Category Archives: 1985

Movies released in 1985.

Review: The Color Purple

Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 1985
Score: 8/10

Ye olde porn.

Ye olde porn.

Moving tale of hardship and redemption in the Deep South, directed by Steven Spielberg but unlike anything he had made before it. There are some wonderful performances, most notably from Whoopi Goldberg in her film debut, future cult leader Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Avery; all three received Oscar nominations but none won. There’s also a strong sense of the time and place, and a feeling throughout that these characters and their communities are grounded in reality. It’s hard to make it through the ending without shedding a tear or two (in my case, around about the same time I arrived at work… helpful!). I do have a few gripes, of course: the time jumps tend to be somewhat jarring; there’s some exaggerated slapstick humour that doesn’t gel well with the serious drama elsewhere (you can tell that Spielberg just can’t help himself!); and Danny Glover’s character is too bastardly for too long, with a comeuppance that isn’t satisfying enough.

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Review: The Jewel of the Nile

Director: Lewis Teague
Year: 1985
Score: 5/10

Twerking apparently originated in Africa in 1985.

Twerking apparently originated in Africa in 1985.

What charm Romancing the Stone had seems to evaporate in the African heat. Kathleen Turner still edges out Michael Douglas but neither of them seem especially committed to the material. Danny DeVito is shoe-horned in rather clumsily, partly as middling comic relief and partly for consistency with the first movie. Once again there’s an overreliance on coincidence. Perhaps the silliest and least believable part is when Douglas – no pilot – drives a plane around as though it’s a car. I think the depiction of Omar’s climactic address to his people, with stadium lights and pyrotechnics and Hollywood production values, is supposed to be satirising something, but I couldn’t discern what. There’s a slight veneer of racism too. Skip it.

Review: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Directors: George Miller & George Ogilvie
Year: 1985
Score: 6/10

The weakest of the series but still worth watching. There are two separate halves to this: the stuff involving Bartertown and the Thunderdome, and the stuff involving a group of primitive children who mistake Max for the messianic figure they’ve been waiting for. This second half was apparently developed as a different film and only later became a Mad Max film; that disconnect unfortunately shows. However, I did enjoy some of the stuff with the children, such as the retelling of their oral history. Tina Turner should have stuck to singing; We Don’t Need Another Hero is still great, but her acting is not at all. The style of music used for the score is significantly different from the first two movies (this score was composed by Maurice Jarre rather than Brian May), and that’s a great shame as it doesn’t work well at all. Mel Gibson is still good as Max. Trivia: one of my uncles appears as an extra in the Thunderdome scenes.

Review: Out of Africa

Director: Sydney Pollack
Year: 1985
Score: 7/10

The third Best Picture winner I watched within a space of about two weeks (the other two being Chariots of Fire and Kramer vs. Kramer), and the second featuring Meryl Streep. She’s brilliant in this, and her romantic interest Robert Redford is quite good as well. It’s refreshing to watch a romance in which the two central figures are both so likable; you want to see them together because you want them both to be happy. However, I must say I enjoyed the first half more than the second; this is one of those cases where the anticipation of romance turned out to be more enjoyable than the romance itself. Still, it’s a nice movie that’s worth watching for Streep’s performance and the sumptuous visuals (plus, if you go for that sort of thing, the romance).

Review: A Room with a View

Director: James Ivory
Year: 1985
Score: 6/10

My first Merchant Ivory film, this is entirely watchable but mostly forgettable. I suppose the production is quite lavish, but I didn’t find the story all that engaging and the romance in particular (intended to be the main drawcard, presumably) was fairly pedestrian. As for the performances: Daniel Day-Lewis is hilarious as the snobbish Cecil, giving a performance so different from the one he gave in My Beautiful Laundrette, released in the same year, that it’s no surprise they put him on the map; Denholm Elliott is wonderful and I now want to track down more of his work; Helena Bonham-Carter must have been very good because I usually dislike her and this time I didn’t; and Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are precisely as you’d expect. There’s a surprising amount of male nudity, which I discovered somewhat awkwardly given that I watched this – or at least, the part with the most nudity – on a crowded train.

Review: My Beautiful Laundrette

Director: Stephen Frears
Year: 1985
Score: 6.5/10

Interesting exploration of Thatcherite Britain in general and its race relations in particular. Billed as a comedy-drama but I didn’t spot much comedy. Despite being almost thirty years old the subject matter feels very fresh. Good lead performance from Gordon Warnecke, though his character’s actions and motivations are sometimes difficult to comprehend. It was apparently originally shot for British television, which unfortunately shows through at times. Probably the most notable feature is the striking supporting performance from a young Daniel Day-Lewis.