E.T. phone home.
A couple of months ago I found myself back in 1982. I managed this feat through the easiest form of time travel available to us: film. After reading a piece in a recent issue of Wired on the Alamo Drafthouse — the movie theatre of my dreams — and its 1982 summer blockbuster revival program, it inspired me to do the same at home.
Looking at some of the top money makers of 1982 this year does make some sense considering the anniversary it marks (30th, which also reminds me that I’m not as young as I’d like to think I am), but more than that, it’s fascinating to revisit the summer movie experience at a time when it was on the cusp of the blockbuster era — and yes, I know that Star Wars is considered to have kickstarted that era, but in 1982 we’re still finding an industry that is not completely lost in the vapidness or cookie-cutter template that characterizes most blockbusters these days.
Some of those big movies from 1982 are weird, or somehow still have an indie vibe to them — and by indie vibe I mean that they show originality in a way that we only get from indie films these days.
You can take a look at what the box office results from that year looked like, and then also see what is being shown as part of the Alamo’s program. I’m not done watching all of the films that I want to watch — after an initial burst, I felt like I needed a break — but I did get in quite a few, and reacted to them in a variety of ways.
First the good. Although not from the summer, Blade Runner is probably the best thing 1982 had to offer, and to this day, it’s still an amazing experience to take in — and the current blu-ray release of the film is absolutely stunning. I also loved revisiting The Thing, and the crisp version made it feel modern, and it was especially great being able to compare it to last year’s remake (which I did enjoy).
Surprisingly, I really quite enjoyed Rocky III. It’s a smarter film than I remembered, and not because of a great script or story, but because of the way it manages to poke fun at itself — the scene where Rocky is training in the gym, open to the public, while someone is playing the Rocky theme on the mandolin in the background is absolutely priceless.
Richard Pryor: Live at the Sunset Strip is fascinating as a snapshot of the comedy sensibility of the time. I didn’t find myself laughing much — and to be honest, I was surprised at how underwhelming, and almost awkward, I found Pryor’s set to be — but I did enjoy watching it.
The only film I watched that was a chore to finish was Poltergeist. I was in fact surprised when I realized I had never watched it — I was still familiar with all the classic scenes though (“They’re here”). It started out fun, with that 80s vibe that we just don’t see anymore — that mix of naivety in what is being portrayed, dosed with unrealness/surrealness — but as it became more about the ghosts/spirits, the special effects — which have not aged well — really brought it down.
Do you hate Rocky? No, I don’t hate Balboa. I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!