Yasuo Furuhata – Eki Station aka Station (1981)


A very beautiful film. This is a Ken Takakura vehicle, and as such follows his formula. Takakura plays to type as the laconic brooder who suffers multiple tragedies with manly stoicism. While the variety of his film varied greatly, his films with director Yasuo Furuhata were always of the highest quality, and this is no exception. Takakura is a cop training to be a sharpshooter for the Olympic games, he divorces his wife and abandons his daughter when he discovers she’s had an affair. Later his coach is gunned down by a fleeing criminal. Years later Takakura returns to his snowy hometown and starts an affair with a middle-aged bar owner. The story is a bit thick, with a number of subplots, yet it is extrordinarily melancholic, as Takakura seems to regret everything he’s done in his life and is made over and over again to relive his mistakes. There is very little “action” as such, and no yakuzas of any kind; but beyond that this is one of the most lushly beautiful and emotional films you can see (if you can see it), with an excellent score by Ryudo Uzaki. Continue reading

Martin Bell – Streetwise (1984)


This documentary portrays the lives of nine desperate teenagers. Thrown too young into a seedy grown up world, these runaways and castaways survive, but just barely. Rat, the dumpster diver. Tiny, the teen prostitute. Shellie, the baby-faced blonde. DeWayne, the hustler. All old beyond their years. All underage survivors fighting for life and love on the streets of downtown Seattle. Written by Fiona Kelleghan Continue reading

James Foley – At Close Range (1986)

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One of the overlooked films of the 1980s, perhaps because it is such a downbeat tale of an amoral family. Sean Penn plays a kid whose small-time criminal impulses are stoked to a new level when he falls in with his father (Christopher Walken), a vicious career criminal for whom no problem is so large that it can’t be solved by a murder. At first exhilarated by the attention from his father (and the jobs he gives him to do), he gradually catches on to just what a bad guy Dad really is. But when he tries to extricate himself, he discovers that Dad now has him squarely in his sights. Penn is terrific in a role of emotional complexity, while Walken, king of the creeps, is positively frightening as this soft-spoken but highly lethal patriarch. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki – Varjoja paratiisissa aka Shadows In Paradise (1986)


Shadows in Paradise (Finnish: Varjoja paratiisissa) is a 1986 Finnish art house comedy-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. The film stars Kati Outinen as Ilona and Matti Pellonpää as Nikander. Ilona is a supermarket check-out clerk who meets Nikander, a lonely garbage man, and they develop romantic feelings towards each other. Both of them are extremely shy so this hinders fast development of their relationship.

Shadows in Paradise was awarded the Best Film award at the 1987 Jussi Awards.

This is the first film in Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy (Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl). Continue reading

Eric Rohmer – Le rayon vert (1986)


From Notebook Reviews:

Crystallizing various facets of his Comédies et Proverbes cycle while radically departing from others, the diaristic 1986 beauty Le rayon vert is one of Éric Rohmer’s greatest studies of light, voices, and mercurial human sensation. Delphine (Marie Rivière) has the look of a doleful sylph and the torturous task of searching for enjoyment after plans for her summer holiday are abruptly cancelled. Cherbourg, the Alps, and Biarritz are some of the spots the Parisian secretary passes through, but she’s no innate adventurer: She literally runs away from potential suitors and gets woozy easily (no meat, no sailing, no swings), friends compare her to a plant and to the Capricorn goat alone on the mountain, “sort of in transit” is her own description. The protagonist’s comic sidekick in anybody else’s film, here she’s an achingly demanding woman as determined to have love on her own terms as Dreyer’s Gertrud. Continue reading

Liliana Cavani – La pelle aka The Skin [+Extras] (1981)


Based on the short stories of Curzio Malaparte, The Skin is Liliana Cavani s controversial look at the aftermath of the German occupation of Italy during WWII and the equally difficult results of life during the Allied liberation. Marcello Mastroianni stars as writer Malaparte, who chronicled the desperate measures taken by his countrymen in order to survive. Burt Lancaster co-stars as the liberating American General unable to understand the devastation around him. Continue reading