TEACHERS (1984)

Directed By: Arthur Hiller
Written By: W.R. McKinney
Cinematography: David M. Walsh 
Editor: Don Zimmerman 

Cast: Nick Nolte, Jobeth Williams, Judd Hirsch, Ralph Macchio, Allen Garfield, Lee Grant, Richard Mulligan, Laura Dern, Crispin Glover, Morgan Freeman, Steven Hill, William Schallert, Mary Alice, Anthony Heald Virginia Capers, Royal Dani, Art Metrano 

A teacher overcomes his frustration in a high-school full of flunkies. As he attempts to educate his students, he attempts to help them gets him into trouble with the school board, which only adds to his problems. With the support of his students, he beats the school board and his frustration.


This film is in the same vein as AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Where it is a darkly satirical look at a system that wasn’t working. For that film, it was legal and the justice/court system. In this case public high school and just how dangerous it was for students and faculty. As you had kids who were uninterested and unmotivated. Teachers who were burnt out, scared, or don’t care and the unions and powers that be whose hands are tied or want them to do the best that they can with what they have yet offer no hope.

Now, while this film isn’t as sharp or necessarily as heavy as that film they do share a kinship. As well as with films like THE HOSPITAL and NETWORK (both of those written by Paddy Chayefsky) these are meant to be more ensemble films with a central figure in the lead who is riding on both sides until the end. Where they finally have to show where they stand and make some kind of difference even if ultimately lose.

This film is interesting as it can be funny. Especially pinpointing Richard Mulligan’s character, a teacher who gets into character to inspire his students and actually gets through to them. Before finding out he is an escaped mental patient.

What keeps the film lively is that one minute it can be gritty and dealt with seriously but then the next goes for a laugh that is more character-based comedy and less broad. 

Though there are many characters this film mainly focuses on Nick Nolte who is burnt out it actually seems to be the rare teacher who gives a damn. Though he wants to be a team player he has a reckless rebelliousness to him.

This role fits note to a The cuts an imposing figure but comes off quite intellectual. He is rugged throughout and tries his best but whenever he seems to be getting somewhere he has another bureaucratic door slammed in his face. This is a vintage performance from him where he is unpredictable but lively throughout. 

Nick Nolte is a famous actor. For me, he is an actor I discovered while looking for somebody else. He usually starred or Co-Starred in movies I initially watched for some other actor who was in the film for instance 48 HOURS I watched for Eddie Murphy and he co-Starred in it. I watched DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS for Bette Midler he Co-Starred in it. I watched this film initially to see Ralph Macchio. He made this before KARATE KID, but I discovered it after he starred in that film.

The film has a recognizable cast. That looking back is impressive and all out to good use. The town of the film does become more serious after the death of a character.

Watching the film these days barely raises an eyebrow. But I remember when first seeing it felt scandalous like an expose almost. As it seems to try to shine a light on the problems of the then-current education system. Some of those problems still exist and some have gotten worse. It seems to try to take a bite but there is so much to chew it can only get to a certain amount of pieces presented.

This is a film that is worth watching to see how a film can make a point and bring up issues. By being gritty but also offering a light touch to round out and let the audience off somewhat. 

Grade: B

EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984)

Directed by: Mark Buntzman 
Written By: Mark Buntzman & William Sachs 
Cinematography: Bob Baldwin & Joseph Mangine 
Editor: Marcos Manton, George Norris & Florent Retz 

Cast: Robert Ginty, Mario Van Peebles, Frankie Faison, Deborah Geffner, Scott Randolf, Ayre Gross, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Bruce Smolanoff, Irwin Keyes 

The flamethrower-wielding vigilante John Eastland returns to rid New York City of a drug lord and his gang.


The exterminator returns. This is basically a revenge movie and vigilante movie rolled into one. Not that the film is supposed to be taken all that seriously. As it seems more an action film of the times that tries to be exploitive but forgets in all ways. That seems to want to try to be more mainstream. Which then takes out most of what made the first film stand out in the first place.

At least the first film had a kind of grindhouse style that fit its Time period that made it somewhat watchable.

This movie goes with the times and the ridiculous fashions and styles of the time. It’s Mainly noteworthy for having a young Mario Van Peebles play the villain, a gang leader who dresses like he is in Mad Max. While his goons all seem to be some kind of punk rockers or backup dancers from a music video who try to look urban. 

While the film is violent it’s Not as creative with its Kills and the violence where seems more gratuitous for no reason that comes across as exploitive.

At least here the lead has a sidekick and they give him A Love interest. And a sex scene. Which here just seems more like. Reason to have some nudity in the film. Whose victimization gives him A target for his anger. 

Out of this series at least when presenting a hero he isn’t some Kind of heroic figure or even that skilled just a Vietnam vet who knows his way around weapons. No hand-to-hand combat, just strictly strike and kill. 

There is an ending but it’s Not necessarily happy for anyone. The problem is that as with most sequels this continues the protagonist’s adventures but comes off generic rather than inventive. 

It’s fun to see character actors in various roles throughout before they went onto bigger and better things but that is the only joy that the film brings to mind.

Grade: D

ALPHABET CITY (1984)

Directed By: Amos Poe
Written By: Amos Poe & Gregory K. Heller
Story By: Gregory K. Heller
Cinematography: Oliver Wood 
Editor: Grahame Weinbran 

Cast: Vincent Spano, Kate Vernon, Michael Winslow, Jami Gertz, Clifton Powell, Ray Serra, Daniel Jordano, Zohra Lempert, Tom Mardirosian, Tom Wright 

A New York City drug dealer decides to get out of the business, but has to flee from mobsters.


It took a while for me to watch this film. As the DVD and video cover made it look like some revenge movie from a third-world country all bathed in brown and gold.

Once I finally saw a trailer for the film it intrigued my interests.

One of the odd times that actor Vincent Spano played a leading role. Usually whenever he does the film almost comes off as an oddity, a memorable film, and performance.

This film is stylish and goes for a kind of gritty neon-noir look that takes place all in one night, but it comes off more shiny than deep. As it plays almost like a MIAMI VICE episode style only in New York. Even though it came out before that show. So maybe it influenced that show. 

As it is episodic, the character is working on a kind of countdown that seems to have started as more of a regular night. As it seems he is given a job to do in one night that would help set him up in the mob higher. Yes, he is more than just some street dealer. He has aspirations and a family.

It seems episodic as most characters he seems to only deal with on one or two scenes and then never heard from Or at least seen again except for when it is convenient. The ones we Do keep seeing are his adversaries and his best friend/top dealer/drug addict played by Michael Winslow in a strange off-kilter nihilistic dramatic Performance. Which strangely comes off reminding one of Chris Tucker in tone.

The film keeps your interest up. Even if it is more a fascinating look at early 1980’s New York before it got cleaned up. So that it works as a kind of nostalgic time capsule of the city mainly in the neighborhood of the title.

There are of course its fair share of ridiculous scenes like how Long it takes him to realize he is being set up by one of his clients. How his girlfriend refuses to leave. When he explains why they have to leave town even though she understands why he does. She expects his gangster bosses to spare her and their child.

Though there is some action it’s not awe-inspiring even though in one scene you can see the director John Singleton used it in 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS. Though in that movie it Was used as an impressive sequence of seduction and cool. Here it is more used as a means of intimidation and cool. 

Proving that this film is more influential than anyone expected and seems to be a well-Kept secret.

By now if you have watched enough films the story Will be predictable with a happier ending than you Would normally expect. That is an act that makes no sense but works for the end.

The film comes off as a nice attempt to make something a little more artistic even with a familiar storyline at the time. It comes off as hip more than anything. 

Grade: B-

THREADS (1984)

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Directed By: Mick Jackson
Written By: Barry Hines
Cinematography: Andrew Dunn & Paul Morris
Editor: Donna Bickerstaff & Jim Latham

Cast: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale, David Brierley, Rita May, Nicholas Lane, Jane Hazlegrove, Harry Beety 


Documentary style account of a nuclear holocaust and its effect on the working class city of Sheffield, England; and the eventual long running effects of nuclear war on civilization.

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