Category Archives: 1982

Movies released in 1982.

Review: Fitzcarraldo

Director: Werner Herzog
Year: 1982
Score: 6.5/10

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Herzog moved the mountain rather than the ship.

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Herzog moved the mountain rather than the ship.

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski reunite for the second last time, returning to the sort of Peruvian locations they had traversed when making Aguirre: The Wrath of God a decade earlier, but not reaching the same creative heights this time around. The bulk of the movie is spent on Fitzcarraldo’s crazy quest to transport, with the help of the local native tribe, a steamship over a mountain from one river to another. Beyond any inherent artistic value, the main point of watching and enjoying this stems from the knowledge that Herzog actually did it himself as part of the (troubled) production of the film; we’re watching Fitzcarraldo do something incredible and quixotic, and in doing so we’re watching Herzog do something equally incredible and quixotic, only he’s doing so to make this film rather than to succeed as a rubber baron and use his riches to build an opera house. The parallels between Fitzcarraldo and Herzog – both undertaking this venture for the sake of art – are pretty hard to miss. I wonder how cognisant Herzog was of all this? In any event, though watching the crazy quest has its attractions, it doesn’t, in my opinion, amount to a fulfilling narrative (despite the lovely ending), and therein lies the film’s key problem. As for the performances: Kinski is fine as usual (despite failing to put in any effort to play Fitzcarraldo as an Irishman) and Claudia Cardinale does well as his love interest, though of course she disappears throughout the steamship-over-hill section so what’s the point?

Review: An Officer and a Gentleman

Director: Taylor Hackford
Year: 1982
Score: 7.5/10

If you look closely you can actually see Richard Gere's vagina.

If you look closely you can actually see Richard Gere’s vagina.

Solid if simple drama featuring Richard Gere as a headstrong young man trying to make it through the Navy training course that leads to flight school while falling in love with Debra Winger. Louis Gossett, Jr. won an Oscar for his memorable performance as the tough drill sergeant Gere clashes with. The romance is fine but other aspects – such as Gere’s breakdown and a death toward the end – are more emotionally effective. I would have liked Gere’s hopeless father (played by Robert Loggia, best known to me as Frank from Scarface) to reappear at the end to salute his son; apparently a scene depicting exactly that was shot but cut. The iconic final moment of the film, set to the power ballad Up Where We Belong, is pretty great.

Review: Diner

Director: Barry Levinson
Year: 1982
Score: 7.5/10

Excellent debut from Barry Levinson, this is an affectionate and nostalgic look at what it was like to be on the cusp of proper adulthood in late ’50s Baltimore. (I say ‘proper’ adulthood since the group of young men at the film’s centre are in their early 20s, so technically already adults, but so much of the film is about their transition from a state of immaturity into whatever adult life is supposed to be – marriage, responsibility, no more endless hours hanging out with friends at the diner, etc.) Some great early performances from Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern – and yes, even Steve Guttenberg. The interactions between the friends often ring true; in fact, the whole movie feels incredibly genuine. Most of the time it’s also pretty entertaining. Recommended.

Review: Poltergeist

Directors: Tobe Hooper and probably Steven Spielberg
Year: 1982
Score: 7.5/10

Is it just me, or does Craig T. Nelson look a lot like Bob Odenkirk in this movie?

Is it just me, or does Craig T. Nelson look a lot like Bob Odenkirk in this movie?

I’ve often found that classic horror movies don’t hold up as they no longer have the power to actually scare, but this was a refreshing exception. It features so many elements that are now regarded as horror tropes: a scary tree outside a child’s bedroom window, an evil clown, objects moved by unseen forces, a false ending, a house built over a cemetery, and a piece of modern technology (in this case a television) as a bridge between our world and ‘the other side’; it wasn’t the first movie to use these, but its use of them was undoubtedly influential. Some of the visual effects look a little hokey now, but they’re easy to overlook as everything else remains potent. The story, simple as it is, draws you in right from the start and doesn’t let go until the very end. There’s some pretty interesting trivia relating to this movie, such as the apparent ‘curse’ associated with it (premature deaths of key actors), the use of real human skeletons for the swimming pool scene, and the fact that Steven Spielberg probably did most of the directing rather than credited director Tobe Hooper.

Review: The King of Comedy

Director: Martin Scorsese
Year: 1982
Score: 6/10

The King of Comedy

Probably the weirdest scene in the movie. Personally I would have used fewer candles, given that the material used to tie Jerry up seems almost like papier-mâché.

Strange Scorsese movie about delusion, with Robert De Niro as a loser obsessed with becoming his idol, a late night TV talk show host played by Jerry Lewis. De Niro does well but seems miscast. Lewis is in great form. There’s some really odd stuff in there, not least everything involving Sandra Bernhard’s bizarre character. Though it’s described as a black comedy, I don’t remember laughing (except perhaps for a moment or two during the denouement); I spent most of the movie just pitying De Niro’s character, and pity doesn’t tend to lead to laughter. As a satire of media and celebrity culture it would still be relevant today, but unfortunately the satirical punches never really land.

Review: Sophie’s Choice

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Year: 1982
Score: 8.5/10

Sophie's choice: stretchy guy on the left or stretchy guy on the right?

Sophie’s choice: stretchy guy on the left or stretchy guy on the right?

For some unexplained reason, Don Draper shows up in the middle of this scene.

For some unexplained reason, Don Draper shows up in the middle of this scene.

Long but engrossing drama gives us three meaty characters wonderfully played by Meryl Streep, Peter MacNicol and Kevin Kline. Streep in particular is a powerhouse: she puts on a thick Polish accent through most scenes, and speaks German through others, but remains entirely convincing and impressive throughout, deservedly winning an Oscar for her efforts. In 2013 I saw her in this, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa and The Iron Lady, and it’s now pretty difficult to think of any better actress. The story is told well, using flashbacks effectively and doling out key information about the characters only when it suits the narrative. The titular choice comes late in the film and – though I knew in advance what it would be – made me feel ill, partly due to its inherently horrific nature, and partly due to Streep’s work in the scene. But what kind of a name is Stingo??

Review: The Thing

Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1982
Score: 7/10

The Thing

I don’t think the caesarean went to plan. For a start, the (hairy-torsoed) woman’s belly appears to have bitten the obstetrician’s arms off.

Sci-fi horror movie from John Carpenter has an ingenious premise; the execution, though, is merely adequate. Had the premise been executed better, this could have been truly excellent. There’s very good use of music to build and maintain suspense. The special effects are quite amazing and wholly believable; more than thirty years later, they still hold up. Kurt Russell is fine, though it’s not a movie that asks much of its actors.