Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sweet Hearts Dance

I usually enjoy the typical, feel-good chick flick, and since that's what Sweet Hearts Dance sounded like, I thought I'd check it out. However, this movie was not at all what I expected. It follows the story of two men who have been friends since high school; one has gotten married and has three kids, while the other has remained single, and become the principal of the town's high school. This movie has a pretty stellar cast also: Susan Sarandon, Jeff Daniels, Don Johnson, and Elizabeth Perkins. Daniels plays the single guy, Sam, and Johnson plays Wiley, the husband and father. Wiley's marriage begins to fall apart just as Sam finds love for the first time. And so the story begins....

As the movie progresses, Wiley becomes a real jerk: he moves out (into a trailer), leaving his kids and wife behind. He doesn't really make any effort to fix the marriage, and appears completly apathetic to the whole situation. His son refuses to talk to him and his friends all get mad at him. At his lowest point, he gets drunk on New Year's Eve, and sleeps with an old high school friend. His son finds out, and as you can guess, this only strains their relationship more.

While the story of the movie seemingly rests on the relationships between Wiley and his wife and Sam and his girlfriend, Sam and Wiley are consistently shown to have a stronger connection. They do more activities together, they talk more, and for men, they even share some of their feelings! Sam, Wiley, and Sandy (Wiley's wife) take a trip to the Caribbean at one point, and I found it apalling how much of the trip Wiley spends with Sam. Here is the perfect opportunity to try to mend things with his wife (he's in paradise, for crying out loud--what better place is there?) and instead, he's off sailing with his buddy Sam. What is wrong with this man? Well, eventually, he gives just a little effort, and Sandy is thrilled.

This movie is not awful, but I didn't think it was particularly great either. At times, it moves kind of slow. I often found myself asking "why are they including this scene? What is the purpose of it?" I did like the ending of the movie, though: the activity Wiley and Sandy are doing to rekindle their marriage is the same activity they did back in high school when they were just getting together. It is humorous, and also very cute. This movie is not worth the 9 bucks you would have paid to see it in the theater, but on a lazy Sunday afternoon, if you're bored, it's worth renting for 4 bucks.

Link for the trailer:

A Real Nightmare

A Nightmare on Elm Street inspires just that nightmares. I remember the first time I saw it when I was younger and I was afraid to go to bed afterward because it's in your sleep where Freddy Krueger can kill you.

Freddy Krueger was a child killer that was going to escape going to prison due to the fact that his warrent was signed incorrectly. The parents of the neighborhood took justice into their own hands and killed Krueger by burning him alive. Years later when the other children grew into teenagers Krueger came back to seek his revenge and kill the remaining children of the parents who killed him. To do that he comes back in their nightmares where the things he does come true in real life. The only one that realizes this is Nancy Thompson who goes without sleep for a whole week trying to stay alive. She can't convince anyone else that Krueger is a real threat with her increasing delirium causing everyone to think she is crazy.

If the plot alone doesn't scare you the was the movie was filmed will. Your imagination can run away with you because most of the film you can't see Krueger but you can hear him and you anticipate his appearance throughout the movie. You start to feel as jumpy as Nancy does. The special effects are still decent for today's standards as well. They weren't computer graphics but stunts played out in live action making them very realistic. The way the teenagers die is gorey and made my skin crawl.

This is one of Wes Craven's classic horrors and if you liked any of the Scream films you will probably enjoy this movie as well. Check it out here

Friday, March 17, 2006

Comedy, Romance, Horror, Thriller...

I thought American Werewolf in London would have been strictly a horror/thriller, was I in for a surprise.

David Kessler and Jack Goodman are young American men backpcking around Britain. While in Britain they get attacked by a werewolf. Jack is killed and David is put into a coma. The werewolf reverts back into a man after being killed leaving no evidence that he ever existed. David wakes from his coma and during his lengthy hospital stay falls in love with his nurse Alex Prince who takes him in. During his recovery he has nightmares of hunting on all fours and his dead friend Jack comes to visit him. Undead Jack tells him that he has to kill himself or the victims of the werewolf line that David is now apart of will be forced to stay in limbo until the last descendent is dead.

This movie was hilarious. The fact that Alex knows that David thinks he is a werewolf and finds him attractive for it seemed like it was teasing all the women who want to save or change their boyfriends. The banter between David and the ever dacaying Jack was like watching a Friends episode, David didn't even seem to notice that Jack's skin was falling off besides the time that he told him, "I will not be threatened by a walking meat loaf!"

Some other humorous moments were when David woke up after his first full moon naked in the wolf pen at the zoo. He had to find something to cover himself with which resulted in a young British boy saying to his mother, "A naked American man stole my balloons."

My favorite part though is where David's victims sit with him in a British porn theater and help him contemplate how to kill himself and they're not as nice about it as Jack is.

The humor kind of takes over the movie there is horror and romance but I think they're trivialized a little in this film. For example the end was very abrupt and kind of sad and then the credits roll imediately playing Blue Moon.

If you want a good laugh go ahead and try this movie out.
Here's the trailor

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mississippi Burning

Made in 1988, Mississippi Burning is a serious film about race relations in 1964 Mississippi. It tells the true story of two FBI agents (played by Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman) who are assigned to a missing persons case, and deals with all of the serious issues of the civil rights era. From the infiltration of the KKK in the local police force to the guilt felt by many of the white people, the director doesn't miss a thing. There is even a hint of a love story underneath it all.

Considering this film was made only 2 decades after the rampant violence in the South, it does a thorough job of dealing with these hot issues. The entire town is upset about the presence of the FBI agents, searching for clues about the three missing kids, who were activists from the North. One of them, having experienced life in a racist Mississippi town himself, produces conflict within the FBI from the beginning. He knows that following the zero-tolerance rules of the Northerners will achieve very little amongst the stubborn white supremacists. Aggression is hard for him to avoid, much to the disappointment of his colleagues.

Although the specific case of disappearance is the focus of the film, it is much more than a detective film. We are introduced to the black community via church worship and a freedom march. The white community is conveyed through the wives and families of some of the KKK men. The audience is privy to every side of the story firsthand, which means the racial tension is impossible to escape as viewers. We are not spared any gory details either.

Every actor in this film gives a memorable performance. A young Darius McCrary, from the TV show Family Matters, even plays a significant role. This is not a typical 80's film in that it confronts the serious issues in both a cinematically touching and politically risky way. A funeral scene hints at the Vietnam War, making the film more than one-dimensional. If you are up for the gut-wrenching drama, Mississippi Burning is an incredible film.


Bill Murray and Harold Ramis take on the personas of John Winger and Russell Ziskey in this hilarious comedy about misfits joining the army. Winger, who loses his job and his girlfriend in the same day, becomes frustrated with his life, and decides that the answer to his problems could be the army. After convincing his friend Russell to join with him, the two later find themselves in basic training at the command of Sergeant Hulka, who is determined to turn them into something valuable. Their platoon is filled with many more oddball characters, such as “psycho” and “Ox” who is played by John Candy.

Murray’s character becomes the class clown of the group and constantly pisses off Hulka with his jokes and antics. They sarcastically bicker throughout the film, and Winger pays for his mistakes with many push-up sessions overseen by his Sergeant. However, Hulka’s reign quickly comes to a halt when he becomes injured, which forces these clueless soldiers to complete training and graduation without any guidance. Through a series of hilarious and unusual events, this group of misfit soldiers eventually finds themselves in the heat of battle, and with a little luck they succeed and achieve military fame.

The dynamic of the wacky characters in this film provides an interesting few hours of entertainment. If you like Bill Murray films, or if you are just in the mood for a good laugh, check this film out. Even if it’s not your type of comedy I think you will find the Pretty Woman march, and the platoon’s performance at their graduation to be quite amusing. "That's the fact Jack!"

The trailer for this classic film:


Although Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most well-known films of the 1980's, I've actually never seen the entire film until now (I tended to get bored before). But after watching it in its entirety, it is easy to see why this film, the beginning of the trilogy, became the definitive action-adventure film for the next twenty-five years, and many films that came after it are obviously heavily influenced by it.

Steven Spielberg's film offers everything you would expect from this type of movie: intrigue, exotic locales, numerous obstacles for the hero to overcome. The famous opening sequence alone is enough to draw the viewers in with the numerous difficulties that Jones has to face and humbly overcomes. The film also offers a likable female heroine and love interest for Jones in Marian, who is strong-willed but still attractive and relies on Jones. Spielberg's direction is smooth and clear in the way it travels from one location or adventure to another, and the famous music is an important part of the film.

Harrison Ford's portrayal of Jones makes him a likable, human character. Other aspects of his character emphasize his humanity, rather than his heroism, like his fear of snakes. The film also makes sure to establish that Jones is first and foremost a professor, as shown early in the film, and the viewers never forget this as we watch Jones in his various adventures. This makes him easier to relate to and also a more endearing and interesting character, since the two aspects of his personality, his professor side and his adventurous side, are stark contrasts.

The fact that this film takes place in the 1930's and that its main villains are Nazis makes the villains easily loathsome by the audience, since the audience already views them in a negative light. I think that this setup is almost too easy with the stock Nazi villains. Also, the stereotype portrayal of the Middle Eastern characters seems somewhat dated and strange compared to recent events.

However, Spielberg makes this a mostly entertaining and engaging film as we watch Jones in his adventures and the creative ways in which he gets himself out of trouble (though the fact that he was able to crawl out from under a moving vehicle unscathed was pretty unbelievable). Watching this film shows the huge impact that it had on the action-adventure films that followed, none of which have been able to live up to the pure adventure and unlikely heroism of this film.

Watch the trailer (and more) at these sites:'s-Movie-Trailer-for-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark?v=o8AQU0S6yPs&search=harrison%20ford


Crossroads. 1986. dir. Walter Hill

First off, this is NOT the Britney Spears film... this is more like Karate Kid except with guitars. That's right, Ralph Macchio plays Eugene, the classical guitar prodigy from Juilliard who is obsessed with the blues. At a nursing home, he meets Willie Brown (Joe Seneca), a hard-swinging harp player who had worked with Eugene's hero Robert Johnson. Eugene is willing to take Willie down to Mississippi if the elder blues veteran is willing to teach the young Daniel Laruso-look-alike a lost Robert Johnson song.

The film is only about 100 minutes, but it goes by rather slowly. The two guys face many obstacles on their way down, including lack of funds, lack of sympathy, and corrupt officers. However, they do make it to Mississippi, and specifically, to the Crossroads, where Willie faces the devil once again in order to break his contract. Honestly, you can really skip the first 85 minutes of the film. You'll miss the backstory of Eugene and his love interest Frances (Jami Gertz), who teaches him what the blues really mean. But the last ten minutes or so is prime-time comedy...

Eugene engages in a guitar dual with Jack Butler (Steve Vai), a flashy guitarist who wears leather pants and uses heavy metal guitars. The interplay between them is hilarious, as Butler keeps making intimidating faces as if he were a member of Cobra Kai. At first, Eugene's electric slide-blues keeps up with Butler, but later Butler's winding whammy bar solos leaves the young boy in the dust. However, Eugene has a crane kick in the works... his classical training from Juilliard. Cinema classic.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this film. However, I do recommend Netflixing it and using the AoA DVD Ripper to rip that guitar battle. High marks for hilarity.

Trailer for the film:

Trailer for Britney's Crossroads (in case you wanted to compare):

And finally, some stuff on Ralph Macchio:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Big Brother is Watching

Nineteen Eighty-Four

“Under the spreading chestnut tree / I sold you / You sold me.”

Having read the book, I knew that I couldn’t expect anything remotely happy coming out of the movie version of Orwell’s dystopian vision – and I was right. Don’t rent this movie if you aren’t prepared to step a bit out of your comfort zone. It’s a disquieting movie, and throws a lot at you take in about some weighty topics.

A quick synopsis for those who haven’t read the book: Nineteen Eighty-Four follows Winston Smith, an employee of Minitru (Ministry of truth), a department of Ingsoc (the government – English Socialism), through his gradual realization of the injustice of the loss of personal freedoms that accompany the severely totalitarian dictatorship of Big Brother. He and supporting character Julia, as individuals against the might of an entity, cannot hope to prevail, and their forbidden love is doomed before it is even conceived.

The environment depicted in the movie is even more decrepit and depressing than I had imagined upon reading the book. The scowling image of Big Brother’s face is in almost every scene, everything is filthy, and the colors are almost always muted. Few exceptions come, in the form of hope given to Winston, which only exist to be cruelly taken away at later points. It is almost painfully sad how the depressingly grey mood of the beginning of the movie is substantially lifted by the introduction of Julia and her first note given to Winston, reading only “I Love You.” It is needed to keep the audience from despairing, but it also serves to highlight how bad things really are; that such a small token can have such an impact.

O'Brien: If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.

The 1984 ad (not the trailer):

Doubleplusgood wallpaper, if you’re interested:

Revenge is sweet... and low.

Flipping through the television channels I came across Roseanne looking uglier and angrier than usual and it made me stop and take notice of the film She-Devil.
In this film Roseanne plays Ruth Patchett, a heavy housewife with a mustache who is unappreciated to the point of abuse from neglect by her accountant husband Bob. Bob eventually leaves Ruth and their two children for one of his wealthy clients, a snobby romance novelist named Mary Fisher played by Meryl Streep. Ruth then takes matters into her own hands for the first time in her life and plots revenge against Bob. To do this she makes a list of his assets to destroy. This list includes his house, his family, his career, and his freedom.
This film goes to the extreme for a laugh and for shock value. For example, to destroy his house Ruth has an “accidental” fire with an overloaded electrical socket, a washer filled with plugged electrical appliances, a working hairdryer on a bed covered in pillows, an unlit pilot light on the stove, and a couple aerosol cans in a running microwave. This was only the first step in destroying Bob’s life and the house was just where he kept some of his belongings while the divorce was being worked out.
I enjoyed the movie for Meryl Streep and Roseanne’s performances and its outrageous plot. Meryl did an excellent job portraying Mary Fisher, which surprised me because she never struck me as much of a comic. Roseanne delivered her natural subdued performance which made her character’s methodical execution of her revenge all the more amusing as she actually crossed the items off her list of Bob’s assets as she destroyed them and the lengths to which Ruth went to exact her revenge were entertaining in their own right as were the results that ensued proving that hell really does hath not fury like a woman scorned.

For more on She-Devil:

Monday, March 13, 2006

department store drama

If you like cheesy plotless fun and melodramatic fantasy, you'll like the 1987 film Mannequin. Kim Cattrall, of Sex and the City fame, is Emmy, a mannequin who has come to life before the eyes of Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy from Pretty in Pink). In the very first scene, we are introduced to the strange past life of the mannequin as an Egyptian princess in ancient times - as a matter of fact, we are told that it is "a really really long time ago in Egypt, at lunch time." She has yet to enjoy any of her time-travelling experiences, until she finds love with Jonathan.

Before happening upon a job in the department store that is home to this beautiful mannequin that he created at his last short-term job, Jonathan is a typical "starving artist." The insanity is only beginning when he speaks to her through the window on a stormy night.

Jonathan proceeds to get caught dancing with her, kissing her in a bathroom, and even sleeping next to her in a hammock. Of course, he is the only one for whom she comes alive. This is why it looks so strange when he rides down the street with her on the back of his motorcycle, plastic arms wrapped tightly around his waist. On his trail the whole time are the crazy nighttime guard Felix and his bulldog Rambo, plus Jonathan's rude ex-girlfriend Roxie, who is desperately trying to hire him at her rival store. The only person who appreciates Jonathan's eccentric relationship with the mannequin is aspiring artist Hollywood Montrose, a fellow employee.

Considering the limited space and entertainment value of a department store, Jonathan and his plastic friend manage to have an incredible time. This movie is of the fun, corny 80's genre. With plenty of synthesizer tunes and ridiculous twists, it might be worthy of your boring Sunday afternoon. Its music was nominated for an Academy Award! If for no other reason, watch it just to see the hang-gliding scene.

For the trailer:

As you wish...

The Princess Bride:1987 (the year I was born!!!)
Directed by Rob Reiner

The Princess Bride is a story within a story and Rob Reiner does this is a very creative way. A young boy, played by Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) is sick in bed and his grandfather comes over to surprise him with a very special gift...a book. Well, the young boy isn't very thrilled about his gift, but as the grandfather reads to him from "The Princess Bride" the story comes to life and the audience is brought into a fantasy world filled with sword fights, giants, fire swamps, R-O-U-S's, evil princes, and of coarse true love.

The characters in the fantasy fairy tale book are all truly memorable, even the ones that only appear in one scene. We have Westley who is the hero. He brings action to the film, as well as humor, for his character has some great one liners. Princess Buttercup is the female lead. She is Westley's true love. Prince Humperdink is the man Buttercup is set to marry. Humperdink, as well as Count Rugen (the six fingered man) are the villains of the film and the two of them are very dark and cruel characters, especially count Rugen, who is obsessed with torture. My personal favorites are Inigo Montoyo and Fezzik (the giant). The two of them are best friends and a great duo. They are extremly fun characters and the two of them and Westley help save the day at the end of the film..not to spoil it for anyone who hasnt seen it. Reiner's characters are lively and every part, no matter how small, adds a unique, important element to the film.

The action of the film is great..especially the sword fight between Inigo and Westley. There is never a dull moment and there are always comedic elements included.

This movie truly has it all. Adventure, Romance, Fantasy, and Comedy. What more could you ask for in a film?

Visit the Official website:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

River's Edge

River's Edge. 1986. dir. Tim Hunter

"Hey man, keep your HANDS OFF CLARISSA." - Layne

With a stellar cast featuring the multi-talented Keanu Reeves, the (truly) multi-talented Dennis Hopper, the lovely Ione Skye, and a post-George McFly Crispin Glover, this film about a small town murder and the apathetic attitudes among the friends of the victim and killer is a delicious tale of dead-end kids who are heading for the black hole. Like most of the other 80s teen films, parents either neglect or abuse their children. However, the impulses that drive one teen to murder his girlfriend are mysterious. Was it a man trying to claim dominance over a woman? Was it a combination of drugs and Slayer that drove him to strangle her? Or was it sheer boredom?

Without trying to divulge too much information about the film, Feck (Dennis Hopper) makes a point that sometimes you have to kill people. Everyone is born with some evil in them. However, some people are special cases. Some have an imbalance of too much evil, in which they are a threat to society. Feck knows this, he philosphizes about it. It isn't just the pot talking either.
The best acting in this film comes from Hopper. During the same year, he played Frank Booth in Blue Velvet. Thus, 1986 was the year for Hopper to show the world how crazy he could be. Feck is the more compassionate of the two characters, however, as he has a gentler disposition (possibly due to pot). If anyone could match his mental instability, though, it was Crispin Glover's performance of Layne. Layne often drives under the influence of beer, pot, and speed in his VW, with Slayer perpetually blasting out the windows. His odd vocal inflections, overdramatic movements, and perpetual look of nervousness brand him as an instantly memorable character (he even laughs at the end of the quote above, obviously a reference to a film he recently acted in).

Overall, I highly recommend this film. The soundtrack isn't too cheesy (mostly Slayer and some great soul songs). Keanu doesn't ruin it (he looks trashy enough to fit in). And Hopper and Glover turn out some great performances. I like to refer to the film as Blue Velvet light, you know, something you can quote around with friends. You can quote Blue Velvet, but you'll probably get in a lot of trouble for that.

View the trailer here:

Chariots of Fire

No this post has nothing to do with Ancient deals with several british men trying to make it to the 1924 Olympics in Paris with running. My mom recommended this film to me and she said it was a hit back when it came out in 1981. It is directed by Hugh Hudson and stars some actors I didn't know except for John Gielgud and Ian Holm which some of you may not know either. Anyway, I liked the film and I would say for others to watch it, but there were moments where this film lagged a bit. I think for the length of this movie, it could have been faster paced and had more action. It is based on a true story of Eric Liddell, a Scotsman who was the best and fasted runner in the 1920's and Harold Abrahams an Englishman from Cambridge. They are both competing against each other when they make it to the Olympics in the 100m race. Harold is Jewish and he is fighting against anti-semetisim and prejudeces against his faith, while Eric is heavly involved in the Christian faith and when it is learned that he must race on a Sunday he will not do it, he sticks to what he believes in. Eric competes in a 400 m race instead. This complex film was up for 7 Academy Awards and won 4 which included Best Picture.

Now I want to talk about the music which really made me laugh. It's a mix of the piano and synthesizer. The theme of this music we all should know by now. What struck me as weird was the fact that 80s music was used in the 1920s...very odd. I think this film stands alone in the 80s and I don't think I can compare it to any other film. It is a classic after all...

Here is the trailer: