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From Top Gun to Stand By Me: why the 1980s is my favourite film decade

Charmaine Blake

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It was the best of times for action, romance, teen and time-travel movies. It was also surprisingly liberal and diverse. But most of all it was fun

Im such a raging narcissist (or sociopath) that I generally assume my taste is the same as everyone elses. How can people possibly think differently from me? Obviously everyone prefers Albert Finneys Poirot to David Suchets Poirot, Blur to Oasis, hard cheese to soft cheese, Anchorman to Knocked Up, 80s goofball Tom Hanks to 90s Oscar winner Tom Hanks, right? Right?

So when I was asked to write about my favourite decade for films I sighed and said, Well, I guess the 80s have already been taken, right? Because, obviously, my favourite film decade is everyones favourite film decade, right?

Wrong. It turned out I was the only 80s taker, which amazed and rather depressed me. Because the truth is, as much as I have slowly come to accept that some (insane) people truly do prefer brie to cheddar, I do not believe anyone actually doesnt love 80s films. Theyre just too much of a snob to admit it.

Michael
Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/20th Century Fox

Eighties films have a weirdly terrible reputation. Sandwiched between the solemn 70s and the pretentious 90s, they are seen as neon coloured popcorn schlock, the opposite of art, made in an era when producers took over from screenwriters and suddenly hedonistic bozos like Don Simpson dominated instead of auteurs such as Francis Ford Coppola. And yet, 80s movies have endured in a way disposable junk really should not. And thats for a simple reason: 80s movies are FUN.

Sure, its nice to feel that warm glow of superiority you get from watching, I dont know, Five Easy Pieces (look at me! Im watching a quite depressing movie about an oil rig worker. Bravo me!), but, lets be honest, its not exactly a laugh. When you want to kick back and genuinely enjoy yourself, its the 80s you reach for, and, yes, I said you because I know for a fact all of you highbrow Guardian readers still watch Top Gun, The Blues Brothers and Romancing the Stone, no matter how hard you try to hide those DVDs behind your Michael Cimino Collection.

And that is for a very simple reason: no other decade has made fun movies as brilliantly as the 80s. While the pitches are easily parodied firefighters who fight ghosts instead of fire; poor girl wants to go to the prom the scripts, at their best, and many were the best, are masterpieces of concision, storytelling and boiled to the bone pure comedy. Seriously, go back and look at Back to the Future. Here is a film that should be confusing but isnt, should require endless exposition but slips it in almost unnoticed, has multiple tones going on but they never feel crossed or weird, and has some of the funniest dialogue ever committed to screen. And dont even get me started on the casting. BTTF is the most perfectly cast movie of all time, yes, even beating The Godfather (dont @ me). Snobs snort about how 80s movies are just catchphrases, but a catchphrase is just a really memorable line, and the lines in 80s movies ring through the decades because they are bang on: Ill have what shes having, As you wish, Life moves pretty fast. If you dont stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Eighties movies mastered the art of being both smart and silly. For that reason, they perfected the most fun genres. The 80s owns the action comedy (Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, Indiana Jones), the romantic comedy (When Harry Met Sally , Say Anything), the teen movie (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Buellers Day Off, Dirty Dancing, Heathers), the time travel movie (Back to the Future, Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure), the Christmas movie (Die Hard, Scrooged, Gremlins), the odd-couple movie (Lethal Weapon, Trading Places, Midnight Run), the fish out of water movie (ET, The Terminator, Coming to America), the John Candy movies (Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck), the Cher movies (Moonstruck, Mask), films about childhood (Hope and Glory, Stand By Me, Big), the superhero movie (Batman), the womens weepies (Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment), the unacknowledged homoerotica movies (Top Gun, Three Men and a Baby), the musical montages (Ferris Buellers Day Off, Flashdance, Top Gun) … I mean, I could continue all day but Id run out of internet.

From
From left, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in 9 to 5. Photograph: Fox/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

But I would like to add one more infrequently acknowledged truth about 80s, and one that Guardian readers should really take into account here: yes, there was some terrible racist (Sixteen Candles, 48 Hours) and misogynistic (Fatal Attraction) garbage in 80s movies, but on the whole they look astonishingly liberal, especially compared with what we see today in mainstream movies. They took on abortion (Dirty Dancing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), social class (Pretty in Pink, Dirty Dancing again) and feminism (9 to 5, The Witches of Eastwick, Tootsie). When was the last time you saw a blockbuster comedy at your cinema starring an all-black cast? The answer is 1989, because that is when Coming to America was released. And when was the last time a black actor was the biggest star of his decade? That would be the 80s again, with Eddie Murphy, a man so talented he is still, alas, in a category of one.

These kinds of novelties keep 80s movies feeling so fresh, but with the fun built in. So, frankly, you can take your Citizen Kanes and your Deer Hunters and you can stick em. You want to spend your Friday night with Apocalypse Now? Knock yourself out. Ill be over here, hooting away to Trading Places. And you know youll end up wandering over and hooting next to me on the sofa. Pass the frozen orange juice.

Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (And Why We Dont Learn Them from Movies Any More) by Hadley Freeman is out now.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/27/1980s-favourite-film-decade-top-gun-stand-by-me-hadley-freeman

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How The Blair Witch Project changed horror for ever

Charmaine Blake

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The movie’s marketing took advantage of trust in the early internet, but fake news isn’t what it used to be

“We will never get a movie like The Blair Witch Project again. Having said that, weve had dozens of movies like The Blair Witch Project. In the 20 years since its release, it has transformed the horror landscape, and more besides. Found footage is now a sub-genre in itself thanks to it. How many horror movies have we seen claiming: This all really happened, honest? How many occult symbols and folk myths have crossed our screens? How many gung-ho teens have set off on an adventure, never to return? And how many times has a gimmicky horror reaped rewards for virtually no outlay? Blair Witch did not invent all these tricks but it put them together to create a phenomenon. It is the 21st centurys Exorcist………………………………………………….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/apr/08/how-the-blair-witch-project-changed-horror-for-ever

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Yes, ‘New Mutants’ is still coming, Probably.

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Jean Grey comes into her powers in ‘Dark Phoenix’.

Image: 20th Century Fox

“The X-Men are part of the Disney family now, and never has that felt clearer than at the studio’s CinemaCon presentation Wednesday.

Disney touted both Dark Phoenix and New Mutants as part of its upcoming slate, alongside the usual Avengers and Star Wars and Pixa

What exactly the X-Men’s future looks like at the Mouse House, though, remains unclear.

Deadpool clearly isn’t going anywhere. “You’ll be seeing more of Deadpool in the years ahead,” promised studio chairman Alan Horn, after sharing Ryan Reynolds’ cheeky tweet about Fox joining Disney.

And New Mutants, despite delayed release dates, reports of reshoots, and rumors of a straight-to-streaming distribution plan, does seem to be headed to cinemas — it was included on a slide of Disney’s 2019 theatrical releases.

But the core X-Men franchise led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Sophie Turner is evidently coming to a conclusion. Dark Phoenix, out this summer, was described by 20th Century Fox’s Emma Watts as “the perfect sendoff” to the X-Men series……………………………………………………….”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/dark-phoenix-deadpool-xmen-disney-cinemacon/

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Dog assassins are a thing in ‘John Wick: Chapter 3’ and holy crap we can’t wait

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These good boys are ready to help. Also, John Wick and Sofia are there.

Image: Lionsgate

“The entire John Wick franchise was set into motion by the death of a dog. Now, in John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the canine species finally gets a shot at revenge.

In footage revealed exclusively at CinemaCon, two Belgian shepherds owned by Sofia (Halle Berry) take an active role in the fight, bringing down the bad guys who would harm Sofia and John (Keanu Reeves).

The scene opens with the two human assassins in what looks like a desolate, deserted castle, preparing for some dramatic event to come.

Parabellum knows exactly how long we’ve been waiting to see some dogs fuck some shit up.

Then the henchmen arrive and the shooting starts, and Sofia’s dogs spring into action. They race ahead to take down minions for Sofia to shoot. One mauls a guy, sending him off the side of a high wall.

At one point, Sofia spots a baddie coming at them from above — so she bends over and lets one of her dogs springboard off her back, leap onto that high wall, and attack that dude directly.

Mind you, Sofia and John are in the battle as well, frantically running around and shooting at nameless villains in the gracefully choreographed way we’ve come to expect from these films………………………………………………………………….”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/john-wick-chapter-3-parabellum-dog-assassins/

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