Buried among the also-rans within this week’s Blu-ray releases, past The Act of Killing and Runner Runner and (not making this one up) Big Ass Spider, you’ll find the HD debut of Tequila Sunrise, Robert Towne’s 1988 mystery/love triangle thriller starring Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kurt Russell. It’s the kind of movie studios don’t make that much anymore — an entertaining and reasonably intelligent picture for grown-ups, done on a medium budget with the expectation of a medium return. (Nowadays, every budget is either tiny or giant.) Look, there’s not a surplus of love out there for mainstream American moviemaking in the 1980s — and for good reason, as the number of genuinely great films from that era are dwarfed by the masterpieces of the decades on either side, and the films that’ve gained iconic status have mostly done so via smirking nostalgia (since, in and of themselves, they’re mostly terrible). But there are also a handful of films from that much-maligned era that have stood the test of time, and deserve more retroactive attention than they get.
Plenty of viewers (and even critics) seemed surprised by how very funny The Wolf of Wall Street was, since Martin Scorsese’s distinguished pedigree has vaunted him to the status of Serious Filmmaker — though his best films (Goodfellas, Mean Streets, The Departed, even Raging Bull) have flashes of humor throughout. And then there’s this 1985 mini-masterpiece, perhaps his only true “comedy,” though its laughs are wickedly dark and twisted. Griffin Dunne plays an office drone whose late-night Soho date takes several unexpected turns; Joseph Minion’s script is genuinely unpredictable, and Scorsese’s direction is witty, energetic, and paced within an inch of its life.