Sunday, January 06, 2008

Greatest Films of the '80s

A few nights ago (New Year's Eve to be precise, but that's soooo last year) I watched part of a programme on TV which claimed to be a rundown of the greatest films of the 1980s. Except that the films covered were far from "great". A more appropriate title would have been "Biggest Box Office blockbusters of the '80s". Ok, they did pick a few decent films like Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Crocodile Dundee and Rain Man, but such titles didn't fit in well with crap such as Top Gun, Terminator or Breakfast Club. Also on the list was Back to the Future, which I suppose is a great film if you're a 12-year old, (which I was back in 1986 when it was showing at the local cinema), but when you're 34 it doesn't quite have the same appeal.

Rather than getting experts like Mark Cousins, Derek Malcolm or Philip French in to talk about the films, the celebrated luminaries on the show included ex-junkie and desperately unfunny "comedian", the highly irritating Russell Brand. Incidentally, a friend suggested going to see the new St Trinians film which has just come out. When I mentioned to her that Brand was in it, she quickly changed her mind.

So off the top of my head, without thinking to much about it or googling anything, I've come up with my own top 11 films of the '80s. In no particular order:

The Mission - Roland Joffe's moving tale of 18th century Jesuit missionaries living amongst a tribe in Indians in the South American jungles and their battle against the colonial powers of Spain and Portugal, who with the support of the church hierarchy wish to enslave the natives and carve up the territories for their own selfish gains. Bob de Niro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson on top form as Jesuit priests, spectacular location filming in Colombia and Argentina and a haunting soundtrack by one of the world's greatest composers Ennio Morricone.

Cry Freedom - Dickie Attenborough's inspirational account of the life and death of South African political activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington) and his friendship with white anti-apartheid campaigner Donald Woods (Kevin Kline)

Withnail and I - Paul McGann and Richard E Grant get up to high jinks as two unemployed actors on a mad weekend at a remote country cottage.

The King of Comedy - Bob de Niro as the wannabe comedian who'll do anything to get on TV - one of Martin Scorcese's most underrated films.

Once Upon A Time in America - Master of the spaghetti western Sergio Leone turns his attention to immigrants and gangsterism in New York from prohibition to the present day in a 4-hour epic spanning several decades. Memorable soundtrack by Leone's long time collaborator Ennio Morricone.

OK, that's 5 so far. I don't have time to list the rest, so I'll do them in a future post.



Chekov said...

Not wishing to pre-empt your list, but I would add:

Goodfellas (not sure about this, but it must have been around the tailend of the 80s)
Raging Bull
Blade Runner

And it's a bit obvious, but go on then - The Empire |Strikes Back.

mope monster said...

Indeed - I do find Brand highly nauseating and incredibly unfunny. Enough to put me off a film if he is in it.

The Wheat (a feline queen) said...

I wouldn't touch Brand with the tips my beautifully manicured claws. He reminds me of the pieces of excrement in my litter tray.

CW said...

Some good choices there, Chekov. As far as I know Goodfellas came out around 1991/92, so it would definitely be on my greatest films of the '90s list. In terms of sci-fi/fantasy I'd have Highlander somewhere up there (just the original, not any of the sequels) - a cracking soundtrack by Queen, and Sean Connery as a medieval Spanish metallurgist with immaculate Scottish accent!

Mope Monster/Wheat/Lady Fotherington Smethers in disguise - exactly.