Best use of 80s electro songs in film

renton and diane

Ok, here are the rules. The songs had to have been released in the ’80s, but could have been used in any films during this time. Whether they introduce or accentuate a scene, or were the film’s theme song, each track is special to me in some way. Here’s my list:

‘Atomic’ by Blondie (1980)Trainspotting
This takes place in the Volcano club where Renton sees Diane and falls in love. Cue spaghetti western style guitar hook with sharp and punchy disco beats and Blondie’s warbling vocals.

‘What A Feeling’ by Irene Cara (1983)Flashdance
Damn Robert Webb’s sexy moves. If you can get past his version this was a great theme song, equally good as a stand-alone track without the dancing. It’s uplifting and empowering and arguably the female ‘Eye of the Tiger’ power song.

‘It’s A Sin’ by the Pet Shop Boys (1987)Bronson
If you’re a fan of Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive you have to ensure you see his earlier film, Bronson, with Tom Hardy. Watch the psychiatric hospital scene. A scene that was expertly lifted by canny use of a killer track.

‘Don’t Go’ by Yazoo (1982)Tango & Cash
In this film we have both Kurt Russell and Teri Hatcher sporting some truly fantastic hair – all framed perfectly by Yazoo’s urgent, punchy track.

‘Together In Electric Dreams’ by Philip Oakey (1984)Electric Dreams
Trying to emulate the success of Flashdance, Oakey of The Human League recorded this in ten minutes. It worked too, becoming a bigger hit than the film it was promoting.

‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by Joy Division (1980)Donnie Darko
This track gets used in a pivotal scene where Donnie has to abandon his girlfriend in order to save her. One of Gyllenhaal’s best and most intelligent films to date.

‘Push It To The Limit’ by Paul Engemann (1983) – Scarface
Everyone loves an ’80s montage scene right? This one expertly frames Tony Montana’s rise to the top of the drugs world, as he consolidates his wealth and power.

‘Axel F’ by Harold Faltermeyer (1985)Beverly Hills Cop
I almost forgot this film and theme song, for shame! The ‘Crazy Frog’ version nearly ruined my affection for this track, but thankfully it was rekindled by the Peter Griffin rendition.

‘A View To A Kill’ by Duran Duran (1985)A View to a Kill
Peppered with sharp, urgent notes, this epic track perfectly captured the spirit of Bond during his ’80s pomp. For your listening pleasure, here’s the video.

‘Magic Dance’ by David Bowie (1986)Labyrinth
Despite the backing track sounding like it was lifted straight from a Cyndi Lauper record, it’s still a complete classic from a defining coming-of-age film for 80s kids like myself.

I’d loved to have included ‘Nightcall’ by Kavinsky, the theme to Drive, but it was released in 2010. It’s hypnotic, ethereal and very 80s.

So there’s my list. Any I missed you’d have liked to have seen?

Who are the top 20 most intense actors of recent times?

charlie bronson

I do like an intense character and performance when I’m watching a film. Someone who literally rivets and welds you to the screen, look away at your peril. Some people probably like their films bright and breezy. I don’t mind those too, but there’s something about intensity that leaves a lasting impression. You remember those performances.

As such I thought I’d offer a couple of lists of actors and actresses that have had me mesmerised, entranced and – at times – a little frightened. I’ve most likely left off a lot of vintage performances and characters, but this is MY list so I’m allowed. Let me know your thoughts. Who would you have liked to have seen included?

In these lists I’ve put links to clips from some performances you might not have seen before, or maybe just want to revisit. Remember though, best not watch alone though, these lot are intense!

The guys

  1. charlie bronsonDaniel Day Lewis (Bill ‘the Butcher’ Cutting, Gangs of New York; Daniel Plainview, There will be Blood)
  2. Heath Ledger (The Joker, The Dark Knight)
  3. Tom Hardy (Charles Bronson, Bronson)
  4. Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman, American Psycho; Batman, The Batman Trilogy)
  5. Kevin Spacey (John Doe, Seven)
  6. Christopher Walken (Vicenzo Carcotti, True Romance; Frank White, King of New York)
  7. Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men)
  8. Christopher Waltz (Col. Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds)
  9. Vincent Cassel (Jacques Mesrine, Mesrine)
  10. Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills, Taken)
  11. Jeremy Renner (Sergeant William James, The Hurt Locker; Jem Coughlin, The Town)
  12. Gary Oldman (Drexel, True Romance)

The gals

  1. helena bonham carter harry potterHelena Bonham Carter (Red Queen, Alice in Wonderland; Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter)
  2. Cate Blanchett (Galadriel, Lord of the Rings)
  3. Marion Cotillard (Mal, Inception)
  4. Angelina Jolie (Lisa Rowe, Girl, Interrupted)
  5. Melanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus, Inglourious Basterds)
  6. Charlize Theron (Aileen Wuornos, Monster)
  7. Famke Janssen (Xena Onotopp, Goldeneye; Jean Grey, Xmen: The Last Stand)
  8. Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

So, there’s my list. You’ll notice there’s more men than women, I’m not sure why. I think, perhaps, there’s a tendency – particularly in Hollywood – for studios to shy away from films with intense, female leads. I wonder if they are more of a risk commercially? I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s more to do with a lack of decent scripts for women, ones that don’t play to stereotypes.

One thing I’ve noticed is how top actors portray intensity – for me – it’s in the eyes. I think it’s what separates great actors and actresses from the rest. If you allow yourself to be drawn into their gaze, there’s so much depth there. Depending on the character they’re playing, it can be equally exciting, captivating and terrifying. Watch Pacino in The Godfather, making the decision to kill with his eyes. A lesson in intensity.

Right, I need to go watch some comedy now to level out. It’s all got too much. I’ll finish with artwork of Marion Cotillard, not because it’s intense, but because it’s simply beautiful – and that’s all the reason you need.

Marion Cotillard artwork