Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Dead Poets Society" (1989)

"Carpe Diem, Seize The Day!"

In the classic tradition of teen movies, Dead Poets Society blatantly draws the lines between teens and the adults who don't understand them. At Welton Academy for Boys, students are placed under the equivalent of "house arrest" as conformity rules their every move. New English teacher, John Keating (Robin Williams), disrupts the lives of Neal Perry (House), Charlie Dalton aka Nuwanda, Knox Overstreet (Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead), Todd Anderson (a very young Ethan Hawke), Pitts, and Meeks and urges them to experience life by seizing the day! Keating's unorthodox teaching style seems strange to the young men at first--as when he instructs them to tear out the Preface of their Poetry textbooks. Quickly the boys realize that Keating's lessons not only apply to the classroom but in the real world as well. Discovering Keating's old annual, the boys also learn about the Dead Poets Society and resurrect their own version. Breaking out of their prep school shells, the students invite Keating's words of wisdom--"words and ideas can change the world", and humor (with classic Robin Williams impersonations of Marlon Brando's Julius Caesar and more) and apply them to their own lives: chasing girls, pursuing acting, playing instruments, writing and reciting personal poems, drinking, smoking, and thinking for themselves. "Free thinkers at seventeen?" Welton faculty asks sarcastically, unable to fathom such a preposterous idea.

The main character, Neal reads/quotes Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived." Taking this quote to heart, Neal defies his stern father, trying to live his own life not the one his father has set out for him. The tragedy of Neal's character is overshadowed by the vibrancy of youth thanks to the inspiration of his faithful friends, especially Mr. Keating, who they all refer to respectfully as "Oh, Captain, My Captain (Walt Whitman)." Although Robin Williams is best known for his outrageous humor, his most incredible work has been dramas. Dead Poets Society is The Good Will Hunting of the 80s. Check out the trailer:

Weekend at Bernie's (1989)

"Bernie Lomax would be the perfect host except for one small thing . . . He's dead".

Richard (Jonathan Silverman) and Larry (Andrew McCarthy) discover that "someone" is stealing money from the company they work for in New York. They take the proof to their boss and CEO Bernie Lomax. Bernie decides to repay them for their hard work and offers them a Labor Day Weekend getaway to his beach house in Hampton Island. Ready for fun and sun, the boys trade in their tacky suits and ties for plaid Bermudas (back in style right now) and cool shades. Shortly after popping open a bottle of champagne and meeting a hot, thonged next door neighbor, Richard and Larry find their host permanently passed out. While the serious Richard attempts to call the cops, the wild and reckless Larry begs to enjoy their vacation first. Rich neighbors begin drifting into the house drinking, partying, and talking "to" Bernie. No one even realizes he's dead!

Bernie hangs out with the boys for the weekend--including parties, boat rides, the beach, the pool, and even romance with the opposite sex. After Bernie's woman leaves his bedroom singing and laughing--satiated, Larry exclaims, "He gets laid more dead than I do alive". And staying alive is what the boys try to do for the rest of the movie while avoiding Paulie the thug, who wants to ensure that Bernie and "his friends" are really dead. This dark comedy relies on the talented, drop-dead acting of Terry Kiser, aka Bernie and the slapstick duo of McCarthy and Silverman. McCarthy, from Class, Pretty in Pink, and Less than Zero fame, takes on a different role from the preppy-hottie to messy-goof ball and succeeds. The one downfall of the movie is the lack of a soundtrack. There is a lot of Caribbean music that carries the scenes with ease, but it becomes too much at times. This was a missed opportunity to utilize the great hair-bands and rockers of this era. A bit of trivia: Fans of Friends will remember that this was Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) favorite movie of all time, although she was a little embarrassed to admit it. One of the last great movies of the 80s, Weekend at Bernie's is timeless. Check out the Weekend at Bernie's trailer:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Cate Capshaw and Jonathan Ke Quan (you know, the Asian kid from The Goonies) bring us Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The second installment to the Indiana Jones series. Steven Spielberg opens this action packed theatrical masterpiece with nothing else but a dancing and signing scene? The beginning of this film really makes us wonder, did I really just rent this? That questioned is answered shortly after this “dance” sequence with “Oh right, guns and fighting, that’s why I rented it.” Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a fast action packed film that takes you from Shanghai to India. Jones Finds himself with a famous singer who he picked up during a night- club fight and Short Round, a friend who happens to be a very young boy.
Although this Film was released in 1984, there was little to no elements exerted that made you believe that this film was done in the 80’s. The only element of the film that makes one believe that the film was not released yesterday were some of the digital effects such as explosions.
The Trio end up at a small starving village in India, where the locals feel as though Jones and his companions were sent to find their missing children and their sacred stone. Jones and co set out to a palace where the stone and children are believed to be. I don’t want to ruin any more of this one, It’s definitely worth seeing if you love action movies. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate Harrison Ford as the action star that he was born to be? Although there is not a lot of character or story depth, it is made up for with lots of actions scenes and funny one- liners. If you enjoyed Raiders of the Lost Arc and all of the action scene’s that went along with it than you will not have any problems enjoying the two- hour prequel thrill ride that is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. On a different note, look forward to the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22, 2008)

Batman 1989

You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? This is by far the best Batman made, sorry Adam West you’re just not on Michael Keaton’s level. To be blatantly honest the more recent versions of Batman have been pathetic, maybe except for Batman Begins with Christian Baile. All of the more recent batman films have had Robin in it. Honestly, who cares about Robin he does nothing cool, he has no cool weapons and no cool car, he’s just a tool. Also, the supporting cast in Batman: Kim Bassinger and Jack Nickelson is phenomenal. Jack Nickleson is the perfect fit for the villain Joker. This is a very typical movie of the 1980’s a viewer can tell by the music by Prince, the cars used, the bat mobile is a 1980’s corvette and this is when actors were in their primes.
The basic overall plot of all the Batman movies is a “vigilante,” Batman, is thought to be a villain when in actuality he’s the hero because the police department is full of pathetic individuals. Another point all of the movies have in common is good triumphing over evil. A funny thing I noticed while watching the movie Batman was the name of the Joker’s chemical company, Axis chemicals. This proves that good is triumphing over evil just as the Allies did in World War 2 over the Axis powers.
My favorite scenes in the movie are when the Joker enters the fancy art gallery and throws paint all over everything and when Batman flies the Bat plane into Gotham taking away all of the balloons flying up high into the sky placing the pane in the middle of the full moon and then Joker shooting him down with the long revolver. I highly recommend this movie to anyone, how can you not like cool cars, action scenes with cool gadgets and the oh so dreamy Kim Bassinger?