Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 6th 2019
Sometimes older films are better films
As some of my regular readers might have noticed, 1987 and the years around then were a particularly strong time for me. I was 16, felt what I considered love for the first time, found my voice at school… and really did some stupid things. I've already written about the songs of the year and keep coming back to events in that time…
Well, recently I had a series of writings accepted for publication about my time of life in 1987, and that got me thinking even more about the year. So I decided, much like I did with 1970, to look at the films of the year.
As a teenager in that pre-Internet, pre-Netflix era, when the local video store was filled every Friday afternoon to get ready for the weekend, going to the pictures was something we did often. I saw a lot of movies in my teenaged years at the cinemas in Adelaide (ah, I still remember the Hindmarsh Square Academy Cinema… no longer there), often with friends, sometimes just with a special friend… Such an era of innocence…
So, anyway, looking back, I was stunned to see how many films I actually paid money to see. I'd forgotten about so many, but looking these up for this column, I remember thinking: "I remember seeing that with so-and-so, and we did this-and-that afterwards…" The memories it has brought back have been incredible.
I also pulled out a heap of my DVDs and (yes…) video cassettes and rewatched a number of these. It was so much fun. I miss the old days and the old friendships. Getting older can really suck sometimes.
First, one of the worst films I've seen was released this year. And I'm not the only one who feels this way. Now, it's easy to pick on low budget schlockers, but most of these have a sort of naïve charm about them, but when a film comes from a major studio and stars a few big names and is part of a franchise and they still get it so amazingly wrong… Wow. Jaws 4: The Revenge is the film. I won't inflict any of it on you, but listen to Richard Jeni tell you about it.
And I paid money for that crap… But… I own it on DVD and have watched it many times. I am a sucker for bad movies…
And it's not even THE worst film I've seen at the cinema.
So, my list.
First, honourable mentions. 3 Men And A Baby; Amazon Women On The Moon, no matter that its sketches were hit or miss; Back To The Beach… don't judge; Beverley Hills Cop II, not as good as the original; Dark Age, a forgotten Australian classic, even if the killer croc is a bit ropey; Dirty Dancing which I think I liked only because of who I saw it with; Fatal Attraction; Full Metal Jacket; Hellraiser; Howling III, so long as you take it as a comedy; Mannequin; Overboard, which I didn't want to see, but glad I got talked into it; Planes, Trains And Automobiles; Roxanne; Surf Nazis Must Die!, and this almost made it to the top list!; Summer School; The Living Daylights, as I'm always a sucker for a James Bond film; The Untouchables, which I only saw because Sean Connery was in it; The Witches Of Eastwick, with a classic OTT Jack Nicholson performance; The Year My Voice Broke; Travelling North; Wall Street, which Mark dragged me along to; Withnail And I. Wow!
That tells you just how good the year was. And, without further ado, to the list!
Not Safe For Work!
Directed by Peter Jackson. Yes that Peter Jackson, of Lord Of The Rings fame. Between this film and Meet The Feebles, it's hard to imagine what he'd become. This sci-fi/comedy take on space aliens with a lot of scatological humour and splatter-fest gore is a sight to behold. It's bizarre and strange, and if you ever get the chance to look at the way it was made, he was clearly heading on his way to genius even back then.
This is one of those films I'm not sure why I like. It's got Bruce Willis at the start of his career, it's got Kim Basinger, and the story is strange. But it has a feel-good component to it, I find the leads likeable and it is just a bit of fun. I was dragged along to see it, and I really enjoyed it. It doesn't appear too often on TV, and maybe that lack of seeing it so much helps it stay fun to my mind. Still, nice movie.
Taking that old trope of buddy films of wacky partners who have to work together and end up liking each other, this amps everything up to make it into a solid actioner as well. Funny and crazy and visually awesome, this is a great film to see on the big screen. The sequels weren't bad, but the original is still the best. "I'm too old for this sh…"
I went to see this because it was supposed to be based on the book by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman). Forget that. They share a title and the concept of a game and the names of characters. However, realistically, this film is very different. And damn, if it isn't fun. Take Arnold Schwarzenegger as the embittered, hard done by hero, throw in Jesse 'The Body' Ventura and I didn't care that it wasn't the book. I saw this with three mates, and all of us were talking about it for a week afterwards. It was that good.
Set in a future that at the time was seen as dystopian, but nowadays we'd call "Thursday", this film depressed me. Not for anything to do with the plot, but the way the main character's humanity was stripped from him to 'help' the authorities. Nowadays, again, it seems only a matter of time. It is a violent actioner, but its view of society is probably cutting a little too close to the bone. This film has, to me, got better with time. But it can be hard to watch.
At times serious, at times uproariously funny, at times poignant, this film, the story of Adrian Cronauer, a DJ in Vietnam during the war, is one of Robin Williams' finest pieces of work. The music is singularly awesome, the sets and design are superb, but this is Williams' film and he takes it in both hands and does not let go.
I went to see this film solely because I have a love for the music of that era. I walked away humming the tracks, bought the soundtrack as soon as I could, and believed Lou Diamond Phillips was going to be the next big star of the world. It was an incredible film, the life story of Richie Valens. Yes, we all knew how it was going to end, and there was a sense of inevitability and tragedy about it all, but the film is magnificent, one of my favourite biopics. And the music is still awesome. And from the soundtrack, let Los Lobos entertain you with the title track!
Another Arnie and Jesse film. What starts off as a standard war / special ops flick turns into a damn scary sci-fi film with enough gore and blood to keep most teenaged boys satisfied. It is one of the best-written films of Arnie's catalogue. And it has a villain / creature that is genuinely scary and, yet, great. The jungle setting really helps make the film as well, and the point of view of the Predator is really well done. "I ain't got time to bleed.". Just fantastic.
Mel Brooks has produced some of the funniest American movies of my lifetime. His parodies and spoofs are lovingly done, paying homage to the originals, not abusing them (something some modern parody film-makers need to look at). This take on Star Wars is almost perfect in everything it does, including tone, sets, story and characters. The scene where the bad guys are watching the video is just a wonder of fourth wall breaking, seldom done better. In fact, the fourth wall isn't so much as broken through this movie as shattered completely. That fact that this isn't Brooks' best film says how talented the man truly is. It is still one of the best of 1987, and one of the finest comedies.
My favourite film of 1987. A fairy tale that just goes beyond anything, and one of the best fantasy films ever. I took a girl to see it at the cinema; we went back again two days later. It is stunning. Robin Wright is probably the most princess-like princess ever on screen – beautiful (amazingly so), smart, sassy, and yet also the 'damsel in distress'. Cary Elwes is perfect as the hero. With Andre the Giant, who needed special effects for a genuine giant? Chris Sarandon is an awesome villain, while Christopher Guest is magnificent as his muscle. And who can forget Mandy Patinkin: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Even the old trope of a book being narrated works! I have shown my kids this film; I will show my grandkids. BRILLIANT!
So, there you have it, my top 10 films of 1987, the year of my first attempt at matriculation. What did I miss? What from the honourable mentions list should have been promoted? Comments, etc. always welcome!