Re-Watch: Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing
Director: Emile Ardolino
Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Cast: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston, Jane Brucker, Kelly Bishop, Lonny Price, Max Cantor
Seen on: 19.1.2018
1-gif-review

Plot:
Baby (Jennifer Grey) is going to a holiday resort with her family for the summer. Big things are expected of her: her adoring father Jake (Jerry Orbach) sees her rescuing the world pretty soon, a fact that her sister Lisa (Jane Brucker) who is more interested in boys than politics, sees with jealousy. Baby stumbles into the lives of the resort’s dance instructors during her stay. Trying to help with their problems, it puts her in the path of Johnny (Patrick Swayze). They fall in love, but things are not easy.

I have watched Dirty Dancing approximately a million times, but I think when I saw it this time, it was the first time that I didn’t see it in the German dub, but in the English original. That, combined with the fact that I’m a little older now, gave me an entirely new appreciation for the film: it’s not only a perfectly wonderful romance, it’s a huge political and feminist statement as well.

Continue reading
Advertisements

Moonstruck (1987)

Moonstruck
Director: Norman Jewison
Writer: John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Julie Bovasso, John Mahoney, Louis Guss
Seen on: 30.12.2017
1-gif-review

Plot:
Loretta (Cher) is a bookkeeper who lives with her parents (Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis). Her boyfriend Johnny (Danny Aiello) is slightly boring, but definitely dependable. And he just proposed to Loretta. Loretta agrees to marry him but insists on following the old traditions because she is sure that her first husband died because they didn’t stick to traditions. Johnny agrees, but has to leave to go to Sicily to tend to his dying mother. In the meantime, he asks Loretta to see his brother Ronnie (Nicolas Cage) and invite him to the wedding. Loretta does so and finds a passionate, hot-headed man who turns all her plans upside down.

I can imagine that Moonstruck came across as charming when it came out, but I don’t think it aged very well. I didn’t get into it in any case.

Continue reading

Cry Freedom (1987)

Cry Freedom
Director: Richard Attenborough
Writer: John Briley
Based on: the autobiographical books by Donald Woods
Cast: Kevin KlineDenzel WashingtonPenelope WiltonKevin McNallyJohn ThawJosette SimonJohn MatshikizaTimothy WestJohn HargreavesZakes Mokae
Seen on: 10.4.2017

Plot:
Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is a journalist in South Africa. He’s part of the white establishment, but despite his own critical views of the black population’s struggles for equality and freedom, he is professional enough to listen what they have to say. When he meets Steve Biko (Denzel Washington) in person, he is finally convinced of the worthiness of their cause. After Biko is killed in police custody, Woods writes a book about him that brings a lot of trouble to himself and his family.

Cry Freedom is a film about an important and fascinating issue with a great cast that, unfortunately, chose the wrong perspective to tell its story. It could have been so much more if it had actually been about Biko and his activism, and not Biko’s effect on a white man.

Continue reading

Yeelen [Brightness] (1987)

Yeelen
Director: Souleymane Cissé
Writer: Souleymane Cissé
Cast: Issiaka KaneAoua SangareNiamanto SanogoBalla Moussa KeitaSoumba TraoreIsmaila SarrYoussouf Tenin CisséKoke Sangare
Seen on: 10.8.2016

Plot:
Niankoro (Issiaka Kane) and his mother (Soumba Traore) have fled from his father Soma (Niamanto Sanogo), a powerful sorcerer. When Soma is starting to catch up with them, Niankoro departs on a journey to visit his uncle and get his advice. In his pocket is a magical artefact that could potentially give him the power to beat his father – and is the reason that he is pursued so relentlessly by him.

Yeelen draws on Malian myth(s) to tell a story that is deeply embedded into Malian culture and tradition and to tell it in a way that is decisively not “Western”, not Hollywood. To the European eye, that makes it sometimes a little harder to understand, but also fascinating.

yeelen Continue reading

Prince of Darkness (1987)

Prince of Darkness
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, Anne Marie Howard, Ann Yen, Ken Wright, Dirk Blocker, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, Peter Jason
Seen on: 22.5.2016

Plot:
After the death of a priest, Father Loomis (Donald Pleasence) goes to his church and finds a weird container full of a green liquid in the basement. Nonplussed, he asks university professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) for help in analyzing whatever that liquid is. Birack packs up equipment and a group of grad students from various fields. They set up camp in the church and get to work. But it seems the liquid isn’t something that science can deal with, but evil itself.

Prince of Darkness didn’t impress me much, I have to admit. While I enjoyed the science and religion blend at first, I just thought that it all got a bit much – and I wasn’t really able to go along with a lot of it.

princeofdarkness Continue reading

Near Dark (1987)

Near Dark
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red
Cast: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein
Seen on: 21.4.2016 (totally missed to review this one, so a late addition)

Plot:
Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) lives a rather quite life with his family on their farm. But then he meets Mae (Jenny Wright). She’s beautiful and mysterious and he falls for her head over heels. Happy with any way that means spending time with her, he offers her a ride home. As dawn is fast approaching on their ride, he asks her for a kiss – but Mae bites him instead, turning him into a vampire. Before the sun rises, Caleb finds himself with Mae and her group, facing a completely new life that is much more than he bargained for.

I had never seen Near Dark, so when the Filmmuseum showed it, I jumped at the chance. But this might be another instance where you have to have seen the film in younger, more formative years to really fall in love with it. I enjoyed it, but not much more.

neardark Continue reading

Re-Watch: Spaceballs (1987)

Spaceballs
Director: Mel Brooks
Writer: Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan, Ronny Graham
Cast: Bill Pullman, John Candy, Daphne Zuniga, Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks, Dick Van Patten, George Wyner, Michael Winslow, Joan Rivers, Lorene Yarnell Jansson, John Hurt
Seen on: 22.12.2015

Plot:
Planet Spaceball has a problem: they are running out of breathable air. That’s why President Skroob (Mel Brooks) sends Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to the neighboring planet Druidia to take their air. Dark Helmet kidnaps Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) of Druidia to ransom the air, but her father King Roland (Dick Van Patten) decides to hire Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his trusted sidekick Barf (John Candy) instead to rescue Vespa.

I watched Spaceballs a lot when I was a kid (certainly more often than Star Wars which it spoofs) but it has been years since I last watched it (it is still one of the films that gets quoted in my friends’ group from time to time). And I don’t think I ever saw it in English before. So when they showed it for a night in the Gartenbaukino, in honor of the release of Episode VII I figured it was the perfect moment to revisit it. And I still loved it.

spaceballs

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Re-Watch: Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe
Director: Gary Goddard
Writer: David Odell,Stephen Tolkin, Gary Goddard
Based on: the action figures
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella, Meg Foster, Billy Barty, Courteney Cox, Robert Duncan McNeill, Jon Cypher, Chelsea Field, James Tolkan, Christina Pickles
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 19.9.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Skeletor (Frank Langella) has taken over He-Man’s (Dolph Lundgren) world which is slowly falling to pieces. But Skeletor’s claim to fame can be halted if He-Man manages to break his hold on the throne of Castle Greyskull before the moon is properly aligned for the last transfer of power. But backed into a corner, He-Man has no choice but to flee through a portal opened by Gwildor’s (Billy Barty) cosmic key. Together with Duncan (John Cypher), Teela (Chelsea Field) and Gwildor himself, He-Man finds himself stranded on our earth and the cosmic key lost. Will he be able to return in time?

We used to love He-Man when we were children and we watched this film so often, my parents still quote “I HAVE THE POWER” at us. But it had been 20 years or so since I last watched the film, so I was extremely excited when I saw that it was included in the /slash’s program this year (preceded by a hilarious, if slighlty overlong, live enactment with action figures of one of the audio plays that were also produced in the franchise). But there was also a sense of trepidation there: how bad would it really be? How many of my fond memories are tainted by nostalgia and how much is actually fun?

It turns out, I need not have feared. While Masters of the Universe isn’t exactly a cinematic masterpiece, it is an extremely decent film, with a high entertainment factor and a lot of heart.

mastersoftheuniverse Continue reading

Nekromantik [Necromantic] (1987)

Nekromantik
Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Writer: Jörg Buttgereit, Franz Rodenkirchen
Cast: Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt, Colloseo Schulzendorf
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29./30.4.2015
[Review by Maynard.]

Plot:
Robert (Bernd Daktari Lorenz) works for a clean-up crew. Their main field of activity: cleaning up bodies from the street. Robert revels in his job and brings home every little piece he can take unseen – much to the joy of his girlfriend Betty (Beatrice Manowski). It’s only when Robert manages to bring hom an entire body that the trouble starts between the both of them: Betty obviously prefers the corpse over Robert, especially in bed.
[Btw, if you don’t care about spoilers and don’t mind a bit of grossness, I really recommend reading the imdb plot synopsis which is all kinds of wondrous.]

Nekromantik takes pretty much every taboo surrounding death and sexuality and revels in them. That is sometimes really gross, but mostly it manages to be really funny.

Nekromantik Continue reading

Sien nui yau wan [A Chinese Ghost Story] (1987)

Sien nui yau wan
Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Writer: Gai Chi Yuen
Based on: Songling Pu‘s story Liaozhai Zhiyi
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Joey Wang, Ma Wu, Wai Lam, Siu-Ming Lau
[/slash colleague cornholio1980 reviewed it here.]

Plot:
Ling Choi San (Leslie Cheung) is a dutiful, timid tax collector. When he has to travel to a small village to do his job, nobody really wants to put up with him. Since he depended on the collection to have money for his trip back, he ends up spending the night at the haunted Lan Ro Temple. There he finds Lip Siu Sin (Joey Wang), a beautiful yet mysterious young woman and Yin Chek Hsia (Ma Wu), a taoist priest who is battling the evil that is lurking in the temple – and to which Lip is intricately connected.

I expected something quite different from A Chinese Ghost Story than the film I got. I was thinking along the lines of Hero (and the first few minutes seemed to prove that expectation), what we got was closer to Kung Fu Hustle. It took me a second to readjust, but I was very willing to go on that fun ride instead. And I really enjoyed it.

a-chinese-ghost-story Continue reading