Friday, March 05, 2010

The Thing

"I dunno what the hell's in there, but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is."

Our modern sensibilities of horror and fright have ultimately dissipated with the advent of graphic displays of foreign and domestic violence, transforming the spattering of blood into a bawdy spectacle. For this reason, many horror films often fall short, on the one hand, because they are poorly made (see the new Wolfman, for example), and on the other because the filmmakers fail to tap any of our primal fears. The Thing is a rarity in its genre, it is terrifying, and it is successful both as a horror film but also as an exploration of the effects on isolation, loneliness, and desperation on the human mind.
"The thing" is an apt title for the monster in the film, because it does not take on a definitive form; it is always changing. What's more the form into which it is changing is you, that is whenever the monster contacts one of the Arctic researchers of the film, it can imitate their form. And here we see the central conceit of the film: The monster could be in any one of the people on screen. Who are we to trust? Who are we, even more importantly, not to trust? And ultimately, is the monster present within us at all times?Thus, all of the characters are faced with an interesting ethical conundrum, are the bonds of friendship and personal affection enough to overcome the monster inside of us all? To make matters worse, the entire film takes place in a barren and frozen landscape, the cast of characters are devoid of civilized contact. In many ways this film echoes, in a more horrific manner, the social realities espoused in works such as Lord of the Flies. This film is, most certainly not bound to the 1980's in fact, it proves more successful, both as a horror film and as a sweeping social commentary, than most horror films of our day.

Disclaimer: This is disturbing, and by that I mean: Great fun!

The Breakfast Club

I have seen bits and pieces of Breakfast Club when I was younger but never watched it in its full entirety. My previous views were that it was a cult classic and a good comedy. However, after recently watching it I found that I did not enjoy it all that much and that my expectations were not met. Perhaps my maturity has become a factor in this but I found the movie uneventful and the characters overly dramatic in their teen-anxt outbursts. I found it unrealistic that students would divulge so much to one another in one day without having ever previously met each other. I believe that this movie is a cult classic because firstly, Molly Ringwald is in it who was considered an 80’s icon and secondly John Hughes scripted many of the other cult classics such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles (all classics of that time period). This 1985 American teen comedy is something I would recommend to young teen girls who are looking for an easy watch. The stereotypes represented are those that are still present in society today. Therefore this movie stands against time since it is timeless in the sense that there will always be the jock, nerd, freak, rebel and basketcase. The positive factor that you get out of this film is seeing that you should never judge a book by its cover. Everyone has their own problems and this movie teaches teens that important lesson. Each individual who has attended high school can relate to at least one of these teens represented in the film.

The important lesson to learn:

Fame: "Remember my name" (1980)

Fame is set at New York's High School of Performing Arts, where talented teens train for arts-related careers. The film is concentrated on gifted students: singer Coco (Irene Cara), actors Montgomery (Paul McCrane) and Ralph (Barry Miller), dancer Leroy (Gene Anthony Ray), and musician Bruno (Lee Currieri). Director Alan Parker illustrates an inspiring story of rough New York teenagers who are given free rein to grow up and make their own journeys while attending an arts high school; their talent enables them to overcome their backgrounds, their sometimes terrifying social issues, and their own personal shortcomings. Followed by Footloose and Dirty Dancing, Fame is one of the most prominent films focused on dance and the arts as a metaphor for successful development and maturation. Although a distinctly 80s film due to the teenage fashions and award nominated soundtrack, Fame stands the test of time as it deals with students and their struggles, trials, and efforts to succeed; Montgomery deals with his own acceptance of his sexuality and Coco is forced to consider how far she’s willing to go to achieve great success. In addition to these conflicts, Fame also emphasizes the importance of keeping up one's academic achievements in an arts specialized school. The music and dancing are spectacular and entertaining with spontaneous dancing in the streets as well as a staged, ending musical performance at graduation. Fame is a feel-good movie and remains relevant to current audiences. A remake of Fame was released in 2009.

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining: "The first epic horror film" (1980)

A quintessential cult classic, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining features the Torrence family and their winter residence as off-season caretakers for the isolated Overlook Hotel. The film is fabulously freaky and whether it’s bloody hallways, attention crazed and creepy twins, or a menacing maze made of hedges, Kubrick manages to feature multiple moments of nail-biting suspense, successfully keeping the innocent and unsuspecting movie viewer on the edge of their seat. Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) an amiable and aspiring writer is quickly possessed by the evil atmosphere of the Overlook Hotel and threatens to lose control and seriously slaughter his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd). Kubrick effectively organizes this epic horror and illustrates Jack’s psychotic progression through documenting the days of the week as they become increasingly deadlier. Trapped and alone, Wendy and Danny Torrence are on their own to protect themselves against the Overlook’s supernatural power and the haunting hotel’s effect on Jack. It is this defenseless feeling and Jack Nicholson’s terrifically terrifying performance that provides a relatable sense of fear recognizable in any decade. Although distinctly 80s due to the psychedelic carpet and fashions decorating the luxurious Overlook, The Shining not only gives the classic phrases “Here’s Johnny!” and “Redrum! Redrum!” but most certainly stands the test of time as it continues to provide chills and thrills to current audiences of all ages. So whether you are the movie buff or the casual film viewer, The Shining is a must-see for anyone looking for a classic, good scare.

Ordinary People: "Everything is in it's proper place except the past" (1980)

Leading male Robert Redford's directorial debut, Ordinary People concerns a middle-class family struggling with the accidental boating death of their oldest son. Calvin Jarrett (Donald Sutherland), a successful tax lawyer, Beth (Mary Tyler Moore), his immaculately perfect wife, who runs the family, and eighteen-year-old Conrad (Timothy Hutton), their surviving son, try desperately to move on with their lives in hopes of returning to some sort of normalcy. In dealing with the loss of his brother, Connie chooses to seek guidance from psychiatrist, Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch). Although set in the 80s, Ordinary People is timeless as it addresses common themes and popular family conflicts. Conrad finds himself alienated from not only his friends from school, but especially from Beth who appears to have loved her elder son more. This scene illustrates the broken relationship between Conrad and his mother when Beth refuses to have her picture taken with her son. Calvin, on the other hand, battles to hold things together, fighting to understand his younger son’s trauma, depression, and guilt. The Jarrets become important people without losing their ordinariness. Redford illustrates lack of communication and the inability to express affection, capturing an American existence that although takes place in the 80s is probably even more prevalent today. The strength of Ordinary People lies in its exploration of family troubles from an outsider’s perspective and Redford provides a perfect portrait of how well families are capable of hiding their inner turmoil. Critically acclaimed, Ordinary People is the must-see telling of a very real and damaged family, winning that year’s Academy Award for Best Picture as well as three other Oscars.

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Erick Stoltz (Keith) and Lea Thompson (Amanda) star in this quintessentially 80s teen film. Although predictable, Some Kind of Wonderful is still entertaining to watch, and the audience finds itself waiting for the school bully, Hardy, to just get beaten up already. Or something. Everything about this movie—from the clothing and lingo to the basic plot—screams 80s. Leather, big hair, Ray Bans and shoulder pads abound, but it is part of what makes the movie so good.

Some Kind of Wonderful reminds me of another John Hughes-written, Howard Deutch-directed film—Pretty in Pink, which came out the year before. Essentially, outcast friend number one (Watts) realizes that she is in love with outcast friend number two (Keith), but only after outcast friend number two starts to date the most popular girl in school (Amanda). Of course, the film is rife with an overcompensating (ex) boyfriend, typical high school parties, and a kissing tutorial.

Despite its certainty of being an 80s film, this movie can stand the test of time. Aside from the fears that many people experience with regard to realizing their love for a close friend, Some Kind of Wonderful also deals with issues that many graduating high school students face, including finding the courage to follow one’s own dreams instead of the dreams of one’s parents.

I enjoyed this film because it is one that, no matter what, the viewer knows that it is going to end well. No matter what happens throughout the movie, sometimes it is easy to see that Andie is finally going to choose Duckie in the end. That is what makes this film so pleasant and one that everybody should see.

The Mosquito Coast (1986)

“Ice is civilization.”

Or so Allie Fox and his family would like to believe. Fox, disillusioned with American culture and society, takes his family into the jungles of Central America in an attempt to live a more genuine, simple life. According to his son, Allie is an inventor; a genius. As they live in the jungle, Allie shows the natives what he believes will keep them from being savages—ice. Although the natives appreciate their newfound ice machine, Allie’s behavior soon becomes erratic and he fails to see just how dangerous his lifestyle has become. When his family begs him to leave, Allie refuses to go anywhere but up the coast, and each time their home is destroyed, they still keep moving until, ultimately, the family decides to take a stand.

Interestingly, Peter Weir directed this film which stars Harrison Ford (both of whom, respectively, directed and starred in Witness). Ford and River Phoenix give incredibly powerful performances, and the entire cast makes it easy to believe that they are a family unit.

I decided to watch The Mosquito Coast because it is the only River Phoenix film I had never seen. The most striking aspect of the movie is its tragic nature (on multiple levels). It is difficult to see the destruction of a family in the same way that it is hard to watch a man’s obsession ultimately become his downfall.

The movie is not distinctly 80s. Aside from Emily’s fashion choices and Allie’s jabs at the Japanese, all of the other aspects of the movie suggest that it could be taking place at any time. Especially taking into consideration the idea that technology and consumerism are ruining the U.S., The Mosquito Coast could easily take place in 2010.

Though I enjoyed the film, this movie is not for everyone. Its quiet nature and slow progression of plot may lead some down the road to boredom. Although I haven’t read the novel on which the film is based, I do wonder whether its slow nature would make it a better novel than film. Those willing to take a chance on this movie, however, will probably be struck by the power it holds.

Once upon a time...

What happens when the Muppets meet M.C. Escher? Apparently, you get Labyrinth.

The film is Jim Henson's classic 1986 take on the fairytale. 15-year-old Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is babysitting her little brother one night when she grows tired of his crying. In a fit of resentment, she wishes the Goblin King will come and take him away. Her dream becomes reality when goblins kidnap the boy, and she unexpectedly finds herself missing him. So she sets off to find him, though Jareth (the Goblin King, played by David Bowie) warns her that she only has 13 hours before her brother becomes one of them. To find Toby, she must reach the center of the fantastical labyrinth in which Jareth has imprisoned him. The Labyrinth, though, is filled with strange creatures and mind-boggling puzzles, where "left" really means "right" and things aren't "fair" and Sarah must learn not to take things for granted (like Toby, perhaps?).

Sure, the film's got good life lessons: Be nice to your stepmother, don't take anything for granted, be careful what you wish for. But let's be honest; the best part of Labyrinth is definitely David Bowie's hair. Look at it! It deserves its own space in the end credits. And it makes it at least a little more difficult to take Bowie, who is 23 years Connelly's senior, seriously when he hits on her in the final scene. ("I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.") Still, it's a cult classic and a fabulous example of puppetry that everyone should see at least once.

File:Labyrinth ver2.jpg

St. Elmo's Fire (1985)

St. Elmo’s Fire follows a group of recent college graduates struggling to come to terms with their newfound adulthood. The movie has a fairly well-known cast, including Emilio Estevez (Kirby), Rob Lowe (Billy), and Demi Moore (Jules). A definite drama, all of the characters are running around looking for direction throughout the whole film, until ultimately Billy consoles Jules (and consequently everyone else) with the revelation that “we’re all goingthrough this.” Knowing that they are not alone seems to give the characters some balance.

The movie is quintessentially 80s. From the feathered hair and layered clothes to the female struggling to become a true “working woman,” St. Elmo’s Fire reeks of the 80s (not to mention the fact that the movie brings the Brat Pack together again). It’s a pretty dated film, but not so much that viewers are unable to relate to the characters and their situations. At its core, the movie is about a group of friends trying to live life as people for the first time; not as students, and for some, not as a couple, not as an addict, not as a virgin. It’s The Breakfast Club five years later, even if both films were released in 1985.

I enjoyed the film, but nowhere near as much as I thought I would. The acting is great, sure. But on some level I do find it difficult to relate to seven Yuppie-ish college graduates trying to find themselves in the real world, especially when the characters are a bit one-dimensional (they are essentially defined by the problems they are facing). The best thing about this movie is the mise-en-scene, and I appreciated all of the set details.

Despite any of the movie’s snags, it is cool to see actors from The Breakfast Club together in a more serious film, and I would recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of the Brat Pack and other ultra-80s films. Anyone who is aching to compare the movie to the TV series ABC won in a bidding war might be interested in it as well. It might also be cool to watch the movie as a recent college graduate and to see if the dilemmas in the film are relatable in any way.


I really like when movies have a good moral, and I think BIG is one of them. Were always wishing away our time without thought, “Oh I wish it was Friday already,” or “Why isn’t it 3 yet??” and so on and so forth. But imagine if you were suddenly 30 years older, your whole life had passed you by, and you remember none of it? I think just a week would be enough to scare someone into being more appreciative of the time they have here. I think the film also works to how an adult who is able to maintain a childlike innocence is something to be admired. It’s very difficult to keep the ‘joie de vivre’ or joy of life that children seem to have so easily. I love the scene where he dances on the giant piano. We used to have a F.A.O. Schwartz here in Orlando with the same piano, and a Raggedy Ann sitting outside the store that was just as big as the building. It’s closed now, it was one of the first places to go when the bad times crawled in. Ironically our childlike tendencies are also the first to go when the bad times crawl in.

You know you can Say Anything...

By now, it's a classic story: Boy meets girl, girl has parental issues, boy loses girl, and eventually girl realizes what she's missing.

Lloyd Dobler is an average teenager with a good heart but little ambition. (He thinks he might like to be a kickboxer.) Diane Court is the class valedictorian who has won a prestigious fellowship to study in England. An unlikely pair, you ask? Indeed it is, but they do say that opposites attract.

Diane has always been somewhat aloof, but when Lloyd gets up the courage to ask her out, she says yes because "he makes [her] laugh." Even Diane's overprotective father, Jim, is charmed by Lloyd, but quickly comes to resent him for taking away his last moments with Diane. He sets out to sabotage their relationship, and would have succeeded if his own secrets hadn't come to light. Soon, though, Diane finds herself questioning who in her life she can trust.

In the short time between graduation and Diane's departure, her relationship with Lloyd experiences as many ups and downs as a roller coaster. It would be grating if it weren't so endearing, and Lloyd's scene with the radio outside Diane's radio has become a staple of pop culture.

Poignant and funny, intelligent and honest, Say Anything... is a classic teen movie for Generation X. Life after high school isn't always easy, and it's reasonable to be scared. The point is to try. So fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, and wait for the No Smoking sign to...




It was funny to see Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was so young, who would’ve thought he’d become the major of California? His entrance is quite epic, a flurry of electricity licking that big yellow tractor thing. The electricity is so obviously fake, but it works well in that retro sort of way. But his curled over silhouette as the smoke slowly dissipates looks so cool, even 20 years later. He does a good job at walking around with that stiff robot look, although sometimes its pretty doofy looking he’s still very intimidating. It’s interesting though that they have the technology to send him way back in time, but not to send him back with clothes on. It’s interesting how humanity is so intrigued with its own destruction. Whether were being overtaken by robots, or zombies or vampires, the idea of being completely overrun by another species has long captured our imagination. Maybe we’ve realized how badly we’ve messed up our world, given up hope at every fixing it, and the idea of some other force outside our control sweeping in an taking over is almost relieving. Maybe by reducing us to nothing they would help us refocus and forget all the stupid irrelevant things which dominate and corrupt our world. Maybe if we were reduced to nothing we could finally work together and find the strength we need to make a real change in the world.

You Remind Me Of The Babe

Jennifer Connelly plays Sarah, a fifteen-year-old girl who is selfish and annoyed with her baby brother, Toby. On the night her dad and stepmother go out Sarah has to watch Toby, who wont stop crying. As Sarah is frustrated with her family for making her watch Toby and his crying she wishes to the goblin King, Jareth, played by David Bowie, to take her brother away. Once Sarah realizes what she has done she regrets it and wants her brother home. King Jareth will give her 13 hours to get to his castle to rescue Toby, but she must go from the labyrinth to get to the castle.

As Sarah enters the labyrinth she gets lost and goblins confuse her. The maze changes when her back is turned and she faces lots of difficulty, but she makes friends with Hoggle and Ludo who help her find the castle. King Jareth is defeated and Sarah gets Toby back. She realizes throughout the storyline that she is selfish and needs to grow up. She needs her toys in the beginning but realizes in the end that Toby deserves to have her favorite toy and she puts the rest away.

Labyrinth is a great movie. Loved the music by David Bowie. Jim Henson’s characters are classics; his moppets’ are amazing looking, even for the 80’s. The movie is dark and mysterious, while also funny, with characters like Ludo and the different doors that try to confuse her. Labyrinth is mythical and very out there, a typical George Lucas film but with the added Muppets and music, Jim Henson is all through the movie. I especially love these scenes:

Fletch: Man of Many Faces

Chevy Chase stars as Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher, an investigative journalist who changes his identity more than most people change their clothes.

Fletch writes as "Jane Doe," and Jane needs a new story. For this, he takes on the role of a vagrant living on the beach, where he researches illicit drug deals taking place. It turns out, though, that Fletch may have bitten off more than he can chew.

A wealthy businessman named Alan Stanwyk approaches Fletch (as the bum) and makes him an offer no man could refuse: Stanwyk has terminal cancer and wants Fletch to kill him, simultaneously putting him out of his misery and allowing his wife to collect the insurance money. In return, he'll give Fletch $50,000 and a ticket out of the country. Fletch is naturally suspicious, and soon discovers a connection between Stanwyk, the local chief of police, and his drug investigation.

Fletch is everything an '80s comedy should be: hokey in all the right ways, with some classic one-liners and the necessarily cheesy music. It's intriguing and not so predictable that viewers don't feel the need to see it through to the end. Chase is, of course, a charmer, delivering his lines with characteristic dryness and wit; the supporting cast, led by Tim Matheson, Joe Don Baker, Geena Davis, and George Wendt are excellent as well. Overall, Fletch is a great movie for those days when you just need something lighthearted. And look for the prequel, which is rumored to be coming out in 2011.

Welcome to the '60s ('80s Style)

Oh, Hairspray. You are so ridiculous.

In this 1988 film that spawned a hit Broadway musical and then a film based on that musical, John Waters tells the story of a 1962 Baltimore on the edge of integration.

"Pleasantly plump" teen Tracy Turnblad finally achieves her dream of becoming a member of the Corny Collins council. She quickly uses her fame as a tool to speak out against segregation. However, in doing so she must face head-to-head with Amber Von Tussle, the former star of the Corny Collins Show, and Amber's conniving, racist parents. Their rivalry reaches its greatest point when Tracy and Amber compete for the title of Miss Auto Show 1963.

Full of '60s hairdos (and hair-don'ts), a catchy soundtrack, and an uplifting message of acceptance, it's easy to see how Hairspray became such a successful franchise. That being said, I can't help but wonder how such a truly terrible script made it past the studio executives' desks. The dialogue stumbles, and at times it's hard to love even the main characters. In other scenes, it seems as if Waters was trying to set up such a stark contrast between the pro-integration and pro-segregation groups that he didn't bother making it realistic. For example, in the scene in which Penny's mother follows her daughter to the black neighborhood, she automatically assumes that the beggar asking for some spare change is going to mug her if she doesn't comply; she even runs screaming from the black cop in a patrol car. The issue of segregation was such a divisive and powerful one that it seems cheap for the film to simplify it in the film for a few laughs.

Still, it was good to see how Hairspray evolved over the last two decades; many of the lines became the basis for some of the musical's most popular numbers, and both the film and the musical leave viewers with a smile on their faces and a song in their hearts.

Risky Business

Risky Business takes place at Joel Goodsen’s house when his parents are out of town. The first thing Joel does is eat a TV dinner and drink a glass of liquor. After that, he dances around to a song. Unfortunately, his friend doesn’t think that this is an apt use of his time alone with the parents out of town. His friend calls a hooker, Lana, to come over to Joel’s house, and the ball starts rolling for the start of Joel’s risky business.

The business refers to getting the hooker’s friends with Joel’s friends. Most of his friends are virgins, will to pay for the opportunity to become sexually experienced before college. However, the business is risky because Lana and her friends have a pimp who is not very happy with Joel taking over his business. The punishment Joel receives from the pimp is severe, but Joel does manage to get into Princeton because the admissions counselor partakes in his business. In the end, Joel becomes sexually experienced while learning the ins and outs of doing business. Everything works out for him.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this movie. The premise wasn’t something that drew me in. The sexual education of a high school student by a hooker isn’t really something that a lot of people can relate to. I understand that this movie plays into the rebellion desired by all teenagers, but the fact that it all works out for Joel’s college career made me roll my eyes.

Amadeus, Amadeus

Amadeus is the story of the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart told from the perspective of Salieri, one of his rivals of the time. Salieri tells the story as an old man who has tried to kill himself, when he is unsuccessful he tells the story of Mozart, his talents, and what Salieri did to him in order to gain his own eternal fame.

Amadeus was actually quite entertaining. I typically am not drawn towards movies of this nature, but it was actually rather enlightening to see this sort of depiction of a famous historical figure, and to see the scandal that surrounded his life. While the movie plot is fictional, it has a lot of historical accuracy as I found out after watching the movie. I would say it was probably one of the better 80s films I have seen.

I think this movie stands up over time because it is a historical film. Mozart is a figure that has always been famou and will probably stay that way. Therefore, the film will probably never lose popularity or cultural importance.

Unlike many other movies watched in this forum, this movie is not distinctly 80s. The time period is set in the 18th century and has nothing to do with the 1980s. There is no real cultural significance to connect this film to anything in the 80s other than the fact it was released in 1984.

I would recommend this movie 100%. It is educational and extremely fascinating at the same time. The story is full of mystery, treachery and lies. Certainly worth the time to sit down and watch it.

Motarz's skills as a composer vs. Salieri's skills:

The Killing Fields

"Cambodia...the war in neighboring Vietnam burst it's borders... In 1973 I went to cover this side-show struggle as a foreign correspondent of the New York Times. It was there, in the war-torn country side... that I met my guide and interpreter, Dith Pran. A man who was to change my life in a country I grew to love and pity."

This film is not Platoon, it is not Rambo, it is a love story, but it is about war, well at least the effects of war. As the above quote outlines, the Vietnam War spilled over into Cambodian borders and the government of Cambodia, after the War ended, entered a civil war with the communist regime Khmer Rouge. This conflict was bloody and the KR took over Cambodia and committed acts of genocide in the country for decades. As the title indicates, there were literally fields piled high with the bodies of Cambodian nationals, alas killing fields. But this film does not deal directly with the take over or the killings, but the close relationship between two men, an American and Cambodian reporter. The reporter, Sydney (portrayed exquisitely by Sam Waterston) does in fact fall in love with Cambodia, but after his Cambodian friend and fellow reporter, Pran, is captured, he returns to America.

Sydney wins an award for his coverage of the Cambodian conflict. He also searches for Pran via humanitarian organizations. But, that is all he does, he makes phone calls. Was it really love that Sydney felt? Or was it merely altruism masked by empathy; empathy which slowly dissipated within the confines of the opulent American borders? This draws a parallel to our modern fascination with throwing money at foreign problems, further underlying the severe problem with empathy. A photographer who was with Sydney in Cambodia even belabors him on this fact, and begs the question, was Sydney using Pran as a means to a successful end?

Sydney admits that Pran only stayed in Cambodia because he asked him to, because Pran had the opportunity to leave, along with his family. This movie is stirring because makes one wonder if any act is stripped of self-interest. Are we all, even if on a subconscious level, primal beings concerned solely with our survival? At any rate, Pran survives and escapes; Sydney returns to Cambodia and they are reunited, Pran stating that Sydney has committed no wrongs. I make one contention with this film and it is with the ending, the almost picturesque image, a neat bow on a very messy package: Perhaps Sydney really did fall in love with Cambodia, maybe not. Regardless, this film poses many ethical questions and acts as an almost epilogue to the many Vietnam centered movies of the era.

Perhaps I'm too cynical. Perhaps John Lennon was right:

Rain Main (1988)

Yes, another Tom Cruise film. I actually rented the two from the library at the same time and the lady who checked me out seemed really excited that I was going to have a "Tom Cruise weekend(!)." Rain Man is another one of those movies that I'd seen a few parts of, but really had no idea what it was about. It's a movie that gets referenced a lot in other movies as well. For example, in Tropic Thunder Robert Downey Jr.'s (hilarious) character discusses how Dustin Hoffman didn't go "full retard" in this movie and won a lot of recognition. It's also mentioned in The Hangover, which has an allusion to the elevator scene in the casino. I figured the fact that so many references are made to it in pop culture would mean that Rain Man is a good film. And I was right.

For those of you who don't know, Rain Man begins when Charlie (Tom Cruise) learns his father has died and has essentially cut him out of the will. He discovers the money has been entrusted to an autistic brother, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), he never knew he had. Charlie kidnaps Raymond in hopes that he will be able to hold him ransom for some of the inheritance, but along the way reconnects with his brother. It all comes down to the heartwarming ending where Charlie turns away $250,000 and tries to gain custody of his brother instead.

I must say, as a psychology major with exposure to autism, Dustin Hoffman is amazing in this movie. Tom Cruise is okay too I guess, if only a little cheesy. While this movie is really good, you do need to sit down and watch it for over two hours, and some parts can be a little slow. As far as being an 80s movie goes, I think this film stands up over time. There's nothing in it that is so 80s that would make it different from any movie made today. All in all, watch it if you have the time and you won't regret it.

Risky Business (1983)

As someone who generally avoids Tom Cruise, I think this class will turn out to be quite the adventure. I watched this movie as per my boyfriend's request since I usually force him to watch all these movies with me. I honestly had no idea what it was about because I, like most other people who haven't seen this movie, was only familiar with this tighty whitey dance scene. Basically, this movie is about is about Tom Cruise being so desperate to get laid that he hires a hooker, and then has to deal with the wrath of her pimp while becoming a pseudo-pimp himself. Wow. That's definitely not what I was expecting. There is, however, evidence that Tom Cruise was crazy before the majority of the world knew he was, which I was totally expecting.

This film is so 80s. The clothes, the music, the hookers. Seriously, is it just me, or did prostitutes show up a lot in 80s movies? Anyway, only an 80s movie would try to convince audiences that a high schooler could set up one a one night prostitution extravaganza and not have the cops called on him by his neighbors. Also, the movie kind of sends the message that being a pimp is a great way of life, given that there are no other pimps to compete with. Hey, all you need to do is get someone on the admissions board laid and you can get into Princeton with a 3.1 GPA. While this movie is certainly not the most realistic, it does provide for nice entertainment and the opportunity to marvel at how sort-of-normal Tom Cruise used to be.

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist is the story of a nice, nuclear, suburban family who gets haunted to high heavens by an evil spirit. The little girl gets sucked into some kind of limbo portal in her bedroom closet and her family spends the rest of the movie trying to save her. Now, maybe I'm just a cynical movie watcher for some reason, but I had a few concerns with this movie as well.

I am the quintessential wuss. My boyfriend once turned the lights off and screamed "BOO," and I started crying. Although this movie was made in the 80s, an era which is not exactly recognized for its visual effects, this scene creeped the hell out of me.

Yes, I realize after a cut that it's totally a model head, but it's just gross. I also have an irrational fear of clowns, so the little kid's creepy clown doll scared me too, even before it went evil. I just wanted to ask the kid why he had a creepy clown doll if he had to cover its face before he could sleep at night.

I guess its a universal understanding that people in horror films always make bad choices. If my kitchen furniture started stacking itself up on my table, I would be out of my house and down the street in record time. The woman in this movie, however, chooses to LET THE SPIRIT DRAG HER AND HER CHILD ACROSS THE FLOOR. Woman, are you nuts? You know nothing good could come out of that. And then after the spirit is supposedly eradicated, the family chooses to stay in the house over night. My God, why? If my family was being terrorized by our own house, I'm pretty sure I would save my daughter from the limbo within the walls and get the hell out of there. The Freelings just thought it was no big deal.

Overall, this movie was pretty decent, and I would recommend it if you're scared of everything like I am. If you need realistic visuals, skip it unless you're in the mood for a good laugh.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Shining!

Redrum! The Shining is the story of a family who goes to live in a hotel during their closed season as the caretakers. However, the hotel is possessed by a tragedy that happened ten years prior and the demons reek havoc on the family that is currently staying there.

I loved this film. I had a little trouble sleeping the night I watched it, but it was well worth it. This film is a horror classic that all movie buffs must see. However, I will say the film is quite disturbing and is not for the faint of heart. Some plot points seem a bit random, but if you are familiar with the work of Stanley Kubrick then these scenes may not seem that out of the ordinary.

This movie definitely stands up over time. Especially since it is based off a Stephen King novel, it has stayed popular throughout the years. The picture to the left is probably the most well known image associated with this movie where he utters the words "Here's Johnny" which sent me and all the other girls watching this movie in fits of screams. It was an overall positive horror movie experience.

The movie was made in 1980 and set in that time so yes, it is distinctly 1980s. The costuming and setting look a bit stereotypical 1970s but that is only because it was made at the turn of the decade.

This movie is not only scary, but it also makes you think. If you are a horror fan and have not yet seen The Shining then I highly recommend it. Best to not watch alone though.

This is an example of the type of horror you should expect when you watch this movie. Caution: Things are going to get gruesome.

Stand By Me (1986)

This film follows four teenage friends; Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern, is their quest to find a missing dead boy's body that they heard Vern's older brother talking about. The kids are under the house hiding when they overhear the older kids discussing the body and debating what to do about it, and whether they can make any money from turning it in.
The four boys go on the journey for curiosity's sake mainly. They set out on a long hike to search for the body, but they are really setting off on a life journey. They are all young and vulnerable, not only to the wrath of their older brothers who bully the kids a lot. In the film we learn that Gordie, the main character, had an older brother who was cool and really close with Gordie who passed away recently. Their father had always liked Gordie's older brother better, and he has really been coming down tough on Gordie since the passing.
The boys have a real adventure getting to the body. They follow traintracks to get there, battling nature, leeches, and high bridges to arrive at the body before their older brothers and their crew make it. Ace, Chris' older brother, is the tough guy, and seems as cold and heartless as they come.
After the kids make it to the dead body, in the "climax," nothing really happens at first, until the older kids come and an argument ensues. But when the kids see the body, they are all naturally sort of shocked. Seeing this makes the kids grow up quite a bit.
The thing that was strange to me was that these four who were best friends never hung around together after the trip. Gordy discloses at the very end that the kids eventually became just faces in the hallway.
This movie is an awesome story of friendship and I really enjoyed it.

Warwick Davis plays Willow, a nelwyn, which is what the dwarfs are called in their town. Willow finds a baby, Elora Danan that has floated to his town near his home while he is farming. Unknown to him at the time of finding Elora, the baby has a destiny to destroy the evil Queen Bavmorda. Bavmorda sends her monstrous dogs to find the baby and destroy anyone who gets in the way. The hounds come to Willow’s town and threaten his family and friends. Willow flees to save Elora and he and few of the town’s people start their journey. Willow and friends run into Val Kilmer’s character, Madmartigan, who is in a “jail” type cage in the middle of nowhere, left to die. The friends of Willow choose to leave the baby with Madmartigan and leave, but Willow has decided to stay and wait for a more proper person to leave Elora with. No luck comes Willow’s way and he gives Elora to Madmartigan. While on his way home, Willow notices a bird carrying the baby in the sky and he tries to follow it, but comes across Brownies, tiny, fairy-size people.

The Brownies have been asked to find Elora and make sure she completes her destiny. Willow was also chosen to make sure Elora overthrows Queen Bavmorda, so on the journey they start and run back into Madmartigan who saves their lives. From this point on in the movie Elora, Madmartigan, Willow and two Brownies take on the war-torn land. On their way to the Queen they come in contact with her warriors who capture them, but they escape. Escaping, Bavmorda’s daughter, Shorsha, falls in love with Madmartigan.

Willow and his journeymen finally make it to the Queens castle and battle it out until she loses and dies. Elora is saved and is destined to take the thrown one day. Madmartigan and Shorsha stay together and Willow gets to go back to his farm town and see his family and friends again.

Willow is a classic mythical George Lucas film with fairies and monsters as well as Ron Howard featured as the director. The movie was adventurous the whole time with great fighting scenes. Definitely an 80s movie and could never be remade. Overall, a charming motion picture.

The following trailer is certainly a dramatic preview,

Caddyshack (1980)

Caddyshack is an outrageously funny trip. Rodney Dangerfield (Al) plays a real estate tycoon who comes to Bushwood Country Club for a day of golf. But Judge Smails, the president of the club, feels threatened by Al's loud and disrespectful behavior. And he has every reason to feel threatened: Al is trying to buy the course and develop the land into condos. Amidst a crazy hunt for a gofer by the loony greenskeeper Carl, a big money match challenge ends up taking place between the judge, Al, Ty Webb, a member of the club, and Danny Noonan, a caddie and the protagonist.
Danny faces several ethical dilemmas throughout the film. First, he gets a waitress from the golf course pregnant. He seems to take the high road by offering to marry the girl, Maggie. It ends up being a false alarm fortunately for the two of them.
The main ethical battle Danny faces is whether to suck up to the Judge, who is a controlling jerk for the most part, in order to get a scholarship to school. Danny wants the scholarship badly, but he takes the high road again by refusing to join the judge and playing with Al. Danny is a good person judging by the decisions he makes. This may be why he's such a likeable character.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Yes that's right. I somehow made it through 20 years of being a female without ever having seen Dirty Dancing. As most of you probably already know, Dirty Dancing is about Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and her family's trip to a summer resort in the Catskill Mountains. There Baby meets Johnny (Patrick Swayze), a dance instructor, and the two spend the summer mamboing away. While Baby’s father disapproves of the relationship, I bet you can all guess what happens in the end. If you can’t, here’s a link to the video, which won’t embed.

Now I may have just been in a bad mood while I was watching this (it was a rainy day), but this movie just annoyed me. My first problem with it is the title. Albeit there is one scene that is, for lack of better words, a dance floor orgy, but besides that, the rest of the movie is spent ballroom dancing. I wouldn’t exactly call something I can watch on prime time TV “dirty”. My second problem is the fact that Baby’s father hates Johnny because he thinks Johnny got a girl pregnant and made her get an unprofessional abortion. Somehow, no one bothers to clear this misunderstanding up until the last night at camp when the kid who actually got her pregnant unintentionally confesses. I’d much rather tell the air-clearing truth than have to live under tension for any amount of time. My third problem is that no one in this movie smiles. Ever. Baby has a few obnoxious laughing outbursts, but besides that, these people seem downright miserable.

Again, this may only be the unpleasant weather talking, but I would have to say that I am just not a fan of this movie. While I don’t think it’s necessarily distinctly an 80s film, it has a perfect amount of 80s cheesiness reminiscent of its era. I wouldn’t rule out recommending this movie, however, I would strongly suggest not watching this while in a bad mood.

“Cindy’s hot and Ronald’s not”-Some would say

Cant Buy Me Love features Grey’s Anatomy’s McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey as a typical nerd in high school with glasses, geeky clothes and an interest in science. While buying a telescope at the mall he notices Cindy, his cheerleader crush, having a dilemma in another store. He offers to use his telescope money to pay for an outfit she ruined if she will be his girlfriend for a month to make him look “cool.” She agrees.

During the month, Cindy gives Ronald a complete makeover, transforming him from geek to chic. Trading his nerd friends for the accepted kids Ronnie becomes the schools popular guy instantly in a month sitting in the “no mans land.” But of course this fairy tale is hard believe because that is not the moral of the story. They break up after their month deal and Ronnie turns from nerd to jerk and is completely out of control.

This is one of my sister’s favorite movies, so I decided to watch it. I was thoroughly entertained with the classic romantic comedy. There were some really great comic moments, especially the dancing situation. The film featured teen problems as well as the social groups that rule the school. Everyone wants to be someone else, but in the end you learn who you are is unique and maybe you are not popular but you have some great loyal friends, instead of the shallow socialite who will bolt at the drop of a coin. I loved it and the film became a new favorite, especially featuring The Beatles song! The movie even stars Seth Green when he was young. $1000 can buy popularity but it cant buy love.

The following clip shows Ronnie’s dancing scene with the line “what a spaz…aww he must be in special ed:”


I absolutely love the musical version of Hairspray that came out a few years ago, so I was really excited to watch the original 80’s film. It definitely lived up to my expectations and even helped me see the inspiration for the musical as some of the same lines were used. It was great to see how phrases that the characters said in the 80’s where transformed into full-blown songs for the musical.

Hairspray, set in 1962 baltimore, is a film about the shift of society into integration, centered around Tracy Turnblad, a “pleasantly plump” teenage girl, who loves to dance. She and her best friend, Penny Pinglton, who has an overly conservative and racist mother, decide to audition for the Corny Collins show, despite the negativity of amber Von Tussel, the snobbish blond, who wants to be the star of the program and Miss Auto Show 1963. Tracy makes it onto the show, to the delight of her parents and Penny. However, she faces other challenges, such as being placed in the special-ed class after being sent to the principal’s office for her hair being to high. Tracy and Penny become friends with the Seaweed, the son of Motormouth Maybelle, who hosts Negro Day on the Corny Collins show. Along with Link, Tracy’s steady boyfriend, the group fights for integration while Penny becomes a checkerboard chick through her relationship with Seaweed. Amber takes the crown as Miss Auto show 1962 after Tracy is locked up after a race riot occurs, unable to accept the award, which is rightfully hers. However, Tracy is quickly pardoned before the end of the show and runs to take her place as the rightful Miss Auto show, wearing a roach-inspired dress and sporting newly straightened hair, representative of her transition into the 1960’s and her forward thinking as an integrationist. Amber and her devious mother are humiliated during the show after a bomb hidden in the mother’s mile-high hairdo backfires. The film ends with the jubilant moves of an integrated dance on the show.

I was really impressed with Hairspray and almost sad that I had never seen it before. It’s an hour and a half of hair-raising fun that will most likely have you up and dancing to classic tunes, while also reflecting on the oppression that segregation placed on our nation in the past. I would highly recommend this family-friendly film to anyone looking for a laugh-filled and upbeat movie.

The Breakfast Club

I got detention once in high school for being, literally, a second late for class. (Hey, there was tons of traffic that day and the class was as far away from the parking lot as possible. Plus, it was Biology.) Luckily it was only after school detention, not on Saturday. But, I have to admit, it was nothing like the Breakfast Club.

            The film is one of the best known of the 80’s and one of the most quintessential high school films of all time. The Breakfast Club is the story of five teenagers, each representing a different high school stereotype, who become unlikely friends on a Saturday spent in detention.

            Brian, the brain, Clair, the princess, Allison, the basket case, Andrew, the athlete, and Bender, the criminal, are all plagued by the principal, Mr. Vernon, who holds them captive in the library for detention. While they are supposed to be writing a thousand word essay on who they are, the teens reluctantly speak to each other, often goaded on by Bender. After agreeing that no one really likes their family life, they venture out into the hall, where Bender takes drugs out from his locker and eventually sacrifices himself to Mr. Vernon so that the other s can get back to the library undetected. While in Mr. Vernon’s office, Bender manages to escape through the ventilation system, landing himself back in the library. Eventually they all sit in a pow-wow and discuss deeper issues about their lives, realizing that they have more in common than they ever thought and. As the teens leave school, two unlikely romances form within the group as Allison and Andrew kiss goodbye, and Clair gives Bender her diamond earring, which he earlier criticized. Brian agrees to write a joint essay for the group, in which he sates that they are each really a part of every stereotyped group, and sign the letter as “The Breakfast Club.”

            The film remains timeless because of its heartfelt theme. Audiences can relate to the stereotypes that are so often represented in films. But the most important message of the film is that people can fit into more than one category and that boundaries can and should be crossed. This idea is summed up very eloquently by Andrew, who says, “We’re all pretty bizarre.”