Saturday, October 21, 2006

Trading Places 1983


Eddie Murphy

Dan Aykroyd

Jamie Lee Curtis

Trading Places, starring some of the most talented actors of our time is quite possibly one of the funniest comedies of the 1980's. This movie shows the discrepancy between the rich and the poor in a comical way. Winthorp, who is played by Dan Aykroyd, is a Wall Street tycoon who happens to cross paths with Valentine who is poor street hustler played by Eddie Murphy.

Two wealthy power players (Duke and Duke) make a bet that they can turn Valentine into a prime time broker by pinning a crime within the company onto Winthorp. This in turn puts Winthorp out of work, money, a house and his girlfriend. Winthorp is forced to live with a prostitute who later on in the film helps to prove his innocence. All the while, Valentine is living the lap of luxury in Winthorps former home.

Through much of the confusion between the sudden life changes, Valentine and Winthorp cross paths and confront each other on the issue at hand. Togehter, they agree that they have been set up by the Duke brothers and must get even!!! They do this by letting the Duke brother's stock of frozen orange run right into the ground. Both Valentine and Winthorp get away free with their own stash of money and are relieved that the Duke brothers lose millions of dollars. More importantly, Winthorp gets Jamie Lee Curtis!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Princess Bride is possibly the greatest movie of all time. No, it is the greatest movie of all time. It is the only film that can successfully combine action, comedy, romance, and wit. As the grandfather so cleverly puts it, “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...” I don’t even know where to begin to talk about this movie. Every moment of this movie and every word is perfectly placed. Every time I watch it I discover another wonderful line, or something I never realized before. It is the kind of movie that you watch over and over and it never gets old. It has been somewhat of a comfort movie for me.
The Princess Bride was adapted from the novel by William Goldman. This was on my mind this past time I watched it because I’m currently taking a film adaptations class. The novel is mainly centered around the grandson as an adult who went back to read the novel again, only to realize that the grandfather had drastically changed the story. In reality, the book that was read to him was mainly a historical document of the country of Gilder with the romance story just thrown in there. In the movie, however, this is never addressed. They are both charming in their own ways, and I strongly suggest both watching the movie and reading the book.

Quotable quotes:
“Life is pain, highness, anyone who tells you differently is selling something.”

“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Grandfather: “When I was your age, television was called books.”

“We are men of action, lies do not become us”

“We’ll never survive”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because nobody ever has.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Henry V

Okay, chitlins, sit back, relax, and brace yourself because Kenneth Branaugh is about to give you a history lesson with an armored boot to the face!

Wait...I'm getting ahead of myself...

For those of you who don't know, Kenneth Branaugh is one of the many members of The Royal Shakespear Company. That means when it comes to reciting iambic pentameter, he's one of the best. And in 1989 he decided he was going to take his knowledge of Shakespeare and combine it with his knowledge of film to create this guy:

Nevermind that he looks like a Medieval warrior with Down Syndrome...apparently that's just how british royalty cut their hair. Besides, what's more important is what he has to say: "Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead!" Yeah, I know what your thinking: "Where's the nearest blunt object? I gotta go kill some Frenchmen!" Me too! But calm down, it's just a movie. Anyways, that battle was over 500 years ago.

...Dissapointing, no?

But I digress. Even if you're unfamiliar with the language of Shakespeare, its a very enjoyable movie! Branaugh has a brilliant cast of talented actors. Including, but not limited to:

Judi Dench
as Mistress Quickley
Christian Bale as Fallstaff's Boy
And featuring Bilbo Baggins as Captain Fluellen

The actors do great justice to a play 500 years in the making (and yes, even as a child Christian Bale had that scowl on his face).

Heartbreak Ridge 1986

"Why don't I bend you over the table there ... send you home with the "I just pumped the neighbor's cat" look on your face" --Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood)

Maybe you all haven't heard of Heartbreak Ridge before, but it's one of those gems found on VHS at the Winter Park Library that hisses while you watch it. I don't know why I was the only one laughing in the room while Clint Eastwood kicked all kinds of ass and spat out quotable dialogue galore. Whose ass did he kick, you ask? Well, in the sunset of his character, Tom Highway's career as a marine, he whooped up on dirty hippies, liberal college nerds, paper-pushin 'play-by-the-rules' generals, bitches, bikers, riff-raff, and, in the final conflict, West Indians sporting Russian-bought AK-47's.

Highway whips his platoon into shape by teaching them how to improvise like marines of old. He plays by nobody's rules, and calls out orders in a scratchy, old western voice as if he was a three pack a day smoker since the age of six. In his fighting experience, Highways considers his record to stand at 0-1-1. No wins, a loss in Viet Nam, and a tie in Korea. But, after the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Highway records a victory.

Dr. Boles would have a field day putting a queer theory spin on this movie. The lives of the marines seem to revolve around group discussions in the shower, slapping each others chests, and siging along with the long haired, makeup wearing, ear-pierced, flashy dressing, rock star turned marine named Stitch Jones, played by Mario Van Peebles. There's even a mud wrestling scene in the middle of the movie to decide which platoon reigns supreme. But, all this girliness only adds to the manliness of Clint Eastwood, who kicks major ass in Heartbreak Ridge.

Risky Business

"I don't believe this...I got a Trig test tomorrow and I'm being chased by Guido, the killer pimp."

Joel Goodsen, who is played by the sexy and young Tom Cruise, is a studious and naiive college-bound freshman. He is known by his friends as being the shy and boring guy who never lives his life to the fullest. Through much persuasion and the allure of a liberated call girl named Lana, Joel decides to party it up! Joel's parents are away for the weekend and he decides to incorporate his friend's motto of "Fuck it!" into his life and put it to "good" use. Unfortunately, Joel is confronted with Lana's insincerity and more importantly her ex-pimp who wants to CRUSH him for the loss of business. Joel is forced to make the decision of choosing between Lana, whom he now has feelings for, and the job of getting his house put back together before his parents come home. Joel, with a lot of help from Lana and her call girl friends is able to host a party and earn some fast cash. His risky business redeems itself and he is able to have the house together by dinner time!!

"All you need to say is 'What the Fuck!'"

This movie is one of the best Cruise films probably because it was one of his films that he made before he went insane. Not only is it funny, but it is also somewhat suspenseful. I am ashamed to say that it was only my first time seeing it, but I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining and risqu'e Tom Cruise flick!!!

Drop Dead Fred (1991)

Drop Dead Fred is a charming movie about a grown woman who is haunted by her imaginary best friend. After she breaks up with her husband, and moves back in with her very stiff and oppressive mother, her childhood imaginary friend returns to her. Her mother had locked him up in a jack in the box when she was a kid because she was sick of her using him as an excuse for his misbehavior. It is sort of unclear to the viewer whether this imaginary friend actually exists, or if it is simply a manifestation of her childish desires to be bad and piss off her mother. Only she and the viewer can see him, and she doesn’t think of him for most of her adult life. Only when she is living with her mother again as an adult, does he reappear. He follows her around and makes her do bad things, just as he had done when she was little. Despite Fred’s crude nature and general craziness, he has his redeeming qualities. He loves Lizzie unconditionally and genuinely wants her to be happy. He doesn’t realize that she is an adult now and can’t do the things they used to do. He tries to make her a kid again, and once he realizes that she needs to grow up he lets her go.
On the surface, it is just another childish movie with potty humor and crazy antics, but much like other 80’s films it has a deeper meaning. Fred clearly represents her inner desire to be bad, and her inability to be the person she wants to be. In the end she is able to let Fred go because she realizes that she can’t realistically run off with him and be a child forever. She finally is able to let her childhood, which has been locked in a jack-in-the-box for years, go. She finally gets some closure when she runs into a little girl, much like herself, who is Fred’s new best friend. While she can’t see Fred anymore, she knows he’s there and is happy to see him in action again.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Family Business (1989)


Sean Connery; Dustin Hoffman; Matthew Broderick

Family Business stars Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick as three generations of a Jewish family—though, apparently, Mr. Connery comes from the Scottish side of the family—who plan a robbery together. This film is not like the usual crime drama, which, I must confess, is a disappointment, because I love crime dramas, and crime comedies are even better (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang; Ocean’s Eleven, though the sequel sucked big huevos). Family Business is more of a straight drama, with crime as a backdrop, which really takes up only about fifteen minutes of screen time, and that screen time isn’t particularly engaging. It’s just the three of them running around a lab in ski masks.

The crux of the plot centers around this: Vito (Hoffman) was raised by Jessie (Connery), who was, according to Vito, a bad father, teaching him how to steal, and leading him towards a life of crime like the old man. This upbringing eventually led to 27-months in the clink. Bummer. So, when it was Vito’s turn to raise a son, he gave Adam (Broderick) a strict and scholarly upbringing, providing support for him through a legitimate business enterprise, meatpacking. Adam resents this; his life is entirely mapped out for him. He loves his granddad more, because granddad shows him respect, treats him like his own man and listens to him. Well, because granddad listens to him, Adam comes to him with the idea to rob a lab, an idea suggested to him by a former scientist at the lab, Mr. Chiu. Granddad agrees immediately, and, after a great deal of prodding, convinces a reluctant Vito to go along as well, “to keep an eye on” his son. Of the three, only the son gets caught. And for the rest of the movie, the film devolves into even more of a family drama about coming a family coming to terms with one another. Boring. Where the hell are my explosions, damn it! I’m being too hard on the film. I probably would’ve enjoyed it more, if it hadn’t been packaged as a crime caper. But it was, and it failed to meet my expectations. So, drat.

Bull Durham (1988)


Kevin Costner
Tim Robbins
Susan Sarandon

Bull Durham doesn’t conform to the usual formula for sports movies. In fact, I’d argue, it’s not a sports movie at all. It’s a romantic comedy with baseball as the background. Kind of like Fever Pitch. Crash Davis, an aging minor leaguer, is brought onto the Durham Bulls to mentor young and wild Nuke LaLoosh. But, coming between the two, other than the stubbornness of each man, is Annie Savoy, a local baseball junkie and unofficial team trainer, who chooses each season to sleep with one player from the team, and through her tutelage, that player has the best season of his career. She chooses Nuke, much to Crash’s dismay. And so begins the back and forth between the three.

Like I said earlier, this film doesn’t meet the expectations of a usual sports movie. There is no big rival team that crushes the team in the first game of the season, only to lose to in a nail-biter to that same team in the championship game. There is no great number of locker room antics; I can’t think of a single player on the team other than Nuke and Crash. Though, in what probably became a model for Major League’s Pedro Cerano, there was a player who blessed his bat with chicken-bones.

The championship game in this movie is Nuke’s ascension to the majors, “the show,” and Crash’s ascension to retirement, a completely different kind of game, because he has Annie, and they have quite an adventure ahead of them. Cue sappy romance music.

One last thought: Even though this movie doesn’t conform to the usual formula of a sports movie, that’s not to say it is a bad movie. It isn’t. I enjoyed it; Annie’s bizarre metaphysical diatribes about the connections between baseball, sex and religion were well-written and amusing, and Tim Robbins portrayal of Nuke impressed me, because Robbins always does; he has amazing range as an actor, from the comedic (The Hudsucker Proxy), the tragic (The Shawshank Redemption), and the villainous (Arlington Road; very cool movie). So, overall, Bull Durham is worth the time it takes to watch.

Monday, October 16, 2006

When Harry Met Sally 1989

As far as romantic comedies go, I really enjoyed the movie. It might be my tendency to cry in cheesy movies, and the fact that I’m a naturally emotional person, but it really tugged on my heart-strings. Aside from the fact that the plot is completely unfeasible and unrealistic, it is charming none the less. It is hard to believe that they would continue to meet in such a large city under such circumstances, but that is part of the appeal of the story.
When Harry Met Sally is a classic romantic comedy. It follows the general romantic comedy formula: Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl rejects boy, boy tries to get girl, girl likes boy, boy rejects girl, and they get together in the end. Much like a Shakespearian comedy, everybody ends up with somebody in the end, even if it is an unexpected relationship. Her best friend gets together with his best friend, thus further facilitating their inevitable relationship. The film plays on the idea that men and women can never engage in a friendship without sex being an issue. Sex is what drives a friendship, whether they realize it or not. The idea that sex is a possibility is what makes their friendship work, and at the same time what makes their friendship so hard. The point at which their friendship is the most functional, is when neither of them are looking for a relationship. They have both been damaged by their past relationships, and they are not consciously looking for a relationship, but they find their connection comforting. Even when they try to start dating other people, they always end up back together.

An aspect of the film that I found very interesting is the use of Meg’s hair styles to show the passage of time and her stage in life. In the beginning, she has the classic young, college hairstyle

The next style she has is the young adult businesswoman style that was so popular at that point in the 80’s. She is involved in a very professional relationship, and has a more adult lifestyle

The last style is more wild and relaxed. It reflects the slightly disorganized and frantic stage in her life, and also shows the ever-popular “bad perm” style.