Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hey, Remeber The 80's Blog

The 80's weren't just a time for big hair, pastel sportscoats, cocaine induced mass murdering sprees and Phil Collins. It was also a time for experimentations with abnormal story structure and plot. Let's have a look at a few of the films I've been watching recently.

Jacob's Ladder

This film hit me like a slap on bracelet: stuck to me and never let go. My father recommended this film to me, way back when I was too young to understand that Vietnam never happened. (Although you wouldn't want to say that around a V.F.W.) The film deals with a Vietnam Vet. by the name of Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) and his otherworldy hallucinations, stemming from an experimental drug the Government slipped into the food supply of his troop.

These aren't just hallucinations though, but rather angels and demons. Jacob believes himself to be experiencing a reality based Dante's Inferno: the seven layers of hell, and he must climb himself out. I really can't delve too deeply into the plot or it'll spoil the entire thing for you. Take the synopsis and run with it. I love this film and the ending will forever bring about a tropical storm to my beautiful brown eyes.

Midnight Express

This film was the second foray into scriptwriting for Oliver Stone. I must say, you can see all of his future potential wrapped up in three scenes that I dare not give away, lest you feel less obliged to rent this film. You'll note one scene was parodied in Ben Stiller's directorial debut, The Cable Guy. (a highly underrated Jim Carrey performance) It made watching the scene, in all its seriousness, a little comic as I've already the preconceived notion of Jim Carrey moaning "OH BILLY!" But what the hell, it's still one damn fine piece of cinema.

You can't go wrong when you've got the director of Pink Floyd's The Wall, another favorite of mine. That's two films that chronicle a man's descent into madness, a theme I love to explore, and experience every weekend. The film is a bit dated, not too much, just a bit though. And a particular "gay" scene is nothing but a bucket of chuckles when viewed in context against something like Brokeback Mountain. But, hey, this was the 80's and people could quit you back then.

After Hours

Mr. Scorsese had a little problem getting The Last Temptation Of Christ produced, when he was sent this script. He loved it but initially passed on the project. Tim Burton was then persued and he obliged. Scorsese then took a break from Christ and displayed interest, again, in this project. Burton politely declined, stating that he would not stand in the way of anything Marty had an interest of doing. I'm glad. This thing is a real gem and it gave Marty the confidence, restoring his love for filmmaking, to proceed with Last Temptation. Things worked out great because this and Last Temptation are Scorsese classics.

Altered States

I'll be honest, I've yet to see this film. I bought it yesterday and ended up doing some busy work without having the pleasure to pop this in. Plus, my DVD player broke and I haven't set up the new one I purchased at Wal-Mart (Sony $39.99!) just yet. I'll do it today after work and pop this bad boy in. It's written by Paddy Cheyefsky, one of the greatest screenwriters of all-time (Network!) so I already know I'll be lost in a trance of blissful fixation once the opening credits begin their steady ascending. Review to follow!

The thing is, only one of these films has an actual release date of a 1980 date: Altered States. Jacob's ladder was released in early 1990 and Midnight Express was release in late 1978. I could make arguments that you are able to round down and up the year to reflect how you hold it in your head, as I do these films with the 1980's. They all have that "glow" look to them that lets you know it's true 80's cinema. They all deal with mental declination and descents into madness. They all question reality and self-conceptualized realities.

Philosophical, enlightening, heart-warming and heart breaking, these films have it all and will provide endless hours of head scratching and soul searching. Hold on to your lugnuts, it's time for an overhaul.


Melissa Donovan said...

I'm a big fan of 80s movies but I don't think I ever saw any of these - and if I did, then I must have forgotten. My favorite is the Breakfast Club - a true classic ;)

t.sterling said...

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the 80s at all, even if I am the product of it, but I am interested in seeing these movies at some point in my life, and I learn to appreciate the decade a little more everyday.

ScreenwritingforHollywood said...

I have seen 2 out of 4. Jacob's Ladder disturbed me all my life. I also saw it way too young.