Tag Archives: 1980s

Woody Allen – The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)


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by Hal Erickson

Woody Allen blurs the the boundaries between the real and unreal in this unique comic fantasy. The scene is a small town in the mid-1930s. Trapped in a dead-end job and an abusive marriage, Cecelia (Mia Farrow) regularly seeks refuge in the local movie house. She becomes so enraptured by the latest attraction, an RKO screwball comedy called The Purple Rose of Cairo, that she returns to the theatre day after day. During one of these visits, the film’s main character Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), pauses in his dialogue, turns towards the audience, and says to Cecelia, “My God, how you must love this picture.” Then he climbs out of the movie, much to the consternation of the rest of the audience and the other characters on screen. Liberated from his customary black-and-white environs, he accompanies Cecelia on a tour of the town, eventually falling in love with her. Meanwhile, the other Purple Rose characters, unable to proceed with the film, carry on a discussion with themselves. Desperately, the RKO executives seek out Gil Shepherd, the actor who played the hero of Purple Rose. Shepherd (also played by Daniels), is sent to Cecelia’s hometown to see if he can repair the damage. Read More »

Woody Allen – September (1987)

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A weekend stay at a Vermont summer house provides glimpses into the lives of six unhappy people most of whom are in love with others who love others, etc. Mia Farrow plays a troubled lady who hides from a terrible childhood memory. She’s in love with Sam Waterston, who is tempted by Dianne Wiest, who’s a good friend of Farrow. And so it goes. The careful human interplay is aided by excellent filming techniques. Read More »

Woody Allen – Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)


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Woody Allen spent most of the 1980s and ’90s veering between comedy and drama, and he rarely combined the two with greater success than in Crimes and Misdemeanors, in which he weaved together two stories, one deadly serious, one often funny, both ending in sadness. Martin Landau plays Dr. Judah Rosenthal, a prominent ophthalmologist with a successful practice, a loving family, and a reputation for generous charity work. But Rosenthal also has a secret: his mistress, Dolores (Anjelica Huston). What began as a casual fling has become uncomfortably intimate, and as he tries to break off the relationship, Dolores threatens to expose his infidelity to his wife and some unorthodox financial arrangements to his colleagues. Fearful that Dolores will make good on her threats, Judah confesses his secret to his brother Jack (Jerry Orbach), who has ties to organized crime and offers to “make the problem go away.” Meanwhile, Cliff Stern (Woody Allen) is a filmmaker working on his pet project, a documentary about philosopher Prof. Louis Levy (Martin Bergmann). However, films about philosophers don’t pay the rent, so Cliff’s wife Wendy (Joanna Gleason) arranges for him to make a documentary for public television about her brother Lester (Alan Alda), a famous TV comedian whose vapidity is exceeded only by his arrogance. While Cliff tries to bite the bullet and finish the film, he finds himself falling in love with PBS producer Halley Reed (Mia Farrow). — Mark Deming Read More »

Abel Ferrara – Ms .45 (1981)

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Description: A mute woman gets raped twice coming home from work and decides to take matters into her own hands. She dresses suggestively and roams the streets alone, reaking vengeance upon anyone who tries to take advantage of her. Eventually her secret life spills over into her regular life in the fashion industry. Read More »

Dave Markey – Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (1984)

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Desperate Teenage Lovedolls was received as an instant cult classic when first released on the Los Angeles punk underground in 1984. Since then, the no budget super 8 film has gained international and aboveground praise. Bunny, Kitty, & Patch (Hilary Rubens, Jennifer Schwartz, & Janet Housden) are three teenage runaways who form the hottest all-girl band of all-time, The Lovedolls. Their meteoric rise to the top from a drug addled street life in Hollywood comes not without a price, thanks to sleazy rock manager, Johnny Tremaine (Steve McDonald). Rival all-girl gang The She Devils and their leader Tanya Hearst (Tracy Lea) have it in for our heroes, as do annoying mothers and psyche ward doctors. The film also features legendary LA Punk musicians Jeff McDonald, Phil Newman, Vicki Peterson, Annette Zilinskas & Dez Cadena. Directed by David Markey, the saga is continued in the 1986 sequel Lovedolls Superstar. Read More »

Lilyan Sievernich – John Huston and the Dubliners (1988)


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‘John Huston and the Dubliners” is a valentine to the late director and a relatively standard production film about his making of ”The Dead.” Much time is devoted to the actors’ understandably admiring comments about Mr. Huston, and to the disposition of the prop department’s fake snow. The film has the potential to seem ordinary, but it becomes touched with magic whenever the director makes his presence felt. Mr. Huston displays his characteristic gallantry and his keen attention to seemingly unimportant touches (”Don’t worry about what you say, just keep talking,” he tells one actor, and gives precise instructions for reading the line ”Would you please pass the celery?”). He describes ”The Dead” as ”lacework,” and this film makes the aptness of that description very clear. Read More »

Robert Englund – 976-EVIL (1988)

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People who dial 976-EVIL receive supernatural powers and turn into satanic killers. Read More »