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80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

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80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Old 01-11-11, 09:32 PM
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80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

It was said in an video interview with Oliver Stone that the worst thing that can happen to a culture where art is mainly divided between schlock marketed for mass consumption and snobby art films that maybe 12 people on Earth can enjoy. Binary thinking perhaps, but there's a kernel of truth in there. Personally, it seems that films are mainly divided into 3 camps: Indie; Oscar-bait; and Mall Products (with the occasional "LOTR" and "Dark Knight" bridging the divide.)

If the belief that "good art lasts" then the commercial films of the 1980s seem to me to have it all over the last 10 years or more. The 80s (before films were test marketed to death) films seemed fresher in ideas, took more risks, and ultimately seemed to be talked about as much and referenced TODAY, as much any film that's come out this last week. Example: what's the hotter commercial property directed by Steven Spielberg? "Jurassic Park" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?

Is this just a generational thing?

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Old 01-11-11, 09:42 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Something like Raiders is pretty iconic for me. I'm 34, and grew up watching those movies. Jurassic Park is a movie I actually remember seeing in the theater, whereas Raiders was just always there...

Who's to say what movies will make an impression 20 years from now. But I'm sure that younger people out there have some different memories of movies like Jurassic Park than I do. And I think there are plenty of movies that take "risks" these days, and the only reason we remember the good movies from the 80s is because they were, well, good. There was plenty of garbage too. Quality stuff will last and I think there has been plenty of quality lately.
Old 01-11-11, 09:54 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Jurassic Park is kind of curious to me. At the moment it's too new to be considered any kind of a "classic" or anything like that, whereas as Raiders is considered a classic by most people.

I love both movies and love Spielberg in general, but I wonder if Jurassic Park will ever reach the "classic" status that Raiders has.

Like i said, I think Jurassic Park is still too new to be considered a classic even though Raiders is only 12 years older. Plus I think that Raiders didn't really bring anything new to the world of cinema. It was just a very good and very fun action/adventure movie. Jurassic Park brought all kinds of new technology and in many ways revolutionized movie making. But still, there are probably just as many or maybe even more iconic scenes in Jurassic Park than there are in Raiders. In another say 13 years when Jurassic Park will be 30 years old I just wonder how it'll be thought of.
Old 01-11-11, 10:22 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Jurassic Park will always be an exciting ride of a movie, but the "I can't believe what I'm seeing on the screen" factor that accompanied its release is long gone.

Raiders is just (and will always be) on another level in terms of a movie that is a thrill ride.
Old 01-11-11, 10:33 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by PatD View Post
It was said in an video interview with Oliver Stone that the worst thing that can happen to a culture where art is mainly divided between schlock marketed for mass consumption and snobby art films that maybe 12 people on Earth can enjoy. Binary thinking perhaps, but there's a kernel of truth in there. Personally, it seems that films are mainly divided into 3 camps: Indie; Oscar-bait; and Mall Products (with the occasional "LOTR" and "Dark Knight" bridging the divide.)

If the belief that "good art lasts" then the commercial films of the 1980s seem to me to have it all over the last 10 years or more. The 80s (before films were test marketed to death) films seemed fresher in ideas, took more risks, and ultimately seemed to be talked about as much and referenced TODAY, as much any film that's come out this last week. Example: what's the hotter commercial property directed by Steven Spielberg? "Jurassic Park" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?

Is this just a generational thing?
Yes...nostalgia plays funny games with your mind.
Old 01-11-11, 10:33 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

I'm not sure how..but...I think Predator is a film that is actually a damn good action film..and still a very good film in general.

does that count?
Old 01-11-11, 11:25 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Solid Snake PAC View Post
I'm not sure how..but...I think Predator is a film that is actually a damn good action film..and still a very good film in general.

does that count?
Predator is pure awesome drenched in testosterone.

I say hell yes it counts.
Old 01-14-11, 05:13 AM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Still, IMHO, that first T-Rex attack elevates JP into classic territory. Saw it opening night in a packed house and you could hear the audience exhale once the movie cut to Samuel L. Jackson after that scene. The SFX still hold up today.
Old 01-14-11, 03:23 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Are you sure you're not confusing the 80s with the 70s?

I definitely agree that 80s films seem very prominent right now. It's most likely because they are finally old enough for people to be nostalgic about them, and also people who grew up in the 1980s are now in their 20s and 30s and are starting to make a mark in the world. Family Guy is a good example. Half the jokes are references to 80s culture and I doubt any of the writers are over the age of 40.

But how the hell is the 1980s an artistic sweet spot? The 1980s is the decade that cemented shitty action movies as a viable genre. People like Burt Reynolds and Chuck Norris were the big stars.

Even the major filmmakers of the 80s (Cameron, Landis, Hughes, Scott) don't compare to the greats of the 70s (Scorsese, Coppola) or the 90s (Anderson, Tarantino).

There were plenty of successful, entertaining films made in the 1980s. But artistically, the 80s comes up short when compared to almost any other decade.

Last edited by Dr. Mantle; 01-14-11 at 03:45 PM.
Old 01-14-11, 03:38 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

IMO, JP is the generational update of JAWS, especially in the handling of the T-rex.
Old 01-14-11, 03:59 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by devilshalo View Post
IMO, JP is the generational update of JAWS, especially in the handling of the T-rex.
Pretty good analogy. Although I wouldn't say Jurassic Park is quite as good of a movie as Jaws is, but I see Jurassic Park as the quintessential 90's blockbuster just as Jaws was in the 70's. I know that Titanic also came out in the 90's and earned much more money, but Jurassic Park just had the summer blockbuster feel to it...same as Jaws, which more or less invented the term.

And of course each movie had a great monster to go with it. Jurassic Park actually had 2 monsters if you count the raptors, but the T-Rex was the star of the show like the shark was in Jaws.

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Old 01-14-11, 04:45 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Dr. Mantle View Post
Are you sure you're not confusing the 80s with the 70s?

I definitely agree that 80s films seem very prominent right now. It's most likely because they are finally old enough for people to be nostalgic about them, and also people who grew up in the 1980s are now in their 20s and 30s and are starting to make a mark in the world.
I agree about the '70s. But you're about 15 years off with your ages. I was born in '67, but consider myself an '80s kid since I was still in junior high when the '80s began. The high school and college years are the ones where you really start appreciating things and forming your own thoughts about them. Who remembers stuff from when they were 5 or 6?
Old 01-14-11, 04:54 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Numanoid View Post
I agree about the '70s. But you're about 15 years off with your ages. I was born in '67, but consider myself an '80s kid since I was still in junior high when the '80s began. The high school and college years are the ones where you really start appreciating things and forming your own thoughts about them. Who remembers stuff from when they were 5 or 6?
Exactly. I was born in 1980, so I was 13 when Jurassic Park came out. I use that as an example because we've been talking about it this thread. I remember seeing that 4 times in the theater and it just sticks in my mind as THE movie going experience of my life. I saw Return of the Jedi when I was 3 (at least I've been told) and don't remember a thing. I actually can't remember anything about any movie I saw in the 80's and really Jurassic Park is the first movie I have a vivid memory of. So, yeah I think you really have to be in your teens at the youngest to truly start appreciating and remembering stuff.
Old 01-14-11, 05:34 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Dr. Mantle View Post
Are you sure you're not confusing the 80s with the 70s?

I definitely agree that 80s films seem very prominent right now. It's most likely because they are finally old enough for people to be nostalgic about them, and also people who grew up in the 1980s are now in their 20s and 30s and are starting to make a mark in the world. Family Guy is a good example. Half the jokes are references to 80s culture and I doubt any of the writers are over the age of 40.

But how the hell is the 1980s an artistic sweet spot? The 1980s is the decade that cemented shitty action movies as a viable genre. People like Burt Reynolds and Chuck Norris were the big stars.

Even the major filmmakers of the 80s (Cameron, Landis, Hughes, Scott) don't compare to the greats of the 70s (Scorsese, Coppola) or the 90s (Anderson, Tarantino).

There were plenty of successful, entertaining films made in the 1980s. But artistically, the 80s comes up short when compared to almost any other decade.
You're strictly speaking about shitty quality action films and not just all the action films together, right? Cuz...I might have a problem w/ that if it's the latter.

Last edited by Solid Snake; 01-14-11 at 06:17 PM.
Old 01-14-11, 05:44 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

I think the 80's were the golden age of popcorn cinema. Some of the best action, adeventure, comedy, horror movies ever made. It wasn't a great decade for big artistic or hip cutting edge, high brow critic type movies, but it had its fair share.
Old 01-14-11, 07:14 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Yeti4623 View Post
I think the 80's were the golden age of popcorn cinema. Some of the best action, adeventure, comedy, horror movies ever made. It wasn't a great decade for big artistic or hip cutting edge, high brow critic type movies, but it had its fair share.
THANK YOU.

However, why can't a good popcorn movie be considered good art? ("Empire"? "Raiders? "The Dark Knight"?)

I guess I'm arguing a film like "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" (from the 80s) is as quality a comedy as "Annie Hall" (from the 70's). Just one isn't as pretentious as the other. And that's what can be said about 80's movies--they're unpretentious. And memorable.

Who's really going to remember "Rushmore" in 50 years beyond afficienados? "Ghostbusters" on the other hand...

As I said: we rarely if ever have films that could be considered lasting art and popcorn fare anymore. Essentially nowadays, you can have "Rabbit Hole" or "The Green Hornet" but almost nothing seem to fit in both camps simultaneously--that aren't calculated Oscar bait.

Last edited by PatD; 01-14-11 at 07:48 PM.
Old 01-14-11, 09:51 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by PatD View Post
Who's really going to remember "Rushmore" in 50 years beyond afficienados? "Ghostbusters" on the other hand....
The reason that movies like Ghostbusters and Planes, Trains and Automobiles have stuck with me is because I grew up with them. We recorded them on VHS tapes, or they played again and again on cable. I have specific memories of watching them with my family and friends, quoting lines, and in the case of Ghostbusters, playing with toys and video games too.

As you get older, that happens less. But I'd argue that movies like Mean Girls and Anchorman, so of my favorite "fluff" movies, are just as quotable and will be just as memorable as my life continues.

It's all about perspective, and the age-old problem of thinking that your generational highlights are somehow "better" than the next.
Old 01-14-11, 09:54 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

^^
True, but what will stand the test of time? What has "Casablanca" "Wizard of Oz" like staying power for decades. It's more than generational I think.
Old 01-14-11, 10:39 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

if it's a "good movie" (I mean that in a subjective manner) that makes in impact in the culture in some form...then it stays.
Old 01-14-11, 10:44 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Numanoid View Post
I agree about the '70s. But you're about 15 years off with your ages. I was born in '67, but consider myself an '80s kid since I was still in junior high when the '80s began. The high school and college years are the ones where you really start appreciating things and forming your own thoughts about them. Who remembers stuff from when they were 5 or 6?
I was born in 84 and consider myself and 80s kid. Movies took some time to reach my local TV channel in South America so I was gleefully enjoying Raiders, Ghostbusters, and Die Hard for the first time in the 90s.
Old 01-15-11, 03:52 AM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Solid Snake PAC View Post
You're strictly speaking about shitty quality action films and not just all the action films together, right? Cuz...I might have a problem w/ that if it's the latter.
I think there are tons of great 80s action movies: Aliens, Predator, First Blood, Terminator, Die Hard, Batman, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Indy 1, 2 and 3, Robocop, The Running Man. All films that I like or love. But how often is the word "artistic" applied when these films get mentioned? I do think there are some art/action movies, but they rarely come from the US.

And for every good 80s action film like Robocop, how many shitty ones like Over the Top and Invasion U.S.A. were released? They still make shitty action movies, but they're direct to video or premiering on TNT.

Action movies are like horror movies: an incredible experience when done right, but so rarely is it done right.
Old 01-15-11, 04:11 AM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Numanoid View Post
I agree about the '70s. But you're about 15 years off with your ages. I was born in '67, but consider myself an '80s kid since I was still in junior high when the '80s began. The high school and college years are the ones where you really start appreciating things and forming your own thoughts about them. Who remembers stuff from when they were 5 or 6?
I should have said 20s to 40s, but I guess if you did any growing up in the 1980s it probably counts.

I was born in 1981 and I think of myself as an 80s kid. I didn't see Ghostbusters, but I watched The Real Ghostbusters, had some of the toys and ate the Ghostbusters cereal. I remember Punky Brewster and Diff'rent Strokes and Mr. Belvedere. I remember seeing Back to the Future in the theater. If that was right when it came out, I would have been three at the time(b-day in Sept).

There was more growing up in the 90s. I saw Jurassic Park 7 times. I saw Contact 12 times. I saw L.A. Confidential and The Full Monty back to back. But I always consider the 1980s to be the beginning of what I appreciate, not necessarily because it was good, but because I remember it.

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Old 01-15-11, 01:04 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Man, PatD, you've managed to rag on Star Trek '09, Jurassic Park, AND Annie Hall recently.

I love a lot of 80's movies, and I think there were plenty of artistically daring films from that time period (Blue Velvet and Brazil are just two examples from one year), but there's no doubt that the 70's was the decade where artists were encouraged to experiment, whereas in the 80's they had to fight for it. Look at a movie like The Exorcist, which manages to be a crowd pleaser and a great work of art at the same time, and show me something equivalent in the 80's.
Old 01-15-11, 06:54 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

I don't see how those camps didn't exist back then. Was Gandhi a mall product? Out of Africa? Chariots of Fire? Kiss of the Spider Woman? The Last Emperor?
Old 01-15-11, 08:26 PM
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Re: 80s Mainstream Films: A Commercial/Artistic "Sweet Spot"?

Originally Posted by Suprmallet View Post
Man, PatD, you've managed to rag on Star Trek '09, Jurassic Park, AND Annie Hall recently.

I love a lot of 80's movies, and I think there were plenty of artistically daring films from that time period (Blue Velvet and Brazil are just two examples from one year), but there's no doubt that the 70's was the decade where artists were encouraged to experiment, whereas in the 80's they had to fight for it. Look at a movie like The Exorcist, which manages to be a crowd pleaser and a great work of art at the same time, and show me something equivalent in the 80's.
"The Empire Strikes Back" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to name two.

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