The romantic comedy is a much maligned genre. Too often the connect the dots storyline is a repeat of a dozen similar films that came out in the last couple of years. Every once in a while though, a rom-com has a hook and a star or two that make them irresistible. Today’s feature is one of those that cuts through the corn and gets right to the heart. It also features a fantasy theme that is in keeping with a lot of the films on my list from this glorious year of movies.
Three great starring roles, two really attractive people and a fish story that beats any tail (tale) your uncle ever told you about the one that got away. “Splash” is the perfect remedy for a dreary day or the answer to that question your wife asks when she is in a romantic mood, “What should we watch?”
Sometimes memory is cruel to us. We hold onto faults and disappointments rather than the minor little victories and joys that we experience all the time and let slip by. “The Hotel New Hampshire” is one of those brutal memories for me. The film was based on one of my favorite books and it starred a good cast headed by Jodie Foster. My reaction to it at the time was weak and over the years has gotten more antagonistic. The return to the movie for this project was not expected to be a happy one. Imagine my surprise that instead of a malignant tumor of a film, I found a flawed but mostly sincere interpretation of the book that I love.
If you have read any of John Irving’s novels, you know that they are full of prostitutes, wrestling, bears and frequently Vienna. The characters are oddballs and have major sexual hangups of some sort or other. In spite of how off putting some of the characteristics are, Irving usually manages to get us to care for them before he tortures us with their fates. A John Irving story is not going to end on a happy note, although there will be happy moments along the way.
During the course of this project, I will be posting on all the movies that were nominated for the Oscar for Best Song from a motion picture. Two of them were from “Footloose” a couple of weeks ago, one is from this weeks “Against All Odds”. None of them should have even been on the list of nominated songs in the first place. All five slots that year should have been filled by:
Rock and Roll Creation
The great catalog of songs from the band Spinal Tap, featured in this documentary of their career. “Big Bottom” many be the most genius musical parody ever created, including the collected works of Weird Al.
I remember reading a story in the L.A. Times in 1984, in which director Rob Reiner complained that people did not understand the movie because the band featured in the documentary was not that good. Supposedly there were a whole group of people in some of the preview audiences who did not get the joke. I don’t know if the story was true or not, but it is believable in part because everyone in this film played it straight and put in the effort to make it look like this was the real deal. The rest of us just laughed and have been doing so for the thirty years since. Continue reading →
A successful L.A. mystery/romance that features two incredibly beautiful people in a mixed up love triangle. “Against All Odds” is probably best remembered for the title song than the lush Mexican scenery from the first hour or the typical real estate driven plot in the second. It comes from a time when L.A. had three professional football teams playing and the Go Go Eighties were in full swing.
My wife and I saw this opening night on a Friday in 1984, the next day some friends of ours wanted to see it so I returned with them and my wife stayed home. It was after the group of us got back to our apartment that my wife told me she had received a phone call while we were gone and it concerned a friend of mine. He had been murdered and his body was just recovered weeks after the crime. My friend had been involved in some shady business and his partners basically took him for a ride. This movie had so much of that L.A. crime world aura around it, and there is a scene towards the end where one of the characters has basically been told he will not be returning from the car ride that everyone is making. I can never watch this film without thinking of my friend and the wrong turn he took in his life. One of the reasons that it still resonates is that the movie perfectly captures so much about the L.A. scene at the time. The fashions and hairstyles are not obtrusive and the locations have changed only slightly in the thirty years since. “Against All Odds” is a neo noir that still holds up today with only a couple of reservations. Continue reading →
The eighties were filled with offbeat movies about a variety of subjects, but science fiction seemed to fill the theaters on a weekly basis.Some big budget films failed to score as predicted and some little anticipated films have scored sequels right up through today. About four years ago, there was a Jude Law vehicle titled Repo Men, that had absolutely nothing to do with the 1984 singular form of the title. The science fiction roots of this story are hard to ignore, but ninety percent of the movie is focused on the ethos surrounding the guys who come and take your car when the payments are behind. The sci/fi stuff exits only to provide a framework for a story about a bunch of sad sack souls, who find ways to make their profession seem noble. Low budget science fiction appears to be a field where former Monkee Mike Nesmith felt comfortable. This was the second feature he had a hand in producing for his own company. His previous venture being “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann”, a time travel western. I don’t know that he had a big influence on the creative end of this movie, because his music is not anything like the punk aural wall that permeates most of the film. The real reason that this movie is thought of fondly has nothing to do with the science fiction storyline, it is all about the aesthetic of the film. This is a movie made by angry people for angry people. In other words it is “punk perfect”.
From the opening titles to the exuberant finale, “Footloose” is a ridiculous 1980s musical. Like “Flashdance” and “Fame” before it, the movie flirts with being a Hollywood musical but stops just short. The characters here never break out in song, but for some reason it seemed acceptable at the time that movie characters break out in dance. So we are spared hearing Kevin Bacon warble through “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” but we do get to see him boogie down at the big dance and solo through an acrobatic display of dancing and gymnastic agility in a barn.
My admiration for Michael Caine is so immense that this awkward bit of unpleasant memory does not diminish it. The 1980s were the prime era of sex comedies featuring frequent nude shots of young women in order to bring in the audience. Of course that type of thing had been done before, but usually in a drive-in “B” picture that would remain obscure after it was out of the passion pits. This was a major release, starring well know adult actors, and it was advertised and marketed like any other straight comedy of the day. As it turns out, this was a remake of a French farce from the seventies, relocated from the beaches of the Riviera to Rio de Janeiro. Now I’m not a prude, and the marketing clearly worked at getting me in the theater, but the subject matter and execution make it less frothy and naughty and more creepy and sour.
Two middle aged men, played by Caine and Joseph Bologna, travel to Rio for a vacation and take their teen daughters with them. The mood of the city takes over and the next thing you know, Caine’s “Uncle Matthew” is having a fling with his best friends nubile daughter. If that sounds a little tacky, get ready to be impressed because there is more tackiness to come.