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By medium: 1984 films - 1984 music
Related titles: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) - George Orwell
Books, non-fiction: The Hot House (1984) - Andrea Branzi - Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1984/1991) - Frederic Jameson
Films: Body Double (1984) - Suburbia (1984)
Novels: William Gibson publishes Neuromancer, which puts the term cyberspace on the map. Iain Banks debuts with The Wasp Factory.
Music: Set It Off (1984) - Strafe - E2 E4 (1981-1984) - Manuel Göttsching
Trends and developments: first hackers - launch of the Apple Macintosh -
Deaths: Michel Foucault (1926 - 1984) - Alexander Trocchi (1925 -1984) - Andy Kaufman (1949 - 1984)
First Apple Macintosh, 1984
Commercial for launch of Apple Macintosh computer
Manuel Gottsching releases the proto-techno masterpiece of ‘E2-E4’, another Paradise Garage classic. New York sees Walter Gibbons with a splendid mix of the ten minute "Set It Off". Jessie Saunders funks Chicago up and almost launches house music. while Juan Atkins releases Techno City with Cybotron in Detroit. Africa is never far away in the charts with both Hugh Masekela's "Don't Go Lose It Baby" and Tony Allen, Fela's drummer with the Road Close EP. 1985 brought house.
Post Disco and Electro Singles
- Manuel Göttsching - E2-E4
- Hugh Masekela - Don't Go Lose It Baby (Jive, 1984)
- Strafe - Set It Off [Walter Gibbons mix]
- Aleem - Release Yourself (feat. Leroy Burgess)
- Aleem - Get Loose (feat. Leroy Burgess)
- World Premiere - Share The Night
- Madonna - In The Groove
- Colonel Abrams - Music Is The Answer
- John Rocca - I Want It To Be Real
- Pushe - Don't Take Your Love Away
- Laid Back - The White Horse
- Liquid Liquid - Cavern
- Jesse Saunders - Funk You Up (raw funk from Chicago)
- Cybotron - Techno City (Juan Atkins)
- Roy Ayers - Poo Poo La La
- One Way - Mr. Groove
- Jocelyn Brown - Somebody Else's Guy
- Tony Allen - Road Close (dub)
- Cameo - She's Strange
- Paris - I Choose You
- Yasuko Agawa - L.A. Night
- Earons - Land Of Hunger
- Evelyn Thomas - High Energy
Les Ripoux (1984) - Claude Zidi
Les Ripoux (1984) - Claude Zidi[imdb.com]
One of the comedies that are typically french, at the same time a farce and a study of characters. Certainly a well aging movie.
Régine plays the role of Simone.
- Tightrope (1984) - Richard Tuggle [1 VHS, Amazon US]
Audiences were a little unprepared for this version of Clint Eastwood when Tightrope, a little ahead of its time, was released in 1984, but today, in the wake of movies like 8mm, it almost seems tame. Eastwood plays a New Orleans cop who likes his loving a little on the rough side, and when a serial killer starts murdering a series of prostitutes whom he has hired for his dalliances in the past, he must confront the fruits of what his dark side begets. Genevičve Bujold costars as a rape-crisis counselor who titillatingly badgers and teases Eastwood where he's most vulnerable. The finale devolves into standard-issue psycho-revenge and woman-in-peril fodder, but the psychological exploration of Eastwood's character is compelling--the quease factor is elevated as he balances his shadow life with his public life as a man with two innocent young daughters. Eastwood isn't afraid to stretch his persona to its limits--when asked why he doesn't try boys as partners, he cryptically replies, "Maybe I have." --David Kronke for amazon.com
- The Razor's Edge (1984) - John Byrum [Amazon.com]
A 1984 film version of the 1944 W. Somerset Maugham novel starred Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Catherine Hicks, Denholm Elliott and James Keach. Its screenplay was adapted by John Byrum and Murray from the novel, and it was directed by Byrum. Its most memorable quote was:
Theresa Russell: "Let's talk".
Bill Murray: "Ok, seal talk."
- Blood Simple - Coen Brothers [Amazon US]
The debut film of director Joel Coen and his brother-producer Ethan Coen, 1983's Blood Simple is grisly comic noir that marries the feverish toughness of pulp thrillers with the ghoulishness of even pulpier horror. (Imagine the novels of Jim Thompson somehow fused with the comic tabloid Weird Tales, and you get the idea.) The story concerns a Texas bar owner (Dan Hedaya) who hires a seedy private detective (M. Emmett Walsh) to follow his cheating wife (Frances McDormand in her first film appearance), and then kill her and her lover (John Getz). The gumshoe turns the tables on his client, and suddenly a bad situation gets much, much worse, with some violent goings-on that are as elemental as they are shocking. (A scene in which a character who has been buried alive suddenly emerges from his own grave instantly becomes an archetypal nightmare.) Shot by Barry Sonnenfeld before he became an A-list director in Hollywood, Blood Simple established the hyperreal look and feel of the Coens' productions (undoubtedly inspired a bit by filmmaker Sam Raimi, whose The Evil Dead had just been coedited by Joel). Sections of the film have proved to be an endurance test for art-house movie fans, particularly an extended climax that involves one shock after another but ends with a laugh at the absurdity of criminal ambition. This is definitely one of the triumphs of the 1980s and the American independent film scene in general. --Tom Keogh
- Repo Man (1984) - Alex Cox [Amazon US]
A volatile, toxic potion of satire and nihilism, road movie and science fiction, violence and comedy, the unclassifiable sensibility of Alex Cox's Repo Man is the model and inspiration for a potent strain of post-punk American comedy that includes not only Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), but also early Coen brothers (Raising Arizona, in particular), Men in Black, and even (in a weird way) The X-Files. Otto, a baby-face punk played by Emilio Estevez, becomes an apprentice to Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), a coke-snorting, veteran repo-man-of-honor prowling the streets of a Los Angeles wasteland populated by hoods, wackos, burnouts, conspiracy theorists, and aliens of every stripe. It may seem chaotic at first glance, but there's a "latticework of coincidence" (as Tracey Walter puts it) underlying everything. Repo Man is a key American movie of the 1980s--just as Taxi Driver, Nashville, and Chinatown are key American movies of the '70s. With a scorching soundtrack that features Iggy Pop, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and Suicidal Tendencies. --Jim Emerson [...]
- The Company of Wolves (1984) - Neil Jordan [Amazon US]
The tangled forest is misty with mystery, the thatched cottages are cute and quaint, and the dashing rogues are devious charmers, but this revision of "Little Red Riding Hood" is not your usual fairy tale. In the troubled dreams of an adolescent girl in the hormonal rush of puberty, it becomes a veritable werewolf story with lush storybook imagery, gothic horror flourishes, and decidedly sexual implications. Director Neil Jordan, who collaborated with author Angela Carter in this 1985 adaptation of her story, applies a knowing intelligence to the bittersweet tale. The often startling transformation effects may appear primitive compared to modern movies, but the delight is in the dark imagination, dense textures, and fantastical wonders of this dream world. Angela Lansbury is the story-spinning granny and David Warner the understanding woodsman father, and watch for a devilish cameo by a sinister and seductive Terence Stamp. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com essential video
- Choose Me (1984) - Alan Rudolph [Amazon US]
Love is a mysterious game for the players in Choose Me, writer-director Alan Rudolph's uniquely eccentric spin on matters of the heart. A comedic drama steeped in a nocturnal, smooth-jazz atmosphere, the production is rooted in the mid-1980s but laced with a timeless film noir attitude. Its chamber-piece characters collide and carom from one to the other, each interaction revealing clues about how passions either cloud or clarify our paths to romantic fulfillment. Mickey (Keith Carradine) isn't the pathological liar he's supposed to be; sex-talk radio host Nancy Love (Genevičve Bujold) uses an assumed name and knows far less about sex than she lets on; and bar owner Eve (Lesley Ann Warren) knows too much about men but not enough about love. When they meet and mingle, Rudolph (using Teddy Pendergrass songs as the perfect mood-setting soundtrack) orchestrates a passionate dance of sex, sadness, and self-discovery that's wittily observant and altogether beguiling. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com
- Crimes of Passion (1984) - Ken Russell [Amazon US]
The crazy man of British film, Ken Russell (Women in Love, Whore), hit the apex of guilty-pleasure absurdity with Crimes of Passion, a dark if pointed (and ultimately poignant) walk on the wild side. Although this schizophrenic, neon-blurred traipse through the red-light district of Los Angeles, courtesy of hooker and guide China Blue (Kathleen Turner), never made much money at the box office, it still managed to eke out a cult following. Barry Sandler's script felt a lot like a play with its rather stilted (but furiously funny) dialogue between Turner and Anthony Perkins, who plays an obsessed and crazed stalker/reverend who believes he is China Blue's savior. Their story is contrasted against that of Bobby Grady (John Laughlin), who is married to the materialistic Amy (Annie Potts). After taking a second job as a private investigator for a dress manufacturer who thinks his lead designer, Joanna Crane (Turner again), is selling patterns to a rival, Bobby becomes mired in a netherworld he never imagined. But it's Bobby who becomes Joanna/China Blue's true savior; it seems Joanna's husband cheated on her and she created the alter ego, China Blue, in order to control her world by making men dependent on her sexuality. The facade cracks after Bobby hits the scene. Russell's film is bawdy and even daring, and the unrated version on DVD features a couple of scenes (one with China Blue, a cop, and his nightstick, as well as some flashes of pornography) that were not included in the film's original release. Also for die-hard fans, Sandler originally ended the script at a more ambiguous place in the climactic scene in Joanna's apartment. An "epitaph" with Bobby at an encounter group was added to appease the distributor, who wanted a more upbeat, "Hollywood" conclusion. Sandler's original idea gave the film a real wallop, but despite the change, Crimes of Passion remains an original camp classic. --Paula Nechak for Amazon.com
- Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense (1984) - Jonathan Demme [DVD, Amazon US]
Over the course of three nights at Hollywood's Pantages Theater in December 1983, filmmaker Jonathan Demme joined creative forces with cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and Talking Heads... and miracles occurred. Following a staging concept by singer-guitarist David Byrne, this euphoric concert film transcends that all-too-limited genre to become the greatest film of its kind. A guaranteed cure for anyone's blues, it's a celebration of music that never grows old, fueled by the polyrhythmic pop-funk precision that was a Talking Heads trademark, and lit from within by the geeky supernova that is David Byrne.
The staging--and Demme's filming of it--builds toward an orgasmic release of music, rising from the bare-stage simplicity of Byrne, accompanied only by a boom box on "Psycho Killer," to the ecstatic crescendo of "Burning Down the House," by which time the Heads and additional personnel have all arrived on stage for a performance that seems channeled from heaven for the purpose of universal uplift. (God bless Demme for avoiding shots of the luckiest audience in '80s pop history; its presence is acknowledged, but not at the viewer's expense.) With the deliriously eccentric Byrne as ringleader (pausing mid-concert to emerge in his now-legendary oversized suit), this circus of musical pleasure defies the futility of reductive description; it begs to be experienced, felt in the heart, head, and bones, and held there the way we hold on to cherished memories. On those three nights in December 1983, Talking Heads gave love, life, and joy in generous amounts that years cannot erode, and Demme captured this act of creative goodwill on film with minimalist artistic perfection. Stop Making Sense is an invitation to pleasure that will never wear out its welcome. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com
- Top Secret! (1984) - Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams [DVD, Amazon US]
In between the disaster movie satire Airplane! in 1980 and the hardboiled cop show parody The Naked Gun in 1988, the comedy crew of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker put together a picture that's almost as funny as their better-known hits. Top Secret! sends up spy movies and cheesy teen rock & roll musicals. Val Kilmer stars as swivel-hipped American rocker Nick Rivers, a sort of blonde Elvis whose secret weapon is Little Richard's tune "Tutti Fruitti." On tour behind the Iron Curtain, Nick strikes blows for democracy overtly and covertly, with his music as well as his espionage skills. In short, this is a very, very silly motion picture. Some great gags, including a subtitled scene in a Swedish book shop, and an inspired bit with a Ford Pinto that not everybody may get anymore. (The Pinto, you may or may not recall, was notoriously prone to gas tank explosions when rear-ended.) --Jim Emerson for Amazon.com
- Beat Street (1984) - Stan Lathan [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Of all the breakdancing / hip-hop films released between 1983 and 1986, the 1984 film Beat Street is unquestionably the best one. The story follows a DJ, his younger breakdancing brother, a graffiti artist and a wanna-be showbiz promoter through one winter in which they try to break out of the ghetto using their "street" talent. The acting isn't always up to par and the characters aren't fully drawn out, but they are more than compensated for by down-to-earth dialogue, a plausible story, fantastic dancing sequences and a timeless hip-hop sound track. It should be noted this film was shot in the birthplace of breakdancing ("This ain't New York, this is the Bronx!"), and features appearances by the fathers of breakdancing, dance troupe Rock Steady Crew and rapper Afrika Bambaata. Rock Steady Crew provide the best scene in the film when they dominate a dance battle at the premiere breakdancing club of the early 80's, the Roxy. A must see for hip-hop lovers. --Hermit-2, Chicago for imdb.com
- The Brother From Another Planet (1984) - John Sayles [DVD, Amazon US]
Having been stymied in the midst of trying to make Matewan, John Sayles wrote what he thought could be a cheap, quick little movie and it turned out to be this near classic, which blends fish-out-of-water comedy with trenchant and serious science fiction. Joe Morton plays an extraterrestrial whose spaceship crashes in New York Harbor. When he swims ashore, he finds that most of Harlem is filled with earthlings who look just like him. He can't speak, but he quickly learns to communicate; he also finds ways to understand these strange, quarrelsome creatures, who seem to talk forever without really saying much. Sayles is at his economic best, drawing a touchingly complex performance from the silent Morton and good acting from a strong supporting cast of mostly unknowns. --Marshall Fine for amazon.com
- The Terminator (1984) - James Cameron [DVD, Amazon US]
This is the film that cemented Schwarzenegger's spot in the action-brawn firmament, and it was well deserved. He's chilling as the futuristic cyborg who kills without fear, without love, without mercy. James Cameron's story and direction are pared to the bone and all the more creepy. But don't overlook the contributions of Linda Hamilton, who more than holds her own as the Terminator's would-be victim, Sarah Connor--thus creating, along with Sigourney Weaver in Alien, a new generation of rugged, clear-thinking female action stars. It's surprising how well this film holds up, and how its minimalist, malevolent violence is actually way scarier than that of its far more expensive, more effects-laden sequel. --Anne Hurley for amazon.com
- Special Effects (1984) - Larry Cohen [imdb.com]
Reality and illusion collide in this thriller about a megalomaniacal movie director who murders a young would-be actress, then sets about making a feature about the deed, casting the dead woman's clueless husband as the patsy, and finding a dead ringer to play the part of the dead actress.--Eugene Kim for imdb.com
- Under the Volcano (1984) - John Huston [1 VHS, Amazon US]
I simply don't know where to start in pointing out the disastrous flaws in this film-- especially in comparison to the book. There is never even the slightest hint of character development or character arcs, so the actions of the characters simply seem arbitrary and inexplicable. We are never shown anything of Geoffrey Firmin's inner life-- of what drives and has driven him to drink-- so Albert Finney does a lot of silly overacting that would be a lot better suited to very broad comedy. We are never given the slightest reason to believe, from the very first moment Geoffrey and Yvonne meet again, that there's a chance in hell their marriage can work once more, so we then have to suffer through watching them lurch through a lot of nonsensical scenes. And (sorry, the ending is about to be given away...) for some reason, the scriptwriter felt it was necessary to kill off Yvonne and Hugh as well as Geoffrey! EVERYONE in the theater laughed at that scene. It was the only logical reaction, since it was 100% ridiculous and arbitrary!! This may actually be the worst movie ever made by a director with the stature of John Huston. A viewer for amazon.com [...]
- Hatful of Hollow (1984) - The Smiths [Amazon US]
Several months after releasing their first album, the Smiths issued the singles and rarities collection Hatful of Hollow, establishing a tradition of repackaging their material as many times and as quickly as possible. While several cuts on Hatful of Hollow are BBC versions of songs from The Smiths, the versions on the compilation are nervy and raw — and they're also not the selling point of the record. The Smiths treated singles as individual entities, not just ways to promote an album, and many of their finest songs were never issued on their studio albums. Hatful of Hollow contains many of these classics, including the sweet rush of "William, It Was Really Nothing," and the sardonic "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," the tongue-in-cheek lament of "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want," the wistful "Back to the Old House," "Girl Afraid," and the pulsating, tremolo-laced masterpiece "How Soon Is Now?" With such strong material forming the core of the album, it's little wonder that Hatful of Hollow is as consistent as The Smiths and arguably captures the excitement surrounding the band even better. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine for allmusic.com
- Somebody Else's Guy (1984) - Jocelyn Brown [1 CD, Amazon US]
1. Somebody Else's Guy [Remix] 2. I Wish You Would 3. Hot Blood 4. I'm Caught up (In a One Night Love Affair) 5. Ain't No Mountain High Enough 6. Hot Natured Woman 7. Somebody Else's Guy [Original Version] 8. Somebody Else's Guy [Dub] 9. Somebody Else's Guy [Acapella] 10. I'm Somebody Else's Guy [Special Rap Version Featuring: Frederick "M.C. 11. Somebody Else's Guy [7" Version]) 12. You Got Me [...]
- (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise! (1984) - Art of Noise [Amazon US]
The early 1980s was dominated by synthetic and sampling technology. Brands like New England Digital's Synclavier, the Fairlight and Ensoniq could be found in many hi-tech recording studios. Crisp, thudding electronic drum sounds appeared on so many of the single of the time.
This album received a lot of critical attention on its 1984 release. A production genius -- Trevor Horn -- was on the march, and this LP was expected to give more insight into his methods. Up to this point, he had done some staggering work for Yes with '90125', Frankie Goes to Hollywood ('... Pleasuredome') and, I think, Grace Jones. Compressed orchestral samples -- as in Yes's 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' single -- were his trademark.
The Art of Noise was his backing band / production staff / co-composers -- call them what you will -- and this was their first showcase. Every sample is polished until it shines and sparkles. In the UK, 'Close (to the edit)' was the single that drew the record-buying public to the album, and 'Moments in Love' provided the justification for buying it. But the rest, although a couple of years ahead of its time, now sounds dated. The album provided a great demonstration of one possible musical future -- a future centred on sampling technology.
'Moments in Love' is a classic track that deserves all the praise heaped upon it by other reviewers here. Much credit is due to Anne Dudley, who went on to write material such as the soundtrack for 'The Full Monty'.
- The Cramps - Bad Music for Bad People (1984) [1 CD, Amazon US]
This album was my introduction to The Cramps, and it highlights the best of their early (and best) albums on I.R.S. Records, from the days when that was the most happening punk/new wave label. The Cramps successfully mix rockabilly, surf trash, punk, country and garage into an outta sight 60's B-horror movie sound that opens the ears,boggles the mind, and gets you to jump around the room, insane and highly recommended. -- John Spokus for Amazon.com [...]
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