I Love the '80s

The neglected Fontbonne Film Series

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TUES 9/16

In its last few appearances, Fontbonne University's "Cinema of Neglect" series has been a showcase for worthy films from the 1970s that had somehow fallen through the cracks -- risky experiments and even outright masterpieces like The Last Movie and The Honeymoon Killers that didn't quite conform to the Gospel According to Blockbuster. The latest installment of "Neglect" moves into the uncharted cultural waters of...the '80s.

The '80s? The decade whose most familiar contributions to film culture were the Brat Pack, the Simpson/Bruckheimer blockbuster and the direct-to-video "erotic thriller"? The years of Rambo, Flashdance and "Saturday Night Live" spin-offs? The era in which no film was unworthy of being shown again and again on Cinemax? Couldn't it more accurately be called the "Cinema of Overexposure"?

With an inspired taste for the obscure, Fontbonne pulls up a half-dozen alternatives to the decade's blockbusters, some excellent, some ambitious to a fault, and some merely... interesting, but all living up to the rubric of neglected films worthy of rediscovery. While mainstream films were turning the action and science-fiction genres into overblown comic books, films like Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45 and John Carpenter's They Live were providing bitter commentaries on their squeaky-clean counterparts. Meanwhile, neo-noirs like Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way, Eric Red's Cohen and Tate and Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance reveled in plotlines that were as unstructured and messy as life itself. (Rounding out the series is the Vietnam drama 84 Charlie MoPic, a vérité-style contrast to the usual "war-is-hell-with-a-great-oldies-soundtrack" approach.) Imperfect films, to be sure, but essential viewing for anyone who believes that there was more to the '80s than "Miami Vice" and Pat Benatar videos. As with the earlier offerings, this series stirs the cultural pot and leaves one hoping for more. How about Liquid Sky, Barbarosa, Roman Polanski's Pirates or the godfather of all neglected '80s films, Heaven's Gate? (free, 7:30 p.m., Lewis Room of the Fontbonne University Library, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, Tuesdays through October 21, 314-719-8061). -- Robert Hunt

Back That Glass Up
Third degree burns

FRI 9/12

At Third Degree Glass Factory parties, viscous, molten glass shaped like a watermelon is pulled from a "glory hole" (re-heating chamber) and quickly stretched to the width of a pencil. The glass, which is removed from the furnace at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, can be stretched twenty to forty feet across the room. After it's stretched, it can be bent into virtually any shape. Re:Ignition is Third Degree's first "furnace-relighting party," and it'll be held at 5200 Delmar Boulevard, starting at 6 p.m. Besides glass-stretching, expect DJs and refreshments (it's BYOB as well). Don't drop it like it's hot (free admission, 314-367-4527, www.stlglass.com). -- Ben Westhoff


It seems like Hyde Park was at one time consigned to history; history was cheated, though, because this majestic St. Louis neighborhood (a National Register historic district) is vibrant and strong. The evidence is the second annual Neighborhood Festival this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., which features live music by Denise Thimes and Tony Simmons and performances by the students of the Bakari Institute. You can take a house-and-garden tour of the neighborhood by tram for $5. Need more? There's a three-on-three basketball tourney, a fishing derby, a kids' bicycle race, antiques, food and general happiness. The party is at the corner of Salisbury Street and Blair Avenue. Call 314-621-6553 or visit www.bakariinstitute.org for more info. -- Mark Dischinger

Dancin' Ain't No Crime

WED 9/10

A strange transformation takes place at Memorial Park Plaza (Central at Carondelet Avenues, 314-615-4386, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) during Wonderful Wednesdays. This courtyard, between the St. Louis County Courts buildings and the County lockup, is usually the scene of an endless stream of cops, lawyers, defendants, security guards, meter maids, etc. having to deal with the butt end of democracy. But when they throw up a portable stage with some musicians, and sell a meal of hot dog-chips-and-soda for $1.50, passersby are positively delirious with relief. Once a month, Wonderful Wednesdays turns up the frowns on the stone-faced myrmidons of government with a free-music and cheap-hot-dog party that, apparently, a bureaucracy can really use. -- Byron Kerman

About The Authors

Ben Westhoff

Ben Westhoff is the author of the books Original Gangstas, Fentanyl, Inc., and Little Brother: Love, Tragedy, and My Search For the Truth.
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