Monday, 2 December 2013

KM Show, 2 Dec 2013: 1987

This is the script to my slot in Kevin Markwick's weekly film & music show on Uckfield 105 FM, Mondays at 9pm 

Hello. 1987 was the high watermark of capitalism’s explosion in America and the UK. The best pop song of the year, Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls deals directly with the entrepreneurial, urban working class and the existentially hollow philosophy of acquisition.

Well, acquisition pops up in films of 1987 in all sorts of ways. To start with, there’s Roger Donaldson’s excellent thriller No Way Out. The story is cobbled together from the debris of the cold war but fires up in a proprietorial spat over a woman. Sean Young was, sexually, one of the most interesting screen actresses of the 1980s and her explosive affair with Kevin Costner – who is unknowingly cuckolding Gene Hackman - is the only propulsion the film needs. Paul Anka provided a romantic title song to fuel the first act drama.

In 1987 the Coen Brothers’ corporation satire the Hudsucker Proxy was yet to come. Instead they focused on the rather more straightforward comic playout of child-theft in Raising Arizona. When biology stands between Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter they resort to stealing a  baby and a screwball comedy ensues. But then, you already know about Carter Burwell’s eclectic curating of Raising Arizona from a previous show, so instead there’s another drama featuring Nicholas Cage in 1987 which deserves our attention.

Moonstruck may be most famous for precipitating Cher’s net-curtain dress at the following year’s Oscars but it’s also quite an earnestly observed wrong-side-of-the-tracks style romance. Unlike Pretty Woman, where a visit to the opera was a way to highlight a juxtaposition of class, so a trip to see la Boheme in Moonstruck is a scene of old-fashioned romantic assimilation. On stage the lovers say goodbye but the music says they are more in love than ever; back in the gallery the camera cuts between the principals whose hearts have clearly triumphed over the same issue of the head.

People are rather more difficult to acquire than things. That’s what makes for good drama. Of course that’s not to say the old-fashioned pursuit of cold, unresponsive cash won’t drive a story too. In 1987, Innerspace was just such a science-fiction adventure in which Jules Verne gets updated by the venal intervention of bad guys after miniaturisation technology – and the cash that the highest bidder will offer for it. The good guys are either side of the same wholesome American coin. There’s the great all-American successor to Jimmy Stewart in Dennis Quaid’s boffin-jock Lt Tuck Pendelton – and a man from the street, Jack Putter, played by a comic who is as he is named, Martin Short. The drama and action of Innerspace come with a Jerry Goldsmith score but the film’s heart is in the set piece where some whisky and a boogie to Sam Cooke’s Twistin’ The Night Away brings the two heroes together on the dance floor. Goodbye.

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