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Showing posts with the label 80's

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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I think I've watched this movie at least three times since the creation of this blog simply to reconsider whether or not it qualified as a Christmas movie (this is, of course, in addition to countless viewings growing up - this is one of my mother's favorite movies, so it was on a lot). Because this is more a New Year's movie than a Christmas one, it never quite passed our litmus test, which I always regretted, since this movie - in my humble opinion - absolutely rules. Well, now we consider New Year's an extension of Christmas (since, you know, it is), so the question's moot, and we can talk about one of the most iconic romantic comedies made in the last four decades. The story, of course, centers around Billy Crystal's Harry and Meg Ryan's Sally, both of whom are awkward and somewhat off-putting. They come across to the audience as eccentric and likeable for the duration of the film, but the movie succeeds in making you doubt you'd enjoy hanging out w

Less Than Zero (1987)

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This is an odd one. Less Than Zero was supposedly adapted from the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, though there seems to be a consensus the movie has almost no relation to the book. I haven't read it, but apparently there was virtually no plot, so rather than attempt to adapt it, the producers had a series of writers create an entirely new script with an entirely different nonexistent plot. The non-plot centers around Clay, a college freshman who returns to his upscale LA home to find his best friend, Julian, has become an addict. Clay's girlfriend, Blair, is also an addict, but isn't quite as out-of-control as Julian, who we eventually learn is being forced into prostitution by his dealer. There's a love triangle, as well, since Julian and Blair had an affair while Clay was gone, but this feels oddly tacked on. Apparently, in the book Clay was supposed to be bisexual, a detail that was removed by the studio, presumably to make the movie more boring. The movie just kind of

Sword of the Valiant (1984)

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Sword of the Valiant is an '80s remake of the 1973 movie, Gawain and the Green Knight , made by the same director, largely using the same outline and themes. Please understand when I say it's an '80s movie, I mean that on every level - the decade oozes out of every lighting choice, every haircut, and every music cue. Both Gawain and the Green Knight look and act more like they stepped out of an episode of He-Man than anything in the actual live-action He-Man movie (same goes for the soundtrack, honestly). This is unquestionably a bad movie, and I savored every minute. The plot is functionally identical to the director's previous adaptation (loose adaptation, remember: these movies are really a blend of several Arthurian myths with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight almost serving as a frame). That said, there are several new characters and minor changes to the story. A friar appearing briefly in the '70s movie is given a major role as an eventual companion of Gawain

Six Weeks (1982)

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It's rare to come across something that tries this hard and misses so spectacularly. Six Weeks is a 1982 drama about a man running for Congress who forms a deep emotional connection with a precocious, talented 12-year-old girl dying of cancer and her wealthy mother. So... not a premise you want to screw up. The movie stars Dudley Moore as Patrick, the Congressional candidate, and Mary Tyler Moore as Charlotte, the mother. Nicole, the dying kid, is played by Katherine Healy. Katherine and Dudley do good work. As for Mary Tyler Moore... let's just say she EARNS her Razzie nomination. The plot is thin, which isn't in itself a bad thing, since this is really supposed to be more about tone than story. Unfortunately, it screws that up, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's expand on the premise. Nicole's a talented dancer who dreams of performing in the Nutcracker, but she worries how her mother will react to her death. She also wants to know what it's like to ha

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

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I honestly think this might be the most high-profile pre-2010 Christmas horror movie I haven't gotten to yet. Hell, it might be the most high-profile Christmas movie regardless of genre, excluding a bunch of indistinguishable remakes of A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker. Part of the reason it took me so long is it's easy to confuse with countless other movies in the same subgenre. I've done Silent Night, Bloody Night , Christmas Evil , and countless other " Killer Santa " movies . Hell, I even did Silent Night , the 2012 remake ("remake" in the loosest meaning of the term possible). But until now I'd never gotten around to this one, which... I guess this is significant? I mean, it spawned multiple sequels, it's supposedly being remade AGAIN, and NECA made an action figure of the killer a few years ago, which... Honestly, I bought it for a custom project I just haven't gotten around to yet. The point is, this must have a fan base. I'

3615 code Père Noël (1989)

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Occasionally, I have the rare privilege of watching a movie that not only widens my appreciation for the scope of the grander Christmas canon, but potentially explains lingering questions about existing holiday classics. Not only is this one of those movies, it is an absolutely fantastic film in its own right, a horror/action/comedy/adventure in the vein of Rare Exports and Krampus made decades before either of those films. But for the purposes of history, it's more significant that it was made one year after Die Hard and two years before Home Alone. A lot of people have joked about similarities between those films - I've done so myself. But deep down, I always assumed those similarities were ultimately due to similar holiday tropes being used in initially divergent ways that became similar due to the movies' premises. Convergent cinematic yuletide evolution, if you will. After watching 3615 code Père Noël, however, I'm less certain. This 1989 French masterpiece (so, ye

One Magic Christmas (1985)

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I've got a lot to say about this movie - about its themes, plot, and its use of classic holiday tropes - and I'm going to cover a lot of ground. But before I get into all that, I want to take a moment, step back, and summarize this as a whole. This movie is bullshit. I know that raises more questions than it answers. So let's roll up our sleeves and dig in to explore the depths of the bullshit that define the experience of watching "One Magic Christmas," a 1985 attempt by Disney to push out a Christmas classic by transparently tossing cliché after cliché against the screen and hoping it somehow coalesces into something worthwhile. To be fair, not everything in this movie is bad - some of the component pieces are actually pretty good. But that's true of bullshit, too. Cows eat a lot of different vegetation, including some lovely flowers. In the end, though, that doesn't change what's left over. The movie's plot is absurdly convoluted, largely becaus

Trancers (1984)

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This is, for better and for worse, a pretty good example of what genre movies released in the '80s were actually like. Those of you born after the '80s probably think you know what the decade offered - after all, you've seen Ghostbusters, Terminator, Goonies, Blade Runner, Aliens, and a host of other films. But here's the thing: those were exceptions. Those were the movies that endured. The classics. The vast majority of 80's movies were... not those. They were this. Honestly, that might be generous. Trancers, an extraordinarily weird time-travel-action-Christmas-noir, is pretty good, as far as schlocky B-movies go. It's fun, campy, and inoffensive. I suspect this was trying to be a cult hit but didn't quite pull off the formula. Its weirdness feels a little too intentional, it's not bad enough to be "so bad it's good" but not quite good enough to be some sort of hidden gem. Still, it's a fun bit of '80s camp and a rare entry on our

The Christmas Star (1986)

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Before we get into this, I want to start with a spoiler warning of sorts. Sometimes we come across a movie that's surprisingly good for reasons that are best viewed in the context of the movie. This is not one of those times. The Christmas Star isn't good. At all. It's badly paced, dull, and tedious for the vast majority of its runtime.  But then... See, to finish that sentence, I'd need to go into the finer philosophical details of the phrase "so bad it's good," which you'll note is being used as a label for this review. While most movies earning that title win it through a constant level of entertaining badness, The Christmas Star takes a different tack, one I'll discuss later in this review. In the meantime, allow me to propose a drinking game. If you were to sit down to watch this with a bottle of your favorite holiday spirit and take a shot anytime you became bored out of your goddamn mind, you'd be in a *perfect* state to fully enjoy the

Fanny and Alexander (1982)

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Before I get started, I should specify I saw the three-hour theatrical cut of Fanny and Alexander. After watching, I learned there's also a five-hour version that was re-cut as a miniseries then screened in theaters. Honestly, there's a part of me that really wants to see that five-hour cut for comparison. That's not happening anytime soon, though. Fanny and Alexander is a Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, director of [checks notes] some of the greatest and most influential movies ever made. According to Wikipedia, this was a fictionalized version of Bergman's own childhood and was intended to be his final film. His actual last film came out twenty-one years later, so take that with a grain of salt. Before I get to plot, theme, and, well, CHRISTMAS, I should mention this movie is a goddamn work of art and probably among the most beautiful cinematic works I've ever put in front of my eyes. It's a wonder to behold, it deserves its Academ

M*A*S*H Holiday Episodes (1972 - 1981)

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M*A*S*H is a little before my time. I have memories of it existing, but I don't recall actually watching it. That said, I'm familiar enough with some of the characters, so I must have caught a handful of episodes from repeats through the 80s. And of course I've seen it referenced damn near everywhere - this was an influential series. If you're somehow not familiar with it, M*A*S*H is a series about an army medical base stationed in Korea during the Korean War. It's based on a movie I've never seen, which was in turn based on a book I've never read, so don't expect a lot of context on that end. Actually sitting down and watching through the Christmas episodes (along with a few tangential episodes we'll discuss in a minute) was a fascinating experience. First, it's not hard to see why it left a footprint: this show has a fascinating tone, striking a careful balance between the hardships of war with the comedic absurdity of the characters. The

Some Girls (1988)

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I spent the entire runtime of Some Girls trying to figure out what the movie was, and I'm still not remotely certain. The best description I can muster is: Victorian drama crossed with raunchy 80's comedy. That doesn't really convey the experience of the movie, though, since the description sounds inventive and fun. The plot... uh... Okay, I'll do my best here, but there's not a lot of meat to this thing. The movie opens with a voice-over from the film's lead, Michael, who's flying to Quebec for Christmas to reunite with his college girlfriend, Gabi, who dropped out due to her ailing grandmother, Granny. That's her name in the credits, and she's easily the third most important character behind Michael and Gabi. Arguably, she's more significant than Gabi and deserves the #2 spot. She doesn't appear immediately, however. First, we're introduced to the rest of her family, who live in a sprawling massive gothic mansion full of musty