Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

I have to say, I was totally disappointed that no one seem the least bit intrigued by this movie. It's about Neo-Nazi surfers who take over a beach and are stalked down by an angry, middle-aged black woman called Leroy's Mama! I guess no one enjoys the idea of cheap exploitation films the way I do. While this is definitely no Killer Klowns in terms of pure entertainment value, it does have its moments. It just goes to show that people in the 80s were freaking crazy enough to think of this plot and actually go through with making such a movie.

The story is about a post-earthquake California beach where Nazis take over and wreak havoc. The only problem with this is that the "surf Nazis" don't really have anything in common with real Nazis except that they're lead by a guy named Adolf and have swastikas painted all over them. I guess if you want to get unwarranted attention for your movie you just have to hint that it could include something horribly offensive.

I have to say, I didn't enjoy this as much as Killer Klowns even though I considered both to be deserving of the 'awesomely bad' category. Killer Klowns very obviously does not take itself seriously and encourages the audience to laugh, but at times it redeems itself by being totally freaky. Surf Nazis is just barely on the border of awesome and bad, but leaning towards the bad side. There were a few laughs, but overall it was just...bad. And I'm so disappointed because I was legitimately excited to watch this, but I guess everyone was right for kind of staring at me blankly. Just as a reminder, here's the trailer again:

Dangerous Liaisons

"You'll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once."

Of the films I have watched in conjunction with this class, I have alighted some sort of sorted 80's reality. Often the reality is stark, as in Wall Street; or precautionary, as in Fatal Attraction; or allegorical as in Aliens. But, Fatal Attraction is historification at its finest: The film is set in Rococo France; the aristocracy have grown tired of their tedious days and they want some spice in their life. A period piece, yes, but stale, no, try sordid. Had it not been for the petticoats and breeches, I would have figured this film was in fact set during the 1980's (considering Keanu Reeves' ability to butcher beautiful prose, it's not a stretch).
The name of this 18th century game is "Lust. Seduction. Revenge." as so indicated by the film's apropos tag line. The tag line goes on to state, "The Game as You've Never Seen it Played Before;" I take contention with this statement. This entire semester, we have watched 80's films that deal in unethical, immoral, an illogical behavior and action: This is the game as we've seen it, time and time again. But, this does not discount the craft and cunning of this fantastic film. The games of cat and mouse, the witty banter that turns torturous and maniacal, the drawing rooms, the beds, so steeped in lust, feel as common as ever; it's purposeful, and exquisitely executed.



As the clip will indicate, the film deals entirely with the scheming of ex-lovers Valmont and Merteuil. As reviewers stated, "the filmmakers put the audience in the room with their characters." This is accurate and this is also intentional. If you found Glenn close frightening in Fatal Attraction, this little period films will have you knocking your knickers in minutes flat. Fatal Attraction called for a less than subtle portrayal of a woman falling into the abyss of self-pity, self-sacrifice, and self- mutilation. But Close's study of this character, Merteuil, is delicate and paced; she draws us in, she draws us in close. Before you know it, she's turned animal and clawed us to death.



Beautiful film all around. If anything, I hope the 80's never, ever repeats itself; Glenn Close was too frightening, John Malkovich wore too much make-up, and Keanu Reeves was still bad at acting.

It's elementary, dear Dawson.

The Great Mouse Detective is the Walt Disney version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes series... as well as one of the greatest examples of classic Disney animation.

It takes place in 1897 London, with Olivia Flaversham celebrating her birthday with her father. The festivities are cut short when Fidget, a peg-legged bat who works for the evil Rattigan, kidnaps Olivia's father, leaving her an orphan. She finds a friend in Dr. Dawson, who leads her to the world-famous detective and arch nemesis of Rattigan, Basil of Baker Street.

What begins as a simple kidnapping turns into a plot against the Crown as Basil, Dawson, Olivia, and Toby (Sherlock Holmes' eager dog) race against the clock to save Olivia's father, protect the Queen and her kingdom, and defeat Rattigan.

There's nothing distinctly "1980s" about The Great Mouse Detective, but it is an example of why I loved Disney so much as a kid. It was one of the first to use CGI (in a chase scene that takes place inside Big Ben), but the characters are still all hand-drawn. It's also got good, catchy songs (including "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind"), lovable characters, a thoroughly evil villain, and a fast-paced plot that adults can enjoy as much as children. So, Disney, can you stop making Toy Story sequels now and go back to the way you used to make animated films?

Fame is another 80’s movie about teenagers and the trials and tribulations they go through trying to “find themselves”. Fame focuses on a performing arts high school in New York City, opening with the auditions for freshmen year and ending with graduation. The films follows the ensemble cast through their many teenage issues and experiences as they mature and experience more of the real world.

This movie is distinctly 80’s because of the themes it introduces and the ensemble cast structure. It is much like The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire in its lack of a main character. Rather, all the characters are important and focused on equally. The coming of age drama is very common in the 80’s.

My favorite scene was Doris getting high in the movie theater and doing the Time Warp Dance from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Though this may seem like a light-hearted movie at first, some of the issues it addresses are of a more serious nature. Ralph’s five year old sister is assaulted, and Coco has her first experience with a sleazy photographer, and experiences with depression, suicide, and abortion are also addressed. The trust and innocence the characters had at the beginning of the movie is gone by the time they reach graduation.

I would recommend this movie to someone who is looking for more than just a movie to pass the time. The film can stand the test of time due to the universal issues it addresses.

School Daze (1988)

Inspired by our viewing of Do the Right Thing, I decided to watch another, earlier Spike Lee film, School Daze. The film follows politically conscious Dap (played by Laurence Fishbourne when he was still called "Larry") at the historically black Mission College as he feuds with Dean Big Brother Almighty, member of the Greek system (Gamma). Lee plays Half-Pint, who, to the chagrin of Dap, wants to pledge Gamma.

Although it is its own film, there are a lot of similarities between School Daze and Do the Right Thing, most noticeably the theme of "waking up." In School Daze, though, the fight is not black against white, but darker-skinned blacks against lighter-skinned blacks. The film also touches on other issues including college-educated students and their relationships with the economically disadvantaged people in the communities surrounding and perhaps more superficially, the menace of Greek hazing on the college campus.

If I were to base my thoughts on Spike Lee solely on this film and Do the Right Thing, I would say there is definitely a formula. Lee uses the same actors, themes and similar music in both films. Both also feature sequences where the fourth wall is broken and the messages seem to be aimed at the audience and the characters alike.

This film can stand the test of time just because these types of issues are still relevant. Lee uses his films as a call to America and specifically the black community to take action, which is why people will continue to watch even if it is a very distinctly 80s film.

What a Way to Make a Livin'

9 to 5, now a hit Broadway musical, began as a successful '80s film about sexual politics in the workplace. Three female office employees (Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda) fantasize about getting even with the company's "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss.

When a mix-up leads the women to think they have accidentally poisoned their boss' coffee, though, they hatch a scheme to protect themselves by stealing his body from the morgue. When he turns up alive and threatens to have them thrown in jail, he finds himself a prisoner in his own home. His employees then use the occasion of his absence from the office to make some changes in the workplace.

I grew up listening to Dolly Parton, but was never a huge fan of her work. Watching her in this satire, though, I have a newfound respect for her comedic chops. She also wrote the extremely catchy title song.

There are a lot of great moments: Judy's experience with the office Xerox machine, Violet pretending to be a doctor at the hospital, and of course Doralee (whom Hart calls his "mistress") tying up her boss in his own home.

I think I (along with so many other women, even 30 years later) can relate to the basic plot premise, which probably has something to do with why the movie did so well. I spent four years in a workplace in which I was the only female; not only that, but I was the only employee under 30. There were so many times that I thought, If only I could actually make some changes around here. Maybe they take it a little too far, but you can't help but think that Hart had it coming.

La Femme Nikita (1990)


"There are two things that have no limit: femininity and the means to take advantage of it."

Nikita, a convicted felon and drug user, is sent to jail for the murder of a cop. While there, she is informed that everyone in her life believes that she committed suicide, and now she has two choices: become an assassin or actually join the ranks of the dead. After sleeping on it for an hour, Nikita chooses the assassin route and trains for about three years, learning not only how to kill effectively but also how to use her femininity to her advantage.

Nikita is then released into the "real world," where she meets a man named Marco at the supermarket where he works. Life goes on as normal, and Marco believes Nikita works the night shift at the hospital; he knows nothing of her assassin life.

The film is not distinctly 80s, but given that it was made in France and that it is a spy film, such is to be expected. Some of the music in the movie does seem to have synthesizers, and it is definitely Tears for Fears-esque.

La Femme Nikita can stand the test of time because even though it is 2010, films featuring women with assassin jobs, etc. are not very common. People will always be interested in watching this type of film, which is why it is so long-lasting.

I enjoyed the film. It was interesting to see what Nikita would do in various situations, and I especially liked the scene featured in one of the clips we watched in class when Nikita attempts to complete her first mission only to find that "of course it (the window) was bricked."

Overall, I would recommend this film to anyone looking for a bit of action/thrill that is not typical of Hollywood movies. That said; don't expect a fairytale ending, either.

The Blues Brothers

Starring Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers is a comedy with a cast of famous singers and musicians with great classics. I decided to watch this film because I have always been a fan of Saturday Night Live skits and a couple times I have seen reruns of the sketch on the blues brothers. I never watched this movie, but of course being a classic movie with timeless characters, everyone knows of Jake and Elwood. Jake, played by Belushi, is released from jail and picked up by his brother, Elwood, in a former police car. The car with the giant microphone would become an iconic symbol of the brothers. They visit the “penguin” at the Catholic orphanage that will be closed unless the nun raises $5000. While visiting a church service, Jake has an epiphany that he is on a mission from God to form the band again. They begin to visit their former band mates and reunite everyone. In the process they ruin a mall, almost run over neo Nazis and basically upset many characters. They pose as the band “the Good Ol’ Boys” in a western bar who is scheduled to play that night. Later, they perform at the Palace Hotel and are then offered a recording contract that would cover the orphanage. Police, SWAT and firefighters then chase the brothers around Chicago. Their car breaks down and they run inside to pay their tax bill. They are then handcuffed, arrested and sent to jail with the rest of the band.

I would definitely recommend this fun, upbeat film. I feel the cameos kept me glued to the movie because I waiting to see who would appear next.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High



Fast Times at Ridgemont High: The ultimate 80s classic. The story revolves around several kids that go to Ridgemont High and what it's like to be a teenager in the 80s. While this movie is humorous, it hits upon several controversial topics such as drug abuse, abortion, and sex. All the characters undergo certain troubles throughout the film that in the end teach them what true happiness is.

I had always heard about this movie and seen it referenced in the I love the 80s series on VH1, but I did not realize this movie was more than just a teen flick. The issues discussed are still relevant to kids today and therefore this movie has withstood time.

I really enjoyed this movie. I laughed, but I also felt for the characters because anyone who has gone through high school knows it's not an easy place to me. However, I really did not like the character Stacy. I felt she was boring and brought little to the table against the other characters who were full of life. As I watched the movie I was wishing she would show some sign of emotion, but I was disappointed. She also got a happy ending with Mark which I didn't think was necessary.

This movie was done is the typical 80s style. Music, fashion and design were all staple 80s looks. I would recommend this movie to anyone who has gone through high school. It's fun, funny and also a bit heart warming at times.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

I put this film in my powerpoint because it's pretty much the epitome of an 'awesomely bad' movie. The premise is so ridiculous that it works. Although the first 10 minutes were hilariously bad, both in terms of acting and situations, parts are so creepy that it can work as a pseudo-horror film.

If you don't already know, Killer Klowns is about a small town that is invaded by a circus tent shaped spaceship full of killer clowns. Through the movie, they turn their victims into cotton candy, try to stop people with a popcorn gun, and use a balloon animal to track the main characters through the woods. The good thing about this film is that it doesn't take itself seriously, and the makers want the audience to laugh with them. While there are countless classic scenes from this movie, this guy compiled a pretty good collection to give people a taste of what to expect from this movie.





Another thing I liked about this movie is that it is pretty much in real time. That's rare with movies in general, but especially horror movies. The clowns are introduced 10 minutes into the movie and it apparently only takes an hour and a half for the few remaining townspeople to figure out how to take them down.

All in all, if you have the time, definitely watch this movie. It's on Netflix instant if you have a membership. At the very least you'll get some good laughs and get a craving for carnival food.

Weird Science



Weird Science is the story of two awkward boys, Gary and Wyatt, who are trying to make it in the world popularity in high school. One night they come up with a plan to create this dream woman through the use of their computer. When they find success, the dream woman (Lisa) helps the boys become confident in themselves and make friends in the harsh high school world.

Strangely enough, as a kid I watched Weird Science the TV show, but never saw the movie. So, while I knew the premise of this movie I was under the impression that it was a movie meant for a younger audience. However, as I watched I found it to be a bit vulgar, but still funny. I really liked this movie for what it was. It is not a movie that will change lives or provoke thought, but it certainly provided entertainment for two hours.

I feel this movie stands up over time as far as 80s movies go. It seems it was a popular film that is still talked about and watched today. This movie is also done in a typical 80s style. The music is all popular 80s songs that are iconic today of the 80s. The style in fashion is all done in a very 80s style as well.

I would recommend this movie to audiences. It's a little odd/vulgar for younger viewers, but otherwise it's funny and, well, WEIRD!

Road House

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Road House is a great movie where Patrick Swayze plays the lead role Dalton as a tough guy. He is known as one of the toughest bouncers around and is recruited to help clean up a bar with a rough crowd. The main story is a clash between Swayze, the head bouncer and a powerful business man that runs the town through corruption. Swayze enters to clean up the bar he begins to feud with the powerful owner for messing up the natural order of such a small town. Swayze’s character is not your average oversized bouncer, his small stature combined with his way of looking at the situation is refreshing. “Nobody ever wins in a fight” captures him as a person, he only reacts to situations throughout the movie not fighting until his safety is in jeopardy. He is what it takes for the small town to rally together to fight back against the oppressive businessman. The situation gets out of control but the people of the town prevail in the fight.


Initially Swayze is brought to the small town because of the money offered by the owner, but early on we get the hint he is a down to earth old-school guy when he refuses to take a plane to the new location because he is scared to fly. Swayze is soft spoken and enjoys his time alone until he finds love with a local doctor. The love between Swayze and the doctor combined with the relationships he makes around town are what drive him to face the corruption and stick it out.


Dalton has a similar view on violence to someone who we saw earlier in the class. Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid says that violence is for self defense only. He seems like he’s so good at fighting that he enjoys it, but he strongly opposes violence unless it’s for self defense. Dalton’s quote that was mentioned at the beginning of this post suggests a similar moral stance on violence to Miyagi. “Nobody ever wins in a fight,” says Dalton. Swayze has the big strong and tough reputation, and many people envy that and try to act like that and look to fight. But Dalton, like Miyagi, resorts to violence only when it is absolutely necessary.

Planes Trains and Automobiles

Car Rental Agent: [cheerfully] Welcome to Marathon, may I help you?
Neal: Yes.
Car Rental Agent: How may I help you?
Neal: You can start by wiping that fucking dumb-ass smile off your rosey, fucking, cheeks! Then you can give me a fucking automobile: a fucking Datsun, a fucking Toyota, a fucking Mustang, a fucking Buick! Four fucking wheels and a seat!
Car Rental Agent: I really don't care for the way you're speaking to me.
Neal: And I really don't care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn't fucking there. And I really didn't care to fucking walk down a fucking highway and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!
Car Rental Agent: May I see your rental agreement?
Neal: I threw it away.
Car Rental Agent: Oh boy.
Neal: Oh boy, what?
Car Rental Agent: You're fucked!


http://thefilmnest.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/john-candy.jpg
Because it was on TV, I decided to watch the 1987 film Planes Trains and Automobiles. I enjoyed the movie and it reminded me of one of my personality traits that I would like to change. Sometimes when you get stuck in a painfully awful travel delay or experience, or even when you are just having a bad day, you can be on edge and moody. That is certainly the case with Neal (Steve Martin) in . Neal gets repeatedly delayed in a desperate attempt to make it home for Thanksgiving through tough weather. He ends up getting stuck with the kind hearted but perhaps "overfriendly?" Del (John Candy). As we see in the quote above that goes on in the middle of the rental car scene, Neal is so angry and fed up with how horrific his situation is that he lets it get to him enough to take his anger out on others who aren't at fault, like the rental car clerk or Del. He is not necessarily a really bad guy, but he says some pretty bad things and acts like a jerk. I do this as well if I'm having a really, really bad day. Sometimes people just snap and lose a good conscious stream of thought for emotional reasons.

I would like to change this quality in myself, and by the end of the movie we see Neal start to change as well. He begins to open up to Del over time after many experiences that caused him to realize that he really was just being a jerk. It requires patience to deal with horrible situations, and patience may be something that people like Neal and I lack. One thing that is important to consider about tough situations like travel nightmares is the grand scheme of things. Neal thinks that his problem is the biggest thing in the world, and that others should be concerned about the fact that for once, he may not be able to enjoy the holiday in comfort with his family. There are plenty of people in the world who have it much tougher than he does having to miss one holiday. People are starving and are unfairly living in extreme poverty, so that is a thought that may help to keep things in perspective.

Overall, Neal and Del have some hilarious experiences, like their bunking troubles (see photo above.) The exchanges between the goofy and clumsy Del and the irritated and well-kept Neal make for some classic comedy. John Candy is a riot as usual. This is a great movie, and I highly recommend it.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Planes, Trains and Automobiles stars Steve Martin and John Candy on a amusing adventure where basically every type of transportation fails on them. Directed by the late John Hughes, the film is another successful and classic directed by Mr. Hughes. Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a advertising executive, who is trying to get home to his family in Chicago during Thanksgiving. Neal meets John Candy’s character, Del Griffith a shower curtain ring salesman, when he tries to steal his cab. Then, at the airport Neal and Del run into each other again while waiting for the same flight. The flight however, is rerouted to Wichita, KS due to heavy snow in Chicago. Landing the flight is cancelled and Neal and Del are forced to find a place to sleep. They decided to find a room together for the night. The only room available, of course, is a one room with a queen-size bed. After tossing, turning and loud snoring, they finally wake up to find Del spooning Neal. After a quick jump out of the bed and some “man talk,” they head for breakfast where they find they have been robbed over night. They hitch a ride to Stubbville to the train station. The train breaks down and the passengers are forced off the train and find another mode of transportation. Del and Neal take a bus that gets them as far as St. Louis and part ways. Neal heads to the airport to rent a car and angrily throws away his rental agreement. He then runs into Del who has a car. While driving at night, Del almost kills himself and Neal by going the wrong way on the highway. Then Del ignites the passenger compartment on fire with a cigarette with Neal’s wallet, of course, in there. They finally get the fire out and head to yet another hotel. Neal uses his watch to get a room and because Del is not so lucky, he lets him stay with him. The next day they are pulled over for exceeding the speed limit, the vehicle is impounded and they have to find another transportation. Neal finally arrives in Chicago Thanksgiving Day and part ways with Del. Neal decides to head back to the station, finds Del and invites him for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Raising Arizona

"There's what's right and there's what's right and never the twain shall meet."

I have seen six Coen Brothers' films. Raising Arizona is my seventh. Fargo conquers all. No Country still blows my mind. Miller's Crossing is so bad-ass. But Raising Arizona takes the comedic cake. Hi (played surprisingly well by Nicolas Cage, who knew!) and his wife Ed (also played wonderfully by Holly Hunter, no surprises there) are incapable of conceiving a child (hilarious) so they steal one (even more hilarious). Wait, what?!

The Coen Brothers have an innate ability to draw humor out of the darkest recesses of our human interactions and exchanges. Truthfully, Raising Arizona, if left untreated by the Coen Brothers, reads something like a melodrama, a Lifetime movie you might watch on a lazy (read boring) Sunday afternoon. But lens employed by the Coen Brothers lifts the film into an almost farcical realm. Almost: The characters are off-kilter, the colors are brighter, the camera angles are noticeable, the plot is hell-bent on absurdity, and the dialogue is simply ridiculous; BUT, we never question that this film represents some kind of reality, no matter how far removed it may actually be. Take this diaper robbery/car chase/Scooby-Doo-esque sequence. Oh, by the way Hi is an ex-convict, Ed is a "twice-decorated" cop, the baby (Nathan, Jr., Ed, Hi, whatever his name may be) is one of a set of quintuplets belonging to the Arizona family (who own Unpainted Arizona, a furniture emporium, with, well loads of unpainted furniture); see what I mean about the "almost:"

The laughter continues as two of Hi's friends (recently escaped convicts) find their way to Hi and Ed's home, there to learn that the Arizona family is offering a 25,000 dollar reward for the return of their child. So, being the loving friends they are, and more so the criminals, they steal Nathan and run away to rob a bank... only to leave the baby in the road after robbing the bank. Here's your screaming men sequence, Dr. Boles:

Let's not forget the maniacal Leonard Smalls, the lizard-pelting, grenade-wielding, stud-wearing, "tracker," who's after the money, as well. Perhaps, "Almost" turns to "Totally" in this case:

It is, for sure, the unabashed portrayal of men, women, and convicts alike pursuing their goals, no matter how absurd that leads to fits, rather rows of laughter. Hmmm... perhaps it is the unabashed portrayal of men and women pursuing their goals, no matter how ethically or morally inconsistent, that leads to an understanding of filmic reconstructions of 80's culture...


48 Hours (1982)



48 Hours is a quintessential 80’s buddy cop movie. Albert Ganz escapes from prisonin order to retrieve $500,000 stolen in a heist two years back. In the process, he manages to kill three cops with detective Jack Cates’ gun, infuriating Cates. Because of Cates’ lack of respect for the rules and proper procedure, he forges a signature to get Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), a former accomplice of Ganz’, out of jail on parole for 48 hours to help catch the cop killer and his partner.
This was one of the first white-black buddy cop movies. Eddie Murphy uses his comic skills in many racist situations, such as a redneck bar. His posing as what he thinks a cop would be like was one of the funniest parts. My favorite quote was, “You said bullshit and experience is all it takes, right? Then come on in and experience some of my bullshit”. Though this movie was only an hour and a half, it seemed slow and dragged on at some points. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the constant darkness and rainy atmosphere. Even the scenes set during the day had a hazy and grey lighting, without blue skies. This heavy-handed approach to letting me know that the bad guys were bad and being a cop is rough didn’t appeal to me. Though it was a funny movie, Eddie Murphy was better in Trading Places and Coming to America, and the buddy cop genre is better in Lethal Weapon, in my opinion. I would recommend those films before this one.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Here to Save the World "Ghostbusters"


Ghostbusters (1984) is an 80's classic that features the fantastic comedic trio of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. The film's success can be attributed to the special effects (impressive for the 80's) and the ingenious comedic script.

The Ghostbusters are; Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dr. Ray Stantz, three recently unemployed psychotherapists turned paranormal exterminators. As the group gains credit throughout the community the plot twists and turns through demonic possession and near Armageddon by way of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The Ghostbusters become heroes when they defeat the marshmallow man and save the city.

The ridiculously humorous outfits and paranormal equipment along with witty dialogue and dry comedy make this film very entertaining. The styles and soundtrack, featuring heavy synthesizer influence make the film recognizable as 80's, yet the comedic script mixed with popular science fiction makes for a movie that will remain timeless. It was one of the highest grossing films of the 1980's at $291,632,124 in the United States alone. The film was remade in 1989 and there are talks of a Ghostbusters III to be released in the near future. I hope that the film retains its comedic effect and does not discredit the original, but you never know nowadays. I would recommend this film to everyone who hasn't seen it, because it's impossible to not to enjoy.


The Marshmallow Man

When Harry Met Sally


I love a good romantic comedy every now and again. (Well, maybe more often than that…I’d probably be happy if all films were love stories.) When Harry Met Sally is a quintessential representation of the genre. Meg Ryan is so stinkin’ cute in this movie (does anyone else think of Anastasia whenever you hear her voice…maybe it’s just me) and she and Billy Crystal have such great chemistry on screen.

When Harry Met Sally is slightly reminiscent of a Jane Austin Love story as the unlikely pare meet again and again throughout the years. Harry and Sally first meet as they drive together to New York City, each to start a new life and quickly part ways as Harry concludes that a man and a woman can never just be friends, leaving Sally utterly unimpressed. However, they meet again after several years at the airport as Harry is engaged and Sally is in a relationship. After again parting, content with their relationships and seemingly too different to ever be an item. Years pass again and we again see Harry meeting Sally at a turning point in both of their lives as Harry is going through a divorce and Sally a break up. They comfort each other as “just friends” and build a strong relationship, even playing matchmaker to their two best friends. As they help each other cope they eventually fall and love and subsequently become the perfect couple.

This film was such a relief in the midst of final exams. Throughout the film and between each time Harry and Sally meet is a new adorable elderly couple, telling their love story. These little snippets were my absolutely favorite part of When Harry Met Sally. These confessional moments were so sweet and really make me want to believe in true love again and again. The film closes with Harry and Sally telling their own story, leaving the audience with fulfilled hope and a belief in love stories.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Something Wild


Something Wild (1986), is a romantic thriller about sex, love, and taking chances. This is one of those films that had success in its day, yet often slips through the cracks when people call to mind 80's films. The film features early performances from Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta, two very respected actors from the 80's.

The plot centers upon Charles', (Jeff Daniels), essential abduction from the streets of New York while on his lunch break. The abductor, Audrey (
Melanie Griffith), is a "wild" and crazy girl that seems to act on every impulse yet crafty enough to get away with it. Her actions and overall outlook on life are in stark contrast to those of Charles, a vice president business yuppie from Long Island. However, once he meets Audrey his inner rebellious nature comes forth. The two end up impersonating a married couple and seem to be enjoying the idea, until Audrey's felonious ex-husband shows up and wants her back.

The film is definitely 80's; made most apparent by the styles, soundtrack, and the obvious absence of cell phones. However, the film's themes of social disregard and self-discovery are still featured in modern films, which make Something Wild stand up over time. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of thrillers such as Fatal Attraction or Unfaithful. The film will keep you guessing and is surprisingly entertaining.

Theatrical Trailer


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rainman


Rainman is a really great touching film. Tom Hanks does a great job playing the self-centered Charley Babitt. Dustin Hoffman does an excellent job at portraying his autistic brother Raymond. I really like this movie because even though it’s funny at some part, it’s not directly making fun of autistic people. And it does an excellent job of portraying how heartbreaking it is to love someone with autism. I have a cousin who is autistic, and it’s very hard for all of us sometimes. There are days when you feel like he’s making progress and that one day he will remember who you are and we will love you in return and he will live somewhat of a normal life. But then there are some days when it seems like he will never get any better, he will never even remember your name much less love you, and that he will never live a normal life. It’s easy to give up on somewhat like that, after all the frustration and heartache. But I believe that there is hope for autistic people, there is hope for my cousin, and my family and I are not going to give up on him. This film helps show people how hard it is for families of autistic people, and maybe if more people know they will be more willing to help.

Nightmare on Elm Street is definitely a classic, one of the first to begin the slasher genre in the 80’s. I thought it was really interesting to see how hard it was to do things before computer animation and what not. They had to make it really happen on film. And yeah there were some parts that were obviously fake looking and even laughable, like when the mom gets pulled in through the window at the very end. It’s so obviously a doll, the legs even stay stiff as she’s being pulled in. But I really admire Wes Craven (the director) for sticking to what he wanted. If I was directing and a scene would be really hard to pull off like that, I’d probably just switch up the script a little bit. But he knew what he wanted and stuck with it. There is a predominant childhood fear about what’s under the bed. But twice in this film people get pulled into their bed while they’re laying on it. Which means you’re not even safe on top of your bed anymore… or in your dreams. Even though it was a little cheesy at time, if you allow yourself to play along and get into the film it can still be pretty creepy. The new film looks much more frightening and I can’t wait to see it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spaceballs!

Spaceballs is a 1987 science fiction parody co-written, directed by, and starring Mel Brooks. Its plot and characters contain many references to the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as Star Trek and other popular science fiction films.

The film tells the story of Plant Spaceball's mission to extract all of the air from the neighbor planet Druidia. Their plan is to kidnap the Druish Princess Vespa, who is about to marry the narcoleptic Prince Valium. In protest of their marriage Princess Vespa runs from the alter with her Droid of Honor, Dot Matrix, and escapes into space, where she is attacked by the Spaceballs under the command of Dark Helmet.

Upon discovering Dark Helmet's plans to kidnap his daughter, King Roland requests the help of Lone Starr and his mawg (half-man, half-dog) sidekick, Barf, who are desperate for money to pay back their debts to Pizza the Hutt. Lone Starr and Barf eventually rescue Princess Vespa and Dot Matrix (through a series of fights involving light saber like weapons) and destroy the Spaceball ship. In the process, Princess Vespa and Lone Starr fall in love, only to discover that Lone Starr is in fact a prince. In the end the two marry and live happily ever after.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Killer Klowns From Outer Space!

I've seen a lot of cheesy movies in my life, most of the I end up making fun of, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space was one of those movies that all I could do was ask "what is happening!" This has got to be one of the most cracked out films I've seen in a long time, but it was totally worth watching.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is about two teenagers, Mike and Debby, who witness a shooting star of epic proportions. Out of curiosity they journey to the star's landing spot only to discover a giant circus tent. They enter the tent and stumble across a storage facility for what appears to be cotton candy, but upon further inspection they discover that these "cotton candies" are actually cocoons housing dead people.

After being discovered by the clowns Mike and Debby rush out of the tent while being shot at by popcorn. The two then proceed to the police station in which Debby claims to have a friend there who will believe their story. This friend, Dave, turns out to be Debby's ex-boyfriend which initially makes the meeting between Mike and Dave awkward. Eventually, after witnessing the "cotton candy" cocoons himself, Dave believes Mike and Debby and decides that he must contact the State police for backup.

The Killer Klowns head into town, after chasing Mike and Debby through the woods, and start a rampage: destroying a local drug store, luring little children at gaming restaurants, fooling people with shadow puppets that come to life and devour them, you know... the usual. Dave's partner, Curtis Mooney, believes that everyone in the town calling in and reporting that killer clowns are on the loose is playing a joke on him. His stubborn attitude to prove that there is no such thing as killer clowns from outer space eventually gets him killed.

Dave, Mike, and Mike's friends the Terenzi brothers infiltrate the circus tent in order to save Debby who was captured by the clowns shortly after being attacked by the once popcorn kernels turned alien clowns. Upon retrieving Debby the crew travels through the maze that is the tent in order to escape, facing countless clowns along the way. Finally, they face the ultimate clown who destroys the Terenzi brothers' rented ice cream truck while they are still in it. Dave stays behind in order to distract the clown so that Mike and Debby can escape. While Dave is trapped within the grasp of the clown he realizes that earlier he has discovered how to kill the clowns: by blowing up their nose. Dave then grabs his badge and sticks the pin into the clown's nose causing it and the entire tent to explode. Shortly afterwards you see the clowns' vehicle fly through the air and land right in front of Mike, Debby, and the State police; the Terenzi brothers and Dave step out of the car safe and sound.

Although this movie was extremely strange it was also entertaining. I would have to say that if you were afraid of clowns then definitely don't watch this movie. The clowns are ridiculous at times, but other times they are extremely creepy, and I'm saying this as someone who is not afraid of clowns to begin with. Besides that it's definitely a worth while 80s film to see.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

El Norte





I absolutely loved watching El Norte. This film is a unique and dynamic presentation that embodies the ideas of culture, politics, injustice, art, the American dream and humanity all while educating and entertaining the viewer. I laughed all throughout El Norte and even cried a bit too, but by the end of the film I honestly felt like I had gained knowledge and understanding, which is exactly what I want out of a film like this.

El Norte tells the story of an indigenous Guatemalan family whose harsh lives had always led them to dream of the north – where even the poorest of people have a car and a flush toilet. However, Enrique and Rosa, the young adult children of the family, find themselves fighting for their lives after their father is decapitated by soldiers for his interest in forming a workers union and their mother is taken away by the same forces. Unable to live in their native land, they forge through Mexico in hopes of making it to the United States, where they hope to find freedom, opportunity and the luxuries promised by “Good housekeeping” magazine.

After crawling through a sewer and being attacked by rats, the siblings finally make it to California, where they both work hard to find jobs and learn English, all while avoiding immigration enforcement. However, they learn the hardships of the American dream through internal corruption and competition and the high cost of living that disables the family from truly getting ahead. Enrique eventually agrees to take a job in Chicago after his job as a waiter is foiled by a jealous coworker who calls immigration on him. He is forced to choose between his family morals and traditions and the financial opportunities that await him as Rosa is struck ill as a result of the rats that attacked her en route to the US. Enrique reunites with his sister at her hospital bed as they discuss their hardships. Rosa explains that there is no place for them in their homeland of Guatemala, no place for them amidst the poverty of Mexico, and no place for them in the “freedom” of the United States. Rosa passes away as a result of her illness, leaving Enrique behind to search for day labor opportunities. The film ends with Enrique’s vision of his sister in Guatemala and his father’s severed head, leaving the audience with uncertainty for his future and longing for his success after all of his trials.

The film uses language and culture to its advantage to bring acknowledgement and acceptance of Rosa and Enrique’s circumstances to an American and British audience. Color and cinematography give El Norte a unique look and cultural aspect, reminiscent of the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and the artwork of Latin American masters. I admire the film’s originality and ability to tell a powerful story without the gimmicks of many modern movies that rely on sex and special effects to carry the action of the film. With strong character development and excellent acting, I found myself rooting for Rosa and Enrique, smiling when they progressed, and shrinking on the inside when they faced new challenges. I could go on and on about this film, but I’ll stop at that. I honestly can’t say enough good things about El Norte. It’s the type of film that might just change your perception on life.

Scarface


Scarface was very long, and kind of drawn out at times, but I definitely still liked it. I went to most of middle school and high school here in Florida, and I was never taught about how the Cuban refugees were dumped here. I never knew that Castro used us to get rid of most of his criminals, kind of the same way England used Georgia and Australia back in the day. I definitely didn’t know they were forced to stay in those crummy camps either. There were a lot of really cool shots in the film. One of my favorite most dramatic scene set ups has to be at the very end just before Tony Montana’s demise. He’s standing at the very top of his mansion’s second floor indoor balcony like a mad man getting riddled with bullets. Finally he falls into the pool below, and red bleeds from him into the blue water of the pool. Tony is definitely a crazy character, and sometimes it was a little hard to believe someone who was genuinely interested in being successful would do some of the things he did. I hated that he killed his best friend and ruined his sister’s life. But the way she went crazy after that was perfect because there is no way the love of your life can be killed in front of you by your brother and you not go crazy. From then on though I hated Tony, everything else he did I let slide but after this affront I hated him.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beverly Hills Cop



‘Beverly Hills Cop’ is a classic 80s cop movie about a street-smart Detroit detective named Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) who often uses unorthodox methods to catch criminals. In the movie, Axel’s friend Mikey comes to Detroit to visit and is murdered while hanging out with Axel. Due to Axel’s close ties to the victim he is discharged from the case and asked to take some time off. Knowing that Mikey just came from Beverly Hills, Axel decides to head out there and look for leads. Axel’s search leads him to Mikey’s old boss Victor Maitland who, Axel soon discovers, is smuggling art and bonds. Throughout his search, Axel has a few run-ins with the Beverly Hills Police department that land him a permanent tail, which he soon looses by playing a humiliating prank on the cops. Axel eventually teams up with these cops to try and solve the crime of his friend’s death and put Maitland behind bars. After finding sufficient evidence to solve the crime, Axel and his two cop friends break into Maitland’s house and end up shooting him out of self defense.



This cop movie is interesting because it examines police morals and racism in the 80s in a comedic way. There are many instances that Axel puts on a phone persona in order to get what he wants such as when he acts like a Rolling Stones reporter to get a room at a fancy hotel or when he acts like he contracted an STD after homosexual intercourse with Maitland in order to get a meeting with him. Overall this is a great movie that is full of laughs and action and, in my opinion, a classic of the 80s.


‘Risky Business’ is a great 80s coming-of-age film about a boy named Joel (Tom Cruise) who’s parents go out of town for the weekend, leaving him home alone. Joel’s best friend Miles thinks Joel is too tame for his own good so he orders a call girl for Joel and tells him that sometimes you just have to say what the fuck and have a good time. This call girl, though, was not what Joel wanted so he, in turn, calls another girl named Lana. After getting involved with Lana, her pimp gets upset with Joel and chases after Joel who is driving his father’s Porsche. Lana then sees a business opportunity in Joel’s pubescent, privileged friends and together they decide to use Joel’s house as a brothel for the night. That night a representative from Princeton, Joel’s Father’s Alma mater, comes to meet with Joel. After seeing the amazing success of Joel’s business scheme, and having a little fun for himself, the Princeton rep leaves. The next day Lana’s pimp comes back and steals all of Joel’s furniture and forces Joel to pay him all the money he made the night before in order to get it all back before his parents return. In the end Joel uses his call girl business venture to win the Future Enterprisers competition, gets accepted to Princeton and has the adventure of a lifetime.

Like many other 80s movies such as breakfast club and 16 candles, this is a coming-of-age film; however it takes a unique angle to learning how to take chances and enjoy life. Although Joel incurs a good deal of stress and hardship for his actions, in the end he seems to come out a more mature and self-sufficient man. The movies motto ‘sometimes you just have to say what the fuck’ is also timeless and echoed throughout much of the 80s. The dance scene with Joel in a white shirt and tightie-whities is also a timeless classic and, in my opinion, one of the best dance scenes of the decade, illustrating the prevalence of rock and roll as well as youth’s rebellious nature.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Overboard



Overboard tells the story of Joanna Stayton is a pretentious, narcissistic socialite who treats everyone as though they are beneath her. She employs Dean Proffitt to be her carpenter and fires him upon finding out that he didn’t use the right kind of wood she wanted. One night, she goes to find her wedding ring and while trying to reach for it falls overboard. She wakes up in the hospital to find that she has suffered from amnesia due to the fall and cold waters. Dean sees her on the news and devises a plan to pretend they are married and call her “Annie”. He takes her home with him and she becomes the new mother of the house by having to take care of the kids, cook and clean the house. The movie follows the couple as they learn to fall in love with each other. At the end of the movie, Annie regains her memory when her husband finally comes to find her. We see her struggling to choose between her previous upper-class life versus her new one.

I am a sucker for corny romance-comedies. I found this movie to be hilarious as we see Dean constantly coming up with ridiculous responses to Annie’s questions about their past life together. Goldie Hawn’s acting as a mean stuck up bitch transforming into a caring down to earth girl was well done. We see her struggles and laugh as she tries to become a good housewife. Although this is not considered to be an 80’s classic, it is still entertaining to watch. It becomes apparent that a good 80’s movie does not necessarily need the typical 80’s music and clothes. The plot is unrealistic but nonetheless you are sucked into falling in love with all the characters and rooting for Dean and Annie to end up together.

Redrum- The Shining


“The Shining” was definitely one of the coolest movies I’ve ever seen and definitely proves why Jack Nicholson is still a huge movie star today. The film builds up fear perfectly by really dragging you into the Overlook Hotel with the Torrances, isolated in the middle of nowhere. At first for a while, the film is not overly jumpy scary but works on setting the scene for a family to start to go crazy with the isolation and the bad vibe given by the ghosts, instead of just scaring the audience with cheap special effects of ghosts popping up. This element along with the “gift” the little boy has to see the terrible things that happened in the past or are going to happen and how Jack starts to be manipulated by the ghosts gradually makes the movie more terrifying. The visions Danny sees, especially of the two twin girls covered in blood in the hallway, set up a background story of a father just like Jack, going crazy there and butchering his family. Danny Lloyd who plays Danny, does a fantastic job at such a young age, making it believable to the audience that he does have the ability to see things especially with the faces he makes. Unlike most movies, he is not just the annoying kid but a key factor in the plot line. Jack Nicholson also was amazing in the film because he made a believable 180 turn from a nice father to a complete psycho. The scene where he chases Wendy, Shelley Duvall who’s got the scared to death look on her face down perfectly, made me wonder if I was more afraid of the ghosts or of Jack in the film. The ghosts were just so weird and creepy especially in the bathtub scene which was absolutely disgusting. The scene where Wendy is running around alone and keeps finding the ghosts taunting her is my favorite scene because it really shows how this is a psychological horror film and not just gruesome or cheesy one. It’s not enough that she had to run away from her crazy husband trying to kill her and her son but also a bunch of ghosts messing with her head too now, along with her son who she has to worry about because he seems to be taken over by the boy living in his mouth. Even when there is a chance of hope that Dick Hallorann is going to come save them, that’s shot to hell as soon as he walks in and Jack takes an ax to him. Even though Wendy and Danny get away, you can’t even say it’s a happy ending because of what happened to Jack, who dies in a different and surprising way by being frozen solid instead of killed by Wendy or Danny. This movie really messes with your mind and scares you with things you wouldn’t think would like typing same thing on a paper, an overflow of blood from the elevator or just ghosts standing at the end of the hall yet not doing anything. There is just so much creepiness and weirdness going on throughout the movie that it’s hard not to get sucked in and then be freaked out for the rest of the night after watching it. How Stanley Kubrick portrayed the characters, ghosts and the hotel’s past and present, even adding the picture at the end that left the audience think wtf?, is what made this one of the greatest horror movies of all time.