- Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights (1997) captured transition from the swinging 70s in the adult film industry to the direct-to-video 80s. The movie romanticized nothing about either era with its characters' broken souls and rampant drug use. It featured a stellar cast: Mark Wahlberg as a deluded star whose only gift is between his legs; Burt Reynolds' Golden Globe winning performance as a porn director who wanted stories in his movies; Julianne Moore as an actress (Amber Waves) who lost custody of her child but acts as a mother to Mark Wahlberg's Eddie/Dirk; Don Cheadle as an actor who wants to leave the business to sell stereos (his real passion); and Heather Graham as a starlet who dropped out of school. William H. Macy's role as "Little Bill" sparked a symbolic transition from the 1970s into the 1980s. Cocaine was a big continuing line throughout the movie, but the story captured the consequences of abuse and addiction with Dirk's downward spiral and Amber's custody battle.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High was my high school and a lot of other high schools in the early 1980s. Sean Penn established himself as one of the great character actors as Jeff Spicoli.
- American Psycho, a dark satire based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel, captured the smug, yuppie mores of Wall Street in New York during the late 1980s. The role served as Christian Bale's springboard to Hollywood's A-list and gave me a whole new appreciation for Huey Lewis and the News.
- Oliver Stone wrote and directed Wall Street -- which was meant as a cautionary tale. However, the film, as well as Michael Lewis' Liars Poker, gave wannabe yuppies a playbook during the following two decades. Michael Douglas plays Gordon Gekko, a corporate raider whose mantra of "greed is good" has inspired many on Wall Street to share his worldview. Charlie Sheen (Bud Fox) aims to be Gekko's protege, but the values of Wall Street clashed against those of his father, who is a union representative at an airline that Gekko is targeting. The movie created some high drama and won Douglas an Oscar.
- "They Live" represented a different take on the "Morning in America" of the Reagan Era. Starring pro wrestling legend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, the movie captured the widening divide between America's "haves" and "have nots" in a fashion that was every bit as knowing as "American Psycho" and "Wall Street." Piper discovers special glasses that allow him to see aliens in our midst that have taken over the earth.
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