Category Archives: 1987 Movie reviews

Au Revoir Les Enfants-1987

Au Revoir Les Enfants-1987

Director-Louis Malle

Starring-Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejto

Scott’s Review #859

Reviewed January 21, 2019

Grade: A

Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987), the English translation Goodbye, Children is a powerful story of youth and friendship amid a French boarding school during the Nazi occupation of France. As World War II rages on Director Louis Malle crafts a tragic and poignant film that resonates on many levels featuring both good and evil and the forever loss of childhood innocence.

The film is based on actual events that Malle experienced as a child when he attended a Roman Catholic boarding school. At age eleven he witnessed a Gestapo raid in which three Jewish children and a Jewish teacher were savagely rounded up and taken to Auschwitz concentration camps and presumably to their deaths. What a powerful and tragic event he faced, and he brilliantly transplants this to his film.

We meet young Julien Quentin (Gaspard Manesse) as he bids his mother farewell and takes a train to his boarding school after a lengthy vacation. The headmaster introduces three new students one of which is Julien’s age. Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto) is socially awkward but excels at mathematics and piano. The boys initially dislike one another but slowly forge a powerful bond when they are immersed in playing a game of treasure hunt together. Julien soon discovers that Bonnet is Jewish, and the school is protecting him for capture.

The film is divided into two main stories, the troubled relationship and subsequent friendship between Julien and Bonnet and the revelation that Bonnet is Jewish and the benevolence of the school officials to the plight of Jews. The latter gives Au Revoir Les Enfantes a socially relevant angle as the audience begins to care deeply about Bonnet and the other Jewish boys yearning for education and freedom. Their innocence and confusion over being hated is effective and painful to watch.

The tyranny of the Gestapo is matched by the kindness and courage of the teachers who defy the anti-Semitic policies and admit Jewish students into the school under assumed names. The teachers are the heroes of the story and largely unsung as they yearn to give children of any religion a good education and a chance at happiness and fulfillment. I would love to see schools feature Au Revoir Les Enfantes to their students as a lesson in bravery.

Any viewer who has visited France will assimilate nicely with the good culture and sophistication the country envelopes. Most scenes occur at the boarding school with lessons being learned and the growth of many of the students, but a favorite scene takes place at a gourmet restaurant. As Julien and his mother lunch with Bonnet and others the meals, staff and ambiance exude French style and goodness, but among these luxuries also lies the constant threat of the Nazis as they bombard the restaurant and attempt to kick a Jewish man out of the establishment.

Malle wisely affixes the camera closely on the faces of Manesse and Fejto with a glowing quality that is both beautiful and haunting. This results in many scenes featuring the expressions of the boys including wonderment, shock, intensity, and fear. The young actors rise to the occasion and perform their roles flawlessly with a natural quality.

The boys learn a myriad of valuable lessons most notably that the world is unjust and filled with unfairness. Malle gives the finale more than enough power and angst to leave the viewer pondering the fates of the Jewish characters. Their fates undoubtedly sealed by the Nazis the how’s and the whys are left ambiguous eliciting powerful emotions.

Au Revoir Les Enfantes (1987) is a superb and relevant offering depicting the pain and fear experienced by Jewish people in a tragic period of history. Told through the eyes of children the film hits home as an innocence is discovered and then lost. The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar but was defeated by Babette’s Feast.

Babette’s Feast-1987

Babette’s Feast-1987

Director-Gabriel Axel

Starring-Stephane Audran

Scott’s Review #796

Reviewed July 27, 2018

Grade: A

Babette’s Feast (1987) is a pure delight for any viewer who is a foodie, and particularly of stylish French cuisine. In fact, during the final thirty minutes or so I was salivating with pleasure as a final multiple course meal was presented before me. The film is rich with “flavor” and tells a wonderful tale of self-sacrifice, benevolence, and good human nature. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film- the very first Danish film to do so.

Adapted from a 1958 short story, Babette’s Feast tells of two elderly and deeply religious Protestant sisters, Martine (Birgitte Federspiel) and Phillipa (Bodil Kjer), who exist in a small village in Denmark. The sisters have lived there all their lives and, through flashbacks, it is revealed that each had an opportunity for romance with men decades earlier, as young and fresh young ladies. Each resisted the temptation due to the deeply religious beliefs of their disapproving father.

When a delightful French woman, Babette (Stephane Audran), appears on their doorstep with a note from Phillipa’s potential beau, the kindly women take her in. Babette is a refugee fleeing Paris and offers to serve as the sister’s housekeeper. Babette is filled with life and a passion for cooking and art- largely contrasting the townspeople, who frequently shun pleasures and harbor reserved and repressed feelings for joy. When Babette wins the lottery and is assumed to depart back to Paris, she instead offers to make the town a lavish, classic french meal.

The film is a pure treat, especially in the final act when Babette decides to prepare the exquisite meal. This is the true highlight of the film and the menu simply must be listed below in order to wholly appreciate the film. As each course is served, the film depicts the cooking process, as spices, salts, wines, and reductions are featured, so much so that we wonder, who really made such a gorgeous meal when filming transpired? Audran, known to be a gourmet, must have adored this fabulous and creative role!

In order, Babette’s delicious feast consists of turtle soup served with Amontillado sherry, buckwheat pancakes with caviar and sour cream served with Veuve Cliquot Champagne, quail in puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce served with Clos de Vougeot Pinot Noir, an endive salad, rum sponge cake with figs and candied cherries served with Champagne, assorted cheeses and fruits served with Sauternes, coffee with vieux marc Grande Champagne Cognac. My mouth is watering and my stomach growling as I write this!

In wise and poignant fashion, the film heralds the return of Martine’s longtime admirer, Swedish officer Lorens, who escorts his elderly aunt to the dinner. The other dozen or so dinner guests agree not to fuss or voice any reactions to the meal, but Lorens is different. With each serving he comments in explicit detail the pleasures of the tastes and fondly recollects an experience with each course. In this way he speaks for the rest of the guests as we see their reactions and the pleasures they exhibit non-verbally.

Tenderly, Lorens confessed that he has never forgotten Martine, and she the same for him. Despite not having seen nor heard from each other in decades, their connection has never wavered and thus have spent their lives as one. What a lovely and powerful scene this is and adds a romanticism and elegance to the overall film.

The lighting is effective as many scenes seem to bask in an illuminating glow. The whimsical village is well lit with many soft or muted scenes exuding elegance and grace in the tiny living community. The costumes and styles are meaningful and make the time period of the 1800’s realistic. This adds a tremendous amount to the look and texture of Babette’s Feast.

The overall themes of Babette’s Feast (1987) are ones of kindness, forgiveness, enjoyment, and honesty. The characteristics are brought to life by the characters in the film, rich with flavor and taste, and all experienced through the importance and pleasures of food. What a magnificent piece of film making this work is and the enormity of riches through good dining.

Broadcast News-1987

Broadcast News-1987

Director-James L. Brooks

Starring-William Hurt, Holly Hunter

Scott’s Review #602

Reviewed January 11, 2017

Grade: B

Broadcast News is a 1987 feature film that admittedly is an intelligently written romantic comedy. It was rewarded with several Academy Awards nominations, in what has been known to be a bleak year for the film industry. That being said, I found the overall result of the film to be a decent experience, but certainly nothing fantastic. I was left with the feeling that it was “okay”.  I definitely do not think it was good enough to warrant Oscar nominations, but it was enjoyable all the same.

The principle characters are interesting enough, albeit safe. The film centers around three television news people- a neurotic news producer (Holly Hunter), a reporter (Albert Brooks), and his rival (William Hurt). All of them are ambitious, and determined to climb the ladder of success in their Washington D.C. base. The film explores the relationships between the the characters.

As stated, there is nothing really wrong with the film. I would have expected a bit more- perhaps deeper or darker story- instead, despite some witty dialogue, the film is largely a safe, predictable journey.

The Believers-1987

The Believers-1987

Director-John Schlesinger

Starring-Martin Sheen

Scott’s Review #547

Reviewed December 12, 2016

Grade: B

The Believers is a very obscure film that I had never heard of before viewing it. Combined with the fact that it was made in 1987 (not a great time for movies) I was skeptical about this one, but was pleasantly surprised. it has some edge to it, is mysterious, and is set in New York City- always a plus for me.

Martin Sheen- merely a youngster when this was made-plays a police psychologist, Cal Jamison, involved in a voodoo serial killer cult. He moves from Minnesota  to New York City following the death of his wife by electrocution, when her coffeemaker malfunctions. Is this key to the case or a red-herring?

The plot is a bit convoluted as when Cal’s son is targeted by the serial killer and  when frazzled police officer, Tom Lopez (Jimmy Smits),  takes center stage. I did not find Smits all too believable in this role, and the film has a striking 1980’s feel to it.

The locales, since it was actually shot in New York, are fantastic, and the plot contain some scares, surprises, and spooky effects along the way. I also was very impressed by the satisfying ending. The Believers isvery good thriller/horror film.

Wall Street-1987

Wall Street-1987

Director-Oliver Stone

Starring-Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen

Scott’s Review #511

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Reviewed November 5, 2016

Grade: B+

Rather late in the game, but 2011 was my first time seeing the film Wall Street and it was a very good film. Douglas and Sheen have great on-screen chemistry and the numerous scenes of New York City are pleasing- pre 9/11 they capture a haunting feeling.

Despite being made in 1987 (not a great year for film), it does not feel dated except for the soundtrack. In fact, unfortunately, circumstances in this movie still ring true today. There is a lot of dishonesty and greed in the financial world (check out the documentary Inside Job for proof of this). The financial collapse of 2008 is a great indicator of this.

Michael Douglas is excellent in the role of Gordon Gekko, a power hungry, greedy financial mogul. He encompasses the role in every way and deservedly won the Best Actor statuette for this year.

Fatal Attraction-1987

Fatal Attraction-1987

Director-Adrian Lyne

Starring-Michael Douglas, Glenn Close

Top 100 Films-#45

Scott’s Review #329

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Reviewed January 8, 2016

Grade: A

Fatal Attraction is a film that was a monster smash hit at its time of release (1987), and has all the makings of a trashy, forgettable, slick Hollywood film from a disastrous time in film, but guess what?- it is actually a fantastic, gripping, thriller that still holds up well after all of these years. Say what you will about Anne Archer, who is very good, but this film truly belongs to Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, who made it the believable thrill ride that Fatal Attraction is. The subject matter is adultery, which made it the water-cooler topic of its day.

The plot is quite simple- Douglas plays Dan Gallagher, a successful New York City attorney, happily married to Beth (Archer), and raising a cute young daughter, Ellen. When Beth and Ellen are away looking at new houses one rainy weekend, Dan embarks on a torrid affair with sexy, successful businesswoman, Alex (Close), not realizing that she is an unbalanced, needy woman, who is not about to let Dan out of her life.

I adore this film in large part because it is a film that can be debated. Many seem to blame either (mostly) Dan or Alex, but the question of monogamy can always be a topic of conversation after viewing this film, so in that regard it is multi-faceted, rather than solely a well-acted Hollywood potboiler. Was it okay for Dan to cheat? Does Beth overreact or does she forgive too easily? Do we sympathize with Alex? Is she a victim? The film is unique in that many folks actually were rooting for Dan and Alex, despite her being the other woman.

So many memorable lines or scenes contribute to this film- who can forget the infamous “boiling pet rabbit” scene or the wonderful line that Alex utters to Dan, “I will not be ignored, Dan”. They are so ingrained in pop culture that it brings a smile to think of these aspects of Fatal Attraction.

The real selling point, though, is the natural and honest chemistry that Douglas and Close share. Their scenes, mainly the romantic weekend they spend together, flow so nicely that they have real rooting value and I instantly bought them as a couple. Without this undeniable chemistry, Fatal Attraction would be a standard romantic thriller- and not much else. And the smoldering sexuality during their love scenes are erotic and intense.

Surely not suffering from the dreaded “1980’s look”, Fatal Attraction is a gem that holds up very well and is a slick thrill-ride, easily watched and enjoyed time and again. Dozens upon dozens of carbon copy films cropped up in the years to follow, but none were ever as fantastic as Fatal Attraction.

Opera-1987

Opera-1987

Director-Dario Argento

Starring-Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson

Scott’s Review #104

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Reviewed July 11, 2014

Grade: B+

Opera is a 1987 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento. The story revolves around a theatrical production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” as the understudy takes of the lead role of Lady Macbeth after the star is hit by a car, and strange and horrific events begin to occur.

The film contains traditional Argento elements- stylistic, extreme close-ups, weird camera angles. Members of the cast are systematically murdered as the killer forces the films heroine to watch- aided by a device which, if she blinks, sharp nails will go through her eyes. The ending is absolutely killer- no pun intended. I love surprise endings in horror films and this one was dynamite. My main criticism of the film is the horrendous dubbing, which distracted a great deal. It has a muffled, hard to hear quality to it and no subtitles. I’d rather it have been available in Italian with English sub-titles. The film needs to be upgraded to Blu-ray ASAP. Another odd aspect of the film is the mixture of operatic music with heavy metal music with each kill. It did not seem to fit the film at all. Not Argento’s best- Suspiria and Deep Red have that honor, but a very good, enjoyable cinematic horror film.

No Way Out-1987

No Way Out-1987

Director-Roger Donaldson

Starring-Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman

Scott’s Review #96

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Reviewed July 5, 2014

Grade: B+

No Way Out is a slick political thriller from 1987 starring Kevin Costner as a U.S. Naval Officer investigating a Washington D.C. murder.  Gene Hackman and Sean Young co-star. Costner was clearly at the top of his game in the film and is quite charismatic and charming.

The plot has several twists and turns that keeps the viewer guessing and engaged, and is a classic edge of your seat stylistic film. The film is paced very well as it gradually picks up steam with each plot turn until it builds to a frenetic finish. Specifically, the final 45 minutes that take place in the CIA are quite a cat and mouse game. It’s a film of sex, murder, love affairs, politics, and back-stabbing. Hugely successful in the 1980’s, and as much as I still enjoy it, the film unfortunately now appears quite dated as the soundtrack, hair, clothes, all scream late 1980’s and that is not to its credit. It now seems all too similar, though a cut above, to other countless themed films of the same time period. Truly great films are timeless. Kevin Costner was certainly in his prime and Sean Young has a wonderful turn as the mysterious Susan Atwell.

Outrageous Fortune-1987

Outrageous Fortune-1987

Director-Arthur Hiller

Starring-Bette Midler, Shelley Long

Scott’s Review #85

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Reviewed July 2, 2014

Grade: D

Outrageous Fortune is one of many silly plot driven comedies to come out of the late 1980’s. It stars huge comedic actresses of the time (Bette Midler and Shelley Long) as opposites, Midler-brash, Long-refined, who are acting students and in the love with the same man (Peter Coyote). Of course, they meet and hate each other then become friends. This sets off a series of misunderstandings and standard comedy fare.

It’s a female buddy movie. I must say that I did enjoy the chemistry between Long and Midler as the on-screen chemistry is evident. Besides the chemistry the only other positive is the New York City location scenes and the acting/theater workshop setting. Whose idea was it for Midler to use a horrible, phony New York accent?? It distracted throughout the entire film which is not very good to begin with. Otherwise, this is a dud and is completely plot driven and predictable. It has a pure 1980’s comedy feel to it (by that I mean overdone hairstyles, bad music, and silly plot). Shelley Long is clearly the highlight of this film as she is great at comedic timing, but, unfortunately, her film starring career was short lived.

Maurice-1987

Maurice-1987

Director-James Ivory

Starring-James Wilby, Hugh Grant

Scott’s Review #14

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A

A brilliant film adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel set at Cambridge University during the turn of the 20th century, it tells the story of oppression and social norms that took place at the time.

It is a gorgeously shot film, beautiful landscape, photography, and costumes. Reminiscent of the British films “A Room with a View”, and “Howard’s End”, it is a male love story during a time when it was absolutely forbidden and lives were ruined because sexuality like this.

The film’s characters make choices: some repressed, others celebrate, with differing results. In the middle of it all is a beautiful love story. This is a timeless, brave treasure.