Friday, January 11, 2013

"Old" movies

For a beer blog, we are getting off topic today.  Actually, we are likely to get off topic in the midst of most blogs themselves, so I'm not going to start out apologizing for it. 

Today's topic - It's funny how things change.  I was about to talk about my Netflix list and I realized that many people are "over" Netflix and now have moved on to online movies, streaming movies on their smart televisions and smartphones, Red Boxes or bitter-torrenting movies or whatever it is that kids are doing now, but I cling to the old ways of my ancestors, like reinheitsgebot, so I am still clinging to those red mailer envelopes and the movie list.

Several months ago, I had the idea that it would be fun to load up my Netflix list with a bunch of  mostly 1980's movies that I loved during my more precious and formative years.  Since Hollywood seems devoid of any new ideas and is fixating on rehashing all old movies and tv shows, both good and bad (really, A-Team?), I thought I might as well rehash a few myself.

I picked movies that I remembered fondly.  Movies I thought were funny or heart-warming.  Movies that I thought I would enjoy seeing again and movies that my teenage kids would enjoy. 

So, how did it turn out?  Mixed - at best.  I was shocked by a couple.  Planes, Trains and Automobiles - I remember laughing my ass off in the movie theater in 1987.  In 2012 - not so much.  It was meaner than I remember and not that funny.  Oh sure, a few bits, but overall - meh. 

Around the time the remake came out, I thought my kids would enjoy Footloose with Kevin Bacon.  Turns out, No.  It ended and I thought, "why did I like that in 1984?"  Same with Four Weddings and a Funeral.  I remember being very touched by the W. H. Auden quote at the funeral, which still rang true, but the rest?  Not so much.  A never-heart warming Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant just came off as deeply dysfunctional and not charming at all in 2012.  How was it the highest grossing British film of all time and an Oscar Nominee for Best Picture of the Year in 1984?

On the other hand, a few movies easily stand the test of time.  Caddyshack.  1980.  An absolute classic that I think humanity will still be watching at the 100 year anniversary in 2080.  And one that I recalled as funny, but which is just as funny 20 years later (wait, what? that came out twenty-flippin years ago?), was 1993's So I Married an Axe Murderer.  It was a time when someone could still control Mike Myers and it has a great cast including bits by Alan Arkin, Steven Wright, Charles Grodin and Phil Hartman.  Sure it's slightly uneven, but that was obvious when it was released, but it is every bit as funny two decades later. 

Some others:

12 Monkeys - 1995 - Gilliam at his best.  Almost.
Out of Sight - 1998 - Clooney being Clooney, Lopez being a much better version of Lopez and an Elmore Leonard book - still fun.
The Dark Crystal - 1982 - Um, no.
Top Gun - 1986 - Um, also no.  Was Kenny Loggins ever cool?
True Stories - 1986 - I had high hopes, but my kids just looked at me quizzically.  A moment in time.
Beetlejuice - 1988 - Look how young they all are.  Holds up.
Scrooged - 1988 - Proof that Bill Murray could act years before he got credit for it.  This is what Christmas movies should be.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai - 1984 - Sadly, it didn't get better.

And I guess that was ultimately the lesson.  Movies really are a product of the time in which they are made.  They reflect the zeitgeist of their era and some work years later and most don't.  Like books, there are still some we go back to years, decades and even centuries later - those are the classics.  And to no one's surprise, the 80's were not known for nor likely to every produce mostly classics.  Too much hair and too many zippers I think.

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