Cinematic Nostalgia

Earlier today Brian Fulthorp tweeted a link to a post called “Dude, Where’s My DeLorean?” written by someone named Indy. The post seems to be a couple of years old but that’s neither here nor there. Indy reminisces about the good ol’ days, i.e., the 80s, when movies were good. All the usual suspects are cited—E.T.; Gremlins; Back to the Future; Star Wars; etc.—and modern films are derided as being “plain entertainment”; “busy and plotless CGI, brainless parodies of films audiences once adored, and snarky, unfunny raunchfests.”

Fair enough. I watch tons of movies (courtesy of those mediums like NetFlix that Indy has come to disdain) and I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a ton of crap out there. But apart from nostalgia, I can say the same for the movies of the 80s. Indy talks about watching the original Star Wars with a 12 year old who ended up being bored out of his mind. Well I saw the original triology as a kid, loved them, and after having watched them as an adult, I can sympathize with the 12 year old. They are boring; they look horrible; and let’s be honest and admit that the story isn’t really all that great.

Flicks is flicks and every era has its share of good and bad ones. Indy cites the Lord of the Rings triology as the lone exception when he asks if anyone born after 1985 will truly “know the thrill of a truly well-told, standalone story.” If I’m honest, the LOTR trilogy is almost as boring as the original Star Wars films. It looks a heck of a lot better; and thank God for Legolas being nice with a bow, but those flicks are long and drawn out. So if that’s the only saving grace Indy can think of then the post-85ers are doomed!

But again, setting nostalgia aside, of the movies from the 80s she mentions, the only ones I can watch again and again are the Back to the Future films. All of them were smartly written, well acted, and full of enough humor, action, and psuedo-drama to keep viewers of all eras interested. E.T.? I own it. You know how many times I’ve watched it in the last decade? Once. And I didn’t even get all the way through. Gremlins? Love it, or rather, I love the memory of it. I’ve tried to watch it again and it doesn’t capture my attention. Lots of movies are like that, but then again, lots of movies aren’t. It’s just the way things are.



6 thoughts on “Cinematic Nostalgia

  1. Completely agree. It’s funny how much slack we give to movies we saw as kids before we had any real experience of good movies. We often let nostalgia influence our views of movies and their worth today. Some of them hold up and stand the test of time but many don’t. I think a movie like Back to the Future does but there are other movies I thought were great and then I see them today and they’re not that exciting, funny, interesting, etc. A few movies I saw as a kid and rewatched as an adult that I didn’t think held up were Space Balls and Lost Boys, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was hard to admit it but nostalgia had been inflating their worth for me for a long time. A couple of movies that I think have held up are Real Genius and Goonies. And there are many that I haven’t seen in since I was young that I’m curious about. I think Star Wars is seriously over rated and really boring. The idea is better than the movie. I’d much rather watch one of the newer ones or even the cartoon over the original trilogy.

    And there are plenty of movies that are great from the 2000’s and 90’s. Most of my favorites are from that time (and LOTR is not on the list). Heck just look at the super hero movies now compared to then. Tim Burton’s Batman is not as great as I remember it being. I couldn’t even get through it when I tried to watch it last year. Christopher Noland’s is way better and rewatchable.

    Too many movies get a free pass because of nostalgia.

  2. Indy Ink here. Three things… well, four. First, thanks for reading my post! Second, you and the commenter above disagree with my film picks, so I searched your post for suggestions from your own era that you like… and didn’t come up with much. What do you like and what made those films great for you? Third, my guess is you were both born around or after 1985ish? Which proves the point of my blog post–you think the movies we loved are lame because it’s difficult to wrap your head around that era. Fourth, I love Netflix–or used to, before the price increase–but video on demand has seriously altered the rate at which audiences consume films, which in turn changes what we view as quality versus crap.

    Oh, and I’m a girl. :)

  3. Bryan: In principle we’re on the same page but I think most of the movies you’ve named have held up quite well. Real Genius is exactly that so we definitely agree there! I just watched The Goonies with my daughter last month and she didn’t quite get what I liked so much about it, but she sat through most of it. Lost Boys is still one of my favorite vampire flicks (in fact, I listed it as #1 some years back; I think Let the Right One In would bump it from the top spot though). I still like all the Indiana Jones flicks. Their a little kitschy but they’ve help up pretty good in my opinion (I still haven’t seen the one with Shia LeBouf though). But you’re right; too many movies get a free pass because of nostalgia, and also because someone once declared them a classic (if you’ve not seen Citizen Kane then you’re lucky; it’s boring and sucks beyond belief, yet it’s supposed to be one of the best films ever?).

    Indy: The follow your lead:

    (1) You’re welcome! Thanks for writing it. :-)

    (2) Some movies from my youth (I’ll limit the list to stuff made in the 80s) that have stood the test of time are (in no particular order): The Neverending Story; Major League; The Golden Child; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Die Hard; The Breakfast Club; Do the Right Thing; Who Framed Roger Rabbit?; The Lost Boys; Back to the Future (I, II, & III); and so many others. Some had great stories; some had great action; and some were side-splittingly funny. And that’s what makes them all great today. I don’t think any of that has been degraded with age.

    (3) I was born in 1981, which would put Bryan in 1980 if memory serves. My formative years were the 80s and 90s and I still love plenty from that era. I’ve gone on record as saying that I think that the best pop music of all time was made in the 80s (but I’ll freely admit that I think music holds up better than movies over time).

    (4) Duly noted. I’m a believer that quality can come in quantity. I appreciate Netflix more for the TV shows than the movies, but I’ve watched a number of good movies, and probably just as many crappy ones, on Netflix.

    And I think I referred to you as a “she” once in the post. I didn’t realize you were a girl initially but soon found out after a bit of perusing.

  4. Yep 1980 for me.

    I watched Goonies with my wife (1983) recently. She never saw it growing up (or didn’t remember it) and she loved it although I don’t think it had the same impact on her as it would have if you grew up with it in the 80’s and you believed adventure and pirate treasure were in your own back yard.

    I’m surprised you can still think Lost Boys is great. I really wanted to like that movie, especially since for a long time I considered it the best vampire flick (out of nostalgia I guess) but it was so cheesy. I was sad that it didn’t live up to my memory. Never saw Let the Right One In. Actually I started watching it a few years back but I’m not much into horror anymore and the sound of the blood pouring into the bucket near the beginning just put me off.

    As for Raiders I saw it as a kid but didn’t remember it, not like I did Temple of Doom and Last Crusade (the last flick is terrible and should not be considered part of the series) so when I watched it last year I though it was good but not great.

    Never seen Citizen Kane, don’t plan on it. I did recently see Casablanca though and I actually liked it. Didn’t love it like a movie from modern times but I liked it.

    I like all those movies you listed (although I’ve never seen BTF III and I disagree on Lost Boys) but some of them are possibly just nostalgia for me since I haven’t seen them in years. Many of the movies I’d easily list from the 80’s are possibly just nostalgia. I should go back and check them out.

    Speaking of nostalgia, check out the Nostalgia Fact Check posts from Vulture Blog

    BTW, don’t know if you’ve seen this site but it filters Netflix instant watch movies for you by their genre, year and Rotten Tomatoes score. Genius!!!

  5. Bryan: Well there’s no question that Temple of Doom was the best of the bunch! I just like the whole narrative flow of The Lost Boys. It builds suspense in the right way and you really don’t see who the head vampire is until it’s revealed. Most movies are way too easy to figure out.

    I’ll check out those links, thanks!

    Brian: Agreed!

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