Tag Archives: this 80s movie

Ordinary People (1980) [Part 2]

I started an extensive review of 1980’s Ordinary People four days ago and today I’ll finish the rest of the movie (actually 3/4 of the movie, but I’ll manage to keep it short). Let’s get right into it.

ordinary people - diner

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Ordinary People (1980) [Part 1]

ordinary_people(spoilers ahead)

Ordinary People is an exceptionally observant movie about families, psychological problems and relationships. It shows hard truths about people and is not idealizing anything, which is not what I had expected from a 1980 movie. Its screenplay (by Alvin Sargent) is excellent in its dialogue and structure. Robert Redford’s direction is so deliberate, his touch is almost too visible (not for me, but I assume some people might be bothered by it). The acting is flawless throughout, it’s almost impossible to pick anyone. But overall, the movie is just good in the things it has to say and how it says them. It obviously worked in 1980, but I think it’s just as relevant today.

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This 80s Movie: Cruising (1980)

Unknown cruising(spoilers ahead)

Cruising is a confused movie, confused about its intention, its story and ending, but also about what it wants to say about homosexuality. And, to get straight it, it should say something about homosexuality. Being one of the few movies to deal with the issue, it shouldn’t act like it doesn’t have an opinion on it. But the movie is so unfocused and messy that it shouldn’t be a real surprise. On the surface a crime mystery about a killer who kills gay men who indulge in the leather scene, the movie doesn’t do much but being grim, cold and dark, while having a protagonist that never allows us to know what happening inside of him. The movie got its attention only because it tackled homosexuality and supposedly showed gay sex in a graphic way before it had to be cut. Would this be a movie a killer in a heterosexual swinger scene, it probably would never have seen the light of day.

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This 80s Movie: Prom Night (1980)

Unknownprom_night(spoilers ahead)

Prom Night is a terribly formulaic and terrible slasher movie. It sets up everything it needs for a by-the-numbers slasher concept and follows it through without even the slightest hint of surprise. It starts out with a wrongdoing in the past, makes a time jump of six years (in which all the characters age by about 15 years), just so that a killer can take revenge on them for what they did as kids. It’s amateurishly filmed and acted, the dialogue is boring and even the murders are uninventive. Actually, the murders astonished me the most, since there is no attempt made to graphically show them at all, although movies like this are all about showing grisly murders. A lot of them happen off-screen and it takes the movie over an hour to even get there. Considering this is one of the first examples of slasher movies, it should have been clear to anyone seeing it in 1980 that there wouldn’t be another gem like Halloween anytime soon.

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This 80s Movie: Ms. 45 (1981)

ms_forty_five_ver3(spoilers ahead)

Ms. 45 is an example of a vigilante movie, although it goes even more absurd than most of them are. It is one of Abel Ferrara’s first movies and is crude, violent and absurd. I couldn’t call it good convincingly but in a way it was better than I expected after the first ten minutes of the movie. The acting is mostly bad, the dialogue too, the music is torture for the ears, but there is a certain fascination for a movie that mostly does what you assume it would, but sometimes goes along paths that are totally unexpected. And for a movie that deals with a female vigilante (or “misandristic spree killer” as Wikipedia proudly sets right), it sure says many things about men and women. I’m not sure it knows exactly what to say, but it’s interesting to take a look at the messages it conveys. It also works as an era representative for the 80s: a mixture of fashion world and crime infected New York, both typical 80s memes.

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This 80s Movie: WarGames (1983)

Wargames - posterAfter my 70s movie didn’t give me anything I wanted to write about (Mean Streets), I got to an 80s movie. I find it much easier to talk about the 60s and 70s, for one thing because they seem more special to me, but also because I find it harder to grasp the 80s, to get a feel for them. Maybe also because I was born in 1980 and it’s harder to view a decade if you’ve actually been there. Distance certainly helps. Anyway, the 80s to me are somewhat the antithesis of the 60s and 70s, which were a time where real change was possible, while the 80s felt like taking two steps back. But instead of the conservatism of the 50s, the 80s were governed by extreme capitalism and a superficiality that is often mocked but still true. Even if it’s an overgeneralization (as it must be if you try to summarize 10 years in history in a few keywords), there’s a reason why MTV, hairstyles and silly pop music are representative for this era.

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