Customer Review

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unnerving, haunting film.....Eric Roberts gives a devastating performance..., July 31, 2006
This review is from: Star 80 (DVD)
At the time of this writing, the only widescreen format DVD available of this incredible film is the Australian version (I don't know the region number, but it is indeed the "Land Down Under" version). I waited 25 years to once again see the film in all it's widescreen splendor and it did not disappoint: sharp, beautiful picture transfer and superb, highly-nuanced audio. I should note that the speed of the transfer is a touch faster than the theatrical, VHS & previous DVD releases. It's most noticable in the audio, particularly when music is playing in the background. The added speed pitches the audio a whole step higher and shortens the film by several minutes. As someone who has seen this film literally 50 times, I noticed it immediately and was somewhat dismayed....but as the film rolled along, I felt less-and-less troubled by this. It's just SO GOOD to have "Star 80" in widescreen!!

I went to see this film in the theatre literally a dozen times and over 20+ years I've watched it on VHS/DVD probably three dozen times more. With the exception of the films of James Dean, I don't believe I've obsessed over any other films to the degree that I did with "Star 80". Admittedly, the film is rather grim and, on one hand, is an awful thing to become fixated with; on the other hand, the film's haunting power and the terrible beauty of Eric Roberts' performance was & is a pretty potent combination and definitely justifies the repeated viewings. I remember being quite shaken and virtually unable to speak coming out of the movie theatre the first time I saw it. I spent the next several weeks chasing it all over central PA, from theatre to theatre, and dragging along anyone I could find to go with me.

Mariel Hemingway brings a spooky stillness to her portrayal of Dorothy Stratten; the performance can be called a "celluloid lullaby". She's almost TOO gentle & innocent (as indeed was Dorothy herself) and it can be painful to watch the film knowing the gruesome ending to Ms. Stratten's life. A unique, superb, career-defining performance for Mariel Hemingway. The combination of her performance and the flawless, sensitive direction of Bob Fosse give the film it's cushiony, dream-like layers. Fosse's direction is astounding, a true master at work: tender & brutal, charming & terrifying, all at the same time. Additionally, MAJOR high marks for the film's editing and the spine-tingling music soundtrack. Spooky stuff, that music.....a dead-on bullseye.

The absolute centerpiece of the film is Eric Roberts' gut-wrenching, devastating performance as Paul Snider, Dorothy's starmaker/husband/killer. This was the first time I had ever seen Eric Roberts so his characterization was not in the least bit diluted by recognition of the actor. Again, with the exception of James Dean, I have NEVER been so flabbergasted over an actor's performance.....and, to this day, the Twin Titans of movie performances remain (in my opinion) James Dean in "East Of Eden" and Eric Roberts in "Star 80" (....with Jeremy Irons in "Dead Ringers" hot on their heels). Why Mr. Roberts wasn't nominated for and WIN the Best Actor Oscar is something I'll never understand. (He was, however, given the Best Actor prize by [I believe] something called the Boston Film Critics Society.)

With every viewing of the film I still feel deeply conflicted watching this character: he's the epitome of the sleazeball that everyone dislikes instantly but, as the film progresses, he becomes so emotionally shattered that it's difficult not to feel some sympathy for him as a human being....but just when you're wishing someone would offer a helping hand, the brutal climax of the film hits like a tidal wave.

Eric Roberts got deeply into Paul Snider's head and it must have been a punishing experience. For the brutalization to his nervous system, Mr. Roberts has left us with a film role that will retain it's shockingly profound power as long as there are movies. It's practically an act of criminality that there are no "extras" on the DVD; I'd love to hear Mr. Roberts recollections of playing this role.

The last 10 minutes of the film are incredibly powerful; they are also very disturbing and may leave you in stunned silence.....and I challenge anyone to shake loose Eric Roberts' performance from their mind in just a day or two.

I personally consider "Star 80" to be a true classic of cinema and hope it will someday be rediscovered and re-evaluated as such. It's a difficult film to get out of your mind and actually grows more powerful with repeated viewings.

"Star 80" gets my absolute highest recommendation, but with it's sensitive subject matter and shockingly gruesome climax, please be advised the film is not for everyone.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 1, 2009 5:21:11 PM PST
I must say, I don't share your passionate interest in "Star 80" but I did see it, and boy, Eric Roberts absolutely BLEW ME AWAY. A performance that shook me on every level possible; mostly, what a pathetic POS this guy was, but also, you can't help but pity what a confused, self-absorbed, bewildered lost soul he was. UNBELIEVABLE and it does make you wonder what the Academy Awards are really all about when acting like this gets ignored.
The only other performance similar to Robert's, and one I recommend highly: Vincent D'Onofrio as Robert E Howard in the overlooked "little" movie "The Whole Wide World", which I believe was also Renee Zellweger's project just before her breakout in "Jerry McGuire". STELLAR acting by both the principals, and DEFINITELY a haunting, multi-layered performance by D'Onofrio, who definitely strikes many of the same notes as Eric did in "Star 80". "World" is not nearly so violently disturbing as "Star 80" but definitely packs a punch and deserves to find a larger audience.
"Star 80:" great review of a highly deserving and overlooked movie. Let's hope that a blu-ray edition will appear in the near future giving this film the audio & video clarity & completeness its quality deserves. I also greatly appreciate that your review wasn't littered with misspellings! Best, SHERMATZ

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 8:57:39 AM PDT
Jalessa says:
Hello! I don't ever comment on ANY of the reviews that I happen to see anywhere on, but I must say that your review of "Star 80" was an interesting read! And it sounds as though you're as attached to "Star 80" as I am to "Boogie Nights"! This may sound funny, but "Boogie Nights" was such a good movie that I had to force myself to eventually stop watching it after "too many" repeated viewings.
Anyway, I'm glad that I got to read your review of "Star 80" - you have a nice day!

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 8:58:21 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 13, 2011 8:58:46 AM PDT]
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