Thursday, February 23, 2012

1980s, I Apologize To You

More and more I see a certain reverence of and fascination with the 80s. Nostalgia for the 80s has been cropping up in movies and tv with increasing frequency. Certainly, some of my college students are seeking inspiration in that particular rear view mirror.

I think I’ve written about this before, but I can’t help feeling that my experience in the 80s has nothing to do with this current house of mirrors reinterpretation of the 80s. The entirety of my high school and college experience, as well as my move to San Francisco all happened in the 80s. Three significant life moments all went down, yet I don’t see a stitch of my world view represented by the current wave of 80s nostalgia. I suppose nostalgia is about reducing an era down to its main signifiers and amplifying their importance at the expense of the margins and bit players from said era. If you head down the path of subculture, your experience gets weeded out even more as the decades pass.


In any event, I didn’t like Thriller, MTV was not that important to me, I’ve never seen Top Gun, and I never cared for Hall and Oates. And while there are certainly some John Hughes movies I like, I can honestly say I don’t hold any of those dear to my heart.


So why bring all this up now? For some reason, I got to thinking about movies from the 80s that impacted me. And whenever I think about the 80s and movies, my immediate reaction is to put the decade down. My kneejerk reaction is to think it a somewhat barren decade from a cinematic perspective. I can easily pick out films from every era that I love, that moved me, and that I hold in high regard. Yet when it comes to movies of the 80s, I usually draw a blank.


As a little exercise to myself I decided to quickly come up with a list of movies that had an immediate impact on me when I saw them in the theaters in the 80s. Not films that I discovered later on vhs or dvd. I wanted to focus solely on films I saw in a movie theater while the decade was unfolding. And I kept it fairly above ground as well. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch, but here they are.


I’m sure I could write a lot about how many of these films have not resonated in the public consciousness much beyond their release date. I could talk about how this selection of films sheds a lot of light on why I’m not on board with the current 80s nostalgia train. But for now, I’ll just list them.


Altered States (1980)

The Last Metro (1980)

Stardust Memories (1980)


Stripes (1981)

Body Heat (1981)
Das Boot (1981)

URGH: A Music War (1981)

Dance Craze (1981)

Montenegro (1981)

Blade Runner (1982)


Eating Raoul (1982)

Fanny & Alexander (1982)

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Time Stands Still (1982)


Zelig (1983)

Baby, It’s You (1983)

Star 80 (1983)


Paris, Texas (1984)

Brother From Another Planet (1984)

Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

Streetwise (1984)


After Hours (1985)

Fool For Love (1985)

Hail Mary (1985)

Kiss of The Spider Woman (1985)


Aliens (1986)

River’s Edge (1986)
Down By Law (1986)


Matewan (1987)

Hope and Glory (1987)

Evil Dead II (1987)


Hairspray (1988)


Do The Right Thing (1989)

The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, and His Lover (1989)


As I look at the list, it’s pretty solid. Maybe they don’t all hold up and maybe it’s still not the greatest film decade ever, but I apologize to you 1980s, you're not all leg warmers and spandex.

3 comments:

beyondasiaphilia.com said...

Good list--I esp. appreciate the shoutouts for Body Heat, Star 80, and URGH!

Here's the scary thing--my students are already doing 90s nostalgia. Whatever the heck that means--

v.

Jay H said...

Excellent list. Can’t believe you saw all those when they were first run- what a precocious little cineaste you were. One awesome 80s film you didn’t see then – but I assume you caught later – is “Breaker Morant”, up there with Das Boot and Paris Texas as my favorites from that decade.

Plotbox said...

Jay, I loved Breaker Morant. I think I even saw it twice when it came out. I also equate that and Gallipoli, which I also loved.