While some consider the 1980s the worst decade in cinema, we disagree. How can we as moviegoers poo-poo a decade that gave us classics like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, First Blood, Moonstruck, Tootsie and Dead Poets Society? Here are five great movies this year that were directly inspired (in setting or theme) by the 1980’s.
Cold in July
Dir. Jim Mickle
Co-written and directed by TFF alum Jim Mickle, Cold in July is a Southern crime thriller adapted from Joe R. Lansdale’s 1989 novel. Not satisfied with just setting the film in the 80’s, Mickle pays homage to the decade through Jeff Grace’s synthesized score and Ryan Samul’s heavily textured and moody cinematography. Michael C.Hall shines as a desperate father who kills a burglar and then must face the victim’s father (Sam Shepard), a paroled prisoner who comes looking for answers. Full of bloody action that only an 80’s movie can deliver, Cold in July is perfect for anyone who longs for that signature mix of excessive violence, snappy dialogue and serious danger. Plus, the film features a tremendous supporting performance from 80’s icon Don Johnson!
Dir. Adam Wingard
Though The Guest is set in the present, it is a wickedly fun throwback to 80’s horror thrillers from TFF alum Adam Wingard. You won’t recognized Dan Stevens as “David,” a soldier who visits the unsuspecting Peterson family as a friend of their son who died in combat. Even though David packs a bright smile, piercing blue eyes and a disarming charm, daughter Anna (Maika Monroe, essentially Wingard’s “Final Girl”) remains wary, knowing something sinister lurks beneath the surface. Complete with vibrant imagery, Steve Moore’s spot-on score, and uneasiness in every scene, The Guest will strike a chord with all John Carpenter fans.
Ping Pong Summer
Dir. Michael Tully
In many ways, the 80’s were a much simpler time as evidenced by Michael Tully’s sweet tribute to summer at Ocean City in 1985. Radford Miracle (a charming Marcello Conte) is an awkward teen who dreads school vacation until he finds a friend, Teddy Fryy (Myles Massey), and discovers ping-pong. You’ll recognize tropes from great 80's movies such as despicable bullies, a mentor (the terrific Susan Sarandon), big hair, slushies, and even 80's babe Lea Thompson as Radford’s mom. Don’t forget to jam out to the soundtrack featuring 80's staples like The Fat Boys, KISS and New Edition.
A Most Violent Year
Dir. J.C. Chandor
Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac starring in a 80’s mob drama from filmmaker Margin Call’s J.C. Chandor? We are so there. Isaac plays Abel Morales, a truck-driver who works his way up the crime ladder by falling in love with the boss’s daughter, Anna (Chastain). Set on the gritty streets of NYC, A Most Violent Year promises to be atmospheric and ferocious thriller. Fun fact: Giorgio Armani (who provided the costumes in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables in 1987) designed all the outfits worn by Chastain’s Anna in the film.
We Are The Best!
Dir. Lukas Moodysson
Though We Are The Best! premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, it wasn’t released stateside until this May. Based on his wife Coco Moodysson’s graphic novel, this film is Swedish filmmaker Lukas Moodysson’s latest feature. It centers on a trio of young girls who start a punk band in 1980's Stockholm. Complete with mohawks and borrowed instruments, the girls embrace the punk life-style, breaking rules, speaking their minds and drinking (with disastrous but hilarious results). This delightful coming of age tale, complete with a Swedish punk-rock soundtrack, is appropriate for all audiences.