80's students, what films were your film society showing then?
July 1, 2019 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I was very shy and isolated while going to my UK university between 1987 and 1991 and while I am sure I would have loved the films at the film society I never joined as I'd have felt too self-conscious trying to attend alone. My tastes as still quite similar to the ones I had as a student though, and with streaming etc there's still the chance to see a lot of these films. Since "it's never too late to have a happy childhood" as they say I was thinking of having a little at-home season of these films. If you were at college or Uni at around that time (give or take a few years) I'd love to know what films you enjoyed there, either ones which were contemporary or older classics they reshowed. As a hint, I remember a lot of student bedrooms at the place I studied (Stirling University in Scotland) had either Betty Blue or Angel Heart posters in that era, a contemporary film I enjoyed a lot on a weekend home during term was Baghdad Cafe, and an older one I liked from TV was Harold and Maude. Just out of interest, please state which country you were studying in at the time.
posted by AuroraSky to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ah! Well, I went to university in the US from 1986 until 1990. Here's what I remember seeing:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Hiroshima, Mon Amour
My Beautiful Laundrette
Blue Velvet
Kiss of the Spider Woman
(Fellini's) 8 1/2

That's just basic, top-of-my-head stuff.
posted by xingcat at 11:54 AM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mike Leigh films would have been a staple of any self respecting film club in the UK during the late 80s and early 90s.

Other directors like Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, John Sayles, Chantal Ackerman, John Cassavetes and Ken Loach were making films we would have watched too.
posted by fshgrl at 12:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I ran a film society at my college in the US in the late 80s. We showed a lot of films that had something to do with one another, pairings. I can't remember all of them but some that were memorable. (note: these were not all contemporary, in fact most weren't)

How to get Ahead in Advertising & Withnail & I
Cocksucker Blues & The Song Remains the Same
Heavy Metal and Fritz the Cat
Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre the Wrath of God and Burden of Dreams (later they showed Hearts of Darkness)
One Crazy Summer & Better Off Dead
Faster Pussycat Kill Kill & Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
posted by jessamyn at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Cambridge UK - roughly same dates as you - lots of Peter Greenaway, definitely Mike Leigh, Hal Hartley, David Lynch, Gus van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), Akira.
posted by crocomancer at 12:17 PM on July 1, 2019

Best answer: I was a member of Edinburgh Uni FilmSoc a wee bit later - around 1993-95. I remember there particularly being a lot of older, black and white films (I assume because they were cheaper to licence), but also some more contemporary ones, which were probably the ones I went to more. The only specific ones that I can remember are:

The original The 39 Steps
Heavenly Creatures
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

That aside, we also went to see Reservoir Dogs at the Odeon countless times on Friday evenings during my first year (1993-94), because when it first came out it was deemed to be too violent to get a certificate for a video release. So the Odeon on South Clerk Street put it on every single Friday. Any Friday we had nothing particular to do, we'd just go to the Odeon and watch Reservoir Dogs again.
posted by penguin pie at 12:50 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

In college in the US 1987-1991. In and around that time, I remember:

Torch Song Trilogy
The Double Life of Veronique
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
Gas Food Lodging
posted by dywypi at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

In college 88-92: I remember a lot of the movies listed above, also Sex Lies and Videotape; and older movies like The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe; Last Tango In Paris; or Dr. Strangelove.
posted by LizardBreath at 1:03 PM on July 1, 2019

United States, 1985-1989. John Sayles (Lianna, Matewan, Brother from Another Planet), Wim Wenders (Paris Texas, Wings of Desire), and Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law, Stranger than Paradise). Also I recall a Bergman retrospective and all the iconic Brat Pack films.
posted by expialidocious at 1:26 PM on July 1, 2019

From the mid-80s I remember a double feature of Koyaanisqatsi and The Secret Life of Plants; and being traumatized by Eraserhead.
posted by moonmilk at 1:27 PM on July 1, 2019

Best answer: I was at college then university 90-93 and there was no film club, at least none at my campus... but the next best thing was Moviedrome on BBC 2, which showed loads of great movies, that you’d rarely otherwise see on TV, with introductions by Alex Cox. In case this provides some more inspiration here’s the list of films they showed.
posted by fabius at 1:43 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with all the above, plus:

Eating Raoul
Educating Rita
After Hours
Desperately Seeking Susan
Hollywood Shuffle
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka
Sweetie (Jane Campion)
Stop Making Sense
Grey Gardens
all the Monty Python movies
all the John Waters movies

(this was in Connecticut)
posted by Mchelly at 1:50 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The film that has stayed with me the most that I saw at the college cinema is Paris is Burning.
posted by pointystick at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2019

Some movies I loved around this time:
The Crying Game
Before the Rain (Macedonian film)

In Minnesota, U.S.
posted by shadygrove at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2019

Best answer: I was involved in a cineclub at the Twente University, Netherlands, for a couple of years around 1980. Off the top of my head, and listing the directors rather than individual movies:
Contemporary '80's: Wenders, Fassbinder, Greenaway, Jarmusch, Akerman, Taviani, Bertolucci
Already classics by then: Kurosawa, Truffaut, Bergman, Buñuel, Godard, Varda, Malle, Fellini, De Sica..
Some titles: Koyaanisqatsi, Heimat (taking an entire weekend), Metropolis.
Each year we had a week either dedicated to a director or a theme (such as the French Nouvelle Vague). Shortly after the Fassbinder and Buñuel weeks they dropped dead, so we became a bit cautious.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

For a Scottish angle, I think you need some Bill Forsyth films: Local Hero, Gregory's Girl and That Sinking Feeling.
posted by Lanark at 2:42 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I ran the film club with another student in my university in 1983-1984, France. Here's some of the movies we showed:
- The Godfather. I swapped reels 2 and 3 by accident, and it took some time before I noticed that something was wrong.
- Week-end (the Godard one). The projector broke and lost the focus after 30 minutes. I was unable to fix it, so the rest of the movie was blurred, including the infamous egg scene. People were pissed off. Some probably believed that the out-of-focusness was Godard's idea.
- Drôle de drame. An eternal French classic that French critics have been raving about since 1937. My audience hated it.
- Alien. I loved the anamorphic lens, it made the 16mm print look like a 35mm one. Lots of screaming.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I knew nothing about this movie except that it was popular in some circles (the Studio Galande in Paris has been showing it every Friday and Saturday at 10pm since 1978). Students came dressed a Dr Frank-N-Furter, with rice and water. There was a lot of cleaning up to do after the showing and the janitor was not amused.
- A compilation of arthouse animation from the 1960-1970s, including Bambi meets Godzilla and some works by Peter Foldes.
I also tried to get In the Realm of the Senses (which features another infamous egg scene) but the print was in such a high demand in film clubs in the Paris area that I could never show it.
posted by elgilito at 2:48 PM on July 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

From 1987-93ish my university in Los Angeles didn't have a film club because it had a big name famous cinema school. You couldn't throw a stick without hitting a cinema major. My little corner was mostly keen on animation and weirdness as in somebody has this VHS and you should watch this cool movie.

Wizards, Rock & Rule (Ring of Power), Heavy Metal, Buckaroo Banzai, Brazil, Akira, Liquid Sky, Repo Man, A Boy and His Dog, My Life as a Dog. There were a lot of movies played every week on campus somewhere and every semester would be a weekend of student films.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:18 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Midwestern US, '86-91. Not in the film society, but the film society's Friday & Saturday night programs were a pretty popular thing to do for students.

Seconding Blue Velvet and Angel Heart - both of which, I'm pretty sure, were either pre-release screenings (possibly further edited or tweaked before wide release) or as a sort of early "soft" release, where the studios sent these oddball borderline-"arty" films out to college campuses to generate some publicity before sending them to mainstream theaters. Those are two films that stuck in my head, but I'm pretty sure it was (still is?) a regular thing, where college students got an early crack at some of the less "mainstream" films.

Top Gun - another example of a common thing at my school's film society, showing popular films as "second run", as in not long after they'd dropped out of commercial theaters. (BoxOfficeMojo says Top Gun was released in May '86, closed in December, so I would have seen it in like February or March of '87.)

They had an annual showing of Casablanca, and an annual showing of one of the "classic" porn films from the late '60's to early '80's.

They also run a weekend-long (like, 36 hours straight) science fiction & fantasy marathon, where the films run the gamut from relatively recent releases to classics of the genre to horrible dreck. They usually seem to get at least a couple of "specials" for this, like the chance to show a recent hit before widespread DVD/Blu-Ray release, or a film that probably hasn't had a theatrical showing in years (like a 1910 version of Frankenstein.)
posted by soundguy99 at 4:12 PM on July 1, 2019

Best answer: Oh, and if you want another related things-Scottish-students-who-liked-film-did-in-the-90s thing to do, the Cameo in Edinburgh used to do late night double bills, cheap for students, in summer. You’d go in at 11pm, come out about 3am, and there’s be light in the sky both before and after. God knows who the poor people were they got to staff it.

So if you start soon before the nights draw in, you can fire up the microwave popcorn and relive!
posted by penguin pie at 4:21 PM on July 1, 2019

I was a film student at a university in Los Angeles CA USA from 1985 - 1990. I loved a lot of the films already mentioned here. Here are a few more really good ones I haven't seen mentioned yet.

Siesta staring Ellen Barking as a daredevil stuntwoman on a self destructive quest for a man she's obsessed with.

Blood Simple the Coen Bros directorial debut, don't miss this one!

Labyrinth. 'Nuff said.

Closet Land. With Allan Rickman and Madeline Stowe. Very creepy, stylistic film. Excellent performancs by both Rickman and Stowe.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 4:24 PM on July 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The artist Peter Doig went to some UK art schools in the 80s & made some posters for film screenings, which show what they were screening, and are interesting posters.
posted by ovvl at 5:57 PM on July 1, 2019

We had a very active film soc at Warwick, 89-92. I remember seeing Buckaroo Bandai in 89-90, it had been building its cult image after its release a few years prior. Branagh's Henry V came out in 89 and did well for the artier night of the week.
posted by biffa at 2:19 PM on August 2, 2019

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