Category Archives: 1984 Movie reviews

Once Upon a Time in America-1984

Once Upon a Time in America-1984

Director-Sergio Leone

Starring-Robert De Niro, James Woods

60028306

Reviewed January 19, 2015

Grade: B+

An epic film, close to four hours in length, Once Upon a Time in America is a film directed by Sergio Leone who also directed the masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West and numerous other westerns starring Clint Eastwood. This particular film is in a different vein- this time Leone explores the crime drama genre. The film tells the story of a group of Jewish friends who become involved in organized crime in 1920’s New York City. The main story is told via flashbacks as the central character, Noodles, played by Robert De Niro, returns to Brooklyn thirty years later to reunite with his former mobster friends. The film has been met with controversy since at the time of its release the film was butchered and over an hour of footage cut making the film largely uneven. Fortunately, the restored version is available for viewing.

Once Upon a Time in America is underappreciated and deserves mention as a very good crime epic drama. It has the same feel as does The Godfather and The Godfather Part II and the role De Niro plays is not too different from Vito Corleone in Part II. The film centers mainly on Noodles perspective as he enjoys youth in the Lower East Side of Manhattan where he meets his group of lifelong friends. The focal point is his friendship with Max, the adult character played by James Woods, and his undying love for Deborah, played by Elizabeth McGovern as an adult. As kids they are worry free, but gradually fall in with a group of older mobsters, first doing their dirty work, followed by venturing out on their own.

The themes of the film are loyalty, childhood friendship, betrayal, and greed as all of the characters change (or die) in the time span that the film takes place. When a mysterious letter forces Noodles to resurface in Brooklyn, we begin to understand the back story and the history between the friends.

I found the film to drag slightly in the middle section, but the first part and last part are very well made and absorbing. Leone has a way of pacing the film that really works- it is methodical, nuanced, with wonderful set pieces and each period of time explored- 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1960’s seem equally as authentic as the next one does. I especially enjoyed the 1920’s art direction- it revealed such a state of genuineness and felt like truly being there in that time period.

The relationship between Noodles and Deborah is an interesting one worth mentioning. Falling in love as youngsters (when Deborah was played by a very young Jennifer Connelly) they had an innocent, puppy love relationship. As adults, due to a violent, disgraceful act, their tender relationship is subsequently ruined and one might argue one of the characters turned quite unsympathetic.

Once Upon a Time in America is a sprawling epic film sure to be enjoyed by fans of the crime epic drama genre and specifically Sergio Leone fans- an under appreciated gem.

Bachelor Party-1984

Bachelor Party-1984

Director-Neal Israel

Starring-Tom Hanks, Adrian Zmed

60020725

Reviewed September 1, 2014

Grade: D

Watching Bachelor Party for the very first time circa 2014, and quite certainly the last time I plan on watching this film, I realized almost immediately how dated it is and at this point in time can only be presumably enjoyed for nostalgia purposes. I can’t fathom anyone watching Bachelor Party for the first time and thinking it is a great film- it is not. If not for Tom Hanks becoming a huge star this comedy would be forgotten as there are dozens of like-minded films from the 1980’s that resemble it- think Pretty in Pink, National Lampoon films, etc.

The premise is basic- Rick (Hanks) and Debbie (Tawny Kitaen) are engaged and Rick’s friends throw a Bachelor party while Debbie goes out with the girls. Of course, Debbie’s parents hate Rick and scheme, along with her ex, to break them up. Every decade seems to have a similar carbon copy of this party themed film- Animal House, American Pie, The Hangover though not as entertaining as the aforementioned films.

All the characters are caricatures, one note, and types. There is little back story for any of them. The plot is silly, predictable, and the 1980’s look to the film does not hold up well. The film contains every stereotype imaginable- the meddlesome parents, Debbie’s vicious ex-boyfriend who is the film’s foil, various frat boys and sorority girl types, and Rick’s inept siblings. Avoid, unless a trip down 1980’s bad film memory lane is needed.

Friday the 13th: Part 4: The Final Chapter-1984

Friday the 13th: Part 4: The Final Chapter-1984

Director-Joseph Zito

Starring-Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman

60002390

Reviewed June 13, 2013

Grade: B

Being the 4th chapter in the popular Friday the 13th saga, and the shameless marketing of this installment as being the final chapter, obviously a fib since the ending of the film clearly sets up another sequel, I have a soft spot for this Friday the 13th sequel, but, if I am being honest, with each viewing I realize more and more it is not nearly as good as the first three. In fact, from a storyline and technical perspective, it is a crappy movie. It now seems incredibly dated and of its time- the acting is mediocre at best. Fans of the franchise will love it, it is predictable, like eating at McDonald’s, you know exactly what you will get and that is fine- a gathering of horny, pot and beer induced teens flock to Camp Crystal Lake for a weekend of revelry. Apparently not knowing, or caring, that dozens of other teens have been slaughtered there before, they begin their partying.

For horror fans there is comfort in this film. We know the youths will be killed- we just don’t know how or when. That’s the fun and beauty of it. Will someone be decapitated? Lose a limb? Will the murder weapon be an ax or a machete? Who will be the last remaining victim? The introduction of the twins is a nice touch and a very young Crispin Glover appears. The addition of Corey Feldman to this one adds child feistiness. Otherwise, it’s pretty formulaic and not much separates it from any of the others. Fans of the Friday the 13th franchise will love this film, all others stay away.