Now I don’t know if it was too busy getting naked with Madonna, relaxing with Frankie or waking George Michael up before he go-gos and crashes into another Prontaprint, but the 80s movie industry wasn’t very busy in April.
So I started with perpetual man-child Michael J Fox and Bright Lights Big City – unfortunately not a hidden gem beneath a terrible name, like the folk band titled My Left Foot or the-porn-version-has-the-same-name A Few Good Men. Kiefer Sutherland (this time torturing people with his impossibly large hair) and MJF having parties and family issues alike is pleasant, but it’s easy to see why it’s not a stone cold classic. I blame the lack of teenage werewolves.
Then continuing with the Back to the Future theme, we had Marty McFly’s mum Lea Thompson in Casual Sex? (in fact, everyone did). Surprisingly, the name isn’t the worst thing about this film (I’ve had an inherent mistrust of punctuated movie titles since Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot). It’s either the talking head gender clichés, the leather jacket worn by ‘The Vin Man’ or the fact there’s a character called ‘The Vin Man’. If you’re expecting Casual Sex? to be provocative, you’ll find more sexiness depicted on standard bus stop knob graffiti.
Poor man’s Labyrinth, Legend screened next, but aside from Tim Curry’s best make up job since he was just a sweet transvestite in Rocky Horror, even Tom Cruise, man-child#2 can’t elevate it above a kid’s movie. Probably because he still can’t get into a PG movie without his parents.
Which led me onto My Beautiful Laundrette. Not being an aficionado of landmark gay cinema, I had to rely on the lure of it being Stephen Frears’ (surely there’s a queen/The Queen joke in there?) first global hit. It’s also so early that its star Daniel Day-Lewis was still a cockney (“I tiddly-wink your milkshake!”).
A young Pakistani guy is given a laundrette to run by his wheeler-dealer uncle and despite being racially abused by his mates, finds time to convince old pal Day-Lewis to join him in doing up the laundrette (which as it turns out, is also a euphemism). As they struck up a romance behind the boxes of Daz, despite the subtle play between the cultures, I did snigger at the two closeted gay characters being called Johnny and ‘Omo (well, Omar but everyone pronounced it Omo).
Originally made for TV but destined for greater things, it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay – and by handling the issues of racial tension, homosexuality and vast unemployment in Thatcher’s London with a darkly comic touch, it probably deserved the nod.
Although with vast civil unrest, it turns out London resembled the alternative 1985’s Hill Valley in BTTF. Some would say it speaks volumes about the two countries. According to the frothy Bright Lights… and Casual Sex?, Americans had cocaine and promiscuity propping up the fun at parties. Whilst our party of choice were the Tories – even making a tale focused on a laundrette seem dirtier than the crunchy Y-fronts being washed there. So, fancy taking your brain out for a couple of hours? Try the US offerings. Rather take your chances with a dark Brit outlook? Go for Laundrette.