Tag Archives: 1987 Movie reviews

Law of Desire-1987

Law of Desire-1987

Director-Pedro Almodovar

Starring-Antonio Banderas, Eusebio Poncela, Carmen Maura

Scott’s Review #1,021

Reviewed May 8, 2020

Grade: B+

Law of Desire or La ley del deseo (as translated in original Spanish) is a 1987 film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Quite groundbreaking for its time and penned by a respected director, the film was rich in offering what was rarely presented in films during the 1980’s- a complex love triangle between two men and a trans woman. The fact that the trans woman is the sister of one of the men is a bonus to the buttery soap opera premise.

In 2020, when LGBTQ+ films are more plentiful in cinema (at least at the indie level), Law of Desire suffers slightly from a dated feel and parts drag along. It’s tough to heavily criticize a piece so brazen as this one was when it was released to art-house theaters and musty metropolitan theaters. As groundbreaking as the film must be given credit for, the story now feels sillier than it should, and more outlandish than it probably intended to be over thirty years ago.

The fabulous setting of Madrid, Spain is the backdrop for the luscious tale of love, obsession, jealousy, and revenge, think the prime-time television series Dynasty on steroids. Cocky Pablo (Eusebio Poncela), a successful gay film director with his pick from a bevy of young, good-looking gay males, is madly in love with Juan (Miguel Molina), though he has a roving eye. Suave Antonio (Antonio Banderas), who comes from a conservative family, is new to the gay scene and falls madly in love with Pablo when Juan goes to find himself. Tina (Carmen Maura), who likes men and women, has just been dumped and is vulnerable.

Besides the obvious daring gender bending this story could be a simple one told many times across many genres. Almodóvar spins things into a frenzy as the plot unfolds adding manipulations, sub-plots, and bizarre characters into the mix.  For example, Ada is Tina’s surrogate daughter and is a precocious ten-year-old girl in love with Pablo. Ada refuses to go back with her mother (Bibi Andersen) when she comes back to whisk her off to Milan to meet a man she just met.

The gay subtext is what is center stage here. Back in the 1980’s, the term LGBTQ+ was on nobody’s radar and having any representation at all in cinema was still territory barely scratching the surface. This point kept returning to me over the course of the film and imagining how fresh the experience would have been to any gay man or gay woman fortunate enough to have seen it. I am not sure any of the characters would serve as great role models, but the representation is nice. Almodóvar adds in a good deal of naked flesh for an added treat.

Several comic scenes arise with gusto. Antonio, who lives at home with a religious zealot of a mother, convinces Pablo to sign his letters from “Laura P”, a character from his latest play, to trick Antonio’s nosy mama. Tina, not much of an actress, is cast in Pablo’s one-woman theatrical productions. She thinks her performance is great, Pablo thinks she stinks. The comical moments are the ones that work best, giving the plentiful offbeat characters a chance to let loose and shine.

Towards the conclusion, Law of Desire takes a tragic and Shakespearean turn. A drunken Juan is thrown off a cliff to his death prompting an investigation with Antonio and Pablo both prime suspects. Finally, a kidnapping and police stand-off ensue with a murder/suicide providing the film’s final moments.

I am not a fan of the title that Almodóvar chooses. Preferable would be a title that is a bit more titillating. Even Lust of Desire or Object of My Desire would have been better choices. Law of Desire screams of a tepid episode of television’s Law & Order. For a director with such an outlandish approach and such bizarre characters the title is bland, banal and tough to remember.

For those seeking a kinky and provocative late-night affair will find Law of Desire (1987) a good old time. It lacks much of a clear message instead providing a sexy romp and dreary ending. Running the gamut of adding musical score pieces as unique as 1970’s The Conformist, a film also shrouded in same sex desire, to cheesy 1980’s synth laden beats, adds some confusion. Nonetheless, diversity and inclusiveness are good recipes to chow down on and celebrate.

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.