Review films of the 1980s here! - Page 10 - AVS Forum
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post #271 of 276 Old 07-09-2014, 08:13 PM
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The Quiet Earth, 1985
This title came up in the Name That Movie thread, so I acquired the German BD release just for grins.

A vast improvement over any previous US release, although it appears to have been transferred from an old DVD master, which in turn was likely taken from an older well-used film source. Full of glitches, but many scenes look quite good. 16:9 AR. A pleasure to watch after having previously only seen it in letterbox 4:3.

The story is impossible to explain, except for the post-apocalyptic world which may or may not be reality, alternate universe or whatever.

Edit to add: This release is advertised and labeled as Region-B, but it is region free.

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post #272 of 276 Old 07-28-2014, 06:33 AM
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Southern Comfort (1981), directed by Walter Hill.

Meet a unit of Louisiana National Guard on maneuvers. Through accident and stupidity they find themselves in a survival situation, battling unfriendly swamp Cajuns. None of the soldiers are suited to the task, lacking skill or temperament or both, and are picked off one by one.

The director didn't want to talk about it, but this is obviously "Vietnam in the bayou".

I hadn't seen this for a long time but it has always been a nostalgic favorite. Walter Hill tends to deliver entertainment value, but I see more of its flaws now.

We have a strong beginning with introductions, particularly noting the two clever "operators" in the unit: Keith Carradine -- relaxed and accepting the bad craziness, and Powers Boothe -- transplanted Texas tough guy, outraged at the insanity.

The ending is also very good, with serious tension, paranoia and excessive explosive violence in a swamplands party with it's great music, friendly locals and explicit hog slaughtering.

The long muddled middle is more of a problem:

  • Apart from the two leads, the characters are all caricatures: either wannabe warriors or lazy good old boys -- verging on moronic -- who don't mind occasional murder and looting.
  • "Coach" goes spectacularly crazy with scarcely any warning.
  • The escape plot is exciting, but when the invisible enemy drops huge trees all around them: forget it, we've entered fantasy land.

Still, it's a great, gritty, rewatchable action picture.

Very cool dobro score by Ry Cooder. Many lovely long-focus shots of the bayou toward the beginning. Great 1980s cast.

Shout Factory Blu-ray. The color palette is a subdued army drab, probably matching the original film. I don't remember if I saw this in the theater.



-Bill
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post #273 of 276 Old 07-28-2014, 08:09 AM
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Re: Southern Comfort (1981), directed by Walter Hill.

Have always had a warm place in my heart for Walter Hill because he directed the very first episode of Deadwood.
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post #274 of 276 Old 07-28-2014, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
The director didn't want to talk about it, but this is obviously "Vietnam in the bayou".
Also obviously a Deliverance knock-off.

Haven't seen this in years, but I enjoyed it about the same as you did.

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My opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers.

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post #275 of 276 Old 08-15-2014, 08:51 AM
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WarGames (1983), directed by John Badham.

A high school hacker looking for unreleased computer games mistakenly finds a backdoor into North American missile defense. He starts a game of "Global Thermonuclear War" which becomes pretty tense pretty quickly. Realizing his mistake he tries to shut it down, but the computer takes its games seriously. Unstoppable countdown to WW3...

It's slickly written, moves along nicely and is still a lot of fun, if rather light. Given recent history, the notion that military computers can be hacked by kids is more believable now than it was at the time.

The Cold War still had years to run when this wry teen-romance entry in the gut-wrenching-threat-of-nuclear-war genre was made, which is pretty bold. I'm not sure they ever got credit for that. Adding a more adult, emotional dimension: the grief and cynicism of Dr Falken, with the war computer as a surrogate for his lost son.

The second climax in the war room when the computer plays hundreds of nuclear war simulations, looking for a solution, is really stunning. I always thought those big screens were done as post-production opticals, but no: each screen had a film projector behind it.

Second film for both Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. I always like seeing John Wood (Dr Falken) and Barry Corbin (General Beringer).

Misc notes:
  • Apple and IBM had begun mass-market home PCs by the time this film was made, but the kid has older generation gear: that brief silver age when cheap computers were kit-based and you needed considerable skills to get them working.
  • See his acoustic coupler? Nobody misses those. Likewise for the 8" floppies: their drives sounded like a piano rolling down the stairs.
  • An office gag we used to do: point your finger and say, "Turn the key, sir! That's not the procedure! Turn the key, sir!"
  • The kid gives the computer a voice, but we continue to hear it even when we are away from his gear. Maybe we are supposed to understand this is imaginary, not audible to the characters. The writers said "The audience won't care".
  • The voice is an electric Dr Falken, a nice touch.
  • Sparks flying out of stressed computers is a bit of 1960s dumbness.

Available on Blu-ray. A pleasant commentary track with the director and two writers gives production details and good insight into the overall design of the screenplay. Made in 1998 it is a bit of a time capsule itself: their comments on dated technology reference their own now-dated technology.



-Bill
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post #276 of 276 Old 08-15-2014, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
Available on Blu-ray. A pleasant commentary track with the director and two writers gives production details and good insight into the overall design of the screenplay. Made in 1998 it is a bit of a time capsule itself: their comments on dated technology reference their own now-dated technology.
Yep, in the world of computers everything is old-fashioned before you know it. In 1983, when WarGames was released, I had yet to buy my first PC, although I had bought a couple of CP/M machines for my firm in the late '70s. We owe it all to Moore's Law, I guess.
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