Because of my “tribute” to John Hughes we kind of got off track with the 5 films at a time concept. Let’s catch up with 4 films here.
84 Apocalypse Now
I’m not really into war movies…they’re just not my thing. I much prefer to laugh than watch people get killed. I think a lot of it has to do with my age. Both world wars occurred before my parents were even born and the Korean War took place 20 years before I was even a gleam in my Daddy’s eye. Even Vietnam ended when I was a toddler. I never had the privilege of serving my country in the military either. So I suppose it stands to reason that war films just don’t resonate with me in any meaningful and relevant capacity. However, there are some exceptions. Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now features a dream cast…..Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Lawrence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, and a very young and unknown Harrison Ford…..all directed by the incomparable Francis Ford Coppola. That’s a group that could make just about any movie on any subject appealing, but in this case they have superbly written material to work with.
83 Dirty Dancing
I believe there are a handful…..maybe 8 or 10…80’s films that defined the decade and would need to be put into any 1980’s time capsule. Dirty Dancing is one of those iconic films, even though it is set in the 60’s . Patrick Swayze would be on the Mount Rushmore of late 20th Century actors, and this is among his best performances. The movie has a bit of everything…..romance, class warfare, great music, drama. It’s the very definition of a popcorn movie, which should not be seen as a derisive term. After all, what’s wrong with a little escapism?? Timing is a key issue here as well. I don’t know if Dirty Dancing is something I would have connected with had it been made 5 years earlier or 5 years later. But it came out when I was 15 and is a definitive moment in my teenage pop culture memory.
82 Top Gun
Top Gun is another 80’s time capsule necessity starring another icon of the era, Tom Cruise. Cruise, at one time, oozed cool. He was the very essence of how we define the term “movie star”, and Top Gun was his crowning achievement. I suppose it’s debatable as to whether he changed or I just grew up and began understanding that actors have more than their fair share of unique shortcomings. Nevertheless, I give credit where credit is due and will always fondly recall several of his better roles. It’s unlikely that Top Gun is a very accurate portrayal of Navy life, but it’s a fun story with a good mix of action for the guys and romance for the ladies, one of those “a little something to interest everyone” rarities.
81 Trapped In Paradise
I know some will see Trapped In Paradise on this list and think I’ve lost my mind. But in the introduction to this series I made it clear that these are my favorite films, not the greatest films of all time. And while I take pride in what I believe to be pretty good taste I will also readily admit that sometimes my heart falls for something that my head tells me isn’t really that good (and no, we haven’t suddenly segued into discussing my love life). Two things must be said in defense of my affection for this early 90’s Nicolas Cage/Dana Carvey/Jon Lovitz dramedy. First of all, it’s a Christmas movie, and I love love love Christmas movies. They have a warm and fuzzy, timeless quality…..atleast most of them. Secondly, I remember seeing this film as if it were yesterday. I had just graduated college. My two best friends and I were hanging out at my apartment and decided to venture to the video store a few blocks down the street. One of the videos we ended up with was Trapped In Paradise. It was silly and funny and I was enjoying it with two people who were like brothers to me…..interesting since the movie is about three brothers. Not long after that I would move away and a very special chapter in my life would end. I look back now and realize just how extraordinary those years were. So yes, Trapped In Paradise may not be critically acclaimed or even be a very good movie, but for me it represents a moment in time forever frozen in my mind and fondly imprinted into my soul. But even for the other 99.999% of the population who don’t have any kind of emotional attachment it is still an eminently watchable and I daresay enjoyable flick for a cold winter night when you’re sitting under a blanket, sipping hot chocolate, and enjoying the soft glow of twinkling lights emanating off your tree.