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1985 films

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Films: After Hours (1985) - Tampopo (1985) -

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  1. The Funeral (1985) - Juzo Itami [Amazon US] The debut film from acclaimed Japanese director, Juzo Itami (Tampopo, A Taxing Woman) shows a very untraditional side to a very traditional ceremony. When Chizuko's (Nobuko Miyamoto) ornery father unexpectedly dies, the undertaking of the three-day funeral is too much to handle. Her family and especially her husband Wabisuke (Tsutomo Yamazaki), find themselves in hilarious situations as the younger generation struggles with the complex rituals of the Buddhist ceremony that are fading fast from modern Japanese life. --From the Back Cover

  2. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) - Hector Babenco [Amazon US]
    The history of gay cinema can be split into two sections: before Kiss of the Spider Woman, and after. This great film was undeliberately timely, and in the twenty years since its release, its pop-cultural importance has only increased.

    Kiss Of The Spider Woman opened in a Manhattan cinema on July 26, 1985, the same week that a dying Rock Hudson flew to Paris on Concorde to try the experimental AIDS treatment, HPA-23. Days later, the first reviews of the film began appearing in newspapers, obscured behind disaster-movie style front pages featuring blown up pictures of the wasted Hudson, and announcements from UCLA immunologist Michael Gottlieb, such as “Mr Hudson is being evaluated and treated for complications of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.”

    During the first screaming years of the AIDS epidemic, gay characters in movies all but disappeared. Then they re-emerged, politicised and martyred, in films like Philadelphia and Longtime Companion. Post AIDS epidemic, they were reborn - infantile and gurgling at the breasts of mother figures like Jennifer Aniston and Madonna in films like The Object of My Affection and The Next Best Thing.

    Culturally, the AIDS epidemic rumbled in like a fire curtain, sealing off the danger zone - obvious, fruity homosexuality - and Kiss Of The Spider Woman lunged across the nationwide release line just in time. The film's main character Molina (William Hurt) was the last in a grand line of theatrical, flawed gay adults who didn’t shy away from their dark sides, their carnality and their sadnesses, and who had more bravery and spirit in each perfectly polished toenail than a thousand modern gay guys put together. The vital gay characters from films like Victim, The Boys in The Band, and Making Love were a breed apart from their washed-out post-AIDS epidemic cousins, and Molina/Hurt is the King of them all.


    Manuel Puig, the author of the original novel, hated it, predicting correctly that in the role of Molina “La Hurt is so bad she will probably win an Oscar”. However, while Puig's novel was innovative, anyone who’s seen the film first will find the far less lyrical book comparatively drab. --Mark Adnum http://outrate.net/outratespiderwoman.html

    Soundtrack by Wally Badarou

  3. Into the Night (1985) - John Landis [Amazon US]
    While caught up in the scandal resulting from the accident on the set of The Twilight Zone movie that killed actor Vic Morrow and two children, director John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) made this manic nighttime L.A. thriller with rising stars Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer. Goldblum plays an office worker with a dead-end job, an unfaithful wife, and a bad, bad case of insomnia. Unable to sleep, his midnight wanderings take him to the L.A. airport, where beautiful jewel smuggler Pfeiffer literally lands on his car. Fleeing Iranian terrorists (one is played by Landis), the two hit the road, and their adventures lead them to murder, mayhem, one scary hit man (David Bowie in a lurid, terrific cameo), and, of course, romance. Perhaps because of--or in spite of--the turmoil going on in his life, Landis fashioned a film unlike any of his previous (or later) safe Hollywood products; this is inventive, darkly comic, sincerely romantic, and L.A.-style sultry all the way. Landis's greatest success is perhaps in the mood of the film: he manages to convey that weary, dreamlike insomnia feeling of adrenaline bordering on exhaustion. Goldblum is at his deadpan best and, despite a bad haircut and '80s wardrobe, Pfeiffer shows the spark and beauty that would later make her a star. In support of Landis during his time of trouble, numerous directors, including David Cronenberg, Paul Mazursky, Don Siegel, Jonathan Demme, Lawrence Kasdan, and Jim Henson, made cameo appearances. --Mark Englehart for amazon.com review by Johnny Web

  4. Runaway Train (1985) - Andrei Konchalovsky [DVD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    RUNAWAY TRAIN is one of the rare good movies produced by the Laurel & Hardy of Hollywood production : Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. An original story of japanese director Akira Kurosawa filmed by Andrei Kontchalovsky, RUNAWAY TRAIN, 14 years after its theatrical release, is still steaming. With a breath-taking rythm, Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and a Rebecca DeMornay in her prime brunette youth, the Alaskan landscapes that Kontchalovsky transforms in a Siberian goulag, this movie is one of the more brilliant cat and mouse films of the last decades. Terribly pessimistic movie also since Jon Voight and Eric Roberts will only taste an illusion of liberty. An almighty God, the informatician that controls the railtracks, is leading the runaway train in any direction he wants. The shadow of Akira Kurosawa can be recognized behind this idea of men believing to be free while the Fate has already marked the end of the journey. The last scene of RUNAWAY TRAIN is a lyrical masterpiece worthy to be compared to the most visionary works of german director Werner Herzog or to the silent films of King Vidor. A haunting vision.--wdanthemanw for amazon.com

  5. Better Off Dead (1985) - Savage Steve Holland [DVD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Lane Myer (John Cusack) is stuck in a personal hell. A compulsive, adolescent Everyman growing up in Suburbia, USA, not only does he fail to make the prestigious high school ski team (again), but his beloved sweetheart, Beth, also leaves him for Roy, the team's popular, arrogant captain. If this isn't bad enough, he's stuck with a mother who frighteningly experiments--rather than cooks--with food, a brother who builds rockets out of models, and a best friend so desperate for drugs that he settles for snorting powdered snow. Faced with these prospects, Lane opts to end it all ... until he comes up with a ridiculous plan to gain acceptance and win Beth back. Director Savage Steve Holland warps this simple, clichéd premise, letting his wacky imagination twist it into a fairly original, slightly dark, and completely hilarious '80s teen comedy. Not as serious a "suicide-attempt" movie as, say, Harold and Maude but just as funny, the film's more a collection of screwball sketches than a narrative. Holland livens the high jinks with surrealistic fantasy touches, including Jell-O that crawls, a hamburger that sings Van Halen, drawings that mock its creator, Japanese race-car drivers who only speak Howard Cosell, and a psychotic paperboy seeking blood over a missing $2. Cusack puts the whole thing on his shoulders and carries the insanity with another one of his touching, obsessively romantic performances, which, along with Say Anything, The Sure Thing, and One Crazy Summer, made him the quintessential (and appealing) personification of lovestruck adolescence and suffering. --Dave McCoy for Amazon.com [...]

  6. My Life as a Dog - (1985) - Lasse Hallström [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    Simultaneously elegiac and raw, this uneven--but unforgettable--tearjerker tells the story of Ingemar, a 12-year-old working-class Swedish boy sent to live with his childless aunt and uncle in a country village when his mother falls ill. Beginning with several representations of the most savage, unsentimental domestic intensity imaginable (interplay between a sick parent and loving child has never looked anywhere near as explosive), My Life as a Dog wisely doesn't attempt to maintain that level of danger; rather, the change in locale to rural Sweden is accompanied by a slackening of pace and a whimsical breeziness. Nevertheless, the tragic condition of Ingemar's mother (and later, the indeterminate fate of Sickan, his beloved dog, consigned to a kennel) hovers over the narrative with a gripping portentousness. At times, director Lasse Hallström misplaces the rhythm, and the film threatens to degenerate into a series of rustic vignettes; luckily, Ingemar's relationship with Gunnar, the jocular yet somewhat sinister uncle who essentially adopts him, carries a fascinating charge. In Swedish, with subtitles. This was later rewritten, whether intentionally or not, by Spike Lee, who changed the gender of the child, set the story in New York City, added a 1970s soul soundtrack, and called it Crooklyn. --Miles Bethany for amazon.com

  7. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) - Susan Seidelman [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    This likeable, feminist screwball comedy about several incidents of mistaken identity is remembered more as the film that made Madonna a movie star. She's flip, hip, and energetic as Susan, the wild tramp with whom bored, suburban New Jersey housewife Roberta Glass (Rosanna Arquette) becomes obsessed after reading of her sexual conquests in the personal ads. Of course, since Madonna essentially played herself, the role's hardly a stretch. Director Susan Seidelman presents a series of zany incidents too complicated to recount, but the result is that Roberta swaps lifestyles with her fixation to explore New Wave culture on New York's Lower East Side. It's territory Seidelman knew well as her more offbeat, indie debut, Smithereens, reveled in the same setting. But where Smithereens took a more edgy approach to its characters, Susan is a fairy tale romantic comedy, and eventually becomes as conventional as the suburban characters it mocks by settling conflicts with predictable Hollywood formulae. Still, there's much to be enjoyed. The film's at its funniest when juxtaposing New York hip and New Jersey suburbia, like when Arquette's straight, suit-and-tie husband dances with Madonna in a punk club. The performances, too, are engaging, especially Arquette and Aidan Quinn, playing a romantic film projectionist who becomes her grubby Prince Charming. --Dave McCoy for amazon.com [...]

  8. Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) - Tim Burton [Amazon US]
    Former animator Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Batman, Mars Attacks!) made his feature directorial debut with this delightful comedy, coscripted by the late Phil Hartman (who also appears briefly as a reporter). Wisely, they keep the story simple so as to concentrate on the characters: Pee-wee's most prized possession, his shiny new bicycle, is stolen, and he sets off on an obsessive cross-country journey, determined to recover it. Pee-wee's awkward and childish attempts to be cool and mature ("I meant to do that!!") are hysterical, as when he tells his girlfriend (Elizabeth Daly): "There's things about me you don't know, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand.... I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel." Look for Saturday Night Live vet Jan Hooks in a hilarious bit as a tour guide at the Alamo. And beware of Large Marge! --Jim Emerson -- for amazon.com [...]

  9. Stephen King's Cat's Eye (1985) - Lewis Teague [Amazon US]
    This tells, three stories from the Point of View of a Cat. A Man (James Woods) try to give up smoking by going to a successful Company named Quitters, Inc by being stalked by a Business Man (Alan King) by making him trying to quit smoking. A Crazed Millionaire (Kenneth McMillian) pushed a Tennis Pro (Robert Hays) by making him walking all around the Buliding from a Ledge. The Cat is trying to protect a little girl (Drew Barrymore) by a Monster Troll by stealing Kids Breath and Murdering them.

    Directed by Lewis Teague (Alligator, Cujo, Navy Seals) made a fun, entertaining, dark humor, tongue in cheek horror film that becomes a Cult Classic. This wasn`t a huge hit in theaters back in 1985.--Christian Pelchat

  10. The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) - John Schlesinger (1985) [Amazon.com]
    Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn play two young men from wealthy families who sell government secrets to the Russians. Based on the true story of Christopher Boyce (Hutton) and Daulton Lee (Penn), this is sometimes edgy, occasionally humorous, and ultimately heartbreaking. Boyce, whose job it is to guard top-secret government papers, becomes disillusioned with the United States and decides to make a deal with the Soviets. His partner in espionage is propelled by less-ideal reasons for his acts, as Penn plays a grungy drug addict in it for the money. An intelligent script is matched on two counts: by John Schlesinger's tight direction and by provocative performances by both actors. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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