Friday, February 19, 2010

Risky Business

This is a film that I had always wanted to see and I am glad I finally did. The famous dancing scene that has recently been imitated by a myriad of celebrities on various commercials, such as XBox 360, held its weight and was relatively PG when compared to the rest of the films "risky" behavior. I must admit my naivety to the films actual plot and controversial nature, but I enjoyed the film nonetheless.

The film DOES stands out as truly 80's shown by the unmistakable fashions, the 80's Porsche RB 928, and of course its excellent soundtrack featuring popular groups from the decade, such as Phil Collins and The Police. Despite the obvious 80's nature of the film, I believe that it stands up over time. Although the viewer is expected to accept the fantastic notion of running a one night prostitution operation in the middle of suburban Illinois, Joel's challenge of dealing with the pressures of getting accepted into college is one that is quite real and relatable to the youth of today. I really liked the change in Joel's character when he finally embraces the ability to, "just say fuck it," which results in his loss of virginity, admission into Princeton, and promising career in business. In this way, the film is almost humorous.

I would recommend this movie to any post-pubescent individual, because I find the themes and overall message to be very insightful and relatable. Plus there's no denying the appeal to fast cars, beautiful women, and a twisted plot that keeps you guessing the whole time.

The Dance Scene

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Highlander (1986)

There can be only one!

Highlander's plot is basic: a group of immortals populate the earth, trying to survive until "The Gathering," where they will assemble and fight to the death, as the winner receives the ultimate prize.

The only way to kill one of these immortals is by beheading, and should one immortal behead another, he obtains all of the vanquished's power, which is portrayed as blue light or energy.

The film opens with the protagonist, Connor MacLeod/Russell Nash (Christopher Lambert) watching a pro wrestling match and having flashbacks to his earlier life in the 1500s in the highlands of Scotland. The film often switches between the present (1986) and the past as seen by MacLeod, helping to explain his story.

MacLeod's recovery from a fatal battle wound in the 1500s causes his clan to kick him out of the village for 'devilry', subsequently he moves to a remote location in the highlands of Scotland and settles down with Heather (Beatie Edney), more or less his wife. The news of his excommunication from his tribe causes fellow immortal Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery) to track him down and educate MacLeod as to the immortal that he is. They train together and MacLeod learns the finer points of swordsmanship. The antagonist of the film, "The Kurgan" in the 1500s and Victor Kruger in the 1980s, arrives to the scene hunting MacLeod, instead finding Ramirez and Heather. Predictably, an epic battle occurs between Ramirez and the Kurgen, ending with Ramirez's death and the Kurgen pillaging Heather.

MacLeod in the 1980s has assumed the identity of Russell Nash, where the gathering is occurring in New York City. Only a few of the immortals are left, as they have been battling for several centuries; eventually, only Nash and Kruger remain and they must fight to the death on the streets of NYC. Roxanne Hart plays Brenda Wyatt, a forensic analyst working for the police who uncovers Nash's secret immortality and thus gains the keys to his bedroom for a night. Remarkably similar-looking to Heather, Brenda becomes the ultimate damsel in distress when Kruger kidnaps her to instigate the fight between himself and Nash.

The movie is laughably bad. It provides a good opportunity to watch Sean Connery pretend to be Egyptian and to ponder that everlasting question: what do Scottish men wear underneath their kilts? The make-up is ultimately what turns the audience off, with Nash overloaded on bronzer and Kruger covered in pasty white "bad guy" foundation. By the end of the film, Kruger resembles Frankenstein quite strongly, and his laughable growl as he speaks also lends an air of ridiculousness to the film. Despite its flaws, Highlander is a strong 80s action film given the frequency and intensity of the sword fighting, and fans of Scottish culture or Sean Connery would appreciate the film.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Coming to America (1988)

Coming to America is one of the first movies featuring Eddie Murphy as multiple characters. Luckily, it is a much better film those based on the same premise, such as the atrocity that was Norbit. Coming to America was made after the high of Eddie Murphy’s Saturday Night Live career, before people tired of his humor.

The film describes Akeem’s (Murphy) search for love. Born the prince of Zamunda, his wife was selected and trained from birth. However, Akeem wants nothing more than to find a wife who will love him for who he is, not his royal blood. To appease him, King Jaffe Joffer gives him 40 days to “sow his royal oats”. Cue Akeem and his trusty sidekick, Semmi, to set off to America in search of a wife.

Akeem does end up finding love, but not before the encountering the normal obstacles and a plethora a comedic situations. Their Louis Vuitton luggage is stolen their first day in Queens (obviously the perfect place to find a suitable wife for a king), dozen golden toothbrushes and all. Akeem and Semmi find work at McDowells, a McDonald’s copycat, and receive their advice from a group of barbers (a testament to the makeup skills on set) who live below their apartment.

One of my favorite moments of the film was when Akeem gave a bag of money to seemingly random homeless people. These men turn out to be Mortimer and Randolph, the villains who were taken down in Murphy’s movie Trading Places. I thought this was a just subtle enough reference to be amusing, without the shove it down your throat self-awareness that some movies/actors utilize. All in all, I found Coming to America to be a hilarious film. Though there was a lot of bushman from Africa humor, which the more politically correct would frown upon, watching it was an enjoyable experience and I would recommend it.