Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

So my friend gave this movie to me to watch. I had seen it a long time ago and I didn't really remember it so I thought I would give it a go. I think this movie has to be one of my favorite batman films. I love George Clooney and all, but Michael Keaton makes a great least in my mind. Batman goal is to avenge crime in Gotham City while living a double life as Bruce Wayne, a very wealthy man with a butler named Alfred. Alfred is the man by the way!! We learn that his choice of profession comes from the fact that as a boy, his billionare parents were murdered in front of him by Jack/Joker. Jack who has always lived a life of crime meets his fate in a vat of green chemicals which turns him into the hideous Joker. The Joker wants to rule the world and Batman is just another person getting in his way. Back to Bruce, he falls for Vicky Vale, a reporter, and the two come together and Batman must save her from the Joker. I don't want to ruin the film for anybody because I think this is one hero film that everyone should see. While we were discussing the issue of hero, I made up a list while I was watching it and I think he does fit the part...of a superhero. I like him because he is a regular guy who wants to save the world but his aid is money and some really sweet gadgets. Batman in this film is dark and brooding and he's pretty blunt in what he has to say. The Joker is a great villan...he's just so nasty and who doesn't love Jack Nicholson. I think he really makes the role with his arched eyebrows and maniacal laugh. He's sinister and we love to hate him.

So anyway, I recommend this film to everyone. I also enjoyed how the music was written and sung by Prince...well the non-instrumental ones. Look for the Joker dancing to some Prince it'll make you laugh...I promise. Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger all play memorable characters in the film. You get sucked into the story and you want to know what will happen in the end. Tim Burton has a created a film that again can stand the test of time. There will always be fans of Batman. This movie is one of, if not the best Batman film of the series of films that have come out in recent years. I haven't seen Batman begins though so I can't judge that one but lets say that the one with Batman and Robin, o h and Alica Silverstone is foul and I don't think people should see it...unless you really like George Clooney. The one with Val Kilmer is kinda iffy in my eyes as well. So yeah, check it out but maybe not on VHS like I saw...the DVD has widescreen!!! (Cue Batman theme) Batman! Superman could so kick is butt!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some Kind of Wonderful

John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) deserves a place amongst the noteworthies of the teen movie genre. If you liked Hughes’ other films, The Breakfast Club (1985) and Pretty in Pink (1986), chances are you’ll enjoy this one as well. An unoriginal plot (centered upon angst-ridden love triangles and the high school social scene) nevertheless enables a touching and sophisticated depiction of teenage life in the 1980s.

High school senior Keith Nelson manages to get a date with his popular classmate, Amanda Jones. Although they are both from working-class backgrounds, Amanda runs with the rich kids’ crowd. Does this mean Amanda is shallow? Absolutely, according to Watts, Keith’s tomboy best friend. Watts persistently tries to dissuade Keith from becoming involved with Amanda- for his own good, of course. Keith, however, ignores both Watts’ advice and her own growing infatuation with him, creating a deliciously painful situation.

Meanwhile, Keith’s father urges him to break the Nelson family out of their blue-collar status by attending college. Keith, who is artistically inclined, continually avoids discussing post-graduation plans with his father and befriends some misfit classmates who also appreciate art. Though rough around the edges, these skinheads prove to be both generous and loyal, in stark contrast to Amanda’s snobby girlfriends.

The antagonism between Keith and Amanda’s ex-boyfriend, the wealthy and preppy Hardy Jenns, thus goes beyond mere rivalry to highlight class tensions between children of blue-collar and white-collar backgrounds. Love triangles are all very well and good, but this sort of conflict is a real issue, one that lends the film a sense of credibility and gravity it would not otherwise have. The trials and tribulations of Some Kind of Wonderful’s teens are made powerfully compelling by the very fact that they are mundane. This, then, is the film’s true strength and what makes it well worth viewing.

Somewhere In Time

If you enjoy romance films of the “fluffy” variety, this one’s for you. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc and based on the novel by Richard Matheson, Somewhere in Time (1980) tells the story of a modern-day Chicago playwright who falls in love with a popular actress from 1912.

Using self-hypnosis, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) manages to transport himself back in time so that he can meet the woman that has become an obsession to him. The beautiful Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour) instantly feels a connection to this mysterious stranger, despite her initial wariness. Her manager, William Robinson (Christopher Plummer), is not merely wary of Collier but outright hostile towards him and persistently attempts to prevent the lovers from growing any closer.

Is Collier and McKenna’s love strong enough to withstand the boundaries of time itself? Can Collier sacrifice his life in the future for a possible life with McKenna in the past? One would think that such questions deserve to be treated seriously indeed. Unfortunately, Somewhere in Time takes the idea of a powerful, time-defying love so seriously that it leaves no room for character development. The cinematography is undeniably beautiful (the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design), but the story itself is weak. The actors do the best they can with a script that does not do justice to their talents. Ultimately, Somewhere in Time is an inadvertently ridiculous film that is entertaining but insubstantial.

Coen brothers classic

If you have never seen Raising Arizona, you're missing out on some great hick humor. The ultimate screwball comedy starring Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman, it is law-breaking at its finest. Only an infertile cop who married a convict would attempt to steal someone else's child. And that's exactly what she does. Actually, "Ed" sends her husband "Hi" to break into the local furniture salesman's house to steal one of his quintuplets. They figure that 5 is too many babies for one family. Causing a media frenzy, they successfully make off with Nathan, Jr., an unusually happy child. They are a cute little family with a secret until Hi's friends, fugitives who have literally dug their way out of prison, show up on his doorstep with nowhere else to go.

Craziness ensues. Hi has a couple of memorable Huggies runs. He decks his boss for suggesting that they becomes swingers like he and his wife. A bounty hunter that shows up in Hi's dreams turns out to be real and tries to acquire the baby for reward money in the end. Before that, the fugitives make off with the baby so they can have the $25,000 and rob a convenience store and a bank along the way. Despite the horrific thought of a child in a car seat falling off the roof of a car...twice, all of these antics are supremely entertaining.
The Coen brothers have a way of making stupid comedy (which I usually hate) great. They mix the boring reality of life in rural Arizona with some unexpected, unlikely twists. Details like the old man in the convenience store counting with "Mississippi"s make it unique -- never a dull moment. Holly Hunter's character is particularly hilarious. This is also a different film for Nicolas Cage, though he pulls it off as well as he does all the action and suspense roles he did in the 90s and after. The movie is a classic, and well worth the time.

Baby Boom

In this 1987 film, Diane Keaton plays J.C. Wiatt, a woman who has successfully climbed the corporate ladder. She has the money, the beautiful house, and the wealthy man. As her boss informs her, though, when he is promoting her to partner, no one can have it all. No woman, at least. Yet another portrayal of the complicated gender war of the 80's, Baby Boom gives a comprehensive view of all the subtle messages being shoved at J.C. Just one wrong move and she could lose everything to the man close on her heels in the company.

The wrong move turns out not to be a personal choice at all. J.C. inherits a baby from a distant cousin overseas who dies in a tragic accident. Unfit to be a mother, she struggles to do everything from a diaper change to simply holding the child without dropping her. She thinks she has found the solution when her boyfriend finds the clause in her cousin's will allowing her to give the baby up for adoption. Despite the practical advantages of this decision, her heart won't let her do it (especially after meeting the scary prospective parents). J.C. decides to become a mother after all.

Losing her boyfriend and her job as a consequence, J.C. makes a drastic move from NYC to rural Vermont, where she and her new daughter, Elizabeth, must survive the snowy winter in a rundown house. Every personality in the town of 319 people is unique, and the plumber whom she has to call several times is particularly hilarious. Though she is the unhappy outsider for awhile, J.C. finally finds her place in the town, meeting a handsome veterinarian and stumbling upon a baby food business accidentally.

Being the "chick flick" that it is, this movie has a happy ending, and it also happens to be a morally satisfying one. The sexist men she once worked with get what they deserve, and we see that the mother and the working woman can truly be one in the same.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Say Hello To My Little Friend!

Watching Scarface, I couldn't help but think, 'damn this movie is slow.' Not to say it isn't a good movie, which it is, but the film is almost three hours long and for the first two thirds, you feel every minute of it. Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is a Cuban immigrant who, along with his friend Manny, become deeply rooted in the Miami cocaine business in an attempt to make it rich and live out the 'American dream' (lying, stealing, killing--whatever it takes to become powerful). Along the way, Tony survives various attempts on his life, crooked cops, and rises through the ranks to the head of his own crack empire. As good as his life seems to him, however, his obsession with staying on top leads to his downfall, as his wife (Michelle Pfieffer, perfect as a trophy wife) leaves him and he ends up killing Manny over his sister.

I was surprised to see that Tony actually did have somewhat of a moral compass, as he refused to kill a guy's wife and kids, even though that man was going to harm Tony's associates. This isn't what you'd normally find in a ruthless drug lord character. The final scene of the movie is one of cinema's most famous scenes, with Tony facing down a number of attackers in his mansion by himself. Of course, the murder of his sister allows him to kill over twenty guys by himself. Yes, the scene is over the top, but so is most of the movie, and it works well here and is an indication of the kind of over the top violence that became a trend in the 80's and early 90's. Another example of this is the movie's chainsaw scene, which takes place after a drug deal goes bad and is almost painful to watch. Proof of this violence is that the movie was given an X rating 3 times, until DePalma brought in a panel of law enforcement experts that convinced the MPAA that the movie was accurate and shoud be seen by a mass audience.

This is a remake of a 1932 movie of the same name, but I haven't seen that one so I can't compare the two. There also seem to be some similarities between Tony and real-life gangster Al Capone, like getting busted for tax evasion. DePalma dealt with Capone in The Untouchables, which i think is a better movie than Scarface.

Overall, the movie is definitely a product of the 80's, from the music and clothes to the over the top violence. It's definitely long, but still a good movie and worth watching.