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Monday, March 21, 2016

1987 - A Random Cinematic Year In Review

Preface: I have decided to write this series at least in part because I don't make it out to see new films very often and I've found that I spent too much time at the end of the year attempting to see all the big releases (many of which I'm not even interested in) for no other reason than to make an obligatory 'year end list'... This is a way that I can continue writing about films without feeling the pressure to see a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't otherwise take the time to. I'll still see most of them eventually, just on my own time. I use a random number generator to pick a year and I use to determine the actual release year.

1987 - The aftermath of the Iran-Contra affair found us all in a country that was becoming more and more comfortable with trusting the government less and less. 

"I tried to stand up and fly straight, but it wasn't easy with that sumbitch Reagan in the White House, I dunno. They say he's a descent man, so maybe his advisors are confused..."

The previous year’s Oscar Winner for Best Picture was Oliver Stone’s anti-war Vietnam drama, PLATOON. 1987 followed suit with a couple of its own noteworthy films about the same subject: Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, FULL METAL JACKET and John Irvin's underrated HAMBURGER HILL.... Both of which, I think are far better than PLATOON...

Maybe my favorite monologue ever...

Bernardo Bertolucci's beautiful epic, THE LAST EMPEROR won Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars. Maurice Pialat's UNDER THE SUN OF SATAN took the Palm D'Or at Cannes while The Golden Lion at Venice was won by fellow Frenchman Louis Malle for his AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS.

The top grossing film of the year was Leonard Nimoy's 3 MEN AND A BABY. Wait... what?.. I had no idea that Spock was directing feel good family comedies in the late 80's. I don't really remember this film but take that in for a minute... PREDATOR, THE LOST BOYS, DIRTY DANCING, and HELLRAISER all came out in the same year. These films spawned a countless number of sequels and remakes... and 3 MEN AND A BABY beat them all at the box office...

This is NOT Antonio Banderas

My Top 5

5) WALKER - Directed by Alex Cox (US) 
Speaking of anti-war, anti-Americanism...anti-everything.... As much as I love Cox's earlier releases REPO MAN and SID & NANCY, I think this is his masterpiece. Ed Harris plays William Walker, the American mercenary that took over the country of Nicaragua in the mid 19th century as part of America's 'Manifest Destiny' bullshit. This film is full of expressionistic and surreal anachronisms used to tie the past to the events taking place at the time the film was released. "Before Rambo... Before Oliver North..." may be the best tagline ever...

4) EVIL DEAD 2 - Directed by Sam Raimi (US) 
This is my favorite of the Ash trilogy... which makes it also my favorite Raimi film. I think the climate of horror films that we find ourselves in today is largely influenced by this film.... and for good reason. This film strikes the perfect balance between the earnestness of its predecessor and the overtly silliness of its sequel.

3) RAISING ARIZONA - Directed by The Coen Brothers (US) 
Looking back at their filmography, it could be easy to overlook this one as a fun excursion that doesn't quite fit into their overall repertoire. This would be a mistake. This is one of their absolute best films. I would also add that although I'm a huge fan of the Coen's more recent work with cinematographer Roger Deakins, I honestly don't think that Barry Sonnenfeld gets enough credit for his work in their first three films. The shot composition is beautiful.

2) WINGS OF DESIRE - Directed by Wim Wenders (Germany) 
This is such an amazingly poignant and poetic film about the gift that is humanity.When I think of 80's Arthouse films, I think of Wim Wenders; primarily because of this film and his 1984 American masterpiece PARIS, TEXAS. Its beauty has stood the test of time and I feel that it is influence is still echoed by today's artists. One of my favorite films of the past few years, Jonathan Glazer's UNDER THE SKIN owes a lot of inspiration to this piece. I've never seen its American remake... I'm not sure why I would...

1) THE PRINCESS BRIDE - Directed by Rob Reiner (US) 
This is my favorite film of 1987. It's also the film that I've seen more than all of the others combined. I grew up with this film and thankfully, I never grew out of it. I still watch it pretty often. I'm not saying it's the most important film of this year and I'm definitely not saying it's the best film of the year... All I'm saying is that if I have to choose which of these films to pop in the Blu-Ray player right now... The story is a lot of fun, the framing device is done well, the acting is great all around (especially by Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn) and the dialogue is endlessly quotable... Also, I just noticed that my top two films on this list have amazingly charming performances by Peter Falk... As you wish...

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