green across state lines to a mental institution, because that's a premise that makes sense. Sheen and Green had such real and potent chemistry together in the previous year's Lucas (which should be on your viewing list, even if you think you don't like teen movies) but this movie is so convoluted and silly that lightning is never even given a chance to strike twice.

the Witches of Eastwick (George Miller 1987) Classic example of conservative sexual politics worming their way into an allegedly female-driven narrative. Forget Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Surandon, who are given the bare minimum of characterization despite being our protagonists, this is clearly the Jack Nicholson Show, and if you are one of those who finds him most charming when he's being devilish, good news. Unfortunately I found his conjured dream man crass and disgusting and the film aligns itself too far in his rather gross actions-- Why, for instance, is there this awful runner about character projectile vomiting gallons of cherry pits except to shock the blue-hairs who somehow found their way into the theatre? There are some fun special effects sprinkled throughout (and then poured all over in the finale) to ease the bite a bit, but on a basic level I found the film idiotic in its covert reinforcement of conservative sexual ideas and Nicholson's grotesque loutishness just annoyed me to no end.

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Lowry_Sam
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#18 Post by Lowry_Sam » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:40 pm

jindianajonz wrote:
Yojimbo wrote:I know it's not eligible for the 1980s list, but nice to see 'Infernal Affairs' top the list
That seems to have been a joke entry, as was the one that followed it. The REAL number one was two entries down.
The one that followed it, A Simple Life, is by one of the most criminally ignored directors (Ann Hui). She usually gets snubbed in discussions of HK film, martial arts/action film and in discussions of women directors. Criterion missed the boat in not picking up A Simple Life. Her Boat People will be the one film from that list that will definitely be in my top 10 for the 80s & it is the title I'd like recommend for people to seek out. It still hasn't received a proper DVD (let alone Blu-ray) release yet (though I believe there is a Chinese bootleg dvd and it was released on VHS) despite getting the Scorsese World Cinema Foundation promotion for it's theatrical distribution in the US in the 80s.

The other title I remember seeing upon its release in the 80s that I loved & would like to promote is Man Facing Southeast. It too hasn't received anything but a VHS release (which I think someone uploaded to Youtube). The (obligatory and inferior) Hollywood remake of Man Facing Southeast is entitled K-PAX.

By no means a great movie, but one which I thoroughly enjoyed seeing come to my local cineplex in the 80s was Corrupt aka Copkiller aka A Matter Of Death. The premise of the film was quite daring for its time, though the (cheap) 80s Italian production didn't quite let the subject matter shine. The film stars Johnny Lydon (Rotten) and Harvey Keitel
SpoilerShow
as a gay couple involved in an S&M relationship, which is slowly revealed over the course of the film (and the viewer is to guess who is the copkiller)
as a punk and a cop respectively during the violent 80s in NYC while cops are getting mysteriously killed. The soundtrack is by Public Image Ltd. & was only released as a bootleg white label as it was withdrawn (because of disputes over rights) before its commercial release. It was released on VHS, but the only copies on DVD are bootleg ports of the VHS tape, though I believe an Italian version that is truer to the original aspect ratio & has better resolution (but with actors dubbing Keitel & Lydon in Italian) sourced from Italian TV is available on Youtube.

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Yojimbo
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#19 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:05 pm

Copkiller is one film I've always wanted to see, ever since reading about it in the pages of contemporary NMEs: I don't have any great expectations for Rotten's thespian capabilities, though

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#20 Post by zedz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:08 pm

Well, to kick things off, here's a big bunch of must-see films that you can't see, as they're not available on DVD (or not easily available). Of course, if these are available in English subtitled editions, please let us all know!

Taipei Story (Edward Yang) - Only Yang's fourth best film, but that still makes it one of the greatest movies ever made. As a bonus, it's arguably Hou Hsiao-hsien's best film as well (on a technicality: he plays the lead).

The Asthenic Syndrome (Kira Muratova) - In so many ways, this is the magnum opus of the decade, and it's a film I can't really meaningfully compare to any other. It was too hot for Glasnost, but Glasnost is long gone, so why is this film still so hard to see? I believe there's an unsubbed Ukrainian DVD, have no idea of quality or legality.

Fire Festival (Mitsuo Yanagimachi) - One of the last stragglers of the Japanese New Wave, Yanagimachi was a director way out of time, and so this is the best Imamura film of the decade. This was released on VHS by Kino, then forgotten about.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (Todd Haynes) - A movie that will never be released on DVD, so you might as well hunt it down in other ways. One of the defining moments of the New Queer Cinema, and as good as celebrity biopics get!

Horse Thief (Tian Zhuangzhuang) - For me, this is by far the greatest Fifth Generation film (but note that the even more epochal Yellow Earth is also AWOL). Scorsese is a famous fan, so maybe the WCF will get around to it eventually.

Freeze, Die, Come to Life (Vitaly Kanevski) - The late 80s / early 90s were a stunning period for Soviet and post-Soviet cinema, but almost none of it is currently available (a handful of Sokhurovs, a couple of Pardzhanovs, Repentance). When this came out, it seemed like a modern classic, and of a piece with the suppressed 60s and 70s masterpieces that were just emerging from the ice. Its sequel, An Independent Life, is even more audacious, extraordinary and obscure.

City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien) - It's a tough call, but if this isn't Hou's best film, it's probably his most important, and was also the first substantial commercial success of the Taiwanese New Wave. Sound to you like the ideal film to introduce Western audiences to that movement and the work of one of cinema's modern masters? Yeah, me too.

Jesus Christ's Horoscope (Miklos Jansco) - The conventional wisdom used to be that Jansco stopped making his really distinctive, balletic films some time in the 1970s, but it seems to be more the case that the rest of the world stopped paying attention. This amazing exercise in paranoia transposes his long hypnotic prowling takes to a claustrophobic, contemporary urban setting and stages the remarkable cinematic coup of incorporating video screens into the choreography, so we get to see events unfolding from multiple simultaneous perspectives in the same shot - or else we see events that have already unfolded, or are unfolding somewhere else, or might not unfold at all. Completely visionary low-tech filmmaking.

Dorian Gray As Represented in the Popular Press (Ulrike Ottinger) Any attempt to try and explain the visual surprises that await you in this film will fall completely flat in comparison to seeing it for yourself, but do you really want to pass up the opportunity to see Delphine Seyrig play Dr Mabuse?

Stammheim (Reinhard Hauff) - After everybody else had drifted off, along came the last Cheynes-Stokes rattle of the New German Cinema. Smart, sharp and pitiless, here's yet another film that seemed absolutely like a major modern classic on release but which has since been relegated to obscurity by the vagaries of English-language distribution.

Manoel and the Island of Marvels (Raul Ruiz) - Probably the pick of the (vast) cache of unreleased Ruiz from this decade, and another mini-series that nobody should be allowed to slice and dice against the author's wishes for the sake of our measly poll. The first half-hour of this is one of the most brilliant openings of any film I've ever seen, cycling back on itself three times in truly mind-bending fashion. And no, that doesn't mean I should be allowed to vote for that and only that.

The Key (Ebrahim Forouzesh) - A minimalist Hitchcockian exercise in suspense, penned by Kiarostami as a virtuoso technical exercise, this is probably the most nail-biting film of the decade. The good news? It actually is available on an English-subtitled French DVD. Rough as guts, but at least visible.
Last edited by zedz on Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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YnEoS
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#21 Post by YnEoS » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:09 pm

zedz wrote: So what's the point, except to signal that those films aren't cool enough for them?
He's just having fun with the top 5 because everyone already knows what they are before they are announced, due to the fact that every member of the site can think of 5 really popular HK films from the 1980s that haven't showed up anywhere on the list yet. He's just throwing in a little misdirection because every HK cinema fan is expecting to see A Better Tomorrow when they scroll down to #1.

He's also lightly poking fun of his readers, saying they love Infernal Affairs so much that they would vote for it in a 1980s poll even though it was made in 2002.

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Yojimbo
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Ireland

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#22 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:14 pm

Yang and Hou are more cases of admiring than loving for me, but Ruiz, Jancso, and the Forouzesh are the ones I'd be most interested in tracking down, of that little lot

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zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#23 Post by zedz » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:15 pm

jindianajonz wrote:
zedz wrote:So what's the point, except to signal that those films aren't cool enough for them?
Well, Infernal Affairs topped their 00's list (and these lists are voted on, it's not some guy picking them himself, joke entries aside), so it clearly is "cool enough" for them. In fact, the rampant success is presumably why he made the joke in the first place.
Oh. So there's no point. And no joke. Glad we got that cleared up. :roll:

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Yojimbo
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#24 Post by Yojimbo » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:16 pm

YnEoS wrote: He's also lightly poking fun of his readers, saying they love Infernal Affairs so much that they would vote for it in a 1980s poll even though it was made in 2002.
That makes sense.
Have they produced any combined list of the past 30 - or even 40 - years,Y?

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YnEoS
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Re: 1980s List Discussion and Suggestions

#25 Post by YnEoS » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:24 pm

In addition to the two previously mentioned, the other 2 lists they've made have been

Top 100 HK Films of the 1990s
Top 200 HK Films Ever

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