Why haven’t I seen these 80s movies?

80smovie

Let me just start this post off by admitting that, really, I’m just not that into movies.

It’s not that I have anything AGAINST them, it’s just that, say for instance, I find myself at a loose end on a Saturday night – no plans, no desire to make any – chances are almost zero that I’d spend the evening devouring back-to-back screenings of the latest blockbusters to grace the DVD shop’s shelves.

In fact, given the choice between reading a book and watching some randomly selected film, I would always choose the book.

Given the choice between browsing Pinterest with a glass (or two… okay, let’s make it a bottle) of wine at hand and watching a film I’m not particularly interested in, 90% of the time I’d choose the former.

Given the choice between just pottering around my flat, listening to music and rearranging… stuff and watching a movie, I would almost certainly potter.

I’m not too sure *why* exactly this is the case – it could have something to do with the fact that I don’t have a TV and my laptop is super tiny, which, let’s face it, isn’t the best for watching stuff on.

Or that I never remember my account name/number at the DVD shop and it’s kind of embarrassing.

Or maybe it’s because I really hate feeling like I wasted two-to-three hours of my precious time on something that left me underwhelmed (I’m looking at you, Moonrise Kingdom), devastated to the point of curling into the foetal position forever (ahem… Requiem for a Dream), fearing what might happen if I wake up at 3am (Gothika, you bastard!!) or with a substantial drop in brain cell activity (I’d really rather not say).

Whatever the case may be, the point is I’m rather picky when it comes to films.

So, when I came across this article on Huffington Post about the 10 ’80s movies writer, Alison Tate, would want her kids to watch and learn from, I felt strangely cheated… but also excited.

One whole half of the list consists of amazing-looking movies – films that I know will fit right into my firm favourites list – that I haven’t seen yet!

I couldn’t believe it.

So, here they are – the five ’80s movies I’m actually going to make time to see. Better open a new Red Sofa account!

The Breakfast Club 

breakfast club

Say anything

sayanything

Pretty in Pink

pretty in pink

Singles

singles

Princess Bride

princess bride

Latest obsession: Out of Africa

If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me?

Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?  – Karen Blixen (as Isak Dinesen)

When I was a baby I had trouble sleeping. The pressing heat of a Namibian summer made swathing me in blankets close to impossible, leaving my not-yet-controllable limbs to do as they pleased: mostly flailing energetically to keep me wide awake.

Of course, there was very little my poor mother could do to relieve my discomfort and soothe my infantile insomnia.

So she devised a plan to employ the best remedy she knew would have no nasty side-effects: music. But not just any music. Oh no! She had a single soundtrack on repeat (which in those days, of course, entailed manual turning over of a tape)… the dreamy score of Out of Africa.

Now, I’m no baby psychology expert and don’t really know when memories actually start, but what I do know is that some essential part of that soundtrack got stuck in the fibers of my being.

Until this very day, those are the soothing strains of ‘home.’

But strangely, despite the central place its music has taken in my life, the film has remained largely marginalized… in that I had never actually seen it.

Well, that is, until two nights ago. And let me just tell you… I found myself intensely enchanted. (Fortunately! I can’t imagine how devastated I would have been if it turned out any differently.)

Enchanted by Karen Blixen (played immaculately by Meryl Streep), the brave baroness and master storyteller, Denys Fynch Hatton (played by the swoon-worthy Robert Redford), the tough hunter with his ever-curious mind and marshmallow-soft heart, the long-gone colonial type safari with those luxurious tents, the almost idiosyncratic gramophone, the coffee farm in the Ngong Hills, the sinewy Kikuyu and ethereal Masai.

Enchanted by Africa and her gloriously untameable wildness. Once more. As always. 

Photo: Digital Journalist

Enchanted by incredible scenes like the one where Denys washes Karen’s hair by the river while reciting a poem and the one where all the local children crowd into her home to watch the little coo coo peek out the clock.

And of course the one where they dance to Mozart playing from a gramophone while on safari.

Inevitably, I now find myself fiercely intrigued by Baroness Blixen’s life, because, well, if the film is anything to go by (and I think it is), she was one hell of a woman… the kind of woman I wouldn’t mind being.

And here is why:

Photo: My Imaginary Brooklyn

  • She trekked across African plains entirely unfamiliar to her, to take her husband and his stuck-up British friends a wagon-full of supplies to aid the little colonial war they were waging with Germany.
  • On said journey lions attacked the oxen and, for want of a rifle, she grabbed a whip and literally whipped them right away!
  • She was a storyteller.
  • Her style was immaculate.
  • While she yearned for a life less lonely than she had, she never let being alone get in the way of living out all the extraordinary adventures she dreamed of.
  • She won the heart of a gorgeous man (with an incredible character) by telling him stories.
  • Even though she was quite assertive, she treated everyone she encountered kindly and with grace.
  • With the guidance of Denys, she understood the impact colonialism was having on Africa way before most of their peers.

Can’t wait to get my hands on the Out of Africa, the book she penned under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen and her biography.

 

I have a new favourite movie

Or, at least, I think I do.

But you know how it goes with new favourite movies… I will probably forget all about it next time someone asks me “what is your favourite movie?” And I will splutter and stutter and umm and aaah… and eventually say it’s a toss-up between Amelie, Moulin Rouge and Pan’s Labyrinth.

But, wait! Is this a pattern I see developing before my eyes?

Moulin Rouge, Amelie… and now, my latest favourite, Midnight in Paris (NB not to be confused with a certain heiress’ sex tape, please!). Yup, it seems like the city of light and love has been working its irresistible French charm once again, this time in the form of a light-hearted romcom from the pen, heart and mind of Woody Allen.

Now, I really don’t want to bore you with a plot, because you can find it all over the interweb, for example here, here and here. And if you like film buff mumbo jumbo lingo, this one seems really comprehensive

I will instead just tell you why I loved it.

1. It’s wacky and whimsical without being over the top.

I mean the main character, Gil Pender, played by Owen Wilson, gets transported to 1920s Paris – his ideal era – at the stroke of midnight every night in a classic old taxi and proceeds to meet Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and a whole lot of other literary and art legends who used to live it up in Paris. Yet, it gets presented as a highly natural sequence of events – no flashing lights, dream sequences, going down rabbit holes or anything. Just a bit of everyday time travel.

2. The exploration of Golden Age thinking

“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking -the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.” – A quote from the film

Like Gil, it turns out that I am one of those people with the romantic imaginations who find it difficult to cope with the present. Like Gil, I am convinced that I was born too late, missing the lifetime I should have been part of. Like Gil, I find myself fascinated and charmed by remnants of the past – second hand books and clothes, record players, old-fashioned decor and ideas.

Where Gil was convinced that Paris in the 1920s was his ideal era and place, I have a much vaguer pastoral, nomadic, self-sufficient, flowy-dressed era and place in mind.

In fact, I think its a pretty widespread phenomenon for our era and age group… perhaps a good explanation for the massiveness of vintage fashion?

Anyway, in the film it turns out that this Golden Age thinking isn’t exclusive to modernity, but seems to surface in each era. Like when Gil’s 1920s love interest, Adrianna, finds herself in turn of the century Paris, her ideal era and decides to stay there. Baffled by her betrayal of the ’20s, Gil suddenly has a moment of enlightenment and says:

“Adriana, if you stay here though, and this becomes your present then pretty soon you’ll start imagining another time was really your… You know, was really the golden time. Yeah, that’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying.”

3. The characters Gil encounters

I especially loved the machismo of Ernest Hemingway, played by Corey Stoll (quite a hottie, I must say), the insanity and rhinoceros obsession of Salvador Dali, played by Adrien Brody, and the sweet and sultriness of Adriana, played by Marion Cotillard.

4. The 1920s glam

I’ve always loved fancy dress, but as I grow older I find myself being less and less imaginative in the outfits I put together. Looking at the outrageous outfits of the French belles in the 1920s I feel inspired to put in a bit of extra effort once more and have a lot more fun!

Keen to check it out for yourself? It’s showing at the Labia everyday this week, check out the times over here. And I must add that seeing it at the Labia comes highly recommended, as it just fits into the whole Golden Age theme so well.