Saturday, November 24, 2007

Heathers (1989)

Ever dated a guy your parents told you was going to get you into trouble? Ever dated a guy that really did? Then you've got something in common with Veronica.

Your average high school girl, Veronica (Winona Ryder) started out in the "in" crowd. Despite her unusual name, she managed to fall in with the Heathers, the three most popular girls in the school who all happened to be named Heather. Unfortunately, they aren't the nicest girls or the best friends.

Slowly, after meeting loner Jason "JD" Dean (Christian Slater), the new kid at her school. Veronica begins to notice more and more things wrong with the popular kids at her school. It all starts with a simple "accident" where, jokingly, JD and Veronica poison the head Heather and snowballs from there. Eventually, they make suicides a trend at Wasterburg High School as they kill more and more people and disguise them as suicides.

A clever, dark comedy that draws from the real life increase of teen suicides in the late eighties, this film is one of my favorites. But it turns sour in the end when JD goes a little too far for Veronica. After a rough break up and a faked suicide by Veronica, JD attempts to blow up the school. After a mysterious reappearance, at least to JD, Veronica appears just in time to foil JD's plan. However, he still manages to blow himself up.

At the end of the film, Veronica lights a cigarette and takes her place as queen of the mountain. Hell, I need a cigarette after a blow up like that too!

The Sure Thing (1985)

So it's your average plotline: boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl travel cross country together, boy and girl fall in love. Be it as it may, it does have a few twists, but ultimately it's just another endearing romantic comedy.
John Cusack plays Walter "Gib" Gibson, who goes to a north eastern college and is tired of snow and cold hearted girls. He longs for the warm, tan skin of a classic California chick who his friend out in CA describes as being a "sure thing." Embarking on the ultimate quest for sexual gratification, a surprise lays in wait for Gib when he signs up to carpool with three other kids from his college. The surprise: Alison Bradbury (Daphne Zuniga). Alison, meanwhile is traveling to Cali to reunite with her fiance and their beloved flannel sheets.
Complete opposites and fighting right from the start, Gib and Alison want nothing more than to get away from each other. But when Alison makes it back to her good old comfortable relationship and Gib makes it to the ultimate party, they both can't help but wonder what would have happened if they had ended up together.
Like all romantic comedies, it ends happily. Back at college, in poetry class, they reveal their love for each other and Gib finally gets a hold of his sure thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Clue (1985)

"It's Not Just a Game Anymore"

In 1985, writers John Landis and Johnathon Lynn made a bizarre film based on the game Clue bearing the same name. The familiar cast featured in the game remain the same in the film including Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), Mr. Green (Michael McKean), Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), and including new characters Wadsworth (Tim Curry), Yvette (Colleen Camp), and Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving).

This who-done-it mystery i set in New England in 1954 and begins with all of the primary characters arriving at a spooky and isolated mansion, each having received a strange letter summoning to the house. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by the maid Yvette and the butler Wadsworth who asks that they use the pseudonym that was given to them in their individual letters. All of the guests then congregate and realize what they have in common - they are all being blackmailed for various "Un-American" acts by a mysterious Mr. Boddy and they all live in Washington D.C. or are employed by the government.

After learning this, Mr. Boddy hands each of them a wrapped box containing one of the weapons from the game and tells them that they should kill Wadsworth or all of the secrets they are being blackmailed for will be exposed. Mr. Boddy then turns off the lights so that whoever decides to kill him will not be known, and when the lights are turned off Mr. Boddy is laying on the floor dead. Soon after this, the group finds the cook dead in the kitchen, and Boddy supposedly killed again with a head-wound dealt by a candlestick.

Soon after this, the group decides to draw straws and break up into pairs to search the house and also to lock the weapons up in a cabinet. While they are searching the house, two guests come to the house - a passing motorist and a policeman, who both end up dead by a mysterious person wearing a black leather glove; Yvette also ends up dead by the same perpetrator.

This is where the plot begins the get strange. All of the guests re-congregate and Wadsworth exclaims that he knows who the killer is. He first explains that Miss Scarlett is the killer, but after this the words "That's how it could have happened, but what about this?" flash across the screen. This time Wadsworth explains that Mrs. Peacock is the killer, this time the words "This is how it could have happened, but this is what really happened." flashing across the screen. This time, it is revealed that each of the guests killed one of the victims, and Wadsworth is actually Mr. Boddy and is the one that has been blackmailing them all. Finally Mr. Green announces that he is actually an FBI agent, and shoots and kills the real Mr. Boddy saying "I killed Mr. Boddy in the hall, with the revolver."

Strange, huh? Yet surprisingly entertaining. I recommend this one if you have some free time and want to watch a film that no one could guess the outcome of.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

"Fast Cars, Fast Girls, Fast Carrots... Fast Carrots?"

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a cult classic of the 80's written by Cameron Crowe, directed by Amy Heckerling, and starring Sean Penn as the infamous Jeff Spicoli. This well-known teenage film is a coming of age story about the high school lives of Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates), Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), Mark Ratner (Brian Backer), Jeff Spicoli, and what it means to be a teenager - namely sex, drugs, crappy jobs, and drama.

The story starts out introducing Stacy Hamilton and Linda Barrett at their job at a pizzeria in the mall. Compared to Linda, Stacy is a sexually inexperienced freshman who has a lot of questions, and Linda is ready and willing to divulge her. When a home stereo salesman in his twenties asks Stacy for her number at the pizzeria, she eagerly gives it to him, and he ends up taking her virginity in a dugout of a baseball field, and unsurprisingly never calls her again.

Later, Stacy is asked out by Mark Ratner, a nerd in her biology class who also works at the mall. However, she seems to want to go farther than he does on their date, and he gets freaked out and leaves, prematurely ending that relationship. So, instead, Stacy randomly hooks up with Mark's best friend Mike Damone, and consequently becomes pregnant.

Meanwhile, Jeff Spicoli is getting stoned and getting in trouble with his teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) at Ridgemont high, and Stacy's brother Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold) is working a plethora of dead-end jobs at All-American Burger, a fish restaurant where he is forced to dress like a pirate, and later at a mini-mart. When Stacy realizes she is pregnant, she asks her brother to drop her off at a bowling alley, and when he sees that she has actually gone into an abortion clinic, he waits around for her to take her home.

The film ends with Mark and Stacy getting together, and Mark and Damone reconciling after they got into a huge fight about Damone fooling around with Stacy. Also, Spicolli almost doesn't pass Mr. Hand's class, but manages to squeak by after Mr. Hand comes to his house and forces him to sit down and have a study session with him before the end of the year dance. Lastly, Brad finally gets promoted to manager after he thwarts a criminals attempts at robbing the mini-mart where he works.

This film remains a timeless classic because it touches on all the issues teenagers are familiar with and always will be familiar with. So, if you haven't seen Fast Times at Rigemont High I suggest you take the time to watch it. You won't be disappointed, and I guarantee you'll be able to relate in some way as well.

Cheech & Chong's Next Movie

Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie was released in 1980 and directed by Tommy Chong. This is the second movie in the Cheech and Chong line up, following the movie Cheech and Chong Up in Smoke. The Film opens with the two aging stoners siphoning gas into a trashcan, spilling it on themselves, and subsequently blowing up their car after trying to light a joint with gasoline fumes filling their car which they had borrowed from their neighbors. The rest of the film centers on Cheech wanting to get together with an attractive social worker he likes, and wants the place to his self in order to get some action. Another problem for Cheech is his cousin Red, who has just turned up from a redneck area and needs to be shown around Los Angeles. Cheech decides to kill two birds with one stone by sending Chong to meet his cousin Red. Chong heads off to the Hotel where Red is staying and arrives to find him in a dispute with the receptionist (played by the Pee Wee Herman Guy) over the bill. The receptionist won’t give back Red's suitcase until he pays up, but Red can't afford the bill. They decide to break into the room round the back and Red throws down his luggage. One of the bags he throws down contains several thousand dollars worth of marijuana, much to Chong's delight. They proceed to go on a bender around town, trashing a music shop and visiting a high profile brothel. They bring along a brothel girl and hit up a mansion, after getting the rich lady high they go around town. The then go to a comedy club and boo Pee Wee Herman off the stage. A massive brawl ensues so Chong and Red leave. Red ends up getting a Ferrari by mistake. After they drive off Chong realizes he forgot the bag of weed. Afterwards they visit Red's Weed fields out in the countryside, whereupon they are abducted by aliens, along with several cannabis plants. Cheech meanwhile gets so pumped and excited about the date with the hottie Social worker that he wears himself out and ends up sleeping through it, while dreaming about what might have happened. He wakes up in the morning the find Chong come bursting in dressed in what appears to be a cross between Genghis Khan and a stoner, holding a jar of "Space Coke," which makes you fly when you snort it. The film ends with the two bursting through their roof into outer space after trying some. My favorite scene by far was seeing Chong crush a spider, smoke it which leads to coughing to the point of near death, and then taking another smoke. Before the film I expected some stoner humor which I found amusing but I would have preferred the movie to end about thirty minutes earlier as it got a little long. It wasn’t a bad movie but the viewer should know what to expect before watching it.


"We're fighting each other, when we should be fighting them."

Intense. That's the only word I can think of to describe this Academy Award winner for Best Picture 1986. The setting: Vietnam, tackling controversial issues such as the treatment of the natives. The characters: a kid who volunteered for the war not knowing what he was getting himself into; a sgt. who is tough, cruel, and detestable; a sgt. who is moral, relaxed, and loved by his men; and a wide variety of other soldiers, including Scrubs own Dr. Cox, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp. The combination of characters and the way the film delved into the situation makes it a great movie.

This movie could have fit well into our class because ethics are the cause of the central conflict. The men are fighting a war, but the camp is segregated into those who follow sgt. Bob Barnes and sgt. Elias Grodin. Sgt. Barnes is ruthless and his tactics involve killing villagers who don't give him answers he wants or those whom he can use as leverage to get those answers. Sgt. Grodin steps in and physically stops sgt. Barnes from killing a little girl. He is against the immoral actions of sgt. Barnes and will not support him. Their fight comes to a climax when Barnes finds Grodin alone in the midst of battle, shoots him and leaves him for dead. Chris, the new kid in the platoon realizes what has happened and wants to bring down sgt. Barnes, whom he learns has been shot 7 times and is practically invincible. Chris gets revenge when Barnes is wounded in a bomb explosion, instead of getting help Chris shoots him, killing him. According to this movie it is better to fight with morals, no matter the circumstance you're in.

“E.T. Phone Home”
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is Steven Spielberg’s classic tale of love and friendship. This movie tells the story of a small alien left behind after his kind has to flee because a group of humans were approaching their ship. Elliot (Henry Thomas), a young boy, finds and befriends the lost alien. The Extra Terrestrial slowly, but not always quietly, as in the famous scene with Gertie (Drew Barrymore), gets familiar with all the members of Elliot’s family. Communication grows, as does a connection, between the boy and the alien. However, government officials are hurriedly attempting to find the hiding place of the outer-space visitor. E.T. builds a device to allow him to call home, but he is also becoming very ill and as a task force descends on the house and it appears the alien might be too sick and too late to ever return home. However, Elliot and E.T. escape and their famous bike chase ensues in which E.T. lifts them into the air over a roadblock. E.T.’s alien family returns and saves their comrade just in time.
This is definitely a movie everyone should see. It is a heart-warming science fiction tale of family, friendship and love. This movie is beyond doubt a classic and a quintessential family film. This is one of the best movies ever made; there is definitely a reason for its 41 awards. I would suggest everyone should watch this. Not everyone in our class, everyone in the world. You can enjoy this movie as a small child, a college student, a parent or a grandparent.

This is Spinal Tap♦

This is Spinal Tap (1984) was an interesting movie to say the least. A music teacher from my high school recommended it so I decided I should rent it. My overall impression of this movie is summed up as; hilarious and great to those who understand it (I understood some of it, I’m sure I missed many of the jokes), but it lost some of my interest for the last forty five minutes. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they follow some, or know about classic rock and rock band’s lives and memorable moments in rock history. Before you watch this movie know that it is a mockumentary, which means that it is filmed as a documentary, not a movie, and that it is a satire not to be taken seriously what so ever. The movie begins with a commercial director tells the audience of a British heavy metal band called Spinal Tap and that the film is a documentary on that band, and its second American tour and debut release of the bands new album “Smell the Glove.” The movie brings up the beginnings of the band, which were rooted in flower power type 70s music. Hilariously the band used to be called the Originals but had to change it to the New Originals because of another band with the name. The basic plot follows their tour which is not going well. From what the band manager says Spinal Tap was once able to fill giant arenas, but its audiences have grown smaller and smaller. Throughout the film some concert dates are canceled, including Boston which isn’t much of a college town! I believe three times the movie cuts to the concerts of the band, which includes a single song from the band at each concert which is nice change from ordinary movies. The band is fighting with the record company because their new album’s cover is labeled as too sexist and provocative. After some time the record company releases the album with a completely different cover without consulting the band, I won’t reveal what it is though as it is a good joke. The two main characters are the two guitarists and singers from the band named Nigel and St. Hubbins. Once St. Hubbins brings his English girlfriend on tour, she takes over some control which leads to inner band struggle. The band’s struggle leads to a couple people leaving the band but one member calls it nothing as the band has had over thirty two members over the years, haha! My favorite joke of the film would have to be the amplifier joke, which had me in near tears. A close second would be the metal detector scene. Like I said before I enjoyed this movie, but the beginning has more funny parts then the last forty five minutes or so, if anything don’t purchase it, rent it first.

A View to Kill

A View to Kill is another Bond movie from the 80’s, and is Rodger Moore’s last appearance as British Secret Service Agent 007 (at this point he is in his late 50s and he looks it). This movie had a distinctive feel to it which was immediately noticeable from the beach-like music that was played during the opening sequence in which Bond was out skiing on a mountain while on a mission to recover a lost microchip. The theme song is by Duran Duran and interestingly there was a strong neon theme during the opening sequence. Again the whole mission begins due to the death of a fellow agent, 003, who died recovering the micro-chip that Bond found on his person. This time the main action of the film doesn’t take place in the ‘third world’ rather the main suspect is a French businessman named Zorin, who is praised by Bond’s superiors as being anti-communist. Later we find out he was a member of KGB but left them (hence their desire to be rid of him), we also find out that he is the result of a doctor’s genetic experiment in WWII concentration camps in Germany. The doctor tried to create super smart Jewish babies by experimenting on pregnant woman, the problem is that while they were intelligent they were also insane (which explains quite a bit about Zorin). Most of the action of this film takes place in France and in the U.S., the main ‘thug’ is actually a woman this time (in fact Zorin’s gang is all female), her name is May Day (reminds me a lot of Lex Luthor’s Mercy), she is a surprisingly strong African American woman, who in the end, when betrayed by Zorin, sacrifices her life to stop his plans, although while she was still ‘evil’ the hairdressers had a bit of fun and in one scene her hair was styled to look like devil’s horns. Bond’s gadgetes in this film include a Louie Vouiton device that can copy whatever was last written on top of a sheet of paper, a Sharper Image credit card shaped object that can unlock windows from the outside (I’m starting to wonder if the studio had needed some help funding this movie), a ring that takes pictures, and x-ray sunglasses (and Q plays around with a robot, but that doesn’t help Bond much).

Zorin has decided that in order for him to take over the production and distribution of micro-chips he must first rid himself of Silicone Valley. To do this he has found a way to create a giant earthquake which would eat up the entire area. He is, of course, stopped by Bond and his newfound friend and geologist Stacy Sutton. Of course we only learn this after Bond (and his accomplice who is later killed by May Day) discovers that the doctor (who in essence created Zorin) was using a natural horse steroid and the micro-chips to fix Zorin’s horses to win races. Bond was drawn to Zorin when the micro-chip he recovered had only leaked after Zorin took over the company and because his horses kept winning despite their unworthy bloodlines. Oddly by the end of the film Bond is offered an award by the KGB for his work in ridding them of Zorin, he is apparently the first non-Soviet to receive this award; of course he is a bit preoccupied by Stacy back in California at the time to accept.


Octopussy was released in 1983, staring Rodger Moore this is the 13th official Bond film. The beginning sequence for this movie sets the tone for the rest of the film; the audience starts by watching agent 009, dressed up as a clown for his undercover role, being killed by knife wielding brothers (later we find that they too are part of this twisted circus) while in Germany. When 009’s body is found so is a fake Faberge egg, which sets the scene for Bond. Again Bond has his unique technology, in the beginning of this film we see him pull a plane out of a horse trailer (complete with a fake horse’s bottom in the back), this plane can apparently out fly missiles, fly fast enough and has enough maneuverability to get though closing doors, and somehow is unharmed by a bomb going off in that same building while flying through it . . . of course then it runs out of fuel. At the time the movie was being made there were some issues going on with NATO, which is then used as a plot device in the film; the Russians are planning to set off a nuclear weapon, blame it on being an American accident which would then lead to Western disarmament leaving the world clear for Russian nuclear domination (thankfully this plot is clearly outlined by Bond in one scene, just in case viewers couldn’t figure it out). The obvious fears are socialism, in one scene the unaware Soviet leader even says “world socialism will be achieved peacefully.” Again this film takes us to the ‘third world’, this time we are visiting India, which, in case we didn’t understand from the many times they mentioned the location, was defined through a series of stereotypes (such as sword swallowing, walking on hot coals, lying down on pins, tigers, elephants, and cobras).

All Bond movie have some general themes: the shot framed with the gun barrel, a beginning sequence, the 007 sequence, a quick exchange with Moneypenny, an assignment from the boss, Bond going off to some foreign location where he will meet his ally on the case (who will usually die since they are likeable characters who become friends of Bond and their death spurs him on), a minion who is extraordinarily strong but usually brainless and just follows orders from the main villain, and a Bond girl who is usually strong in her own right but is weak when it comes to James.

In this case the location is India, the ally is/was Vijay, the minion was there and as per normal his name is unimportant, and the girl is Octopussy. One thing I have to say about this particular Bond film is that the actress who had to say “that’s my little octopussy” when questioned by Bond about an octopus tattoo on her hip, ought to be given an award for being able to pull off that line. All in all not the best Bond film, and definitely not Rodger Moore’s best, but it is still a Bond film.

Top Gun

"I feel the need.....The need for speed"

Tom Cruise is here in all his 80's glamour with this blockbuster hit about friendship, love, and a drive to be the best. Oh yeah and of course flying. This movie hits a bullseye with something in it for everyone. To me the only weak link was Kelly McGillis, who I thought looked much better without the bleached hair, and who's proclamation of love for Maverick seemed out of a middle-school play.

This movie crosses all genres of films, including action, love story, tearjerker, and some war as well. The dogfight scenes must have been advanced for their time, with shots from the pilot's perspective and also of an overview of the scene. The relationships between the characters grow, with the one between Maverick and Goose at the heart of the film. Meg Ryan's character adds depth to their relationship as she allows us to see just how close Maverick is to their family. Also with a line like, "Take me to bed or loose me forever," how can't you love her character? The relationship between Maverick and Charlie also grows, it's cute, but honestly doesn't seem that important when compared to his friendship with Goose. Even his rivalry with Iceman is more interesting.

This movie brings to light the conflict between wanting to be the best and looking out for your fellow pilots. Teamwork is shown to be what pays off in the end. Between the beginning and end though we get a pilot who thinks he doesn't need anyone else and pays little to no attention to rules given him by others. This causes others to dislike him because they don't trust him to have their backs and when they're all up there they need to know they can count on each other. By the end of the movie Maverick has learned this lesson, is still reckless, but is dependable and someone who others would readily trust their lives to.

“What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let's get the flock out of here!” Sergeant Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) team up as one of the weirdest combinations in police history in order to solve the murder of Amanda Hunsacker. However, their case quickly escalates when they realize that the murder is simply part of a much bigger drug trafficking operation. Vietnam War soldiers are producing massive amounts of heroin, and their two company commanders are getting very rich off the plot. The woman murdered was actually the daughter of the person who was laundering the drug money. Eventually the soldiers capture Murtaugh and his daughter Rianne. However, Riggs comes to the rescue and saves the two. Now truly teammate who trust each other the two men go on a shooting rampage exterminating most of the drug smuggling soldiers before symbolically killing the leader by both shooting him.
The team of Murtaugh, a seasoned veteran and Riggs a suicidal alcoholic creates not only slightly comical situations, but also suspenseful ones. This movie is one that actually did have it all. Action, humor, suspense, drama and crime make this a great movie that is definitely worth watching. Both Glover and Gibson give fine performances, however no one really cares about acting when you could just watch the gunfire and the explosions. This is a great movie, it features a little bit of everything and I would strongly recommend everyone watch it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles written and directed by John Hughes in 1984 is one of the most popular teen movies in the 80's. Teens movies on average are about love, high school, and being accepted. Sixteen Candles is about just that. Molly Ringwald (Breakfast Club) stars as Samantha Baker. It is her sixteenth birthday, a milestone for any young girl. As she prepares for the day, she is quickly bummed when her family has forgotten about this special day. Of course, her older, prettier sister gets the spotlight because of her wedding. Saddened by being forgotten, Samantha is also upset that this milestone has not created more of a physical change in her life. That day in school, Samantha takes a "sex test" note in class. Uh oh! The note gets lost and lands in the hands of her senior crush, Jake Ryan. On top of this, she is being stalked by none other than the geekiest kid in school, Ted. He is a total loser and is trying to convince his friends that she totally wants him. Things couldn't get worse right? Wrong! Now her parents are staying with them because of the wedding. What a great birthday! Atleast she has the dance to look forward to! And bonus...Jake Ryan actually smiled at her! Every girls dream. Somehow she ends up confiding in the geek? High school surely has its random twists of fate. He gives her the great news that THE Jake Ryan has been asking about her at the dance, she obviously owes him. Atleast she helps him out by lending him her underwear, he is trying to win a dozen floppy disks afterall! Of course this classic teen film ends like many other teens films. Ted was trapped under a table. Ted then gives Jake Sam's underwear. Ted gets to drive home Jake's girlfriend, and this is used as the reason Jake and his girlfriend break up! Realllly believable! Even better she fell for the geek. Jake finally gets to Sam after her sister's wedding. And they kiss! They share a wonderful kiss while having birthday cake with of course, sixteen candles!

Full Metal Jacket

The 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket, stars R. Lee Ermey, Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio and Arliss Howard. The film starts with a boot camp in South Carolina. Sergeant Hartman immediately puts the recruits in their place. Joker, Gomer, and Cowboy are three recruits who quickly become friends. These marines each are totally different yet form a bond while being pushed around by Sergeant Hartman. His harsh commands show what life for these recruits is truly like. His nicknames Leonard Lawrence Gomer Pyle and we see the mistreatment from the drill instructor which effects his physical and psychological damage. Gomer Pyle tends to go against orders and procedures at boot camp which leads to the entire platoon to pay for his mishaps. Poor Pyle is attacked by the entire platoon during a "blanket party". After being ostersized by his drill instructor and fellow recruits, his personality totally changes, but not in a good way. He becomes sullen and though it may impress Sergeant Hartman, something is definately wrong with him. I mean the guy talks to his rifle! Sure enough, one night while Joker is on firewatch duty, Pyle is in the bathroom loading his rifle. Pyle is out for Hartman who has continually put him down since day one.

The movie changes locations and is now taking place in Vietnam. Joker is assigned to a Marine public affairs unit and has a new partner, Rafterman. Luckily for them everything is pretty quiet around them. And then it changes and the Marine base is attacked. Joker has to go into battle for the first time! Eventually Joker and Rafterman end up with Cowboy. Cowboy is soon killed by a sniper. Everyone is after the sniper who has killed their friend. When Joker finds her his rifle jams and Rafterman comes to the rescue and shoots the sniper(who happens to be a woman). However she doesn't die at firt, but Joker to his dismay fixes that. The movie doesn't have a very good ending and you a left with them marching off to the looks of another battle.