Sunday, March 4, 2012

25 Years Ago This Month: March 1987

The Iran-Contra Scandal occupied much of the White House's time. Rebels moved into Nicaragua armed with American aid. The U.S. and the Soviet Union continued talks on the spread of nuclear missiles. U2 released The Joshua Tree. Disney CEO Michael Eisner reached a deal with French PM Jacques Chirac to purchase land for the construction of Euro-Disney and AZT was approved by the FDA for use in AIDS treatment.

It was a tough month for musicals as Danny Kaye died on the 3rd.

Robert Preston (star of The Music Man) died on the 21st.

Maria von Trapp (inspiration for The Sound of Music) died on the 28th.

From now on with this series I'm going to try to publish a new review in conjunction with the 25 Years Ago summary post. In looking at the films released in any given month I will go first toward films that have some intrinsic value but I've never seen. Barring anything like that I will go with something I've seen, but not reviewed. The goal will be to always provide a new review each month on a film reaching its 25th anniversary. I will not, however, waste my time or yours on reviews of films like more than half of those listed below.

So for this month I chose Street Smart. This was Morgan Freeman's breakout role and a pet project of star Christopher Reeve's for several years. Freeman scored an Oscar nomination and went on to great acclaim an juicier roles in films like Glory and Driving Miss Daisy. I won't say more about it here. You can read my review by clicking the link above.

Since I started this series I've come across very few films I feel strongly about, but March 1987 saw the release of three films that are featured in My DVD Collection.

On March 6 the wonderful buddy cop action drama Lethal Weapon was released launching Mel Gibson to international stardom and beginning a franchise that lasted through 4 films. The first sequel is worth watching.

The following weekend there was the Coen Brothers' sophomore effort Raising Arizona. This film saw them completely change gears from the dark murderous noir they envisioned and created in Blood Simple. Raising Arizona is an absurd comedy akin to the Looney Tunes. I remember watching it in bits and pieces on cable when I was a kid. I thought it was sort of funny, but I didn't get most of the humor in it. Little did I know I would eventually grow up to be a huge Coen Brothers fan and absolutely love just about everything they do. Now I truly appreciate Raising Arizona for what it is and can finally laugh at the humor.

Also that same weekend was a film I came to very late, not seeing it until I was in college ten years later. Evil Dead II was Sam Raimi's follow up to his debut The Evil Dead. That first film was a creepy horror film taking a basic premise - a guy alone in a wooded cabin - and giving it a unique vision. The sequel was not so much a sequel as a very tongue-in-cheek remake, starring the same lead actor, Bruce Campbell, who is a master of physical comedy. I remember seeing this for the first time and barely being able to contain myself. I laughed until it hurt.

Robert Townsend directed and starred in a film (Kenan Ivory Wayans' first screenplay) called Hollywood Shuffle which is about a black Hollywood actor who's tired of stereotypical roles and aspires to become a serious movie star. Sounds like an interesting premise not least of all because even now, 25 years later, black actors are still more often than not relegated to stereotypical roles.

Rob Lowe and Winona Ryder starred in Square Dance. Now this sounds hilarious. She's a 13 year old girl living with her grandfather (Jason Robards) in the country. She meets and befriends a mentally retarded boy played by Lowe. They play together and pretend they're married. Lowe actually got a Golden Globe nomination for this. I think I'll skip it.

It's embarrassing to admit that I've seen Walk Like a Man starring Howie Mandel. In this Tarzan knock-off, Mandel has the demeaning role of a man raised by wolves. He has to do things like sniff people's asses, chase cars and try to piss on fire hydrants. Comedy gold. Pure gold.

Hunk - here's what I remember: a nerd makes a pact with the devil to get the perfectly toned and tanned body of a much better looking and physically fit actor. I can't believe the shit I used to watch on TV.

I've never seen Angel Heart starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro right before Rourke's precipitous decline. Don't know much about it except what I can scrap together from plot summaries that suggest it's a creepy noirish private detective yarn.

The great comedy director Blake Edwards just about hit rock bottom with Blind Date starring Kim Basinger and Bruce Willis. He needs a date for a hoity-toity work function and gets set up with Basinger. But if she drinks she gets out of control and hilarity ensues. Gotta love those alcoholism comedies.

Barry Levinson's comedy Tin Men starred Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss as two rival aluminum siding salesmen in 1963 Baltimore. They engage in a game of revenge and one-upmanship. I have not seen this and know next to nothing about it.

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