Men at Work dir. Emilio Estevez (1990) Critically panned for representing the oncoming glut of 90s turkeys, Men at Work actually belongs to the oeuvre of 80s classics: pointless but utterly endearing, with much of its value resting in incidental details; a film that grows better with each rewatch.
Beverly Hills Cop dir. Martin Brest (1984) Character driven and more tightly scripted than many action comedies of the time, Beverly Hills Cop nevertheless soared as much on the strength of its soundtrack as the likeable sass of Eddie Murphy’s jeans- and sneakers-wearing, culturally confrontational police detective Axel Foley.
Blind Fury dir. Phillip Noyce (1989) A quintessentially 1980s Americanisation of the blind swordsman storyline oft-used and beloved of Japanese cinema. Rutger Hauer brings a certain quality to the lead role and — with precious little help! — just about carries the uneasy mix of action, drama and (occasional) humour.
Chocky by John Wyndham, adapted by Anthony Read (Thames Television, 1984) A patchy adaptation, quintessentially early 1980s, featuring well-pitched performances by James Hazeldine and child actor Andrew Ellams but terribly written female parts. The intrigue of a young boy’s mind-to-mind alien encounter is built and sustained across six episodes without ever really peaking.
Pixels dir. Chris Columbus (2015) Panned seemingly for not being Ghostbusters, Pixels in fact evokes much of the frivolous filmmaking fun so prevalent in the 1980s. When space invaders show up for real, Earth’s fate rests in the knob-twiddling hands of underachieving ex-gamers. What could be better?
Happy New Year (EP) by Violent Femmes (2015) Following bassist Brian Ritchie’s move to Australia, born-again 80s rock trio the Violent Femmes have recorded an EP in Tasmania, with two of the four tracks (‘Fast Horses’ and especially ‘Love Love Love Love Love’) likely to appear on future compilation albums.
Pleasure and Pain: My Life by Chrissy Amphlett (with Larry Writer) (Hachette, 2009) Chrissy Amphlett pioneered Australian pub rock female empowerment, fronting Divinyls through turbulent highs and breaking lows; immersed, but always fighting the industry’s destructive undertow. Her honest, engaging biography tells of determination without caution; the fine line between running free and running blind.
Dancing With Myself by Billy Idol (Simon & Schuster, 2014) Like many auto-biographies, Billy Idol’s becomes less detailed and less engrossing as it progresses, yet the mature Idol (unexpectedly erudite) gives a balanced treatment of his younger self, making no excuses as he relives the punk phenomenon, MTV, fame, excess and derailment.