BAMcinématek: Indie 80s: Jul 17—Aug 27, 2015

by mcm1071989 | created - 17 Jul 2015 | updated - 10 Oct 2015 | Public

BAMcinématek and Cinema Conservancy present this six week, 60+ film series spotlighting the independent films of the neglected decade between the golden age of 70s New Hollywood and the indie boom of the 90s. Exploring the textures of regional America and uncovering alternative histories to the supposed monoculture of the Reagan years, independent filmmakers of the 1980s offered up an edgy alternative to overblown Hollywood blockbusters and the straight-laced conservatism of the era.

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1. Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

R | 78 min | Comedy

74 Metascore

An actor limited to stereotypical roles because of his ethnicity, dreams of making it big as a highly respected performer. As he makes his rounds, the film takes a satiric look at African American actors in Hollywood.

Director: Robert Townsend | Stars: Robert Townsend, Craigus R. Johnson, Helen Martin, Starletta DuPois

Votes: 3,461 | Gross: $5.23M

2. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

R | 89 min | Comedy, Drama

86 Metascore

A New Yorker's life is thrown into a tailspin when his younger cousin surprise visits him, starting a strange, unpredictable adventure.

Director: Jim Jarmusch | Stars: John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson, Cecillia Stark

Votes: 28,808 | Gross: $2.44M

3. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Music

58 Metascore

Documentary showcase, what life was like for the music artists living during the Los Angeles Heavy Metal scene in the mid and late 1980s.

Director: Penelope Spheeris | Stars: Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper

Votes: 2,670 | Gross: $0.37M

4. Sidewalk Stories (1989)

R | 97 min | Comedy

Nearly silent comedy filmed in black and white follows a street artist (Charles Lane), who rescues a baby after her father was murdered. The artist then sets off to find the mother, but has... See full summary »

Director: Charles Lane | Stars: Charles Lane, Nicole Alysia, Tom Alpern, Edwin Anthony

Votes: 247 | Gross: $0.13M

5. Sherman's March (1985)

Not Rated | 157 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by ... See full summary »

Director: Ross McElwee | Stars: Ross McElwee, Dede McElwee, Ross McElwee Jr., Patricia Rendleman

Votes: 2,063

6. Heat and Sunlight (1987)

R | 98 min | Drama

Over 16 hours, in February, 1987, a man confronts jealously and rage as a love affair falters. Photojournalist Mel Hurley returns home to San Francisco on the eve of his birthday, expecting... See full summary »

Director: Rob Nilsson | Stars: Rob Nilsson, Consuela Faust, Don Bajema, Ernie Fosselius

Votes: 114

7. Poto and Cabengo (1980)

Not Rated | 77 min | Documentary

Two young twins in the USA have invented their own shared language. Scientists are wanting to study the language but social workers are trying to get the twins to leave their secret ... See full summary »

Director: Jean-Pierre Gorin | Star: Jean-Pierre Gorin

Votes: 288

9. Gap-Toothed Women (1987)

Not Rated | 31 min | Short, Documentary

A charming valentine to women born with a space between their teeth.

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Carrie Adell, Catherine Anderson, Natacha Aubier, Miranda Bergman

Votes: 231

10. In Heaven There Is No Beer? (1984)

Not Rated | 51 min | Documentary

A portrait of the life, culture and food surrounding the lovers of Polka music. The title is taken from an old Polka standard. Stars of the Polka world are highlighted.

Director: Les Blank

Votes: 187

11. Trouble in Mind (1985)

R | 111 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

The lives of an ex-con, a coffee-shop owner, and a young couple looking to make it rich intersect in the fictional and hypnotic Rain City.

Director: Alan Rudolph | Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, Lori Singer, Geneviève Bujold

Votes: 1,313 | Gross: $0.02M

12. Smooth Talk (1985)

PG-13 | 92 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

A free-spirited 15-year-old girl flirts with a dangerous stranger in the Northern California suburbs and must prepare herself for the frightening and traumatic consequences.

Director: Joyce Chopra | Stars: Treat Williams, Laura Dern, Mary Kay Place, Margaret Welsh

Votes: 1,392 | Gross: $0.02M

13. River's Edge (1986)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama

73 Metascore

A high school slacker commits a shocking act and proceeds to let his friends in on the secret. However, the friends' reaction is almost as ambiguous and perplexing as the crime itself.

Director: Tim Hunter | Stars: Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Daniel Roebuck

Votes: 13,302 | Gross: $4.60M

14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

R | 91 min | Horror

78 Metascore

Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, John Saxon

Votes: 171,539 | Gross: $25.50M

15. Losing Ground (1982)

86 min | Comedy, Drama

A comedy-drama about a Black American female philosophy professor and her insensitive, philandering, and flamboyant artist husband who are having a marital crisis. When the wife goes off on... See full summary »

Director: Kathleen Collins | Stars: Seret Scott, Bill Gunn, Duane Jones, Billie Allen

Votes: 186

16. Mala Noche (1986)

Not Rated | 78 min | Drama

A story of amour fou. Walt is madly in love/lust with a young illegal Mexican immigrant. However, the object of his unrequited affection doesn't even speak any English and finds Walt really... See full summary »

Director: Gus Van Sant | Stars: Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Ray Monge, Nyla McCarthy

Votes: 3,067

Los Sures (1984)

18. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

79 Metascore

A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson

Votes: 18,477 | Gross: $1.21M

19. Matewan (1987)

PG-13 | 135 min | Drama, History

A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.

Director: John Sayles | Stars: Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham

Votes: 6,308 | Gross: $1.68M

20. Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy (1988)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

Tony Buba, a film maker from Braddock, Pennsylvania, tells the story of his hometown's decline (along with the rest of the steel mill towns along the Monongahela River) while he dreams of ... See full summary »

Director: Tony Buba | Stars: Tony Buba, Sal Carollo, Stephen Pellegrino, Jimmy Roy

Votes: 50 | Gross: $0.02M

21. The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

PG | 105 min | Western

After he is accused of murdering a lawman in 1901 Texas, a Mexican-American farmer flees and manages to elude a large posse for two weeks before he is finally captured.

Director: Robert M. Young | Stars: Edward James Olmos, James Gammon, Tom Bower, Bruce McGill

Votes: 88

22. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated | 83 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.

Director: John McNaughton | Stars: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, Tom Towles, Mary Demas

Votes: 26,319 | Gross: $0.61M

23. Vigilante (1982)

R | 90 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

When his wife and son are brutalized by thugs and a corrupt criminal justice system puts the perpetrators back on the street, a New York City factory worker turns vigilante to find some measure of bloody justice.

Director: William Lustig | Stars: Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda

Votes: 2,174

24. Blank Generation (1980)

Not Rated | 90 min | Music, Drama

Nada, a beautiful French journalist on assignment in New York, records the life and work of an up and coming punk rock star, Billy. Soon she enters into a volatile relationship with him and... See full summary »

Director: Ulli Lommel | Stars: Carole Bouquet, Richard Hell, Ulli Lommel, Suzanna Love

Votes: 288

26. Bell Diamond (1986)

96 min

A telling story of an unemployed Vietnam vet in Butte, Montana, whose wife leaves him after seven years when she feels there is no longer communication between them and - more painfully and... See full synopsis »

Director: Jon Jost | Stars: Scott Andersen, Dan Cornell, Marshall Gaddis, Alan Godard

Votes: 41

27. Parting Glances (1986)

90 min | Drama, Music, Romance

As Michael and Robert, a gay couple in New York, prepare for Robert's departure for a two-year work assignment in Africa, Michael must face Robert's true motives for leaving while dealing ... See full summary »

Director: Bill Sherwood | Stars: John Bolger, Richard Ganoung, Steve Buscemi, Adam Nathan

Votes: 2,393 | Gross: $0.54M

28. True Love (I) (1989)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Romance

Donna and Michael are getting married. But first, they have to plan the reception, get the tux, buy the rings, and cope with their own uncertainty about the decision. Michael fears ... See full summary »

Director: Nancy Savoca | Stars: Annabella Sciorra, Ron Eldard, Aida Turturro, Roger Rignack

Votes: 613 | Gross: $1.35M

29. Paydirt (1981)

Not Rated | 95 min | Crime, Thriller

In this low-key thriller, a community of Oregon winegrowers in need of revenue grow marijuana in order to finance their vineyards.

Director: Penny Allen | Stars: Eric Silverstein, Lola Desmond, Daniel Odell, Melody Bates

Votes: 18

30. Bless Their Little Hearts (1983)

80 min | Drama

A dramatic look into the life of a family in Watts.

Director: Billy Woodberry | Stars: Nate Hardman, Kaycee Moore, Angela Burnett, Ronald Burnett

Votes: 81

31. Day of the Dead (1985)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Thriller

60 Metascore

A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy

Votes: 54,939 | Gross: $5.80M

32. Seventeen (1983)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary

In their final year at Muncie's Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also ... See full summary »

Directors: Joel DeMott, Jeff Kreines

Votes: 137

33. Blood Simple. (1984)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

81 Metascore

A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Stars: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh

Votes: 75,020 | Gross: $2.15M

34. Blue Velvet (1986)

R | 120 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

76 Metascore

The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern

Votes: 152,215 | Gross: $8.55M

35. Swimming to Cambodia (1987)

R | 85 min | Comedy, Drama

68 Metascore

Spalding Gray discusses his participation in the film The Killing Fields (1984) and the background story about the troubles of Cambodia.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Spalding Gray, Sam Waterston, Ira Wheeler

Votes: 1,801 | Gross: $1.09M

36. Let's Get Lost (1988)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

85 Metascore

Documentary on the life of jazz trumpeter and drug addict Chet Baker. Fascinating series of interviews with friends, family, associates and lovers, interspersed with film from Baker's ... See full summary »

Director: Bruce Weber | Stars: Chet Baker, Carol Baker, Vera Baker, Paul Baker

Votes: 1,505

37. Landlord Blues (1988)

Not Rated | 90 min | Comedy

A greedy landlord wants to evict a bicycle shop from his property and replace it with a high-rent-paying art gallery. The environment-conscious owner of the bike shop outwits the avaricious landlord in a high-speed bike chase.

Director: Jacob Burckhardt | Stars: Mark Boone Junior, Nona Hendryx, Richard Litt, Gerard Little

Votes: 5

38. Vortex (1982)

Not Rated | 90 min | Thriller

A film noirish atmosphere is created to show detective Lunch (a popular underground musician and poet) plow her way through the plans of a corporate businessman who seeks government defense... See full summary »

Directors: Beth B, Scott B | Stars: James Russo, Lydia Lunch, William Rice, Ann Magnuson

Votes: 69

39. El Norte (1983)

R | 141 min | Drama

67 Metascore

Peasants escaping mindless labor and a murderous Guatemalan government head to America in hopes for something better.

Director: Gregory Nava | Stars: Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, David Villalpando, Ernesto Gómez Cruz, Alicia del Lago

Votes: 4,189

41. American Playhouse (1981– )
Episode: A Flash of Green (1984)

131 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Local reporter gets involved with corrupt county commissioner.

Director: Victor Nunez | Stars: Ed Harris, Blair Brown, Richard Jordan, George Coe

Votes: 168

42. My Brother's Wedding (1983)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama

A man who has struggled personally has conflicts with his upwardly mobile lawyer brother and well to-do fiance and is reluctantly to be the best man at their wedding.

Director: Charles Burnett | Stars: Everett Silas, Jessie Holmes, Gaye Shannon-Burnett, Ronnie Bell

Votes: 493 | Gross: $0.01M

43. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

R | 100 min | Drama

86 Metascore

A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo

Votes: 42,141 | Gross: $24.74M

44. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

R | 82 min | Comedy, Music

85 Metascore

Spinal Tap, one of England's loudest bands, is chronicled by film director Marty DiBergi on what proves to be a fateful tour.

Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Kimberly Stringer

Votes: 114,825 | Gross: $0.19M

45. The Unbelievable Truth (1989)

R | 90 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

67 Metascore

A man returns to his home town after serving a prison sentence for homicide, and finds that the details of the crime have been forgotten and replaced with local legends and rumors.

Director: Hal Hartley | Stars: Adrienne Shelly, Robert John Burke, Chris Cooke, Julia McNeal

Votes: 4,019 | Gross: $0.55M

46. Ms .45 (1981)

R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

62 Metascore

A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.

Director: Abel Ferrara | Stars: Zoë Lund, Bogey, Albert Sinkys, Darlene Stuto

Votes: 6,449

47. The Cosmic Eye (1986)

71 min | Animation, Sci-Fi

Earth is visited by a race of aliens, who issue an ultimatum: either peace or complete destruction.

Directors: Faith Hubley, John Hubley | Stars: Dizzy Gillespie, Linda Atkinson, Sam Hubley, Maureen Stapleton

Votes: 51

49. Chan Is Missing (1982)

Not Rated | 80 min | Drama, Mystery

85 Metascore

Two cabbies search San Francisco's Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their $4000. Their quest leads them on a humorous, if mundane, journey which illuminates the... See full summary »

Director: Wayne Wang | Stars: Wood Moy, Marc Hayashi, Laureen Chew, Peter Wang

Votes: 898

50. The Ties That Bind (1985)

Not Rated | 55 min | Documentary

The Ties That Bind is an experimental documentary about the filmmaker's mother, who was born and lived in southern Germany from 1920-1950. Through a mixture of personal anecdote and social ... See full summary »

Director: Su Friedrich | Star: Lore Bucher

Votes: 46

51. Ashes and Embers (1982)

120 min | Drama

7