Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Wax on, wax off..."

John G. Avildsen’s The Karate Kid (1984) is one of the best-known 80s films and something of a cult classic. Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is desperately eager to learn karate because he’s being tormented by bullies at his new high school. Unfortunately, these bullies happen to be students at the local dojo, where the philosophy is “strike hard, strike fast, no mercy.” Mr. Miyagi, Danny’s kindly neighbor, agrees to teach the boy karate himself after witnessing a particularly brutal episode of harassment. The elderly Japanese handyman convinces the dojo to leave Danny alone until the upcoming karate tournament, where they will settle their differences once and for all.

Miyagi (Pat Morita) teaches Danny that karate should be used for defense, never for intimidation. The strength, discipline, and self-confidence gained through karate training enable one to avoid engaging in physical fights except when absolutely necessary. This contrasts markedly with the dojo’s philosophy.

Both Miyagi and Danny are outsiders. Miyagi’s broken English and first-generation immigrant status set him apart, while Danny, having recently moved to California from New Jersey, has yet to find acceptance among his peers. Compared to his classmates, Danny doesn’t have much money, either.

Mr. Miyagi becomes a mentor and father figure to Danny, whose own father is absent. Although Danny’s mother clearly cares about her son, she is a minor character and rarely seen.

As a coming-of-age film, The Karate Kid focuses on the relationship between teacher and student and shows Danny’s transformation from a scared kid into a more confident and mature young adult. This is a film that anyone can relate to, and I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Some kids go into space...

Ok so I watched this film called Space Camp and it was made in 1986. It stars Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, and Leaf Pheonix before he came jaquin..or however you spell it! The acting is average and the plot is super cheesy but overall I actually liked this film. So pretty much the story revolves around 5 kids who come to space camp and their teacher is named Andie. They learn all about space and then on one day, they get the opportunity to feel an engine burn test. Well the heat curtain fails and one of the rockets starts to burn so in order to not have them burn up they have to send these 6 ppl into space. They get into space ok but they learn they only have one oxygen tank and in 12 hours they will die. They have just 12 hours to make it home so they have to find another oxygen source and they find one in the space station daedalus. They go and collect two oxygen tanks which help them but all of a sudden NASA decides to take auto control and Andie gets stuck outside of the shuttle! The kids override and they bring andie in but she's hurt and they wont make it to the next landing spot and then they realize they can get to white sands in Mexico so they do that and they contact NASA through morse code and they help aid them in getting back home. Kathryn who is one of the kids must pilot them back with Kevin as commander, the shuttle starts to spin as they almost enter atmo but she gains contol and auto takes over and well i think you know the rest. The movie I wouold reccoment because it's interesting and at moments just really funny. the special fx are cheesy and you can tell when they are fake and the music by the great John Williams is fantastic...sometimes a little too over the top.

Back to the Future

I absolutely enjoyed watching Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (1985). A friend of mine described it as “the definitive 80s movie,” and I have to agree with him. Difficult to classify in terms of genre, the film contains elements of action/adventure, comedy, and sci-fi. In essence, though, Back to the Future is about people: the theme of self-confidence plays a central role, and the story draws upon the curiosity people commonly have about what their parents were like as kids.

In 1985, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) manages to turn a DeLorean into a time travel machine. His teenaged assistant, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), accidentally gets stuck in the year 1955 and puts his own existence at stake by preventing his parents from meeting. Marty must enlist the help of Doc Brown’s younger self to fix the time machine and make sure his parents fall in love. With only a week to accomplish everything, time is slipping away quickly…

As might be expected, the film’s timeframe provides plenty of opportunity for pop culture jokes. In one particularly funny episode, Marty pretends to be an extraterrestrial and “tortures” his seventeen-year-old father with a Van Halen cassette in hopes of convincing the cowardly boy to ask his mother to the school dance.

Also amusing is Marty’s guitar playing at said dance. His virtuoso rendition of Chuch Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” goes over spectacularly well, but he receives stunned looks upon breaking out a Jimi Hendrix imitation.

Setting the film thirty years in the past serves a number of purposes for the director. Logically, for Marty to be a teenager in 1985, his parents had to be teenagers in the 1950s. To put it another way, the setting is a necessary part of the plot. It’s also unusual for a 1980s film, because the 1950s were generally considered too recent for a “historical” setting. After all, some audience members would remember growing up during that decade (as did Zemeckis). Still, the setting probably contributed to Back to the Future’s success. All in all, this film is definitely worth watching.

Great quotes:

  • "When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit.”
  • "Chuck. Chuck. It's Marvin - your cousin, Marvin BERRY. You know that new sound you're looking for? Well, listen to this.”


The French Lieutenant's Woman

So I saw this film and I picked it up because of Jeremy Irons who is one of my favorite actors. Plus it had Meryl Streep in it which was good too. This film was made in 1981 and was directed by Karel Reisz and the screenplay was done by Harold Pinter. This movie is a film within a film so sometimes it gets confusing if you don't pay attention. The story revolves around Mike and Anna who are both actors and they are filming a movie entitled the French Lieutenant's Woman. They are lovers both onscreen and off. In the film, that they are making,their characters are Charles and Sarah. The movie they make takes place in the Victorian era. Charles is a biologist who has maried another woman but is in love with Sarah in which he embarks on a love affair. The thing is, she is all melancholy and sad, so that causes problems and they have to keep their relationship hidden. Now cut back to when their actors, Mike and Anna are together but she seems to be down too. Sarah, the character in the film ruins Charles' reputation and at around the same time in the film, Mike finds that he cannot keep up his relationship with Anna. We learn that both Mike and Anna are with someone else. Eventually, Anna cannot keep up her relationship with Mike and she leaves him. Going back to Charles and Sarah, he goes on a long search for her, 3 years because she left him with no note. He finds her three years later because she contacts him and they both forgive each other and there is a happy ending...if only there were a happy ending to Mike and Anna. Mike goes to see Anna at the after party of the movie and when he goes to find her, she has left and they do not say goodbye. This whole cutting between the two love stories can get confusing, especially when trying to understand what is going on in the film. I thought I would give the film a try because it won some Oscar nominations and Jeremy Irons is fantastic and i love almost everything he is in. Check out the HBO special Elizabeth I it is superb and he is great in it. He is a very dynamic actor and in this film he does a great job. I wish that the plot was stronger, as well as the sub-plot. The characters especially Mike and Anna are underdeveloped but I'm glad I watched it although at points it was boring. It probably isn't a film for our generation but, I say hey, give it a go.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Teen Wolf

Teen wolf is a fun high-school comedy.It is the story of Scott Howard, an akward seventeen year old boy who is having some problems. He is tired of being average. He longs for some excitment in his life. He has the same routine every day, same friends and the only excitment he has in his life is being on the basketball team, but this is even dull, since he is a benchwarmer.Scott's wish comes true in a strange form. He discovers that his father is a werewolf, and his transformation has begun. When Scott is the werewolf, he is a completley different person. He is everything he wish he could be and has confidence. Everyone at school loves him, but is it Scott they love or teen wolf? Scott must come to a realization. He must learn the importance of "being yourself." This is the overall message of the film.

Michael J Fox is the star of the film. He plays Scott. Michael J Fox is known in the 80's for playing the akward teen who comes into himself at the end of the film. He does a great job and has a lot of fun with the character of the wolf.

I liked this film because it was humurous and a spirited high school movie, but I also liked it because it has a good message. It teaches you that no matter what, always be true to yourself.

Ordinary People

Ordinary People is based on the book by Judith Guest. I had read the book in high school and enjoyed it a lot. When I discovered it was an 80's film, I was interested to see how the novel looked on film. Usually when books are made into movies, they are not as good, but in this case I really enjoyed the film a lot and it did the book justice.

The story focuses on the family life of contradict Jarret. Conrad lives with his mother and father, but things aren't so great at home. Conrad gets along fine with his father, but his mother is like a stranger to him ever since Conrad's older brother died. Conrad was with his brother when it happened and he could have saved his brother from drowning but he failed. His mother, played my Mary Tyler Moore, has never forgiven him for this. The film focuses on how Conrad deals with this guilt and a tragedy can tear a family a part.

The story of Ordinary People is a deep one. Watching Conrad suffer as he does is difficult to watch and you begin to loathe the character of the mother, who is heartless and cold. It shocked me when I learned that Mary Tyler Moore was playing the character of Mrs. Jarret. When I think of Mary Tyler Moore I think of a happy, sweet woman, but she was amazing in the role. She portrayed Mrs.Jarret exactly how I envisioned her when I was reading the book. You really see how the death of her son has effected her character. She becomes a ghost of herself, and Conrad knows this all along. The father denies it. It is really an emotional moment when the father comes to the realization that his wife is no longer the loving kind woman he thought she was.

I really recommend this film! It is truly touching and makes you think about the importance of life and family bonds.

They're Here!!!

Poltergeist is a film about a family who moves into a new home. Things look like they are going great for the Freelings, but little did they know that the house they have just moved into was already occupied. Carol Anne Freeling, the famous little girl in the film, begins to befriend these ghosts and communicates with them through the television static. They seem innocent at first, but then we learn that there is a malevolent poltergeist in the Freeling's home. This ghost takes Carol Anne into the world beyond. It is up to the family to save her and rid their home of these eveil spirits.

The fill is pretty frightening, even though the special effects aren't all that great. Some great scenes are when Carol Anne utters the two famous words,
"They're here!" This scene is scary, but these two words have become a part of American pop culture. Another great scene is when Mrs. Freeling falls into the whole in the backyard which was recently dug for a pool they were going to install. While in the pool, she discovers buring skeletons which began to attack her.

I was extremly impressed by the child actress Heather O'Rouke, who played the character of Carol Anne. Her performance was extremely convincing and her innocense really added a lot to the horror of the film.

Another aspect that made the film succesflly frightening was the soundtrack. I was eerie, especially the begining music during the opening credits.

This film is disturbing and has some great horror scenes. It is definatley worth to watch when your in the mood for a thrill.

Pretty Woman (1990)

Pretty Woman Walking Down the Street!

Pretty Woman puts a rather…interesting spin on the classic Cinderella story. Julia Roberts plays the role of Vivian, a Hollywood prostitute who one night meets a “client” called Edward who will eventually bring her the change in life that many girls only dream of. Edward is a cutthroat business man who makes a living by profiting off other’s failures. He had become very used to getting whatever it was that he wanted. To him, everything has a price tag which included people!

Edward picked Vivian up at a street corner in Hollywood, CA with the intent of hiring her as a week long escort to have by his side as a trophy piece to take around the business social scene. He offered her an amount of money that she could have only dreamed about ever being paid for her services. She was thrown into an environment of luxury: a penthouse suite in a grand hotel, unlimited room service and Edward’s credit card that he entrusted to her to buy as many clothes as she wished. Is this situation realistic? Not really! I don’t know too many people who would just hand over their credit card to a sex worker and trust her to come back with it! Also, I find it kind of sad that Vivian’s moment of glory is when she runs into the store that turned her away and bragged that they made a big mistake by not helping her. It just seems as though she is beginning to see money in the same light as Edward in that she thinks that money can buy you happiness.

The movie shows how a relationship begins to be built between Edward and Vivian, and how this relationship begins to change both of them for the “better.” Edward finally understands that people cannot be bought and Vivian realizes that she no longer wants to pursue a life as a sex worker. She wants to return to school and make something out of herself. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cinderella story if the poor “Cinderella” didn’t finally get together with her “Prince Charming.” So, of course there was a fairy tale ended where Edward climbs up her balcony (in spite of his fear of heights) and asks her to be with him. She of course accepts and they (we assume) will live happily ever after.

All in all this is a good movie in regards to the entertainment factor. The main aspect that I don’t like is how women are portrayed. The movie doesn’t show the dangers inherent in being a sex worker. It seems to portray that positive things can happen, such as meeting the man of your dreams, when you’re a prostitute. This movie definitely portrays women as sex objects! How more obvious than having the main character be a hooker! It also shows men as being all powerful in a woman’s life. It is Edward and his money that end up “saving” Vivian from her life as a sex worker. Another question that one can raise is: Does Vivian originally fall in love with Edward or does she fall in love with his money? I don’t know that this is the type of movie that I would want my daughter or son to see (if I had one)! I don’t think that Julia Robert’s or Richard Gere’s characters are people who I would want my children to have as a role model. Vivian uses her body to get what she wants and Edward uses money to get what he wants! Not exactly virtues that I would want to teach my kids!