Steven Spielberg is rightly credited with being the most effective visualizer of stories working in the last forty years. He took a liability like a non-functioning mechanical shark and managed to create an extremely visceral film out of it. That “Jaws” works is largely a function of his ability to feel how a movie will play to an audience. He took the extra step when making that film, of shooting additional material in the pool of one of his collaborators, to get the audience reaction right. The opening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is a litany of visual and emotional elements from the Saturday serialized films of the Golden Age, but updated and intensified as only Spielberg has been able to manage. The brutality and honesty of the first half hour of “Saving Private Ryan” is a testament to being able to connect with an audience’s emotions in the strongest possible ways. Plenty of horror films have been as graphic and disturbing, but none have carried the power of those horrifying images the way that this World War II film managed to do. Continue reading
Movie fans know that there is often a difference between that which we see as “the best” and that which we designate our “favorite”. This entry in the project fits into that category of “favorite” without necessarily being the highest quality or most distinctive of the year. That’s right, here we are, almost halfway through the year, and the Oscar bait pictures are still months from arriving, but we have arrived at my personal “favorite” film of the year. I took more pleasure from seeing this movie a half dozen times in the summer of 1984 than any other film I saw, and I have watched countless times since, and I continue to enjoy the spirit, and cleverness with which it was made. On the nostalgia front, this picture touches a lot of memories from 1984, that I also count as important.
Gremlins is mayhem unleashed, sweet turned to sour, and somewhat deconstructive of the horror movies it most resembles. Along with “Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “Gremlins is responsible for the PG-13 rating and is guilty of creating a shift in marketing that will effect films for the next thirty years. Continue reading
That is the teaser that appeared at the end of the VHS copy of Raiders, promoting the next Indiana Jones film. It also played in theaters, told you almost nothing about the movie, but whetted your appetite so much that you wanted to stay and watch it again, at least I did. For me, this was the most highly anticipated film of 1984 and it lived up to my expectations. Many have criticized it, some have suggested that it is not worthy, but I am willing to defend it to the end and strongly endorse everyone over the age of 13 seeing it. OK, most of those under 13 as well.
As I write this post, I look out the door of my office and I see hanging on the wall the posters from the Indiana Jones series. This one is a personal favorite. The heroic Dr. Jones, standing in the archway, back lit by flames, with his whip and a machete in his hands. This kicks ass! This movie is important for a number of reasons, and had time not intervened, it could have been possible for the Indiana Jones stories to have careened forward and backwards like the first three did. I have great memories of the movie as well and some of them are a little cool. Continue reading