Thursday, March 07, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Cold War

For the tenth week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We venture into the subject of the Cold War. A period from the aftermath of World War II to the end of 1991 that ended on a whimper was a period of tension between two superpowers that was the U.S. and the Soviet Union where if one country struck at the other. World War III would’ve happened and there were moments that it almost did happen as here are three films that represent this troubling period as they’re from the 1980s:

1. Red Dawn

John Milius’ war film about a possible invasion from the Soviet Union on American soil with the help of Cuba prompting a bunch of teenagers and a former high school football quarterback to fight back against the Soviets. It’s a film that is this pro-American, anti-Soviet film that does bear the elements of 1980s patriotism on steroids but it’s still a fun and entertaining film thanks in part to the ensemble cast that would include lots of future stars like Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, and pre-dumb-fuck Charlie Sheen.

2. Spies Like Us

John Landis’ comedy about two lowly intelligence agents who are trained to become spies as part of a secret mission for an experiment by a couple of American military officials. Starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, it’s a typical 80s comedy with a lot of hijinks, shenanigans, and all sorts of funny shit yet it manages to work with Aykroyd as the straight man and Chase as the dim-witted one. Add a bunch of cameos from Joel Coen, B.B. King, Sam Raimi, Terry Gilliam, Costa-Gavras, and Bob Hope as well as a ripping title song by Sir Paul McCartney. What else could you ask for in a fun 80s comedy about the Cold War?

3. Rocky IV

OK, this film was obviously a propaganda film made by Sylvester Stallone that has Rocky Balboa seek vengeance to fight the Soviet fighter Ivan Drago in the Soviet Union. It’s a film that is 1980s cinema at its best and at its worst but it’s so fun to watch for how cheesy it is. Even with its usage of montages and MTV-editing style that includes a lot of the music of the times. It’s seen as a product of its time as well as that message that America is better than Russia where capitalism triumphs over communism. Yay capitalism… *blech*

© thevoid99 2019


joel65913 said...

Ha what a collection!! And a theme within the theme!

Red Dawn just screams the 80's in just about every way possible, which now makes it fun in a nostalgic messy kind of way. Same with Rocky IV. I wasn't a big fan of Spies Like Us but it had its moments and since it was intended to be goofy I guess it achieved its purpose.

So many ways to go with this, I took a more serious bent.

Bridge of Spies (2015)-During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers' only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man's freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court. Excellent performances by all and strong direction by Steven Spielberg keep this involving throughout.

Good Luck, and Good Night (2005)-Senator Joseph McCarthy begins a vicious witch hunt to root out Communists in America destroying lives and careers without concern. Powerful CBS News reporter Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) dedicates himself to exposing the atrocities being committed by McCarthy's Senate "investigation." Murrow is supported by a news team that includes long-time friend and producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney). The CBS team does its best to point out the senator's lies and excesses, despite pressure from CBS' corporate sponsors to desist. Directed by Clooney in stark black and white to evoke the period this has a stacked cast, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jeff Daniels among others, all working at top speed but it’s Strathairn’s Oscar nominated turn that makes the film run.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)-Near the end of the Korean War, a platoon of U.S. soldiers are captured by communists and brainwashed. Following the war, the platoon returns home, and Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) is lauded as a hero by the rest of his platoon. However, the platoon commander, Captain Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra), finds himself plagued by strange nightmares and, together with fellow soldier Allen Melvin (James Edwards), races to uncover a terrible plot leading to the top tiers of power. John Frankenheimer directs with laser point precision guiding the story without wasting a frame. Angela Lansbury is flat out amazing in a portrait of coiled evil hidden behind a placid veneer.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

We match on Spies Like Us!

Although, my other two movies are older selections.

Brittani Burnham said...

Ha, I love the inclusion of Rocky IV I never would've thought of that.

Myerla said...

Rocky is a good choice because it highlights that sport was a major part of the Soviet-American rivalry with each of them boycotting each other's Olympics.

Birgit said...

I’m late but better late than never. Red Dawn, actually, I saw in the theatre and in my youth I was thinking of my mom’s experiences with the Russians after the war and her escapes. If I saw it now I know I would be laughing at some of the crap.btw, love your description of Sheen. I love Spies Like Us and laughed like hell in the theatre because I love dumb ass comedies. I loved Bob Hope appearing at the end with hisnhomage to his road comedies and his love of golf, I never saw any Rocky pictures but I remember rolling my eyes at the trailers when the 2 gloves, one American and the other Russian coming together and the Russian glove stupid

thevoid99 said...

@joel65913-Good Night and Good Luck is the only film you mentioned that I saw as it's one I really enjoyed. I just went for an 80s-based theme as it was the Cold War at its peak and at its silliness.

@Ted S.-I fucking love that film.

@Brittani-Well, it is a dated American propaganda film but still fun.

@Myerla-Ah, true.

@Birgit-Yes, that was America in the 1980s. A load of patriotic bullshit that is more rampant than ever but in the stupidest of ways.