Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Natural (1984)

The Natural is a heartwarming tale of a baseball player's last attempt at making it in the major league. Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) first attempt at the majors is thwarted by a mysterious woman who kills world elite athletes for some unexplained reason. The movie starts off with Roy going back to his old farm and whittling a bat out of a tree split by light, which he names "wonderboy." With his extreme talent and wonderboy, Roy is able to get a shot at the majors with the fictious New York Knights. While his team and manager are skeptical, Roy finally gets a shot, and literally knocks the cover off the ball in his first major league at bat, becoming the hero of the national league. Now the movie wouldn't be worth watching if there wasn't some adversity . Roy faces his old age, his old bullet wound injury, and a Bookey who gets one of his girls to pretend to have a relationship with Roy in order to ruin him. With the help of wonderboy, his virtues, and an old love (Glen Close), he is able to overcome all odds and help his team win the pennant.
Robert Redford is a great actor, who is always in the zone. There aren't many other actors that are in the present as much as Redford. I've been a huge Redford fan ever since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Not only is his acting in this film on point, but the guy never ages. In this film there are flashback scenes where he plays himself as a nineteen year old, and then a thirty-five year old for the remainder of the movie. Redford was in fact forty eight while filming this movie. Incredible acting. This move is a must watch.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Family Business: A Heartwarming, Criminal Tale

Sidney Lumet’s 1989 motion picture, Family Business, follows the struggles that Vito (Dustin Hoffman) faces in keeping his son, Adam (Matthew Broderick), away from his now semi-retried career criminal father, Jessie (Sean Connery), and the ‘family business’ of theft. As the trailer presents, however, the fact that Adam will ultimately become involved in the family business is not unsuspected.

Though the star studded cast of Connery, Hoffman, and Broderick create a great faux family dynamic in the film; the plot, however, is somewhat expected. This is primarily what the film lacks. While it is made clear that the family will eventually reconnect through their ‘family business,’ it is therefore, very predictable and so, detracts from the total entertainment value. However, as the film is filled with the characteristic, witty one-liners of Connery and solid acting from both Hoffman and Broderick, it is still thoroughly entertaining. Furthermore, though the film’s somewhat expected aspects of its plotline do, ultimately, detract from its total entertainment value of the audience; it thoroughly succeeds in grabbing the audience from the start with its upbeat music and fully encapsulating cinematography – seen specifically through the sweeping New York City tracking shots at the start of the film.

Overall, I did fully enjoy this movie – however, it was not for the film’s plotline, but specifically for the star-studded cast and the dynamic that was created through the film, between them. Furthermore, had Lumet implemented a more developed and surprising plot, I believe this film would have been far more successful in both entertaining the audience and depicting the true struggle that was at hand in the family. Ultimately though, I did enjoy the movie, and therefore, do recommend it.

The Karate Kid (1984)

Daniel is the new kid in town. He has a passion for karate, and a hatred for the new californian atmosphere that he is brought to by his mother. He falls for the cute blonde girl, but in 80s teen films, this is never as easy as it seems. Falling for Ali brings baggage in the form of her ex boyfriend Johnny. When Daniel tries to step up to Johnny for being rude to Ali, Johnny beats the crap out of Daniel. Daniel's torment from Johnny does not end there. Johnny and his crew make it there personal mission to make Daniel's life a living hell by making sure he gets kicked off of the soccer team and beating him up for no reason.
Daniel is interested in Karate, and when he tries to find a karate class, he finds the place where Johnny and his friends train- Corba Kai Dojo. The Corba's are led by an ex marine who emphasizes taking no prisoners. Daniel is disheartened because he wants to learn karate, but does not want to take classes with his tormentors. Then one night he tries to get some revenge on Johnny, which leads to his whole crew chasing Daniel back to his apartment and giving him a beat down. Just when we think Daniel is going to get seriously injured, the motel manager - Mr. Miyagi - comes to the rescue and disarms Johnny and the rest of his crew. Johnny asks Mr. Miyagi to be his mentor. Mr Miyagi represents a real embodiment of karate, unlike the Corba students. He teaches Daniel patience and self defense. After many lessons, Daniel enters a karate tournament where he meets his arch nemesis, Johnny, in the finals. He prevails because he is taught the true fundamentals of karate- self discipline and peace- unlike Johnny.
What I enjoyed about this movie is that it shows the strength in a peaceful and in control mindset. While Johnny has brute force, Daniel is able to overcome him through his inner control and understanding of the true meaning of karate. The final scene where Johnny uses the praying mantis kick to K.O. Johnny is the epitome of badass. If you are a retributivist, then this is your movie.

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment was a charming film about a strong mother daughter relationship. In it a southern mother struggles to let go of her only daughter after her marriage to a man the mother calls “unimaginative.” The movie spans the births of three grandchildren and then the unthinkable happens: the daughter gets terminal cancer. Reconciliations and last interactions were heart wrenching but realistically played.

I loved the dynamic between Shirley McClain and Debra Winger and their juxtapositions despite their closeness add to the interesting dynamics of the film. The plot itself is very soap opera-esc but the natural dialogue creates more of a connection to the audience. The quirks are realistic and so are the situations, the jobs, the outcomes. It’s kind of like if the movie Ordinary People but if the charactersa were more likable.

Shirley McClain won an Oscar for her part and Jack Nicholson won his first Oscar for best supporting Actor. He plays a successful suitor to McClain’s character: an alcoholic playboy astronaut who eventually wins the old southern bell’s heart by accident. I expected Jack Nicholson to steal the show but while I loved his performance, my real attachment to the film was in Debra Winger’s affair with John Lithgow. He was so earnest and likable in this part, I wished he had been a bigger part of the movie.

This movie was really worth seeing; it often gets labeled as a chick flick for lack of explosions but I definitely feel it has enough serio-comedic humor to weather a male viewer.

Back to the Future (1985)

After watching this movie I am a huge fan. I'm about to watch 2 and 3 as soon as I'm done writing this blog. This is one of those epic movies of the 1980's that I am embarrassed to say that I didnt see until recently. It is a must see film, and I feel foolish to have missed out so many years.

The plot is centered around a high school kid named Marty McFly. He is transported backwards in time to 1955 in a time machine invented by his friend Doc. He accidentally interrupts the first meeting of his parents, creating a paradox that endangers his existence. The paradox is that if his parents dont meet in the past, then there is no him in the future. The task of playing Cupid
to his parents is complicated because his future mother develops a crush on him. He must do whatever it takes to get his parents together or the existence of him and his siblings lies in the balance.

Here is the original theatrical trailer. Enjoy!