#Thisisyourfilm: 1983 – 1990

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Greetings, Glancers. So, if you’ve been lurking around blogs or tweets in the last few weeks, you may have noticed this hastag doing the rounds. It’s nothing exciting, but the brevity and transparency of the medium allows you to jot down your choices and share with the world in a matter of moments. What’s it all aboot? Thanks for asking. Basically, cryou pick your favourite film from every year that you have been plaguing Mother Earth with your presence. Me being me, most of the time, I have decided to branch out a little further so y’all can get to know and hate me a little more.

My branches will cover music and literature too. So, for every year I’ve (officially) been alive – starting in 1983 – I’ll pick my favourite movie, my favourite book, my favourite album, and my favourite song. There’s a caveat on the musical choices as I’m going to pick a song which is not from my favourite album, just to mix things up a little. On top of that, I’m not doing the music in any great detail – more of an afterthought so I’ll probably miss some songs I like more than the ones I give. The ‘official’ info may also be balls. From a film point of view, you’ll get an idea for what my future Oscars posts will look like when I get around to writing them and catch up to the 80s and beyond. As a final twist, I’ll give the top-grossing movie and best selling album/song of the year too, and see if there is any comparison. Today, it’s 1983 – 1990!

1983

Top Grossing Film: Return Of The Jedi.

My Favourite Film: Return Of The Jedi.

My favourite film from my favourite trilogy (yeah, suck it Empire fans), Jedi has all the adventure of the first movie, all the emotion of the second, tops off the series with a great ending, and has one of the most bad-ass fights sequences ever. The year also saw good efforts from Tony Scott, Coppola, Luc Besson, Cronenberg, Scorsese, Brian De Palma,

My Favourite Album: Piece Of Mind by Iron Maiden

Not too many great albums this year, but it did have possibly my favourite Maiden album.

Best Selling Album: Thriller by Michael Jackson (bit of a cheat as it was released in 82, but anyway..)

My Favourite Song: The Four Horsemen by Metallica

Or No Remorse or Seek And Destroy. All chugging, frantic epics showcasing the young band’s ability to play fast and hard, while changing it up throughout the song so that each is filled with ambition and vitality.

Best Selling Song: Karma Chameleon by Culture Club

My Favourite Book: The Witches, by Roald Dahl.

I have been reading this to my eldest daughter recently, and remembering just how creepy it actually is – Dahl beckoning the children to trust him with his promises of knowledge to protect you from the REAL WITCHES that grown-ups deny or don’t believe exist. I loved it when I was young, and now I pass it on. Also, for the books I didn’t bother going into research mode too much so I’m picking more or less off the top of my head – this means you’re going to see a lot of repetition of authors. Runner up?

1984:

Top Grossing Film: Beverly Hills Cop

My Favourite Film: The Terminator

Three films from this year feature in my top ten favourite films ever. The Terminator is probably my favourite film of all time, with A Nightmare On Elm Street being my favourite horror movie. But what about Police Academy? I know.. I know. The problem is you don’t know. You don’t know how hilarious this film is, you’ve been swayed by your smart-ass friends. It’s ok, you don’t have to tell them you watched it and laughed till your face fell off – just watch it and enjoy it on your own.

My Favourite Album: Ride The Lightning by Metallica

Losing a little of the youthful energy of their debut, this sees Metallica maturing and further bridging the gap between heavy music and commercial prowess.

Best Selling Album: Yep, Thriller again…

My Favourite Song: Summer Of ’69 by Bryan Adams

Why the hell not?

Best Selling Song: Careless Whisper by George Michael

My Favourite Book: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. King and Straub’s first joint effort is an instant classic – an adventure across worlds with a young boy as the major character. Featuring obvious parallels with The Dark Tower it stands on its own feet admirably and has a wealth of charm and magic.

1985:

Top Grossing Film: Back To The Future

My Favourite Film: Commando

It’s difficult to argue against Back To The Future but 1985 was a terrific year for now classic adventure and action film – many of which also featured in the top grossing list. 85 may well be the ‘most 80s year’ of the decade. It’s another Arnie winner for me, and one of the most watchable and fun and quotable pure action movies you’ll ever see. The plot is simply A to B, but necks are snapped, Sullys are dropped, buildings are blasted to bits, and steam is most definitely let off.

My Favourite Album: Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits

Actually a pretty crap year as far as I can tell, so I’m picking an album I haven’t even heard since my childhood and hoping it’s still good.

Best Selling Album: Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen

My Favourite Song: Into The Groove by Madonna

There was any number of Madonna songs and good pop hits by other artists this year… but lets just go for this one.

Best Selling Song: Shout by Tears For Fears

My Favourite Book: Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World, by Haruki Murakami. Probably still my favourite Murakami book, this one saw his one chapter per plot style perfected – with two central characters spread over two worlds drawing closer with every page. The inherent strangeness in the novel is downplayed by the semi-passive characters, and all the Murakami trademarks are there – music, food, sex, detachment, free will and fate etc. Throw in the converging plots and a clashing of realism with fantasy and we have a classic.

1986:

Top Grossing FilmTop Gun

My Favourite Film: Aliens

Even though there’s a vast number of personal favourites this year, nothing really comes close. Even the Arnie movie is crap. But imagine if Arnie had been in Aliens…. holy shit, just imagine.

My Favourite Album: Master of Puppets by Metallica

Metallica hit the big time with this one, belting out classic after classic while honing their craft and striving for ever more complex compositions.

Best Selling Album: Whitney Houston by Whitney Houston

My Favourite Song: Angel Of Death by Slayer

Listen. Just listen. As mind-blowing today as it has ever been – absolutely ferocious.

Best Selling Song: Rock Me Amadeus by Falco

My Favourite Book: IT, by Stephen King. Another year, another epic by the Master. It is longer than it needs to be and does ramble on and the start for too many pages. But beyond that, this is a terrifying tale with a large cast of characters which covers a group of friends on the cusp of adolescence and later, on the cusp of middle age. You all know the clown, but there is a lot more to fear here – bullies, psychos, sociopaths and more, and once you get over the slow start it flies to the finish like an arrow to the eye.

1987:

Top Grossing FilmThree Men And A Baby

My Favourite Film: Robocop

This was always going to be a tough year, given that Robocop and Predator both feature in my personal top 5 movies ever. So either one wins. Or both. Robocop is probably the better film but in my eyes they are both perfect.

My Favourite Album: Bad by Michael Jackson

Bad and Appetite For Destruction are arguably the two most important albums of my life, coming along before my later love of Nirvana and Manics. I can’t choose between them and they’re both flawless in my eyes. Bad does however have Just Good Friends which I have to skip EVERY TIME.

Best Selling Album: Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi

My Favourite Song: Think About You by Guns N Roses

A great year and a toss-up between anything from Appetite or Bad for my favourite song. I went for Bad for my favourite album so I’ve gone for G’n’R here – with a song no-one ever talks about.

Best Selling Song: Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi

My Favourite Book: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. The Japanese maestro’s most famous work, a nostalgic coming of age story about love and loss – naturally it’s much more than that. Runner Up? Clive Barker’s Weaveworld or James Elroy’s Black Dahlia or Stephen King’s The Drawing of The Three.

1988:

Top Grossing Film: Rain Man

My Favourite Film: Beetlejuice

I don’t think there were as many classics this year, or at least personal favourites. Burton was on the rise though, and Beetlejuice is still great.

My Favourite Album: … And Justice For All by Metallica

I didn’t plan to have all these Metallica albums listed, but that is how it has turned out. Production issues aside, this is the high point of the band – the creativity and intensity coming together to create one of metal’s finest moments.

Best Selling Album: Faith by George Michael

My Favourite Song: Eternal Flame by The Bangles

One of my favourite songs of all time and one which cemented my obsession with Susannah Hoffs.

Best Selling Song: A Groovy Kind Of Love by Phil Collins.

My Favourite Book: Queen Of The Damned by Anne Rice. My favourite thing about Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles has always been the large cast of characters and their collective and individual histories. With Queen Of The Damned she perfected this focus while maintaining a pulsating plot and a vast scope – we fly through past millennia in this story which acts as both an origin and an end to the first era of her novels – the books which follow seem minute in comparison. Runner up? Clive Barker’s Cabal or Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen. 

1989:

Top Grossing Film: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

My Favourite Film: Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure

There are a few films here i could just as easily have gone with, from blockbusters to cult hits, to indie dramas with fresh faces, but Bill & Ted has probably stayed with me the longest out of all of those with its nonsensical slacker humour and quotable script.

My Favourite Album: Like A Prayer by Madonna

Yeah, after only recently listening to it in full, it’s clear what a fantastic album it is.

Best Selling Album: Don’t Be Cruel by Bobby Brown

My Favourite Song: Patience by Guns N Roses

This had been chucked about by the band in previous years but saw an official release here – one of my favourites by them.

Best Selling Song: Like A Prayer by Madonna

My Favourite Book: The Great And Secret Show by Clive Barker. Barker finally gets in there. It’s another epic as the man continued to move out of the realms of overt horror and into fantasy. Runner Up? Banana Yoshimoto’s Goodbye Tsugumi.

1990:

Top Grossing Film: Ghost

My Favourite Film: Edward Scissorhands

Some great entries this year – some terrific standalones and sequels from around the globe, including many of my favourite comedies, but there’s only one winner for me.

My Favourite Album: Facelift by Alice In Chains

Slim pickings this year with metal already collapsing with inferior releases by the big bands (Rust In Peace and Seasons In The Abyss are still good) and with grunge bands not quite hitting the big time yet. Facelift is a fine debut though.

Best Selling Album: Rhythm Nation 1814 by Janet Jackson

My Favourite Song: Man Of Golden Words by Mother Love Bone

I couldn’t be arsed looking through for one-off singles so I just went for a great song from a hit/miss album.

Best Selling Song: Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor

My Favourite Book: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. No stranger to science fiction, and a writer who convinces the uninitiated of the possibility of such science leaving the realms of fiction (like Richard Matheson before him), Crichton never forgets that it’s a book about people too. And dinosaurs. Most importantly dinosaurs.

Let us know in the comments what your favourite movies are for each year of your life so far, or alternatively get in on the action and write a blog post or tweet about it. The you can be cool too!

Hansel And Gretel

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I’d had this recorded on my box for about five years but finally got around to watching it in a futile attempt to make space. I’m glad I did because Hansel And Gretel is yet another unique and beautiful thriller from South Korea which, while not reaching the heights of Chan Wook Park or Kim Jee Woon, is still a film which raises many questions and merges stunning cinematography with ugly violence.

The film follows Eun Soo, a twenty something man who seemingly fears commitment or settling down with a family. In the film’s opening moments he is arguing on the phone with his girlfriend who is recently pregnant, while driving to visit his own sick mother. The argument causes him to crash his car, and he wakes up some time later in the middle of a dense forest. A young girl finds him and beckons him to follow her home, and as he is lost, hurt, and disoriented he has little choice. Upon reaching the house, things are a little bizarre and tense – the house is filled with kids toys, games, sweets, and chocolate, and the parents of the three children seem overly cheery yet nervous. Before long Eun Soo finds himself unable to leave the forest as if he is trapped by some mystical force, and a series of odd events make him question who the children really are and if he will ever escape.

Naturally I don’t want to give too much of the plot away; the film has twists and turns and constantly forces you to question who the victim is, what the motive is, what the reason for the situation could be, and how it will turn out for everyone. All is eventually revealed and in true Fairy Tale style we… well, we get an ending – decide for yourself if it is a happily ever after. The performances from the children are particularly good – again making you question their purpose, and the film cleverly holds back from anything too obviously supernatural until the final minutes. Special credit to Shim Eun Kyung as the eldest daughter for her mature performance. There is a dream-like quality to the film – from the sets to the cinematography, the music, and the moments where the characters seem to lose track of themselves, it does feel like stumbling into a modern, dark fairy tale where no-one can be trusted and everything is trying to eat you. The film lulls, enchants, and intrigues like all good stories should and each shot is set up to look pristine and artful. This isn’t a tale of woodcuts and creatures, more a child’s vision of an ideal world which engulfs and corrupts whatever and whomever it contacts.

Hansel And Gretel may be more difficult to get your hands on than other adult oriented fairytales such as Pan’s Labyrinth but it’s one to grab if you can find it and indulge in another dark fable which reminds us why we love such stories in the first place. Let us know in the comments if you have seen Hansel And Gretel!

Best Actor – 1970

Official Nominations: George C Scott. Ryan O Neill. Mervyn Douglas. Jack Nicholson. James Earl Jones.

Well, here we are. One of the most controversial Oscar moments arrived in this category this year when George C Scott, having been awarded the win, declined to accept it and instead derided the whole ceremony as ‘a meat parade’ more interested in making money. It’s difficult to argue with him. Fear not, that’s one of the reasons I started this damn thing, so that i could pick my winners based (almost) purely on individual performance and quality. No nonsense about people who should have won in previous years, no career wins, no wins or nominations for those who campaigned hardest. The hardest part of that for me is knowing which actors etc have won or not won in later years and falling into the trap of giving awards to those who I feel deserved one.

But enough of that for now. Scott picked up the win for an iconic performance of an icon in Patton. It is Scott’s defining performance, a wide-eyed, crazed, and shouting portrayal of patriotism in war time, and it’s difficult to argue against the win. We do have two other potential winners in this category, with James Earl Jones astounding in The Great White Hope – he was already familiar with the role having won awards for his stage performances. Equally notable is Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, perhaps uncharacteristic compared to the later roles and performances he would give, but he is undeniably charismatic and turns Bobby Dupea into a fully formed cult figure. The final two nominations are rather odd, and as much as I like both actors, there isn’t really any reason for them being nominated here. Ryan O’Neal plays a rich but kind jock hearthrob who falls in love with a smart ass working class girl. He’s fine, but you can imagine anyone else in the role. Finally, Mervyn Douglas (who had already won a supporting award and would pick up one more by the end of the decade) gets a lead nomination for what could arguably be another supporting role. In I Never Sang For My Father he plays a sort of crotchety old man who is seeing life and control slip away, and who doesn’t want his son to move away. It’s an okay performance, but it’s not one that stands any chance of winning here.

My Winner: George C Scott

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My Nominations: George C Scott. James Earl Jones. Jack Nicholson. Peter Boyle. George Segal.

This is quite tough as there honestly are not too many other notable performances this year  – I could have had Richard Harris for Cromwell, John Cassavetes for Husbands, Sutherland or Gould for MASH, but I don’t think they are as strong as what I have picked. Therefore my only additions are Peter Boyle as Joe and George Segal for Loving – two worthy additions, though only Boyle really stands a chance of winning.

My Winner: George C Scott

Who would you choice as the Best Actor of 1970? Let us know in the comments!

Baskin

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A Turkish horror movie about a bunch of cops who somehow end up in Hell? Sign me (the hell) up! Except, that’s not really what happens. This is a Turkish Horror film – yep, but one which has more in common with the surreal elements of Lynch and Dali. It follows a bunch of cops, but they’re all assholes. Whether or not they end up in Hell is up for interpretation, like the rest of the movie. Basically I was going in expecting Aliens, but ended up experiencing a cross between Vinyan and Triangle – watch the latter, not the former.

What the balls am I talking about anyway? The opening of the film is promising, evocative of Argento, and of Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness. A young boy wakes in bed, disturbed by female moans coming from his parents’ bedroom. After creeping through his house, a withered, robed arm emerges from the boy’s bedroom and he screams – standard nightmare fare. The film cuts to what appears to be a remote and rundown restaurant where five policemen are talking about football and their sexual histories. There is a brief altercation with the staff where it becomes apparent that the cops may be abusing their power. Additionally, one of the cops suffers a momentary psychological breakdown. Also; frogs. A call for support comes in from another patrol, and the group heads off in their van to help and on route the group comments on the local lore and spooky stories surrounding the village they are driving to. After a few bumps they reach their destination – which turns out to be their FINAL DESTINATION!

It’s a film of two halves, as the old cliche goes, building up the characters, such as they are, and then throwing them into danger. The second half is clearly the more interesting and vibrant and violent. It’s where the director pulls down his fly and whips out six inches of tricks for his and our pleasure. The ‘Hell’ is almost a Clive Barker vision – from the perspective of mixing pleasure and pain, not of demons. It is a place of madness, inhabited by hooded, savaged, bandaged figures who writhe, fuck, torture, and tear. Director Can Evrenol isn’t outlandish with his visuals, perhaps due to budget constraints than creative preferences, but does lend a memorable darkness and gory finale. The place is a type of Hell, but it could just as easily be a building filled with cult members or good old fashioned movie crazies. What they want is unclear – the script spinning off vague poetry and debauched philosophy. The interesting moments for me are where time becomes loose and the film starts to collapse in upon itself – several characters seem aware of this slippage and the film bounces about between time and space leaving the viewer grasping for solid ground. The chief bad guy hints at fore knowledge of the characters and events and there other multiple hints that the film is only going to end one way – I don’t know if what happens was meant to be a twist as it is a fairly familiar trope which I called out about fifteen minutes before it happened. Still, I do enjoy stories of this nature, where time becomes a toy of some greater force.

Gore fans will flock to this, but it isn’t your standard slasher fare – it does have more in common with the more stylized and artistic films of the 70s and 80s – look to Italy for more famous work, but it doesn’t revel in carnage or come close to the levels of blood letting of recent US hits. The performances are fine too, the only standout being Mehmet Cerrahoglu as the creepy little leader – this is surely partly to do with his appearance as well as his acting ability, though there is some Col. Kurtz channeling in there. It’s a film which will find a cult audience and do well with critics, and it will be good to see where Evrenol can go next – anyone who aims for a unique or, at worst, different from the mainstream, visual and storytelling approach gets my vote, even if those approaches have been witnessed on the genre fringes for decades.

Have you seen Baskin? Let us know in the comments!

Ted

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I like Family Guy as much as the next person who watches maybe five episodes a year. It’s fine, the odd piece makes me giggle, and I don’t mind the reliance on the ‘remember the time’ tangent jokes as much as the over reliance on pop culture references. Having seen the trailer for Ted I had no great desire to watch it, but looking for a laugh one night I decided to stream and and hope for the best. I’m glad I did because there are plenty of laugh out loud moments and good performances, and it was a strong outing given the recent dirge of comedy that we seem to be mixed up in at the moment.

I’ve always liked Mark Walberg, I think Mila Kunis is talented, and Seth MacFarlane is the very definition of hit and miss. Ted is clearly more hit – merging the toilet and drug humour with the heart which makes hits like Dumb and Dumber work so well. The difficult trick of making us like these characters is pulled off effortlessly so we have no problem spending a considerable running time with them. Even with the story of a teddy bear coming to life to stay with a child through to adulthood, the plot hits all the notes you’ve seen in every other buddy movie  – the inevitable break-up and recovery for example – but it’s all done with charm and talent. McHale, Ribisi, Minks and others are welcome additions, and all of the Family Guy-esque cultural throwbacks are tied nicely into the plot and the characters. The script allows for lightning fast delivery so that you don’t notice or care when certain jokes fall flat. Crucially, this energy is consistent from start to finish and it never feels like just a collection of jokes or one-liners or a story with the odd laugh thrown in.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Ted!

1970 Academy Awards – An Introduction

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Phew, we’ve finally made it to the 70s! We’re firmly into the ‘New Hollywood’ phase now, with many of the new and up and coming directors, writers, and performers having already made a impact and yet more popping out of the woodwork. The 43rd Academy Awards were of course the subject of some controversy with George C Scott becoming the first person to reject his award and launching into a tirade about the ceremony. Scott’s Patton was the big hit of the night with 7 awards and 10 nominations, while Airport and Love Story were not far behind.

As always, we got a roster of hosts and performers – John Huston, Steve McQueen, Goldie Hawn, and Maggie Smith were among those handing out awards, while Petula Clarke and Glen Campbell entertained. Will Patton reign supreme in my selections, or will there be a new pretender to its crown? Stay tuned over the coming weeks to find out!

Stripes

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I think I have come to a shocking revelation; I’m not a huge Bill Murray fan. Sure I like him, and I enjoy plenty of the movies he has been in – particularly in the early days, but he’s rarely laugh out loud funny for me. Stripes is another good Billy Murray movie where he is supported by an terrific comedy cast – it is those guys who evoke the most laughter from me and I always get that gnawing suspicion that this film, and even a few other Murray classic might have been better with someone else in his place. Blasphemy, I know! I’ve no idea who that other person may be but still, that suspicion rears its head, chomping away at me and saying everyone else is laughing, why aren’t you laughing you weirdo? Stripes is one late 70s, early 80s cult comedy classic that had always somehow passed me by – while plenty of the films made around the same time by the same cast, writers, directors are ones I grew up with, Stripes is a film I only came to in recent years.

Murray plays a deadbeat taxi driver who loses his job, girlfriend, and apartment after a particularly bad day – in classic Murray fashion this all drifts off his back in a carefree way. Looking for something to pass the time rather than any higher notion, he encourages his friend (Harold Ramis) to join the army with him. As this is the 80s, they set off and hi-jinks ensue. We meet a variety of cadets and commanders, as portrayed by some of Hollywood’s finest and a fair few up and coming comedy stars – Warren Oates, PJ Soles, Judge Reinhold, and John Candy are some of the recognizable faces. Like any other number of movies of similar ilk, we get training skits showing how Ramis and Murray rub against authority but eventually, and nonsensically, they complete training and are sent on a top secret mission.

To the film’s credit, it resolves the conflict between maintaining a semblance of plot while the slacker skits are played out – the comedians are given free-rein, but only as much as the plot will allow. The plot is by the by, but it’s enough to keep us engaged whereas a series of unrelated bits would have just fallen flat. The comedy mixes slapstick with deadpan slacker humour, light satire, visual gags, and mini stand-up routines. It doesn’t go the juvenile way of Police Academy though there are moments of raunch and sex comedy, and the general tone is one of playful anarchy. If it was one I grew up with, like the aforementioned cop series, or some of John Candy’s hits, then I’m sure I would hold more fondness for this, but watching as a new customer it gets a few laughs, chuckles, and holds the attention, but not much more than that.

Is Stripes one of your favourite comedy’s? How do you think it ranks alongside other comedies of the time and subsequent slacker type movies? Let us know in the comments!