Predator

And so here we go. Following all of the the year-based movie marathons I’ve done so far this year (1985, 1967, 1986, 1977) I kick off what I imagine will be the last one I do this year: 1985. I have a massive list of stuff I want to watch (60+ I think, but I won’t necessarily watch all of that), and I was pretty excited to start with Predator, an action classic of the era, and a film I hadn’t revisited in decades. I think it’s aged pretty well — sure, you get the cheesy 80s machismo, but that’s part of the package I was expecting, and the action itself (and build up, especially) is still quite enjoyable to watch.

Spielberg

The second great documentary I watched last week (following the Clive Davis one) was the Spielberg documentary that aired on HBO. It’s a really fantastic look at the man’s career, and makes you appreciate even more what he was able to achieve through his life’s work (so far). Unlike the Clive Davis one, I didn’t really learn anything new here, but I quite enjoyed the look back at the films I grew up watching, with interesting comments coming from his collaborators. Well worth watching.

Like it’s 1977

Well, following my 1985, 1967, and 1986 movie marathons, I’m now done with my journey back to 1977. Just like for 1967, I kept it to down to 10 films, and it was pretty easy for me to come up with the list of films to watch — I immediately came up with all 10 (which you’ll find listed below, in alphabetical order), a mix of classics, stuff that I loved as a kid, and stuff I’d never seen but always meant to watch. Yet again, as much as I enjoy watching these old films, I also enjoy taking the time trip back to that particular year — the intensity of watching a bunch of films from one year tells you a lot about that year, as much from what is on screen, to the way the films are put together and acted. What’s next? 1987 of course, and from the list I’ve already started putting together, I think I may hit 50-60 films.

  1. Annie Hall
  2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  3. Exorcist II: The Heretic
  4. Pumping Iron
  5. Saturday Night Fever
  6. Slap Shot
  7. Smokey and the Bandit
  8. Star Wars
  9. Suspiria
  10. The Kentucky Fried Movie

Suspiria

My first taste of Dario Argento was watching Phenomena earlier this year (yeah, I know, kinda silly that it took me so long) as part of my 1985 movie marathon. I ended up not liking that movie at all, but even then I knew that Suspiria was considered his true classic. Well, it is indeed, and I found myself really enjoying it. From the insanely insane (and spooky, and groovy, and…) soundtrack by Goblin to the creepy cast and decor, this was very entertaining to watch — sure, the horror elements aren’t as shocking as I’m sure they were at the time, but I could appreciate the intensity of what was happening. Most of the acting is still pretty bad (apart from the main character), and the voice dubbing is distracting, but that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the film as a whole.

Smokey and the Bandit

I was really expecting not to enjoy watching this — I knew that I loved it as a kid, but I was sure it would feel too corny and probably unfunny to me now. Lo and behold, I had an absolute blast watching it again. Sure, a lot of it is nostalgia — and finding comfort in a lot of the gags that I actually remembered — but from the classic theme song to the charisma of Burt Reynolds and company, and the exciting car chases, I won’t lie, I liked it a lot (for what it is, a silly comedy of the era).

The Kentucky Fried Movie

Look, this was never a good movie, but as a kid, it was a pretty crazy movie to watch, and that’s probably more because of the nudity (boobs galore) than for the comedy. As a kid I loved the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker stuff (Airplane, Top SecretNaked Gun, etc.) and this is pretty much a proto version of that. How has it aged? Well, not particularly well, and there are bits that are way too long and boring, but I won’t lie, there are still some good chuckles to be had here and there (the family that moves beyond the death of their son by still including his body in family activities), as well as some pretty biting commentary that still rings true today. I was also surprised by how many of the gags I still remembered (“show me your nuts”).

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

When I started watching this I wasn’t really feeling it, and immediately was thinking that it was going to be a bit of a slog to get through. Sure, I had fond memories of enjoying it when I was a kid, but I hadn’t re-watched in ages. Then, after about the first half hour, I started getting sucked in, and I was completely “in” until the end. This is still a fantastic take on the alien movie, and you can already see that Spielberg is really something special. I also love that it’s a movie that doesn’t really include much conflict, and the joy on Dreyfuss’s character’s face when he gets chosen to enter the craft is just, well, joyous.

Clive Davis: The Sountrack of Our Lives

I’d of course heard of Clive Davis, and knew he was an important figure in the music industry, but I didn’t really know much more than that. Watching this new documentary that was produced for Apple Music, I found myself really enjoying finding out how big an impact he had on the industry, and the journey he had (from lawyer to head of a record label), and the artists that he pretty much guided to success. Doesn’t matter if most of the artists featured aren’t really what I’m into musically, I just found this documentary quite fascinating. Well worth watching.

Design Sprints in Japan

Sure, I mention the Tokyo-based design studio AQ a lot in part because they’re good friends of mine, but it’s no secret that they’re also incredibly talented at what they do — the fact that they’ve been at it for so long and continue to grow is a testament to that. They recently shared an essay (on Medium too) that takes a look at how they’ve adapted the sprint method for use in Japan (where it’s still a relatively new concept to be used within companies).