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Posts tagged ‘film’

A Year in the 80’s – a movie sampler

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When I think 80’s movies, I first think Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Footloose, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Say Anything. They all have some form of teen angst at their center, so it’s no wonder they stuck out most for me when I was going through many of the same kinds of emotions myself.

But when I sat down to make a real list of the 80’s movies I liked, it got out of hand pretty quickly. And then , when I searched movies by release year, fuhgeddaboudit! I realized I’d have to majorly spread my movie picks out over this year, and it would still be too many films. So be forewarned: I love movies, this is my blog, and I’m gonna put as many picks and write as much as I like on these posts. Continue at your own risk.

To start, here’s a sampler of movies that made a lasting impression on me for one reason or another:

E.T. (82)
I’m 44 years old, and last week I cried my eyes out when E.T. died. Or didn’t really die. Doesn’t matter, I’m gonna cry every time, even though I know he’s coming back in the next scene. Then I cry at the end, too. You know, just for good measure. This movie never, ever, ever gets old. It just gets better every time I see it. Ahem, in its original, pre-“fixed” state, the way God intended E.T. to be watched. Here’s a super fun scene (though I’m not a fan of the CGI ET face), and one of my favorites:


Terms of Endearment (83)
I haven’t watched this movie in years, but I always remember this particular scene. I especially love it when she starts to climb in. It resonated with me from the first moment I saw it, and it’s one of my favorite opening scenes of any movie ever.  Also, I’ve done this to my dog countless times, poor guy. Terms of Endearment is still alive as a pop culture reference today, but typically when this movie comes up, people quote the hospital scene. You know, the “give my daughter the shot!” scene. But this is the one I love:


Eddie and the Cruisers (83)
I was captivated by this movie when I first saw it at about 15 or so, and I always remembered it. I watched it again about six months ago. It’s kind of dated, and I couldn’t stop focusing on how every  person in every  scene is smoking a cigarette. But it’s still good; I was still hooked on the hope and melancholy and regret and acceptance. And the music! Not so believable lip-syncing, but awesome music by John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band (as Eddie’s voice and band). I totally owned the hell out of that movie soundtrack on cassette tape, ya’ll. Here’s the trailer and a song:


Red Dawn (84)
This one made a big impression on me when I was younger, but when I watched it last year, it upset me a lot.  A lot, a lot. I couldn’t get it off my mind for a long time. It was years between viewings (mine’s on VHS, if that tells you anything), and I had no idea it would hit me so hard. But the older I get, the more I understand about love and loss and the preciousness of life. Movies like this have a much greater impact on me than they did when I was 16 or 18 or 25.

I didn’t like the characterizations in the remake; they basically ripped the heart and soul right out of the film. I felt like, “that’s too bad,” when the first Wolverine got killed in the new movie, whereas I felt absolutely soul-gutted in the original. This scene from 1984 is not as vibrant as the remake, the color and sound, the special effects, but everything about it feels more real and more heartbreaking. In this clip, green and ill-prepared kids experience combat for the first time, against an enemy that looks and acts a lot like them:


Night of the Comet (84)
I saw this in the theater when I was 14, and it’s the only time I’ve ever heard people cheer at the movies. The whole audience, not just one little group.  I just watched it again on YouTube, and I still got a kick out of it after all these years (shout out to the boombox, cordless phones with extendable antenna, and the awesomely 80’s shirt Reggie wears through most of the movie).

Hey – one guy gets eaten (off camera) by a zombie-like person in an alley, and another is chased through the house by a zombie-like kid. Those two scenes have popped into my head at random times over all these years. It never occurred to me until now that maybe this movie is how I got my zombie fear. Hm.


Prince of Darkness (87)
I’ve only seen three scary movies in the theater, and two of those were in the 80’s. This one still haunts me as the scariest movie I’ve ever seen ever. Ever, ever. And that includes The Exorcist. And The Shining – oh my goodness, The Shining! This is worse than The Shining, you guys. I’m sure it’s small potatoes to all the horror fans out there, but I wouldn’t see this movie again if you paid me. Even this trailer freaks me out:


Dirty Dancing (87)
I loved this movie, and it’s still one of my sentimental favorites. The oldest theater in town (which is now a shopping strip) had dollar movies on Wednesdays, and my friends and I saw Dirty Dancing three Wednesdays in a row. We were in love with Patrick Swayze (and who can blame us), with the dancing and the music, and with the adorable, awkward, awesome Jennifer Grey as “Baby”. We were tickled and delighted and left the theater on little happy clouds week after week. This clip has subtitles, but it’s the only one I could find of the entire scene when Baby first meets Johnny. I’m still like Baby, gawking at the moves – lots of music and dancing and awkward in this one! Not to mention, she “carried a watermelon”.


Heathers (88)
This is another movie I never forgot, but for being the complete opposite of fluffy fun. Heathers is delightfully odd and twisted and a cult classic. It’s a dark comedy about “teen angst bullshit”, and I can’t think of 80’s movies without this one rearing up its psychopathic head. It’s like the Mean Girls of the 80’s. But with a body count. The trailer pretty much tells it all:


The Accidental Tourist (88)
Here is another film about odd people who you just can’t forget.  I’m not a great William Hurt fan, but there are roles for which his stiff style are the perfect match, and this was one of them. And Geena Davis, my gosh, so good in her role as Muriel. This is a film full of quirky characters who are so vulnerable and irritating and thoroughly likable. You can’t help but root for each one to find what it is they need to make their lives feel complete.


Platoon (86) – My most memorable movie experience.
The movie started, and I was gone. When a snake slithered across the screen, a lady screamed and I was amazed to “wake up” in a full theater. I gave a nervous titter with the rest of the audience, and then disappeared again. I was that absorbed: I was inside the movie instead of watching it, I was a pair of eyes in a theater. I forgot about my body, the crowd and the uncomfortable seats. When it was over, there was silence. Just a mass of eerily silent people, sitting still in their seats or slowly shuffling out of the theater. I felt shell-shocked and numb and at a loss for words myself. When I got home, I stuck my key in the lock and suddenly burst out crying.

Unlike Red Dawn, Platoon impacted me less as I aged; the memory was more powerful than the film. What felt dramatic and real and emotional at 16 and 25, touched on self-importance, and even felt a bit contrived, as I watched in my mid-thirties. But I think that’s just because there’d been so much in between. Movies like Platoon are the point of a wedge, carving a path for others to follow. But in so doing, that sharp edge dulls a little in comparison to what comes after. Even so, for me this is still one of the most memorable and impressive films of the 1980’s. Just seeing the trailer gave me chills and brought back memories of that first amazing viewing. I want to know what I think of it now, and I guess I need to keep up that ten year pattern.

So that’s the first movie list, just a sampler of 80’s films that stick out in my mind.

What are the 80’s movies that made a lasting impression on you?

What are your movie stories?


Movie Quote Monday – Total Recall

Matthias:  The past is a construct of the mind.

This is a MQM first, but I haven’t actually seen Total Recall; what I saw was a couple of Faithgeeks videos discussing the movie and the questions it made them ask. Like last week’s Blade Runner, it was based on a story by Philip K. Dick and takes on some similar themes about humanity. Pretty interesting stuff! Of course, you guys know I think everything is interesting.

Here’s Clay:


So, questions:

What does it mean to be human? At essence, what are we?

Does the past really matter to who we are today?

Can we even trust our memories of the past?

Clay: “Who we are is not dictated by who we’ve been. We should be careful to not let the past rob us of our present.”


Here’s Karl’s response to Clay:



If given the chance, would I add false memories or alter existing ones?

Have I moved on from my past mistakes?

Am I too focused on the future?

Karl: “I’m not defined by my past. I’m not defined by my character defects.”


We have discussed many of these questions and thoughts already over the last almost two years here at the blog, and pretty much always come to those same conclusions: that the past informs who we are but does not confine us to a specific destiny.

What I don’t remember talking about very much is how accurate our memories are. I consider conversations my sister and I have had about our childhood and how much our memories can differ. Certainly some of that is due simply to our individual perspectives. But I know that many of my memories have either magnified or mellowed with time. Or flat out changed. If my views of myself, other people and the experiences we shared are based on memories that I have “constructed” in a way that best suits me, then what does that mean for my present? 

I think it boils down to what Clay and Karl are basically saying: we shouldn’t let our memories of the past completely define who we are today. Further, I would say that we need to cut other people some slack as well and not judge them solely by our memories of their past. I know I continue to see some people in terms of who they were, refusing to take into consideration who they may be now or give them credit for who they are trying to be for the future. But then, I do the same thing to myself.

I do believe that “the past is a construct of the mind,” because it’s power lies in how we choose to view it. 

What are your thoughts on all this?


You’ve met Clay before, here and here. He blogs at and that’s his book over there on the sidebar. I don’t know anything about Karl, but I already like him. Faithgeeks is basically those guys talking to each other, but they do it on video and strangers get to comment. Hmm. Anyway, you can like Faithgeeks on their Facebook page and subscribe to them on their YouTube channel. I think it’s going to be an interesting ride with these two at the wheel, but then I like goofy people who make me think.


Items of Interest:

How Our Brains Make Memories

Study Finds Memories Can Change With Each Recall

Peer Pressure Can Change Your Memories


Movie Quote Monday – Stranger Than Fiction

I know I say this nearly every time, but I love this movie.  I LURV it!

I listed this as a favorite on the 2011 Movie Quote Monday page, but it’s quite long so I never used it in a post.  But last Thursday I heard an interview with Clay Morgan in which this particular quote was mentioned, and now I can’t get it out of my head.  So, I decided to share my brains with you.  You’re welcome.

Apparently, he referenced this scene in his new book, Undead.  I haven’t gotten to it in the book yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Clay uses this quote.  I can’t begin to get into Undead in a couple of sentences here, but it examines the fact that we can live without really being alive.  I can see that idea playing out in Stranger Than Fiction.

So, if you haven’t seen this movie, then you should.  But in the meantime, you need to know that Harold has begun hearing a woman’s voice in his head, narrating his life.  As confusing as that is to him, it takes on new significance when she announces Harold’s “imminent death”.  In his search to find a cure for this little problem, he meets a literature professor who is more interested in the literary quality of the narrative than in Harold’s fate.

Professor Hilbert:  You were right.  This narrator might very well kill you, so I humbly suggest that you just forget all this and go live your life.
—Harold:  Go live my life?  I am living my life.  I’d like to continue to live my life.
Professor Hilbert: *signs* I know.  Of course.  I mean all of it.  However long you have left.  You know, I mean, Harold, you could use it to have an adventure.  You know, invent something, or just finish reading Crime and Punishment.  Hell, Harold, you could just eat nothing but pancakes if you wanted.
—Harold:  What’s wrong  with you?  Hey.  I don’t wanna eat nothing but pancakes.  I wanna live.  Who in their right mind in a choice between pancakes and living…chooses pancakes?
Professor Hilbert:  Harold, if you’d pause to think, I believe you’d realize that that answer’s inextricably contingent upon the type of life being led…and of course, the quality of  the pancakes.  You don’t understand what I’m saying.
—Harold:  Yes, I do.  But you have to understand that this isn’t a philosophy or a literary theory or a story to me.  It’s my life.
Professor Hilbert:  Absolutely.  So just go make it the one you’ve always wanted.

This really is a beautiful movie, about a man who was living a painfully ordinary life.  When something extraordinary occurs in that nearly lifeless existence, he chooses to turn his life into the one he wants.  And when the time comes to make a much harder decision, he chooses life once again, in a profound way.

Choosing to live the life you always wanted isn’t easy.  For one thing, some of us can’t define for ourselves what that even looks like.  And when we think we do  know, that just leads to more work, more effort and sometimes even pain.  And, you know, I like pancakes; pancakes sound pretty good, right?

What I think is there are plenty of people out there choosing pancakes.  

These last few weeks, I’ve been aching to get a tattoo of the word “choose”.  Because I do – I choose every day, every hour, every moment.  I choose what kind of life I want to live, what kind of person I want to be.  What physical and spiritual nourishment I put into my body.  I choose how I treat myself and others.  

I am constantly choosing who I am.

I don’t always choose well, but at least I stopped ordering the pancakes.


So, what do you think?

Can it be as simple as choosing to live your life to the fullest – at least within the limits of your capabilities?

Or is it way more complicated than that?