We at the Cahiers pride on ourselves on cutting-edge criticism, so you know--hang tight.
The other night I engaged in the cinematic equivalent of cutting and watched Flashdance. Beginning to end, commercials and TV edits. I do stuff like that sometimes. I like to experience the bad. Get on in it.
There is special oomph in the bad film that has too much self-importance to be quite camp, even more oomph if it's a film that was crucial in one's own [artistic, sartorial, cinematic, consumerist] development. I can remember, even now, how it felt to see that film for the first time. Oh, the clothes.
Flashdance is horrid. It seems only more horrid now, but not delicious horrid. There's no real bemused affection to be had for it, or even for the people suffering through being in it. Well, okay, a little, but still--it's so aggressively bad. And superficial/visual. Almost venal. It's like a clinic in the Male Gaze. Plus the story has the bizarro Esterhaagendazs feel in which a woman thrashes pointlessly around a motiveless plot (not unlike Elizabeth Berkley in her shark week showgirls sex scene) seemingly for the purpose of boobs bouncing and hair flouncing and...what is this shit about again.
It's not just the director's fault: Jennifer Beals is completely awful. Her performance doesn't have enough collective juice to fuel a 30-second hypercut commercial montage, except that's really what it seems like she's shooting for (which would also be the director). It is just downright hard to watch. And it makes the scenes that aren't really her (body doubles, female and male) look even more stupid. WIGS MAKE EVERYTHING REAL.
Julia Phillips wrote about this movie that "here [the filmmakers] were, starting the decade by tripping over their shoelaces and each other for credit on something from which she might have considered having her name removed." Which brings up a crucial point: this movie is so 80s. A comment that an editor would not (should not) let me get away with, but really. It's SO 80s, in the sense that it seems to figure that with enough grey-sky cinematography and soundtrack it was all so deep we'd feel it forever.