REAGANLAND: 1980s DYSTOPIA
April at the Trylon
The second half of the Twentieth Century was formed by the suffocating destruction of the first. Global industrialization and the splitting of the atom were spurred on by the most catastrophic wars in human history, leaving in their wake a world paralized by its ability to destroy itself. Fractured into two major world powers constantly jockeying for position, Americans sought peace of mind.
Though a misplaced nostalgia for the 1980s is at its peak, it’s worth noting that it was a dark and regressive political landscape. For farmers in the midwest, a hellscape of low food costs combined with rampant inflation and led to thousands of bankruptcies and lost family farms. Still reeling from the humiliations of the Vietnam War and Watergate, people searched for scapegoats. Militias were on the rise and kids hid under their desks as the president played brinkmanship with the Soviet Union. All the while, a cocaine-fueled Wall Street rejoiced as massive deregulation led to the loss of consumer protections, an unsustainable destruction of the environment and ever-increasing takeovers of conglomerate corporations.
Four years after taking office, Ronald Reagan declared, “It’s morning in America again.”
Replacing the thoughtful, cynical, filmmaking of the 1970s, the mainstream cinema of the 1980s was all technicolor flash and predictability—superhero franchises and Star Wars sequels. Marty McFly, Indiana Jones, and John McClane made for easily digestible popcorn flicks.
Meanwhile, an undercurrent of filmmakers were presenting a different kind of narrative—horror and science fiction, mostly—made up of dark, corporate-controlled futures, tyrannical governments, subliminal subversion and slavery.
In REAGANLAND: 1980s DYSTOPIA, the landscape is black as pitch—dark alleys, over-blown neon and the decimation of our humanity.
The series of films, as a whole, highlights the mentality and anxiety of the time.
(John Moret, Trylon Programmer)
Events List Navigation
Upcoming Films in this Series
(1985, 35mm, 132m) dir Terry Gilliam w/Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro. A clerical error leads daydreaming bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Pryce) toward a revolutionary leader and a renegade heating engineer (De Niro) who plan to overthrow a totalitarian regime. FRI 9:00 SAT 7:00 SUN 5:00
(1988, DCP, 124m, Japanese with English subtitles) dir Katsuhiro Ôtomo w/Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama. Bikers Kaneda (Iwata) and Tetsuo (Sasaki) are drawn into a sinister government project called Akira, which threatens to unleash a telepathic nightmare on the city of Neo Tokyo. SUN 7:45 MON/TUES 7:00 9:30
(1984, 35mm, 108m) dir John Sayles w/Joe Morton, Rosanna Carter, Ray Ramirez. Sayles’s political sci-fi satire follows a mute extraterrestrial as he is pursued through Harlem by two outer-space bounty hunters who want to return him to slavery. FRI/SAT 7:00 9:15 SUN 3:00 5:15
(1987, 35mm, 97m) dir Jack Sholder w/Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Claudia Christian. A string of bizarre crimes leads L.A. detective Beck (Nouri) to team up with an eccentric FBI agent (MacLachlan). What’s causing the mayhem? We’re not saying it’s aliens. But it’s aliens. SUN 7:30 MON/TUES 7:00 9:00
Past Films in this Series
(2007, DCP, 117m) dir Ridley Scott, w/Harrison Ford, Sean Young. In 2019 L.A., detective Rick Deckard (Ford) tracks down genetically engineered replicant renegades who are indistinguishable from humans. This is the definitive version of Scott’s 1982 classic. FRI/SAT 7:00 9:30 SUN 3:00 5:30 This engagement is made possible by a donation in memory of Steven J. Huisken.See More
(1984, 35mm, 113m ) dir Michael Radford w/John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton. In a totalitarian future London, Winston Smith (Hurt) defies the sinister Thought Police and the ubiquitous Big Brother by keeping a diary and falling in love. SUN 8:00 MON/TUES 7:00 9:30See More
(1984, 35mm, 92m) dir Alex Cox w/ Emilio Estevez, Harry Dean Stanton, Tracey Walter. Suburban punk Otto (Estevez) falls in with a motley crew of car repossessors and joins the hunt for a 1964 Chevy Impala with a radioactive alien in its trunk. FRI 7:00 SAT 9:00 SUN 3:00See More
(1983, 35mm, 87m) dir David Cronenberg w/James Woods, Debbie Harry, Sonja Smits. The programmer of a sleazy cable network (Woods) discovers a secret satellite feed depicting graphic scenes of torture, drawing him into a world of TV mind control. FRI 9:00 SAT 7:00 SUN 5:00See More
(1984, DCP, 107m) dir James Cameron w/Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn. Hunted by an implacable robot from the future, Sarah Connor (Hamilton) discovers she is destined to give birth to the leader of a rebellion against malevolent machines. SUN 7:00 MON/TUES 7:00 9:15See More
(1985, 35mm, 132m) dir Terry Gilliam w/Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro. A clerical error leads daydreaming bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Pryce) toward a revolutionary leader and a renegade heating engineer (De Niro) who plan to overthrow a totalitarian regime. FRI 9:00 SAT 7:00 SUN 5:00See More