American Cinema of the 1980s: Themes and Variations (Screen Decades: American Culture/American Cinema)
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Bringing together original essays by ten respected scholars in the field, American Cinema of the 1980s examines the films that marked the decade, including Ordinary People, Body Heat, Blade Runner, Zelig, Platoon, Top Gun, Aliens, Blue Velvet, Robocop, Fatal Attraction, Die Hard, Batman, and sex, lies & videotape.
Witness. Leger Grindon ﬁnds a spirit of resistance to mainstream political culture in Platoon, Aliens, The Fly, Hannah and Her Sisters, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Blue Velvet. Jack Boozer explores ﬁlms that mirror national scandals in RoboCop, House of Games, and Wall Street, and also examines the salience of Vietnam War ﬁlms and those examining the broadcast media. Deron Overpeck ﬁnds contradictions between the ideology about America and the actual social conditions so important in Big,
highlighted masculinity and its capacity to metamorphose, mutate, and sustain hegemonic/heroic control. Many of these ﬁlms were equally as nostalgic for classical ﬁlm forms and actively drew from classical genres in their approach. Although its Cold War themes would seem to suggest an utterly contemporary focus, Stripes recycles material from the military comedies of the World War II era. The ﬁlm focuses on an unlikely group of enlistees whose experiences in basic training provide grist for broad
situation: she is talentless, powerless, penniless, alienated, isolated, marginalized, and self-destructive. Seidelman made the ﬁlm for $80,000 soon after graduating from New York University (as well as directing, she also co-wrote the screenplay and edited and produced the ﬁlm). Smithereens earned a reputation at ﬁlm festivals (including Cannes, where it became the ﬁrst independently produced American ﬁlm to be accepted in the main competition) before receiving a limited commercial release. Two
disconcerting electronic effects. Schanberg arrives alone in an airport while his photographer, Al Rockoff (John Malkovich), is asleep and hung over in a seedy hotel room. When the two go to an outdoor café for breakfast a terrorist bomb explodes nearby, transforming Rockoff from a babbling eccentric into a highly professional photographer, as he snaps up and begins shooting the carnage. Schanberg’s translator Dith Pran breathlessly arrives and tells of reports of U.S. bombing of a civilian
men. Aliens cultivates cynicism. The military is inept in spite of its overpowering technology, and rather than allowing for the crisis to bond the ﬁghters, as is common in war ﬁlms, the movie slaughters its characters until only mother and child remain. “The Company,” the all-powerful corporate sponsor of the expedition, readily trades human life for proﬁts. This overarching institutional villain, inherited from Alien, remains unchallenged. The war movie model refers to Vietnam, and Aliens plays