Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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 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’ 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 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.
“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.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a coming-of-age teen comedy that follows a group of high school students lives. It follows Stacy Hamilton and Mark Ratner with their many friends and what romance means to them.
I found this movie to be highly entertaining and easy to watch. It was interesting to see how particular actors have grown since such as Sean Penn, Forest Whitaker and Nicholas Cage. Penn in particular played the hilarious stereotypical stoned surfer boy who has no interest in school but would rather cut class, get high and hit the waves. Penn sets the tone of fun and funny for the entire movie. His relationship with Mr. Hand was particularly amusing as you see the typical harsh professor who thinks everyone is on dope and his interaction with the stoned lazy student.
Stacy on the other hand, is stereotypical 15 year old girl looking to have sex for the first time. We follow her trying to find the right guy while facing many problems along the way. This movie portrays stereotypes in a new way. They are not portrayed as the “jock” “nerd” or “loser” but as typical teens with part-time jobs trying to make it through high school. It is refreshing not to have the same stereotypes played out. Granted, there is the “stoner” but we also see a girl seeking a special relationship, another with a long distance relationship with a guy in college, a guy who is incapable of being committed to one girl and a guy who questions his current relationship and wants freedom. These cover the problems that many people face not only in high school but also in their everyday lives.